Yamaha THR guitar amp glows with faux tube fury

The Yamaha THR amp is a digital guitar-modeling amp disguised as a tube amp, complete with the iconic orange glow of sizzling hot tubes.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
2 min read
Yamaha THR guitar amp
Yes, but will it toast a marshmallow? Yamaha

Ever since digital technology took over in guitar amps, a lot of people have spent a lot of time trying to eke an analog tone out of modern tech.

Yamaha THR
Here's the amp when it's not glowing. (Click to enlarge.) Yamaha

The quest for good old-fashioned tube tone has been fairly successful, but let's get down to what's really important: retro good looks.

Yamaha's THR series of amps has plenty of digital tech crammed into a compact design, but the hands-down coolest part of the equation is the warm orange glow of fake tubes dripping out from behind the zigzag speaker grille.

This is the sort of amp you should kneel in front of while wearing Spandex pants and playing a Strat with your teeth as the orange glow lights up your gel-teased rock star hair. Just do it in the privacy of your own home.

Now, back to the tech for you gearheads out there. The THR series can run on plug-in or battery power. It has onboard effects and "Virtual Circuitry Modeling" technology that delivers the analog tone. The stereo output is rated at a combined 10W.

The THR has five basic amp models to choose from: clean, crunch, lead, Brit hi, and modern. It comes bundled with Cubase AI for recording and editing your blazing guitar licks when you hook the amp up to a computer. The amp sounds and effects can be customized with editing software.

There's a lot you can do with the THR, but no one will blame you if you secretly buy it just for the splendor of the fake golden tube radiance. It would make for one heck of a night light.

The THR5 costs $200, while the THR10 with extra sounds, memory function, and a three-band EQ is $300.