Chris Whiter has been a guitar player for 16 years a guitar teacher for 10 years. He plays many music styles uncluding pop,rock,funk e.c.t.
Choosing your first guitar amp
Those beginner guitar players who have chosen electric guitar as their first instrument will also need to acquire an guitar amplifier, as it doesn't have natural amplification souce like soundhole, that acoustic guitars have. There are many great starting amps in the market, packed with various features and affordable for starting guitar players. The 5 amps that I have chosen are on top of their game and also seems to be popular in guitar community.
Guitar amplifiers comes in two configurations. There are head and cabinet configuration, where head is the amplifier itself and cabinet is where the speakers are, and combo amps where amplifier and speakers are put together in one box. In this article we will look at combo amps, as they, in my opinion, are more convenient for beginner guitar players.
Line 6 Spider IV 30 watt guitar amplifier
Price: ~ 200$
Line 6 Spider IV is one of the best selling guitar amps in beginner category, it has many features that are great for starting guitar players.
It is a 30 watt amp, so it's loud enough for reahearsing with band and playing concerts, but it's also great when praticing home. It's has the usual bass, mid, treble EQ section to tweak your sound, a drive for tweaking gain, reverb for tweaking reverb effect and master volume knob.
You can choose between 12 different amp models that are modeled after famous guitar amps and covers all kind of sounds from sparking cleans to full on distortion. It also has seven build in effects - chorus/flanger, phaser. tremolo, delay, tape echo and sweep echo. The first four effects are assigned to the first control and the last three to the second control, so you can combine them to create a vide variety of sounds making this amp really versatile and fit for almost every music genre. the tap temp button above fx controls is used to set delay/echo time and also to access tuner. It has 4 programmable chanels which you can edit and save as your go to sounds.
As for other features, it has headphone output for silent practising and also for recording, CD/Mp3 input so you can play along your favourite tracks and a built in noise gate which makes sure the amps stays quiet when your not playing and helps control the feedback and hum. Also with this amp you get access to Spider Online service with more than 500 guitar lessons, jam tracks and other features.
Overall Line 6 Spider IV is a little beast and covers all the bases for beginner guitar players that want to learn the basic principles of creating great sounds and also introduce themselves to guitar effects.
Check out Line 6 Spider IV in action.
Peavey VYPYR VIP 1 20 watt Guitar Amplifier
Price: ~ 130$
This little amp just comes packed with various features.
It's a 20 watt amp, loud enough for band rehearsals but at the same time also great for bedroom practising. It has standard low (bass), mid, high (treble) equalizer setting, pre gain knob that allows you to decide how much gain you want to apply before eq section and post gain knob, that does the same only after eq section.
This amp has 36 amp models available as well as 25 effects. You are able to run 4 effects simultaneously, which makes this amp great for experimenting and creating your own sounds.
One of the great features on this amp is that you can also play acoustic and bass guitar with it as it has 6 bass amps models and 6 acoustic amp models built in. Vypyr also has Peaveys designed Transtuube analog circuitry, that makes is sound maximum like tube amplifier.
Usb output lets you connect to vypyr software in you comptuter, to change and store presets, get lessons and jam along your favourite tracks. It can also be use to record you stuff. Aux in allows you to plug in you mp3 player and jam with tracks and headphone out can be used for silet practising with your headphones.
Overall Peavey Vypyr Vip 1 is well built, versatile, all in one guitar amp, that won't let you get bored as it has a lot of of features to use. This is for the players that really want to explore the vadi variety of sounds that guitar world offers.
Check it out in action
Fender Mustang I V.2 Guitar Amplifier
Price: ~ 120$
Fender beginner range amp with cool looks, great sound a lot of features.
Mustang is a 20 watt amp, which makes it great for home practising as well as reahearsing with a band. simple eq section with treble and bass knobs as well as gain, volume and master volume knobs.
This amp offers you 17 world know guitar amp models varying from fender own classic amps like twin and bassman to british voiced amps and heavy amps. There are two controls for built in effects. First control lets you choose between 14 modeling effects like chorus, phaser, flanger, wah wah e.c.t. Second lets you control 15 delay/reverb effects. There is also tap tempo button for setting time for delay/reverb and adding modulation rate to modulation effects. Tap tempo button can also be used for accesing tuner.
Usb connection makes it posiible to connect it to you computer and using Fender Fuse software create your own presets, jam with tracks, access online lessons. Also includes Ableton live lite recording software for recording your own stuff. Aux input lets you plug your mp3 player into amp and jam along with tracks and heaphone out makes it possible to practise silently with headphones.
Overall Fender Mustang I V2 is just a cool looking, feature stacked guitar amplifier, that will help you to learn all ins and outs of a guitar amplifiers and effects .
Check it in action
Vox Valvetronix+ VT20+ Guitar Amplifier
Price: ~ 180$
Cool looking, great sounding starting range guitar amp from Vox.
Valvetronix has 30 watt power output making it more that capable for band rehearsals and small concerts, but at the same time it has power level control that adjusts the power level of this amp and makes it possible to practise at bedroom levels. It has the usual bass, middle, treble eq section with also gain, volume,master volume and aforementioned power level knobs.
One great thing about this amp is that good people from Vox have already put into this amp 33 song presets for song like Some On The Water, Wonderwall, Enter Sandman, Under The Bridge, Smells Like Teen Spirit e.c.t. so you can start playing your favourite songs right away. If your favourite song is not on that list you can create your own presets with 22 built in effects and 33 built in amp models.
Valvetronix biggest feature are one 12AX7 tube in the preamp, making it more authentic and sounding more like tube amps. Aux input for mp3 player, to jam along your favourite tracks and headphone out for silent practising. No usb connection though.
Overall Vox Valvetronix+ VT20+ is a versatile guitar amp with cool looks and massive amount of features. Great for beginners.
Check it out in action
Marshall MG15CFX Guitar Ampilfier
Price: ~ 150$
A simple guitar amplifier for beginners from Marshall.
This one is the a little quieter that the other ones and might be to small for rehearsals, but it's great for home practising. It is also the simplest of all five in this article and is more for guitar players that doesn't need a bunch of features. Standard eq bass, middle. treble section, gain knob, volume and master volume knobs.
There are no built in amp models in this amp, but it gives you that great classic marshall amp sound, which many guitar players seem to be so keen of. This amp gives you for channels to operate - clean, crunch, od1 and od2. It has five essential guitar effects - chorus, phaser, flanger, delay and octaver. tap tempo button lets you set the time for delay effect. Also has a separate control for reverb, so there are really six built in effects.
Other geatures includes mp3 line in for jamming with songs and headphone out for silet practising.
Overall Marshall MG15CFX is a really simple guitar amp for those guitar players that get confused by all the built in amps and effects in the other amps and just want to plug in and play. Plus it does have that great marshall sound.
Check it out in action
Conclusion and more amps to look at
In conclusion I would like to say that these five guitar amps are meant for learning how to operate an amplifier, experimenting with different sounds and effects, creating your own sounds, they are an introduction to the wide variety of guitar amps and effects out there. Everyone of them has their own great features and are good amps to start with.
If you feel that none of these amps really does it for you, you can also look at Roland CUBE-10GX, Orange crush 20, Blackstar CORE20: ID and for the tube tone Bugera V5 infinitum.
© 2013 Chris Whiter
Niles on February 10, 2016:
All solid-state amps I've tried, did not sound well.
I've found a tech-video that explains many things about amplification and gear. It's helping me a lot:
scott on May 07, 2015:
Where the hell is the roland cube!