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From the birth of the amplifier until the late 1950s, every amp used tube-based rectifiers in its power supply. Solid-state rectifiers have since become the norm, but tubes are still a popular option among casual and professional musicians. Like any other tube component, these rectifiers contribute to your sound in a way that makes them sought out by plenty of musicians who love their vintage tone. A rectifier tube's job is to grab the AC voltage coming in from the wall and turn it into the DC juice the amplifier's preamp and output tubes need to do their thing. Even though the rectifier tube doesn't handle the audio signal directly, it still affects the sound of your amp. Because the other tubes give you different performance at different voltages, a rectifier that feeds them 400 volts will produce a different effect than one that puts out 350. One of the defining characteristics of rectifier tubes is their internal impedance, which results in a voltage drop when they're putting out higher currents. What that means for your sound is a sagging effect that has an impact on the attack and dynamics of your amplifier. By giving you this slightly compressed feel when you hit it hard, a tube rectifier can deliver a lead-in that's softer, followed by a deeper wave of powerful notes. You have plenty of tubes to choose from for your amplifier. Generally, the most popular rectifier tubes are the GZ34 type, which are known for outstanding power, sturdiness and efficiency. For small amps, the staple tube is the 5Y3, which is at its best at power levels below 15 watts. Whether you are swapping rectifier tubes to fine-tune the sound and performance of your amplifier or simply stocking up with a few spares to keep yourself prepared on the road, these classic components are well-suited to vintage amps and modern tube-rectified models alike.
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