We looked at the 12 most popular amplifiers on the market and considered their wattage, size, features, power source, channels, presets, reputation of the company, customer feedback and other considerations. These three amplifiers topped the charts in all of the categories that we considered. Any one of them would be a great choice for your basic amplifier needs.
Introduction to the Amplifiers
Even if you’re just purchasing an amplifier for home practice, you don’t want to purchase the first one you see. The type of amplifier you purchase plays a big part in the kind of sound you get. It doesn’t matter what instrument you are plugging into it, you want an amplifier that is going to boost the signal from your electronic instrument to give it the body and tone you want.
It’s very important to make a good decision when looking for an amplifier for your instrument. Especially since this is the way your keyboard, electric guitar or bass guitar can be heard clearly. You want to be certain that the quality of your amplifier is a good match for the instrument you are plugging into it.
There are many different types and styles of amplifiers on the market. The amplifiers of today are well made, affordable and versatile as well. If you are a beginning player, there are a lot of starter-level amps that are very easy to learn how to operate and that provide you with all of the features that you will need.
There are many musicians that feel you should spend the same amount on your amplifier that you spend on your guitar. The premise behind that thought is that you don’t want to take an exceptional instrument and plug it into a substandard amplifier.
Top Ranked Amplifiers
Marshall MG15CF MG Series 15-Watt Guitar Combo Amp
Marshall’s MG series 15 watt guitar combo amp has 2 channels and an MP3 input in a 1×8 combo.
This is a great amplifier for the beginning player but it also works for a professional that is playing out at different venues.
Even though the size isn’t very big, the sound is and you will be impressed with the tone of your instrument once it is plugged in.
There are two channels; the Clean and the Overdrive channel and they share a 3 band equalizer that provides plenty of tonal control. The MP3 line is perfect for those who want to play along with professional music.
Listen to your favorite song while you try playing on.
There is also a headphone output that allows the guitar player to engage in silent practice that won’t be disturbing.
The bold look is made from strong and durable carbon fiber. You will love the solid state tone and ease of use that this Marshall amplifier provides.
Peavey Vypyr VIP 1 – 20 Watt Modeling Instrument Amplifier
Peavey electronics raises the bar in the modeling amplifier industry by introducing the very first variable instrument amplifier that is performance capable.
The Vypyr V.I.P is the first amplifier that has electric, acoustic and bass amplifier models, allowing you to purchase one amplifier for all three instruments rather than having to get three different kinds.
This versatile amplifier can go from one type of amp to another effortlessly. It also allows the musician to change the sound of the electric guitar to copy acoustics, bass guitars, 12-strings and more.
Vypyr VIP has the technology to create the best sounding modeling amplifier on the market due to the combination of a patented TransTube analog circuitry and a 32 bit floating point SHARC processor.
Musicians will get an incredibly full sound due to the semi closed back enclosures that are acoustically ported. This is a terrific amplifier for live performances and practice as well.
Features of this versatile wonder amplifier include 16 presets, 6 bass amp models, 25 effects that are amp accessible, bass guitar simulation, acoustic guitar simulation, 36 on board amplifier models, WYSIWYG controls, tap tempo, bi-directional USB, AUX/MP3/CD input, enhanced chromatic tuner, and much more.
Blackstar FLY3PAK Guitar Combo Amplifier
The Blackstar FLY 3 is a 3 watt mini amplifier that creates the perfect portable amplifier by combining tape delay, the patented Infinite Shape Feature and two channels.
It’s very small but when you plug into it and hear the big sound it produces you won’t believe it’s coming from the small package it consists of even with the lowest volumes.
The Infinite Shape Feature allows users to change the sound of their amplifier, providing a multitude of possibilities for different tones.
You can even make it resonate during play with the tape delay effects.
The MP3/line in jack allows musicians to connect an MP3 player, mobile phone, tablet, laptop and other devices and play along with their favorite music.
You can also use headphones with this amplifier for silent practice time that won’t disturb anyone. The FLY 3 is portable, due to the battery operated capability.
Top Rated Amplifiers Summary
A good amplifier is crucial for great sound and tone no matter what instrument you are purchasing an amplifier for. With all of the choices on the market, it is important to know what your needs are and what kind of sound you are after so you choose the right amplifier for your needs.
All three of the amplifiers that we have featured above have benefits to the musician that will provide the kind of full bodied sound you are looking for. Whether the amplifier is for practice or performing you want it to perform the best it can and these three amplifiers provide that and much more.
The buyer’s guide below provides more information about choosing the best amplifier for your needs and preferences. When you have plenty of information, sorting through all the different amplifiers is much easier and the differences make more sense. You will be able to make a good choice that will work for your needs by providing all of the features and sound you want.
Amplifier Buyers Guide
Components of an Amplifier
There are several different components that make up an amplifier. These components need to be considered when you are looking for the right model for your needs. We’ve outlined the different aspects below.
- Tube or Solid State – Tube amps provide users with a creamy, warm tone. They can also create distortion if they are overdriven. If you want to play clean parts, roll back the volume and then crank back up when going into an overdriven lead. Tube amps are the most popular amplifiers on the market. They provide the same vintage sound of the Marshalls and Fenders from years ago. The higher end tube amps will have a higher price tag than solid states. They are also prone to being heavier, fragile and will need to have the tube replace occasionally. Solid State amps are much more affordable and will have a brighter overall tone in addition to weighing less and being much more affordable. Don’t purchase a tube amp simply because it is the favored type of most professionals. Make sure you make your choice based on the sound and tone.
- Wattage– Wattage is the power that the amp puts out. Many players think that you have to have high wattage to have a lot of sound but that is not the case. Some small amps with less wattage, but high quality are louder and have better sound than higher wattage, less quality models. The only reason you would really ever need a high wattage amplifier is if you are going to be playing out at different venues. Base your choice for wattage on the sound, not simply the number. If you find a smaller watt amplifier and love the sound, that is all that matters.
- Speakers – In general, low watt speakers will produce more distortion much easier than a higher watt speaker will. If your genre of music is more hard rock, you may actually prefer the more distorted sound, but f you’re going for clarity, choose the amplifier that reports to have clear, true sound no matter what they size.
- Channels – If you use several different tones, an amplifier that has multichannel amplifiers will be just the right type of amplifier for your needs. If all you are looking for is a good distortion and a clean sound you will not really need an amplifier with more than two channels. You can also look for an amplifier that provides the musician with separate equalizer controls that work for each individual channel.
- Configuration – What will you be using your amplifier for? Practice? Small performances, such as church, coffee houses, etc or large venues like conventions and concerts? What you will be doing with the amplifier will determine the kind of configuration you set up. Dual channels are very common. If you are looking for an amplifier where the sound can be changed, you need to make sure that you are the right age and have the right configuration.
- Effects – The majority of amplifiers have reverb which offers a unique but common echo-like sound. There are many different types of effects that an amplifier can have. Many of the models are equipped with full digital capabilities. There are advantages and disadvantages to having the controls onboard. It does make it convenient due to the fact that there are no additional boxes required. The biggest disadvantage to having onboard controls is that if you don’t like the effects that amplifier comes with, you still have a built in aspect that you won’t use and don’t like. When buying an amplifier make sure that any internal digital effects it has are able to be bypassed.
- Tone – The biggest point of importance when it comes to an amplifier is the tone it has. No matter what offerings it may have if it doesn’t have a good tone it won’t matter. Good tone consists of clear high notes that are not too high, a midrange that can be adjusted to fit your preferences and a big bottom end for the low notes. The right amount of bass is crucial to good tone and far too many musicians forget about it. There is a fine line from goo, full bass to boomy so make sure you find a good medium.
- Extra Features – Volume and tone are the first considerations that a musician looks at when shopping for an amplifier but you should also see if there are other features that you need that will enhance your playing experience. Features like external pedals, processors, loop, line outputs and external speakers can make using an amplifier even more enjoyable for a musician who likes using a lot of effects.
There are certain electronic instruments that can’t be heard without the aid of an amplifier. There are many different amplifiers on the market and choosing from among all the different wattages and features can be very difficult. It will make the sorting and selection process much easier.
Amplifiers are necessary for electric guitars, some acoustic guitars, bass guitars and keyboards. There are even some violins and other types of instruments that need amplifiers to give them a boost in sound and volume.
Although many think that you have to get an amplifier with a huge wattage capacity to get a lot of sound and volume, the new design of amplifiers disproves this. Even small mini sized, portable amplifiers have full sound that will enable the instrument to be heard and heard well.
The information in this buyer’s guide is designed to help you understand the most important things to look at when searching for an amplifier. When you have some knowledge about the item you are looking for, you will not waste time or money purchasing something that won’t meet your needs or that is substandard.