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Best tube amps?

Some people say solid state amps can be just as good as tube amps. Quite a lot of people still say a tube sound is always unique and (still) unmatched by electronic clones. But very few people actually say solid states surpass tubes.

There must be a reason why tube amps are more expensive, arguably less reliable (as the tubes may shut down for good at any time, some people say), require maintenance AND STILL keep selling on the market. With all those disadvantages, the tone the valves produce really must be worth all the trouble. Right?

There is a great chance your favorite songs (especially if from the 80's music golden age) were recorded with tube amps. Famous guitarrists, both on their youth back in the 80's and still nowadays, keep prefering in general the sound of a certain tube amp of their taste. And they must know what sounds good and what sounds bad... they've been in the business for ages. They've tried hundreds of gears on their professional lives.

So wether you are an adept of solid states or confess tubes are just better, it's always handy to know which tube amps have the best reputation. This way, you can know what you can expect from a great amp, and which "best of the best" you can compare a certain amp with.


(For an explanation of what this is all about, see This site explained.)


TDPRI forum topic 1
Original Post Date: November 2006
Original Poster Question: best tube amp for a telecaster playing mostly classic rock but also genres around rock (thrash metal, emo, alternative)

- Fender (most mentioned: Twin Reverb, Deluxe Reverb): 10
- Marshall: 8
- Peavey (most mentioned: Classic 50): 7
- Vox: 3
- Mesa-Boogie: 2
- Crate: 1
- Fender: 1
- Laney: 1
- Marshall: 1
- Peavey Classic: 1

TDPRI forum topic 2
Original Post Date: April 2007
Original Poster Question: best tube amp around 15-20 watts, under $500, with good twangy sound and classic rock break up

- Fender (most mentioned: Blues Junior, Pro Junior): 6
- VOX: 5
- Carvin: 2
- Peavey: 2
- Orange Tiny Terror: 1

My Les Paul forum topic 1
Original Post Date: September 2007
Original Poster Question: best tube amp for classic 70' and 80' rock

- Marshall: 15
- Fender: 6
- VOX AC30: 5
- Orange: 3

My Les Paul forum topic 3
Original Post Date: July 2009
Original Poster Question: best first real tube amp under $1000 for jazz & rock with a Les Paul and a drummer

- Fender: 5
- Mesa Boogie: 2
- Peavey Classic: 2
- VOX AC30: 2

Original Post Date: January 2008
Original Poster Question: the best small, cheap tube amp for home/practice under $300

- Fender (most mentioned: Pro Junior, Super Champ XD): 22
- VOX: 6
- Epiphone Valve Junior: 5
- Carvin: 2
- Roland Microcube: 2

My Les Paul forum topic 2
Original Post Date: February 2009
Original Poster Question: tube amp for clean tones, under 20 watts, that barely breaks up at all

- Fender: 8
- Marshall: 1
- VOX: 1

GuitarForums topic
Original Post Date: July 2009
Original Poster Question: best tube amp for clean and distortion

- Fender: 5
- Ampeg: 3
- VOX AC30: 2
- Epiphone Valve Junior: 1
- Mesa-Boogie: 1

 Now the Tube Hall of Fame:

 1.    Fender: 63
Fender Super-Champ XD 120V Guitar Combo

2.    Marshall: 25
Marshall Class 5 All Valve Class A 5W 1X10 Guitar Amp

3.    VOX: 24
Vox Valvetronix VT30 Guitar Combo Amplifier - 1x10 inch, 30 watts

4.    Peavey: 12
VYPYR 60 Tube Guitar Combo Amp

Wow, this was a tremendous victory for Fender. Honestly I thought it was going to be a battle of the titans between Fender and Marshall. I wasn't expecting one of them to win by such a big margin. If we focused on metal forums, Marshall might have gotten nearer to the first place, though. All in all, Fender seems to be the most appreciated all-purpose amplifier.
TDPRI forum topic 3

Best Wah Pedals?

There is a famous guitar effect which sounds like a human voice. It's been around for ages, people know it by "Wah-Wah Effect" and is usually controlled by an expression pedal that allows to control how "wide the mouth of the guitar" is (i.e. sonically speaking :P). It's a great easy way to give expression to what you play. Even if you're only playing the same chord/note over and over again, you can make it sound different each time you play it by giving it different Wah properties. Maybe because it is independent of what you're doing on the strings/guitar with your hands AND it seldom comes incorporated on an amp, it is arguably one of the most popular guitar effect pedals type for decades.

Well, surprise surprise? There are hundreds of different brands of Wah pedals, as always happens with something popular. And if you ask someone which ones are worth even a try, seventy percent of the people will just tell you to try out a few on your local shop and "let your ears decide". That would be a good advice if there weren't so many options to choose from. I think it would help a lot if you hit the shop already with a few brand names on your mind, so you get the idea of which brands are widely used and which you "genuinely never heard of before".


It's metanalysis time ;). For an explanation, see This site explained.


Gear Slutz forum topic 1

- Dunlop Crybaby: 9
- VOX: 8
- Teese: 5
- Budda: 3
- Fulltone: 1

Bestcovery site
Mentions Morley, Fulltone Clyde and VOX.

Analogman site
Mentions Dunlop Crybaby.

Dolphin Music site
Mentions 3 Dunlops (I'll only count one "vote"), 1 Z-vex Wah Probe, 1 VOX and 1 Ibanez.

Jemsite forum topic
Original Post Date: December 2006
Original Poster Question: the best wah pedal amongst a list of three

- Teese: 2
- Duncan: 1
- VOX: 1
- Maestro Boomerang: 1

The Gear Page forum topic
Original Post Date: April 2007
Original Poster Question: the best first wah pedal, for sounds like Hendrix and Clapton

- Budda: 3
- Fulltone Clyde: 3
- Morley: 3
- Snarling Dogs: 3
- Area51: 2
- Dunlop (most mentioned: Crybaby, 535Q): 2
- VOX: 2
- Zakk Wylde: 2
- RMC: 1

Gear Slutz forum topic 2
Original Post Date: June 2007
Original Poster Question: the best wah pedal amongst a short list

- Dunlop (most mentioned: 535Q, Crybaby): 7
- Morley Bad Horsie: 3
- Teese: 2
- Fulltone: 1
- Ibanez: 1

My Les Paul forum topic
Original Post Date: August 2008
Original Poster Question: the best wah pedal

- Dunlop (most mentioned: 535Q): 5
- Vox: 4
- Teese RMC: 3
- Area51: 2
- Budda: 2
- Colorsound: 2
- Fulltone (most mentioned: Clyde): 2
- Vision: 2
- G- FX Stereo Mega-Wah: 1
- Mutron vol/wah: 1
- Zvex Wah Probe: 1

And the Pedal of Honor goes to...

1 - Dunlop: 25
Dunlop 535Q Multi-Wah Crybaby Pedal

2 - VOX: 19
Vox V847a Classic Vox Wah Pedal

3 - Teese: 12
(without article on Amazon)

4 - Fulltone: 8
Fulltone CLYDE Standard Wah Pedal

5 - Morley: 6
Morley PWOV Power Optical Wah/Volume

Overdrive pedal vs Amp overdrive vs Distortion pedal

Overdrive and distortion. When you think of these two words, what do you think about? The sound of a guitar screaming, roaring! These two concepts may seem identical, but in fact they are not.

First of all, it's important to explain the anatomy of an amplifier. It basically consists of a pre-amp and a power-amp. The pre-amp section receives the signal from the guitar and processes it with the effects built in the amp (if existing e.g. reverb, distortion...). The power-amp section is responsible for amplifying the signal it receives from the pre-amp in order to make it audible (putting it simply, it's basically the speakers). That being said...

First, overdrive. Amp overdrive is what happens (namely on tube amps) when the sound intensity reaches the power amp's "clean-sound-limit". It's like when you scream yourself: there is a volume at which you can't keep your voice completely clean - it "overdrives" :P. It's not like you're making that on purpose, right? Well, in amps, overdrive is also called soft-clipping. It gives the sound a "mild sense of distortion" (ok, maybe unlike your voice ;)). It's the unique overdrive sound of a tube amp that has kept this type of amplifiers so many years on the market. Solid state amps have come arguably close to clone that tone, but enough people disagree with this statement for the tube amps to still be profitable for their manufacturers.

Now, distortion. Distortion simply makes your tone sound like a scream from the top of your lungs, even if it's a "low" scream. The tone is different from overdrive, and it does allow to have the "guitar roaring" at lower volumes. Distortion is also called hard-clipping, and unlike overdrive it's created by the pre-amp distortion channel (or eventually by a pedal. Let's stick for the pre + power-amp scheme for now, to keep it simple).

But what are the differences between overdrive and distortion sound after all? Well, think of overdrive as a mild bluesy hollower sound, and distortion as the typical rock guitar sound (pushed to extreme levels on heavy metal). You can hear a good side-by-side comparison of the two kinds here: http://www.dolphinstreet.com/blog/distortion-overdrive.php

Now that you understand the concepts of overdrive and distortion, their pedals effects are quite intuitive. The overdrive pedal pushes the power-amp a little further or tries to simulate the sound you'd hear if that happened (e.g. when you're still not satisfied with the overdrive when you've maxed your amp volume knob); the distortion pedal is like an "extra" distortion channel on your amp.  ;)

Best distortion pedals?

A lot of amplifiers today come with a distortion channel included; in fact, (nearly) all of them. Distortion plays an important part in a great proportion of the general guitarist tone,whether he/she plays heavy metal, rock, or even some kinds of blues or country. So it's always good to have a good look at this part of the tone. Sure, you can use the distortion even the cheapest amplifier has to offer. However, amp manufacturers do have to focus on the quality of both clean and distorted channels; the latest may, sometimes, not be just the right sound for you. So what do you do? Throw away your amp and buy another one for the distortion? Have 2 amps, each with its "sweet" channel? That would be possible, despite expensive and... strange. ;) How about: why not be able to get a sweet distortion "plugged in" an amplifier with a good clean channel but a not-so-good default distortion channel? Well, this is where distortion pedals come in handy!

The sheer variety of distortion pedals available on the market is quite amazing, and, on the other hand, overwhelming. I've decided to make a metanalysis on this subject. This way I can help you narrow your potential targets from tens of thousands down to six or seven. Sounds good? Let's get on with it ;)


(For an explanation of what this is all about, see This site explained.)
Ultimate Guitar forum topic 1
Original Post Date: June 2007
Original Poster Question: good distortion pedal for his VOX AC30 to have better "gain range".

- ProCo turbo rat: 5
- Digitech: 3
- Avenged Sevenfold: 1
- Marshall Guv'nor: 1
- Bad Monkey: 1
- EH Metal Muff: 1
- Fuzz Factory: 1
- MI Audio Chunchbox: 1
- Shredmaster: 1
Ultimate Guitar forum topic 2
Original Post Date: February 2008
Original Poster Question: good distortion pedal not beyond Hendrix level
- Electro Harmonix Big Muff: 3
- Boss OD: 1
- Fuzz Face: 1
- ProCo Rat: 1
- Visual Sound: 1

PetrucciForum topic
Original Post date: March 2008
Original Poster Question: Best distortion pedal for metal
- MXR: 3
- Boss DS: 2
- Line 6 Uber Metal: 2
- MI Audio: 2
- ProCo Rat: 2
- Boss Metal Zone: 1
- Tonebone Classic: 1
- Vox Satchurator: 1

Original Post Date: June 2008
Original Poster Question: Good distortion pedal for a solid state amp

- EH Metal Muff: 3
- Maxon Sonic Distortion: 3
- MI Audio Crunch Box: 2
-VOX: 1
- AMT Electronics California Sounds: 1

Puts Boss DS-1 at 2nd, Electro-Harmonix Big Muff at 4th, MXR at 5th, Boss Metal Zone at 9th position.

Original Post Date: February 2009
Original Poster Question: distortion pedal with good sustain

- Tonebone: 3
- Vox Satchurator: 3
- MI Audio Crunchbox: 1

And the winner is...

1.     Electro-Harmonix Metal Muff: 8 points
Electro-Harmonix Metal Muff Distortion Pedal

2.     ProCo Rat: 8 points
Pro Co Turbo Rat Distortion Pedal

3.     VOX Satchurator: 5 points
Vox Joe Satriani Satchurator Distortion Pedal

4.     MI Audio Crunchbox: 4 points
Mi Audio Crunch Box Distortion

5.     Tonebone Classic: 4
Radial Tonebone Classic Tube Distortion Pedal

Uff, this one is close... I've put EH above ProCo simply because of the "official Top 10" distortion pedals honorable mention EH got (or because I sorted the 1st and the 2nd alphabetically... choose whichever suites you best lol ;) kidding).

Best Solid State Amps?

A lot of people do prefer the so-claimed "warmth" of the sound of the tubes of a boutique amplifier. But let's be honest: a lot of people can't afford this luxury, nor the maintenance costs of the replacement of the valves. So the solid state amplifier is the solution - no maintenance, cheaper, more reliable, better durability.

I do reckon that a lot of what I'm saying here is arguable. However, for whoever who would like to know what solid state amplifiers have satisfied most users, here's a metanalysis of several forums and review sites:


(For an explanation of what this is all about, see This site explained.)


Gear Slutz forum topic
Original post date: December 2004
Original poster question: asked if there was a small good-sounding solid state after all.
- Vox (most mentioned: Brian May / Pathfinder): 13
- Tech 21 Trademark: 10
- Peavey (most mentioned: Bandit): 8
- Roland Jazz Chorus (most mentioned: 120): 7
- Acoustic: 4
- Polytone: 4
- Roland Cube: 4
- Fender M80: 3
- Galien Kruger: 3
- old Yamaha from the 80's: 3
- Pignose: 3
- Sunn: 3

(PS: Ignored the ones with less than 3 mentions; gave -1 point for every "bad-mention")

Original post date: March 2007
Original poster question: asked if there was any high-end solid state/what was the best people tried out.

- Randall (most mentioned: Warhead): 8
- Peavey (most mentioned: XXL): 6
- Tech 21 Trademark: 3
- Crate: 2
- Roland Jazz Chorus: 2
- Ampeg: 1
- Behringer: 1
- Line 6 Vetta: 1
- Vox: 1

Ultimate Guitar forum topic 2
Original Post Date: October 2007
Original Poster Question: requested a list of the best solid state amps
- Fender: 3
- Line 6 (most mentioned: Flextone): 3
- Peavey: 3
- Ampeg: 2
- Carvin: 2
- Randall: 2
- Roland Jazz Chorus: 2
- Pritchard: 2
- Hughes and Kettner: 1
- ISP Technologies: 1
- PRS: 1
- Sunn: 1
- Tech 21 Trademark: 1
- Vox: 1

Original Post Date: June 2008
Original Poster Question: good solid state amp for metal, preferably.
- Randall (most mentioned: RG/G3): 8
- Peavey (most mentioned: 5150): 6
- Roland Jazz Chorus 120 (with distortion pedal): 6
- Line 6 (most mentioned: Flextone): 5
- Marshall Valvestate: 4
- Roland Cube: 2
-Vox AD: 1
- B52 at212: 1
- Crate Flexwave: 1
- Krank Rev JR: 1
- Madison Prophecy: 1
- Pritchards: 1
- Raven RG100: 1

Original Post Date: May 2009
Original Poster Question: best solid state amp for his birthday
- Roland Cube: 5
- Marshall: 4
- Tech 21 Trademark: 4
- Orange: 3
- Roland Jazz Chorus: 3
- Fender Princeton Chorus: 2
- Fender Stage: 2
- Gibson Lab Series: 1
- Line 6 Spider: 1
- Randall: 1
- Pearce: 1
- Peavey: 1

Original Post Date: November 2009
Original Poster Question: quite simple - the best solid state amps ever made?

- Peavey (most mentioned: Transtube, Peavey, Bandit): 23
- Gibson Lab Series: 16
- Yamaha G (most mentioned: G100): 16
- Roland Jazz Chorus 120: 12
- Roland Cube: 9
- Vox Pathfinder: 8
- Tech 21 (most mentioned: Trademark): 7
- Polytone: 5
- Randall: 5
- Acoustic: 4
- Crate: 4
- Marshall: 4
- Pearce: 4
- Pritchard: 4

(PS: excluded the ones with less than 4 mentions)

Now, the podium ;)

1.    Peavey - 44 points
VYPYR 75 Modeling Guitar Combo Amp

2.    Roland Jazz Chorus - 34 points
Roland JC-120 Jazz Chorus guitar amplifier

3.    Tech 21 - 25
Tech 21 TM-30 30W, 1x10 Guitar Combo/Direct Recording Amp

4.    VOX - 23
Vox DA5 Digital Guitar Combo Amplifier - 1x6.5 Inch, 5 Watts, Black

5.    Randall - 16
Randall RX35DM 35-Watt Guitar Combo Amp

Just two last thoughts: despite Peavey having more points, I would put Roland Jazz Chorus in front of them: the Peavey 44 points are the sum of all mentions of all Peavey amplifiers, unlike the 34 points of Roland Jazz Chorus which are pretty much all of this sole amplifier's "merit".
Finally, I have put Randall in front of Yamaha because Yamaha got all their "points" in only one forum. ;)

Custom Virtual Guitar Designs

I have found out two interesting sites that allow you to paint a guitar the way you like. It can be a useful way to preview some guitar colors you have in your mind before starting to press sprays over the wood. On the other hand you can just do it for fun.

So, here are the sites:

USA Custom Guitars  - this site uses the KISEKAE system, which is present on other sites besides USA Custom Guitars.


Axe Wraps - this one is more dedicated to creating actual images for the "face" of your guitar. You can choose amongst a library of patterns available on the site or you can even import your own patterns/images from a .JPG file on your hard disk. AND: in this site you can actually order the Wrap you designed for your guitar, making your project come true! Interesting idea, huh?... ;)


Have fun creating your very own guitars! ;)