Amp tubes: get to know the different types

Groove Tubes
(Image credit: Richard Ecclestone/Redferns)

”Really early guitar amps were often designed for use with accordions, steels and microphones,” says Neil. “The earliest British one I’ve seen is from 1947 – the Vortexion model EG/10, which was advertised in Wireless World as the  ‘AC/DC amplifier’. Valves in guitar amps are generally providing amplification (preamp valves), power (power valves) and rectification. 

”In the UK, we often refer to a 12AX7 twin triode preamp valve as an ECC83, after the Philips/Mullard designation. Another well-renowned preamp valve would be the British Mullard EF86 pentode you find in some classic Vox designs. Common power valves include the EL84 and EL34, which are Philips/Mullard in origin, and the American 6L6 and 6V6 found in Fender amps.

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Rod Brakes

Rod Brakes is a music journalist with an expertise in guitars. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a writer covering artists, industry pros and gear includes contributions for leading publications and websites such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Guitar WorldGuitar Player and MusicRadar in addition to specialist music books, blogs and social media. He is also a lifelong musician.