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Jan 7 '16

What Amp Is Best For Playing Rock?

Most aspiring rock guitar players spend a great amount of time trying to find the perfect guitar. Once that has been found, the search goes on trying to find the pedals that will help shape their tone that they want to hear or aspire to sound like.

However, there is one more very important element that should be included in the search for the perfect tone. And that is actual amplifier. As a matter of fact, the amplifier plays just as crucial of a role as the guitar. A lot of newbie guitar players tend to forget that.

They might be more interested in getting the guitar of their dream. However, the fact remains that a good amplifier can make or break your tone and sound regardless of the guitar you are playing. But which amp is the best to use if you want to rock?

This is a tricky question indeed. To be honest, there is not a simple solution or any correct answer. Finding the “perfect” amp can be as mystifying, challenging and daunting as trying to find the “perfect” guitar.

However, as with anything, quality does really matter. I have owned many different amps, and it is my experience that, as with anything else, you get what you pay for. I bring this up since I have had a lot of students who have asked my advice and found that paying a bit extra to get something that is quality is really worth it in the end.

So, what is great quality?


Well, for rock guitar playing, you quite simply can not go wrong with Marshall. Marshall amps and rock and roll go hand in hand indeed. Marshal is great for classic rock and heavy metal as well.

You can get some great combo amps from Marshall. Or you could invest in a head and a cabinet. You should also consider whether you would like a tube amp or a solid state amp. (I will get back to this a bit later in the article.)

fender-guitar-amplifier Fender also makes some amazing amps that will surely kick your rock playing into overdrive (no pun intended.) If your style tends to lend itself to blues type of rock in the vain of Eric Clapton, Joe Bonamassa, Stevie-Ray Vaughan, Joh Mayer or Jimi Hendrix, a nice fender amp will work wonders indeed. You can also chose to be creative and combine brands.

At one time, I owned a really nice Fender Deluxe Reverb amp and a Marshall Cabinet. One of the guitar technicians at the local music store suggested that I tried to use the Fender as a head and hook it up to the cabinet.

I have to tell you that the sound was absolutely incredible. It really did seem to combine the best of both worlds. The sound was crystal clear and really complimented my main ’62 Reissue Stratocaster which was my main guitar at the time.

Another amazing amp that I used to own was the (a bit pricy) Fender Vibro King. If you can afford it, the Fender Vibro King is an excellent amp, and one you will cherish for a long time to come. It is a big beast, but the sound is out “of this world”.

Tube amp or a solid state amp?

Earlier I talked about the fact that you also need to consider whether you want a tube amp or a solid state amp. There are pros and cons to both depending on who you ask. You can get some great solid state and digital amps these days taht are way better than they were just 10 years ago.

In my opinion however, I suggest getting a tube amp. The sound and quality is simply unique. They have a more powerful sound and tone. It is easier to put your own personal “fingerprint” to tube amps since they seem to respond to the touch and attack of your actual playing.

orange-guitar-amplifier There is quite simply “more to work with” with a tube amp. There is also a reason why digital amps try to emulate tube amps. They are quite simply the standard. Lastly, I would like to mention the brand Orange. They also make fantastic sounding amplifiers for rock music. They may not be as widely used as Fender or Marshall, but they are definitely up there among the top quality amp makers around today.

Jacques Darville is a professional musician and full time guitar teacher and performer.

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