The electric guitar’s pickups are small electric AC generators. These pickups have magnets (poles) that magnetize the metal guitar strings. The movement of the magnetic field surrounding the magnetized strings generates electricity in the pickup’s coil. 

This coil consists of a thin insulated wire wrapped around a spool and when a magnetic field emerges through this coil of wire it generates an electric voltage (electronic pressure) and current (electron flow) in the coil’s wire.

As the guitar string moves in one direction over the guitar pickup coil it generates a negative voltage (excess electrons), then as it reverses direction (while vibrating back and forth) the electron pressure (voltage) and electron flow (current) reverses too and a positive voltage is generated (scarcity of electrons) and this repeats with every vibration of the string thus creating an alternating current (AC) electrical signal.

This is why guitar audio signals are AC (alternating current) since when the strings alternate their direction of travel the signal voltage alternates between + and -.

This tiny little AC signal is what the guitar amplifier will amplify until it’s strong enough to move a speaker cone in and out. The speaker cone alternates its direction of movement in and out with the alternating current from the guitar’s pickup coil. So for every guitar string movement there is a corresponding speaker cone movement. That requires a substantial increase in gain and tone shaping quality and is the goal and reason for creation of this tube guitar amplifier.

The guitar used is critically important. The amplifier used is critically important. The speaker used is critically important. All contribute to the ultimate tone that you are able to create.

These key components plus the player’s inherent ability to touch and play the guitars strings really well all contribute toward producing the sound quality that results. In all honesty, take away any one of these key ingredients and you end up with a lesser result. Include all of them (or more for additional refinement) and you have the makings of a really excellent guitar sound quality.

If you look at the guitar audio signal on an oscilloscope the pitch of the guitar string’s sound is expressed as wave spacing (frequency) and loudness is expressed as wave height (amplitude). A high frequency sound will have tight wave spacing and a low frequency sound will have wide wave spacing.

A low volume sound will have short waves and a loud volume sound will have tall waves.

The direct relationship between string movement and electricity generated in the pickup coil is the key to understanding guitar amplification. The guitar amplifier’s goal is to make the electric audio waves taller to boost their loudness. The components chosen and their values and quality all contribute toward increasing or decreasing your ultimate tone.

This guitar amplifier is designed to create a clean tone and the circuit and tubes chosen provide the greatest amount of headroom possible. This amp is not designed to generate a distorted sound quality so if that is what you’re after, this is not the amplifier for you. However, those of you who chase tone, are very very picky about just the right emotional driven clean tone will be very pleasantly surprised when you play this amp. It is unique and sounds wonderful and is an excellent replacement for those of you who use the Quilter ToneBlock 202 guitar amplifier (or another solid state amplifier) for its linearity. Unfortunately, the Quilter doesn’t provide adequate emotional impact and this is what has caused me to build this tube amp. This guitar tube amplifier yields the linearity that you desire plus it adds the wonderful emotional tonal quality, the dynamics, and the playability of a stellar tube amp. Its hard to imagine doing any better if you desire a clean type tone. The EL34 tube that I use adds just the right amount of emotional impact while still remaining clean. It is the right power tube for this amp.

When multiple strings are played through this amplifier, the multiple electric waves are summed into complex waves and those complex waves also carry a necessary (in my experience and opinion) amount of emotional quality that just doesn’t exist within a solid state amplifier nor one that only uses a preamp tube to generate 2nd order harmonic distortion. The power tube and the rectifier tube combination is also part of creating the best tone.

Generating 2nd order harmonic distortion increases the 3 dimensional quality of your tone and increases the width and depth of your soundstage. Even though it is a form of distortion (created by the tubes involved) it really is best when its beautifully formed and the nasty sounding element of distortion is removed. The beauty of 2nd order harmonics and what our ear craves is well satisfied.

The nasty element of distortion is created by using lower quality transformers, resistors, capacitors, wire, vibration inducing design elements, solder joints, and many other negative sources. A distortion oriented amplifier might do well when some of these items are compromised, but a superb clean amplifier will not. When building the best clean tone amplifier, everything comes through and its the correct combination of elements that produces a “world class” sound quality.

This is what this guitar amplifier excels in doing really well. This also is what I’ve experienced and have figured out how to work with through decades of experience while building audiophile oriented “world class” components. A guitar amplifier is somewhat different in approach (instrument playing with pleasant distortion rather than passive listening with minimal or no distortion) but the selection of components still is a significant undertaking and one that really needs an audiophile builder approach combined with a serious and experienced musician experience to listen to the end result and “tweak” the amplifier to sound its best. The guitar amplifier is thus part of the instrument sound creation chain and not just the listening chain and focuses on creating music that can be tracked, mixed, mastered and recorded as well as being listened to passively.