Build A Guitar Amp


Guitar amps are used to amplify the sound of your guitars strings (via pickups). Amplifiers fall into three main varieties: Valve, Solidstate, Hybrid and Emulator.

Examples of valve amps include the classic Vox AC30 which is all valve and has been used by many popular music artists. Transistor amps tends to be less expensive and are considered to produce a less desirable sound than valve amplifiers. Hybrids generally have two valves in the pre-amp stage and then use transistors. A good example of a hybrid amp is the Marshall series of Valvestates. As you can see the name is a mixture of Valve and Solidstate – Valvestate. They are a popular next step up from a purely solidstate amplifer to an all valve beast.

Emulator amps such as the Line 6 range are digital interpretations of popular valve amps. Valves are characterised as being analogue so the tone varies. They are also much more touch sensitive and respond better to picking dynamics. Valve amps are said to produce a warmer, nicer tone.

Many professional musicians tend to use a couple of amps and switch between them using a A/B switcher. This is because many valve amplifiers are either very good at clean or very good at overdrive or distortion. For example, the Vox AC30 might be used as the clean amp because these are very good at producing a gritty, British clean sound (or you could go for the warmer, smoother Fender range of amps) and then a Marshall or Mesa Boogie may be switched to for when a dirtier sound is required. Alternatively, analogue effects pedals can be used to provide the professional guitarist with the dirty channel that they need.

Valve amplifiers have been used for many decades by professional, amateur and semi-professional guitarists and bassists. Some guitar players do prefer solid state amps. Hybrids have become popular over the last few decades or so and the amplifiers that emulate the analogue signals of popular and classic amps also have a following. It all comes down to what sounds good to you. Different people like different sounds and the particular musical influences that a musician has will tend to dictate an individual’s choice of sonic production. The guitar, effects pedals, picks, wood that is used to make the guitar, string gauge and, of course, the guitarist’s fingers have a big effect on the overall sound that is produced.

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