Like chocolate chip cookies, no two guitar amplifiers are identical.
To find a standout, you have to play several of the same model.
This is partly because guitar amplifiers are musical instruments, not high
fidelity components. Tubes and transistors are operated outside
their linear specs, creating wave shape distortion and a nonlinear
frequency response. Electrical circuits can also ring,
adding harmonics and sustain to the signal from your pickups.
Meanwhile, the electrical values of the parts comprising the circuits can
vary from one amp to the next. Part tolerances are usually between 5% and 20%.
Variations can have subtle effects on the
Sometimes, differences pile up to make an amp
sound better than average and sometimes they pile up to make it sound
So, whether your amp cost $40 or $4000,
THERE NEVER WAS, IS NOT NOW, AND NEVER WILL BE A SOLUTION TO THIS PROBLEM.
However, if your tone is lacking, here are four things that might help:
Re-cone or replace your speakers - they lose their mojo over time.
A good reconing service is
Orange County Speaker, Inc. You could also switch to speakers of a different
size or magnet material,
add speakers, or
switch between open-backed and closed-back cabinets.
Re-tube your amp or switch tube types. Click
here for a PDF file of vacuum tube pinouts. Check replacement suggestions
on the blogs, but understand that your results may
vary because no two amps, or vacuum tubes, are the same.
Use a clean booster pedal or preamp to shift
your guitar's signal level before it hits your amp.
Try differently alloyed guitar strings or a
replacement guitar pickup.
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