Home Shopping A Beginner’s Guide to Electric Guitar Amplifier

A Beginner’s Guide to Electric Guitar Amplifier

Once you’re set up with your first electric guitar, it’s time to get your amplifier. This piece of music gear comes in many shapes and sizes. It can also have different features depending on the brand and your needs. So, before going out and buying the first one that you see, you should know what to look for.

What’s an Amplifier?

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Some people think that an amplifier is just a loudspeaker, but that’s not the case. It’s actually a device that transfers the electrical signals from your guitar through an electronic circuit to shape a tone. It’s called an amplifier because it amplifies the modified input before letting it go through the speakers.

It has two main parts: a preamp and a power amp. The preamp boosts the weak signal from the guitar and shapes the tone (bass, mid, treble). Some amps even have distortion effects. The power amp boosts up the signal and gives it enough power to play through the speaker. It can sometimes colour and distort the tone as well. There’s a wide variety of high-quality electric guitar amps that do a great job in any setting. It’s important to choose the right type and features.

Types of Amplifiers


This is the oldest type of amplifier. It’s considered a vintage and it’s greatly appreciated in the guitar world. To amplify the signal, it uses small glass bottles called vacuum tubes. It does so by harnessing the power from them and increasing the signal from the guitar. Tube amps are very respected in the guitar community because they produce a warm, smooth tone and natural distortion.

Even modern musicians consider them to be the best in the bunch. Besides being praised and loved so much, vacuum tubes are also very fragile. You need to replace them regularly. However, they’re almost considered “extinct” so they can be hard to find and a bit expensive.

Solid State

These amplifiers appeared in the middle of the 20th century. Compared to tube amps they’re lighter, more reliable and more efficient. They’re also less maintenance and easier to take care of. When it comes to sound, solid-state amplifiers give out a firmer and cleaner sound. They also have more headroom.

Their non-breaking, loud and clear power makes them very suitable for jazz musicians and bass players. This doesn’t mean that they can’t distort, all the pedals (distortion, overdrive, fuzz) can change the sound without vacuum tubes.


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Modelling amps are basically digital solid-state amps. One this that’s unique about them is that they have a variety of digital effects that can change their sound and make them sound like tones from other amps. They can imitate some of the highly distorted effect settings of a pedal board, plus the tone of a tube amp. However, you have to pre-program the effects in order to use them.

If you’re a beginner and you’re still not sure what type of effects you want to use, modelling amps is the right choice. Compared to tube amps, modelling ones are more lightweight, and you’ll save some money because you don’t have to invest in different pedals just to customise the sound you want.


A hybrid amp is a blend of amplifier technology. The hybrid amps most commonly combine the tube preamp and the solid-state power amp. You basically get the best of both worlds. Meaning, that you get warm and rich tones of tubes and efficient and reliable state circuits. These types of electric guitar amps have one big advantage, you get the tone you want without having to do a lot of maintenance on the fragile tubes.

If you’re a musician who does a lot of gigs, hybrid amps are the right choice because it’s much easier to transport and it’s very reliable. Plus, they’re more affordable than the tube amps. You won’t make a huge investment, but you will still get high-quality sounds you can adjust as needed.

What to Consider When Buying

The Music You Play

The type of music you play, and your personal playing style will have a big influence on what type of electric guitar amplifier you choose. For example, an amp that produces a clear, clean sound is perfect if you play jazz, pop, or country music. If you want more crunch or fuzz in your playing, get an amp that comes with built-in effects. If your sound is still evolving or you’re not sure where to start, search for one that combines the best of both worlds.

Size & Portability

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Think about the space where you’re practising and if you’ll be carrying the amp with you when you travel. If you’re practising in a small apartment or a house full of people, you might want to consider an amplifier with a headphone jack. This way you won’t bother other people, and you’d be able to hear the full potential of your instrument. Many beginners go with a smaller version of this device because of the space-saving and practicality. But if you have the space, go for a bigger amplifier with more power.

Volume & Wattage

When it comes to amps, their size and wattage usually go hand in hand. It’s all about how big of a space you need to fill with sound. Smaller versions are between 10 and 40 watts and great for a smaller space. Medium-sized ones have between 50 and 100 watts. They’re good when practising with a band and performing in small venues. If you’re playing in large spaces, buying a large amp is a good idea. Look for one between 100 and 200 watts or more.


The material of the “cabinet” is also an important thing. A wooden cabinet won’t create as much distortion as a plastic one would. Plastic ones on the other hand are lighter and easier to transport. If you want a more natural sound, look for an amp with an open back. The closed types create a more compressed sound.

Special Features

A lot of amps come with some special features. Look for one with two channels. One for a clean mode and the other for an overdriven mode. Analogue amplifiers usually come with built-in effects like chorus and reverb, while hybrid and digital amps can have dozens of effects, from traditional to bizarre. Amps need inputs and outputs of all sizes so make sure you have as many as possible.