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Old 03-16-2013, 03:57 PM   #1
ferrad1
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Daughter needs a starter amp

My daughter has inherited an electric guitar and we need to buy a starter amp. I've no idea if she'll continue, but I need to give her a chance. She is an accomplished classical violinist and so knows her music. What would you recommend for a starter amp?
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Old 03-16-2013, 04:32 PM   #2
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1) She doesn't need a lot of power: I'd cap my search at 30w or less. And honestly, 5-20w is plenty.

2) Tube amps sound a bit better to most players, but solid state amps are eating better. I know some veteran players who have gone to SS amps and still sound quite good.

Tube amps still have the tonal edge, though, until you start getting into the higher end SS amps.

SS amps shine in being nearly impossible to kill due to rough treatment, and are generally the go-to foundation for effect modeling. Effect modeling is a surprisingly effective tool for promoting practice- if there is a guitar sound you are trying to emulate, modeling amps let you dial it in without spending thousands on pedals.

For tube amps, I'd look at small Fender, Vox, Peavey, Egnater or Carvin amps.

I don't know small SS amps too well, but I have heard some OK things about the Fender G-Dec amps.

3) That said, there is another path. When I started playing electric after years playing cello and acoustic guitar, I did NOT immediately buy an amp. I bought good headphones and a portable digital amp/effect modeling device called a Korg Px4. There are many of these things on the market. An (incomplete) overview:

Boss Micro-BR 4 track
http://www.guitarcenter.com/-i1169092.gc

Pocket POD
http://www.guitarcenter.com/Line-6-...875-i1173933.gc

Tascam GT-R1
http://www.guitarcenter.com/TASCAM-...306-i1401677.gc
http://www.guitarcenter.com/TASCAM-...473-i1402140.gc

Korg Pandora Mini
http://www.guitarcenter.com/Korg-Pa...754-i1746466.gc

Korg Px4
http://www.guitarcenter.com/Korg-Pa...554-i1124641.gc

Korg Px5
http://www.guitarcenter.com/Korg-Pa...715-i1387080.gc

Here is a visual comparison of (left to right) Tascam, my PX-5 and one of my Px4s to my old Aiwa cassette player:



With the exception of the Tascam, none of the devices I pointed out has decent acoustic recording capacity. What they DO have are features like tuners, metronomes, drum synthesizers, and digital amp & pedal modeling.

So with decent headphones, you can rock out like you were playing Texas Stadium. And yes, they are all about the size of an old Walkman.

The ones I own: the Tascam has the external mics, a phrase trainer (loop & slow down stuff for practicing), and takes SD cards. Both it and the PX5 can connect directly to your computer via a USB port. The PX4 is discontinued, but it can still be easily found. It is less powerful than the PX5, but, oddly, the PX5 does not have a belt/strap hook.

The ones I don't own: The Line6 PocketPOD is, I believe, the most popular device like this; the Boss might be the most powerful (and priciest); the Pandora Mini is the smallest (its about the size of a stack of business cards), cheapest, and least powerful.
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Last edited by dannyalcatraz : 03-16-2013 at 04:35 PM.
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Old 03-16-2013, 04:41 PM   #3
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Does your daughter know what genre of music she wants to play? I would suggest a modeling amp of some sort, Fender Vibro Champ or Super Champ XD perhaps. I would also look for a Vox Pathfinder 15R.
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Old 03-16-2013, 04:53 PM   #4
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If it was me, I would just go to a pawn shop and pick up a cheap 10watt SS combo. Theres always tons of them there.

Like you said, you have no idea if she will continue, so instead of paying $100 for a half deacent beginner amp, when she might never really get into it, you can spend like $30 on a cheap amp. Then if she likes it, go and buy a deacent little tube combo.

Thats just my .02
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Old 03-16-2013, 04:56 PM   #5
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I agree not much power needed but some lower powered amps come with ridiculous sized speakers. I'd keep to minimum 10 inch.
Modelling amps can give good value for the buck ranging between $100-200 new. Mustangs, G-DEC, Peavy, VOX, Line 6 all sell something that will give you distortion, reverb, chorus, phaser, etc. right out of the box.
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Old 03-16-2013, 05:32 PM   #6
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this is what i had and it worked great for me when i was first starting out
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Old 03-16-2013, 05:35 PM   #7
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I agree with dannyalcatraz, especially these days, a decent amp modeller will set you back less and give you a lot more bang for your buck.

Heck, you could get her a line6 UX1 interface and have her play through Podfarm on the computer, get some decent computer speakers for about 50$ and wham, you've spent 200$ and have given your daughter something that not only sounds great and won't be too loud, she can even start recording with it, if she ever wanted to.
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Old 03-16-2013, 05:55 PM   #8
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Thanks for all the replies, I'll take a look. In the meantime is this any good? Marshall Amplification MS2 - 2 Watt Electric Guitar Mini Amp
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Old 03-16-2013, 05:56 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CoreysMonster
I agree with dannyalcatraz, especially these days, a decent amp modeller will set you back less and give you a lot more bang for your buck.

Heck, you could get her a line6 UX1 interface and have her play through Podfarm on the computer, get some decent computer speakers for about 50$ and wham, you've spent 200$ and have given your daughter something that not only sounds great and won't be too loud, she can even start recording with it, if she ever wanted to.


i disagree slightly in that she may pick it up, soar with it and play for the rest of her life but theres also a chance that she will try it for two weeks, then give up and itll sit in her closet for the rest of her life. if you dont want to try the one i posted earlier here are a couple more options that are great amps

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/ampl...tone-master-amp

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/ampl...uitar-combo-amp

neither will blow the house down but will be loud enough to hear what shes doing
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Old 03-16-2013, 05:58 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ferrad1
Thanks for all the replies, I'll take a look. In the meantime is this any good? Marshall Amplification MS2 - 2 Watt Electric Guitar Mini Amp


yes its awesome, i have a buddy that has one.
he walks around with it on his belt all the time. i should have listed it before its way better than the two fenders i put down
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Old 03-16-2013, 06:06 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by red.guitar
If it was me, I would just go to a pawn shop and pick up a cheap 10watt SS combo. Theres always tons of them there.

Like you said, you have no idea if she will continue, so instead of paying $100 for a half deacent beginner amp, when she might never really get into it, you can spend like $30 on a cheap amp. Then if she likes it, go and buy a deacent little tube combo.

Thats just my .02

I have to disagree. Because many times beginners want some cool sounds. And if they just get crap sounds out of their amp, it might not motivate them to play.

I would suggest a cheap modeler like Microcube. It was my first amp and I think it sounded pretty good and had lots of useful features.

I remember when I couldn't play the guitar but our cousins had a guitar and I wanted to try it. The amp was some crappy 10 watt practice amp and even then I wasn't pleased with the tone. It could do some distortion but the sound wasn't that great. And the cleans were sterile. Of course I still played all day because it was the first time I had the opportunity to play electric guitar, even though the only song I knew was the intro of Smoke on the Water, lol. But I think I would have got bored with the sound pretty fast.

As a beginner it's cool to have many different sounds to play with. They motivate you to play. If you only get bad sounds, it makes you feel bad and you don't want to play the guitar.
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Old 03-16-2013, 06:18 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MaggaraMarine
I have to disagree. Because many times beginners want some cool sounds. And if they just get crap sounds out of their amp, it might not motivate them to play.

I would suggest a cheap modeler like Microcube. It was my first amp and I think it sounded pretty good and had lots of useful features.

I remember when I couldn't play the guitar but our cousins had a guitar and I wanted to try it. The amp was some crappy 10 watt practice amp and even then I wasn't pleased with the tone. It could do some distortion but the sound wasn't that great. And the cleans were sterile. Of course I still played all day because it was the first time I had the opportunity to play electric guitar, even though the only song I knew was the intro of Smoke on the Water, lol. But I think I would have got bored with the sound pretty fast.

As a beginner it's cool to have many different sounds to play with. They motivate you to play. If you only get bad sounds, it makes you feel bad and you don't want to play the guitar.


I can sort of see what your saying, but at the same time, most kids don't even develope their ears to pick up on key parts of the guitars tones until the have play for 1-2 years, sometimes even more.

I was taught in college KISS - Keep It Stupid Simple...
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Old 03-16-2013, 07:44 PM   #13
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The key is that this young lady is already proficient in another instrument- she will be more attuned to tone than most beginners. Thus, shelling out a little more $$$ for a better quality amp makes more sense.
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Old 03-16-2013, 07:52 PM   #14
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^ +1 I'd keep it simple, as in plug and play.
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Old 03-16-2013, 07:57 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MaggaraMarine
I have to disagree. Because many times beginners want some cool sounds. And if they just get crap sounds out of their amp, it might not motivate them to play.

I would suggest a cheap modeler like Microcube. It was my first amp and I think it sounded pretty good and had lots of useful features.

I remember when I couldn't play the guitar but our cousins had a guitar and I wanted to try it. The amp was some crappy 10 watt practice amp and even then I wasn't pleased with the tone. It could do some distortion but the sound wasn't that great. And the cleans were sterile. Of course I still played all day because it was the first time I had the opportunity to play electric guitar, even though the only song I knew was the intro of Smoke on the Water, lol. But I think I would have got bored with the sound pretty fast.

As a beginner it's cool to have many different sounds to play with. They motivate you to play. If you only get bad sounds, it makes you feel bad and you don't want to play the guitar.


Dude I play out of a zoom modeling amp is picked up used when I was 15, if I had gotten that when I was 8 it would have just confused the piss out of me lol
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Old 03-16-2013, 07:59 PM   #16
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I highly recommend the Peavey Classic 30. Great tube amp that you can usually find used for around $300. Can't beat it for the price. Very easy to use as well.

Peavey Classic 30 Reviews
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Old 03-17-2013, 03:13 AM   #17
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wow, I'm a little confused... she is 14 and has studied music in New York and now London, so she knows her stuff musically + plays superb violin. I went to amazon.co.uk and searched for guitar amp and this came up first with good recommendations "Marshall Amplification MS2 - 2 Watt Electric Guitar Mini Amp". As sometimes she has to keep the noise down, she needs to able to plug in headphones but it should play a good sound without the headphones too. It's £22 so pretty cheap and seems to fit the bill. If I'm missing something fundamental that is not offered with this amp (that is with others), please let me know- I don't want to buy something that does 1/2 the job.
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Old 03-17-2013, 03:19 AM   #18
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What you're missing is that, for all intents and purposes, that amp is a toy. It's too small to hold a speaker and too cheap to house electronics that could deliver a decent tone that would be pleasing to your ears...or the trained ears of your daughter.

And it is the amp that provides the biggest component of delivering a quality sound.

The adage on most guitar boards is that a cheap guitar through a good amp will probably sound better than a good guitar through a cheap amp.
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Old 03-17-2013, 03:35 AM   #19
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Old 03-17-2013, 03:36 AM   #20
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If you can find an old solid state Fender amp with red knobs, those are great beginners amps.

Otherwise, Roland Cube is a good option.

And to address the "cool sounds" argument:

The only amp I played for 7 years was a Marshall MG100. Didn't even try other ones out. I was perfectly happy/didn't realize how much it sucked until I played really good amps in my high school years.

Don't get your daughter hooked on good shit until she's committed to the instrument.

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