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My first amp, what to look for....

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(@kachman)
Estimable Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 155
Topic starter  

Sorry if this is redundant.... I'm looking to buy my first amp this week, and I'm not really sure what I should be looking for, so I thought I'd ask around here before talking to a salesperson.

I have a Takamine acoustic guitar with a pre-amp. I don't know if I should be looking at acoustic amps only, not sure what the differences are with combo amps, guitar heads, guitar cabinets. I just need something small for now to practice with but I'm also hoping to play with a band at small coffe house type venues in a month or two so I'd like something that I can als use for this for a while and maybe upgrade in a year or two. Something in the 10 to 20 Watt range would probably be ok. And I'm not looking to spend too much first time out either..... something around $100 maybe.

I need suggestions on what models to get and also a little schooling on the technicalites and what options will work best with my guitar. Thx....

http://www.myspace.com/kachman


   
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(@slejhamer)
Famed Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 3221
 

I think you'll have difficulty finding a decent acoustic amp at that price point, especially if you need one that gets loud enough to fill a moderate sized room.

My budget was $250, and I ended up with the Fender Acoustasonic 30 watter, which is not terribly loud either, but it's enough for my needs.

I had previously played the guitar through one of the clean channels of a Vox AD30, and the Fender has a much more pleasant sound in my opinion. Generally speaking, acoustic amps are very neutral, so the guitar's natural tone comes through without additional color from the amp. Also they'll stay clean even at higher volumes.

The best thing to do is take your guitar to the guitar store and sample as many amps as possible. Going a little bit over your budget, see if you can find an Ibanez Troubadour (20 watts.) I think they are around $150 or so. That might suit your immediate needs, but I would also recommend taking a look at some of the models that you might upgrade to a year from now. You may find that you are better off saving up a few more $s and getting the "upgrade" first. :wink:

"Everybody got to elevate from the norm."


   
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(@kachman)
Estimable Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 155
Topic starter  

Thanks for the tips. I think I just want to get some knowledge of what I should be looking out for before I head off to the store. I was looking online and found these for under $100.

http://www.music123.com/Drive-EA-15V-Acoustic-Guitar-Combo-Amplifier-i142126.music

http://www.music123.com/Washburn-WA20-i83467.music

http://www.music123.com/Drive-EA-30R-Acoustic-Guitar-Combo-Amplifier-i142127.music

Any comments, experience with these little ones?

Also, is there an advantage in getting a combo amp instead of an acoustic amp?

I know I'll save in the long run if I get something better now so I don't need to upgrade for a long time, just that I really need to get something soon before I start practicing with the band and this didn't come at the best financial time. I may be able to go a little over budget if I really have to. I hear the drummer is pretty loud but he's got enough control that i won't need anything too big to be heard, but i guess that's all relative.

http://www.myspace.com/kachman


   
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(@shibby)
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Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 145
 

One thing I have learned about amps is not to be cheap about it. If there is one thing to spend money on that would be an amp. It has been said many many times, a good amp can make a crappy guitar sound good but a bad amp will make a good guitar sound crappy.


   
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(@slejhamer)
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Joined: 20 years ago
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The amps you are looking at are combo amps. A combo is simply the preamp and output speaker in one package, as compared to a separate head (preamp) and speaker cabinet.

Not sure, but I think you'd have a hard time hearing those smaller amps over a "loud" drummer. The bigger Drive 30W might be sufficient, but you won't know until you've heard it. If it's at all possible, you really should take your guitar to your local shop and play it through a few different amps of various sizes and wattages.

"Everybody got to elevate from the norm."


   
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(@primeta)
Prominent Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 836
 

A combo amp is simply an amp that has a the electronics and the speaker together in one unit as opposed to selling a 'head' and a speaker cabinet separately.
Shibby's right about amps, but if you're stuck... I couldn't vouch for any of the ones on your list, but would guess the Washburn or the cheaper Drive would do in a pinch.

"Things may get a whole lot worse/ Before suddenly falling apart"
Steely Dan
"Look at me coyote, don't let a little road dust put you off" Knopfler


   
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(@kachman)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 155
Topic starter  

Thanks guys, I'm off to guitar center to try out some amps. One last question (probably won't see an answer until i'm back), since i have a preamp on my guitar, do i not need a combo amp? if i wanted to get a unit without the pre-amp which part would that be? guess i can ask when i get there, but oh well, can't hurt. thx again....

http://www.myspace.com/kachman


   
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(@slejhamer)
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The guitar's "preamp" won't power a speaker by itself.

So what did you get?

"Everybody got to elevate from the norm."


   
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(@kachman)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 155
Topic starter  

err, didn't get anything right now, but I got to try a few and on second thoughts, i decided not to be to cheap. i'm either going to wait a bit or arrange an installmental plan.

I tried a 15W and 30W crate amps (it think model# was CA30), sounded pretty loud in their room but i'm not sure it'll do well over loud drums. Plus there was all this buzzing and feedback so i had to keep messing with the notch filter - i don't want to have to deal with that on stage.

I also tried a Behringer ULTRACOUSTIC which sounded great once you turned off the overdrive, but i was clueless with all the effects switches. I was almost sold on this one when i saw a $199 tag on a used one but then i thought "used electronics? nah!". But it's still an option, i'm sure i can figure out the EFX with some use, and they may be useful later.

The best one i tried was the Fender Acoustasonic 30. It was easy to use and had a good clean sound, and good volume too. Only problem is that it was furthest from my budget with a $350 price tag. The fact that it's the only one i really liked (well, i didn't touch the $500+ ones) has got me re-assessing my budget and timing so i'll have to work out the dilemma the next couple o days...

http://www.myspace.com/kachman


   
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(@ignar-hillstrom)
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Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 5349
 

Don't be afraid to buy used. As a matter of fact, try to look around for a used one when you find out what you want, Behringer or something else.


   
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(@slejhamer)
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Joined: 20 years ago
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The best one i tried was the Fender Acoustasonic 30.

Great minds think alike! I thought it was the most natural sounding as well, and the bigger Acoustasonic Jr. was even better (but another hundred bucks.)

I was able to negotiate a deep discount on the 30 at my local GC; it was nearing 5pm on July 4th and they really wanted to move gear, plus they had a bunch in inventory so were willing to deal. Keep at 'em! Or try to find a used one on ebay. The older 30s don't have the effects but good deals can be found.

I also thought the effects on the Behringer were overwhelming and somewhat "digital" sounding. However, the chorus+reverb option on the Fender is quite good when used in moderation.

"Everybody got to elevate from the norm."


   
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(@wes-inman)
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Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 5582
 

I wouldn't be too afraid of a used amp either. Just check it out carefully by turning all the knobs and listening for scratchiness. Also check the jacks by plugging a cable in and giving just a little wiggle. Again, listen for scratchy noises. Play through it and listen to the speaker to make sure it isn't blown. That would be very unlikely with an acoustic amp.

If everything checks out it is most likely a good amp that will last you for many years. I have bought quite a few used amps with good success.

But always check your warranty and return policy just in case. And save your receipts and even packaging. I know you know that already! :D

Also, I wouldn't worry about that Behringer seeming so complicated. You will own the amp for years and figure it out in time. Then it will not seem complicated at all. That amp has a lot of features.

But if you really love the tone of the Fender, then go for that. Great tone is the most important thing to look for in any amp.

Most of these amps have a Line Out or DI Out so you can run them straight into a PA if they do not have enough volume on their own to play with a band.

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis


   
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(@kachman)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 155
Topic starter  

Yes Mitch, the Acoustasonic did sound most natural. Looks like quite a few folks have had good experiences buying used so I'm open to that again. I see an Acoustasonic 30 on ebay for $175, but its still got five days to go... my hopes are up though........ thx!

http://www.myspace.com/kachman


   
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