The invention of the guitar amplifier dates back to the 1930s—two decades before the invention of the electric guitar. Sounds kind of strange, right? Well, it turns out the first guitar amplifiers were invented to amplify acoustic guitars so that they could be heard above other louder instruments in large jazz bands. When the electric guitar came along in the 1950s, the electric guitar amplifier that we all know and love today was born.
Guitar amps come in two basic configurations—either a stand-alone amplifier ("head") paired with a speaker cabinet or as a self-contained unit that combines the head and speaker cabinet into one box, commonly referred to as a "combo amps.” Guitar amplifiers also come in different flavors based on their active electronic components. The first amplifiers used an array of vacuum tubes to produce a singular sound. Tube amps remain a favorite of live performers. Transistor amps (or “solid state amps”) are generally less expensive and do not require the sensitive handling that vacuum tubes do. While tube amps have long been preferred by musicians who are willing to pay the higher cost, modern transistor amplifier technologies (including features such as classic tube amp modeling) has kept transistor amps a viable part of the market. Hybrid amplifiers combine the best features of both types, comprising either a tube pre-amp leading to a solid-state power amp, or vice-versa. And then there’s a whole new generation of amps, including acoustic guitar amps designed to optimize the sound properties of an acoustic guitar, portable amps for playing and practicing on the go, and software based amps for both recording and performance through a computer.
There’s a lot to consider when choosing a guitar amp—from the
style of music you want to play to the type of guitar you will be plugging into it. But, ultimately
it all comes down to what sounds and feels best to you. At Sam Ash, we carry a huge selection of
guitar amplifiers from all the world’s leading manufacturers, so you’ll be sure to find one that
suits your style and budget.
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