VALVE v TRANNY..?     'Mitch' starts the debate!
Hi Bill

Thanks for another great Lanky Beat Show (No 7) with Gerry Sandon and Graham Lythgoe.
 
Interesting opinion of Gerry's 'that valve amps are superior to transistor ones!' In one nice word: Bollocks! Inspired by this, I have written down a list of the amps' which I have used over the last 50 years and I have graded the one's I can remember using with marks out of 10. There were some really awful ones and some were/are truly great.
 
1 FAL TRANNY 15 WATT AMP: SPEAKER BLEW BUT DECENT STARTER: 7
2 WEM 15 WATT VALVE AMP: TOO TOPPY AND NO VOLUME: 6
3 BEL CAVERN TRANNY 50 WATT AMP 4 X 10 INCH SPEAKERS: NEVER ONCE LET ME DOWN ALL THROUGH    
   IPSO FACTO BAND DAYS: GREAT SOUND: 1O
4 VOX AC 30 VALVE AMP: NOTHING BUT TROUBLE AND NOWHERE NEAR LOUD ENOUGH TO COPE WITH CLUB 
   BACKING MUSICIANS: 5
5 HH IC100 TRANNY: GREAT AMP. WE ALL HAD EM, LOVED EM AND REGRETTED GETTING RID OF IT. LOUD
   AS HELL!  NO FAULTS: 10
6 PEAVEY DEUCE VALVE: SOUNDED GREAT JUST BEFORE IT CAUGHT FIRE WHICH IT DID ON A REGULAR
   BASIS.       
7 PEAVEY HERITAGE VALVE AMP: MORE RELIABLE BUT CRAP SOUND: 7  
8 PEAVEY STEREO CHORUS: TRANNY: GOOD DECENT SOUNDING AMP: 9
9 VOX AC 30 VALVE UPGRADED WITH JBL SPEAKERS: OK, BUT NOT LOUD ENOUGH: GAVE IT AWAY TO GERRY
   SANDON: 7 
10 FENDER TWIN REVERB EX 10CC: GOOD AMP BUT CRIPPLINGLY HEAVY: 9  
11 ROLAND JAZZ CHORUS TRANNY: SUPERB AMP: 10
12 PEAVEY BANDIT TRANNY: GREAT CLEAN SOUND AND PORTABLE: 9
13 PEAVEY ENCORE VALVE: SICK OF SPENDIND GOOD MONEY AFTER BAD REPAIRING IT: 4
14 ROLAND CUBE 60 TRANNY: MY CURRANT AMP, LOUD CLEAN LIGHT AND RELIABLE. LOVE IT! 10
 
'Mitch' in white T shirt rehearses with Ipso Facto in the mid-60s

  So there you are Bill. It seems that the popular opinion nowadays is that if you use a tranny amp' its because you can't afford a valve amp. A good amp' is a good amp' period. Valve amps by a decent maker do sound good, but take a lot of looking after. All that heat with no cabinet fan can't be a good thing. Also the louder a valve amp goes, the more valve's is uses and more glass to break.
 
  It's also a misconception that valves are better for R & B. Well! B.B. King uses a Lab series tranny, Albert King a Roland Jazz chorus and Wilko Johnson a HH combo; all trannys and no-one is gonna say those guys have bad tones.
 
  When we played at The Cavern Club, Keith Wright and I had the two Vox AC 30s flat out and they sounded crap: They wouldn't pull the skin off a custard. IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT TYPE OF AMP, YOU ARE STILL GONNA SOUND LIKE YOU! The problem is, a lot of folk tend to listen with their eyes. Spending big bucks on a designer valve amp won't make you sound like Jeff Beck or Hank Marvin. Recording however, is another story.
 
  In the Late 1990's, I played with Oggie & The Membranes in a short lived, but fun band. I was using a 50 watt Roland jazz chorus amp' which I loved. It was light, loud great tone, and handled pedals well. Because it was a tranny, I got some stick from a guy who shall remain nameless; "in'tit time tha' geet a proper amp?"
 
  Later on I had a good idea this same guy would be at the gig the next time we played, so.. The speaker grille just lifted off from the Roland. I cut up an old black T shirt and stretched it over the grille. Then, with some dutyfully computer scanning and downloading of logos it looked like a passible Fender Combo amp' from the nineties. We stuck it in a dark corner and did the gig. The guy in question came over and said, "Ten times better that mate!" Oggie nearly ended himself!!
I rest my fight case.
Mitch Mitchinson: December 2012