Newbie Series Part 6 : Buying Your First Amp

Time to crank up the noise!  In Part 5 of our Newbie Guide I’ll recommend the best beginner guitar amp choices for new players that’ll sound great without breaking the bank.

Newbie Guide Part 5 - Amps

As a new player, or as a parent buying for a child, finding the best beginner guitar amp can be a daunting task. What are the best brands? What wattage do I need? What is the best for heavy music? Do I need built-in effects?

Take a read through this article, and I promise you, all of these questions will fade away. From years of working in guitar retail, I’ve been able to whittle the choices down to just one range of amps which are head and shoulders above the rest.

Do You NEED an Amp?

Before we look at the amps, here’s something you might not have considered – do you actually need one? The answer for most is that you probably do, but there’s also a second option for those of you who might need to keep the volume down. For example, if you live in a small apartment with neighbors to consider, or can only practice late at night.

A perfectly viable alternative to an amp is a multi-effects pedal and a set of headphones. If you feel that silent practice is the better route for you, head straight to our beginner guide to guitar effects where I’ll recommend some good pedal choices.

Keep in mind that you can also use headphones with an amp though! The advantages to going the pedal route is that it will be a little cheaper and you’ll have a much larger range of effects to play with.

On the other hand, if you’d like to make some noise and eventually jam with friends, keep reading!

Power

Guitar – For bedroom practice, guitarists should be looking for something around the 10-30 watt range. Calm down Slash, you don’t need a 7-foot tall full stack quite yet!! One of my first amps was a 60 watt Marshall which I bought because it looked cool.  I never turned that beast past 10% volume – what a waste!

Bass – Because of the lower frequencies of a bass guitar, you bassists will require a little added oomph to push more sound from the speaker. Anything from 10 up to around 50 watts should be good for home practice. But make sure you get a bona fide bass amp, as a regular guitar amp speaker isn’t designed to handle the lower frequencies of a bass guitar.

The Best Beginner Guitar Amp

When I first wrote this guide back in 2010 I recommended a series of different amps at various price points, because there was a good number of comparably decent amps available. However! Over the past couple of years one newcomer has risen to become the clear KING of beginner practice amps. This makes my job, and your decision much easier!

Blackstar ID:Core

Best Beginner Guitar Practice Amp

Click Here For Pricing Info

The recently revamped Blackstar ID:Core series is aimed directly at new players and comprises a range of budget friendly amps from 10 to 40 watts. For bedroom practice the smallest 10-watt model is absolutely perfect, so we are going to concentrate on this particular model in this section. However, be aware that higher wattage models are available if you think you’ll need the extra volume – you’ll find them in the link above.

The 10-watt model is compact in size (13″ tall x 10″ wide), with two 5-watt speakers, onboard effects and tuner, storage for 6 of your favorite sounds, mp3 player input, and a headphone jack for silent practice. On top of this, you can connect it to your computer via USB to have it act as a recording interface. It comes with Blackstar’s INSIDER software to allow you to fine-tune sounds on your computer, and you can even download patches from the online community to sound like your favorite artists right away. AND it comes with free recording software for when you’re ready to start writing songs. You really couldn’t ask for anything else! It does everything.

Crucially, these amplifiers will happily handle any genre of music, from country, to rock and blues, to extreme metal. These ain’t no one-trick-ponies!

Most practice amps will come equipped with a single speaker, which will give you a fairly unexciting mono sound. However, one of the Blackstar’s defining features is that it has TWO speakers for ultra-wide stereo sound and effects. This will give you a much fuller, wider sound and really sets these apart from the rest of the competition.

Consider all of these features and I think you’ll agree that at under $100 this amp is absolutely insane value for money. In my opinion you really don’t need to consider anything else – these are hands down the best beginner guitar amps currently available. Over the past few years it has become our best selling beginner electric guitar amp by a country mile, and for good reason. If you’re still not convinced, check out Blackstar’s own overview video below to hear just how versatile this little beauty is.

Watched the video? Why are you still reading? Click here to get yours!

After that, head to Part8: Accessories, because at the very least you’ll also need a cable and some plectrums!

Best Beginner Bass Guitar Amp

Next up, let’s get you bassists sorted. Since I made it so easy for the guitarists to pick their first amp, it just wouldn’t be fair if I were to bombard you with loads of choices. So to keep things easy I’ve whittled down the contenders to just one range of bass amps.

Fender Rumble v3 Series

Best Beginner Bass Guitar Amp

Click Here for Pricing Info

The Fender Rumble series has been a top choice for beginner bassists for many years, and the new Version3 range is the latest incarnation released by Fender. The amps are fairly simple, affordable, and sound great, making them absolutely perfect for new players.

They are available in various shapes and sizes from 15-watt bedroom amps, all the way up to a 500-watt monster (which you don’t need right now!). As a beginner, I would suggest that the 15 or 25-watt models are going to be perfect for bedroom practice. The price difference between the two is fairly negligible, so if possible I’d opt for the 25-watt model just to have that little bit of extra headroom for when you’re ready to jam with friends.

Here’s a list of some of the main features on the 25 watt model:

  • 8″ Fender Speaker
  • Bass, Mid, Treble Controls with Mid-Scoop Contour Switch
  • Overdrive Switch for More Aggressive Tones
  • Headphone Jack for Silent Practice
  • Lightweight (Approx 21 Pounds)
  • Compact (15.25″ x 15.25″ x 11″)

Check out Fender’s own video below which showcases the versatility of these amps.

Hit the link above to get your own!

Solid State, Tube, Hybrid and Modeling – What Does It All Mean?

There are four different types of amplifiers which you can consider. Note that the best beginner guitar amps recommended on this page are all solid state.

Solid State – These amps utilise solid-state electronics such as diodes and transistors to amplify your signal.  As a beginner player this is most likely what you will be looking to get as these amps are generally the most affordable. Due to the electronics being solid-state, they are much more reliable than tube amps and very seldom need repaired.

Tube – Also known as Valve Amps, these models utilise one or more vacuum tubes to amplify your signal. Most experienced guitarists (aka tone snobs) will argue that tubes amps produce a superior sound when compared to solid state models. However, to your untrained beginner ears it’s unlikely that you’re going to notice much of a difference.  As tubes can blow-out and also deteriorate over time, they will occasionally need replacing.

Hybrid – Combines the best of Solid-State and Tube amps into one tidy little package. So hopefully you’ll get the extra warmth of tube tone, coupled with the affordability and reliability of solid-state.

Modeling – Also known as Digital Amps, these models use digital processors to mimic the sound of a tube amplifier. Modeling amps are programmable and more often than not will come with effects built in.  Because they are based around electronics and computer chips they are generally very light weight and reliable. Another great choice for new players.

Still have questions about choosing the best beginner guitar amp? Feel free to send me an email and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible!

Part One : Tips Before You Buy
Part Two : Beginner Electric Guitars
Part Three : Beginner Acoustic Guitars
Part Four : Beginner Bass Guitars
Part Five : Beginner Classical Guitars
Part Six : Amps
Part Seven : Effects
Part Eight : Accessories
Part Nine : Lessons