Don Sucher writes:
This preference for distortion may seem odd to a non-musician reader, as it certainly was to the non-musician amp designers!
Perhaps it can be understood by comparing it to what happened when advancements in refrigeration technology made fresh and frozen vegetables and meats available to people who were used to eating food preserved the old-fashioned way with lots of salt and spices, such as sauerkraut and corned beef. A person in the food trade could make all sorts of claims about how those newly available foods were “better” and “healthier.” But to the eater these “new and improved” products — in comparison to what they had come to love — seemed tasteless and bland.
And so it was with amplifiers and guitarists. The whole world moved on to the clean, clear, almost distortion-free, sound of modern “solid state” electronics, but guitarists continued to insist (and in some cases still continue to insist) that their amplifiers be built the old-fashioned way – with tubes.
(Not everyone buying the Marshall/Townshend mythology, btw.)