Posted by Kevin Gardiner on January 06, 2016
Look anywhere on the Internet, you'll see an abundance of different options to choose from when you need to buy a new amplifier for your favourite guitar. In this post, we are going to drop you some advice on selecting the best one for you! Read on to discover the factors Kevin and Stewart think you need to consider before you even narrow things down to a particular brand or model, when buying an amp from a music shop like Rainbow Music, online or in the shop!
First and foremost, you need to ensure that the power output is high enough for the use you are going to be putting it to. Blackstar's FLY 3 isn't going to cut it at Wembley! Stick a Marshall 1962 Bluesbreaker combo in the front room of your terrace and wind up the volume... you aren't going to be seen as an up and coming star: you'll probably have the police and a posse of angry neighbours knocking on your door!
In basic terms, the output is roughly equivalent to how loud the music can be pumped out. 100 watts will be enough for BIG parties and sizable gigs, whereas 10 watts is meaty enough for average listening in a small venue. You will also want to choose a good brand, with Marshall kit, Orange amplifiers and Blackstar amps all being popular choices.
One thing a lot of people overlook is the physical inputs and connections, and then they are disappointed when they can't hook up their amp to the guitars they own and play. You need to make sure there's enough input and aux capacity for your pedals and speakers - and allow for the fact that your rig is likely to grow!
Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR) is another vital consideration. Any electronic audio equipment is hostage to the sound of
electrons randomly whizzing around the amplifier circuitry. The trick here is to invest enough in your kit to ensure that this electronic white noise is minimised as much as possible, which is where the R of SNR comes in. Better amplifiers have better solutions to cancelling the random hisses and buzzes out: the higher that ratio - the better.
Finally, Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise (THD + N) is a factor to bear in mind. A lower figure will often mean that the amplifier’s sound is closer to the original recording while a higher figure means the sound has more colouration. Many performers want that keynote tone that is often talked about with Orange kit, but for other styles a purer truer tone is what's wanted.
Read reviews! It's good to see what previous customers have had to say about the amplifiers they have bought and used - it's often a lot more telling than the manufacturer's blurbs!. If you come across a large number of negative comments, you know to reconsider your selection.
From the technicalities of THD + N to power output, and even the look of the kit on stage there are a stack of factors that will guide your buying decision. Perhaps the best way to decide; is to get your guitar hooked up to an amp in your favourite music shop. At Rainbow - Stewart and Kevin are always on hand and ready to give sound advice.
Use this mini guide, as a starter to get your thinking processes going, do your research into the amps that suit your guitar style... and then start shopping at Rainbow Music (preferably) today to find the perfect amplifier for you.