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A while back (before stackexchange) I read that it's not recommended to buy an amplifier from a country with different electricity (110v 50hz vs 220 60hz) because the circuits will create a different sound or something like that.

Is this true? Does anyone have experience with such a thing?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

It certainly can make a difference but you do find more and more amplifiers which can cope with either (usually with a switch to select 110 or 220 V) so I'm guessing the manufacturers aren't as worried.

You do need to make sure your amp can cope from a damage perspective though. If it is designed for 110V it may be destroyed by 220V!

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It is advised that any amp (or guitar for that matter) be tested and played by you before a purchase. This rules out mail order amps. If you can't play it or test it out, do not buy.

Here's an example of buying a vintage amp. Let's say the power at your location is 120 VAC at 60 Hz and you buy an amp that was built in 1959. Just for grins, it happens to be an original Fender Tweed Deluxe (Model 5E3). This amp was built and biased for 100 VAC 60Hz.

What's wrong here is that 53 years have passed and so have our electrical power and outlets. This old amp even if it is in pristine condition is not expecting 120 VAC and it does not have a grounded chassis. To make this amp sound like it did in 1959 (assuming all the tubes are NOS) you will need to add a three prong plug and ground the chassis (safety first) and re-bias the power tubes to work at the higher 120VAC. Alternately, one could put a power conditioner or a VARIAC between the amp and outlet so you could dial in 100 VAC. The point is, one has to consider everything in the electronic chain and how this is affected by the power source.

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... and it might operate badly, or get damaged even the other way round too. A 220V tube amp (if the transformer does not have a voltage selector, or it is not correctly set) will not be happy with half the heater voltages...

As for the sound factor: I always laugh when amateurs like me put Ibanez TS808s in the fridge, because 'That's why Van Halen sounds like how he sounds'. Thats not something measurable, and entirely subjective.

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Hi ppeterka, welcome to the site. I don't really see how your second paragraph relates to the question.. is it supposed to? –  naught101 Oct 16 '12 at 14:50
    
@naught101 Sorry, got carried away, hope this is more compliant with the intentions of the page –  ppeterka Oct 16 '12 at 19:16
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