A beginner’s guide to guitar amplifiers.

Marshall guitar amplifier settings


If you’re looking to get your feet wet in the world of guitar amps, this guide is for you. We’ll cover some of the features and specs that are important when selecting an amplifier, as well as give you some advice on what to look out for so that you can buy a high quality amp without breaking the bank.


Guitar amps these days can come with a range of features, whilst purists might shy away from these amps, they are an important part of the modern guitar player’s arsenal. The features that are important to you will depend on what kind of music you want to play, how much money you want to spend, and whether you need an amp for practice or live performance. Features like built-in effects processors can be very useful if you don’t have the budget for separate effects pedals.

  • Effects loop: An effects loop is a channel that allows you to connect an external effects pedals between your guitar and your amplifier.

  • Reverb: This setting adds a rich ambiance to your sound by simulating the acoustics of a large concert hall.

  • Changeable channels: This will usually consist of a clean channel and then a distorted channel. It allows you to switch between the two, giving you more versatility.

  • Headphone jack: If there are other people living in close proximity (or even just pets) who won’t appreciate hours upon hours spent alone with loud music being pumped through their walls 24/7 without pause, then this feature will allow them respite from the noise.

  • Built-in tuner: Knowing how close or far away from “in tune” we are is essential when playing live gigs because it allows us not only keep things sounding good but also stay on beat too!

  • Built-in metronome: Similarly, knowing exactly how fast we need to play is also key when performing live gigs—and sometimes even during practice sessions too! Having this feature built right into your amp means there’s no need for any extra accessories like click tracks or drum machines.


You’ve got to start somewhere, and that means understanding what kind of amplifier you want. In order to find the best beginner electric guitar amp for your needs, it’s important to consider the size of the amplifier and the size of the speakers.

The size of the amplifier is typically defined by its wattage, which ranges from 0.5 watts all the way to 100 watts. The higher wattage you have the more power you can put into your amplifier.

This means that if you’re playing in a small venue or practice space, 50 watts of power will be more than enough for your needs. On the other hand, if you plan on playing larger shows like concerts and festivals

Be sure to consider how big you want your amplifier to be. A small amp will provide you with plenty of power for jamming in your garage or bedroom, but it won’t be loud enough if you’re looking to play big shows in larger venues. If you need something that packs a punch without sacrificing quality sound or tone then maybe go with one of these larger amps instead.

If your playing is confined to your bedroom then you don’t need to have a massive amp, not only will this take up space but it will be far too loud for a small room. For home use a solid state amp up to around 40 watts is ideal or up to 5 watts if you’ve opted for a tube amp.

Smaller practice amps can come with speaker sizes or 8 inches, where as larger amps tend to use 12 inch speakers. Generally speaking the larger the speaker the clearer your sound will be. However, this is not always the case as manufacturers are able to produce some really great sounding small practice amps these days.

Solid State/Tube

Solid-state amplifiers offer a more affordable price point, but they don’t necessarily sound worse than tube amps. Solid-state amps are generally less expensive, so if you’re just starting out and want to experiment with your sound, this is a great option. Tube amps can cost as much as £2,000 for top of the line models—an unreasonable price for someone who’s just getting started on their instrument!

Purists will argue that tube amplifiers sound better than solid state because they have warm, rich tones which are only achieved by driving tubes or valves (depending on where you’re from). Whilst I do agree with this, modern solid state amps are very good at replicating the sound of tubes by using transistors. The Peavey Bandit is an excellent example of a solid state amp replicating a tube amp. You also get the benefit of being able to get the over driven sound out of your amp without pushing up the volume, ideal if you’re playing at home.

Effects loops

An effects loop is a circuit built into an amplifier that allows you to connect external effects devices and have them “send” their output back into the amp. This is helpful for guitarists who want to use stompboxes but don’t want to run all of their pedals through the front end of their amp (which could cause signal issues). You can use this feature, for example, by plugging in all your pedals into an effects loop, setting up your rig so that each pedal goes straight from its input jack to its output jack, then connecting the entire loop from the “send” on one pedal to the “return” on another. This gives you much more control over how much of each effect you hear in relation to others—and it means that no matter which order you choose for your setup, nothing will be connected directly into your amp’s main input channel(s).

If all this seems like overkill… well yeah! But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about building my own rigs: The more features you have on your amp from the start, the less likely you’ll be to want to change your amp after a few Months of playing.


If you’re just starting out, it can be a little overwhelming to look at all of the different options available. I hope this article helped you see that there are many different types of amps and each one has its own set of benefits and drawbacks. My personal recommendation would be to go with an amp that suits your needs best, whether that means buying an expensive tube amp or choosing something more affordable like a solid state model. Be sure to check out my beginner’s guide to guitar effects pedals.


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2 thoughts on “A beginner’s guide to guitar amplifiers.”

  1. Pingback: How To Dial In Your Amplifier Settings For Great Guitar Tone | Guitar Jive

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