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Discussion in 'Backline' started by Robert W, Mar 5, 2014.
To what extent, if any, do poweramps affect a guitar tone?
to me it mainly depends on whether it's tube or solid-state. Both versions saturate the guitar tone in their own way. It's pretty safe to assume that you're talking about a tube poweramp though, so what I hear from poweramp saturation is a general thickening of the tone, a slight rounding-off of the pick articulations, and a little bit of added distortion/overdrive that sounds different from the amp distortion.
In general, I love poweramp saturation!
I never believed the power amp contributed much to overall tone...then I did a shootout between my Marshall EL34 100/100 and Mesa Strategy 500. It was like night & day. Compared to the Mesa, the Marshall sounds like it has a really brutal hi-pass filter at 150hz. The response is different, it grinds more but lacks all of the Mesa's punch. A poweramp may add frequencies that do not exist in the preamp signal when it clips, but it will always exaggerate some and suppress other frequencies depending on tubes and other components in the signal path (I believe they call it "voicing"). Solid State poweramps also vary greatly in design and technology, and they all behave different too.
Many solid state poweramps have flat impedance curve, so overall result will have more midrange, not in very good way.