Like chocolate chip cookies, no two guitar amps 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 guitar signal.
Meanwhile, the electrical values of the circuit parts can
vary from one amp to another. The variance of a single part is usually between 5% and 20%
of the rated value and 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
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.
You could also switch to speakers of a different size or magnet material,
or switch between open-backed and closed-back cabinets.
Re-tube your amp
or even switch to an alternate but compatible tube type. Click
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 exactly identical.
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 different, after-market guitar pickup.