Why do guitar rockers choose tube amplifiers instead of transistor amplifiers?
The answer is in this chapter.
Solid-state physics and solid-state electronics have radically changed modern life. For example, early computers relied on bulky vacuum tubes and took up the space of a large room. Today, far more powerful computers rely on tiny transistors in integrated circuits and take up the space of your lap (or even less). Seemingly, vacuum tubes are a thing of the past; indeed, they are no longer taught to electrical engineering majors. However, many of today’s hard-rock guitar players, such as James Hetfield of Metallica shown here, insist on amplifiers using vacuum tubes and shun those using transistors.
In this chapter we focus on a goal of physics that has become enormously important in the last half-century. That goal is to answer the question: What are the mechanisms by which a material conducts, or does not conduct, electricity? The answers to that question are complex and still not well understood, largely because they involve the application of quantum physics—not to individual particles and atoms as we have seen in the last several chapters but to a tremendous number of particles and atoms grouped together and interacting. In spite of the difficulty, ...