For most us tone chasers, there are few memories as strong as the first time you plugged in to your very first tube amp. For some of us, that memory was at your local guitar shop, for others it was sneaking in to our big brothers room while he was away, while yet others it was a special occasion like a birthday or Christmas. For me, it was the latter; Christmas morning of 1997. I had saved money all summer long bailing hay and had over half of the money saved for a brand new Fender Hotrod DeVille 2×12”. My parents surprised me for Christmas by paying off the remainder of my balance at my local music shop and having it under the tree me.
For most us, the switch from solid-state amplifiers to tube amplifiers was a tonal game changer! From the warm glow of the tubes and the slowly lighting of the jewel light, to definitive click of the on/off switch and this new switch called “stand-by” – I was hooked! Every chance I got, I cranked up my amp up louder and louder so I could get that natural saturation from compressing the tubes harder and harder – often times with much annoyance from relatives and the neighbors.
The only tradeoff was the weight! For me, going from a mass-produced 15 watt 1×10” combo that weighed under 20 pounds to this 2×12” 70 pound behemoth was a drastic difference. But while my young back screamed with my pain, my eyes wept with joy at having the ability to closer achieving the tone I kept hearing on the radio from some of my favorite artist.
Although years later, I own a couple of different amps now (different circuits, different tubes/ tube configurations, a plethora of different speakers in various different sizes.) I still get a certain thrill thinking about that amp and the first time I ever fired it up. That amp has been through the ringer for sure – from numerous gigs, rehearsals, bedroom practicing, re-tubing, re-capping, and new speakers – it is still with me. Every now and then I feel nostalgic and fire up that amp and crank it! Although I still have to watch my volume with the neighbors, I no longer have to worry about the annoyance from the relatives – just the fiancé.
So now that I have shared my first tube amp story with you, we would love to hear what your first tube amp was too! So tell us, what was your first tube amp?
– Max Jeffrey (Wampler Pedals Associate)