Book Review: Solid-State Guitar Amplifiers

| March 22, 2011 | 0 Comments

Vacuum tube guitar amplifiers get the majority of attention from kit builders and tone purists, and with good reason. Tube amps definitely set the bar for the most highly sought after and classic guitar tones. The much maligned and often misunderstood solid state guitar amplifier has, over the years, become the “ugly stepsister” to its older sibling, the tube amp. But the best of the solid state designs do a much better job of creating great tone than they are generally given credit, and for this reason there are many great sounding solid state amps to be had, at a much better price, that will please all but the pickiest of tone hounds. And with the assistance of author Teemu Kyattala and his book, “Solid State Guitar Amplifiers,” a far greater understanding of these amps is available to anyone who will invest the time to dive in to this substantial book. And perhaps best of all, it is available as a free download.

At a high level, “Solid State Guitar Amplifiers” is a 419-page tome with chapters on:

  • Introduction to Power Amplifiers
  • Detailed Examination of Power Amplifiers
  • Heat Sinking
  • Power Supplies
  • Preamplifier Circuitry
  • Miscellaneous Circuitry
  • Earthing and Common Circuits
  • Practical Component Choices and Design Aspects
  • Speakers
  • Cabinet Design
  • Chassis Construction

The book goes into considerable detail and depth on all topics covered. Topics that get brief treatment in other books get covered here in depth, for example tone controls (17 pages), tube emulation circuits (15 pages), power supplies (26 pages) and protective circuits (19 pages). As with any book of this detail and length, most readers won’t attempt to read it cover to cover, but will instead dive in when they have a particular question. However those who do go through it page by page are likely to learn a lot, and emerge with considerable knowledge of the solid state amplifier field.

A few of our favorite sections included:

  • Tone Vocabulary – a definitive recitation of tone descriptors from “authoritative” to “woman tone,” a new one on us.
  • History of Transistorized Guitar Amplifiers – from Germanium designs of the mid-1950s thorough Vox’s 2005 Valvetronix technology.
  • Examples of Tube Emulation Circuits – covering Peavey’s TransTube, Carvin’s SX Series, Crate’s FlexWave, Korg’s Valve Reactor, Marshall’s Valvestate and Tech 21’s SansAmp.
  • Speakers – covering everything from power ratings, efficiency, impedance, frequency response, directivity, diffraction, dispersion, physical structures and how speakers “die.”

The author of this book, Teemu Kyattala, hails from Finland and apologizes in the Acknowledgements that the grammatical accuracy of the book’s content is still somewhat “lacking.” The book would benefit from a thorough editing to fix some grammatical errors and to make it easier to read. But this is a minor issue in the context of the terrific content to be found here, and especially in light of its distribution as a free download. We highly recommend this title as a reference for anyone with an interest in guitar amplifiers, effects or solid state design.

Category: Amplifier Kits

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