What is the Best Guitar Amplifier for Me?
It makes no difference if you’re picking one up for the first time or if you’ve been playing your electric, semi-acoustic, or electro-acoustic guitar for years, at Bax Music, you’ll be able to find just the right guitar amplifier for your playing level, style, and situation. And, the range is massive! But by answering some of these frequently asked questions about amps, we hope to help you pick out the right one. If you can’t find your particular question below, feel free to contact us.
This will depend on the situation and how you’re using the amplifier. Up to 30 Watts is usually more than enough to practice at home and to amplify your guitar in smaller spaces, but if you’re playing with a band in a rehearsal space, performing shows on smaller stages, or you’re planning to record with a particularly loud drummer, then an amp with a power capacity ranging 30 to 100 Watts would be better. Of course, if you want the on-stage presence of a Rock God, then you need to start at 100 Watts of power and go up. However, a useful thing to know is that amplifiers with a lower power capacity are often a bit more lightweight and compact.
If you want an all-in-one amplifier, then go for a combo. When amplifying electro-acoustic guitars, this is certainly the most popular choice. If you want more flexibility in terms of transport and storage, and want to be able to vary the kind of speaker and amplifier head you use, then it’s better to go for a seperate amplifier head and speaker cabinet. Whatever you choose, we have an enormous range, and on the product page of almost every amplifier head, you can scroll down to find a nice package deal including a matching speaker cabinet.
If price and ease of use are the most important points for you, then a transister amplifier (also known as a ‘solid-state’) will be perfect. For a warmer, more organic guitar sound and more power in terms of volume, you’d be better served by a tube amplifier (also known as a ‘valve amp’). To get the best sound out of it, a tube amplifier needs to be loud. But, if you need a rich tube-tone at a lower volume, then you can use an ‘attenuator’ or pick an amplifier with adjustable wattage (power). When it comes to tubes, if you want that classic American tube sound, then you’ll want 6L6 tubes. For a British-coloured sound, go for EL84 or EL34 tubes. If you can’t decide between a tube or transistor amp or just want the best of both, then there are also hybrid guitar amplifiers. Here, the tubes are only fitted in the power amp or the preamp, rather than both. This gives you the sweet warmth of tubes without the often immense physical weight of a traditional tube amp.
A modeling amplifier is usually a transistor amplifier that’s able to digitally imitate (or emulate) well-known or lesser known amplifier models. So, for a good price, you get a big range of different guitar sounds. Often, effects like distortion, modulation, and reverb are also built in to colour your sound. Within the last few years, the sound quality of modeling amps has vastly improved so they’re able to come very close to the character and vibe of the original amps they emulate.
Different styles of music require different flavours of sound. Traditionally, this includes a ‘clean’ sound for the more restful moments, and distortion for the heavier work, as well as an extra powerful sound for solos. You can pull this off using an amplifier with a single channel in combination with an overdrive/distortion pedal and maybe an extra boost effect pedal. Many guitarists do prefer to have all of this functionality built into one combo amplifier or amp head. For example, a two-channel amplifier with an internal (a switch on the amp) or external (an included switch pedal) boost, or a three-channel amplifier that would, in effect, mean that no extras are needed.
We wouldn’t be doing a good job if we overlooked this final, and important element of a guitar amplifier: the speaker. Speakers come with various diameters and one, up to an entire stack of them can come built in. The diameter of speakers generally ranges from 2” to 15”. 12” speakers are definitely the most popular, with 10” following in second place. One, two, or four speakers with the same format can come housed in a single cabinet, and the larger the diameter, the fuller the sound, and the higher the number of speakers, the wider the sound. There are also differences in Wattage, which indicates the power capacity of a speaker. If you’re thinking about getting a separate amp head and speaker cabinet, then it’s important that the power capacity of the power amp is no higher than the total power capacity of the speakers in your cabinet of choice.
For most guitarists, this is a step too far, but it’s an option worth knowing about. A standard amplifier head is a preamp and power amp in one. By opting for a separate preamp and power amp instead, you’re able to combine the specifications of an endless list of amplifiers with each other to find your perfect tone and shape something that is absolutely unique to you. This set up can vary from simple and effective, to complex and versatile in terms of sound, use, and adjustability.
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