Tube vs Solid-State Amp: How Do They Differ?

Before buying a guitar amp know first the basics of this sound equipment. Check out the two main categories of guitar amps and their difference.

Guitar amplifiers add depth and color to your music. It enhances both the sound quality of your guitar and your style of playing. By using this sound device, you will learn and discover more about your genre.

If you are a rookie in guitar playing and it is your first time searching for a guitar amp, the first thing you need to do is familiarize yourself with the basic categories of this device. Guitar amps have two main classifications, the tube, and the solid-state amp. To learn more about these devices, check out the details below.

Technical Differences 

The primary difference between the tube and the solid-state amp is the manner how these devices amplify guitar sounds.

A tube amp uses two or more vacuum tubes to amplify guitar sound and signal. These tubes produce a ‘warm sound’ known as overdrive. When the tubes are overloaded, it creates a warm distortion, which results in open-sounding music. You can recognize the sound a tube amp produces from the well-known Marshall, Fender, Vox, and monoprice tube amp.

Meanwhile, a solid-state amp depends on diodes and transistors to amplify the guitar signal. Therefore, a solid-state amp utilizes circuitry-based amplification rather than using conventional vacuum tubes.

Response State

Between these two guitar amps, tubes produce smoother and more responsive overdrive compared to solid-state. The former is capable of producing different sounds based on the guitarist’s playing style. Thus, the tone quickly changes depending on how hard a guitarist picks the instrument. In this effect, a tube amp can accurately represent the player’s sound and style.

On the other hand, a solid-state amp creates a cleaner and softer sound. However, it produces a slight distortion when playing heavily accented notes. A solid-state maintains its crisp and clean sound no matter how hard a player picks the guitar.

Sound Options

If you prefer an amp with sound options, a solid-state is the best choice. Recent models of solid-state amps feature circuitry and built-in effects to offer different sound options. This feature allows you to play different music genres without purchasing additional devices like pedals.

The tube amp is a classic guitar amplifier. It has no built-in effects as a solid-state have. Instead, you’ll have to purchase other sound devices to create sound effects.


Tube amps are louder compared to a solid-state even both has similar wattage rating. For example, if you buy a 50W tube amp and a solid-state with the same power, the former is still louder.

Be warned that high-powered tube amps are not always the best choice. You don’t want to overpower your drummer and other instruments. The ideal wattage for tube amps is 40 to 60W. This wattage helps produce quality sounds and a more natural tone.


Troubleshooting a solid-state amp is harder since it is digital. On the other side, it is easier to pinpoint problems on a tube amp because it is an analog device. The only problem with a tube amp is that the vacuum tubes can go bad. You have to replace the damaged tube to avoid it from affecting your tone. Though tube amps are more affordable, they are more expensive to fix.