A Beginner's Guide To Guitar Amplifiers

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A guitar amplifier is a type of loudspeaker which you attached to your guitar to strengthen the electrical signals produced. It makes your music louder while keeping the pitch and notes crisp.

Think About Your Style

The Best Amps for Fender Telecaster will be different from the best amps for an acoustic or bass guitar.

Before you can figure out which one to pick, you need to understand what type of sound you want to create. 

Tube amplifiers often have a tinny or harsh sound which might be perfect for grunge music but piercing for acoustic guitars. SSA amplifiers often create an authentic sound which is great for a perfect re-creation if you simply want your music louder but might not create the atmosphere you want if playing rock music.

Think about the style of music you want to play. Once you know that, the rest will be easier to understand.

How Big Is The Venue?

If you are buying the amplifier for a specific gig, you need to know how big the venue is to see what size of amplifier you will need.

Amps measure sound volume in watts, but the general size of the amp can also tell you how much power it has before turning your music from clear to mushy.

Small amps usually have just 10 to 30 watts of power. They are great for playing in small venues such as a classroom or a standard room in your home. They are normally used for rehearsals.

Medium-sized amps are often 12 inches long and can handle 50 watts. These are great for small shows such as a school hall or a recreation space.

For big venues such as a small festival, you should be looking at amps that can handle 100 watts.

Big festivals often need multiple amplifiers to handle the amount of power they need. Use this information as a guide for the typical size you expect to play in.

The 4 Main Types Of Amplifiers

Generally speaking, there are 4 main types of amplifiers. These are:

Solid State Amplifiers

SSAs are usually used by acoustic players or those in the Jazz and Indie space. This is because the sounds are crisp.

They are also used by professionals due to their reliability and durability.

Tube Amplifiers

These amps get their name from the vacuum tubes used to increase the volume. This technique creates a full or fat sound typical of rock music. They can help you reach louder volumes than SSAs but at the price of clarity.

Tubes are heavy, need to be repaired often, and are mostly considered outdated.

Digital Amplifiers

Digital amps also go by the name of modeling amps. They are the most recent type of amplifier to reach the market, and they copy or “model” the classic tube sounds through digital engineering. 

The idea is to create vintage sounds without needing to use a heavy or breakable system.

If you like the sound of tube amplifiers and have the budget to afford a digital amplifier, pick the digital for a lightweight version of your favorite sound.

Hybrid Amplifiers

Hybrids are a mixture of solid state amps and tube amps. They are lighter and more portable than tubes and have the same circuitry that makes solid states reliable. However, they can create the vintage sounds of tube amplifiers without needing to spend lots of money on digital amps.

There are the typical types of amplifiers you can expect to find in stores. The biggest differences are in portability, sound, and affordability. Once you know the sound you want, you can figure out which amps best fit your style.

Common Special Features

Some amplifiers will be sold with special features. This means that they won’t just make your music louder, they might also be able to purposefully distort sound, switching between clean and distorted.

They could also record your music for you either on downloadable loops or short loops which can allow you to replay what you have just created.

Of course, these special features will cost you more overall, but make sure you read through all of the special features offered to see which amplifier gives you the features you prefer.


The amplifier’s job is to make your music louder. That’s it. However, how it does this could create a tinny, clear, or distorted sound. Depending on your style of music, you should consider what you want your music to sound like before purchasing an amp.

Kellee Maize Team

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