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Guitar Amps: What's What


You have your guitar all picked out. The ideas for new song lyrics are flowing. It’s time to share your brilliance with the world. But before you jam, you need to choose an amplifier. There are five different types of amps in the guitar world, so which one is right for you? Here’s a quick overview to help you decide. And don’t forget to consider the instrument you are playing, the type of music you like to play, and the venue you typically play at, when choosing your amp. (Pro-tip: take your own guitar with you when you start shopping. You’ll want to hear what your instrument sounds like on each amp.)

Tube Amps

Tube amps are your classic amp, and the preferred amp of many top musicians. These amps are named after the cylindrical, glass vacuum tubes used to amplify the signal, which glow orange when used for extended periods of time. Tube amplifiers (also know and valve amplifiers) produce the most responsive tones for music. Of the five amps, tube amplifiers are the most expensive, but the smooth, responsive overdrive and natural, warm sounds are unrivaled and therefore worth the extra money. If you feel like channeling your Hendrix, this is the amp for you.

Solid-State Amps

A solid-state amp is best for the budget-conscious artist. They are reliable and easy to use, which makes them appealing to hobby guitarists and new artists. Maintaining solid-state amps is simple and affordable. Replacement parts are easy to find online and in stores. Compared to tube amplifiers, solid-state amps are much lighter and use electronics such as transistors and circuit boards. Because of its clean sound, solid-state amps are preferred by jazz and blues guitarists.

Hybrid Amps

Hybrid amps combine the components of tube and solid-state amps. These amps use the solid-state circuit board for the power amp and tubes for the pre-amp. In a nutshell, hybrid amps aim to give you the superior, warm sounds of tube amps with the reliability of a solid-state amp.

Digital-Modeling Amps

Like solid-state amps, digital-modeling amps are much lighter and less expensive than tube amps. These amps use engineered software to emulate the sound profile of tube amps. In fact, you may not be able to distinguish the difference between the two, depending on your ear. This type of technology eliminates the need for heavy equipment, which can be very attractive to the traveling musician. It is important to remember, though, that the sound created by digital-modeling amps will always be calculated and predetermined, versus the “randomness” of sound coming out of a tube amp.

Acoustic Amps

As you may have guessed, these amps are made for your acoustic guitar. Where electric guitar amps focus on compression and distortion, acoustic guitar amps aim to accurately amplify the natural sounds of your instrument. Your typical acoustic amp will also reduce the risk of feedback, allowing you to pump up the volume without deafening everyone in the audience. These amps also include a microphone input, which allows you to mesh your vocals and guitar, eliminating the need for a bulky PA-system at your show.

Here at Fryette Amplification, we pride ourselves on creating high-quality amplifiers for every musician. Shop our store today. Hear the difference tomorrow.