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What Guitar Amplifier Should I Buy? 1

My last post addressed “What Guitar Should I Buy?” so today I felt addressing “What Amplifier Should I Buy?” would be on target.  There are many excellent amplifiers on the market at price points ranging from less than $100.00 up to $5000.00 or more.  To help with your amplifier choice I would again ask several questions including:

  • What size amplifier are you looking for?
  • How will you be using the amp? at home practicing? How loud can you play at home? Ever going to play with a drummer?
  • Will you be performing with this amp? Where will you be performing? Church, coffee shop, small club, large club????
  • What is your budget for this amp?

Today I will look at two different situations. First lets look at our first time guitar student introduced in my last post. If you recall, the student had about $100.00 left to spend on an amp. Our student will be using the amp to practice at home and maybe carrying it to a friends house to jam, so a small 15-watt practice amp is the order of the day. There are many good amplifiers available at the $100.00 to $125.00 price point new but remember the advice from the last post, good deals can be had if you are willing to consider used gear. Amps that originally cost $250.00 or more will be at our new student’s price point buying used. Just be sure to check out a used amp thoroughly to be sure that all of the amp’s functions are working correctly. Ask your trusted sales person to help you with this, and also be sure inquire as to any warranty that may be included with the used amp.  Many of the newer modeling amps include a variety of onboard effects that will allow the student to mimic more of the sounds heard on the songs they will be learning.

The second situation I will cover is choosing an amplifier for a player that has been playing for about three years and needs an amp to play out with. Most of the gigs will be in small clubs. The amp will also be used for band rehearsals (with drums) and some studio recording. This type of use requires a larger more powerful amp. The player also stated an interest in a tube amp as they prefer the tone of tubes over solid state. The minimum power I would suggest is a 35 watt or more tube amp (50 watts or larger solid state) combo amp. The cost of a new tube amp in this power range is $400.00 (China import) to $1200.00 or more. USA built tube amps start out in the $700.00 range. The budget for our player is $1000.00. After trying out a number of different amps the player chooses a used 50 watt Marshall combo tube amp made in the UK. This amp had just been re-tubed and came with a 90 day warranty. It sounded amazing and was more than loud enough for the upcoming gigs. Cost for this amp, $850.00.

As you can see it is very important when selecting an amplifier that you first define how the amp will be used and then make sure to purchase an amp that will meet the task. Also keep in mind, the better the amp sounds the more time the student will spend playing and will become a better player more quickly (very important for the new player). New or used, the choice is up to you. I personally almost always buy clean used gear as I get more value for my dollar. Knowing gear helps when looking at used items and your trusted salesperson can really help you out here.

In the end, you want to purchase a good sounding solidly built amp that will meet your needs and give you years of great service so take your time looking and testing a few amps to be sure that you make the right choice.

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