The recent experience making a DIY Class A Champ reignites for me the eternal debate between the merits of Class A and Class A/B amps. (I link once more to Dave Hunter’s excellent short article on the topic, since he explains the distinction so much better than I can.)
Like most American players of a certain age, I grew up without access to great Class A amps. (I’m going to take the lazy way out here, and lump Voxes and their kin into the Class A category, despite the distinctions that Dave H. explains so well.) My initial exposure to various ’90s Vox reissues and other “Voxoids” of the era was enough to spark my interest. (And is “spark” the perfect verb for great Class A amps, or what?) But it wasn’t till I encountered Matchless amps and real vintage Voxes that I totally got it.
But still, I go back and forth constantly. And whenever I switch between categories, I think, “Ah! There’s what I was missing,” though I tend not to miss it when I’m playing an amp of the opposite type. So at least I’m usually happy.
Overall I’ve probably favored Vox-type amps over Fender- and Marshall-flavored ones, though I’m the sort of player who’s rarely interested in macho rock and metal distortion. (If that weren’t so, I’d be an A/B purist!) But having said that, my fave amp these days is the decidedly A/B brownface Tremolux I use in the lion’s share of my videos. So put me down as perennially undecided.
How about you? Do you pledge your allegiance to the explosive harmonic energy of Class A or the focused impact of Class A/B? And has anyone explored switchable schemes, as found on some Mesas and modded Marshalls?