I guess this site wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t give some input on what type of amp you might want when you are first starting out. Now I guess maybe it would be good to kind of define what “just starting out” actually means. I’ll give you my opinion as to what I think it means and like everything, you may decide to either agree or disagree.
To preface that even further, my opinion on starting out is based on having one of my kids telling me that they wanted to learn how to play the electric guitar. My first reaction was “Oh Boy, I wonder how long this phase will last.” And since I was looking at the face of a very determined kid, my second reaction was to start thinking about just how much this new adventure was going to cost me.
My third reaction was to make a mental note to learn about the types of guitar amps that are being sold as beginners amps that aren’t just glorified toys as well as making a note to visit the local music store and take a look around as this will likely be the place that I’ll eventually end up spending the money for both equipment and lessons for my budding young rockstar.
And even though this site is dedicated to Marshall amps, the reality is that a Marshall amp may not be the amp you need for your first, even though Marshall does have a pretty damn good starter amp in the MG10. For now, let’s just take a quick look at the types of amps you’ll probably find in the “just starting out” category and from there you can do your own homework.
Here An Amp, There An Amp, Everywhere A Guitar Amp – So What’s The Difference?
Good question if I do say so myself. When it comes to amps there are really only 3 main types. The first type of guitar amp that falls into the starter category would be the inexpensive solid state amps. For the most part, these are the least inexpensive amps that you’re going to find. But hold your horses for just a bit here. They are also notorious for producing a lousy sound.
Now don’t confuse solid state amps with digital amps, which we will talk about next, because there is a big difference. Solid state is just that. It uses semiconductors and what not to amplify the signal from your guitar. I guess you could say the pros of solid state is that the costs are low and if need be they are also fairly simple to have fixed. The cons on the other hand, as I have already stated, is that your “sound” might not thrill you and make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Now let’s move on.
The second type of amp that has gained a foothold in the marketplace is digital guitar amps. These take the solid state amps a step further and add computer processors into the mix to achieve a sound that might be closer to the sound you would get from a tube style amp. They are a little more expensive than their solid state brothers, but offer you more control on what kind of sound you want pumping through the speakers.
And the last type of amp, if you haven’t guessed it already, would be the tube types. Now don’t take this offensively, but if you’re just on square one and don’t know a single guitar chord, don’t even think about it. Save up for when you get good want to take your sound to a whole new level. Okay? And don’t let anyone tell you different.
The Easiest Way To Pick Your First Guitar Amp
Ok, so now that you know what exists in the marketplace for beginner amps, here is the easiest way to choose one for someone who is just starting out. Look in your phone book and find the local music stores that are in your area. Don’t bother with any big box stores as they are just a waste of your time. Then decide what you want to set as a budget to get your aspiring axe player off on the right foot.
Remember to think about lessons also. Now, pay a visit to the stores, ask questions, get a feel for the places and the people in it. Whichever place makes you feel the most comfortable, that’s the one that you will want to do business with. You may want to make the first visit by yourself so as not to get distracted by your kid. See, any good music store knows what it’s like to be “just starting out” and if they really have your concerns as a priority, trust me, you’ll feel it.
When my son and I made our first visit to our local joint, I think we were there a little over 3 hours. All I did was take a seat and watch. Once the guitar was picked, and yeah, it was used, he actually got plugged into over a dozen different starter amps and was told just to fiddle around with each of them until he found one that “sounded” right to him. There was no pressure to buy the biggest and the baddest or to make the sale. He even learned his first few chords that day.
So the morale of the story is this. You can read all you want about what starter amp might be the best and sure, that’s a good thing, but it’s not the end all be all. Hope all of this helps you in some small way.