FIRST AMP BUYING GUIDE
You’ve bought your first electric guitar, now you need an amp so you can hear your guitar in all its glory. Amps like guitars come in various sizes and shapes, with lots of options in between. whether you want to tour with your band or play at home, let us help you decide which amp will suit your needs.
Having the right amp for your needs will help make learning to play the guitar so much more enjoyable. To start with you need to really be on the look out for a low price, small in size practice amp. We would suggest a 10 Watt Blackstar amp or a Fender Frontman.
To make the experience more exciting go to a local music shop and try a few out before you make your purchase
BACK TO BASICS
There are a few things to consider when buying your first amp, so let us start at the start. If the amp is for a beginner it is best to look for a combo amp, this type of amp will typically cover all your needs when starting out. Technically the amp itself includes speakers with the preamplifier and the power amplifier, altogether this will shape the tone of the guitar and get the sound to the speakers .
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN AMP HEAD AND CAB & COMBO AMP
What is a difference I hear you say, quite simply the combo amp has everything you need wrapped up in one convenient unit, whereas the amp head and cab are two separate units. The amp head (head) containing all the electronics and then a speaker cabinet (cab).
Combo amps tend to be the most popular as they are a really good all rounder, plus their compact size makes them more portable for gigs. As with all instruments it is highly recommended that you try before you buy, make sure your guitar is in tune and give it a go!
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN A BASS AMP AND A GUITAR AMP
It is always a good idea to get the right amp for the right instrument, a bass amp will flatten the sound of your guitar and make it sound really dull and a guitar amp will not be able to produce the low tones needed for a bass guitar.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR IN A GUITAR AMP?
Here are a few things you should take in to account when choosing your first amp to ensure your money is invested wisely.
Guitar amps are very varied, from massive rigs with lots of speakers for touring with your rock band to a little micro amp. We think that when starting out a small amp is best as as its portable if needed but also doesn’t take up masses of space at home.
TONE AND EFFECTS
It is best to research which effects and tones you want to hear from your amp, your preferred style of music will be a a great guide.
In terms of wattage bigger is not always better, in fact a 100 watt amp is only 5 decibels louder than a 30 watt amp and will probably cost you a lot more brand-new. A 30 watt amp is perfectly fine to start off with
If your not able to turn your amps volume up half way it is best to get a smaller amp as this is where you will hear the best sound. Amps need to be rated for the amount of power the amp will kick out.
Although practice amps are available with smaller speaker sizes a good allrounder amps come with either one, two or four 12-inch speakers, for playing at home or gigging a one or two 12-inch speaker will be fine, when gigging your amp will more than likely be hooked up to a PA system anyway.
HOME or AWAY
If you are only using your amp at home and can’t really crank up the volume you are only going to need an amp that uses 20 watts. At this wattage you are probably looking at a practice amp with a single 8 or 12 inch speaker.
Amps come with EQ settings treble, mid and bass. You may need to experiment a little but you will eventually get the sounds and tones you want to hear.
If your amp has a gain knob this will allow you control the level of distortion. some amps might have a reverb knob which determines how much echo there is.
Some more modern amps have built in digital effects with can mean you don’t need to buy additional effects pedals.
Some amps give you the option to set different channels with different sounds controlled by a foot pedal that you can use to switch your sound.
Practice amps have the ability to change the sound/tone meaning you can play lots of different styles of music as you are learning, this is better to start with rather than an amp that is set with one specific sound.
MORE AMP TYPES TO CONSIDER
SOLID-STATE VS. TUBE GUITAR AMPS
Pretty much all stage amps are tube amps (glass “bottles” that carry voltage through the amp), although this is not the case with Profiler or modelling amps. Tube amps produce which rich sounds.
Solid state amps are a lot easier to use and maintain and a great first amp..
HYBRID GUITAR AMPS
Hybrid amps combine the optimum aspects of both a tube and solid state amp. should you choose this type of amp look out for a hybrid amp that has 12AX7 preamp tubes , these tubes and the reliable solid state technology produces an amazing sound.
MODELING GUITAR AMPS
Modeling amps are another great beginner amp, especially if you are really looking to experiment with lots of different styles of music as it produces 100’s of tones using a single amp.
ACOUSTIC GUITAR AMPS
There are amps available for acoustic guitars, these would normally just be used for performing rather than practicing at home. You would have to have a guitar that has the electrics and pick ups all ready to go or make adaptations to your existing acoustic guitar. With the acoustic amps there will be some ability to change the sound as you would with an electric guitar.