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, guitar 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, the three popular names you want to know for amps are Fender, Marshall, and Orange, as they are some of the biggest manufacturers and make some of the best amps on the market, 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 for making guitars as they are for their classic Fender amps with their great Fender tone.
Now, if you don’t have either a guitar or an amp yet, there are beginner kits that 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 online retailers and/or your local music store, which is a great place to actually sit down and plug in a guitar and play. Does it have a clean tone or whatever tone you’re looking for?
So, let’s go shopping to find the right guitar amp!
Go to your local music stores or online to 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 the 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 for different tones, you can play around with your guitar’s sound to give it some personality and attitude to match different types of music!
Other things to consider are: what watt amp will I need, will I be playing around at home or performing in small venues, will it be used for electric guitars or acoustic guitars, and will I need a single channel or second channel? And there are different types of amps to consider. Tube amps, vacuum tubes, solid state amps, and more. That’s a topic for another blog post.
If you’re looking for a decent practice amp, consider a smaller amp that will be easy to carry around with your guitar plugged in or for sitting around in jam sessions.
Then there’s the 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. Some salespersons work on commissions and may be willing to 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 long time, so will sell a high quality amp 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. I would caution you, however, to not go on the low end of the spectrum, as you may end up having to replace the amp in a short period of time.
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 opinions, and you’ll look all the cooler (“Which amp do you think is more awesome because I only use the coolest amps?”) You can also do some internet searching to get more information. There are plenty of reliable sources to research; just be sure and do your homework.
With your newfound amp info, hopefully, you’re excited about getting the amp that’s right for you.
One last thing for the women to remember: 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.”