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Valve Amps Vs Solid State Amps

29/07/2014

A  lot of you may be wondering what the difference is between a valve amp and a solid state, some of you may not be aware of the difference. So today, we'll briefly and without too much complication, go over the differences! Most guitarsists you meet will likely say that valve amps are the best because they have great tone which a solid state amp just can't reproduce. When they say this they are talking about the great dyanmism they possess. They are very receptive to the way you play, even the strebgth with which you pick can affect their sound. Valve amps generally have really warm, bright clean tones that are very receptive to the way you're playing. Their tone can be controlled and manipulated in many different ways and the amp stays true to the subtle nuances in your guitar's sound. All of this being said, it may not be as stark a dfifference as you'd think  In the past solid state amplifiers have had a bad reputation for sounding a bit naff, this is mainly because they were being designed to sound like valve amps, but instead of producing warm, bright, balanced tones with smooth transitions into overdrive, they were actually very harsh and didn't have a lot of range in terms of dynamics. In other words, they sounded rather cold and soulless. Many of you may be aware of this sound from poorly equipped music rooms at school, or the little amps you might find in an £80 guitar package!

However, things have really moved on, and nowadays you can get some brilliant solid state amplifiers. They have their own benefits as well, which we'll go over quickly:

Valve amps are much, much louder. A 15W valve amp will outshout an equivalent solid state amp every time, Great if you're a gigging musician playing with a drummer or if you have the space at home to let rip, but for a lot of us, the bedroom is our rehearsal room, and we have other people to consider! It's unlikey in this situation that you'll turn your valve amp's volume much above 3, and if the amp doesn't have  master and volume knobs or an attenuator, you won't be able to crank the tubes and reach that fabled natural distortion these amps are known for! This is where solid state amp come into their own. They don't have this limitation and you can play roaring solos from the get go, without bringing the house down. For most beginner-intermidate players, a good solid state amp will give you a great sound and won't be as expensive as  an all-valve amp, and you'll also be able to get the most out of it whilst jamming away at home. Valve amps also require some care from time to time. Valves do give out after extensive play at loud volumes and these do have to be replaced. It's a very minor issue, but perhaps a little too much maintenance for those just starting out, or happy to play at home. There are great benefits to both types of amplifier, and they suit different needs.

 

Why not pop in for a visit and hear the difference for yourself! We have great solid state amplifiers in the Fender Mustang series (these amps have settings that emulate the sound of classic Fender valve amps and onboard effects included!) Or if you're looking for some sweet valve tone to complement your band or to just wail to some backing tracks at home, check out the Fender Superchamp DX, a rockshop staff favourite.

 

Written By Antony Panayi, Allegro Music Chelmsford


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