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Standing between you and your power stack, the preamp is one of the vital links in getting the sound from your electric guitar strings to the ears of the audience. Whether you're playing rock and roll, heavy metal, jazz or any other genre, a great preamp together with the right speakers will give you the hard-hitting power you need to saturate any venue with amazing sound. Every guitarist is different, and so are your needs in a preamp. If your band uses a rack-based sound system, you can easily harness its versatility with a rack-mounted preamp. If your music demands that you change up your sound on the fly, use a preamp with pedal switches so you can 'shift gears' in an instant. To improve the basic sound of your guitar, add an onboard preamp. The level of customization is yours to decide. As with most amplifier hardware, guitar preamps come in two varieties: tube-driven and solid-state. The choice between these two options is a long-standing point of contention in the guitar community, but each type provides its own advantages and disadvantages. A tube-based preamp is considered the king of quality, pumping out sound with a distinctive 'mellow' warmth reminiscent of the classic rock of the '70s and '80s—but tube technology can be a bit fragile. Solid-state preamps, by contrast, have a cleaner, more technical sound that gives a little less character but compensates with greater reliability, making them well-suited to touring, where dependability is vital. Once you've decided on your preferred platform, consider the number of channels supported by the preamp. Whether it's fine-tuning the treble, emphasizing or relaxing the "tubey" character of the output or delivering the cleanest possible sound, the channels on your preamp give you plenty of control over your performance. Some preamps can take advantage of channels to mix in external effects, as well, giving you the ultimate in creative control. There is a preamp for every guitarist. You might swear by the richness of the tubes or the reliability of solid-state, you may need one channel or a handful. No matter your needs, your preferred preamp is an essential part of your guitar kit, from the studio to the stage.