Are Some Makes of Guitar Amplifier Valves ‘Better’ Than others?

This is a very contentious question! The short answer is ‘yes’—but not maybe for the reasons you might think. Here is the long answer. Let’s concentrate first on robustness rather than sound quality. In other words we’re talking mechanical durability of a guitar amplifier valve (or any other valve, for that matter). Cheap Chinese amplifier… Read more

Posted by Stuart on July 30, 2014

Why Are Valve Guitar Amplifiers Considered ‘Dangerous’?

A normally working valve guitar amplifier is not dangerous in itself as long as it is not opened up. That’s fairly obvious otherwise they would not be sold! The danger comes if the innards are exposed and you touch a live component. In this respect they are far more dangerous than a transistor amplifier because… Read more

Posted by Stuart on July 25, 2014

How Can I Tell if my Guitar Amplifier Valves Need Changing?

This is a question often asked, and with good reason because there is no single, obvious symptom which screams out at you to change your valves. As valves age they just become less and less efficient at what they’re designed to do. Trouble is, the degradation is imperceptibly slow and so gig to gig you… Read more

Posted by Stuart on July 5, 2014

5 Reasons Guitarists Prefer Valve Amplifiers

Outside of the world of guitar amplifiers, valves are seen as very ‘old hat’. Apart from some high-end Hi Fi audio amplifiers, valves have almost totally been replaced by semiconductors. So why is it that many (or even most) guitarists prefer the sound of a valve guitar amplifier? Here are the top 5 reasons given… Read more

Posted by Stuart on May 25, 2014

Is it Dangerous to Open up my Valve Amplifier?

Yes it can be very dangerous and possibly fatal to mess around inside valve amplifiers if you don’t know what you are doing. The reason is that the valves need very high DC voltages (up to 500V) to work. This is way higher than ‘mains’ voltage and it is also DC not AC. DC is… Read more

Posted by Stuart on April 18, 2014

Can I Leave my Amp in Storage For an Extended Period?”

The short answer is no. Amplifiers (particularly valve amps) need to be used at least twice a year otherwise the electrolytic capacitors inside can dry out. Think of it like driving a car. Cars don’t like to be garaged for extended periods, they need to be run. Some of the worst sounding vintage amps are… Read more

Posted by Stuart on October 11, 2013

How Long do Valves Last?

This is not an easy question. It’s similar to asking “How long does a car engine last?” Answer? “It depends how you drive it!” The rate at which a valve wears out is determined by how many hours it has been on and how hard (loud) it has been played.  There is also a mechanical… Read more

Posted by Stuart on September 24, 2013

How to Correctly Use The Standby Switch

Many guitarists do not really understand the correct use of the standby switch (if fitted). This explains how to use it correctly. Valves have heaters which make them glow hot. They also have very high voltages across them (400V or more) to make them work. Ideally the valve should be allowed to get to working… Read more

Posted by Stuart on September 22, 2013