Just like how buying your first guitar is quite challenging, buying an amplifier to pair it up with is not an easy task as well. There are lots of things to look into before taking an amplifier home. Even when the first amplifier you play already makes you feel like a rockstar, I would suggest that you try out a couple others first before making a final decision.
Prior to making a trip to an actual or online music shop, perhaps it would also be best for you to research ahead about the potential amplifiers in the market. One of the resources that I’ve used to purchase amplifiers was www.bestamps.net; they feature reviews of the top and best brands for all types of amplifiers whether for headphones, guitar, etc.
In this article, let me just walk you through to some general tips when it comes to amplifiers. Let’s discuss these tips by discussing the factors you need to check and consider when you are choosing an amplifier.
Factors to Consider
Type of amplifier
During the mid-20th century, tube technology amplifiers were a boom in the musical industry. Even today, amplifiers using tube technology, like vintage Marshalls, still deliver a great tone. For many top guitar players, tube amps are still the winner. However, this type of amplifier comes with a couple of headaches as it requires lots of replacement of tubes and maintenance.
A more modern counterpart of the tube amps are amplifiers using solid-state technology. This type of amplifier offers guitar players a more crisp and solid sound. Moreover, this type of am also requires much less maintenance and replacement; thus, it could help you save a couple of bucks. However, many guitarists claim that solid-state amps lack warmth when compared to tube amps.
Tip: In choosing between tube and solid-state, you might want to do a blind test. Your choice should depend greatly on the sounds these two offer. Don’t buy a tube amp just because Slash has it. Moreover, keep in mind that older styles could be better or vice versa.
Combo or Separate
Some professional and top guitar players prefer separate head and cabinet for their amplifiers. However, many guitar players, in general, work well with combo amps. Combo amplifiers are definitely the more convenient choice which still gives you good quality of sounds.
Tip: For guitarists playing at home or at small venues, 8-12” combo amps are a good choice. However, for a larger audience, say 300 people, you might need 2 sets of 12” combo amp to deliver.
Speakers and Wattage
One big factor to consider when choosing amps is the quality of the speakers. When it comes to speakers with lower watts, sounds distort easily. As for those who want a clearer tone while playing in a really loud volume, a 100-watt amp might be what you want.
Honestly, choosing the best wattage might be tricky. If you’re in a heavy metal band playing in really large clubs, you might need a 100-watt amp. However, typically, a 30-50-watt amp would already work great for live rock bands.
Channel and Configuration
For players who tend to use many tones, a multi-channel amp would be the best choice. However, if you only want a clean and well-distorted sound, you won’t really need this type of amplifier. Dual-channel amps are also a great choice for players who love switching sounds.
Tip: Try to reflect on how you will actually use the amplifier in order to determine which is best for you. In addition, you might also want to check the back area of your amplifier just so you know what you are paying for.