The quality of your guitar sound depends on a range of different factors. Even guitarists with a cheap set up can shape a good sound. On the other hand, there are some musicians who build rigs out of the very best gear going and still are somehow able to make nothing but the sound of a cat slowly dying. An incredibly essential point when it comes to shaping your guitar sound is one that often flies over peoples’ heads: setting up your guitar amplifier. To help shed some light and enrich your tone, we offer up 5 tips to help any absolute beginner take their sound to a new level.

Setting Up a Guitar Amplifier: 5 Tips for Beginners

#1. Start with the Basics

When you first hook up your electric guitar to your amplifier, it’s a great idea to just turn every tone setting you have to 12 o’clock. This gives you a nice, neutral basic sound. After that’s done, set the volume at a sociable level; that is, not too loud, and not too quiet. Then open up each of the tone controls – turning them all the way up one by one as you play, so you can get a good idea of the effect each one has on your sound.

#2. Overdrive: less is more

A lot of beginners (understandably) have the urge to just turn the overdrive or gain control all the way up. While this does sound nice and thick and growly, especially if you’re into rock or metal, the more gain or overdrive you use, the more you compromise on your tonal dynamics. Even famous guitarists like Malcolm Young from AC/DC, Pete Townsend from The Who, and Brian May from Queen, prove that a rich and powerful sound can be shaped using just a little bit of gain.

Setting Up a Guitar Amplifier: 5 Tips for Beginners

#3. Mid-Frequencies: Make Yourself Heard!

Besides the lower frequencies (the bass), and higher frequencies (the treble), some amplifiers also come with a control for the mid-frequencies – or the mid-range. Many rock and metal guitarists turn the mid-frequencies all the way down to shape a so-called ‘scooped’ tone. This tone sounds uber-tight when you’re playing alone in your bedroom, but as soon as you get into a room with a band, the sound of your guitar is likely to get lost. Since the bass and drums are busy taking care of the lower frequencies and some of the higher frequencies (think of the hi-hat and cymbals of the drums), you’re going to need those mid-frequencies to push your sound to the front and make sure you’re not drowned out!

#4. Use Your Ears

Try not to be lead too much by settings that you see on the internet, or your go-to setting for an amp you had a while back. Every amplifier sounds different, and the environment in which you’re playing will also have a dramatic effect on that sound. So the same amplifier with the same settings will sound entirely different in your living room to the way it’ll sound in a rehearsal room. You’ve got ears, so you might as well trust them, and choose the setting that sounds best to you depending on the situation.

#5. Conclusion: Practice & Experiment

You don’t have sell any of your organs and get a load of expensive gear just to make sure that you have a good guitar sound. To a large extent, your tone sits in the tips of your fingers. So, to keep your tone sounding as sweet as possible, make sure you keep your technical skills well oiled and always play with a nice, healthy dose of good old fashioned passion. Also, remember that there are no fixed rules for setting up your amp. Don’t think about how it ‘should’ be done but experiment and play around with what you have, trust yourself and build a sound that’s entirely unique to you.

If you have any good tips when it comes to getting the best out of an amplifier, feel free to share them with us in the comments section below!

See Also …

» How Do I Become a Guitarist?
» How Do I Choose the Right Guitar Amplifier?
» How Can I Connect a Guitar to a Computer?
» Drop D Tuning: How and Why?
» Learn How to Play with a Plectrum

» Combo Guitar Amplifiers
» Guitar Amplifier Heads
» Acoustic Guitar Amplifiers
» Guitar Amplifier Covers and Cases
» Guitar Cables
» Amplifier Stands

1 response
  1. Bob Marsh says:

    I find it quite interesting to try and replicate the tone/sound of a favourite riff or guitarist. Steve Wilson or Gilmour both very different. Trouble one soon finds the need for foot pedals of some sort

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