Best Amp For Guitar - Purchasing an Amplifier

A lot of hype goes around about the best craftsmanship, the sound, the price, and the look of a guitar but sometimes guitar amps are neglected a bit. There's a lot of weight to how much a sound can be altered with the use of a well-made guitar, but there's just as much with the use of a finely-crafted amplifier.

To be honest, you could play on poor guitar with a nice amplifier and get a decent sound. Reversely, if you were to play on a good guitar with a poor amplifier, the sound of your guitar tunes would suffer. So really, finding the best amp for your guitar is all about personal choice.

Small Amplifiers

Now, when going out to purchase your first amplifier, a lot of new guitarists take a look at the 15 watt class of amps and think, "Yea. It's small, easy to lug around, and the tone isn't half bad. This guitar amp is the best."

Actually, these amps are a pretty bad idea to start a new guitarist on for a couple reasons.

1. The tones are not very good.

2. You can't get these amps very loud.

I can remember playing my first amplifier, a 30 watt Rogue, and thinking to myself, "Man, I can't understand how every guitar tune I play sounds like crap."

Regardless of whether I was progressing or not, the tone of my guitar amp was just bad in general and I didn't enjoy anything that was coming out of it. For beginners, having a poor tone from a cheap amp can really discourage a player from continuing at all.

And about the amp not getting very loud...

Seriously, the thing is only 15 watts, and what if you want to get yourself into a fun little band? You can't even compete with the crack of the snare drum with a guitar amplifier like that.

Do you need to spend thousands of dollars on an amplifier?

No, you don't. But you can't just settle for the cheapest thing that a music store has. You'll only be setting yourself up for disappointment. Here are some things that I would look for in a beginning amplifier. These are not options everyone should take to heart, but they are what I like to follow.

* It should have at least a 3 band equalizer.

You want your 'low', 'mid', and 'treble' at the very least. Anything more than that is great for precision, but the original three are the most important.

* The amp needs a clean and distorted channel.

Depending on your style of music, you may only want a clean channel. For anyone who's going to play rock or metal, you'll need both. If you eye one with an 'overdrive' channel as well, that's good. Overdrive distortion set at 6 on the dial sounds like your normal distortion at around 10.

*It can have some basic effects.

I'm not really big into guitar effects, but having reverb, delay, chorus, or flange, on a guitar amp is nice to say the least.

* For gigging purposes, you want at least 90 watts or power, or you're looking at a half stack.

When you're playing a gig without amps being miced into the P.A. system, you'll need at least 90 watts to be heard best. That will be good for beginners. Later, you'll probably want to shop around for a half-stack. (guitar head and cabinet)

Where do you look for them?

* Music stores

These are your safest place to purchase a guitar amp since you really need to play on the equipment before you can make your best decision. And this gives you a chance to have some fun with the salesman. If you talk with the guy for awhile, explain your situation, and even ask how much they can come down, you might be looking at a 10% discount.

* Classified Ads

In every paper there's either an ad for someone selling a piano, guitar, amp, or a drum set. No joke. These people think that taking up an instrument is a piece of cake and then get frustrated when they can't figure out how to play a guitar tune in less than an hour. You'll usually find some great deals without much hunting.

* Ebay or Craig's List

Now, of course you can get some great deals on these massive online selling sites, but sometimes you can't HEAR the amplifier. Make sure that you've done some research beforehand and KNOW what amplifier you want before searching at random.

* Friend's House

You know that you have a friend out there who was talking about playing an instrument and gave up fairly early and now the thing is just sitting in his closet collecting dust. Check with your best buds. You might be surprised with what you'll find.

* Pawn Shop

They can be shady places most of the time, but chances are they have guitar amps and lots of them. They won't have the best selection or anything, but they're still worth a try.

Testing the Guitar Amplifier

When you find an amplifier brand and model that sparks your interest, take the time to really play around with the thing. If you're going to use it, you should know that it can handle the extremes of what you're going to be doing.

Turn all the knobs from minimum to maximum and play. Check the distortion. Play the volume loud AND soft. Try out the effects. Jam on your favorite guitar tunes. Get to know this guitar amp the best that you can inside and out.

Hopefully when you're done, you'll be very confident that you've made a good decision with the equipment that you've chosen.


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