Why Are Tube Amps Better Than Solid State Amps?

Why are tubes better than solid state when it comes to amps? It’s a question asked by every serious guitar player at some point in his journey. Most start with solid state amps simply because they are cheaper and more readily available to the beginner. They’re also easier to maintain and general require less maintenance than tube amps.

KT88 Tubes

But tube amp aficionados don’t claim tube amps are better for price or ease of maintenance. They’re concerned with sound. Some say tube amps are better because they give a fatter tone. Others say that tube amps are louder than solid state amps.

On the other hand, it may have to do with the fragility of the harmonics in a vacuum vs a crystal lattice where electrons are concerned.


Wait, what did I just say?

I’m not going to pretend to understand that myself. It’s my attempt at paraphrasing Howard Alexander Dumble, living legend and bona fide amp wizard.

The world of guitar amplification is full of amp wizards who got there start with various big name bands or guitar legends, and go on to form their own companies and mass produce their goodies. Bogner, Rivera, and Soldano are a few names in this field. Jose Arrendondo is another. He gained notoriety in the 80’s for his work on Eddie Van Halen’s Marshalls.

That’s not Dumble.

Dumble is legendary like Bigfoot as much as he is like Arrendondo and company. Maybe mythical is a better word. He’s a recluse by nature, and fiercely protective of his magic, even going so far as to blanket the electronics of his amps with a black epoxy like substance to keep prying, eyes from reverse engineering his components. That’s hardcore.

He must be doing something right because the list of guitarists who prefer(red) Dumble amps is impressive. Stevie Ray Vaughn, Larry Carlton, David Lindley, Steve Lukather, Eric Johnson, Lowell George, John Mayer and Kirk Hammett are a few proud Dumble owners.

His amps can go for $10,000 – 20,000 and if you want him to make a custom amp just for you, it’ll cost you a 10k deposit for the chance to play for him, because only if he likes what he hears will he work for you. Even then, you’ll get it when it’s done. He works on his own schedule, not yours.

Dumble on Why Tube Amps are Better than Solid State Amps.

Here’s a video of H. Alexander Dumble describing as only he can why tube amps are better.

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