Department

Electrical Engineering

First Advisor

Professor Eva Ferre-Pikal

Description

Over the decades since they were invented, transistors have become more and more ubiquitous in everyday life – they’re in our computers, our cars, and even our pockets (in the form of smart phones). But before transistors came into vogue, vacuum tubes were the main electronic device used in all types of “cutting edge” technology, from radios to televisions to early computers. While vacuum tubes and transistors behave on similar principles, they are considerably different in terms of their actual operation, and because of their smaller size and better reliability, transistors eventually won the test of time. Still, even though the market has shrunk considerably, vacuum tubes are still used by a few people, namely guitarists looking for a distinctive tone from an amplifier that you arguably can’t get from a transistor. Over the past year, I have been using my knowledge of modern electronics, combined with research into vacuum tubes, to design and build a guitar amplifier using only vacuum tubes and no transistors. The design includes all of the features of a standard guitar amp – a preamplifier, tone controls, an effects send and return, and a power amplification stage. The amplifier is intended to be connected to an external speaker, and should be familiar to anybody who has spent some time playing electric guitar.

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Analog Guitar Amplifier

Over the decades since they were invented, transistors have become more and more ubiquitous in everyday life – they’re in our computers, our cars, and even our pockets (in the form of smart phones). But before transistors came into vogue, vacuum tubes were the main electronic device used in all types of “cutting edge” technology, from radios to televisions to early computers. While vacuum tubes and transistors behave on similar principles, they are considerably different in terms of their actual operation, and because of their smaller size and better reliability, transistors eventually won the test of time. Still, even though the market has shrunk considerably, vacuum tubes are still used by a few people, namely guitarists looking for a distinctive tone from an amplifier that you arguably can’t get from a transistor. Over the past year, I have been using my knowledge of modern electronics, combined with research into vacuum tubes, to design and build a guitar amplifier using only vacuum tubes and no transistors. The design includes all of the features of a standard guitar amp – a preamplifier, tone controls, an effects send and return, and a power amplification stage. The amplifier is intended to be connected to an external speaker, and should be familiar to anybody who has spent some time playing electric guitar.