Guitar Amp Buyers Guide

Guitar Amp Buyers Guide

When it comes to playing the guitar, one of the most vital pieces of kit is your guitar amp. Even if you’re an acoustic guitarist, having an acoustic guitar amp will allow you to open your playing in ways that you could never do without an amplifier. This guitar amp buyers guide will teach you the basics of what to look for when buying your next guitar amp. 

The Guitar

If you don’t already have a guitar – that should be your first stop. If you’re not sure what to look for when buying a guitar, check out our Guitar Buyers Guide

Now that you’ve got your guitar, you will need to add an amp into the mix. 

Basic Guitar Amp Buyers Guide

1) Decide on whether you need an acoustic or an electric amp. The way that each works, and the tone that each produces is different – so be sure to buy the right style for your guitar. 

2) Ensure that you get the right size amp for your purposes. A 500W amp stack would be a horrible home practice amp (and would have your neighbours singing murder), but a 10W practice amp would be pointless for live performance. 

3) Choose between a solid state or a valve amp. Do you like blues or old school tone? Then get a valve amp. Prefer metal and djent? You’re most likely better off with a transistor amp (unless you’re after that triple-rec tone) 

4) Decide if you want to use your amp for stage or for the studio. Each amp is unique, so determine what features on the amp are nice to have, and which features are imperative. 

5) Do you need built-in effects? Many professional-quality amps have onboard effects, but do YOU really need them? Like effects and want to add some in? Then yes – go for something with built-in effects? Use a pedal board? Then you could probably do without the added effects. 

Like to try out a Guitar Amp?

In-Depth Buyers Guide

When you start looking for amps, the sheer volume of choice can be overwhelming. On the one hand, having so much choice allows us to find the ideal amp for our needs, but, on the other hand, it can make deciding on what amp to buy a tedious task filled with indecision. 

By working through this buyers guide, you will be able to eliminate many of the options on the market, which will make your final decision much less daunting.

Acoustic vs Electric Amplifiers

Believe it or not, acoustic guitar amps and electric guitar amps are different. 

Electric guitar amps are fine-tuned to sit in the mid-range frequencies. That is because that is the range that an electric guitarist should play in. If you’re playing in the higher or lower registers, you are going to start competing with the other people in your band. Of course, if you play solo, then this isn’t an issue for you. 

Electric guitar amps provide a good amount of headroom, ensuring that your effects (if you use any) are not lost, and that your playing doesn’t lose any of its characteristics. Regardless of whether you’re playing slow, sludgy blues, fast, intricate jazz, or face-melting solos, if you play in a band, you need an electric guitar amp. 

Acoustic guitarists are known to play in the lower range a little more than their electric counterparts; this is especially true for solo acoustic players. Acoustic guitar amps have a wider frequency band and are closer to a mini PA system than they are to an electric guitar amp. 

If you sing while playing the guitar, then an acoustic guitar amp is also an ideal choice, since most have multiple inputs to allow a solo musician to sing and play.  

Get the Right Size Amp

When it comes to being heard, size matters; if you live in an apartment, your neighbours won’t be too pleased if you practice on rig fit for a stadium. So, how do you know what size amp you should get? 

Practice amp

If you’re looking for something for home use, then you should consider something in the 10W – 50W range. Not only will your neighbours thank you, but you can also protect your ears. Many of the smaller practice amps even have headphone outputs, so you can play at any time without waking up the people in your home. 

It might be fun to play at loud volumes in a small room, where you can feel like a rockstar playing at a stadium, but the long-term effects on your are not worth it! Golden rule: If you can’t hear yourself speak over your amp when practising in your room, your amp is too loud!

Small Venues

 If you mostly play little coffee shops or smaller gigs, then you want something in the 50W to the 100W range. You want sufficient power to be heard, but so much that you are all that can be heard. 

Medium Venues

So you’ve moved up and are playing at clubs and medium-sized venues? At this point you should be looking at amps in the 100W to the 200W range, depending on your amp. If you, for example, have a 65W amp which has a line-out option, and the venue you’re playing in has decent monitors, then you don’t really need a bigger amp. But, if you want to always be sure that you have enough power so that your amp can double as a monitor, and be miked up for live playing, then you should consider a larger amp.

Large Venues

Just like with medium-sized venues, if your amp can line out and there are good monitoring options, any size amp will work. But if you don’t want to risk poor monitors, or if you really want a massive 8×10 speaker rig, then you can get any amp from 100W up to 600W and over. After all, nothing screams “rockstar” quite as much as amp stack taller than the bass player!

Solid State vs Valve

The solid-state vs valve debate has been going on ever since the first solid state amps hit the market. The truth is, that neither amp is better than the other. 

The most significant difference between a valve and transistor (solid state) amplifier, is personal preference. It’s like deciding if you like pineapple on pizza; there are die-hard fans on either side of the aisle. 

So, which one should you get? We suggest that you listen to some of your favourite players, and listen to their tone. Once you establish the tone that you like, do some research to see what type of rig is being used to produce that sound. Remember, that the amp is only a single element in the chain, so buying the same amp as your hero won’t guarantee that you’ll get a similar tone. But, it is a good starting point. 

Having said that, it is essential to remember that valve amps require regular servicing and need their valves replaced when they burn out. So, if you decide that you love the tone of valve amps, remember that that tone comes at an additional, ongoing cost.

Live Performance vs Studio Recording

Are you playing at a stadium in front of 50,000 people? Then you can get the biggest, meanest amp on the market and go to town! Are you recording in a small studio? Then you really don’t want or need that much power. 

Now, you might be thinking to yourself that surely you should record with your live rig? But the simple answer is no, not always. Look at Metallica for example; the guitars they use live are not the same ones they use in the studio. 

For recording, you can layer sounds, record multiple tracks, and fine-tweak your tone until its perfect. Conversely, for live sound, we try to find the best possible rig, knowing that we won’t always get the perfect tone. 

If you’re looking for a studio-specific amp, power should not be your driving factor. Ideally, you want an amp that doesn’t have too much colour and allows you to record a fairly neutral tone. That way, the engineer can tweak your tone in editing, and ensure that the band gels together. So when choosing a studio amp, your only consideration should be the tone of the output.

Like to try out a Guitar Amp?

Built-in Effects

When amps first started adding onboard effects, it was mostly as a gimmick. But the popularity of onboard effects took off, and the technology improved, and soon manufacturers were adding professional-quality effects into amps. 

Nowadays we are spoilt for choice when it comes to amps with built-in effects. So why, if the quality is good, would you NOT want an amp with effects? 

The short answer is that while the effects might be top-quality, they still do not offer the versatility of stand alone pedals. A chorus pedal will always have more options than a chorus effect built into an amp. 

So, if effects are a cornerstone of your playing, you should instead get a standard amp with either a floorboard or a few stomp boxes. But, if you seldom use effects, or if you don’t require much fine-tuning of your effects, an amplifier with built-in effects is the perfect solution.

Conclusion

Buying a guitar amp should be a fun journey. No article or blog post can determine the “perfect” amp for you – but they can help you narrow down what doesn’t work. 

Your next step should be to take your guitar, and your effects pedals into a shop, and ask one of the assistants to set up a selection of amps for you. Spend an hour or playing the same song, with the same effects through a few options, and from there, decide which one YOU think sounds best. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is, are you happy with the tone of your amp? 

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One of your responsibilities will be to work as a relief admin assistant at our Claremont and N1 City stores, so you must have reliable transport, and be willing to travel.

General Purpose

Maintain a professional and friendly entry point to the general public, customers, dealers and suppliers, both telephonically and face-to-face.

Perform allocated administrative tasks as required.

Below is a list of your main job tasks and responsibilities (and any other duties as directed from time to time).

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Goods Receiving

We are looking for a hardworking, experienced, motivated end energetic Studio Executive, with a proven track record to work in our N1 City Superstore.

Duties:

As a sales consultant, you will be in direct contact with customers and as such, will be required to deliver excellent service. It is essential that the candidate is proficient in all things studio and home recording, with a good working knowledge of AV equipment and microphones.

You must be willing to work retail hours, weekends and public holidays.

To apply, please email your CV and cover letter to :
Carelv@bothner.co.za

We are looking for a hardworking, experienced, motivated end energetic Keyboard and Piano specialist, with a proven track record to work in our N1 City Superstore.

Duties:

As a sales consultant, you will be in direct contact with customers and as such, will be required to deliver excellent service. It is essential that the candidate is proficient in all things keyboard and piano related, with a good working knowledge of home, studio recording.

You must be willing to work retail hours, weekends and public holidays.

To apply, please email your CV and cover letter to :
Carelv@bothner.co.za

For some people, music is all about technical mastery and learning songs written by various composers. But most musicians want to perfect the instrument in a way that allows them to express themselves through song.

There is a misconception among many people that unless you’re a natural-born songwriter, you’ll never really be any good at it. This is, of course, simply not true.

If you want to be a songwriter, you only need to do two things.

1) Learn the fundamentals of music theory and the rules of writing songs.
2) Practice. Remember that the first few hundred songs you write won’t be “the best” songs ever, but that’s why you need to keep working on it.

We can’t help you much with the second point, but if you want to learn the fundamentals of songwriting, then you should consider enrolling in the Cape Town School of Songwriting.

For more information, please contact Elaine Ridgway (082 7773133) or email clive@songwriters.co.za

Offering lessons in:
Vocal, Guitar, Piano, Drums, Bass Guitar, Violin, Cello, Saxophone, Oboe, Clarient, & Flute, and with lessons available in Bryanston, Fourways, Centurion and Kemptopn Park, the Global House of Music is your one stop music lesson option in the Joberg area. They even offer home lessons. Check out there website to make a booking or call them directly on: 083 959 3782

Music is about way more than solo acts. School of Rock Claremont is as focused on community, teamwork, and friendships as it is on inspiring awesome music. Through our performance-based approach, we foster an inclusive community of rockers in Claremont to build a unique type of confidence only gained through cool, real life experiences. Whether we’re in serious shredding-mode or just jamming along with the band, our team spurs the growth of real, practical skills for music-minded students.

At School of Rock Claremont, we believe everyone deserves to have fun and feel like a rock star. Visit us and get a feel for the awesome opportunities your child has waiting just around the corner.

The Athlone Academy of Music (AAM) is a non-profit organisation established in 1994 with the sole aim of providing music tuition within the Athlone area. This initiative has now expanded and has grown to include the greater Athlone community residing along the Klipfontein corridor including Langa, Gugulethu, Khayelitsha, Mitchells Plain, Retreat, Steenberg, Atlantis and Malmesbury to name but a few. The communities in and around Athlone have tried but there has not always been a cohesive attempt to make sure that music education is not lost to our children. Music tuition has shown to help with discipline, motivation and a sense of belonging. Three basic values that children from the poorer disadvantaged communities need plenty of. We all know that these communities suffer under the scourge of substance abuse, disease, abuse against women and children and a general decay of the social fibre in society. This social decay is largely a result of unemployment, poverty and idleness. We at the Academy feel obliged to create opportunities for children in the communities we serve to be active in music education and in so doing, eradicate some of the social pathologies we are faced with on a daily basis.

Rockschool is the leading accredited provider of rock & pop exams worldwide. We offer Graded Music Exams in the principal rock instruments and Diplomas in Teaching and Performance. Rockschool produces and examines unique music qualifications that are taught by independent teachers in schools, colleges and music centres all over the world. Rockschool music qualifications are practical, flexible and fun and are open to musicians of all ages and abilities.

The Gryphon Music Academy is a guitar school based in Plumstead, Cape Town. We offer guitar lessons, bass lessons, song writing courses and music theory courses Our Motto is “Turning players into musicians”. At the Gryphon Music Academy we believe in teaching players of all levels to not just play the instrument, but to think about the entire scope of the instrument in the context of music. Besides learning the practical side of playing, you will also learn music theory, song writing and instrument maintenance.

Do you have a desire to play the drums or improve your guitar skills or another band instrument? If so, then M&M is the perfect part-time Music Academy for you. We have students that attend the academy from the Parklands, Table View, West Beach, Melkbos and Milnerton area. We offer musical training in all the popular band instruments from beginner to advanced. Why don’t you visit the “Instrument” tab to learn more about our drum, guitar, bass, piano/keyboard or vocal courses. We also offer a full digital recording studio operating on Cubase, Presonus, Rode and Alesis equipment, should you wish to lay some music tracks or follow your personal development at M&M.

Beau Soleil offers tuition on all the instruments of the orchestra, namely flute, oboe, clarinet, saxophone, bassoon, violin, viola, cello, double bass, trumpet, trombone, French horn, euphonium, tuba and percussion. An Open Evening is held once a year, during which most of the instruments are demonstrated and prospective pupils and parents have an opportunity to learn more about Beau Soleil. A number of these instruments are available for hire for a limited period.

SoundHouse is a music educational vision. Designed not only to educate microcosmically but to facilitate the teaching of musical concepts through music technology. A particular focus of this vision is on music experimentation, composition, learning and recording, digital media, such as picture stories, music videos and digital mash-ups.

In De Kuilen street Kuilsriver, the average passer-by may be pleasantly surprised by what is heard when passing number 15. This building houses a premier music school within the community: Cape Music Institute. The sounds of guitar, bass-guitar, drums, keyboards, saxophones, and voices fill the air, making it an educational, entertaining and fun atmosphere. The concept of Cape Music Institute was birthed during a meeting in 2005 between Camillo Lombard, Ezra Delport, and Gary Thomas and, is currently in its fourth year of existence. Each individual contributed his own vision and ideas of what the school should be and, the outcome was a combined vision of a higher education school of music, emphasized in three categories: performance, production and business. The “seed” for Cape Music Institute, however, had been “planted” in the three Founders independently.

With studios in Cape Town & Johannesburg and branches in Lagos and Dar Es Salaam, Sound & Motion Studios is a multi-purpose audio solution covering both POST PRODUCTION AND MUSIC PRODUCTION. With a team of highly skilled engineers, producers and composers in our stable, our facilities offer analogue warmth and character, guaranteed through beautiful mixing consoles and tape machines, that forms the soul of music productions, as well as the digital accuracy and recall requirements for film, tv and corporate productions.

Tunes is a rehearsal studio that acts in the interest of local music by providing affordable practice space, good quality reference rehearsal recordings, drum lessons and retailing in musical accessories including guitar strings, drumsticks and larger items that can be ordered from Paul Bothner. We recently added new items to our stock such as drum skins, cymbals, guitar and bass pedals. We also stock electric, acoustic and bass guitars.

Tunes is open for bookings seven days a week from 08h00 to 24h00. Bookings can be made by contacting Jean on 082 7704798 or by e-mail, tunesstudio@gmail.com

CCFM (Cape Community FM) is a 24-hour, non-profit, community radio station serving the people of Cape Town. We play a mix of contemporary Christian music, combined with compelling chat, views and interviews. Not to mention up-to-the-minute news, weather and traffic information. CCFM was the first community radio station and has been on the airwaves for over 18 years, starting as Radio Fish Hoek in 1993. We currently broadcast from our building in Muizenberg on 107.5 FM in the Greater Cape Town and on 96.7 FM in the Fish Hoek valley.

NueLight Productions is the brainchild and passion of Julita Kok. NueLight produces superb musical showcases bringing the very best of South African talent to the fore. Producer of showcases such as ‘Christmas with GOD TV’, Blue Rock Gospel Fest, BAHI Healing Concert and many others, NueLight is definitely making its mark on the international and local Christian Music Industry. Entrepreneur, producer, events coordinator and artist developer, Julita Kok, an accomplished vocalist herself, has made excellence a priority for NueLight, its artists and productions. Maintaining this high calibre by associating with the crème dela crème of the Christian Music Industry.

Established in 2006, The Nameless Pub has become a well known ‘watering hole”, function venue and leading live music venue in Somerset West. With big screen TV’s, DJ’s, live bands, indoor as well as outdoor venues, 2 stages, air conditioning and a fire place, we can host any party or function in any season or you can just come and enjoy.

Celebrating 16 years at the Baxter Concert Hall, the Festival will showcase a number of schools colleges and community big bands and special guest artists will be participating in the four day Festival.

The Mercury is a top class music venue in Cape Town, right up the road from the Cape Technikon and close to the city itself. Incorporating two venues playing a large mix of music, it is one of the best places in Cape Town to hear South African tunes.

This venue is actually two in one: the Live and the Lounge areas. With its own in-house sound and lighting system, the Mercury has built a superb reputation and a loyal clientele during its 10-year existence.

Located in the old historic area of District Six, also known as Zonnebloem, it hosts live music entertainment ranging in style from rock, hip-hop and pop to jazz, world music and electronica.

Mercury’s upstairs Live venue has a capacity of over 600, and has seen most of South Africa’s top acts perform on its stage. Foosball and pool tables provide a diversion in between performances. With regular specials and promotions on offer, it’s a firm favourite with live music aficionados.

The smaller, downstairs Lounge venue has capacity for approximately 150 people, and hosts DJ parties and student nights on certain evenings. Staying open till the wee hours, the lounge is also a favourite late-night dancing and chill-out spot for patrons from other clubbing venues nearby.

Owned by former band and road manager Kevin Winder, the Mercury has a solid reputation for providing the best quality sound in a convenient and well-equipped venue. This ethos extends to making sure that only the best bands, both established and up-and-coming, are invited to play, resulting in top quality music nights.

The venue has a relaxed and friendly vibe, with good security and, a rarity amongst live music venues, excellent service. Dedicated to supporting South African music, it’s one of the best live music venues in the country.

Aandklas is a Rock Bar created for people who love their music and socialising with friends in an awesome atmosphere. Aandklas is also a live music venue that hosts big South African bands and give up and coming bands the opportunity to reach bigger audiences. All and all it is just an awesome venue to come and have a couple of drinks and enjoy the Stellenbosch culture.

BULLETSCRIPT is a band with a clear message – open your eyes to the world around you, and question everything, taking nothing, and nobody, for granted.

The band consists of a full compliment of seasoned performers from the Cape Town metal scene. A band that enjoys pushing the envelope, placing great emphasis on solid song writing, stellar stage performance and a delivery so intense that your neck will be in a constant state of headbanging ecstasy.

Combining the skills of Ian Watson (Vocals), Jacques Hugo (Guitar), Oliver Saggerson (Guitar), JJ du Toit (Bass) and Kyle Curran (Drums), BULLETSCRIPT is ready to spread the word, take no prisoners and have a great time!

Follow the band on Facebook

A high energy electronicore band focused on bombastic theatrical performances, Set For The Sky have been making waves all across the local scene with electric live performances and a high quality sound. Consummate professionals, they have been gigging since 2013 and have continued to grow their name in the South African music market, with a highly acclaimed debut album, “The Machine”, released in 2015 and two video singles “Live Like You’re on Fire” and “The Secret Season”.

They have played numerous shows around the country including slots on many festivals and tours, they do not settle for mediocre, whether in their performance or their music, and will continue to provide an exceptional experience for their fans.

Follow the band on Facebook or check out their website

Follow Louise on Facebook or check out her website.

After discovering that he loved writing songs in high school and taking some guitar lessons, Jesse could sense that he was embarking on a journey to follow his dreams.

Jesse has had a career that many singer-songwriters would love. He has pursued his music with single-minded determination, and it has definitely paid off.

One of his first big miles stones on his journey was winning a national talent competition. After that there was no stopping Jesse! Not only did he get a mjor record deal, but Jesse went on to form the Jesse Jordan Band. The Jesse Jordan Band consisted of Alex Power on keys, Heindrich Schultz on guitar, JP Crouch on drums and Sheree Power on Rhythm guitar.

So far Jesse has managed to record four albums, but that’s just a start! He’s still in the prime of his career, and it would seem as though nothing is slowing him down.

Over the years he has played countless live shows; ranging from music festivals and parties to selling out venues. He has honed his skill as a performer and audiences always leave with a smile on their faces. Jesse is known to give 150% to every performance!

After years with the Jesse Jordan Band, Jesse has started a new solo journey. It’s just him, a guitar and his life experiences. He has spent the last two years writing new songs which explore the lessons he’s learned on his journey.

This new solo project is all about story-telling in the style of old-school singer-songwriters and bluesmen. It’s raw, personal and real. In his music, you will find a hint of Michael Buble meets Maroon5, but the sound is still unmistakably Jesse Jordan.

Faith Endorsement

In September 2017 Jesse Jordan was officially endorsed by Faith Guitars and Paul Bothner Music.

Faith guitars all have a rich and unique tone which perfectly matches the rawness of Jesse’s stories. It is a perfect partnership of tone and perfection.

To keep up with Jesse, go to his Facebook page or website and give him a like and a listen.

This hip, young virtuoso started playing piano at the age of four!! To his fans this would come as no surprise! Kyle is a well-schooled prodigy… He went on to study piano and voice as subjects, before leaving for Greece, as a youth, where he performed on the Olympia Countess, as it sailed around the globe!! He’s been musical director to many productions, at venues such as the Cape Town International Convention Center and Grand West Casino, amongst many others.

He’s also a producer, session musician, highly trained vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and has had lots of radio airplay. The Kyle Petersen Band features his university trained brother, session star, Darren Petersen, who’s also travelled and performed, much like Kyle.

Follow Kyle on Facebook or check out his website.

Reuben is a super drummer, with a history of achievements that read like the biography of a legend in the making! He studied at Beau Soleil’s Music Centre, completing his Trinity Grade 6 drum kit studies, with Distinction! He went on to study at the South African College of Music, at The University of Cape Town.

He performed with the Standard Bank National Schools’ Big Band, in 2007, and at Paul Bothner’s Drum Day, in 2010. He drummed for the North Sea Big Band, in 2010, and followed up by performing at the prestigious Cape Town International Jazz Festival, with Spha Mdlalose. Other notable work includes an appearance on Idols star Unathi’s album, entitled: ‘With Love’, and on Sowers of the Word’s debut album: ‘God of Wonders’. He has a background in Rock, Pop, Swing, Latin jazz, Bebop jazz, R ‘n’ B, Hip Hop and Gospel, in live performance, studio session work and educationally.

He currently performs with the Jimmy Nevis band, electro-pop quartet TheCity and SA ska band Trenton and Free Radicals.

Contact Details

To book Ruby Crowie as a session musician or simply for additional information, please email kim.muller@hotmail.com

If you like the tuneful use of light and shade like Led Zeppelin, Hendrix’s Band of Gypsies, Rage Against the Machine, Queens of the Stone Age, or any rock with that remarkable heaviness, grounded in performance and riffage, not sheer volume, you’ll love Taxi Violence.
If you’ve heard Zeppelin’s John Bonham’s beats and the multi-guitar, low-end, V8-revving tone of a guitarist whom wields an axe, not a tennis racket, you’ll need to watch Taxi Violence live. Ever felt like you’ll never get to hear those bands because ‘someone’ said there’s no market for it here? They lied! Join the throng! “Taxi Violence smashed onto the scene as a breath of fresh, raw exuberance without the need for any fancy ‘post’ this, or ‘neo’ that or cute little words like ‘alt’ or ‘indie’ necessary to define them. The result is that after seven years together, their sound is still a timeless ode to what they do best… rocking out!” – Dave Mac (Muse Magazine).
Follow the band on Facebook or check out their website.

This crew began in 2007 as an evolution of punk band HOAX. it’s now its own thing. Completely.They have been linked to a lot of things, they’ve worked with a lot of people, they’ve made a lot of friends. Words to describe their music and, experience and work ethic include “innovative” , “Earl Grey”, “guerrilla”, “disco Something”, “retro rock” and “melody” amongst others. That’s no joke.Along with a cult following that trend to turn their sentence into acronym and get the dance floor riled up, The Plastics set out to take over the world, or at least play some darn good gigs along the way.2008 saw the release of the bands first EP The Plastics followed closely by another one; Kiss The Plastics (2009). Both distributed among Cape Town’s indie elite and head bangers for free. for more information on the band click here.

 

Follow the band on Facebook or check out their website

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