Taking Care Of Your Tube Amp

Tube Amps! They are like magic! They produce unbelievable tone! however, they are beasts to take care of and'll cost you a fortune. Here are a few steps to taking care of your Tube Amp.

Ultimate Guitar
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.

Power On/Off

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.

Do Not!

- 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.

About me

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. Have Fun, - Jeff

60 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I don't own a tube amp myself, but this seems like mighty nice information. But I do keep on throwing my "normal" amp out of a helicopter, especially when over rivers (ok, all the new jokes on the joke from the article are used now)... Nah, you write nice articles mate, just try to improve your spelling and you'll be a respected writer.
    "child prodigy's"....lol i hate em, they're at my level at an earlier stage in their lives and get all the attention cuz they're young ah well, u'll grow up and be nothing special in a few years soon enuf lol...gud article though, common sense though
    How do you know so much about tube amps. You're only 12, and have only had one for what? 3 weeks. Big deal, so you can read the caution sticker on the back. Guess it's a good article for a moron.
    So here I am on our annual river trip! Enjoying a cold one in the canoe. THEN, down comes this 65 black face reverb deluxe falling from a low flying helicopter! Just about killed me! Put a hole in the canoe, which sunk. Had to swin to shore! Saved my beer though! Just wonderin' if it was one of you guys???? !
    stand by is a tube saver "never throw in a river or out of a helicopter" o shit, ive been mistreating my amp
    the following statement is coming from someone that is realitivatly educated and is simply admitting his inedivable ingornance How can you tell if its a tube amp and not a solid state i belive if it has a conventional speaker (with the cylinder coming out of the back and such) but im not sure.
    and dont most tube amps have a sumwhat open back on the heads sort of like a grill type of things that u can c into the back of the amp/head?
    i think you use the the power than the standby the standby won't warm your amp up it will just keep the amp warm if you stop playing for a while thats what all the tube amp manuals say
    ok...note to self....stop throwing tupe amps out of helicopters, or into rivers..... your soooo smart (seriously) and your only 12!!!
    I don't own a tube amp myself, but i do own a Fender Champion 30 DSP solid state amp which for some reason won't turn on. Tested the amp with different plugs and still won't turn on. Any idea what might be wrong? And what's wrong with the spelling and grammar?
    mtboarder12 wrote: the following statement is coming from someone that is realitivatly educated and is simply admitting his inedivable ingornance How can you tell if its a tube amp and not a solid state i belive if it has a conventional speaker (with the cylinder coming out of the back and such) but im not sure.
    When you turn the amp on you won't hear sound for a few seconds while it warms up if it's a tube amp. Solid state amps tend to produce sound the moment their turned on (if they're not broken like mine lol).
    hi, I got my first valve amp on its way to me (chose it in store, bought on the internet to save moneys and cos i dont have a car to get it home from shop) bloody internet store taking a week and a half to deliver it _. Anyways, thanks for the info. it's all basic stuff that's in the manual anyway, but its just place to read the same information, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I'm not sure how entitled you are to write an article if you'd only had a valve amp for 3 weeks, since all you could possibly be doing is regurgitating what you've read. I wish i'd got into guitar that young, I was like 17 when i got my first crappy guitar.
    hmm, good article i havnt changed the tubes in my amp for a long time, and thx for telling me about the rivers ive been dipping mine in bathtubs of water maybe thats y it starts to not sound right.
    Good article.I just wanted to add that you should ALWAYS turn your power switch on first and THEN your standby switch.Doing this the opposite way can really EFF up the ole tube amp.Don't know if you said that or not but I'm not checkin.Have a good one
    GnRrelease_it wrote: smartest 12 year old on this site.
    uh no not even, anyone can copy out the manual for an amp and reword it. no new information for a person who has a tube amp.
    A mismatched speaker isn't going to have the same "ohmage" as you put it. If a speaker's impendance doesn't match that of your amp's output then the ohm rating isn't going to match. You're right though using a speaker that doesn't match your amp won't kill it.
    this kid is 12 and he wrote this? thats pretty impressive, i must say
    there is no way that im gonna listen to a 12 yr old on how to take care of my tube head.
    yea backup, submit it, not many people care around here lol. Your da coolest
    Son of Spam
    No wonder my amp keeps breaking, I've always thrown them out of helicopters. Just kidding. Great atricle, good information
    I know a gigging guitarist that's had his JCM900 for about 3 years and hasn't even changed the tubes. He gigs at shows at least once a week and practices daily. This goes to show that tube quality makes all the difference in tone and how long the tubes last. Open speaker jacks aren't a problem I should add, they're everywhere.
    Backup Guitar
    Umm.... Well, I just wrote an article on this. Seriously. Check the UG columns forum for it. Damn.
    Never throw it into a river, or out of a helocopter. Your a ***king genious It does say all that in the instructions though (except the helicopter part) Good job none the less! keep it up
    suggestion.... don't write that your twelve at the bottom of the article. People will flame your article just for that. And nobody cares how many hours you play each day.
    Backup Guitar
    theredisreal has it right. People make fun of people for being 12 around here. But I'll submit mine and pwnz0rz j00 anyways...
    lol, god does not tease, its almost easter, by the way, i'm almost done with 6th grade and i got all good classes for 7th. Expect the most from me lol
    how about... throw it out of a helicopter into a river? would that cancel it out and it would be fine?
    yah but my friend said that he likes the sounds of "used" tubes, he sais that they have a warmer sound. me i dont know, i bought a fender deluxe and i've havn't had it long enough to see if older tubes sound different. o well if you know anything, then say something.
    theredisreal has it right. People make fun of people for being 12 around here. But I'll submit mine and pwnz0rz j00 anyways...
    yours is a lot better anyways submit and put him to shame!
    cause tom morello has a whole nation of effect and pick up boosters and doesnt need to worry about his tone