Chances are you’ve just bought your first Electric guitar and wish to find out all about guitar amps. Maybe you’re just curious as to how long amps have been around, how they work, or which to purchase. Whatever the reason, by reading this article, you’ll get answers.
History of the Amplifier
Guitar amps have been around for roughly 70 years now, having first appeared during the 1930s. The earliest amps had very poor high treble and bass responses. This was improved over time, as amps became better developed. During the ‘60s, the guitar amp greatly evolved to where it is today when guitarists of that era experimented with deliberately overloading their amp to create Distortion. From that point on, most amps were provided with preamp distortion controls. Playing with distortion has since become an important part of Electric guitar playing.
Types of Amplifiers
There are two types of amps: solid state and vacuum tube amps. Additionally, there are some amps that combine both solid state and tube technologies. Most amps, especially the least expensive ones, are solid state because they are lighter and easier to repair than tube amps are. A lot of guitarists, however, prefer the tube amp due to the tube amp’s analog sensitivity, which they claim makes tube amps sound better. While this is probably the case, most beginners can’t afford to shell out the $500-$1000 it costs to buy a good tube amp. That’s why solid state amps are actually a good buy in some cases.
Solid state and vacuum tube amps come in combo (speakers and head) packages or separately. Guitarists who aren’t picky can just buy the combo, while those who are picky can “mix and match” heads and speakers. This is useful for those looking to achieve a certain sound.
How Amps Work/What Watts Mean
Without going into a big, long, technical explanation, amplifiers basically take the vibration (sound) of the string(s) and amplify it, thereby increasing the sound. If you wish to find out more about the technical side of guitar amps, there are several good books that cover the topic pretty thoroughly.
Each amplifier has a certain number of watts. The higher the number of watts, the louder the sound produced by the amp is. Generally speaking, those who wish to play shows will want to get amplifiers with at least 30 watts, preferably at least 50 watts, especially if they plan on playing at larger venues.