Poll Which is more reliable solid state or tubes?

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by warrent, Apr 8, 2021.

Most reliable

  1. PtP or turret Tube amps

    64 vote(s)
    41.3%
  2. PCB Tube

    5 vote(s)
    3.2%
  3. Solid State no digital processing

    77 vote(s)
    49.7%
  4. Solid State with dsp

    9 vote(s)
    5.8%
  1. aiaosu

    aiaosu TDPRI Member

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    It has been my experience that repairs and failures have less to do with tube or solid state technology and more to do with parts and design choices.

    If a manufacturer like Marshall uses pcb board mounted jacks or plastic jacks, it really doesn't matter what type of amp it is because those designs will fail.

    I prefer tube amps overall and find heat related issues like cold or cracked solder joints occur more than solid state (especially EL84 amps IMO). With solid state, I find more problems with MOSFETs or transistors. Bottom line, I don't think either technology is more reliable, just different types of problems. Well designed amps of either should be reliable.

    Digital amps are a different problem because there are processors that are difficult to replace and a lot use surface mount technology. I consider these less repairable but I don't know if they are less reliable.
     
    David C likes this.
  2. swaptronics

    swaptronics TDPRI Member

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    Agreed! PTP, eyelet board, and turret board tube amps are among the most reliable amps ever made. Modern PCB "tube" amps won't be as reliable or serviceable. Leo Fender designed the most serviceable and most reliable amps IMO (before CBS bought them out). I had a PCB Princeton Reverb amp bought new and got rid of it. It didn't compare to the vintage PR I once had in the 70's and should have never sold. I play a 1959 Tweed Deluxe replica that I hand built from parts on the internet--this amp will last a lifetime (tubes will fail, but all other components should last a long time).
     
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  3. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Poster Extraordinaire

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    But those old tube amps will have been recapped, had their 'death cap' removed and 3 prong plug installed and had other service done to them. A 70 year old amp that has never been serviced is unlikely to be still pumping out tones and is also likely to be an electric shock hazard to the user. That people invest in having these amps maintained is due to their excellent tone, not their reliability.
     
  4. bblumentritt

    bblumentritt Tele-Afflicted

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    In many cases, yes.

    I gigged with a 1958 Fender Champ in the early '80s and I replaced the leaky electrolytics. l also gigged with a 10yo Fender Pro Reverb that was bone stock, and in the early 2000s gigged with a '75 Princeton that was also bone stock except for the tubes.

    We maintain them for their tone, keeping in mind that even replacing caps every 20-30 years or so is pretty good reliability. The late '70s early'80s solid state amps I gigged with are long since in the graveyard....
     
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  5. Voxguy

    Voxguy TDPRI Member

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    Totally agree with the RoHS solder issues. The composition of the RoHS solders almost guarantee a bad or weak joint on a second try if you have a goof. This is caused by the metals separating and forming different compounds. I spent my career in semiconductor research, development and production around the world. RoHS was a mean thing to inflict on the industry, regardless of the safety/enironmental issues (they still make Lead-acid batteries for vehicles....) Visually, a weak RoHS joint has a dull gray appearance from the microstructure of the surface of the joint. Electrically, this forms a higher resistance joint. The best stuff is still 60-40 lead-tin with a rosin core.
     
  6. Tele-beeb

    Tele-beeb Friend of Leo's

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    From @1977 to 1981 my friends and I frequented the Music Shops from Evansville Indiana to Nashville Tennessee. I’m ashamed to reveal the gear I didn’t buy.
    Anyway, I have kept this secret... and sorry if it ruffles feathers. It was very common to see everything from tweeds to silverfaces sitting near the “round-tuit” area.
    Meaning... me-“hey, what’s up with those?”
    them-“oh... those are not working, but we plan to get around to fixing ‘em.”
    I have always wondered how many of those “round-tuits” are still jumping on and off benches?”
    That’s not necessarily a bad thing... they can be fixed as some SS’s can’t.
     
  7. Stratocaster4life

    Stratocaster4life TDPRI Member

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    Yeah "built-in" LEDs. I meant "soldered-in" LEDs.
    It's a lot harder to solder those little green, red, blue, and white LEDs than to simply replace a bulb.
    It's similar to pulling out and replacing a tube versus finding a broken component and soldering in a new one.
     
  8. golfnut

    golfnut Friend of Leo's

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    I think the question is more "Solid state or tubes, whats best for the job it will be doing". I've never had a solid state fail on a gig but I have had a tube amp go down on a gig, several times. Of course I've used tube amps way more than solid state. Usually with a tube amp its been a rectifier or other tube. A couple times the amp needed service. A tube amp (especially PTP\turret) are easier to repair. Then when you're talking PCB it depends on who built the amp. I had a Tone King Metropolitan had a 6v6 tube blow on me and took out a resistor. The tech that worked on it never worked on the Tone Kings but praised the build quality and said it was as easy to work on as a PTP.
    So its a tough question to answer when comparing PTP to PCB as not all are equal. I've heard that some rats nest poorly designed PTP were hard to work on.
     
  9. fiveightandten

    fiveightandten TDPRI Member

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    Hand wired tube AMPS are the most reliable, but the tubes are much less reliable than solid state. So it’s kind of a question that can’t be answered.
     
  10. T-Bone

    T-Bone Tele-Afflicted

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    Solid state is more reliable. My iPhone is more accurate than my Rolex. 5 years from now my iPhone will be trash. 30 years from now my Rolex will be an heirloom, and will still be a reliable timepiece. I’ll take the tubes please.
     
  11. notmyusualuserid

    notmyusualuserid Friend of Leo's

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    SS, but valve amps are more (easily) repairable. :)
     
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