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A Beginner's Guide to Guitar Amplifiers and Amps

What is a guitar amp?

A guitar amplifier is a device that connects to electric, electro-acoustic or bass guitars and converts their signals into sound, which is then produced through a loudspeaker. They are essential items for electric guitarists and bassists and a variety of different models are available to cater for musicians' needs.

There are two main types of amplifier: combo - which contains the amp and speakers in one single cabinet - and standalone head units that require speakers to be connected separately. The purpose of the amp determines what type the guitarist should be looking to use, as well as the size and the amount of power required. Students looking for an amp simply so they can learn the guitar usually go for practice amps, which tend to be relatively small and low-powered and fall into the combo category. Those wanting to play live or create a certain type of sound, however, may find head units and separate cabinets better suited to their needs.

Guitar amps available on the market

One example of an amp for absolute beginners is the Mini Guitar Amp in Black for £16.50. The battery-powered device is designed for those looking to practice on the move and buyers may be surprised by the volume, quality and variety of different sounds it is capable of producing.

Another budget model practice amp is the 15W Electric Guitar Amp for £36.95. It is larger than its smaller cousin with a 6.5-inch speaker and is fitted with a control panel featuring treble, middle, bass, drive boost, gain and master volume switches.

For those looking for extra quality, diversity and power, there is the White Horse 60W Tube Guitar Amp + 4x8 Cab for £165. The advanced unit, designed for use both in the studio and on stage, is capable of replicating the sound of other classic amps, in addition to a host of original guitar tones. Tim Slater of Playmusic Pickup magazine raved about the amp in his review of it, suggesting it is excellent value for money as well as being "good fun".

Manufactured by the same company is the White Horse 60W Tube Guitar Amp + 4x8 Cab, which costs £199. Ideal for playing on stage, the package is built to pack a punch and produce sweet tones as well as dirty blues sounds.

Bass amps available on the market

All of these models are designed to go with electric guitars and specialist bass amps are available to cater for that instrument. The 15W Electric Bass Amp, for example, costs £36.95 is made for learners. Those looking for something more powerful, however, can buy the White Horse BP150 Bass Guitar Amplifier for £155. With its 15-inch speaker, the guitar offers the volume needed for those looking to play live, while also featuring enough effects to fit in well to the studio environment. It won a lot of praise on its release last year and was named by equipment publication Guitar & Bass as one of the best amps of 2008.

Acoustic amps available on the market

Specialist acoustic amps are also available in the marketplace, such as the 15W Acoustic Amp for £36.95. As with several other amps, it is available with an accessory pack for £16 more, which includes spare strings, a guitar pick, bag, strap and lead and a digital tuner.

At the top of the price range for acoustic amps is the Fishman Loudbox 100 Acoustic Amp. Boasting 100W of power, the two-channel amp is designed to help acoustic guitar players get the very most from their instruments both live and in the studio.

Posted on 22 May 2009 16:36 to category : Tips and advice

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