Electric Guitar Amplifier Buying Tips

Before you buy an electric guitar amplifier, consider some of the mistakes I've made, and a few of the things I've learned along the way.

The first, and most important tip, is that bigger is not better. Especially when dealing with tube amps. One of the first tube amps I ever owned was a Fender Twin Reverb reissue. The amp is rated at 85 watts with two 12" speakers. Now there is no question that this is a nice amplifier, but in order to get the amp to break up, I had to play at volumes that would melt the glass in the room. Not to mention wake people up in other towns.

Most of us are going to practice in smaller spaces, with other people around. A five watt tube amp will get plenty loud, and 15 watts through a twelve inch speaker, is all you'll ever need, until you get on stage. Even then you can mike any amp. I think this is probably why the Fender Blues Junior is so popular.

Try to avoid gadgets. I bought a Line 6 spider valve tube amp, that had seven million different effects. It's a nice amp, but as with all things, that perform multiple tasks, it did a ton of things good, but it didn't do any one thing all that well. I've found that if you're looking for an individual tone, try getting it through a pedal, rather than having it built into the amp.

Audition amps are great for auditions, but I'd step up to an amp with a larger speaker. Note I didn't say more power. Audition amps have small six inch speakers, that really limit the tone you're able to get. A ten or twelve inch speaker offers better range, and a more reliable depiction of what you're playing.

Buy a smaller tube amp rather than a larger solid state amp. When I first started playing I thought that tube amps were just being used so newer guitarists could feel nostalgic. I figured it was all bull, and like a tube television, it's solid state counterpart was far superior. I was wrong, tubes rule in an electric guitar amplifier. You don't want tubes in your car, or in the aircraft you're flying on, but you can't beat the tone of tubes in a guitar amp.

All of this information is of course offered in my humble opinion. But small tube amps are cheaper to buy up front, and easier to sell, if you'd like to move up. So starting off small is a no brainer. Thanks for reading. J.B.

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