Guitar Amplifier Basics

Guitar Amplifiers, in their most basic form, are an electronic amplifier that are designed to make the signal from a guitar, whether it be acoustic or electric, louder so that it will produce sound through a speaker. Another thing that a guitar amplifier will do is modify an instrument’s tone, either by emphasizing or de-emphasizing particular frequencies, as well as adding electronic effects to that sound. You can read more about guitar amps basics here.

Choosing The Best Guitar Amplifier

Choosing the best guitar amplifier for your specific needs can turn out to be trickier than you might realize. Often times the main focus is on what guitar can give you the best sound, which guitar looks and feels the nicest, all without much thought being put into the lowly amplifier.

Instrument Amplifiers

Instrument amplifiers are an electronic amplifier that changes, or converts the often barely audible, or purely electronic signal that is produced from instruments such as the electric guitar, the electric bass, or the electric keyboard, into the electronic signal that is able to drive the loudspeakers that can be heard by both the performers as well as the audience.

Acoustic Amplifiers

Acoustic amplifiers are created especially for use with acoustic instruments such as the mandolin, violin, (fiddle) and the acoustic guitar, specifically to match how acoustic instruments are generally used in quieter genres like bluegrass and folk.

Standard Guitar Amplifiers

Basic or standard guitar amplifiers, like the Fender “tweed” style amplifiers or Gibson amplifiers, often times are used by the traditional blues, rock, and country musicians who’s goal is to create some kind of “vintage” style sound from the 1950s. Typically, they are used by pedal steel guitarists, blues harmonica (harp) players, and of course the good old electric guitar players. Combo amplifiers such as the Fender Super Reverb contain tube amplifiers, four 10″ speakers, and have some sort of built-in reverb or vibrato type effects unit.

Tube Amplifiers (Vacuum Tube Amplifiers)

Vacuum tubes at one time were the most dominant active electronic components in the majority of instrument amplifiers up until the 1970’s or so. After that time, the semiconductors or (transistors) began to rule supreme in the performance category as well the for economic reasons. Reasons include reduction in weight as well as heat, and a greater reliability factor.

For more info: Tube Amplifiers (Vacuum Tube Amplifiers) Guide

Heavy Metal And Hard Rock Amplifiers

Guitar amplifiers that are designed for the purpose of playing heavier music like Metal or Hard Rock, tend to deliver a more aggressive drive or intensity to the guitar sound, utilizing distortion effects, tone filters, and pre-amplification boost controls.