When our guitar strings wear out – we change them. Old strings need changed for a ton of reasons – they won’t stay in tune because they are overly stretched – they break – they lose their sparkle – and for you non-coated string players – they rust! Bad/ old strings can affect your performance and your tone – big time!
But many of us – myself included – are not as diligent with changing the tubes in our amps. Now, I’m not saying that you need to change your amp’s tubes as much as often as you change your guitar strings – but they shouldn’t be neglected and should be changed for similar reasons.
Older tubes can cause your “sparkle” and crunch to go away. If you are anything like me – you crank up your amp to louder volumes and really give your tubes a work out. Doing this over time, combined with turning your amp on and off frequently will simply stretch those tubes thin – so to speak– and slowly but surely your tone starts to go away. Honestly, I am often surprised how much tone I have lost in my amp until I change my tubes.
I was blown away this weekend when I changed out the Tubes in my Blues Jr. My tubes were starting to crackle and pop and my tone was darker and muddier than I like. So – I swapped out the old JJ’s for a new set of JJ’s and BOOM – blown away. MY TONE was back. Sparkle was intact and drive was sounding better than ever!
I shied away from changing my tubes – for probably longer than I should have – because I thought it might cost a lot. We are lucky to currently live in an almost renaissance of guitar gear (a plethora of great products and great prices all the time) – and tubes are more affordable than ever. For my Blues Jr. – I got a complete set of JJ’s (power tubes and pre-amp tubes) for just under $60 before shipping. If you change your tubes once every 2 years – that’s only a $30 dollar investment towards your tone every year. Now – My Super Reverb costs much more to re-Tube than my Blues Jr. – but when break down the costs over a couple years – it’s definitely worth it in the quest for maintaining your tone. (That’s what I tell the wife anyway.) Until next time tone chasers!