Some things to think about
before you go ahead and buy those new tubes or get your amp worked on.
There are a few things I'd like to
go over before you decide to get new tubes and other parts for your amp.
If you have an amp that you don't like,
and never did, then new tubes and other parts probably aren't going to
fix it. Especially if you have already had it serviced and had new
tubes put in by a competent tech. The relative tone differences in tubes
are kind of subtle sometimes, and aren't going to make the difference between
a bad and good amp. Granted, if you have a Twin Reverb with 10 year old
Chinese tubes and hi fi woofers for speakers, it's going to sound horrible!
This is a good case for some fine replacement tubes and speakers, and general
service. This amp will rock the house after some TLC! However, if you have
an off brand tube amp thing that you don't like and you may have paid a
little too much for, cut your losses now. Sell it. Putting more money into
it is only going to be a waste.
Tubes will make all the difference
to you if you have an amp that you like pretty well, but want to tweak
it slightly to get better tone. Here's an example: If you gig with
a Fender reissue or Deluxe/Deville every night, new tubes and proper biasing
will knock your socks off. A new speaker will also go very far to improve
tone. The amp will sound good enough before, but trust me, these changes
will really make a big difference! The amp will still be the same kind
of amp it was before, but it will be better. It's not going to turn the
amp into something else, it's just going to make what's there even better.
These amps do have decent tone when you unleash it with some good components.
But, don't expect your 4x10 Deville to sound like a blackface Super Reverb!
Think of it like this: It's like getting new paint and tires on your car
that you love and drive everyday.
If you have an amp that you just can't
get a decent sound out of, then you might want to consider selling it to
get something else. It's just not worth it in many cases to buy new
parts for it and spend the money on the labor. Here's an example: If you
have a Bassman head sitting on top of a Marshall cabinet and it's not giving
you a Marshall tone, then get a Marshall! People would like to think that
installing EL34's and doing extensive mods will make it sound more like
a Marshall, but that's not really going to do it. Not that EL34's in a
Bassman will sound that bad (but it's still not really a good idea to do
that mod), but it may not get you where you want to be. Why not sell the
Bassman and get a 50 watt Marshall JCM800 or something? Alternately, that
old Peavey head is not going to sound like a Twin Reverb no matter what
It sounds like I'm discouraging you
from trying different parts. I'm not at all. New tubes and parts will
make a good amp sound better, or great even. If you love to tinker with
tone, amps are a really fun thing to make some changes to that might give
you the tone you're looking for. But, there's an old saying that goes
"you can't polish a turd". It's true. BUT, that amp you have there
may be a turd to you and a gold mine to someone else. Modding your amp
irreversibly or extensively will make it desirable to nobody. Get the
right amp before you start spending a lot of money on one that isn't going
to get you to where you want to be. (My rule still applies though, no modding
classic vintage amps!)
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Last updated 2/19/2000