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     Identical Amps?

A ≠ A

 

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 amp's sound.

Sometimes, differences pile up to make an amp sound better than average and sometimes they pile up to make it sound worse.

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:

  1. 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, add speakers, or switch between open-backed and closed-back cabinets.

  2. Re-tube your amp or even switch to an alternate but compatible  tube type.  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 exactly identical.

  3. Use a clean booster pedal or preamp to shift your guitar's signal level before it hits your amp.

  4. Try differently alloyed guitar strings or a different, after-market guitar pickup.

 





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