Guitar Amps

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About Guitar Amps

Guitar amps are, after the guitar itself, the biggest factor to consider when creating your electric guitar sound. Amplifiers play a huge part - some would say the biggest part - in the production of tone. There is a vast array of makes, models and variations on offer to help create the sound you dream of.

Some guitar amplifiers are made as separate heads and cabinets. The head contains the circuits, controls and inner workings of the amp - this is what you plug into and interact with. The cabinet, or cab, is an enclosure that houses the actual speakers themselves. You need both and together they are referred to as a 'half stack'. Full stacks, like you see on the world's largest rock stages, are made up of a head and two cabinets. These are often known as 412 or 4x12 cabs since they both have four 12" speakers.

Amps can also be combos. This is the type of amp you'll find in most homes, garages and small stages. The amp 'head' section and cab section are incorporated together within one enclosure. These can be very small and portable or relatively large and heavy.

Guitar amps can be made in two main ways: valve and solid state. Valve amps are typically more expensive and have physical vacuum tubes (tube amps is another name for them). These reside and function within the main tone producing section to give a vintage, high quality tone. Solid state amps use electronic circuit boards to produce their sounds. They often use 'modelling' technology to make the amp sound like many other famous amplifier types.

At guitarguitar, we understand how important amplifiers are to each player's tone. We stock a massive range of amplifiers at every guitarguitar store. From the smallest battery powered practice amp to the most exclusive, hand-wired boutique masterpiece, we have an amp for every requirement and preference. Buy online or try out your dream amp in a soundproof booth within any of our stores. Our staff are on hand to offer assistance and expert advice so that you can leave happily with the best amplifier for your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions about Guitar Amps

For practising in the house, there are two main ways you can go: a small digital or solid state amp like a Line 6 Spider, Marshall MG or Blackstar ID Core; or you can go for a small, low wattage valve amp like an Orange Tiny Terror or a Marshall DSL1 CL1. These amps are small enough to wind up and give you true tube tone at subrubia-friendly volumes. The trade off is that the solid state and digital amps have lots of FX and other features built in but lack the genuine valve warmth. The valve amps have a great, authentic tone but there is little in the way of options or choices.
Definitely, as long as you can comfortably hear yourself! Most venues do not require gigantic amps any more due to improvements in PA systems. However you still need to be able to hear your own playing on stage so maybe keep that in mind and choose accordingly. Also, a smaller amp may be loud enough at the absolute top of it's volume but by this point it will have started to clip and distort. If you want loud and clean, it's best to buy a bigger, more powerful amp because then you'll get what we call 'headroom': lots of clean volume that doesn't distort.
Valve amps have a power switch and a standby switch. This is to allow the valves to heat up and get acclimated to the environment before getting juiced with your guitar's signal! Starting from both switches being in the 'off' position, switch the power to 'on'. Leave the amp for at least 30 seconds and then flip the standby switch to 'on' and you are good to go. When turning off, make sure you do everything in reverse order. Flip the standby switch to 'standby' first and then wait at least 30 seconds for the valves to cool down before turning the power to 'off'.
'High gain' is a descriptive term for an amplifier that has multiple gain stages that feed into each other ('cascading gain') for a cumulative effect. This is the type of sound that is used in Metal and other heavy genres. Back in the day this was more difficult to achieve but the 1980s saw a brace of new amplifier designs coming from the US that changed all that. This is why, nowadays, we speak of an 'American' sounding distortion or a 'US sounding' distortion. It basically means that the sound is chunky, very distorted and quite compressed...perfect for huge riffs and rhythms!
Yes. These days there are lots of amplifiers from various top brands that feature a USB connection for hassle-free recording. A few of these include the Blackstar ID Core range, the Marshall CODE range and the Fender Mustang GT range among others.