Buying guitar amplifiers can be exciting if you understand a little bit about them!The choice of an amplifier is a very important decision for a guitar player because it is in the combination of the particular guitar and that special amp that a guitarist finds his signature sound. What is a signature sound? Well, it's like this: how many notes do you have to hear before you KNOW that it's BB King or Carlos Santana, or Zakk Wylde? THAT is the concept of signature sound.
So how do you find your signature sound? EXPERIMENT!
Types Of Amps
SOLID STATE AMPS
These amps are called solid-state because they use transistors for their preamp and power sections instead of tubes. They are very reliable and seldom need repairs. They often have a very clean tone, although many come with "distortion" channels also.
Tube amps preferred by many guitarists for their warm, fat tone and "organic" distortion. Tube amps usually sound louder than solid-state amps of the same wattage and have a definite "feel" that you don't get from solid-state amps. Most tube amps have separate channels that can switch from clean to distorted tones instantly. Tube performance can deteriorate over time, so tubes need changing occasionally.
Now it could get very expensive buying guitar amplifiers until you find THE one, right? You could go into guitar stores and keep trying amps with your guitar. in fact, that s a good idea for starters. The problem is, that it takes a long time of playing through a particular amp to really see what it can do for you. You might find yourself LIVING at the guitar store!
One solution might be to start of with one of the modeling amps. Modeling amps use digital processors to simulate the sound of old-fashioned tube technology. Using software that "models" the sound of tube amplifiers (and cabinets), these amps put the sound of numerous amps in one box. Modeling amps are programmable, and often have built-in digital effects such as delay, chorus, etc.
This way you can try the sounds of many different amps while buying only ONE. Then, if you one day decide upon the exact sound that you want, you can buy an amp to fit your specific needs.
Combo Amp or Head and Cabinet?
It depends on where you will be playing. For smaller venues like clubs, a combo amp (amp which includes both the amp and speakers in one unit) will be fine. If you want to fill a giant auditorium, better go with a head and cabinet.
(The local stores will hate me for giving you this piece of advice.) Once you have tried out an amp or know what you want, you can most of the time get MUCH BETTER DEALS at online music stores. Why? Because they have less overhead and they have volume buying power that even the largest retailers cannot match.
Here are two very good online instrument retailers--check them out. the products are guaranteed and shipping is Often Free!