To all of you who are looking at choosing your first instrument! Thanks! If you're looking here, you're probably a guitarist or an aspiring guitarist. Have you gotten an electric guitar yet? Whether you've already got one and are enjoying it every day, or you're just getting started, don't forget about the amp!
Electric guitars usually don't use a power supply. So why an electric guitar? If you've ever wondered why electric guitars don't usually use a power source, you've got a good point. Yes, it is the amp that is connected to the power source. It is an electric guitar because it is connected to an amplifier that produces sound with electricity. The sound of an electric guitar comes from the amp! That's why the amp is so important!
The title of this article is "Choosing an amp for the first time. If you are just starting to choose an amp for the first time, you are probably wondering which of these three amps are the most important! I think most of the people who are going to choose an amp for the first time probably have one of these three cases.
1. you want to buy an amp along with a guitar because you want to start playing electric guitar.
→ 2. I want to buy an amp to go with my electric guitar. If you read this, it will be a shortcut to get a good sound without hesitation.
I play electric guitar, but I'm using a tiny amp that came with the set. It's time to get a better sounding one for practice.
→ I'm sure many of you already have some idea of what you're looking for, and you have your own preferences for sound. If you take a look at the amp section of our website, you'll find a variety of models introduced every day. You can also search by type, brand, and budget! Of course, if you read this section all the way to the end, you'll be in for a real treat!
I play electric guitar and have a band, and we often play gigs. But I want to get an amp that can produce my own sound, not just rent one from a studio or live house.
→ If you want to get your own amp, we recommend our column "Amp Mangyo-ki", which is dedicated to amps. It not only explains in detail how to choose a Marshall or Fender amp, but also its history, so you can stand out from your rivals! But since you're here, you might as well read this too!
It's not necessarily only people who are just starting out who need to choose an amp for the first time. So there are many cases.
This is the part that produces the electric guitar sound! If you only play an electric guitar, it only produces a small, peppy sound, right? But it's not just about making the volume louder. It's not just about making it louder! sound of rock music, or a metal sound! sounds in rock music, or metal sounds, all those cool sounds are made with amplifiers. So it is the biggest factor in the guitar sound. It is not a tool to turn up the volume, but a tool to create and produce sound. That is the amplifier. It is an instrument in itself.
When I started playing guitar, there was still not much information available, and the sound of rock music on vinyl was so cool, but the sound of my electric guitar was blah, blah, blah.... It was partly because I didn't have any money at the time and was plugging it into the mic-in place of a boom box (don't do that, it'll break!). (Don't do that!) But the pros were good at it. But I thought the pros were so good that they could make such a cool sound, so I practiced hard to make that kind of sound... (What kind of practice?) (What kind of practice?).
Then one day, a friend told me, "Professionals use good amplifiers to get that kind of sound! That's how I got into amplifiers. After saving up for a while, I bought my first amp. It was a 25W Yamaha or something like that, but when I plugged it in and played the sound, I was blown away! It could produce the same kind of sound as the pros I had always dreamed of! I thought, "I'm a pro too! I thought, "I'm a pro too! I played all day long. Well, I guess you could say I was happy because of my ignorance. But an amp is such an important thing that it makes you think that way.
Selecting the right amp for the right purpose.
First of all, where will it be used? In the case of amplifiers, I think it's best to choose from there. If it's at home, you'll want something with the right size and volume for your house, and if it's in a school club room, something a little louder would be fine. If it's a studio or live music club, there are bigger ones for that. Anyway, in the case of amps, it's very important to choose the right one for the place because of the volume issue. If you have a big Marshall that the pros use, that's cool!" But if you play it at home, your mother will scream in agony. In a residential area, it would be a nuisance to the neighbors. In order to keep good sound manners, it is important to choose an amp that is suitable for the place where you will use it.
How to choose an amplifier for home use
Since you spend the most time practicing at home, you will be spending the most time with your amp, so choose one without compromise. If you like the sound, you can enjoy practicing. Besides, you don't have many amps unless you are an enthusiast, so you want to be particular about the first one you choose.
The key to choosing an amp for home use is the volume of sound. Unfortunately, the "big does not necessarily mean small" rule does not hold true when it comes to amplifiers, as large amplifiers used for live performances may have difficulty producing quiet sounds. A small amp is best suited to produce a small sound. In this way, "big" and "small" in amplifiers are often expressed in terms of output (watts), so let's first pay attention to the output wattage.
There are various types of houses, such as apartments and single-family homes, but if we consider that the amp can be used without disturbing the neighboring rooms, especially in a situation where there is no soundproofing, then 15 watts or less is generally considered to be the best output. If you have a model that allows headphones to be connected, you can practice late at night without worrying. Also, if you want to use it not only at home but also on the street, a model that can be used with batteries or rechargeable batteries would be convenient. (The key to choosing the right model! Choose a model that says "can be used with batteries (rechargeable)". It may be obvious, but models that do not say so are not usable.)
The following is a summary of output (watts) and suitable locations. Well, you can adjust the volume by volume to some extent, and output is not always equal to volume, so it does not mean that you absolutely have to choose this one, but it is a good guide.
Once you have decided what you want to use the amp for and how many watts you want to use it for, the next point is to choose an amp that produces the kind of sound you want. You probably have a favorite musician, album, or other sound you want to produce. Here, it is a good idea to check the brand of the amp. As professional musicians often say "Marshall sound" or "Fender sound," each brand of amp has its own distinct character. In many cases, large amps for live performances and small amps for home use do not necessarily have the same sound, but the character or personality of the amp is quite clear, so it is a good idea to check the brand first. What kind of amps do the guitarists you admire use? Using that as a reference may be a quick way to get the sound you want!
Three major brands of amps selected on their own
Once you have a certain image of what you want, it is best to go to a music store and listen to the actual sound. You can even try it out by saying, "I'd like to try this out. If you are just starting out and are shy about playing in public, you can ask a sales clerk to play it for you and listen to the sound. If you are not sure which brand you prefer, ask the store staff for advice. If you tell them the genre of music you want to play or your favorite artist, they will surely recommend the best one for you.
Check out the sound/functions.
The great thing about amps is that you can usually tell what kind of sound they can make and what kind of functions they have by looking at the knobs on the surface controls. If there are a lot of knobs, you may think, "Wow, that looks complicated," but the basic operations are generally the same, so let's check them out. If you remember this, you will be able to imagine what kind of amp you are looking for just by looking at it.
Basic Amplifier Controls
An example of actual Marshall controlsIt has a CONTOUR which makes the middle even more powerful. It has two gains, so you can create even harder sounds!
An amp with two channels and a switch like this is convenient for switching between a clean and clean sound and a hard sound with a switch.
Choose by design.
Amplifier to be placed in a room. It is better to have an amp that looks cool because you are going to put it in your room. There are two main types of amplifier designs: combo types and stacked types. The combo type contains the circuitry and speakers inside a box, which is all that is needed to produce sound. The stacked type has an independent amp and speaker section that can be stacked on top of each other. This type is often seen on professional stages. Stack-type amps have many advantages in terms of loudness, but most of them are large, so combo types are more common at first. However, for those who want to put guitars in a room and make it look like a live house, there are small stack types like this!
Everyone at one time or another has longed for the large amps that tower like a wall on professional stages. This is a miniature version of that. Even though it is a miniature, it is still so powerful! It makes you want to invite your friends over to your room. With 15 watts of power, it is perfect for practicing.
On the other hand, the combo type is also fun, with a variety of colors available these days. Many of them have cute designs, so it's fun to choose one that matches your interior design.
The VOX, made famous by the Beatles, is a cute design that you might want to have in your room.
When talking about amplifiers, the term "tube amp" is always heard. It often appears in magazine interviews. Yes, professionals always use tube amps.
A tube amp is literally an amp that uses vacuum tubes to produce sound. Other amps are called "transistor amps" to distinguish them, but are tube amps really that good?
The appeal of tube amps is, after all, their sound. The sound is the powerful pressure you hear at a professional live concert, or the smooth and smooth tone you hear on a CD. It is such an irresistible sound that once you start to listen to it, you become addicted to it. But on the other hand, there are some drawbacks. One is the problem of volume. Compared to transistor amplifiers, many of them do not allow for fine volume adjustment, and they are not good at low volume. Headphones basically cannot be used, and the volume is surprisingly inefficient in terms of volume. In addition, most tube amps tend to sound better as the volume is increased, and in some cases, transistors sound better at low volumes.
Also, tube amplifiers are basically expensive. They are often heavy due to the circuits that use vacuum tubes, and it is quite difficult to carry them around. In addition, vacuum tubes wear out, so replacing them and doing maintenance on them is surprisingly expensive.
But when you see a tube amp with a big sound and a big bang, you will be so impressed that even if you paid a lot of money or sweated a lot to carry it, it will not matter. It's true! It all becomes unimportant. So I guess it's case by case. To be honest, I'm not sure if I would recommend it as the first amp you buy, but if you eventually need an amp that makes a big sound, definitely try a tube amp. Absolutely!
By the way, I'm an enthusiast... (laughs) I have five tube amps, but I use a Roland 10W transistor amp for home practice.
This is the vacuum tube that produces the miracle sound. It's a full-fledged professional spec model.
I want to aim for a second one! Check here for affordable tube amps!
For those who want to use tube-like nuances at home, there is also a hybrid type. This is a basic transistor amp with a little bit of tube in it. 12AX7 is a type of tube, but it's the most commonly used term, so there's no harm in remembering it. These models are based on the concept of eliminating the disadvantages of "loud" and "heavy" by using transistors, and using vacuum tubes only for the good parts. Therefore, they are easy to use and require little maintenance. Well, I'm only using it for a short time, so it doesn't sound the same as a fully vacuum-tube model.
For example, if you compare all-vacuum tubes to a crab, the hybrid type is like a crab cake. Of course, they are not the same, but they are much more crab-like than just "kamaboko. It uses a little bit of crab, or something like that. In any case, compared to the all-transistor model, the hybrid type has a tube-like nuance, so I recommend it if you want to enjoy the tube flavor in a casual way.
Would you buy a new amp for about 10,000 yen, or a used amp for about 20,000 yen for 10,000 yen? This is a toss-up. Of course, there is nothing better than a good sounding amp, but budget is also a serious issue. Especially if you are planning to buy it together with a guitar, you may want to spend a little more on the guitar.
However, the fact is that amps are parallel in price and sound up to a certain level. If you've ever heard the sound of a tiny amp that comes as a free gift with a guitar set or something, you'll know that just saying, "Well, it makes sound! It's not enough to get you to practice. After all, we are playing "music," so unless the sound is at least "musical," we won't be able to hone our ability to express ourselves.
So, I wonder if it is better to buy a good used one, but I don't know much about circuits and such, so I wonder if a used one will be okay.
In the case of guitars, you touch them and use them, so they get scratches when you play them, and you can tell by looking at them. But with amplifiers, you basically don't touch anything except the knobs, so many of them are clean just by looking at them. I wonder if it's okay to do that kind of thing?
Let me answer! First of all, for small transistor amplifiers like those used at home. Most of them were actually used at home, so they haven't been treated that hard, and in many cases, they haven't been played very loudly. And since transistor amps are hard to break and require little maintenance, they are usually fine. Of course, not all of them are okay, but if a store does a proper check, they don't sell anything that is not okay (laughs). (Laughs.) The only other thing that bothers me is when I turn a knob, I hear a "clunk! When you turn the knob, it makes a noise like "clang clang! But if you haven't used it for a long time, it is quite normal and can be fixed by cleaning. It is not fatal, so don't worry. If you check it out at a store and it bothers you, ask the shopkeeper to fix the burr. If the shop has a good maintenance staff, they will fix it on the spot.
Next, in the case of tube amplifiers, maintenance is quite important. So, if the amp has been properly maintained, you can rest assured that it will be safe.
So, if you buy from a reliable place, it doesn't matter whether you buy new or used. The deciding factor is whether you can find the sound you want at the right time! The rest is a matter of budget and consultation!
I hope this has been helpful in your choice of amp. I would be very happy if I could help you get closer to the sound you want!
The recent advances in digital equipment are so great that it is now possible to connect a digital multi-effect pedal and play sound through headphones or ordinary audio equipment, or to connect a guitar to a computer and get a similar sound from a monitor. It's true that some people say, "Why do you need an amp at all? However, I think that the basic requirement is an amp. If too much digital processing is done from the beginning, it is not good for practicing fine touches, and I wonder about the sound of a guitar played by "hands" that is converted into data to produce sound. Of course, such convenience is necessary for recording, so the development of technology itself is a good thing, but I think that "practicing with an amp" must be the same in the past as it is today. The sound heard on an audio monitor via a digital circuit is, after all, "good sound no matter who plays it. Conversely, it is very difficult to create a unique sound in such an environment. But amps are interesting because they give you "your own sound. Because it is a simple combination of a guitar and an amp, it produces the "hand sound" of a hand-played instrument, and I think that is the most appealing thing about amps.
Also, effectors are best used in combination with an amp. Guitar amp speakers are designed to maximize the expressive power of guitars and effectors, so if you are thinking of using a multi-effector, I think it is best to use a guitar amp instead of audio. It's best to get the sound from a guitar amp, not an audio system.