Wherever your electric guitar goes, an amplifier goes along with it. After all, guitars and amps are partners like notes and stems: more often than not, they're working together. When it comes to the amp, you have your choice between a solid-state or tube guitar amp. Like many guitarists, you may swear by the tubes when you want your music to have the unmistakeable tone and rich distortion that only a tube-based platform can offer.
Amplifiers come in all shapes and sizes, from amp heads and speaker stacks for large venues to versatile, compact combo units. Your tube-based combo guitar amp is like your sidekick, easy to pick up, put in the car and take to practice or any gig at a small to medium-sized space. These all-in-one units combine the preamp, power amp and speakers together in one box so you can easily grab and go from one show to the next.
There are a few perks to using a tube amp. The first, and most obvious, is the all-around warmer, richer tone that tubes generate. Another advantage is customization. In order to make your amp sound different, all you need to do is swap out the tubes. With a little experimentation, you'll find a favorite configuration of tubes to give you a sound tailored exactly to your tastes. Pay special attention to preamp tubes: these have the biggest impact on sound.
Tube guitar amps don't only differ by their tubes, of course—there's also the speaker configuration. If you want a crisp, punchy sound with good volume, look for an amp with multiple mid-sized speakers. Craving a deep tone with resonating bass? Set your sights on a model with a big, beefy woofer.
Finding the right guitar amplifier is all about balance. Think about the types of tubes you prefer, the power level you need and the speaker configuration that best matches the way you play. Amps that bring together your ideal specs in each of these areas are the ones you'll want to put on your short list.