Unlike solid state amps, tube amps use tubes to circulate the sound. That's how it gets its tone. Tubes can be fragile but the amps themselves can last a lifetime.
Always, when turning your amp on, turn it to the stand by position for 20-30 seconds before engaging normal operation. That'll give the tubes a chance to warm up before the dreaded hour of abuse.
Stand By - When not in use for a short period of time (10-30 mins), use the stand by feature. Stand by is used to lower the energy inside the amp during times when you will not need it for some period of time. Breaks during a song are great for this feature.
Power Off - Simply turn the power switch off (duh). Avoid turning the amplifier on and off in short periods of time. Wait 30-120 seconds before resuming the on position after turning it off.
- Never throw it into a river, or out of a helocopter.
- Do not turn on the amp without a speaker hooked in. This can Destroy the amp. That's Suicide!
- Never flip the power switch on and off rapidly. This can ruin the power supply. See above.
- Do not ignore signs of burning inside, smoke or a burning scent is dangerous. Take it to an amp doctor immediately!
- Never block the heat vents. Tubes make a lot of heat, and will make even more if you block the vents. That'll cost you some pretty big repairs.
- Do not ignore abnormal glows in the tubes. A big red glow flooding your tubes will mean they're about to melt. If this appears, turn off your amp immediately.
- Never have an oper speaker jack.
Things Your Shouldn't Worry Too Much About
- Add another speaker to the external jack. A mismatched speaker won't kill it, as long as its the same ohmage.
- Overdrive!! Massive overdriving will not cause any major damage. Just dont do it too long.
- Replacing your own preamp tubes. Only if you have experiance. I would get a professional. Making a small mistake during this procedure can cause big problems.
When Should I Replace My Tubes?
Depends on how much you use it. In a storage room, they'll last forever. Practice at a low volume level, 5-10 years. A couple hours a week and at gigs twice a week, expect 1-2 years out of them. It all depends on the quality of your tubes.
How do I know my tubes need to be changed?
Simple! The amp wont turn on (heh). Or sometimes if you notice a lack of tone or loss of sound.
I Just reached age 12, I've been playing for about 3 years, and recently i just got a B-52 Stealth Series Pro All tube Amp. It offers great tone and spectacular value. For me, Tube amps are worth no matter what price you pay for or how many hours you need dragging down into your basement. So far, I've haven't blown a tube yet and I've had it for about 3 weeks. However, I practice 2-4 hours a day and minimal volume, so I am expecting atleast one year on the tubes.