What is a Guitar Amplifier?
A guitar amplifier is a soundbox or speaker which pickups the electrical signal from an electrical or acoustic guitar and delivers a sound.
Normally a guitar amp is divided into two amplifier stages, the preamp and the “power” amplifier which produces the sound.
Most amplifiers nowadays are combos, means they have the amplifier and speaker in one box. For concerts most guitar players will have PAs so you don’t need a combo as you get an amp and speakers separately. This guide focus on combo portable guitar amps.
What types of Guitar Amps are out there?
There are 4 types of Guitar Amps out there:
- Tube Amplifier
- Solid-state Amps
- Hybrid Amplifiers
- Digital Amps
While Tube Amps are not sold that much anymore, you can buy solid-state, hybrid and digital amps nowadays.
This type of amplifier, mostly build by Fender, uses transistors and printed circuit boards in its technology. The sound is a bit more light, distorted and warm than modern digital amps. The advantage of solid-state amps is that they are very reliable, not that expansive and effects are possible.
Hybrid amps combine the tube and solid-state sounds into one. The preamp has got a tube to create a great sound and the power amplifier has a solid-state circuitry which drives the sound to the speakers. Hybrid Amps are a good combination of rare sound and price advantage over digital amps.
The more modern guitar amplifiers have no tube, so they are tubeless. These kind of guitar amps are lighter and mostly cheaper than tube amps. An electronic computer creates the sound in digital guitar amps which has the advantage that it can create effects in a wide range.
Best Guitar Amp Brands
In my experience Marshall Amplifiers sound a bit more deep and have a rough sound. I prefer them over Fender, but Fender Amps have also a great clear sound and I had never problems with them so far. Both brands produce high quality amps to use every day in your jam sessions.
Other People say….
Marshal Amps: “this amp is pretty great. it has a good whole sound to it. the effects are wonderful.”
Marshal Amps: “Despite what other ppl say,this is a MARSHALL. When you look on any stage of any rock or metal band, you don’t see a line 6 or vox or roland. Hands down it’s a piece of art work, sounds just heavenly”
Fender Amps: “The Fender solid state design is robust, so it can handle a little punishment on the front end. That means you can use overdrive or distortions of your choice without fear of blowing up your amp or replacing tubes every set.”
Fender Amps: “The clean channel delivers a nice clean Fender Blackface sound, and while the amp is solid state, there is a warmth to the sound that approaches that of a tube amp.”
Why you should use a Preamp
No you shouldn’t buy a Pre-amp or use it at all. Please don’t listen to people telling you a preamp fix your problems. If you buy the right guitar amplifier kit you will not need any other preamp or something else.
Nevertheless, what is important is that you buy a good guitar amp cord, check out my TOP 3 Guitar Amp Cords here.
5 Important Things to consider when buying the best guitar amp for the money!
- Brand and Quality
- Watt ( for practice? for concerts?)
- Sound ( Fender vs. Marshall)
- Replacement Parts (normally not a problem)
- Acoustic vs. Electric Guitar
Best Guitar Amplifier Comparison
I tested over 7 bass and acoustic guitar amps the last 8 months and came up with MY TOP 5 Best Guitar Amps as I think they have the best quality and sound for my Gibson Guitar.
- Acoustic vs. Electric
- Fender Champion 20
- 302 Review(s) Read Reviews
- The Fender Champion 20 Guitar Amp is a great compact Amplifier for your guitars. The Fender is my favorite Amp and i think the best cheap guitar amp out there. 20 Watt Amp with 8" speakers is good for your guitar practises or small concerts when you need a monitor amp. It includes a power cord which is 5 meters long.
- The Fender Amp has a great quality and I think you can't get a better bass amp on the market. If you play bass guitars this it the one you want to choose for a deep and bassful sound. Fender's amp are all high quality, especially the case, the tube and the speakers.
- Sound: 10/10 , best sound in the test, very deep, very clear, very bassful
- Fender is a great company where you find easy replacement parts. Easy to order online or let it repair in one of the 1000 guitar shops in the USA.
- Bass Guitars, Electric Guitars
- Effects Loop (Preamp Out, Power Amp In) for Use with Outboard Effects
- Marshall MG15CF
- 205 Review(s) Read Reviews
- What to say it's MARSHALL. The Marshall 15 Watt small guitar amp is in my opinion the best amp for acoustic guitars. Why? Because the sound with acoustic guitars is insane. Marshall delivers a 2 channel 8" Speaker Amp in high quality with Line/Headphone out and MP3 In which is great for several occasions.
- Fender vs. Marshall in quality terms? I don't see any differences here to be honest.. both have a great quality. Choose what style you prefer, but remember the Marshall Amp is the best acoustic guitar amp, but it's still good for electric guitars. I love to play my acoustic guitars with a small Marshall at home for some christmas parties with my family and kids.
- Sound: 9.5/10 also great sound, more clear than the Fender so better for acoustic guitars
- Marshall has also a good support and every small guitar shop has replacements and offers repairs for your amp if its break. Honestly, my Marshall is already 3 years old and I play with it every day ... never breaks.
- Very good for Acoustic Guitars, still good for Electric Guitars
- No effects
- Line 6 Spider IV 15
- 270 Review(s) Read Reviews
- This is a bit a suprise in my test, I didn't thought that the LIne 6 will be in the TOP of my Guitar Amp test. But... this is one of the best electric guitar amps out there as it has a great tube, sound quality and the effects make this one unique. The SMART FX system from Line is just awesome and can bring your Jam Session into another level.
- Quality wise the Line 6 is just a 8/10 compared to Marshall and Fender. Still the FX is amazing and the quality is good to buy. I think the case is a bit cheaper quality and the tube's what I read need to be replaced more often than from Marshall. Do you play a lot of guitar? Then better go with the other ones but if you just wnat to have fun in your room you can easy go with the Line 6 Amp.
- Sound: 9/10 yes still has a pretty good sound and with the effects it's one of the best guitar amps.
- As I have the Line 6 only for 7 months I can't say much about this part. Still I believe Line is offering good repairs.
- Electric Guitars
- 6 Smart FX settings
- BEHRINGER ULTRACOUSTIC AT108
- 136 Review(s) Read Reviews
- Behringer what? Yeah I thought that as well when I tested this model, but this amp delivers a great Virtual Tube Circuitry which creates a very deep and bassful sound in the end. Is it the best guitar amp in the world? No but it is stylisch, old school and has nice controls. The design of the amp is great and I would only buy it because of that.
- Good Quality, great case, stylisch.. the Old School Amp in this test. Quality is as the Line one. Can't say anything bad but I would not say it has the highest quality.
- Sound: 7/10 not that great sound compared to the places 1 to 3.
- The Bearing went as Christmas Present to my oldest son (9 years old) and he plays it roughly every week. I hope he breaks it soon so I can update this post.
- Electric Guitars
- Electric Guitar with Amp KIT
- 506 Review(s) Read Reviews
- Ok.. the last place in my top 5 is a guitar amplifier kit. Why? Because it is great if you are a beginner who wants to learn to play electric guitars. What is in the package? You get a rock-solid electric guitar with a small amp and case. When my guitar students don't have a guitar yet, I recommend this guitar amp set to them. It's good value for a good price believe me.
- Ok here is the deal, you want a guitar and an amplifier? You got it for under 100$. But you will not receive the highest quality, but check out all reviews and you see it is a good starting point for beginners. So take 100$ out of your pocket and start training the electric guitar with this great set.
- Sound 5/10 worst sound in the test but still a lot of value for your money
- For this guitar amp kit I can say that you have a warranty for 1 year so if anything brekas you can let it replace by the seller.
- Electric Guitars
My Choice: Best Electric Guitar Amp
Best guitar amps are best guitar amps. The Marshall Amp is great for acoustic guitars but best is the Fender Acoustasonic 15.
Fender Acoustasonic 15
My Choice: Best Acoustic Amp
Summary Best Guitar Amplifiers
I never regreted to buy a Marshall or Fender Guitar Amp. If you stick with one of these companies you will have less problems. And in today’s market for 99$ you get a lot of value.