Amplifiers for Beginners (Comments & Reviews)



Amplifiers for Beginner Guitarists

If you’ve purchased an electric guitar you will need an amplifier. What are the keys  that the beginner guitarist should consider when purchasing an amp?

First of all, you should have a budget in mind and stick to it.   Don’t be tempted to spend money for extra features that you may not use.   It’s best to keep it simple. As you gain some experience with sounds, you will know which effects you like. Effects are devices that modify the tone, pitch or sound of an electric guitar.  Most beginner guitarists usually choose between clean sound or distortion.  This is standard on even a basic amplifier.

It’s a good idea to take your newly purchased guitar with you when you go shopping for your amp. Different guitars won’t sound the same in each amplifier.  Try out several amps in your price range and choose the one that sounds good to you.  

What Size Amplifier Should I Buy?

There are several key specifications to consider when deciding what size your amp should be. The first is the power rating which is defined by the number of watts.  A very small amplifier might be 10 or 12 amps.  Low to medium range power would be around 15 to 20 watts, while a very powerful amp would probably be 100 watts.

For a beginner guitarist planning to just play at home, 10 or 12 watts is plenty. I have used a 15 watt amp for years at band practice.  In a small room it holds its own against the bass guitar and drums.  If you plan on playing with other people, then go with the 15 or 20 watt.  There are 20 watt amps out there that are not much more expensive than a small 10 watt amplifier.

The second key component to consider is the size of speakers in your amplifier.  For instance, a very small amp may have one 6.5″ size speaker.  In general, small speakers, such as this, will have a limited range of sound, usually on the high end.  An amplifier with a bit more power and a larger speaker (probably 10″) will produce a better sound.

An amplifier with these specifications, will have a relatively small cabinet measuring approximately 15″ x 15″ x 8″ deep, weighing around 11 to 16 lbs.  This is a piece of equipment that is very compact and portable.

Electronics (Tubes, solid state or digital)

Believe it or not, there are choices to make when considering the electronic circuitry in your amp.

The first choice is traditional tube technology.  The use of vacuum tubes to amplify a signal has been around for decades.  A lot of guitar players insist that the sound produced by tubes has more character than other options.  It’s great to have a unique sound emulating from your amp because a tube is starting to fail.  However, one day that tube will fail completely and there will be no sound at all. Tubes are very fragile so there may be consequences if you handle your amp carelessly.

If a small size amp powered by tubes is your choice, keep in mind that they are difficult to find and tend to be relatively expensive.

A second alternative is a solid state amplifier, which uses electronics based on transistors etc. to produce sound. In the past, these amps were considered to have a kind of stale sound, but today solid state amps sound very good.  They are more reliable than tube amps (no tubes to replace) and tend to be less costly.

A third choice is a modelling amp.  It uses digital technology to mimic the sounds of classic tube amplifiers, as well as guitar effects.  If you’re not sure about the sound that you would like to create, then this is an option you might consider.

How Much Should I Pay for my Amp?

The price you pay for your first amplifier depends on many key factors. Spend some time researching and find the amp that suits you.  If you can, go to a guitar store and try out the amplifier that you like, as well as any others that catch your eye. Some stores will rent amps so you can take one home and spend more time trying it out.

What does your budget allow?  You don’t want to go too cheap, but, conversely, you don’t need to buy a pricey, powerful model that will blow the roof off.

Consider the future.  Are you committed to sticking with guitar playing for a long time?  If so, will this amp meet your needs for the long haul?

Where you live may have an impact on your choices.  If there is only one music store in your town and they don’t have what you’re looking for, then shopping online is an option. Prices online are very competitive so it’s possible that you will have more choices that fit your budget.


I did some research, and, as expected, I found quite a few amplifiers that would be suitable for a beginner guitarist.  In my reviews, I look at examples of the types of amps I have described in my comments.   All of the amps are solid state as most small amplifiers will be.  Here is what I found.

Vox V9106 Pathfinder Review






Price:  $ 99.99

Cheapest place to buy:  Amazon Canada

Key Specs

Circuitry:  Solid State                                               

Power:  10 Watts

Speaker:  One –  Vox Bulldog 6.5″

Dimensions:  15.0″H x 11.0″W x 6.7″D    Weight:  11 lbs

Controls:  Gain, treble, bass, volume, clean/overdrive

My Rating:  4.5 out of 5            

With 10 watts of power the Vox V9106 Pathfinder is a good example of what is considered to be a small amp.  It has the classic Vox appearance that’s been around since the 1960’s.  The front of the black vinyl cabinet has a diamond grill cloth that makes for clean, iconic lines.

The Vox V9106 Pathfinder is a very basic amplifier having no fancy effects and minimum EQ (see controls).  I rented one of these amps from my local guitar store and used it to practice at home.

The clean/overdrive switch works pretty well to produce distortion. I found that I could adjust the gain down and get a pretty decent clean sound.   If I boosted the gain to the max I managed to create a great crunchy distortion.

The Vox V9106 Pathfinder is a good option for a beginner guitarist who is looking for a very straightforward amp and is not interested in a lot of effects.

Orange Crush Series 12 Review





Price:  $149.99

Cheapest place to buy:  Amazon Canada

Key Specs

Circuitry:  Solid State                                               

Power:  12 Watts

Speaker:  One –  6″

Dimensions:  12.0″H x 11.42″W x 6.9″D    Weight:  10.4 lbs

Controls:  Gain, overdrive, treble, mids, bass, volume

My Rating:  4.4 out of 5

The Orange Crush CR12 has the standard features one would expect to find on a beginner amp.  It is a bit more expensive than other basic style amplifiers, but it is very well built and puts out an excellent sound.  In spite of the small 6″ speaker, this amp can really belt out some crunch.  The control panel on the top of the cabinet is very easy to see and to use.

One feature of the Orange Crush CR12 that is very cool is that there are separate controls for gain and overdrive creating a wide range of tones.

As far as basic amplifiers go, the Orange Crush CR12 is a quality choice.

Line 6 Spider 15 Review





Price:  $169.00

Cheapest place to buy:   Amazon Canada

Key Specs

Circuitry:  Solid State                                               

Power:  15 Watts

Speaker:  One –  8″

Dimensions:  15.0″H x 11.0″W x 6.7″D    Weight:  11 lbs

Controls:  Gain, treble, mids, bass, volume 

My Rating:  4.3 out of 5

The Line 6 Spider 15 is a great modelling amplifier loaded with many signature sounds.  The 15 watts power rating promises lots of volume.  I tried this one out in the store and had a great time experimenting with all of the effects.  It is relatively inexpensive considering the features it has.

You can accentuate your sound using tape or sweep echo, reverb and tremolo. The Line 6 Spider 15 has 4 classic amplifier models to choose from.  The EQ controls (treble, mids, bass) will mimic those of the modeled amplifier.  There is also an option whereby you can create and store up to 4 of your own sound creations.

Another handy feature of the Line 6 Spider 15 is a built-in tuner. To access the tuner requires holding a button for a few seconds; its a bit awkward but a good tool to have.

I enjoyed testing out this amp.  The effects are very easy to use.   I believe that the Line 6 Spider 15 is a good example of what you can do with a modelling amplifier.

Fender Champion 20





Price:  $139.99

Cheapest place to buy:   Amazon Canada

Key Specs

Circuitry:  Solid State                                               

Power:  20 Watts

Speaker:  One –  8″

Dimensions:  12.75″H x 13.75″W x 7.5″D    Weight:  12 lbs

Controls:  Gain, treble, bass, volume

My Rating:  4.3 out of 5 

The Fender Champion 20 is another great modelling amplifier loaded with many signature sounds. The 20 watts power rating allows for playing loud enough to get noticed.  I tried this one out in the store and had a great time experimenting with all of the effects.  I also rented this amp and took it to band practice.  The Fender Champion 20 held its own amidst the drums and bass.

The Fender Champion 20 has several classic amplifier voices to choose from such as Blackface, British, Metal, and Jazz. The effects or FX on the Fender Champion 20 include chorus, delay/echo, flanger, phaser, reverb, tremolo and vibratone. This gives the guitar player a wide range of sound options to choose from.

The Fender Champion 20 amp is a very good option for a beginner guitarist.  The solid sound and versatility serve the player well either practising alone or with a band.

I hope that these reviews have been helpful for you to choose and buy an amplifier.  Please leave a comment or your own personal review of one of these amps.

Please leave comments below so that I know how I’m doing.  Also, please ask questions if there is something that I could explain better.


7 thoughts on “Amplifiers for Beginners (Comments & Reviews)

  1. great article. One great thing about the 15-20 watt amps is they are easy to carry around with you.

    I have heard good things about the line 6 amps and they do a lot of sound modelling. I haven’t had the opportunity to try one out yet.

    I have used some fender amps in the past and they were good solid amps.

    Which one is your Favorite?


    1. Hi Mitch

      Thanks for the comments

      I really liked the Line 6. It has so many great features.


  2. Hey, I am looking for a speaker for my bass guitar and I really like the small orange one (its super cute and I love the orange) but is it really a good choice for a bass? I know that it does good work for the guitar but what should I look for if I trying to get a speaker for my bass? I play in a jazz band so it is mostly walking bass, thank you for the informative post by the way!

    1. Hi Adriana

      The Orange amp I reviewed would not be good for a bass guitar. The speaker in that is not meant to handle the low frequencies produced by a bass. Check out this amp: Fender Rumble 15 – 15 watt bass amp. It is another good amp that sells for around $100 Cdn.

      Goods luck


  3. Hello there! I just recently bought an electric guitar online. I’m a beginner at electric guitar and I didn’t know that I needed an amplifier for it. I don’t have know anything about good amplifiers. But after I read your article I think I found the best amplifier for me. The Vox V906 Pathfinder got my interest and I’m sure that I’m sure that I’m going to buy it soon. Thank you for sharing this information.

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