Guitarists have used vacuum tube amplification since the 1930s and the trend continues today. Tube amplifiers are known for their great tone, which could also be described as a warm, rich sound that solid state amps cannot reproduce. Tubes can also add an amount of desired distortion that can be controlled by the musician.
I have personally performed on many of the classic bass amplifiers and repaired, modified quite a few guitar and bass amps since the early 1970s. American vacuum tube manufacturers have been out of business for a long time and those tubes are available only as new old stock (NOS). Foreign made tubes have evolved and are better than they were when American made tubes were the best to be found, but many musicians still consider them inferior to the previous U.S. made brands.
Musicians that demand the best tone from their instrument usually end up using tube powered amplifiers. Here are some of the latest developments in tube powered amps that tone seeking musicians should know about.
Black Widow MGP-1A
The MGP-1A is a modeling preamp capable of reproducing the classic sound of many common musical amplifiers. This amplifier is not available on the market, or not even in production as of this writing, but it will prove to be a game changer very soon. Using eighteen vacuum tubes and a large number of control options I can see this amp becoming a common fixture in studios and rack mounted in many musician’s rigs.
Reeves Custom 400 Bass Amp
The Custom 400 bass amp is made in the U.S.A and the latest, and most powerful, in the Reeves lineup of quality amplifiers. If I still played bass gigs and had the extra cash, priced at $2499, this monster would definitely be something to consider buying. I once plugged into one of Reeve’s Custom 225s and found it delightful to play. This unit contains almost twice the power and one could only imagine how this thing could shake the glasses off the table.
Swart Amplifier Company just announce the introduction of their ST-45, due to be released any day now. The ST series has been around for awhile now and have a good following with tone conscious musicians, especially on the east coast. The low wattage Class A amplification makes this stereo amp a real winner and this latest addition should prove to be an unbelievable tone machine.
Vacuum tube amplifiers are here to stay. These amps are keeping the tube era alive and more great innovations are sure to come our way. It is exciting to see the younger musicians using this older technology and carrying on the tradition.
Other Yahoo! Voices Articles by Dave Bolick:
A Vintage 1966 Fender Precision Bass – Reviewed 45 Years Later
4 Vintage Electric Guitars Used by Professional Musicians