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Guitar Amps Are an Excellent Value Due to Increasing Technology

Mar 29, 2008
In my opinion guitar amps, bass guitar amps and amplifiers for musical purposes have evolved at such a rapid rate in the last couple of years that GPC considers a guitar amplifier one of the few guitar related items that is a better value than ever.

The constant breakthroughs in terms of technology and built in features now incorporated into many amps are great for the consumer in terms of cost. It also makes it easier to decide the whole vibe of what amp, effects gear or modeling equipment to haul around with you to a jam session or a gig a lot easier decision to make in most cases.

Except for the diehard guitarist. And there is lots of excellent competition in the field of amps nowadays.

In the beginning all amplifiers were powered by vacuum tubes the same technology was used in most home stereos, radios and televisions until the mid-1960s. Tubes created all the great sounds that we learned to associate with electric guitar music. But by the mid seventies solid state technology was starting to sway much of the market with new amps that could produce great volume with little or no distortion and required no maintenance with more durability.

Note: The term valve is the same thing as a vacuum tube in amplifier speak.

Most of the modern designs are called hybrid, which means there is a tube/s in the preamplifier section, and the power amplifier section uses solid state circuitry for its power supply. In my opinion an overdriven preamplifier tube definitely sounds better than the popular pure solid state overdrive circuits, however, it does not sound as deep and warm as a full tube powered amplifier to me. The opinion at GPC is that the hybrids are a real breakthrough in terms of getting quality sound using tubes and solid state circuitry in harmony to get the great tube sound and solid state reliability every body wants in one cabinet.

Take it a step further to built in Digital Modeling. Another field gaining steam fast is digital modeling amps. Great for the home player or fantastic for the studio artist. The Fender Super Champ XD Guitar Combo is a super deal for the money with a power output of 15W RMS into 8 ohms, one 12AX7 and two 6V6 tubes, one 1 8 ohm Fender Special Design speaker and a voicing knob with 16 different preamp voices emulates perfectly any style of music and it has 16 different effects built in to it with an effects level control knob. The convenience of changing your sound on the fly keeps your focus on playing the guitar.

Other amplifiers such as the Fender Cyber Twin SE Amp and the Vox Valvetronix AD50VT 50w 12 Guitar Combo cost more but are similar or better in most cases due to cost and intended usage. I would recommend the more expensive models for professionals or hi end players. They provide the same amazing versatility at a higher price. The main reason for a bigger amp would be a larger venue, not necessarily sound quality.

Some of the modern features include, in addition to simulating many popular amplifier sounds, entirely new ones can be created and saved and can be looped to play over and over. It is important to mention that you can still buy an amplifier without all of the high tech built in features and add the equipment you prefer.

Not mentioning the new line of practice amps would be a disservice. The Fender G-Dec is so popular now that it comes in several models and It packs amp modeling, guitar effects, a drum machine, MIDI synth, and phrase sampler into one combo amp. It is set up to be your own personal backing band, ready and waiting for you to step up and play.
You can actually hear sound bites from different amp settings here under sound clips. Another example of using the internet to choose and purchase your guitar equipment. GPC highly recommends the G-Dec for beginners especially. I am not a beginner but I have an original G-DEC and use it to practice with very often due to it's small size, versatility and simplicity of use.

The newer amplifier combos are very encouraging and very usable in live or recording studio situations. The versatility alone makes these systems almost a natural choice for musicians who need to cover a wide range of amplifier sounds and digital effects with a single setup, for example if you play covers, or need to record quickly and can not afford to waste studio dollars connecting different amps and cabinets.

Realistically speaking, lots of people can't hear the difference between hybrid amps or full tube amps. Personally, the hybrid amps sound so good that unless one is a professional guitar player with unusual demands or you like to use the extra gear as many guitarists still prefer, the future of hybrid amps and amps with built in processing equipment looks bright and encouraging. GPC always recommends getting the best amp you can afford. Don't buy the cheapest one if you can avoid it. Take advantage of free shipping, the lowest possible legal prices and a 45 day return policy. You may even qualify for an no interest for one year credit card. Why not shop at home and save your time and gas from now on? Of course if your giving a gift and not sure what to get, buy a gift certificate. Every guitar player loves a gift certificate.

A question worth pondering. How does a self tuning guitar react when you bend a note? Let me know if you have an answer, or I'll have to find out myself.
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