I've been fooling with tube guitar amps for decades. I more or less know what I am doing with them, and I've found most of the information that I want on line. But I thought it would be nice to have a book or two to consult when my wife or daughter was at the computer, when I was tinkering with an amp, or when I just didn't feel like sitting at a desk and looking at screen. Based on its appearance and description, I chose this book. Bad decision.
This book insulted me. I felt used and abused by the author, and that has perhaps tainted this review. I expected a comprehensive and useful guide. That is what this book should have been and what the format and price -and the use of "THE" in the title -- seemed to promise. Instead, I dropped $33 on a big, glossy advertisement for the author's "Groove Tube" tube-selling operation and, by extension, the manufacturers who buy tubes from him.
To make a happy customer, promise less and deliver more. This book went the other way.
Yes, some of the content is useful and interesting, written passages as well as photos. But the section describing amp brands and histories is rendered woefully incomplete as the author veers and swerves through it to make opportunities to refer to himself and his tubes and pimp for the manufacturers that buy from him. (Be wary of authors who never miss opportunities to tell you how important and knowledgeable they are. Quality of content should speak for itself.) Redundancies abound, further wasting the reader's time and valuable space that could have been used to at least mention other manufacturers or give some details about those that deserved more than a paragraph or two. But then, perhaps those manufacturers will yield to the pressure, become Groove Tube customers, and thus buy space in the next edition.
The technical section lacks depth and development, apparently a patchwork of reprinted magazine articles, disconnected one to the next, but with more shameless plugs for Groove Tubes inserted here and there. Many of the articles are reasonably well written and helpful in themselves and would be perhaps be a pleasure to find in a magazine. But overall, the technical section is less coherent and developed than one would expect in the sort of publication that this presents itself to be. Again, the book seems to promise more but delivers less.
Others have commented on many the schematics being illegible or inaccurate.
Perhaps the greatest disappointment is the section comparing tube types. Only tubes marketed by Groove Tubes are included, and they are all, of course, listed by their Groove Tube catalog name and are all shown photographed with the big GT logo prominently displayed. If you are looking for descriptions or comparisons of raved-about tubes by Tung-Sol or Svetlana or the like, you can do much better on the Internet, thank you. You won't find them here.
The book has its good points. It is big. It is glossy. The spiral binding is user-friendly. You will get some insights into the hows and whys of tube amp history and evolution - but then, the book is not unique in that. It has lots of great photos - but even here there are annoying redundancies and omissions: some things described in a way that makes them intriguing are not depicted while other things are shown again and again. Did I mention redundancies?
This book might be a good addition to the library of someone who already has lots of books about tube amps and has room on the shelves for more. But if you are looking for just one or two more or less comprehensive books on the subject, look elsewhere.
I was not happy with my purchase and returned the book.