Understanding the Types of Guitar Amps

Fender made the first commercially designed guitar amp in 1947. Today, you have the most advanced amps that define the tone of music a guitar produces.

Are you looking to buy any of the best guitar amp under 100? If so, don’t be surprised or overwhelmed by the range of guitar amps available in the market. Due to several features, shapes, and sizes, selecting the right one can indeed be challenging.

You can classify guitar amps into four types: solid-state, tube, hybrid, and modeling. Each type of guitar amp comes with a different configuration of speakers. And speakers are significant in shaping the tone of your guitar. Once you learn about the basic types of amps available, it is easier to decide which type suits your needs best.

Here are the different types of guitar amps in detail:

Tube Guitar Amps

Tube guitar amps, also known as valve guitar amps, are the ultimate in amp technology to produce the best sound. However, opinions will vary as the tone is subjective, and experts have their views. Tube amps owe their name to the vacuum tubes used to drive them. Once the tube amp cranks up, it heats with an orange glow. The familiar sound all guitarists love to hear comes from the cranked-up tubes that break the signal to provide the captivating sound.

Tubes used to be found in all the amplifiers made before transistors arrived on the scene. Although technology has evolved, many guitarists still prefer to use the old tube guitar amps as they are mesmerized by the tones they can produce. Even today, you may come across a guitarist talking about guitar valve amps, which is an English term. The American term is ‘tube amp,’ and both mean the same.

Although tube amps are based on outdated technology, several guitarists still cling to them as they appeal. Hence, if you are seriously considering buying one of the best guitar amps under 100 and a tube amp is what you want, go ahead and buy it if it suits your needs. The fact is tube amps may not suit all guitarists, and they don’t produce magical tones.

Solid State Guitar Amps

With the advent of the transistor, guitarists started looking at a new amp – the solid-state guitar amps that came to replace the old tube guitar amps. These are the less bulky transistors printed on circuit boards, making a noticeable difference. Not only are these solid-state amps lightweight, but they are also solid and very reliable. Unlike tube amps, solid-state guitar amps can never burn out. What’s more, is they are maintenance-free.

Most guitarists of this gen prefer solid-state guitar amps because they are so much lighter than tube amps.  Solid-state guitar amps come with fuzz pedals for their distortive property, which suits many styles and bands. Solid-state amps are popular as they are less bulky (no bulk at all) and are comparatively less expensive. These amps are most suitable for jazz players who expect the clean tone only a solid-state amp can provide.

Modeling Guitar Amps

Modeling guitar amps, also known as digital guitar amps, are a step ahead of solid-state amps. They are based on the latest technology and can produce a fantastic range of tones and effects.

The specialty of a modeling guitar amp is that it can recreate the tone of a tube amp minus the tubes. And at a mere hit of a button, you can change the modeled version like classic VOX AC. This flexibility is the highlight of a modeling guitar amp, and some can grant you access to a wide range of amp models, presets, and effects. Modeling guitar amps are evolving, and each version has a new technical feature added.

Hybrid Guitar Amps

Hybrid guitar amps, as the name suggests, are a mix of different types of amp technology. You could compare a hybrid guitar amp to a hybrid car that runs on gas and electricity alternatively. Hybrid guitar amps are meant to allow guitarists to enjoy the best of both worlds. You can get the haunting tones of a tube amp, with the flexibility only a solid-state guitar amp provides.

However, don’t be surprised if a hybrid guitar amp is somewhat of a disappointment. The hybrid guitar amp has some properties of a tube amp and some of a solid-state.

Summing it Up

Choosing a suitable guitar amp can be a daunting task for some, given that there are so many types and options available. Tube amps are still doing the rounds, and some guitarists still prefer the old technology for the tone it produces.