Crisp and clear classic tone. Durable construction. Ability to create effect loops as well as direct-to-record functions. Can be combined with other Marshall amps.
Lacks some of the bells and whistles of premium Marshall amp models.
Compact and very affordable. Offers 20 watts of power. Great for young players getting introduced to music or those who share walls with others and can’t be loud while shredding.
Entry-level amp with relatively modest volume, so most will outgrow it.
Geat distortion with this 20-watt amp and four-stage preamp. Has clean and dirty modes, a channel foot switch, and aux ports for backing tracks and practice headphones. 8-inch speaker produces rich, harmonic overtones.
No onboard effects. More gear may be needed to flesh out your tone.
Tremolo and reverb effects are popular features. Clean and crisp tone. Reputable brand known for its classy cabinet designs. Great for rock, pop, and blues genres.
15 watts isn’t all that powerful.
A compact, lightweight speaker geared toward players seeking performance freedom. It features clean and overdrive channels, tape delay effects, and an auxiliary jack so you can play along with any of your favorite tracks. The auxiliary jack can also be used with headphones for “silent” practice.
At three watts, this amp isn’t very loud.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Whether you’re a new guitar player or an accomplished musician, playing music for an audience – or even just for yourself – can be a thrilling experience.
However, if you want to hear your guitar as clearly as possible, you'll need to find the right equipment. A quality guitar amp can help your music sounds as good as possible.
The “classic” option, the tube amp, is known for its warm sound and ability to provide natural distortion. Tube amps have a great deal of power, too, which allows them to sound louder than other amps. On the downside, tube amps can be very heavy, and the interior tubes don’t last forever. You will probably have to replace them during the life of the amp.
A solid-state amp is typically more compact and lightweight than a tube amp, but you cannot get the same warm, classic sound from it. The sound from a solid-state amp is very clean, though you can buy models that offer more distortion. Instead of tubes, solid-state amps have transistors in their preamp and power sections. As such, they hold up well to regular use and require few repairs. Touring musicians often appreciate the reliability and durability of solid-state amps.
Digital technology is used to recreate the classic sound of a tube amp in a modelling amp. This is achieved via programmable internal software that can produce a wide array of digital effects. Some modelling amps offer digital or analogue outputs. This makes connecting to a recording device or sound system even easier.
A hybrid amp draws upon the best features of the other amp types. It uses tubes in the preamp section and solid-state transistors in the power section. As a result, with a hybrid amp, you can achieve the classic tube amp sound while enjoying the durability and reliability of a solid-state amp.
An acoustic guitar amp creates a clean, full-range sound for your guitar. It minimises distortion and often has onboard input for a vocal microphone. For this reason, an acoustic amp is great for solo and small-group performances.
Guitar amps are available in two main configurations: the combo amp and the amp head.
A combo amp has all amplifier components and a speaker (or speakers) in a single piece of equipment. Combo amps are very easy to use and travel with. To operate a combo amp, simply plug the amp into an outlet, connect your guitar, and play as you normally would.
An amp head contains amplifier components but no speaker. To operate the amp, you must connect it to a speaker via cables. Some manufacturers sell amp heads and speaker cabinets as package deals. Such a configuration is known as an “amplifier stack.” An amplifier stack is more difficult to travel with because there are more pieces of equipment to carry.
You may be wondering which is better for your practice sessions and performances: a combo amp or an amp stack. In truth, you need to choose between three options: a combo amp, a half-stack, and a full-stack.
Combo amps, as mentioned above, are all-in-one packages. If you’re a gigging musician who travels frequently, you may appreciate the portability of a combo amp.
A speaker’s power is measured in watts. The power and size of your amp affect your sound quality and volume. Here’s a look at possible setups for both practising and performing.
An amp/speaker combo of 10 to 30 watts is usually sufficient for practising. The speaker itself should measure about eight to ten inches.
If you’re performing in a small venue or rehearsing with others, you’ll want a 12-inch (30 centimetre) speaker with approximately 50 watts of power. If you routinely play large venues, choose an amp with at least 100 watts and at least two speakers that each measure about 30 centimetres.
Many amps have built-in effects that alter the way your guitar sounds. Some effects that you may want to look for include the following.
Tremolo: This effect varies the volume of your guitar in a rhythmic pattern.
Reverb: This effect creates an echo-like sound.
Equalisation: This effect helps boost or reduce certain frequency ranges when you’re playing.
Modelling amps offer additional digital effects such as chorus, phase, distortion, and pitch shift, which you can easily control on the front of the amp. Because they’re digital, you can usually choose one or more effects and lump them into a preset. Most digital amps also include factory presets that you can choose from as well.
Guitar amp prices vary based on power, speaker size, and whether any onboard effects are included. You could spend anywhere from $25 to $500 for a new guitar amp. Here’s a generalised breakdown of what the market looks like.
Low-cost guitar amps
You can get a “budget” guitar amp for $25 to $100. Most of these provide 15 watts of power (or less) and have a speaker that’s approximately three inches in size. Few special effects, if any, are included in these entry-level guitar amps.
Mid-range guitar amps
If you’re willing to spend a bit more, you can get an amp with a much larger speaker (eight to 10 inches) and 15 to 30 watts of power. You’ll also likely get several onboard effects in a package that costs anywhere from $100 to $300.
Expensive guitar amps
Between $300 and $500, you’ll find guitar amps that provide 30 watts of power or more, feature at least two speakers that are approximately 12 inches apiece, and offer a wide array of onboard effects.
The placement of your guitar amp can affect its sound. Experiment with different placements – on the floor, on a table, facing the wall, facing away from the wall – to see which sound quality you like best.
While there are a variety of online resources that suggest guitar amp settings, it’s a good idea to experiment and decide for yourself what sounds good. The best settings for your guitar on your amp may be different from the best settings for your friend’s guitar on his amp.
You may have heard that the cables you use with your guitar amp can affect its sound quality. To an extent, this is true. Pricier cables often have better shielding and therefore do a better job of blocking unwanted interference. In the end, however, the sound quality you get with any cable is subjective.
Q. What’s the best type of guitar amp for beginners?
A. If you’re a new guitar player, a modeling amp may be your best option. It provides excellent sound quality but requires less maintenance than a classic tube amp. Modeling amps also include a wide array of digital effects that allow you to experiment. You may also wish to consider a solid-state amp. These amps are lightweight, fairly low in cost, and easy to maintain.
If you’ll be practicing at home and noise is a concern, you’ll probably want to opt for a smaller amp. One with fewer than 20 watts is less likely to disturb your neighbors.
Q. What type of amp is best for live performances?
A. If you’re going to be performing, a solid-state amp is a very good option. It provides higher sound quality than a modeling amp, but it’s much more reliable than a tube amp. That means you can count on your amp to work when you have a gig, and you won’t have as much maintenance to do in your downtime.
Solid-state amps usually aren’t as expensive as tube amps, either, so they make an especially good option if you’re new to performing live. Their compact, lightweight design makes them easy to cart around to gigs, too.
Q. What type of amp requires the most maintenance?
A. Tube amps require more upkeep than solid-state, modeling, and hybrid amps. The tubes inside the amp can wear down over time, so you will likely need to replace them at some point. Many guitar enthusiasts are perfectly willing to put up with the maintenance requirements, however, because they love the classic sound of the tube amp.
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