What exactly are 6v6 guitar amps?
When we talk about 6v6 amps, we’re actually talking about the 6v6 valve tubes. Besides 6v6 tubes, another hugely popular type of output tubes commonly found in tube guitar amps is EL-84 power tubes.
6v6 vs EL-84
Comparing 6v6 tubes with EL-84 tubes, some general observations can be made:
– 6v6 tubes usually give darker, more compressed tones while those made with EL-84 tubes are usually brighter and more lively.
– 6v6 tubes also tend to give out fatter tones compared to EL-84 tubes. EL-84 tubes tend to give chimier tones which some guitarists may find harsh, but others may prefer.
– Some guitarists may find that 6v6 tubes sound smoother compared to EL-84 tubes, but it is very subjective.
– 6v6 tubes also tend to have a fuller bass, which may be a reason why it sounds fatter, huskier and “better” when overdriven compared to EL-84 tubes. Guitarists who favour richer tones may find tones made with EL-84 tubes to be rather shrill and thin, while those in favour of bright EL-84 tones may find 6v6 tubes to be a bit too muddy.
Some guitar players have also observed that 6v6’s are usually found in American style amps such as Fender amps, while EL-84 tubes are commonly found in British style amps such as Marshall or Vox. This tells you quite a lot about the style of playing that 6v6’s and EL-84’s are commonly used for: 6v6’s are usually favoured for modern fat, throaty and rich metal tones, while EL-84’s are a common favourite among guitarists with a soft spot for vintage and bluesy sounds.
Of course, the above is just a generalization based on observations. Many modern amps have built in boost and effects, and when 6v6’s and EL-84’s are used in conjuction with these add-ons, it can be a tough task differentiating the two.
Although 6v6’s and EL-84’s are both great tube options, they may not respond as well to certain amps and effects as compared to others. When deciding which amps to purchase, it is always a good practice to bring your own guitar, try out different picking styles to test the response, and play notes along your guitar neck to check the tone in bass, mid and high range. If you are going to use pedals, bring a couple of those too to check if the tubes respond well to them.
Besides 6v6’s and EL-84’s, other types of output tubes you may find in your guitar amp are 6L6’s and EL-34’s, which are often referred to the “big brothers” of 6v6 and EL-84 tubes respectively.
The 6L6 tubes can produce about twice the power produced by 6v6 tubes, and are famously known for their “big American sound”, bold and solid voice with firm lows and prominent highs.
The EL-34 tubes produce a little more output than the 6L6’s, and are characterized by a juicy voice with crunchier mids and softer lows compared to the 6L6’s. They are known as the “big boys” of British style amplification.
How much do 6v6 amps cost?
As you may already know, tube guitar amps tend to be more expensive than solid state amps. Moreover, after the time of purchase, you will need to replace the tubes periodically to keep your amp in working condition.
6v6 valve tubes are no exception. The best, highest quality 6v6 guitar amps are typically anywhere between $1000 to a few thousands. Before deciding which 6v6 amp to buy for your studio, do consider the long-term expense and the budget required for your other studio equipment.
Best 6v6 amp head
This Fender Champ X2 is a 15-watt, all-tube, reverb-equipped, amazingly flexible versatile amp head is one of the best 6v6 amp in the market today.
If you want a fat, thick and punchy tones for your rock and blues licks, but still want a crispy and well-balanced clean setting to fall back on, the the Fender Champ X2 is definitely worth checking out!
With onboard 15 effects, built-in reverb and boost accessible from a foot switch, the Fender Champ X2 gives you plenty of freedom to shape your tone. This beauty also provides 16 amp types, which makes her a grab-and-go option for rehearsals, quiet practice and gigs.
The Fender Champ X2 provides two 6V6 tubes and one 12AX7 preamp tube.
Best small 6v6 amp
Designed to preserve your guitar’s natural tonal characteristics, the Jim Kelley Single Channel Reverb 60W Head delivers amazingly smooth overdrives and crispy, punchy clean tones.
This 60-watt tone monster will take care of your rehearsal and gigging needs without putting a monstrous weight on your back.
With built-in reverb, 4 6v6 valve tubes and bass, treble and gain controls, this little beauty has a lean sleak design that seems to invite you to rock to your heart’s content.
Best 6v6 combo amp
Known widely in the industry for its coveted and sophisticated all-tube sound, the Fender ’57 Deluxe is every tube guitarist’s wet dream. Giving you fat, crunchy distortion and harmonically rich clean tones, the Fender ’57 Deluxe is a true classic that will enchant you from the very first note.
Giving you a spectrum of sophisticated sounds from warmth to sparkling, rich fat lows to lively bright highs, and everything else in between, the ’57 Deluxe is undeniably a killer.
The world of tube amps is one to be explored and marvel at. Take your time to find out the best tone for you and your guitar, and don’t forget to take your studio budget and other band members’ tone preferences into consideration.