Guitar Amplifiers: choosing the right one

Crate V5 Amplifier

Electric Guitar Amplifiers come in so many variations, with so many different features, it can be a daunting task to choose the right one. As someone who's purchased dozens of amps, I'm hoping that I can pass on some of the lessons I've learned, and save you some time and money in your selection process.

The first thing I'd like to talk about is power. As a stereo enthusiast having a lot of power was always important. However unless you have a huge room, and live alone in the middle of the woods, buy a low power amp.

A guitar amplifier does not need to be powerful, in fact the amplifier shown here is what I use the majority of the time. A five watt crate tube amp with a volume and a tone control. In order for any tube amp to start creating distortion and sustain it needs to be cranked up. Even my 15 watt blues junior is too loud for everyday practice with the tone that I want. You can of course go solid state where some amps have low volume modeling distortion and sustain, but there is nothing like tubes.

Which leads me to my next tip. Buy a tube amp, solid state just doesn't cut it. I don't know why, I'm sure some expert can explain it, but a tube amp can't be beat. I paid $100.00 for the Crate amp shown, and for another $50.00, it now has a really nice speaker. I use a Boss reverb pedal, and that's it. I can turn it all the way up, and the volume is still reasonable, but the tone is incredible.

You can spend thousands of dollars on amplification, but remember, you're going to spend thousands of hours learning to play. If you play gigs then maybe you need more power, but you can mike anything. Keep it simple, and save your hearing. JB

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