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By Rhys Lett

Beginners Guide to Guitar Amplifiers

Looking at a guitar amplifier for the first time can be confusing and for some terrifying. So many dials, so many names and lights! This guide will hopefully help you understand what you are looking at and give you the confidence to start turning those dials and getting the sounds you are after. If you have any further questions regarding the right guitar amp for your needs feel free to drop us an enquiry using the form on the right.

Guitar Amplifier Brands

While there are many brands on the market, most amplifiers are simulating the sounds of these famous makes:
Fender – geared towards provided clean and chunky tones at clean and early-overdrive levels, associated more with combo amplifiers

guitar amplifier, eastern suburbs school of music

The famous Fender Twin guitar amp

Marshall – best at low-mids and crunchy rock tones, played at medium to high overdrive levels, associated with “stacks”, separate amp and speaker

guitar amplifier, eastern suburbs school of music

Marshall JCM 800 guitar amplifier

Vox – made famous by the Beatles, known for its strong top end bright sounds and jangly tones.

guitar amplifier, eastern suburbs school of music

The Vox AC30 used by The Beatles and Queen

Mesa/Boogie – designed for high gain (heavy distortion), the Dual Rectifier model used by many of today’s hard rock and metal acts

guitar amplifier, eastern suburbs school of music

Mesa Dual Rectifier

Guitar Amplifier Dials

Commonly you will see these dials on a guitar amplifier:

Volume – the amount of sound you produce

Gain – Gain = Distortion. Having the gain setting up high overdrove the circuitry, distorting the sound. High gain gives modern, metal, sounds. On lower settings you get a more vintage sound.

Equalizers – Equalizers control the frequency of your sound. They change and customize sounds, and shapes your tone more accurately. You can use the same amp to create a blues sound into a thick heavy metal sound through shaping the EQ dials (Bass, Middle, Low) on your amp.

Bass – Bass is the “thickness” factor controlling the low frequencies. The more bass you have, the more depth your distortion will have.

Middle – The chainsaw factor as far as distortion is concerned. Generally, the lower you have your middle dial, the smoother your distortion will be.

Treble – is the clarity, the higher you have it, the more your guitar will have a cutting sound.

Guitar Amplifier Settings

Try these suggested settings on your guitar amplifier to get the sound suitable for these styles of music:

Blues     Gain 4    Bass 7    Mid 3    Treble   7

Rock      Gain 6    Bass 4    Mid 6    Treble   8

Punk      Gain 8   Bass 3    Mid 8    Treble   8

Metal     Gain 10 Bass 10  Mid 0    Treble   6