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It usually does not take long for aspiring guitarists to figure out that their guitar amp plays a bigger role in getting that perfect sound more than any other part of their setup, including the guitar. As such, figuring out which amp is best is a very important step in becoming the guitarist you have always dreamt of.
This is where things can get a bit daunting, as there are so many choices and factors to consider. From the warmth of tube amps to the convenience of digital models, each amplifier has its unique charm and set of features catering to different facets of learning and exploration. The right amp can amplify not just your sound but your enthusiasm and commitment to mastering the guitar.
Discovering the best beginner guitar amps is a pivotal step for any novice electric guitar or acoustic guitar enthusiast. The right amp can significantly impact your sound, making the selection process crucial.
This guide highlights our top five choices for 2024, ensuring you find an amp that resonates with your musical journey, whether you’re strumming an acoustic or shredding on an electric guitar.
Without further ado, let’s dive in.
Choosing Your First Guitar Amp
When selecting your first amp, consider a few key factors: the type of music you want to play, the power rating for practice or live performances, and whether you need features like a built-in tuner, auxiliary input, or USB connectivity for recording. Combo amps are often the right choice for beginners due to their all-in-one design and range of features.
Understanding Guitar Amps: Tube, Solid-State, and Digital
Tube amps, known for their warm, rich tones, are often sought after by those chasing classic rock sounds. However, for beginners, solid-state amps and digital effects-laden models offer durability, consistency, and a variety of tones at a reasonable price. Combo amps combine the amplifier and speaker in one unit and are a great choice for new players due to their convenience and range of built-in effects.
The Five Best Beginner Guitar Amps of 2024
As promised, here are our top picks of the five best guitar amps for beginners in 2024. Each of these amps has been selected for its unique ability to meet the varied needs of novice players. From budget-friendly options that don’t skimp on quality to technological marvels that bring the future of music right into your practice room, our curated list aims to cater to every beginner guitarist’s dream.
The Budget King: Fender Mustang LT-25
In the quest for the perfect beginner guitar amp, affordability and quality often find themselves at opposite ends of the spectrum. However, the Fender Mustang LT-25 bridges this divide, offering a stellar combination of both, rightfully earning its title as “The Budget King.” This amp is a beacon for beginners, shining with features that belie its modest price tag, all while encapsulating Fender’s renowned craftsmanship and sound excellence.
The Fender Mustang LT series stands out for its excellent sound quality and versatility, making it an excellent choice for beginners. With various amp models and digital effects, it’s a good beginner guitar amp that supports silent practice through a headphone jack. While checking out the Fender Mustang LT 25, feel free to check out Fender’s Champion series, which offers different channels and effects, caters to electric guitars, and provides a great sound for practice sessions.
Why It Stands Out
Want to get the best bang for the buck? The Fender Mustang LT-25 distinguishes itself through its sheer value for money. It’s a digital modeling amp that doesn’t just mimic the sound of more expensive amps; it brings a level of sound quality and versatility that’s unparalleled in its price range. With a custom-designed 8-inch speaker and 25 watts of power, it packs enough punch for practice sessions and small gigs, while its array of amp models and effects invites beginners to explore every conceivable genre and style. Gone are the days when affordability meant bad. This is a very capable first amp for beginners that can easily last you for the first few years of your musical journey.
Features That Excite
- Wide Array of Sounds: With 20 amp models and 25 effects built-in, the LT-25 serves as a musical chameleon, capable of achieving everything from the clean, warm tones of jazz to the gritty growl of rock.
- User-Friendly Interface: Aimed at beginners, its intuitive interface features a 1.8-inch color display that simplifies navigation, making tweaking settings and selecting presets an effortless endeavor.
- Practice Made Perfect: Beyond its sound capabilities, the LT-25 is loaded with features to aid practice, including a built-in tuner, metronome, and USB connectivity for direct recording. An auxiliary input allows players to jam along to their favorite tracks, enhancing the learning experience.
- Portability: Compact and lightweight, it’s easy to transport, making it an ideal practice amp for bedroom players and those who travel to lessons or jams.
Pros and Cons
- Exceptional value, offering high-quality sounds and features at an affordable price.
- Versatile sound palette suitable for a wide range of musical styles.
- Beginner-friendly interface that simplifies the learning curve.
- Some advanced players may find the sound and effects limiting as their skills progress.
- The digital nature of the amp, while versatile, might not satisfy purists seeking the authenticity of an analog or tube amp.
As the cornerstone of Fender’s beginner-friendly offerings, the Mustang LT-25 is priced to be as accessible as possible. It represents a significant value, providing a solid foundation for new players to start their journey without a large financial commitment.
Tube amps are considered to be the holy grail of amps, and with good reason. However, they mostly tend to be a bit too expensive and loud for beginners. The Vox AC4 offers the perfect compromise for beginners with a penchant for the rich, warm sound that only a tube amp can provide. This compact tube amplifier captures the classic British tone synonymous with the Vox brand, offering a straightforward and authentic playing experience. Its simplicity, combined with the unmistakable tube warmth, makes the AC4 an excellent choice for those looking to delve into the world of tube amps without overwhelming complexity or cost. It does come with a big caveat, though. It does not offer the huge collection of effects that other beginner amps offer, and you will have to invest in effects pedals if and when you want to diversify your tonal options.
Why It Stands Out
The Vox AC4 stands out because it brings the coveted tube amp experience within reach of beginners. Unlike larger, more complex tube amps, the AC4’s compact size and design is intuitive, featuring a single channel with straightforward controls for gain, tone, and volume. This simplicity allows new players to focus on their playing and tone exploration without getting lost in a sea of knobs and switches. Moreover, its 4-watt output makes it perfect for home practice, delivering genuine tube tones at manageable volumes. For those enamored with the tube amp sound, the Vox AC4 provides classic Vox tones in a smaller size, ideal for home practice and small venues.
- Genuine Tube Tone: Powered by two 12AX7 preamp tubes and one EL84 power tube, the AC4 delivers the warm, dynamic response that tube amps are celebrated for.
- Classic Vox Aesthetics: With its vintage-inspired design, the AC4 not only sounds the part but also looks it, echoing the iconic style of Vox amps that have graced stages for decades.
- Speaker Output Options: The AC4 offers flexibility with a speaker output that allows you to connect to additional cabinets, expanding its versatility and the overall sound experience.
- Power Attenuator: Built-in power attenuation lets you lower the output to 1 watt or even 1/4 watt, enabling you to achieve saturated tube tones at lower, more ear-friendly volumes.
Pros and Cons
- Authentic tube sound in a beginner-friendly package.
- Simple control layout makes it easy to use for players new to tube amps.
- Compact size and power attenuation feature make it ideal for home use and practice.
- Limited onboard effects and sound shaping options compared to digital modeling amps.
- The singular focus on classic tones may not suit players looking for more modern sounds or versatility.
While tube amps generally come with a higher price tag due to their construction and components, the Vox AC4 is priced to make the tube amp experience accessible to beginners. Its cost reflects the balance between quality and affordability, making it a worthy investment if your heart is set on the addictive tones only a tube amp can produce.
The Versatile Choice: Boss Katana-50 MkII
The best quality a beginner amp can possess is versatility, and few amps are more versatile than the Katana series of amps. Among these amps, the Boss Katana-50 MkII stands out as the epitome of versatility while being relatively easy on the pockets. This digital modeling amp delivers exceptional sound quality, durability, and a wide array of features in an affordable package. Just watch any review of this amp on YouTube, and you will realize very quickly why it has garnered such a cult following in a very short period of time. It’s designed to cater to players who crave diversity in their sound, from sparkling cleans to heavy distortion, all while maintaining user-friendliness and reliability. The Tonestudio app further allows you to expand the sonic possibilities of this amp and almost treat it like a full-fledged multi-effects guitar processor.
Why It Stands Out
The Boss Katana-50 MkII distinguishes itself through its cutting-edge technology that packs dozens of amp models and effects into one compact unit. Its ability to simulate classic amp tones and offer a plethora of onboard effects, combined with the flexibility of customizable presets, makes it a powerhouse for beginners. The Katana-50 MkII is not just about variety; it’s about delivering high-quality sound at any volume, making it equally suited for bedroom practice and live performances.
- Tone Variety: With five distinct amp characters and over 60 Boss effects available via the Boss Tone Studio, the Katana-50 MkII offers a sound palette broad enough to cover any genre.
- Power Control: The amp features a power control option that allows players to achieve a cranked-amp tone at lower volumes, perfect for practicing without disturbing others.
- Recording and Connectivity: USB connectivity facilitates direct recording to a computer, and there’s also support for headphones and an aux input, enhancing practice sessions with easy backing track integration.
- Customizable Presets: Users can save favorite setups and configurations as presets, making it easy to switch between sounds during practice or performance.
Pros and Cons
- Versatile sound options make it suitable for a wide range of musical styles.
- User-friendly interface and easy access to a vast library of effects.
- The power control feature allows for full-tone performance at any volume.
- While it offers a vast array of effects and models, purists may find its digital modeling less authentic than traditional tube amps.
- The sheer number of options can be overwhelming for absolute beginners without guidance.
The Boss Katana-50 MkII is positioned as a mid-range amp, providing excellent value for its price. It’s designed to be an investment that beginner guitarists won’t quickly outgrow, offering both affordability and a comprehensive set of features that cater to players at various stages of their musical journey.
The All-Rounder: Yamaha THR10II
The Yamaha THR series is celebrated as the best acoustic-electric guitar amp for home use, thanks to its excellent sound quality, USB connectivity, and variety of tones. Its wireless capabilities and battery power option make it a top pick for guitar players looking for flexibility and high-quality construction.
For beginners looking for an amp that does it all without compromising on quality, portability, or ease of use, the Yamaha THR10II shines as the ultimate all-rounder. This compact, stylish desktop amp is designed for players who want a versatile sound experience, from home practice to recording sessions. It combines Yamaha’s renowned audio fidelity with cutting-edge technology, offering a wide range of tones and features in a package that’s as visually appealing as it is sonically. This one might not look like the traditional guitar amp, but it delivers where it matters. The tone is heavenly, while the tweakability is on par with much more expensive guitar amps. If portability is high on your list of priorities, this amp will exceed your expectations without making any major compromises on any of the other qualities that make a guitar amp great.
Why It Stands Out
The Yamaha THR10II stands out for its exceptional versatility and sound quality packed into a compact, portable design. It’s an amp that caters to virtually any genre, with settings that range from crystal-clear cleans to high-gain distortion. Beyond its versatility, the THR10II is equipped with wireless capabilities and a built-in battery, making it the perfect choice for playing anywhere, anytime. Its user-friendly interface ensures that beginners can easily navigate through its features, making it a favorite among those looking for a straightforward yet comprehensive amp solution.
- Wide Range of Tones: Offering 15 guitar amp models, 3 bass amp models, and 3 mic models for acoustic-electrics, the THR10II delivers on the promise of versatility. Its VCM (Virtual Circuitry Modeling)* technology ensures that each tone is as authentic and rich as the original.
- Wireless Functionality: With Bluetooth support for audio playback and compatibility with a wireless transmitter for your guitar, the THR10II invites you to untether from cables for a truly wireless playing experience.
- Built-in Battery: The integrated rechargeable battery offers up to 5 hours of playtime, emphasizing the amp’s portability and convenience for musicians on the go.
- Recording Ready: USB connectivity allows for direct recording to a computer, making the THR10II a valuable tool for beginners looking to venture into home recording.
*Virtual Circuitry Modeling (VCM) Technology Explained:
Virtual Circuitry Modeling (VCM) technology is an advanced digital modeling technique developed to accurately replicate the characteristics of analog audio equipment. Unlike traditional digital simulations that might only mimic the sound output of such equipment, VCM technology goes deeper by emulating the individual components and their interactions within the original hardware. This includes the nuances of how transistors, resistors, capacitors, and other circuit elements contribute to the overall sound.
By modeling the actual behavior of these components, VCM is able to capture the warmth, richness, and dynamic responses of analog gear, including guitar amps, effects pedals, and studio equipment. This results in a more authentic and expressive sound, allowing musicians to access the beloved tones of vintage equipment without the need for physical hardware. VCM technology not only preserves the legacy of classic audio gear but also provides versatility and convenience for today’s digital music production and performance environments.
In the context of guitar amplifiers, such as the Yamaha THR10II, VCM technology enables the amp to offer a wide range of realistic amp models and effects. Guitarists can explore everything from clean, sparkling tones to gritty distortion, all with the feel and response of playing through a traditional tube amp, thanks to the detailed emulation provided by VCM.
Pros and Cons
- Comprehensive sound options cater to a broad spectrum of musical styles.
- Compact, portable design with wireless capabilities and a built-in battery.
- High-quality construction and sound fidelity are characteristic of Yamaha products.
- The price might be a bit steep for some beginners, given its positioning as an all-rounder.
- Its plethora of features and digital interface might require a learning curve for absolute novices.
The Yamaha THR10II is priced as a mid-to-high range amp, reflecting its all-encompassing features, portability, and premium sound quality. It’s an investment for beginners who are serious about their practice environment and are looking for an amp that will serve them well beyond their initial learning phase.
The Futuristic Option: Positive Grid Spark Mini
The Positive Grid Spark Mini revolutionizes practice with its smart technology and vast library of tones. It’s the best thing for beginner guitarists eager to explore different effects and backing tracks, making practice sessions more engaging and productive.
Guitar amps have had two major updates in terms of technology – tubes and solid states. This nifty little amp brings in the next big evolution. For beginners who are not just looking for an amp but a revolutionary practice tool that integrates the latest technology, the Positive Grid Spark Mini is a game-changer. This smart guitar amplifier is designed with the future in mind, blending high-quality tones with advanced features like app integration, smart learning technology, and a vast library of tones accessible via the cloud. It’s the perfect choice for the tech-savvy beginner eager to dive into the digital age of guitar playing. It does equally well during the initial days when all you want is to plug in your guitar and sound good, thanks to its exceptional presets while allowing you to experiment and tweak settings to your heart’s content later on when you are on the quest to find your perfect tone.
Why It Stands Out
The Positive Grid Spark Mini stands out for its innovative approach to guitar amplification and practice. It’s not just an amp; it’s a practice partner that uses intelligent technology to analyze your playing and accompany you with drums and bass, making practice sessions more interactive and engaging. The Spark app offers access to over 10,000 tones, allowing users to replicate the sounds of their favorite songs and artists with precision. This level of interactivity and customization sets the Spark Mini apart as the futuristic option for beginners.
- Smart Jam Functionality: The Spark Mini listens to your playing and automatically generates accompanying bass and drum tracks, offering a full-band experience during solo practice sessions.
- Extensive Tone Library: Through the Spark app, players gain access to thousands of amp models and effects, allowing for endless exploration of genres and artists’ tones.
- Voice Command: Innovative voice command capabilities enable hands-free control over the amp, making it easier to adjust settings and effects while playing.
- Portable Design: Its compact size and built-in battery make the Spark Mini highly portable, allowing you to play anywhere without the need for a power outlet.
- Bluetooth Connectivity: Stream music directly from your device to the Spark Mini for easy play-along sessions, enhancing your practice with your favorite tracks.
- USB Interface for Recording: Direct USB connectivity turns the Spark Mini into a recording interface, letting you record your guitar tracks straight into your favorite DAW.
Pros and Cons
- Advanced technology enhances practice with interactive backing tracks and a vast tone library.
- Compact and portable design, complete with a built-in battery, offers flexibility in where and how you practice.
- The app-driven experience encourages exploration and learning, making it a powerful tool for beginners.
- Dependence on the app and a smart device may not suit those looking for a more traditional amp experience.
- The wealth of features and options might initially overwhelm beginners without prior experience in digital music gear.
The Positive Grid Spark Mini is positioned as a premium option within the beginner amp category, reflecting its advanced features and smart technology. It represents an investment in a beginner’s musical development, offering a multifaceted tool that serves not only as an amplifier but also as a comprehensive learning and practice device.
Why is Choosing the Right Guitar Amplifier Important?
The amplifier is often an afterthought for beginner guitarists as the guitar takes up all the attention. However, even the best guitars can sound terrible if the amplifier isn’t good. For beginners, the choice of an amplifier is as critical as the choice of their first guitar, as it significantly influences their initial learning experience, the development of their unique sound, and their overall engagement with the instrument. Here are all the important functions that guitar amps serve.
- Amplifying Your Sound
- Shaping Your Tone
- A Catalyst for Creativity
- Practice and Performance
- The Bridge to Your Audience
Conclusion: Making the Right Choice
An amplifier is more than just a tool for making your guitar louder; it’s a vital component of your musical expression. By choosing the best guitar amp for your needs and learning how to get the most out of it, you’re setting the stage for a rewarding musical journey. Just remember that the amp is still just a tool in your arsenal. A good one will make your life a lot easier, but ultimately, it is your dedication and desire to learn that matter.
Choosing the right guitar amp is not a daunting task when you know what to look for. Whether it’s the classic Fender tone, the versatility of a Boss Katana, or the innovative technology of a Positive Grid Spark Mini, the best beginner amps offer great sound, versatility, and value for money.
Go for the best amp your budget and circumstances allow. A great guitarist can make even a computer speaker sound good, while a not-so-great guitarist can make even the most sought-after guitar amplifier sound like a kitchen appliance. Choose any one of these five amps, and you won’t be disappointed.
Remember, the best amp is one that meets your own needs, helping you grow as a musician. With the right amp, your guitar lessons and practice sessions will be more productive, setting you on the path to becoming the guitarist you’ve always dreamed of.
While our guide aims to highlight the top guitar amps for beginners, it’s important to remember that the ‘best’ amp is highly subjective and varies from one musician to another. The perfect choice for you depends on your unique goals, playing style, and the musical genres you’re most passionate about. Each guitarist’s journey is distinct, and what works for one may not suit another. Therefore, we strongly encourage you to try out different amps in person whenever possible. Experiencing the sound, feel, and features of an amp firsthand can provide invaluable insights that go beyond specs and reviews. Visiting your local music store and testing various models can help you make a decision that truly resonates with your personal preferences and aspirations.
Okay, we said five, but felt like the next two were great additions to this amp guide for 2024.
Orange Crush: Solid-State Excellence
The Orange Crush series represents the pinnacle of solid-state amps, delivering classic tones suitable for genres from pop to classic rock. These amps are known for their robust build and distinctive sound, making them a good choice for beginners looking for durability and quality.
Boss Katana Mini: A Powerhouse in a Compact Package
The Boss Katana Mini is renowned for its sound quality and portability, offering different amp voicings and built-in effects in a mini amp format. It’s a great amplifier for electric guitar amp enthusiasts seeking versatility and compactness.