So you’ve invested in a state-of-the-art guitar – what next? Chances are you’ll need an amplifier. Guitar amplifiers are an essential part of your music gear; in fact, most musicians agree that a good guitar is no use without a good amp.
When shopping for an amp, you usually have four options: tube, solid state, digital, and hybrid. While the last two are certainly more high-tech, newer isn’t always better when it comes to amps. Each type has its own advantages, and it all comes down to your budget and personal preference.
Tube guitar amplifier
The first amps to become available were tube amps. Many experts find them their warm, full tone more natural, and digital amps have tried and failed to duplicate it. Another reason they’re still around is power-saving: they sound much louder than solid-state and digital amps at the same wattage. The only drawback is that the glass tubes break easily, so you’ll have to be careful moving them around.
Solid state guitar amplifiers
In solid-state amps, the tubes are replaced by transistors. While this makes them sturdier, it tends to make them sound harsh or distorted at high frequency. However, these amps will stand up to heavy use better than tube amps.
Digital guitar amplifier
Digital amps are programmed to imitate a wide range of amp sounds, including distortions, riffs, and the classic tube amp sound. Cheaper digital amps sound synthetic, but with high-end ones you can hardly tell the difference. Get a digital amp if you like being creative and trying out different styles.
Hybrid guitar amplifiers
These amps combine tube and solid-state technology into a single machine. The sound quality isn’t as great as the original tube amps, but they will do if you want tube-quality sound without spending on a high-end digital amp.