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Any of you guys leave traditional tube amps simply because of the upkeep??


Both my tube heads are down because of issues and I dont have the excess cash to fix them right now so I wind up playing the Katana and Quilter 90 percent of the time anyway.....maybe its time to go digital Im thinking......anyone else get fed up with the cost of tubes and caps etc...??


Tone is Paramount
Gold Supporting Member
Still have my tube amps, but learned a few lessons to buy new or newer ones. New production tubes are relatively cheap. East amps designs theirs around stock JJ tubes.....Nothing sounds like tubes..I do have my Quilter 101 mini as a backup. Better amp at low volumes than my tube amps..


My main amp is a tube amp but I dont discriminate. Heck I gigged with a Red stripe Bandit and a MIM Strat for years. Always got complimented on my tone from other players even the ones who would tell me if it sucked.


I use an HX Stomp and el cheapo class D amp. My previous setup was an Ethos Clean into a Quilter. Prior to that I had a massively overpowered Ceriatone Dumble clone. I still love tube amps but I am not a performing musician and to get the warm overdriven tones usually requires way too much volume. You can mess around with power scaling and attenuators and even load boxes but that kind of defeats the purpose to me.

I am sure if I add up the cost of the stomp and pedals and power amp/speaker, the amount is probably higher than a tube combo amp. But despite costing more, it allows me to play at low volumes, I can direct record with IRs, and I have several different amp models I can use. And while it isn't 100% the same thing it is like 90% and good enough for me. Modelling 10 years ago just wasn't at the same level as today. That being said, at some point I still want to build a low wattage Fender tube amp with reverb.

Jeff Gehring

Gold Supporting Member
I do my own work, and don't find it to be much of a factor, really. There's ten or so tube amps around here at the present moment, they tend to come and go...


Gold Supporting Member
Upkeep is one reason I switched, but not the main reason (good tone at low volumes and versatility are the main ones). I do not at all miss trying to get microphonics out of a high gain combo however.


I have been playing and gigging tube amps for 3 decades now...and I have replaced tubes 3 times...2 repair jobs on a heavily abused amp cause the inputs were corroded.

I don’t use my tube amps at home, I practice unplugged...obviously that impact the running time...but I can’t help to think that ppl do maintance on tube amps based on recommendedations of tube techs...while some others don’t fix what isn’t broken.


Over the past 20 years I have had to take one tube amp to a tech and replace a broken tube something like 3 times. That's not much maintenance. Otherwise tube replacements have been something I can do myself as my amps have been self-biasing or had bias test points.

IMO maintenance requirements are not a great reason to ditch tube amps. I could see size and weight being ones or that you need things to be easily switchable with one button or want to reduce setup time.


Philadelphia Jazz, Funk, and R&B
Gold Supporting Member
Leave tube amps? No.

But I tend to play them a lot less, partially to save wear and tear on the tubes.

One of the things I like about my SS/modeler rig (FM3>Quilter MicroPro 200) is that I can turn it on and leave it on all evening without worrying about tube wear.

With my guitar of choice (Telecaster at the moment) on a stand within arm's reach I can play off and on for hours without tube wear and it's "instant on;". I just pick up the guitar, turn up its volume knob, play, and put it back on the stand when I'm done, eventually turning the FM3 and MP200 off before going to bed.
I change tubes maybe once every 5-6 years or so, so it's really not a big deal, nor is it costly.

It's more of a pain in the rear to change out the pedal switches - I just put my third set in my MIDI controller, and replaced a couple in my Bogner pedal. That has nothing to do with it being a tube rig, though, and I'm going to bet that the newer digital floor stuff won't hold up as well as the older generation, just due to complexity and the inherent limited life of LCD displays.

IMO, there are two reasons to change from tubes to digital:

1) Versatility - a selection of a dozen amp models at 98% can often be more useful than a single 100% perfect amp.

2) Size/weight.

With a traditional amp, I carry the amp head (55 lbs), 1960A (80 lbs), rack FX/tuner/power/loadbox/mixer (60 lbs), two pedalboards (amp & MIDI - 10 lbs), and a powered monitor (40lbs). That's almost 250 lbs before I think about the guitars and whatever other instruments the gig calls for.

Alternatively, I can carry the Axe-FX or Kemper rack (30 lbs with power & tuner), a pedalboard (10 lbs), and a powered monitor (40 lbs). That's only 80 lbs - a 70% reduction in weight to carry into a gig...and load out at the end of the show. Even if I carry a second monitor cabinet, I'm still at half the weight, much smaller profile, and easier to fit in just about any gigging space.
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Silver Supporting Member
I have very little upkeep with my amps. They need new tubes at times but I get a lot of life out of them so I don't feel like it's anywhere near some kind of quantifiable burden that a modeler would solve.


Upkeep has been fairly minor on my tube amps. Had to replace a few pre amp tubes, and one or two power amp tubes. I would say the size and weight was more of a factor, and that I use a number of different (modeller) amps.


Gold Supporting Member
a can of deoxit, some compressed air and some spares was never a huge deal. but my old place didn't have the best of power, so i ended up with a fair bit of pre and power tubes. and a tube tester. so it would be dumb to stop now, i guess. they get played so little these days that they are trouble-free anyway.

but if i had 15 heads to maintain like most of the guys here, i can see how that would be a problem. but for a couple of combos? it's fine.

retubed a power amp once and that thing had 12 tubes in it. that sucked.


No, I don't think I've ever needed to change tubes in an amp at all, come to think of it.

I'm switching because if I want to go from my rhythm tone to a clean ambient part, I have to change my amp channel, turn off my TS, turn off the noise gate, turn on chorus, turn on delay, and switch pickups.

Plus the weight and space it takes when touring.

Plus having to mic a cab to get guitar to my in ears.

Plus no silent practicing.

Plus having to add more pedals and upsize my board and PSU to accommodate new sounds.



Trumpets and Tants
Silver Supporting Member
I feel like tube amp "upkeep" is hugely overblown. And I am pretty much modelers all the time now. You had to change power tubes in a 100 watt head once in 5 years time. You'll (in the generic sense) be ok.


I still have my hot rod deluxe and Mesa boogie mini rectifier. The HrD is a great gigging amp, and for live work I still prefer using “tubes”.

For home use modeling his the way, or even an hybrid solution (amps trough a suhr ir loader). It’s fun having both options.

The amps never gave me a lot of trouble.


Gold Supporting Member
Maintenance and reliability were definitely big factors for me.

I was all about class A amps that run tubes HOT, and I was changing out full sets of tubes every 4-6 months.

On top of that, tube prices kept going up, and the quality of tubes kept getting worse and worse. Even 5 years ago I was starting to get more bad tubes than I've ever had before. Microphonic preamp tubes, bad power tubes, rectifier tubes with shorts...

I always kept a backup solid state amp in the trunk, and carried a bag with a spare for every tube in my amp, and a spare fuse for every fuse in the amp (cause you never know when one of those is gonna blow).

Sometimes I would play shows with two amps just so I could hit an A/B to switch over to a backup in case the main amp went down.

And then there were the trips across town to the repair shop, and the repair bills.

It was manageable, but I don't miss it at all. Digital gear is just far more reliable in my experience.


I love my tube amps, but I don't like tube maintenance and failure.

I jam and gig almost exclusively with Helix and Powercab Plus, not only to get away from tube maintenance and failure, but also the flexibility of playing electric and acoustic guitars, and a keyboard, and the selection of amp and speaker models.

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