Does the amp you match with your guitar matter? This is often a question asked by beginners. And according to Guitars Report, it absolutely does. Although bringing home the first amp you see may not necessarily lead to a bad outcome, there’s a good chance it could disappoint you the further you go on your journey.
The more you know, the more you might realize there are tons of other amplifiers out there better suited to your guitar. Today, we’ll give a rundown of some important considerations for buying a guitar amplifier for the first time. After all, you and your instrument deserve only to make the sweetest music together.
Things To Consider Before Buying a Guitar Amp
Before handing your cash over to the amp pimp, consider following these tips for selecting the right unit:
1. Make sure your guitar is part of the selection process.
Scouring the shop for the right amplifier becomes a whole lot easier when you have your guitar with you. Sure, the store is likely to stock a similar model, but the sound it gives off could be slightly different, defeating the purpose of helping you select an appropriate amplifier.
A guitar similar to yours could deliver a brighter and more lively sound, which masks the actual sound of an amplifier. When matched with your darker-sounding personal ax, the seemingly flashy-sounding unit could turn out to be really dull.
2. Your choice is between digital, solid-state, and tube.
Digital disruption has all but rendered tube technology obsolete in the United States, allowing digital and solid-state systems to take over. These new and improved versions deliver excellent tones for only a portion of the price. Not to mention, they don’t cost nearly as much to maintain as their predecessor.
Depending on the country you’re playing in, tube technology could still be all the rave. In fact, a lot of veteran players from around the world still consider it the standard. To be sure of your choice, take a blind listening test and let your ears be the judge.
3. Size is a factor.
For home recording ventures, 100-watt amplifiers are considered impractical. In the same vein, a 10-watt model would prove helpless in a band setting.
Your primary application should decide the size of your amp. If you’re playing in a band with a drummer, aim for at least 30 watts. You’d be surprised how amplifiers on the smaller side deliver enormous sounds in the studio. A general rule for doing outdoor gigs is to shoot for 15 watts of tube tone, at the very least.
4. Power matters.
The power amplifier, preamplifier, and speakers combined generate distortion. Many tend to overlook power amplifier distortion when selecting an amp, but it’s actually responsible for that raw, nitty-gritty sound that makes crowds go wild.
Turn the volume up to max and dial down the gain on a power amp. If the resulting sound is lively with just the right amount of crispness, you have yourself a good candidate for purchase.
5. Get the right amount of buzz.
Impressive distortion at low volumes results from a combination of the right controls and preamp or gain. However, adjusting these elements incorrectly could just as easily result in excessive distortion, which sounds compressed and crackling at peak volume.
Dial the gain down and turn up the main volume to bring the amp to your normal-playing output level. Then, increase the gain until you get the amount of distortion you’re looking for. A too-buzzy tone that lacks dynamics could result in tomatoes thrown at your face.
6. Never overlook the speakers.
For some, the amp selection process often forgoes speaker consideration entirely. That’s a clear misjudgment since speakers are the most critical component of an amplifier. These units can mean the difference between an amp giving off gibberish or unleashing the booming sounds you expect it to.
Size also determines the speakers’ tonal characteristics, so consider it just as you would amp wattage. Smaller-size speakers give off lighter and brighter sounds, while bigger ones deliver darker, deeper sounds.
7. The features you need are enough.
Additional features are great and all that, but they won’t really do much good when unused. If your primary application doesn’t require an amp with extra features, going for a high-quality basic guitar amplifier should be enough.
Besides, tone- and volume-focused features mostly cover everyone’s needs. Also, while pre-configured effects can provide an all-in-one package that makes amp use easier, they might not be as durable or as flexible as external components.
So, Does the Amp You Get for Your Guitar Matter?
It matters for the sole reason that people go about playing their instruments differently. Guitarists have different playing applications, and guitars can give off their own unique sounds. All of these factor into the amp selection process and determine which amp best meets your specific needs.