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Electric Guitar Amplification

Electric guitar amps are a crucial part of your guitar sound and there are those who would say it is your guitar sound. Guitar amps come in many forms with valve/tube amps, solid-state amps, modelling amps, and practice amps that are great for beginners. Guitar amplifiers have been in production since the 1920s, gradually getting more efficient and (more importantly) louder with designs by Rickenbacker, Fender, and Vox paving the way for all the great modern amp makers. These classic designs are still seen as an excellent choice for guitarists today, although a vintage amplifier will set you back some serious money!

Nowadays guitar amplifiers come in many shapes and sizes and although tube amps are still seen to have the best tone by purists, solid-state and modelling amps are preferred by a lot of modern musicians due to their flexibility and durability. Most of these amps come with multiple channels and various effects, making them great for the modern musician who plays more than one style of music. There is plenty of choice in the world of solid-state and modelling amps with brands like Fender, Blackstar, and Line 6 offering a fantastic array to choose from.

Tube/valve amps are still seen as the holy grail of guitar tone thanks to their inherent warmth of sound, although be warned they must be turned up to work at their full potential, so probably not a great choice if you’ve got some sound-sensitive neighbours. That aside these amps offer a glorious clean tone that breaks up under a harder pick attack and once you’ve played a tube amp, you may find it difficult to go back to a regular solid-state or modelling amp. With offerings from Fender, Orange and Supro we’ve got loads of tube amps to choose from whether you need a combo amp or a guitar amplifier head.

Your choice of electric guitar amplification will determine the foundation for your guitar sound and at Dawsons, we’ve got a complete range of amps from all the biggest brands, including Fender, Marshall, Blackstar and many more. Whether you need a tube amp, solid-state, modelling amp or practice amp, look no further than our great range of electric guitar amplification.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best amp for beginners?

We would recommend a solid-state practice amp for the beginner player. Solid-state amps are super flexible in terms of tone and are not as reactive to your playing input, making them the perfect stepping stone for young and new guitar players. Most practice amps come with clean and distortion channels so you can vary your playing style on the fly. As a beginner, you won't need more than 50 Watts of amplification and there are plenty of options in this range from big brands like Blackstar, Fender and Marshall so even for first-timers, getting killer guitar tone will be a breeze.

We've got a great blog on the best practice amps over in Studio D, have a read here.

What is the difference between valve/tube and solid-state amps?

On a purely technical level, valve/tube amps use vacuum tubes to amplify the guitar signal, whilst solid-state amps use electronics for amplification. Valve or Tube amps tend to have a 'warm' characteristic to their tone and offer a better response to nuanced playing, staying clean when you pick softly then distorting when you use more attack. Solid-state amps allow for far more tonal variety thanks to the use of built-in amp models and effects and tend to be more durable and less expensive than their valve/tube counterparts.

Check out our blog article on amp types for a more in depth discussion.

What is a modelling amp?

A modelling amp is one that recreates classic and modern amp sounds and effects. The technology works by using algorithms that simulate the electronic components of the amp in question, thereby imitating their sound. Modelling amps are great because they don't limit you to one sound, you can get classic Jazz Chorus clean sounds and dirty Marshall stacks at the push of a button! Most modelling amps also come loaded with effects, making them great for musicians who don't want to carry loads of gear around with them.

Check out our blog article on modelling amps here for more details.

What does a guitar cabinet do?

A guitar cabinet is essentially a speaker for your guitar amp, enabling you to vastly increase your output. Most guitarists run a guitar amplifier head with their cabinet (and you should never run your head without a cabinet), although you can also power cabinets with regular combo guitar amps to if they have the right connections and correct impedance. Guitar cabinets are great for when you need more power at larger gig venues, if you're just playing small venues then a combo amp will be fine. Most live venues mic up amps nowadays to ensure better control of the overall sound for a show.

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