how to turn on a tube amp

REVEALED: How To Turn On A Tube Amp With A Standby Switch

A standby switch is a very straightforward and essential switch for guitars. The tube amps take time to get heated before they can produce stunning sounds. They work best when they are hot. Therefore your tubes need to warm up before you can crank it up and start playing.

You should turn on your amp in the standby mode to reduce wear and tear on your amp and also extend the life of the guitars. When the switch is set to standby, your amp will not send full voltage to the switch immediately.

One of the best practices is to turn the amp on standby as soon as you step on the stage. Read the following article to know how to turn on a tube guitar amp with a standby switch.

Keep The Switch Open In The Standby

You should let the switch be in the standby mode. Keep the power switch in the on state and then overturn the switch so that it(amp) can play(closed). By doing this you set the amp ready to play. Add a standby switch to the rectifier that is solid or a rectifier tube that has analternatecathode.

To do this follow the following steps:

  • Drill a hole in the structure and then insert a large switch.
  • Now cut the wires that attach the power transformer and the rectifier socket.
  • Now place in the switch

To know more about standby switches read the following points:

1.  Standby Switches Are All About Capacitors:

When the vacuum tubes warm up the standby switch removes the high voltage from the circuit. This happens until the time the tube filaments are not warmed up to the operating temperature and the power supply voltage is made equal to the nominal safe operating voltage of the capacitors.

Standby switches are a cost-saving design feature and offer a cheaper alternative than expensive capacitors. Before you switch the power to on make sure that the amp is set to Standby mode. However, do not leave it in the standby mode for more than 15 to 20 minutes.

2.  Use Standby Switch When Warming Up The Amp:

Do not use the standby switch as a beer break switch. If you want short breaks then turn down the volume control and do not use the standby switch. If the time taken between soundcheck and performance is more than 20 minutes then turn off the amplifier.

You just need 5 minutes to completely warm up an amplifier. If a positive voltage is applied before itsnegative charged electrode is fully heated, electrons will come off from the cathode’s oxide coating. This causesthe stripping of the cathode.

The standby mode was therefore invented to keep away the positive voltage from the plates till the time the tubes are not glowing heated. You can prevent cathode from wearing off by preventing the tubes from working till the time they have not reached a temperature when they can operate.

Use the standby switch when the amp or the power tubes are warming up. When the amp is heated up you can leave the standby switch alone. Anywhere from 15 seconds to few minutes once you are done with powering up, flipping the standby switch to on mode, you are ready to rock the show.

3.  Standby Switches Protect The Cold Tubes From High Voltages:

The standby switches protect the cold tubes from the high voltages. The process is known as cathode stripping. If a tube is cold and voltage is applied then the tube’s cathode is bombarded with ions and the coating is stripped.

This switch allows the tubes to warm up before applying B+ voltage. By allowing the tubes to warm up before you apply B+, their conduction will be instantaneous with the resulting voltage. The capacitor will never see a high switch-on voltage and will lead a longer life.

4.  Standby Switch Can Mute Your Amp:

One of the biggest advantages of standby switches is that they can mute the amp without turning them off. For instance, if you want to take a break set the stage to standby. This prevents you from turning on and off your guitar amp. This also prevents the tubes from warming up all over again. The tubes work best when they are warm.

A standby switch is not a break-switch but instead, it is used to mute the amp when you are on a break. It helps to prevent the excessive wear and tear of the valves. It helps the amps to warm up instantaneously after a break. It is essential when you are on a show with other entertainers so that your amp does not disturb your performance.

Standby switches also prevent the full voltage from reaching the tubes. This will give them the time to warm up and also protect them. When you turn on the amp make sure that the switch is in the standby mode so that no sound is produced while the tubes warm up. It helps to save expensive capacitors.

5.  Use A Combination Of DPDT Switch And Standby Switch:

You can combine and operate a DPDT Switch and a standby switch in one step. Use a wire to utilize one side of the switch for power and the other side for standby. Use the wire in a way that when it is in standby there is only alternating current and not direct current. In On-mode both alternating and direct current should be there. The switches turn off sometimes in the middle. Use a switch of 250 V AC.


You must have noticed that when you start playing using high gain and volume settings, your amp has a slightly different tone due to its cool temperature. There is less swell and less of a tendency to feedback. After playing it for half an hour there is sweet sounding. If this is what happens with your amp then use the standby rather than turning it off.

It won’t come off as fully sweet when you take it off the standby but within some time it will get back to the tone than starting its entire warmup process.

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