Guitar Wiki

A Guitar Amplifier or Amp for short, is a speaker that amplifies the sound of a guitar. Primarily used for electric guitars, Acoustic guitar amplifiers are also produced that are used with acoustic guitars that are fitted with pickups.


Amplifiers came into existence along with the electric guitar. The issue concerning guitars came into being when they could not be heard when played with Big Band groups, as loud wind instruments like the trombone or trumpet could easily drown out the guitar's sound. A method of trying to bring the sound up so they could be heard resulted in the electric guitar, using the guitar amplifer.


Guitar amplifiers originally were strictly what is called by today's standards "clean". The sound was unaltered by filters or gain of any sort. During the 1960's, however, some artist began to use "overdrive" by overloading their amps for a grittier, more aggressive sound. Guitar experimentation was heavily influenced by the psychedelic period, which demanded a different kind of guitar playing to reflect it's musical style. While the overdriven sound did rise in prominence, clean amps were not discarded altogether. Companies like Fender and Vox are highly regarded for their signature sounds of their clean styled amplifers like the Fender Deluxe Reverb, and the AC90, respectively. and It is not uncommon for an amplifier to contain both "clean" and "drive" channels on current models.

Types of amplifiers[]

Amplifiers were originally created using vacuum tubes to produce their sound. Eventually, the "solid state" amplifier was produced, which made amps easier to acquire to aspiring musicians. Most players prefer "tube" amps over solid state, because tubes offer a warmer sound.

Use of pedals[]

A guitar amplifier may be complimented by guitar pedals. There are many different kinda of guitar pedals. Some players prefer to use minimal amounts of pedals, and instead choose to rely on the sound of the amplifier alone. The guitar is not plugged into the input of the amp, but rather into the input of the pedal, and another cable is plugged from the output of the pedal to the amp's input jack.

Typical components of an amplifier[]

Amps have a wide range of features. Some, like the Fender Cyber, or some of the Line 6 Spider Valve feature digital interfaces to display tones, or cycle between preset tones built into the amp.

All amps have a volume knob, and may also include:

  • Master
  • Drive/Gain (Some models, like the Fender Supersonic, have two gain knobs)
  • Treble
  • Mid
  • Bass
  • Reverb
  • Presence
  • Contour

Amps also contain different channels for distinct styles. channels can be limited to one, or can be switched between two or three. Channels are usually toggled between with pushbuttons, rather than dials, which operate most controls on amplifiers.