Are you a beginner guitarist who is looking for your first guitar amplifier? If so, you may be wondering how to choose the right amp for your needs. This guide will walk you through some tips in choosing the best guitar amp for your individual playing style.
Which is the Best Guitar Amp for Me?
When it comes to choosing a guitar amp, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. The best amp for you will depend on your individual playing style and needs. If you’re a beginner, here are some basics to think about.
The first is your budget. How much are you willing to spend on an amp? This will narrow down your choices considerably. Just like with anything else, you can find good amps at a variety of price levels. It’s important to set a budget before you start shopping so that you don’t end up spending more than you can afford.
Amps can range in price from around $100 to $2000 or more depending on features and brand name prestige so it’s important to have some idea of how much money you’re willing/able to spend upfront. The more expensive models will usually offer better quality and more features. But that doesn’t mean that you have to spend a lot of money to get a good amp. There are plenty of great options available at all price levels.
Next, think about the size of the amp (dimension). If you’re looking for something to practice at home with, then a small amp would be fine. But if you’re looking for an amp to gig with, then you’ll need something that’s more powerful.
Finally, think about the type of music you play. If you’re playing metal, then you’ll need an amp with lots of distortion. If you’re playing country, then you’ll want an amp with a clean sound.
Tips in Choosing the Best Guitar Amp
Once you know the basics, it’s time to explore the technical side of things so that you can choose the best guitar amp for your needs. This is when you think about what type and features you need in an amp. Do you need multiple channels? Reverb? Effects loops? Built-in effects?
Here are some tips to help you choose the right guitar amp based on its specifications.
1. Output Power
How much power do you need? The wattage of an amplifier indicates how much power it can generate. This will depend on the type of music you play, the size of the venue, and the number of people in the audience. If you are just playing for yourself or a small group of friends, then you will not need a lot of power. However, if you are playing in a large venue or for a large audience, then you will need an amp with more power.
2. Type of Amplifier
Guitar amps are distinguished by the way they amplify an electric guitar’s signal. There are four main types of amplifiers: tube, solid state, modeling, and hybrid. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses that should be considered before making a purchase.
3. Size of the Amplifier
If you’re planning to use the amp for practice or small gigs, then a smaller combo model might suffice. But if you need something with more power for larger venues, then you’ll want to look into head and cab models which offer greater volume and projection capabilities. Amp sizes can refer to either the wattage (power) or dimensions. The two usually go hand-in-hand, with higher wattage amps having larger speakers and bigger dimensions. However, this is not always the case.
Amps for electric guitars come in various sizes. The smaller ones typically use under 5 watts of power and are therefore called “mini” or “micro amps”. If an amp has 100 watts or more, it often comes in a stack (two cabinets).
- Stack amps have two parts: the head unit and the cabinet (speaker).
- Combo amps are an all-in-one system which includes both the head and the cabinet.
Most amps have two channels: clean and dirty. The clean channel is typically used for playing unplugged or with less distortion. The dirty channel is where you’ll get the heavier sounds by cranking up the gain. Some amps also have a third channel which is usually dedicated to reverb or other effects.
5. Effects (Fx) Loops
An effects loop is a dedicated circuit that allows you to insert effects between the preamp and power amp stages of your amplifier. This gives you more flexibility in how you use effects pedals. If you plan on using a lot of effects, then an amplifier with an effects loop would be a good choice for you.
6. Built-in Effects
Some amplifiers come with built-in effects such as reverb, delay, and chorus. These can be handy if you don’t want to use pedals or if you’re looking for a simpler setup.
Some amps come with a few basic effects, such as reverb and delay. If you want greater flexibility in your sound, then you will need an amp with more effects.
Guitar Amp Tone and Effects
When considering which amplifier is right for you and your guitar playing, it’s important to think about the tone you want to achieve as well as the effects you might want to use.
There are a variety of different effects that can be added to your guitar playing through an amplifier, such as reverb, delay, chorus, or flanger. These effects can help you create a unique sound, and they can be a great way to experiment with your tone.
Equalization (EQ) is an important feature to look for. EQ allows you to adjust the treble, midrange, and bass levels, (three main frequency ranges), of your sound. This can be used to shape the tone of the amplifier to your liking, whether you want to make up for the sound of a small room or boost the low end of your sound.
- Treble refers to the higher frequencies, and it’s where you’ll find the “shimmer” in your sound.
- Middle frequencies are important for clarity and note definition.
- Low or Bass frequencies provide warmth and depth to your sound.
Distortion and overdrive are two types of effects that can be used to make your sound more aggressive.
- Distortion adds distortion to the signal, which can give your sound a gritty quality.
- Overdrive is similar to distortion, but it boosts the signal instead of adding distortion. This can give your sound a “fuzzy” quality.
Reverb is an effect that simulates the sound of an echo. It’s often used to give a sense of space to the sound, and it can be particularly effective in small rooms or practice spaces.
It can be created with either a spring reverb or a digital reverb.
- Spring reverbs are found in older amps, and they create a more natural sounding reverb.
- Digital reverbs are found in newer amps, and they offer more control over the sound of the reverb.
Digital effects are found in newer amps, and they offer more control over the sound of the reverb. Many of these effects can be found in pedal form as well, such as delay, chorus, or flanger.
- Delay is an effect that repeats the sound of your guitar at a later time. This can be used to create an echo-like effect, or it can be used to thicken up your sound.
- Chorus is an effect that adds a “doubling” effect to your sound. This can make your guitar sound like two guitars playing at the same time. It makes your sound fuller.
- Flanger is an effect that creates a “whooshing” sound. This can be used to add movement to your sound or to create a sense of space.
The most important setting on an amplifier is the volume. You’ll also want to adjust the EQ to get the sound you want.
The volume knob controls how loud the amplifier is. This is important because you don’t want to be too loud in a small room, but you also don’t want to be too quiet in a large room.
The EQ controls the treble, midrange, and bass levels of your sound. This is important because you can use it to shape the tone of your amplifier.
The effects settings will depend on the type of effects you want to use. If you’re using a reverb, you’ll want to adjust the level of reverb. If you’re using delay, you’ll want to adjust the delay time. And if you’re using a chorus, you’ll want to adjust the depth and rate.
When you’re first starting out, it’s a good idea to keep it simple. Start with the volume and EQ, and then add in effects one at a time. This will help you get a feel for how each setting affects your sound.
As you become more familiar with your amp, you’ll be able to experiment with different settings to create your own unique sound.
How Loud Does an Amp Need to Be?
The volume of your amplifier will depend on the size of the room you’re playing in. When we say volume, we’re referring to output power, or how loud the amplifier can get. Output power is measured in watts. Generally, an increase in wattage will cause an increase in volume.
- If you’re looking for a practice amplifier, one with 5-30W of power would be best. These usually weigh around 5-10kg and are approximately 40 x 30 x 25 cm in size.
- For bigger venue amplifiers, a 50-100W solid state amp or a 30-50W tube amp is a good size, and combo amps are more compact than stack amps. However, some venues or live performances are better with stack up amplifiers.
If you want an amp that can do both small gigs and practices, there are a ton of great options that have the perfect mix of power and portability.
Get the Best Sound!
Hopefully our list of tips has helped steer you in the right direction and armed you with enough information to make an informed decision.
However, you can’t just read about it, you have to experience it for yourself. The best way to find the perfect amplifier is to try them out.
Remember, it all comes down to what sounds best to your ears and makes you want to pick up that guitar and play!