how easy is it to damage the amp by doing something like unplugging/plugging the guitar while the amp is turned on?

This creates a loud noise, that does not sound healthy!

And what actually happens to the speaker. Does it get perforated?
I'm curious about this as well. It's a known fact that you're supposed to turn it off or at least turn the volume to 0 before plugging/unplugging, but is it really that harmful?
I doubt it will do any damage, unless you do it a LOT.
It just makes the speakers move, same as playing does, just makes many different frequencies all at once so it doesnt sound good.
Speakers are damaged most easily by overextending their excursion. This is the amount the cone travels from its resting position. Loud and percussive 'pops' cause more excursion than is generally intended for guitar speakers... So that can be damaging.
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Unless its electronic drums.

Buy a guitar cable with the switch that cuts the connection. That or just turn down or off.
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Buy a guitar cable with the switch that cuts the connection. That or just turn down or off.

Turning the volume down often doesnt seem to make a difference to the loud volume of that nasty sound made by unplugging/plugging in the guitar with the amp turned on.

I've started turning mine off though, as it really is a nasty sound!

Most of the time i cant even be bothered to use the amp, so just play my electric unplugged. Maybe when i start being able to make more fluent sounds, i will have a greater urge to add amplification

Last edited by madeinchina1 at Jun 4, 2010,
When I am experimenting with pedal order (lots of cable plugging/unplugging) I always turn the amp volume down and unplug the lead into the amp.

In the odd instance I plan on changing guitars, I use the tuner pedal to kill the signal before unplugging the guitar. Seems to mitigate the popping.
Doing it once or twice almost certainly wont cause any noticeable or serious damage, certainly not perforation. But as pointed out earlier, it's not good for the speaker at all and you should try to avoid doing it if you can.