Guitar Amps? She Knows What She Wants!

Discover the perfect guitar amplifier to elevate your electric guitar experience with our comprehensive guide. From understanding amp types like tube, solid-state, and digital modeling, to choosing the right wattage and features for your style, this blog post covers everything you need to know. Dive into expert advice on brands like Fender, Marshall, and Orange, and learn how to make an informed choice whether you're a beginner or a seasoned player. Get ready to find the amp that not only amplifies your sound but inspires your musical journey. #GuitarAmpGuide #ElectricGuitar #MusicGear"

fender amp
Image by Kevin Ramirez from Pixabay
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Okay, you’ve got that extra special electric guitar you wanted for so long, and it’s awesome. You’re in love with the look and feel of this newfound piece of musical equipment and you’re ready to rock out. But wait, I can’t hear the music coming from my new electric guitar. So now let’s talk about the next piece of guitar gear you’ll need, which is a guitar amplifier (also known as an amp). Of course, you need one so you can be heard louder than the plink, plink, plink of your guitar by itself.

Let’s go over the high points so you’re “in the know” when you set out on your journey searching for the right guitar amplifier to accompany your new electric guitar so you can make the music of your dreams.

What is a guitar amplifier?

Amplifiers are not just about volume; they’re an extension of your musical expression.

A guitar amplifier, commonly referred to as a guitar amp, is an electronic device that amplifies the signal from a guitar. This amplification is necessary because the signal produced by the guitar itself is typically not strong enough to drive a loudspeaker at high volumes. The guitar amp increases this signal and sends it to one or more loudspeakers, allowing the sound to be heard clearly and at a higher volume.

Amplifiers are not just about volume; they’re an extension of your musical expression. They shape the tone and character of your guitar’s sound, adding depth, warmth, and richness. A good amp can bring out the best in your guitar, transforming a good performance into a great one.

For starters, guitar amps come in many colors and different shapes, but most are black, basically square or rectangular shaped, and range in size from as small as a purse to as large as a coat closet. The design of an amp is not just about aesthetics; it also influences sound. For instance, the size and shape of the cabinet can affect the resonance and projection of the sound.

Let’s talk about the different types of guitar amplifiers:

Types of Amplifiers:

Tube Amps: These are the traditional amplifiers that use vacuum tubes. They are known for their warm, rich tones and are a favorite among many professional musicians. However, they can be heavier, more expensive, and require more maintenance than other types.

Solid State Amps: These amps use transistor technology and are generally more reliable and less expensive than tube amps. They offer a clean, crisp sound and are a great choice for beginners.

Digital Modeling Amps: These are the new kids on the block. They use digital processors to emulate the sound of various amp models and effects. They are incredibly versatile and usually come with a host of features, making them ideal for players who enjoy experimenting with different sounds.

Hybrid Amps: These combine elements of both tube and solid-state technologies, often using a tube preamp with a solid-state power amp. This combination aims to capture the warmth of tube amps while benefiting from the reliability and power efficiency of solid-state designs.

Brands of amplifiers:

If I had to recommend one name, it would be Fender . . .

Next, there are numerous amp manufacturers on the market, but three popular names you want to know for amps are Fender, Marshall, and Orange, as they are some of the biggest manufacturers and make some of the best amps on the market, and each has many different amps to choose from.

If I had to recommend one name, it would be Fender because they’re as well known for making guitars as they are for their classic Fender amps with their great Fender tone. Fender amps are known for their clear, warm tones, making them a favorite among blues and rock musicians.

Marshall amps, on the other hand, are synonymous with rock and roll and are known for their powerful, overdriven sounds.

Orange amps are unique, offering a blend of vintage and modern tones, perfect for players who want versatility.

What wattage to consider:

Other things to consider are what watt amp I will need, whether I will be playing around at home or performing in small venues, whether it will be used for electric guitars or acoustic guitars, and whether I will need a single channel or second channel.

When choosing an amp, also consider the wattage — this determines how loud your amp can get. A 10-30-watt amp is usually sufficient for practicing at home. If you’re playing in a band or performing in small venues, you might need something in the 50-100-watt range. Remember, a higher wattage doesn’t just mean more volume; it also affects the headroom and tonal quality at higher volumes.

Built-in features and effects:

You might also want to consider the built-in features and effects mentioned below.

EQ Controls: To adjust bass, mid, and treble frequencies.

Built-in Effects: Reverb, delay, chorus, and distortion can save you money on external pedals.

Multiple Channels: Allowing you to switch between different pre-set tones.

Connectivity Options: These include USB ports for recording directly into a computer or an aux input for playing along with your favorite tracks.

marshall amp
Image by Alexander Kampmann from Pixabay

Let’s go shopping for the guitar amplifier of your dreams!

So, you want to go shopping to find the right guitar amp?

Suppose you don’t have a guitar or an amp yet. In that case, beginner kits have everything you need to start playing (ex., electric guitar, amplifier, cord, strap, tuner, and sometimes more accessories like a guitar stand or instructional material). You can get beginner kits from online retailers and/or your local music store, which is a great place to sit down, plug in a guitar, and play. Does it have a clean tone or whatever tone you’re looking for? Beginner kits are an excellent choice for those just starting out, as they provide a cost-effective way to get all the essential gear in one package.

Go to your local music stores or online to check out what they have. Now, there are many amps out there, but you should be able to find one that you like the way it looks and how it sounds. Remember to check out its built-in features and effects to see if it has the ones you want, like being able to plug in headphones or a way to plug in your music so you can play along with it. Also, effects like reverb, distortion, or chorus, to name a few. These different tones will add to your guitar’s sound to give it some personality and attitude to match different types of music!

If you’re looking for a decent practice amp, consider a smaller amp that will be easy to carry around with your guitar plugged in or for sitting around in jam sessions.

How much will a guitar amp cost?

Then there’s the price. To help you be a savvy shopper who can sniff out the good deals, make sure to check out what’s on sale and if the store/site has any used amps (most do). A clever shopping trick is to ask a salesperson what deals they recommend because they know what their good deals are. Some salespersons work on commissions and may be willing to cut you a “special one-time deal,” or the store may want to get rid of an amp because they’ve had it for a long time, so they will sell a high quality amp at a low, low price. As a reference, you can certainly get a decent practice amp for around $100, and for $200, the choices are plentiful. I would caution you, however, not to go on the low end of the spectrum, as you may end up having to replace the amp in a short period of time.

Don’t overlook the used market. You can often find high-quality amps at a fraction of their original price. Just be sure to check the condition and ensure it’s functioning properly before making a purchase.

The key is to shop around and find one you like that you’re okay with its price. If you’re not sure, ask your friends for their advice, as people love to tell you their opinions, and you’ll look all the cooler (“Which amp do you think is more awesome because I only use the coolest amps?”) You can also do some internet searching to get more information. There are plenty of reliable sources to research; just be sure and do your homework.

With your newfound amp info, hopefully, you’re excited about getting the amp that’s right for you.

One last thing for the women to remember: sometimes, salespeople at music stores can be goofballs. When I go amp shopping with friends, and the salesperson keeps turning the conversation towards me, I say, “What are you talking to me for? She’s the one who knows what she wants.”

Don’t let stereotypes or biases deter you from pursuing your passion. If you encounter a salesperson who isn’t taking you seriously, don’t hesitate to assert your knowledge or take your business elsewhere.

Conclusion and Final Thoughts

In the end, the right amp should not only amplify your sound but also inspire your creativity.

As we wrap up this brief guide on selecting the perfect guitar amplifier, it’s important to remember that the journey to finding the right amp is as unique as your musical voice. Whether you’re a beginner just starting out or an experienced player looking to upgrade, the importance of choosing an amp that resonates with your style and needs cannot be overstated.

From the warm, rich tones of tube amps to the reliability and crisp sound of solid-state models and the versatility of digital modeling amps, each type offers its own set of characteristics and advantages. Brands like Fender, Marshall, and Orange have stood the test of time, offering quality and consistency in their products. However, don’t shy away from exploring other brands and models that might better suit your personal preferences and budget.

Remember, the wattage, built-in features, and effects are crucial factors to consider. They can significantly impact your sound and the overall playing experience. Additionally, understanding the technical aspects, such as speaker size, impedance, and power handling, can help you make a more informed decision.

Maintenance and care are just as important as the initial purchase. Regular upkeep ensures your amp remains in top condition, providing quality sound for years to come. And if you’re ever in doubt, don’t hesitate to seek advice from more experienced players or trusted salespersons. Their insights can be invaluable in your search.

In the end, the right amp should not only amplify your sound but also inspire your creativity. It should be a companion in your musical journey, capable of bringing out the best in your guitar playing. So take your time, do your research, and most importantly, trust your ears and instincts. The perfect guitar amp for you is out there, waiting to be discovered.

Happy strumming, and may your quest for the ideal guitar amplifier be a fulfilling and enjoyable adventure!

~Updated January 17, 2024

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