If you buy an electric guitar, you’re going to need to purchase an amplifier so you can plug it in and turn it up loud (with your neighbors’ permission, of course)!

You don’t need anything fancy for your first amp; a small practice amp will do. Many companies, such as Fender, Epiphone, and Danelectro, have small practice amps available at very affordable prices, starting as low as $39.95.

There are a couple of amplifier types to consider. Tube amps use vacuum tubes (the same as in old radios) to generate their power, while solid-state amps rely on modern transistors. Tube amps tend to react to the nuances in your playing more (dynamics, etc.) and are favored by many professionals for their warm tone.

Tube amps also tend to be more expensive, heavier, and less reliable in some cases. Solid-state amplifiers are more reliable and less expensive. The tone of the solid-state does not match the warmth of tubes, although some models being made today are coming closer to the tube sound. Digital amplifiers are also available but have not reached the point where they are sold at budget prices.

You might have noticed that, like guitars, amplifiers vary widely in price. What are you getting for your dollar? In tube and solid-state amps, higher prices generally mean that more care was put into the construction of the components. With tube amps, higher prices may also mean hand-crafted point-to-point circuitry as opposed to ready-made circuitboards.

The components match each other more closely, creating better tone. In solid-state amps, pricier models usually include more features, such as added effects like reverb (which simulates acoustic space) and overdrive (a type of distortion).

For guitarists on an extremely tight budget (or those who just don’t feel like carrying a heavy amp home from the store), there are mini battery-powered amps.

While these amplifiers generally don’t have the best sound quality, they get the job done if you just want to hear yourself while practicing, and they’re great for traveling.

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