23 Jun 2016
What exactly is the function of a tube amp? Is it to make your musical instrument louder especially when you’re performing in a wider area? Is it to provide bass to make your tone heavier and denser?
Well, a lot of people who are not into musical instruments would often mistake a tube amp for a speaker. Well, somehow it functions like that, but that is not mainly what it’s for.
Tube amps are basically extensions of your musical instrument. Oftentimes it is being used with an electric guitar.
Musical instrument amplifiers differ from regular stereo or hifi amps such that it allows application of more effects in terms of distortions and colorations that most musicians take advantage of to create better sound and make their music more expressive.
Thus, it has a lot to do with the overall performance of a musician. This is the reason why experienced guitarists are very meticulous in picking the right tube amp for their instrument.
More expensive models certainly deliver quality and performance but there are actually decent tube amps that you can purchase below $500.
How exactly can you determine the best tube amp among hundreds of various options? Well, we have created a guide to help you pick the best amp for whatever musical instrument you have.
What’s the right wattage?
Determining the wattage is very important because the wattage is basically the implication of how you want to use the amp. If you are a budding guitarist who is looking for a practice amp, you will need an amp which will break at lower volumes.
This is to avoid disturbing neighbors, especially if you want to practice during wee hours of the night. If that’s the case, a 5-watt amp will be perfect for you, however, if you need more headroom, 50-watt to 100-watt amp is what you need.
What tube type do you need?
Each tube type is designed for a different purpose. They each have a distinct sound which is an upshot of their different characteristics. If you need roundness and clarity with a punch, a 6L6 Power tube highly suits your style.
EL84 is recommended for lower output with smooth and harmonic distortion. But if you are looking for a well-rounded tube amp, EL34 works great at both ends of the range with a pretty decent performance at mid-range.
What’s the preamp setting?
Wattage and tube type are actually the basics of power amps. Your experience as a musician is really challenged when it comes to determining the preamp setting of your amplifier.
This is actually the part where you shape the tone. It’s where you get to apply adjustments for the reverb, effect loops, as well as multiple channels.
This actually covers the more technical part of using the amp. For musicians who are playing a wide range of sound, amps with multiple channels will suit perfectly for that style since it allows more flexibility in terms of distortion.
Is it within your budget?
We have established the basic as well as the technical part of the amplifier. You know exactly what you want but you’re not sure if all those features are available for the budget that you have.
The popular brands are undoubtedly high quality and you can totally justify the expensive price.
However, there are actually a lot of amplifiers from less popular manufacturers which provide impressive features. They might not be as good as the high-end models but are more than enough to get you started.
If you have enough time to read through reviews from different reliable product review sites, you will surely be routed to the products which have all the features you need for less than $500.
If you need some reference to begin with, here’s a review of the best practice amps that are available on the market today.