Posted by: worshipguitarguy | September 1, 2006

Debunking Amplifier Myths

John S. Atchley has written a super article that answer many guitar amp myths in a Q&A format.  If you’re looking for answers on purchasing or using an amp, his article is a definite “must read.”

(Thanks to Daniel S. from bwacksforum for pointing out this article.)



Some exerpts from his article:

1) My 100-watt amp is twice as loud as your 50-watt amp.  This is one of those really sad myths that just won’t go away in spite of volumes of empirically and mathematically proven, unambiguous, clear, undisputed, scientific knowledge to the contrary…All other things being equal, a 100-watt amp will be just perceptibly louder than a 50-watt amp.  It takes about a ten-fold increase in power to double perceived volume.  That’s right, you’d need a 500-watt amp to be “twice as loud” as your buddy’s 50-watt amp.  Even more thought-provoking is the fact that a 50-watt amp will only be perceived as a little bit louder than a 15-watt amp driving the same cabinet!It will cost you signficantly more to re-tube a 100-watt amp.  If you are driving a 30- or 50-watt amp hard enough to require frequent re-tubing, chances are very good that you will also drive the 100-watt amp hard enough to require frequent retubing (at significantly higher cost).


2) I need a 100-watt amp ’cause my band has started gigging in clubs.  There is absolutely no venue that requires a larger amp and cabinet than one suitable for use as a stage monitor – provided that the members of the band don’t get into a juvenile competition to outdo each other…  At a small venue, a 15 to 30 watt amp can be placed behind the band in a traditional position and used without a mic…  At a medium venue, the small rig can be placed in front of and facing the guitarist as a monitor, and be mic’ed and run through the band’s PA…  At a large to giant venue, that same small rig can be arranged much as described above but now the band’s mixer feeds the house PA. 


3) Tube and solid-state preamps sound the same.  The facts are:

  • Tubes “warm up” the signal by introducing impurities not present in most solid-state circuits.
  • Tubes, even preamp tubes, go into clipping more gently than most solid-state circuits resulting in a slightly smoother transition to distortion.  Running preamp tubes just at full saturation gives a very full tone that simply isn’t found in solid-state preamp circuits.
  • Amp and effects manufacturers have been fairly successful in modeling tube preamp sounds using digital (DSP) and analog solid-state techniques.

For more, check out his article!



  1. Great article. Thanks for posting. Over the years, I have run everything from a Mesa Boogie Mark IV and a Marshall 4×12 to my little 7 watt Fender Champ. The Boogie’s more versatile and less volatile, and I dig the sound of a sealed back-cab… but, there’s not much cooler than a small tube amp cranked wide open, which is why I love the Champ.

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