#1
For instance, is an amp with 7 tubes somehow better than one with 5? 
#2
No tone is still subjective. 
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#3
better well not necessarily. the 7 tube amp may be "better" for certain things depending on why the extra tubes are there. high gain amps tend to have more tubes for more gain stages so in that case more might be "better" but not always. 
#5
Short answer is no, long answer is still no.
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#7
One of the reasons I ask is when comparing the new EVH 5150 III LBX2 which cost $100 more and has one less tube than the original EVH 5150 III LBX.  
#8
In some cases, more tubes may be worse because if you're not using those extra drivers, which may be for say extra channels, effects, etc., they are wasting energy and your money.

I would argue that too little tubes is probably not a good sign. That too little amount is less than 3 preamp tubes if you have 2 power tubes or more, or less than 2 preamp tubes if you have 1 power tube. Typical set up is the input driver, tone stack driver, and phase inverter. The phase inverter tube can be omitted if the amp only has one power tube IIRC.
Last edited by Will Lane at Mar 17, 2017,
#9
It depends. Buying one amp over the other by simply counting tubes is wrong, but having more tube features (which add tubes) can be a good thing. As an example consider my Fender Hot Rod Deluxe. It has 7 tubes 3 preamp tubes and 2 power amp tubes. By adding more power amp tubes it will only make the amp louder and give it more headroom. The amp is loud enough at 4-5 is enough to play with a band and has up to 6 with clean headroom so I do not need more power tubes. The amp has a distortion channel which is loud enough and the preamp section works well, actually I replaced 1 of the preamp tubes with one with lower gain so I would definitely not need another preamp tube. This completes the signal path making the HRD a tube amp not a hybrid and the amp sounds really good through a good speaker.

On the other hand the amp features a solid state rectifier. This was the component that failed very often and letting people think that tube amps are not reliable. Other features that are solid state in my amp, it would have been cool to have these tube powered but are not necessary, the effects loop and the spring reverb. Fender would require a tube for the effects loop and another one  for the spring reverb.
#10
Quote by Will Lane
In some cases, more tubes may be worse because if you're not using those extra drivers, which may be for say extra channels, effects, etc., they are wasting energy and your money.


I used to cart around a Carvin Quad-X preamp and a Carvin TS-100 tube power amp. There are nine 12 AX7 tubes in the Quad-X, and these provide up to 11 gain stages. there are another three 12 AX7 tubes and four EL34s (or 6L6s) in the power amp. The pair take up four rack spaces. You can imagine the retube bill if the rack gets dropped...
#12
Some valves (you can call them tubes if you like) have 2 parts to them so you can make 2 active circuits with one. Others only have one part. Power amps often have, say 2 large valves for 50W and 4 large valves for the 100W version of the same make. So, it is dificult to judge the if one is better than another. More valves will usually mean more power or more versatility, but not always.
Last edited by PSimonR at Mar 17, 2017,
#13
Quote by monwobobbo
better well not necessarily. the 7 tube amp may be "better" for certain things depending on why the extra tubes are there. high gain amps tend to have more tubes for more gain stages so in that case more might be "better" but not always. 


Yeah. In an amp which has a lot of preamp gain, too few tubes can be a bit of a warning bell that maybe it's not actually all-tube.

But it very much depends on the type of amp (high gain or not), what other features it has (reverb, tremolo, fx loop), how many channels and whether they're independent, etc. etc.
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#15
Not at all.  Some of the truly legendary guitar amplifiers have very few tubes, while others have a whole forest of them.  For instance, this Trainwreck has only five:



More channels and more capabilities often translates into a lot more tubes.  Mesa's Triple Rectifier is a perfect example:



Heaven help you when you have to re-tube a Triple Rectifier!
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