Guitar Amps? She Knows What She Wants!

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OK, you’ve got that extra special electric guitar you wanted so much and it’s awesome. So now let’s talk about the next piece of rock gear you’ll need, which is a guitar amplifier (aka amp). Of course you need one so you can be heard louder than the plink, plink, plink of your guitar by itself. Let’s go over the high points so you’re “in the know” about what’s hot and what’s not.

For starters, amps come in many colors and different shapes but most are black, basically square or rectangular shaped and range in size from as small as a purse to as large as a coat closet.

Next, three popular names you want to know for amps are Fender, Marshall and Orange as they are some of the biggest and each has many amps to choose from. If I had to recommend one name, it would be Fender because they’re as well known from making guitars as they are for amps (they make the Hello Kitty electric guitar).

Now if you don’t have either a guitar or an amp yet, there are beginner kits which have everything you need to get playing (ex. electric guitar, amplifier, cord, strap, tuner and sometimes more accessories like a guitar stand or instructional material). You can get beginner kits from Amazon, Guitar Center, Guitar It Up For Girls, Musicians Friend and Sam Ash.

So let’s go shopping! Go to your local music stores or online to the names mentioned above and check out what they have. Now there are many amps out there but you should be able to find one that you like the way it looks. Next, check out its features and see if it has ones you want like being able to plug in headphones or a way to plug in your music so you can play along with it. Another cool feature is if it has built in effects like reverb, distortion or chorus to name a few. With effects, you can play around with your guitar’s sound to give it some personality and attitude!

Then there’s price. To help you be a savvy shopper who can sniff out the good deals, make sure to check out what’s on sale and if the store/site has any used amps (most do). A clever shopping trick is to ask a salesperson what deals they recommend because they know what their good deals are, may need sales themselves if they work on commission and cut you a “special one-time deal” or the store may want to get rid of an amp because they’ve had it for a while so will sell it at a low, low price. As a reference, you can certainly get a decent practice amp for around $100, and for $200 the choices are plentiful. To give you a reference, three suggested amps are:

#1 Fender 25R Frontman Series II (in red) for $94.99

#2 Orange Amps Crush PiX CR12L (in orange) for $99.00

#3 Marshall MG Series MG15CFX (in black) for $149.99

Any of these will get you a good looking, respectable amp that you can practice and rock out on. Of course, there are many other amps out there. The key is to shop around and find one you like and that you’re OK with its price. If you’re not sure, ask your friends for their advice as people love to tell you their opinion and you’ll look all the cooler (“Which amp do think you is more awesome because I only use the coolest amps”). You can also do some internet searching to get more info, like on Harmony Central.

With your new found amp info, hopefully you’re excited about getting the amp that’s right for you.

One last thing, sometimes salespeople at music stores can be goofballs. When I go amp shopping with friends and the salesperson keeps turning the conversation towards me, I say, “What are you talking to me for? She’s the one who knows what she wants.”

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Steve McKinley is the bass player for Joel Kosche (of Collective Soul) in his solo band and for the Led Zeppelin tribute Led Zeppelified. He’s been part of the Atlanta music scene for years playing in bands (i.e. Julius Pleaser, Sid Vicious Experience, Pretty Vacant et al) and has recorded and toured throughout the Southeast. His songs have been played on the radio, he has appeared on television and is an ASCAP member. With his electronics skills and experience, he runs Atlanta Tube Amp and Steve McKinley Electronics and is an Instructor on JamPlay.com. He roots for Atlanta United, works on cars and drinks his coffee strong, hot and black. He can be found on his sites, Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin. www.atlantatubeamp www.tubescreamermods.com

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