The question of whether to upgrade your amp or guitar first is a tricky one as it depends on a number of factors that we will be discussing below.
In general, you should buy a new amp if you care more about the tone. Otherwise, you should buy a guitar that you enjoy playing more as an amp will not motivate you in doing more daily practice.
In the below sections, I have highlighted:
- Factors that you should consider
- A list of beginner amps for bedroom practice
Gigging vs Home Use
If you are thinking about getting a new amp or guitar for gigging, then the answer is amp. Without a good amp, the guitar is pretty useless as the sound wouldn’t have the power to cut through the crowd. If you are playing in band, then the amp is needed to at least compete with the drums and such.
For home use, an amp is actually not even necessary. A good guitar is sufficient to let enjoy a good session of music. The only time when you need an amp at home is probably to experience different tones or effects. However for most guitar beginners, an amp is not 100% necessary.
Sound vs Feel
For pure sound improve an amp will make a bigger impact than a guitar.
It is commonly known that no matter how good your guitar is, if you plug it into a shitty amp, your sound will be shitty.
If you think you have a good sounding guitar, you will be amazed on what it can do when it is plugged into a good amp.
This is doubly so if you care a lot about tone.
Amp is the number one factor that affects the tone of your playing, followed by picks up and scale length. A suitable amp can turn your guitar tone from warm to metal, from American to British, from clean to distorted.
All these are hard to accomplish with a good guitar alone.
However, if you hate how the guitar feels in your hands, then it might worth considering upgrading the guitar first. The guitar must feel right before you enjoy playing it. This includes the weight, the movement of your fingers, the position in your body, the sound it produces etc.
Best practice amps from reddit.com
If you agree that an amp is more important for your situation, here are some solid amp for beginners that recommended by members of the reddit guitar community. I trust them more than those blogs with ‘fake’ reviews.
- Yamaha THR5: A nice affordable practice amp with clean tones at low volume. It doesn’t come with too many effects but they are not necessary if you just want to doodle and practice. In addition, it got a line out that can connect to your iPad etc for tracks play along. Strongly recommended if you into acoustic sound and clean tones.
- Boss Katana 50: Another good practice amp with some advantages over the Yamaha. It can take pedals better i.e. more effects. In addition, it has a better speaker that can put out louder music. This is why the Katana 50 can be used for gigs. Only downside? It is almost 50% more expensive than the Yamaha Thr5. If you are practicing at home, the benefits of the Katana 50 doesn’t really affect you.
- Orange Crush 12 Watt: This is the most affordable amp on the list. The low prices comes at a cost of very little effects (just the usual EQs like treble, bass etc) and is not as loud as a Katana 50. However, it has nice tones and the usual Orange amp quality. It also has a headphone jack for silent playing. For a no frill amp for bedroom practice, this is an affordable buy.
- Vox VT20X: This is an undervalued amp in my mind. Price wise, it is much cheaper than Katana 50 and has similar quality in terms of tone and volume. It also comes with lots of presets and tonial controls that you can play with. Best thing is the software that has presets for popular songs. You just select the song and the software has the right setting for you to start playing with it. How cool is that!
Do guitar amps make a difference
Guitar amps makes a difference by improving the tone quality of your guitar output. They also provide more options in terms of effects that you can add to your playing. Things like distortion, delays are easier with the right amp in your set up.
Usually, this is asked by folks who have not hear their guitar through an amp. The difference in tone and the the kind of sound you get is significant.
My advice is to set aside a similar or even higher budget for your amp as your guitar. There is no need to overspend as I have seen some beginners paying $500 or more for an amp. You can upgrade over time if your playing has evolved.
The right amp also makes a difference. Different guitars have different sound tendencies. Acoustic guitars for example produces clean and clear tone. Getting an amp that is great at distortion and metal sounds clearly doesn’t match up. However, paired with something like a Marshall or a Fender amp and your sound will be on another level.
For a beginner, deciding between a guitar or amp upgrade can be confusing or hard to decide. I hope the guidelines prescribed in this article can help you to your journey to finding better sounds and playing experience.
In summary, amp also makes a bigger differences in your sound quality but there are exceptions which I have highlighted above.