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28 Feb 2020

What should you look out for when purchasing a guitar amp?

Instruments What should you look out for when purchasing a guitar amp?


In this article, we look at a variety of guitar amps that are currently on the market. Do you still have doubts about which amp you should choose or which guitar amp fits with your music? What is the difference between an analog and a digital amp? Do you want to amplify an electric or an acoustic guitar, or maybe both? This article will help you make the right choice.

What should pay attention to when purchasing?

It is important to know that there are four general types of guitar amps on the market: Tube, Solid-state (analog), Modeling (Digital) and Hybrid amps. Alongside these amp types, there are many manufacturers that each build their own kind of guitar amp. Each brand has its own character, for example, Marshall's amps usually have a distorted sound to it, and the amps of Fender are usually cleaner. What mainly determines the sound of an amp is the amplifier inside the amp (tubes or transistor). Also, the size of the speaker, the size of the body and an open or closed casing determines the produced sound. A closed casing, for example, gives you a better response in low-frequency areas.

Tube amps

A tube amp is usually used for electric guitars. This amp type has a warm and characteristic sound to it. This amp is generally louder than an analog amp. The tubes also provide a natural sound to the distortion. Occasionally, you should replace the tubes to maintain quality.

Analog amps

An analog amp makes use of transistors in the pre- and post amplification. Because of this, it is a trustworthy amp that requires minimal maintenance. An analog amp is in most cases equipped with a distortion function.

Digital amps

The digital amp makes use of digital processors to create old-fashioned characteristic sounds. The variety of sounds depends on the software that is used within the digital amp. the functions that you will see the most are reverb, chorus and/or delay.

Hybrid amps

A hybrid amp combines the analog amp with the tube amp, which means that the amp uses tubes for the post amplification, but it also uses transistors. The benefit of this is that you produce the sound of a tube amp, but there is less maintenance involved.

Combo or stack?

Amps exist out of different configurations. A lot of small amps have the speaker build inside the same casing as the amp. This is called a combo. In some cases when you have a bigger amp the speaker and the amp are separated. These amps come with a separate amp top and body, also called a stack. Depending on the size of the stage performance you can look for a stack, but in many cases, it is also possible to connect your amp directly to the PA-system or to set up a microphone in front of the amp.

What kind of power do I need to have?

The opinions on the subject of power (wattage) are various. The amount of power needed depends on a few factors. Of course, the size of the amp itself. A small amp produces a higher frequency than, for example, a large amp. The wattage is also of great importance and if the amp has a high or low efficiency.

To make it easier we make a general categorization of the power of a guitar amp based on the usage of an amp:

  • 10- 25 watt (at home, in a studio)
  • 25- 50 watt (band practice, small stage performances)
  • 50- 100 watt (big stage performances)

Usually, 10 watt is still a bit too much when you are practicing at home. You will probably only use 10% of what the guitar amp is capable of producing. The main reason that we 25- 50 watt is categorized with band practices is that an amp that has less than 25 watt cannot produce more sound then an acoustic drumkit produces. If your band does not have a drummer, it is probably possible to use a smaller amp.

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