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JessThrasher

"What amp should I get?" guide by Jessica

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JessThrasher    10

So I just finished answering a thread about "what amp should I get" and I decided to make a guide about it. So before you ask me or post about "What amp should I get", read.

Helpful hints:

1. Resist pressure from others. Just because almost every band you know is using a Marshall stack doesn't mean you have to. I know that everyone is saving up for or dreaming of owning a Marshall stack someday. Marshall seems to be the best selling brand of amps but there's nothing wrong with using a not as best selling brand.

2. Everyone's rig is usually different in some way. Equipment is such a personal thing...I don't even know where to start! Like I said above, just because your hero is using something doesn't mean you have to.

3. Stay away from Ebay if possible. I've had friends buy amps off Ebay and they tell me that some of them sounded not better than banging pots and pans amplified. Here's a sound clip of my bandmate's guitar sounded like. (does it sound like something you would hear on new years eve?)

http://h1.ripway.com/commanderjess/bangingpotsandpans.wav

4. Plan on getting your amp in a package your local music store put together? Go for it! you're getting a good deal there!

5. If you're buying from a music store, try out the amp before you buy. There's nothing worse than buying an amp from the store and as soon as you try it at home, it sounds like that sound clip above.

6. If it acts weird or any mishaps, BRING IT BACK TO THE STORE! I've had a bad experiance with a bandmate of mine (17 year old self taught guitar fixer) trying to fix it. Morale: Don't try to fix it yourself unless you really know what you're doing and have good experiance fixing these things.

7. Think hard about your price range. You don't want to burn a hole in your wallet too soon.

8. Think about whether you really want it or not. The worst thing is you buy one and afew months/years later you deside you don't want it any more and burnt a hole in your wallet for nothing.

9. Have fun!

Think about the following:

- What's your price range?

- What type of music do you want to play?

- Are you going to be using clean or distortion more?

- Are you ok with a bajillion knobs and buttons?

- Do you have a particular brand in mind?

Good luck amp buying! :claping:

Still need more help? Ask me.

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eddiez152    129

Wow Jessica, that a nicely put together post. Very informative. As I go through the store. I just purchased a GDec from Fender. To me it was something to hook up to with gadgets. No clue, but its a start. I'll figure out more later.

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allthumbs    8

It has been my expeience that the quality of amps found in guitar packages are generaly low.

You have to know exactly what an amp is supposed to sound like before you buy one from ebay or chances are you could get burned.

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fly135    5

It's been my experience that the best player can make the worst amp sound good and the worst player can make the best amp sound bad. I'll throw in some of my considerations....

1) Where will you be playing it. The following assumes that most people who have no clue about what amp to get will be beginners playing at home.

2) The amps your favorite players are using on stage have to be played loud. Both the output section of the amp and the speakers have to be driven hard to get "that sound". So if you are playing at home a Marshall stack is likely to be both a huge waste of money and annoyance to the local human population.

3) You should be concerned about how they will create that special tone they want. You basically have two options... pedals and amps with built in FX. If you go with pedals you only need to be concerned with getting an amp that sounds good with your pedals. If you buy an amp with FX then you need to get it as right as possible the first time. So you can try them at the store and scour the user comments on various amps. Most amps have footswitches optional, but it's an almost certainty that you will want to switch between two different tones so don't dismiss the optional part. Consider the price of getting it in the initial package.

4) If you decide that you are going to use pedals, whether multi-fx or build a pedal board then it's going to be a bit more cumbersome to tote around to your or to your friend's house. OTOH, if you decide to get all your FX in the amp, you will probably be upgrading of changing your amp in the future. That's not necessarily a bad thing because you most likely will end of doing that anyway.

5) Speaker size is a consideration. Good speakers can be very expensive. So a reasonably priced amp is not going to have great speakers and upgrading a cheap amp is not that cost effective. In my limited experience, larger speakers sound better than smaller ones when you are talking about low end speakers. I would rather have and cheap 12" combon than a 10". And a 10" over an 8". YMMV

6) Tube vs. Solid state. You will see a lot of discussion and arguments over this issue. You will see people who you may rightly figure are a lot better players than you saying that you can't get that sound out of a SS amp. Don't take it to heart because you aren't going to get "that sound" out of any amp at this stage. If you feel compelled to go tube right away then you will be throwing out the whole FX in an amp category and will need to take the pedal route. So keep that in mind.

7) Lastly, don't expect the equipment to make your sound. Buying amps and FX is an exploration for tone. In some respects GAS is a futile attempt to compensate for lack of talent. But it's still lots of fun. So don't expect your first amp to be the endall of amp buying.

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Stratrat    0
Great post fly.

+1. Some great advice there. So many beginning guitarists get sucked in by thinking that if they buy the amp used by their favorite band, they'll get their sound.....not realizing that a 100-watt Marshall full stack at '1' on the volume dial in their bedroom (which will be shaking all the neighbors' houses) will sound NOTHING like that same Marshall stack 'dimed' in a large arena!

The needs of a "bedroom player" and a gigging guitarist differ greatly. If you're playing at home, you'll actually get better tone out of a 5W-15W tube amp with a 12" speaker than you will out of a 100W monster with 4x12" cabinets because you can crank it up a bit and get those tubes driving and speakers moving. Even a 5W amp is going to be loud for home practice if you live in a tract home or apartment/flat!

As far as tube vs. solid-state: Purists will insist that tube amps are the only way to go - preferably "vintage" and/or "boutique" models, hand-built and wired point-to-point instead of using PC boards. These amps will cost you thousands of dollars (ranging from a couple thousand to MANY thousand!), and as a beginner you probably won't sound any better through them than you would through a 5W SS amp (see fly135's comment about 'GAS' near the bottom of his post). A small (good-quality) solid-state modeling amp may be a better choice for a practice/home amp - while they may not sound exactly like the various 'cork-sniffer' amps they model, they're good enough for home playing and PC recording. You'll also get a lot more versatility with the various amp models and onboard FX. However, as Allthumbs said - keep in mind that the amps included in guitar "package deals" are often low-quality garbage.....in many cases you won't even find that particular amp available for purchase separately.

Also - reviews are helpful, but they're no substitute for going out and playing through amps before you buy....."tone" is a very subjective concept, and what sounds good to one person sounds like trash to another. Don't believe it? Go to any of the review pages or gear forums and do some reading.....somebody will ask for amp recommendations and almost no two people will recommend the same amp. Everyone will swear that their personal choice is "the best", and others will reply saying they tried that particular amp and it sounded like death warmed over to them.

Lastly, one thing that hasn't been mentioned yet.....if you start reading about all the mods people are doing to your chosen amp to make it sound better, realize that even a small amp can seriously injure or kill you if you start poking around it's innards without knowing what you're doing! Amplifiers have capacitors inside them, which store electricity even when the amp is off.....if you're not intimately familiar with working on electrical circuits (and the safety aspects thereof), leave your amp alone or take it to an amp tech to have it worked on. One simple touch in the wrong place can be disastrous to you and/or your amp!

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Can someone give examples of amps to what types of sounds they are suited for? Like Rock, Blues, etc. And like an example of a low range product in that category, mid range, and high range price wise.

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fly135    5

agent, many amps have both clean and overdrive channels. You can also dial in gain on the OD channel and adjust the amount the distortion. The end result is that most amps cover the whole genre of material, especially at the beginner level. You aren't going to dial in that exact sound of your favorite band without the chops in your fingertips.

I picked up a nice older 80 watt Peavey Bandit 112 off Craigslists for $50 plus a Magicstomp pedal. It will go from jazz clean to metal OD with the flip of a switch. But this is typical, not the exception.

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agent, many amps have both clean and overdrive channels. You can also dial in gain on the OD channel and adjust the amount the distortion. The end result is that most amps cover the whole genre of material, especially at the beginner level. You aren't going to dial in that exact sound of your favorite band without the chops in your fingertips.

I picked up a nice older 80 watt Peavey Bandit 112 off Craigslists for $50 plus a Magicstomp pedal. It will go from jazz clean to metal OD with the flip of a switch. But this is typical, not the exception.

Thanks. I have my eye on this 200 dollar crate from musiciansfriend. I want to make sure it sounds good with the Yamaha RGX A2 I'm gonna get, because I heard there are combos that sound good and sometimes you switch the amp or guitar and there will be a big improvement just the way they work together. Also I read that the RGX plays to the amp because of the lack of a tonal knob. Have you had experience with crates before or this one specifically, and could you tell me what kind of sounds you could dial out of it?

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/product/Crate-FXT65-Combo-with-DSP?sku=487784

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Mike8307    0
It has been my expeience that the quality of amps found in guitar packages are generaly low.

QUOTE]

I think what Jennifer (HermanLi) was alluding to was "packaging" a deal together by buying a guitar and amp at the same time. Using the more you buy the more you can save theory of commissioned sales people.

Otherwise I must agree, the amps found in "starter packs", packaged by the manufacturer and not the local store are awful. But to the unsuspecting, parent leery of a short lived hobby, or Holiday shoppers, those starter packs are hard to pass up. All in one, no other decision to make beside color. Luckily when I first started the guy at GC steered me way clear of those. Instead I got $20 off a $60 small 10 watt Crate practice amp. Great deal at 33% off.

Michael

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JessThrasher    10
It has been my expeience that the quality of amps found in guitar packages are generaly low.

QUOTE]

I think what Jennifer (HermanLi) was alluding to was "packaging" a deal together by buying a guitar and amp at the same time. Using the more you buy the more you can save theory of commissioned sales people.

Otherwise I must agree, the amps found in "starter packs", packaged by the manufacturer and not the local store are awful. But to the unsuspecting, parent leery of a short lived hobby, or Holiday shoppers, those starter packs are hard to pass up. All in one, no other decision to make beside color. Luckily when I first started the guy at GC steered me way clear of those. Instead I got $20 off a $60 small 10 watt Crate practice amp. Great deal at 33% off.

Michael

Jessica, not Jennifer.

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fly135    5

"Have you had experience with crates before or this one specifically, and could you tell me what kind of sounds you could dial out of it?"

I have no experience with Crate amps. I've heard people complain about reliability problems but you can get that with any amp. It seems like good value for what you get and the 2 year warranty is only $25. I recently sold a Fender Deluxe 900 on Craigslist for $200. It was in perfect condition and had generally the same feature set as the Crate except it was 90 watts. Craigslist is a good place to watch for deals.

You could probably dial in pretty any distortion level you want with the Crate. 2 Gain channels and a clean with footswitch gives you access to a variety of sounds with just a tap of the foot. I noticed that the DSP setting is retained for each channel, so that's a plus.

A major consideration in a purchase like this is what the distortion sounds like. Is it harsh and buzzy or smooth and creamy? Invariably the worst complaint about solid state amps is that the distortion is too harsh. A lot of the harshness is amplified by poor playing technique. I got rid of the Fender because I couldn't warm up to the distortion channels.

The difference between this amp and a modeling amp is that a modeling amp modifies the timbre (and gain) of the signal for different amp models. My Fender wasn't a modeling amp but it has a timbre selection for each channel. The timbre gives you automatic access to preset EQ. Scooped, dark, bright, acoustic, etc. This may or may not be a big deal to you. It wasn't to me. I got tired of pushing buttons trying find a timbre I liked after dialing in gain. I'm happy with my Bandit just dialing in the gain and leaving it with that. Overall I think that you are getting a lot for $200. Too much FX can have you twisting knobs for so long you forget to actually try to learn to play.

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fly135    5

agent, I happened to notice that the 2x12 version of that Crate amp was only $50 more. If you decide to go that route it seems like it would be worth the extra $50 to get double the watts and the extra speaker.

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agent, I happened to notice that the 2x12 version of that Crate amp was only $50 more. If you decide to go that route it seems like it would be worth the extra $50 to get double the watts and the extra speaker.

link?

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jimmyzowens    2

6) Tube vs. Solid state. You will see a lot of discussion and arguments over this issue. You will see people who you may rightly figure are a lot better players than you saying that you can't get that sound out of a SS amp. Don't take it to heart because you aren't going to get "that sound" out of any amp at this stage. If you feel compelled to go tube right away then you will be throwing out the whole FX in an amp category and will need to take the pedal route. So keep that in mind.

im just wondering about this post it seem ur saying that if you go tube you have no effects but pedals ? i just got a vox valvetronics and they say its a tube amp and it has a ton of effects .. did i get jyped or am i just miss informed

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Mike8307    0

The Vox Valvetronics is what they call a hybrid I believe. The pre-amp is digital allowing for a ton of great effects and amp models. There is a tube in the power amp so you can get that tube "warmth" and "over driven" sound.

Not sure exactly how it works but they are great amps.

Mike

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SlickCat    1

Amps...I had a 60watt Crate solid state combo; Gallien Krueger 120watt solid state combo; Peavey Musician head and 4x12 cab solid state; Marshall 50watt tube head and 2x12 cab; Mesa Blue Angel tube 40watt combo; Mesa subway blues tube 20watt combo; Fender 65 Deluxe Reverb tube amp; and now own a hand built repro of a Fender tweed deluxe tube amp.

I guess my point is I have seached for the tones I love over the years and some of these amps gave me exactly what I was looking for. My advice is buy something with good resale value (Brand Name) because no matter what you get you will soon trade it for something else. If you need a all around amp that can get lots of sounds tones and effects I would recommend the Vox Valvetronic line. They are a hybrid tube/digital amp and they sound great, and cover all kinds of tones. Once you find the tone your looking for and wattage needed,then upgrade to that particular amp you prefer.

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