How to Choose Your Ideal Guitar Modeling Amp
When purchasing an amp, however, there are a lot of factors that go into it. Here are some questions you need to answer to get the right one.
By Mike Duffy
If you are an electric guitar player, you need an amplifier.
Why? Because your instrument’s signal is too weak to project what you’re playing enough for people to hear. That’s where an amp comes in. An amplifier boosts that electronic signal and drives it to the speakers, which creates a more robust sound that can reach others’ ears.
When purchasing an amp, however, there are a lot of factors that go into it. One of the first decisions you have to make is whether you want a tube, solid-state or modeling amp.
The basic difference between solid-state and tubes is that solid-state amps boost the incoming signal without using vacuum tubes. Instead, circuits with semi-conductors enhance the electrical current of your guitar.
Modeling amps go one step further, adding in digital processors to faithfully recreate the sounds of a variety of different amplifiers and effects that players have grown to love.
As such, let’s take it to that next level and dive into what you need to know to get your ideal modeling amp.
Where Do You Want to Play?
The good thing about modeling amps is that they can serve as a practice amp, studio amp and live amp, as the onboard digital effects and amp models make them useful for any setting. They are also lighter because they’re don’t have the heavy transformers, tubes and heavier speakers needed to power tube amplifiers, which makes them extra portable.
And modeling amps come in all different sizes, so you can choose one with lower wattage for bedroom jamming or one with a larger speaker and higher wattage for more oomph on stage. Speaking of wattage …
What’s Up with Watts?
The power of an amp is measured in wattage, otherwise known as the amount of electrical output driving the speakers. A guitar amp that ranges up to 30 watts is considered small, 30-60 watts could be considered midsized and more than 60 watts is considered large.
Generally speaking, more watts equals more volume, which means that larger guitar amps are better suited for playing larger venues and will allow you to be heard over other musicians, while smaller amps are great for practicing. The great thing about digital amps is that because they’re modeling the amplifiers, the tones you want to get on tube amps the modeling helps get that great tone at any volume. It’ll sound good at lower volumes.
Unbox the Effects and Models
Modeling amps have a plethora of effects built in to the unit like reverb, distortion, chorus, delay, etc. But it’s more than just having the effects in the amp, as you can experiment by placing the effects at various places in your virtual signal chain and save them in a preset for easy access.
Additionally, the processors in modeling amps will emulate the sound of tube technology, so you have numerous amps to play with in a single box, from classic Fender models like the Twin Reverb or Princeton to high-gain contemporary amps.
Which One’s for You?
There are a lot of benefits to purchasing a modeling amp for your guitar, and Fender has several of note that can fit your needs.
The Mustang LT25 is a great beginner amp that is ideal for practice or the office with 25 watts of power and a collection of super-simple user interface and a collection of 30 presets covering a wide range of music – a “greatest hits” of electric guitar tones – built into a super-simple user interface.
The Champion 50XL is a 50-watt amp with a wide selection of amp models and effects, including four “stompbox” effects (Compressor, Overdrive, Distortion and Octaver) and 12 amp tones that range from pristine clean to full-on metal distortion. It’s great for rehearsals and jamming with your friends. And for players used to traditional amps, the Champion 50XL is a familiar tool, as the interface is based on a traditional amp.
And the Mustang GT Series comes in 40-watt, 100-watt and 200-watt editions that boast Fender’s most robust grouping of effects and amp models, allowing you to modify just about every parameter of your tone. From home to studio to stage, the GT Series offers something for everybody.
The best part, however, is finding out what amp is right for you by playing it! Shop all Fender amplifiers here and click here to learn more about Fender’s modeling amps.