Did you know that a guitar amp stand could make a profound improvement to the quality of your tone, amongst many other benefits?
When you buy new speakers for a tv/hi-fi/home cinema or similar, you are going to spend time making sure they are in the absolute best position to give you the optimal sound, right?
Well, you should really be doing the same with your amp! This is because the sound of an amp can vary wildly depending on where it’s placed and the angle it sits at.
And this is where an amp stand comes in. In this article, you’ll discover the benefits of using a stand, and once you’re convinced, I’ll point you towards some great, but still affordable options.
What Is An Amp Stand For?
An amp stand allows a guitar or bass amplifier to be angled so that the sound is directed straight to your ears, rather than your feet. In addition, it will also raise and isolate the amp from the floor, preventing the surface from absorbing or amplifying certain frequencies.
The impact of using an amp stand could be minimal or very dramatic depending on what type of surface your amp is usually placed on. For example, you won’t notice too much difference on a solid concrete floor, whereas the change on a hollow stage will be profound.
Read on to find out more about the benefits of using an amp stand!
Why Use An Amp Stand?
1. Improves Sound Quality
If your amp is placed directly on the floor it will actually ‘couple‘ with it, causing much of your sound to be absorbed. If the stage you are playing on is hollow it will effectively amplify the lower frequencies, drastically altering your tone. You’ll feel like you’re not cutting through the mix, having lost most of the bite and clarity you are used to.
Many guitarists will try to overcome this problem by turning up the volume and/or adding more treble to their sound. You might get the impression that you sound better from the stage, but the fans in the crowd are going to be going home with ringing ears after being blasted with such a shrill tone all night!
The proper solution is to ‘decouple‘ your amp from the stage by raising it on an amp stand to minimize any contact with the floor. You will immediately regain the bite and clarity that prevents you from getting lost in the mix.
2. Improves Sound Accuracy
For the same reasons as above, if you consistently practice in the same room with your amp on the floor, you may not actually be accurately hearing the sound produced!
The floors and walls could be gobbling up frequencies from your tone, or even adding or amplifying sounds themselves.
Using a stand will help remove this interference and let you hear the amp without any of this additional coloring.
3. Improves Sound Consistency
Through using a stand you should be able to achieve a much more consistent quality of tone.
By isolating your amp from the floor you are effectively removing the impact of the stage or floor on your tone. This is important as stages can vary massively from one venue to the next. For example, we already mentioned above that a hollow stage will likely boost the lower frequencies of your sound.
Without an amplifier stand, you would need to spend more time with the sound engineer tweaking your tone to suit the specific stage at each venue.
4. Self-Monitor Your Sound
Unless you are using a separate monitoring solution, your amp will ideally need to give both you and your audience the same quality of sound.
Many guitarists probably aren’t even aware of what they truly sound like live! This is because without an amp stand, their amp is directed straight towards their feet, so they only receive a severely off-axis representation of their tone.
Treble frequencies are very ‘directional’, so it is important to have a good angle between the amp and your ears in order to hear your true sound. Otherwise, the more powerful lower frequencies may give you the false impression that your tone is more bassy than it actually is!
A guitar amp stand will properly angle your amplifier towards your ears, letting you hear yourself clearly and accurately on stage. Being able to self-monitor will also give you a better idea of what the audience can hear, improving the sound for them too!
5. Improved Sound Dispersal
An amp on the floor produces a very directional sound which will vary greatly depending on where in the venue you or the audience are standing.
Through tilting the amplifier upwards the sound will disperse much more evenly, thereby better filling the venue and giving everyone a good quality of sound.
6. Easier Access To Controls
An additional advantage of an amp stand is that by raising the height of the amplifier you are bringing the controls closer to your hands.
Depending on your amp, this will save having to crouch down or bend over to make tonal adjustments in between songs or on the fly.
A nice added bonus to the increased height is that you will be more easily able to create controlled feedback on stage!
7. Save Space On Stage
Using an amp stand can also help to save valuable space on small stages!
Raising your amp on a stand won’t take up any additional real estate, but will give you a little extra space underneath the amp where you can store gear.
8. Keep Your Amp Away From Danger
In addition to improving your sound, a stand will also help to protect your amplifier from damage.
When it’s being cradled in a stand, it is much more difficult for you or someone else to accidentally knock the amp over, or even tear the grille cloth when jumping around on stage.
And in the case of a spillage (a common occurrence at gigs!) or a leak, only the feet of the stand will get wet rather than your precious equipment.
9. Improved Home Recording Quality
Recording guitar at home in smaller rooms presents the unique challenge of preventing sounds from bouncing off or being absorbed into walls and floors.
This is called ‘room noise‘, and as you can probably imagine, really muddies the sound captured by your microphone.
The angled design of a guitar amp stand helps to more evenly disperse the sound into the room, helping to eliminate these unwanted reverberations.
10. Lessen Neighbour Complaints!
The benefits of a guitar stand even extend to practicing at home! Your neighbors are definitely not going to appreciate the bass frequencies of your amp vibrating through the floor and into their apartment below.
So why not do them a favor and lessen their anguish by investing in a cheap amp stand to decouple the amp from the floor?
This will help prevent low-frequency vibrations from ruining their day. And with the amp now pointed at your ears, you can now hear yourself better and so should also be able to practice at a lower volume with a clearer tone. Win-win!
Learn more about how to keep the noise down when practising guitar in an apartment.
DIY Amp Stand Solutions
The most common ‘DIY’ amp stands are usually just chairs or milk crates. The advantage here is that these can readily be found at most gigging venues and save you from having to cart another piece of equipment around.
These solutions will help to isolate your amp from the floor, but as they won’t angle the amp you will lose the benefits associated with the improved line of hearing from a proper stand.
There’s also the risk that they might buckle under the weight of a heavy amp, plus it’ll be easier to accidentally knock your gear over.
At the end of the day, an amp stand is an affordable piece of kit, is much safer, and is purpose-built for the very task of improving the sound of your amp. I know which option I’d pick…
Considerations When Buying An Amp Stand
A number of different styles of amp stands are available. For example, there are models which simply angle the amp towards your ears, others have adjustable heights, and some are even built into amplifier cases!
Here are a few things you may like to consider before you choose the best amp stand for you.
Maximum Load. Make sure that the stand is able to safely hold your amp. Many stands are specifically built for smaller combos or even just heads or modeling units. These won’t be suitable for heavy tube amps!
Dimensions. You’ll need to ensure that the stand is the correct size for your particular amp. In addition, make sure that no inputs or outputs will be blocked by the frame.
Padding. Although you can add your own later, it’s a good idea to choose a stand that will protect the finish and features of your precious amplifier.
Height Adjustments. For the ultimate versatility, many stands are height adjustable.
Tilt Adjustments. If you’d like to angle the amp towards your ears then a stand that tilts backward is a must. Some stands will allow you to adjust the degree of tilt to really dial in the perfect positioning.
Portability. If you’re going to be carting the stand around a lot, make sure to pick a design that is lightweight and is easily folded away when not in use.
What Is The Best Guitar Amp Stand?
Since everyone’s needs are going to differ, let me just tell you what I personally use and why I like it.
I opted for the Gator Frameworks Amp Stand, which is one of the lower-priced stands currently available. It works great for me as I just needed something inexpensive to use at home after my downstairs neighbors asked me to turn it down a little!
It is available in low, medium, and high profile variations – I went for the mid-height model. This can handle amps up to 170lbs in weight (~80kg), and has the perfect angle for sending my amp’s tone straight to my ears. I’ve been able to practice at lower volumes, and my neighbors have thanked me for it!
And here’s a top tip if you decide to go for this model – make sure you orient it the correct way up! I almost sent mine back because at first I was using it upside down and it kept tipping over – derp!
Should I Put My Bass Amp On A Stand?
If your bass amp is usually flat on the floor then you should consider an amp stand to at least raise it up. This will give you a more consistent tone, improved midrange, and clarity, and will let you play at a lower volume on stage while still being able to hear yourself.
As we’ve spoken about above, bass frequencies are more powerful but less directional. So it is not as important to have the bass amp tilted as it would be with a guitar amp.
For this reason, the main goal for bassists is simply to isolate the amp from the floor. If your amp has castors this may be a sufficient solution by itself!
In saying this, some players do actually prefer the more powerful bass response achieved when the amp is coupled with the floor. Try both ways and see what works best for you!