A valve amplifier, also known as a tube amplifier, is composed of an electronic circuit that is designed to increase the power of a signal. Most guitar players opt for this type of amplifier because of the quality of the overall sound that it produces. Tube amps naturally distort at loud volumes and they add more character to the music. If you are out there looking to buy a tube amp, below are some of the things that you need to consider.
The first thing that you need to consider in buying a valve or tube amp is its wattage. If you intend to use your tube amp to play in the comfort of your own home, then the best move is to get one that will break up at a much lower volume. A 5-watt amp will already be sufficient for this scenario. In this way, you won’t have to worry about rousing your neighbors. On the other hand, if your goal is to play in bars or clubs, then you need to look for an amp with a higher wattage.
Type of Tubes
There are different types of power tubes and each suits its purpose. For instance, a 6L6 power tube will offer you with the roundness and clarity that an EL34 may not be able to give. But an EL34 has considerably tight lows and spectacular highs, with a pretty stable mid-range, making it flexible. If you are one who plays blues and classical music, then 6V6 is the perfect tube type for you because of the fullness of its low-frequency sounds.
Preamp Circuit Type
The reverbs, effects, multiple channels, as well as other great features of a valve amp can be attributed to its preamp circuit type. Typically, you can rely only on a single amplifier, but if you need varying degrees of distortion, then you may want to consider a single amplifier with several channels. You can find this with PrimaLuna amplifiers that incorporate two rectifier tubes in their dual-mono design. These multiple channels offer great flexibility for the player. On the other hand, if you are after a pure tone, you may find a single channel amp perfect for you.
With all the factors stated above, the money you are willing to spend on a tube amp might be the ultimate deciding factor for your purchase. The price of tube amps ranges anywhere from a couple of hundred dollars to over a couple of thousand bucks. Just keep in mind that a higher price doesn’t always mean a better tone.
In buying a valve or a tube amp, make sure to consider the wattage that will best suit your needs. Also, think about the type of tube that you need to go for, based on the sound that you want to produce. It will also help to have a good idea of the preamp circuit type, as well as the features that it can deliver. Finally, assess how much you are willing to spend on a tube amp.