Choosing a guitar amplifier

There are quite a few factors that you need to look at when you are choosing the best guitar amplifier. The first thing that you need to know is that you can not choose a guitar amplifier based on what somebody says or on what the manufacturer says the maximum wattage is.

You need to to take into account a number of aspects:

  • What guitars will you be using with the amplifier

  • The style you play

  • Effects you are looking for

  • How much you are able to spend

  • The tone you like best

For most people, buying an expensive big brand name amplifier is not as important as buying an amplifier that will do what you want and will fit your style. If you are buying your first amplifier, it might be good if you start small.


If you are only practising at home, you should not need anything more that an 15W amplifier. A 15W amplifier still can be quite loud when turned up. A lower wattage means that at louder volumes, your sound will not be as clean as a higher wattage would be. If you use quite a dirty tone, this should not be too much of a problem for you

Amplifier Size

You also need to remember that you will have to store this amplifier somewhere. An amplifier with more watts will often be a larger amplifier. This larger size means that they are harder to transport, and harder to store out of the way.

Type of amplifiers

There are 3 different types of amplifiers:

  • Tube amplifiers

  • Hybrids amplifiers

  • Solid-state amplifiers

The tube amplifiers are seen as the grooviest and have the best sound, but can often require more maintenance and be less reliable. The tubes can break or wear out. The solid-state amplifiers are often cheaper and the hybrids are a compromise between the two.

If you are planning to play live to a crowd, you might want to think about a tube or hybrid amplifier. This is because the solid state amplifiers do not usually have the type of tine that guitarists prefer for playing to a crowd.

Take into account the type of amplifiers you try out. Some will produce a tone that you like and others may not suit your playing style.

There are also different configuration:

  • Combo - Where a single cabinet or box houses the circuits and speakers.

  • Piggyback - Where a separate amp sits on a speaker box

  • Stack - Combines a head and two cabinets

  • Rack - Allows the mounting of many amplifiers and speakers. You should not have to worry about this type until you are doing serious / professional performances.


There are quite a features you can look out of on amplifiers:

  • A headphone jack so that you can practice without annoying neighbours

  • Reverb control to set the amount of echo in the sound

  • An on/off switch

  • Volume control or post gain control

  • Separate comtrols for controlling the treble and bass.

  • Other built-in effects


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