- Types of Amplifiers
- Combo vs. Stack
- Guitar Amps for Live, Studio, and Practice, Guitar AMP Size and Portability
- Speakers and Guitar Amp Wattage
- Types of Amplifiers
Valve amplifiers are probably what you have heard on almost every electric guitar record. They are the professional’s choice since their responsiveness and tone are unmatched. They are also the loudest alternative, even at lower power ratings. They are also the loudest alternative, even at lower power ratings. The disadvantage is that they require substantially more upkeep and maintenance than conventional amplifiers because they employ valves or tubes.Tube amps sound louder and have a distinct “feel” that solid-state amps lack. Most tube amplifiers have many channels that can immediately switch between clean and distorted tones. Because tube performance degrades with time, tubes must be replaced on a regular basis.To maximize signal strength and volume, this amp employs vacuum tubes. A tube amp’s tone is frequently described as “fat” or “warm.” Even if they have the same power, tube amps are louder than solid-state amps, and their tones have a more natural texture. Two distinct channels are common in tube amplifiers. Players may quickly switch between these two channels, one of which is pure and the other of which is distorted. Tube amplifiers are typically big and heavy. In addition, they require extra upkeep and repairs. Because of wear and tear, the tubes themselves may need to be replaced.Many guitarists favor tube amps because of the warm, thick tone and “organic” distortion they produce. Tube amps sound louder and have a distinct “feel” that solid-state amps lack. Most tube amplifiers have many channels that can immediately switch between clean and distorted tones. Because tube performance degrades with time, tubes must be replaced on a regular basis.Solid-stateSolid-state amplifiers are typically less expensive, lighter, and more dependable than valve amplifiers, although the tone never exactly matches. Beginner to advanced players, as well as professionals depending on the style, are big fans of this game. They’re built in the same way as a valve amp, but instead of tubes, they use transistors. They still have the same sound spectrum as a valve amp.Because transistors are used in the preamp and power sections, these amplifiers are known as solid-state. They’re extremely dependable and only require minor maintenance. Although many come with a “distortion,” they can have a fairly pure tone. Players searching for a durable, dependable traveling amp will enjoy these amps. Solid-state amplifiers are used in lower-cost “practice” amps.
Solid state amplifiers, often known as analog amplifiers, rely on transistors for their power supply and preamp setup. Solid-state amplifiers, in general, have a “clean” sound. They’re well-known for their toughness and dependability. Solid state amplifiers are popular among musicians for practice amps, and they are frequently used by professionals on tour because they require little maintenance.
Although hybrid amplifiers aren’t as popular as they once were, they still have a place in the world of guitar amps. A valve preamp and a solid-state power amplifier would normally be used. This usually means the amp will be more reliable and will have the typical solid-state high frequency response famous among metal guitarists in the 1980s and 1990s. Gus G, Dimebag Darrell, Michael Amott, and Chuck Schuldiner are just a few of the guitarists that have employed hybrid amps at some point in their careers.
These amps use a real tube in conjunction with their solid state power component, combining the finest of each style of amp into one package. To achieve a tube tone without using power tubes, many hybrid amps use a tube in the preamp section and solid state circuitry in the power section.
Solid-state technology and vacuum tubes are combined in hybrid amplifiers. In most cases, a tube is used in the preamp and solid-state circuitry is used in the power supply. This reproduces the sound of a tube amp without the use of heavy power tubes, making these amps more compact and portable.
Either great value practice amps, or extremely high-end with very little in between. Digital amps sit in this weird space where it is either great for beginners and intermediate players, or super-pro with prices that match up to imported boutique valve amps. These amps look to emulate the sound of a valve amplifier using digital technology, which does give it a certain edge in the fact that everything is down to software. You can then, in theory, upgrade and improve the models over years without ever having to buy a new hardware unit.
With very nothing in between, either amazing value practice amps or really high-end practice amps are the only options. Digital amplifiers occupy a strange middle ground between being wonderful for beginners and intermediate performers and being super-pro with prices comparable to imported boutique valve amplifiers. These amps use digital technology to mimic the sound of a valve amplifier, which gives them an advantage in that everything is controlled by software. In theory, you may then upgrade and improve the models over time without having to purchase new gear.
Digital processors are used in modeling amplifiers to mimic the sound of vintage tube technology.
These amps combine the sounds of several tube amplifiers (and cabinets) using software that “models” the sound of tube amplifiers (and cabinets). Modeling amplifiers can be programmed and often include digital effects like delay and chorus. Some have digital or analog outputs with speaker emulation allowing direct connection to a recording interface or a PA system.
- Types of Amplifiers
- Combo vs. Stack
Combo and stack amps are the most common types of guitar amplifiers. A combination amplifier is an all-in-one device that combines the amplifier and speakers into a single unit. The amplifier and speaker cabinet are separated by a stack. The amp head in a stack is referred to as an ‘amp head,’ while the cabinet is referred to as…well, a cabinet.
This is a rather straightforward question, as it largely depends on the size of the facility. Today’s combos are well-equipped to produce the power you need to be heard all the way in the back, whether you’re playing at a club or in a tiny hall. If you want to fill a large auditorium or even an entire arena with sound, you’ll need at least a 4 x 12′′ cabinet and a 100-watt head. As a disclaimer, some guitarists prefer a smaller amp for its distinctive tone, such as a Vox AC30, and then simply mic the amp and run it into the PA system (provided the PA will handle it, of course). Keep in mind that a combo is an all-in-one unit, whereas a head and cabinet are separate and typically heavier.
These were created for guitarists who wanted to travel light and fast from gig to gig. People didn’t demand a separate head and cab until years later, when amplifiers were much more powerful.
The majority of combination amps on the market nowadays are either modest practice amps or vintage style amps designed for studio or touring use. Vox, Fender, Tone King, and Mesa Boogie all offer stunning medium to high-end combo amps, demonstrating that combos are a viable alternative for even the most seasoned musicians.
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Stack amplifiers are unique in that they were designed to aid portability when using huge and loud guitar amplifiers. While the most typical configuration is a huge head with a 412″ combination, there are other smaller and larger versions that each have their own niche in the world of amplifiers.
Smaller bands, for example, may not have enough room on the tour to haul a 412″ speaker cabinet, so they will instead use a 212″ or even a 112″ speaker cabinet. This saves a lot of space because you’re normally only mic’ing one speaker.
These smaller cabs are particularly useful in studio and practice setups where 100w of valve goodness isn’t required to reach a stadium-sized crowd. They are not only smaller and quieter than their larger counterparts, but they also take up less space.
Another significant benefit is the ability to mix and match your amplifiers and speakers. If you find a cabinet that you love for all styles but want the possibility of changing the amplifier with a stack, you can simply replace the head and get a whole different sound.
- Guitar amps for live, studio, and practice, Guitar Amp Size and Portability
The current modeling amp, which can be used as a practice amp, studio amp, and live amp, has made this subject less relevant. Modeling modules, such as the Line 6 POD series, are very attractive for studio applications. Thanks to powerful DSP processing, these offer a huge selection of amp models as well as fantastic digital effects.Naturally, having one setup dedicated to studio work or at-home use and another for larger-venue gigs is great. With the exception of boutique amps and vintage reissues, which continue to fetch premium rates, you have a surprising amount of bang-for-your-buck with today’s music technology. Sweetwater sells a wide range of amps, from the most basic beginner’s amp to drool-worthy reissues of Fender, Vox, and Marshall.Recording in the studioIf you wish to utilize your amp for recording, a smaller amp is usually preferable. In the studio, Jimmy Page, for example, used a modest 15-watt Supro combination amp to generate the massive guitar tones on the early Led Zeppelin songs.In the studio, some guitarists would utilize many amps and combine their sounds to achieve the optimum tone. The options are limitless.Amps for playing live onstageIn most venues, microphones on the amps are used to better control the sound that the audience hears. Onstage monitors will normally offer sound for both you and your band members. The only thing that matters is that you can compete with the drum set’s natural volume.
When bands perform in venues, they frequently employ dummy cabs onstage for show – most of them don’t even have speakers! In most instances, 30–50 watts of power is all you’ll need to play live. For live events, a cab with one or two 12-inch speakers should enough.
A 4×12 cab is sometimes utilized for exceptionally enormous venues, especially for bigger acts. Save the full stack 100-watt amp and several cabs for when you’re ready to take it to the next level!
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- Speakers and Guitar Amp Wattage
The wattage of the amp and the configuration of your speakers are two elements to consider when selecting a guitar amp.Choosing the correct speakers is another fascinating aspect of creating your amplifier. While it may appear difficult at first, most amplifiers have interchangeable speakers that you can upgrade or replace at any time. So, whether you have a combo or a stack, there are tweaks you can do to obtain the sound you want.Most of the amplifiers you see on a daily basis are made by one of three major speaker manufacturers. Celestion, Eminence and Jensen While other firms provide speakers for professional amplifiers, these three are the ones you’ll see everywhere.The most typical speaker sizes in guitar amps are 10″ and 12″. 10″ models are suitable for more vintage influenced tones and tiny combos, whilst 12″ models are better for rock and heavier styles since they have a larger and punchier tone.But, even beyond that, with so many 12″ and 10″ speakers to choose from, how do you know which ones are suitable for you? In general, the option that came with your amplifier is the best option because it has been thoroughly tested to determine what works best. If you do want to switch things up, here’s a rundown of some of the most popular speaker models and how they sound.But, beyond that, with so many 12″ and 10″ speakers to choose from, how do you know which model is best for you? In general, the option that came with your amplifier is the best option because it has been thoroughly tested. If you want to switch things up, here’s a rundown of some of the most popular speaker models and how they sound.Impedance and WattsYou’ll see these terms a lot while looking at guitar amplifiers, especially if you’re searching for a stack amp. This is due to the fact that they have an impact on which speakers will operate with your present amplifier. Buying a head and cab that aren’t compatible can result in catastrophic damage to both pieces of equipment.The power rating of your amplifier is referred to as wattage. At maximum volume, this is how much it can blast out of the speaker. It is important not to confuse it with a volume rating because power and volume are not directly related. Some 15 watt amps can be significantly louder than 30 watt amps. It all boils down to the design and construction method (valve, solid state etc.). This means that as long as the cabinet wattage is greater than the amp wattage, you’ll be alright.
The Impedance is a fascinating concept, but all you need to know is that your head and cab must be compatible. If your cab has an 8 ohm input, for example, make sure you’re using the mono 8 ohm output on your head. It can become a little difficult if you’re using many cabinets, and it varies amp every amp.
You might buy an amplifier with a 100w 8ohm output, but your cabinet only has an 8ohm input and can handle 60w. You may not cause much damage at bedroom volume, but once you turn it up, something will go wrong.
That’s why it’s critical to buy a cab with the same impedance (ohms) as your amplifier and that can handle at least the power it’s rated for. This is usually not a concern with 412 cabs because most speakers are rated high enough to support most heads when split among four speakers. When using a single or two speaker arrangement, however, you must be extremely cautious to avoid damaging anything.
Always try to find the matching cab that was designed to go with your head if you’re not sure. It will not only produce the best sound, but it will also operate in a very safe manner.
The power rating and speaker size you choose for your amplifier will be influenced by the application and price. Although there are some small tube amps available, most practice amps are solid state or modeling combo units with low power (10-30 watts) and small (8′′ or 10′′) speakers. Consider tube and modeling combo amps with power ratings of around 50 watts and 12′′ speakers for rehearsal and playing smaller settings. Expect wattage to be in the 100 watts and more range for larger settings or for performing loudly. You can utilize “twins,” or combo amps with two 12″ speakers, but a separate head and speaker cabinets (a “stack”) are more effective in this situation.
- Other additional features you might encounter include:
Reverb unitsSpring reverbs are used in some amps and can sound quite natural, whereas digital reverb is used in others.Effects loopsThese jacks enable you to connect stomp boxes or rack units after the amp’s preamp stage to prevent increasing effect noise.Channel switchingThese amps let you switch between different preamp channels, usually from clean to distorted. Look to see whether there is a footswitch supplied. To change tones remotely, digital amplifiers frequently necessitate the purchase of an extra multi-function footswitch.Built-in effectsThe built-in effects of many amplifiers are well-known. Another effect that many amps have is tremolo (great for surf guitar.) Typical modeling amplifiers come with a number of built-in digital effects.
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