Amp DIY

How preamp and power tubes interact with wattage and speaker ratings to yield the glorious tones of yesterday and today.

Famous tube amps from companies like Fender, Marshall, Vox, and others have come to define the sound of virtually all electric-guitar music. To varying degrees, we know that these amps sound different from each other—and we might even know some basic specs, like what kind of tubes different models use, and maybe some details about stock speakers. But it can be hard to understand some of the finer reasons why these amps sound different from each other.

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Our columnist shares a love story about his longtime passion for the 1965 heavyweight that’s his No. 1.

Let me tell you the story of my first vintage Fender amp, which I call “No. 1"—the 1965 Super Reverb that I consider the greatest guitar amp I've ever heard and played.

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Your signature Fender sound could be just a tweak or twist away.

More personal, original-sounding guitar tones enable me to play differently or better, making my contributions to songs inspired and relevant. In my May 2020 column, titled “Like Peanut Butter and Chocolate," we talked about classic Fender amp and guitar pairings that have stood the tonal test of time. This time, I'll discuss finding more unique Fender amp sounds that can help you be inspired and stand out from the masses. Over the years, I've made some surprising tone discoveries trading and servicing vintage Fender amps.

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