What are the key differences between the tube and solid state amplifier?

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Answered by: Austin, An Expert in the About Amplifiers Category
The best way to improve your overall sound and get the most out of your guitar is to invest in an amplifier with a well-rounded clean tone. Your amplifier is the key to all tonal precision your instrument can produce, therefore it is best when looking for a credible tone to focus primarily on the clarity of the amp, as dirty tones can be achieved through other means such as stomp boxes. There are a few things to take into consideration when embarking on your amplifier quest, but first it is important to note the difference between the two main types of guitar amps as well as the contrast of price between them.

The first is called a solid state amplifier, and it is mostly known to be for entry level players, although there are a few extraordinary sounding solid state amps out there. Solid states produce their sound with the use of electronics. Typically they are much lower in price in comparison to tube amps. Many players like the fact that they are durable and light weight, making them easy to haul around to practices and shows. Although they are considered to be lower in tonal quality, there are a few preferred solid state amplifiers, such as the Roland Jazz Chorus. The Jazz Chorus is mostly renowned in the jazz community due to its remarkably clean sound.

The second is called a tube amplifier. Tube amps are much higher end and are overwhelmingly popular with experienced players. They use glass tubes comparable to those in old television sets to amplify the guitar signal and reduce tone loss. The more the tubes are pushed and heat up, the more they compress the signal. Generally tube amps are heavier, higher in price, and require much more care. Professionals love them for their legendary clean tones and vintage vibes. Also, tube amps are able to handle stomp boxes and effect pedals better than solid states. An example of a tube amp that has made a name for itself would be the Fender Hot Rod Deluxe, known for its bright clean tones. The Hot Rod Deluxe was also a crucial element for the sound achieved by UK rockers The Strokes.

When looking for an amplifier with a clean tone that fits your playability and style, it is important to try various types from high end to low, and from tube to solid. Doing so will not only develop a reliable preference, but will also help you to learn about the differences between sizes, brands, and models. Most amplifiers contain an EQ section, which usually consists of treble, middle, and bass. Treble controls the high end, or "sizzle", middle controls the mid tones, or the body and depth, and the bass controls the lower tones. As far as how to properly set the EQ, it is a matter of trial and error. If your guitar sounds too screechy or painful to listen to, most likely your treble is up too high. If it is muffled and lacking in precision, try turning your mids up and your bass down.

When making your next amplifier purchase take into consideration your budget, style, experience, and where you will be using it, and remember to examine your full range of options.

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