How to Choose Your Musical Instrument Amplifier for Your New Electric Guitar
Now that you have a basic understanding of what you should be looking for in your guitar we can now start looking at the second piece of equipment you will need, the amplifier. If you haven’t read what to consider when looking for an electric guitar you can access it here.
Much like the electric guitar there really is no best guitar amplifier for beginners. However, there are some things that you need to know so when you are ready to purchase you guitar amplifier you will be making a smart choice. After reading this tutorial you will have more than enough knowledge to buy the best guitar amp that suits your needs that:
a) Has the ability to achieve a sound for the music that you are interested in playing.
b) Has everything that you need to get started learning how to play the electric guitar.
Solid state or tube? What’s the difference?
The first choice that we need to determine when looking for a guitar amp is to choose whether we want a solid state amplifier or a tube amplifier. There is a difference and I will explain both in simplistic terms and will not go too deep into it.
A tube amplifier used one or many vacuum tube to amplify the signal that is coming from your electric guitar. Many people feel that tube amps have a more natural and warm tone. They are generally more expensive than a solid state amp and have a bit more maintenance because the tubes are like light bulbs and have a limited life. So you need to keep that in mind as you will need to eventually replace the tubes when they go out.
A solid state amplifier is a bit different, instead of using tube the solid state amp uses transistors and diodes to achieve its sound. When I first started playing the electric guitar I had a solid state guitar amp that I practiced countless hours on. Solid state amps are also cheaper than tube amps and need very little if any maintenance if any.
The best way to decide between solid state and a tube amp is to play on both of them in a guitar store and see which sound really grabs your ear. So don’t just get a particular amp just because so and so plays a tube amp. Get the amp because you like the sound and you can afford it. It’s also worth noting that some manufacturers make a “hybrid” amp that uses both solid state and tubes, might be worth checking out the tone there as well.
Since it is a starter amplifier I would recommend you start with a solid state amp because it is cheaper and requires less maintenance. Your budget and your ear will dictate this decision here.
Speaker Size and Watts
Guitar amplifiers come with all manners of speaker sizes and some variance in watts as well. Here is where you need to be realistic and keep your inner “rock-star” in check. What I mean by that is if you live in an apartment on the 3rd floor as awesome as that Marshall or Fender full stack (a total of 2 amp cabinets with four 12 inch speakers in each!) looks it will probably get you evicted when you set the volume knob to 2. The take away from that scenario is to keep a roof over your head and buy an amp that with a speaker size that realistically suits your needs.
I would recommend an amplifier that has either an 8 or 10-inch speaker (there can be more than one 8 to 10 inch in the amp). No more than a single 12 inch should be just fine.
As far as watts go anything over 30 watts is probably a bit much for practicing and jamming with some friends. Keep it under or at 30 watts and that should be just fine.
Nowadays, many electric guitar amplifiers come with many on-board effects already built into them. Effects such as reverb, delay, chorus, distortions, and sometimes effects from strange origins with even stranger uses. You will at a very minimum need reverb as an effect on the amp which is pretty standard. Most amps have this effect built in. Reverb is an effect that “simulates” you amp in a space. The size of the space is determined by the dry/wet know on the amp. The more “wet” you turn the knob the bigger the space that is simulated and vice versa. If you run across an amp that has many effects already built on it and is within you budget it never hurts to have them.
So to sum everything up with a good guitar amplifier for beginner:
-Decide, play, and listen to a tube and solid state amps to figure out which sound you like best.
-Select a realistic size amp based on your living space
-Keep the amp under 30 watts
-Get an amp that at the very least has reverb as a built in effect. (You can get more effects later through guitar pedals and guitar pedal boards).
Fender ’65 Deluxe Reverb Amp