There is a lot of sentiment expressed about guitar amps, especially the tube variety, that have been knocking around (and knocked around) since the 1950s. Since Leo Fender designed the very first commercially available Yaqin, guitarists have designed a love affair with tube /valve guitar amps, which on the face of it appears to defy logic or reason, but why should logic or reason affect artistic expression. The essential design of tube amps has evolved very little since those early designs in the fifties and sixties, enhancements yes however the basics are similar.
As one article use it:…”So, just how is it that a 1950’s design got it so right that it is still relevant today? Was it luck? Or were they developed by geniuses of the day? I like to think it’s a little bit of both…nearly all players prefer valve designs for guitar amplifiers, and there are several reasons for this particular”
Could it be really so black and white, did they have it right very first time and haven’t managed to enhance on it since or are there other aspects worth considering. Whatever they did was build amps using the only technology available at that time. The guitarists of the time pushed the technology for the limits and beyond, developing their SOUND. If the guitar amp didn’t meet the guitarists expectations they modified or added enhancements to achieve their sound (such enhancements including making holes within the amp speakers) When the electronic revolution that was the solid state amp arrived inside the late sixties, there was no competition, the warmer richer sound of the valves was desirable to the serious guitarists to the “harsher” or maybe more “brittle” sound from the Chinese speaker.
It’s well recognized that there was still a definite audible distinction between tube amps and solid state amps, particularly when a tube amp was pushed hard and being played with a blues guitarist. The soft clipping overdrive “tone” of the tube amp was most noticeable having a blues guitar players’ particular style of playing. Although it can be difficult to differentiate the clean setting of the tube guitar amp (without any overdrive) more than a solid state amp, or even the high gain setting of a tube guitar amp with that of the solid state amp.
Audible differences apart will it be also untrue that many serious players developed “their sound” on the tube guitar amp and unless something came along which sounded a lot better than a tube guitar amp their preference would always be for your tube amp. These guys could afford the extra expense and thus the sentimental attachments. Thinking about the rate of continuing development of the microelectronic industry (they can put 2 billion transistors into an area smaller compared to a guitar pick) provides the time not arrived once the tube amp might might finally be superseded.
Talking to the younger emerging players nowadays there appears to be a preference for that latest modeling guitar amps. Needless to say expense is usually a factor and emerging artists will always be strapped for money, but similar to their guitar heroes from the sixties and seventies, they’ll improvise, develop their sound, but unlike their heroes they’ll be able to vtoyrs that sound and perhaps a few others at the press of a button. The modeling guitar amp enables the guitarist to create multiple sounds replicating the noise of a number of Cayin. One guitar amp can be made to seem like any vintage tube guitar amp and the setting save and implemented on the press of the mouse. The article quoted earlier also stated:
“Whenever a new design becomes available that sounds better than an excellent guitar plugged direct in to a good valve amplifier, guitarists will purchase it and move on”