In the 40 years that I have been teaching all styles of guitar to every type of student, there have been a few questions that come up over and over which seem to be the cause of great concern and anxiety.
The Best Guitar Strings In San Diego
High on the list is “Am I too old to learn guitar in San Marcos ?I have been anxiously asked this question by a 28 year old student, a 38 year old, a 46 year old, and let’s see…off the top of my head, I can remember students at age 52, 65, 77, and finally, good old Frank who was 84! I have had plenty of experience with this question, and more importantly, with the answer
.I am going to tell you the answer right up front to set your mind at ease, just in case you are one of those guitar students desperately attempting to remain hopeful about your chances of success. Yes, anyone can learn to play the guitar at any age, period and any place in San Diego
Jump to navigation Jump to search Mesa-Boogie "Mark IV", a guitar combo amplifier A guitar amplifier (or amp) is an electronic device or system that strengthens the weak electrical signal from a pickup on an electric guitar, bass guitar, or acoustic guitar so that it can produce sound through one or more loudspeakers, which are typically housed in a wooden cabinet. A guitar amplifier may be a standalone wood or metal cabinet that contains only the power amplifier (and preamplifier) circuits, requiring the use of a separate speaker cabinet–or it may be a "combo" amplifier, which contains both the amplifier and one or more speakers in a wooden cabinet. There is a wide range of sizes and power ratings for guitar amplifiers, from small, lightweight "practice amplifiers" with a single 6" speaker and a 10 watt amp to heavy combo amps with four 10” or four 12" speakers and a powerful 100 watt amplifier, which are loud enough to use in a nightclub or bar performance. Guitar amplifiers can also modify the instrument's tone by emphasizing or de-emphasizing certain frequencies, using equalizer controls, which function the same way as the bass and treble knobs on a home hi-fi stereo, and by adding electronic effects; distortion (also called "overdrive") and reverb are commonly available as built-in features. The input of modern guitar amplifiers is a 1/4" jack, which is fed a signal from an electro-magnetic pickup (from an electric guitar) or a piezoelectric pickup (usually from an acoustic guitar) using a patch cord, or a wireless transmitter. For electric guitar players, their choice of guitar amp and the settings they use on the amplifier are a key part of their signature tone or sound. Some guitar players are longtime users of a specific amp brand or model. Guitarists may also use external effects pedals to alter the sound of their tone before the signal reaches the amplifier. A 1940s-era Valvo combo amp. Fender Deluxe 1953 In the 1920s, it was very hard for a musician playing a pickup-equipped guitar to find an amplifier and speaker to make their instrument louder as the only speakers that could be bought were "radio horns of limited frequency range and low acoustic output". The cone speaker, widely used in 2000s-era amp cabinets, was not offered for sale until 1925. The first amplifiers and speakers could only be powered with large batteries, which made them heavy and hard to carry around. When engineers developed the first AC mains-powered amplifiers, they were soon used to make musical instruments louder. Engineers invented the first loud, powerful amplifier and speaker systems for public address systems and movie theaters. These large PA systems and movie theatre sound systems were very large and very expensive, and so they could not be used by most touring musicians. After 1927, smaller, portable AC mains-powered PA systems that could be plugged into a regular wall socket "quickly became popular with musicians"; indeed, "...Leon McAuliffe (with Bob Wills) still used a carbon mic and a portable PA as late as 1935." During the late 1920s to mid-1930s, small portable PA systems and guitar combo amplifiers were fairly similar. These early amps had a "single volume control and one or two input jacks, field coil speakers" and thin wooden cabinets; remarkably, these early amps did not have tone controls or even an on-off switch. In 1928, the Stromberg-Voisinet firm was the first company to sell an electric stringed instrument and amplifier package. However, musicians found that the amps had an "unsatisfactory tone and volume, [and] dependability problems", so the product did not sell well. Even though the Stromberg-Voisinet amp did not sell well, it still launched a new idea: a portable electric instrument amp with a speaker, all in an easily transported wooden cabinet. In 1929, Vega electrics launched a portable banjo amplifier. In 1932, Electro String Instruments and amplifier (this is not the same company as Stromberg Electro Instruments) introduced a guitar amp with "high output" and a "string driven magnetic pickup". Electro set out the standard template for combo amps: a wooden cabinet with the electronic amplifier mounted inside, and a convenient carrying handle to facilitate transporting the cabinet. In 1933, Vivi-Tone amp set-ups were used for live performances and radio shows. In 1934, Rickenbacker launched a similar combo amp that added metal corner protectors to keep the corners in good condition during transportation. In 1933, Dobro released an electric guitar and amp package. The combo amp had "two 8″ Lansing speakers and a five-tube chassis. Dobro made a two speaker combo amp that was on the market over 12 years before Fender launched its two-speaker "Dual Professional/Super" combo amp. In 1933, Audio-Vox was founded by Paul Tutmarc, the inventor of the first electric bass (Tutmarc's instrument did not achieve market success until Leo Fender's launched the Precision Bass). In 1933, Vega sold a pickup and amplifier set for musicians to use with existing guitars. In that same year, the Los Angeles-based Volu-Tone company also sold a pickup/amplifier set. Volu-Tone used "high voltage current" to sense the string vibration, a potentially dangerous approach that did not become popular. In 1934 Dobro released a guitar amp with a vacuum tube rectifier and two power tubes. By 1935, Dobro and National began selling combo amps for Hawaiian guitar. In 1934, Gibson had developed prototype combo amps, but never them. By 1935, Electro/Rickenbacher had sold more amps and electric guitars than all the amps and electrified or electric guitars that had been made from 1928 through the end of 1934. The first electric instrument amplifiers were not intended for electric guitars, but were portable PA systems. These appeared in the early 1930s when the introduction of electrolytic capacitors and rectifier tubes enabled economical built-in power supplies that could plug into wall sockets. Previously, amplifiers required heavy multiple battery packs. People used these amplifiers to amplify acoustic guitar, but electronic amplification of guitar first became widely poplular in the 1930s and 1940s craze for Hawaiian music, which extensively used amplified lap steel guitars. In the 1920s, the earliest combo amplifiers had no tone controls. The first tone controls were simple, mainly providing treble adjustment. The limited controls, the early loudspeakers, and the low amplifier power (typically 15 watts or less prior to the mid-1950s) gave poor high treble and bass output. Some models also provided effects such as an electronic tremolo unit. In confusion over nomenclature, Fender labeled early amplifier tremolo as "vibrato" and called the vibrato arm of the Stratocaster guitar a "tremolo bar" (see vibrato unit, electric guitar, and tremolo). Some later amplifier models included an onboard spring reverb effect, one of the first being the Ampeg Reverberocket amp. Gibson Lancer GA-35 (mid-1960s) guitar amplifier In the 1950s, several guitarists experimented with producing distortion by deliberately overdriving amplifiers. These included Goree Carter, Joe Hill Louis, Elmore James, Ike Turner, Willie Johnson, Pat Hare, Guitar Slim, Chuck Berry, Johnny Burnette, and Link Wray. In the early 1960s, surf rock guitarist Dick Dale worked closely with Fender to produce custom made amplifiers, including the first 100-watt guitar amplifier. He pushed the limits of electric amplification technology, helping to develop new equipment that was capable of producing "thick, clearly defined tones" at "previously undreamed-of volumes." U2 guitarist The Edge's 1964 Vox AC30 combo amp. Distortion became more popular from the mid-1960s, when The Kinks guitarist Dave Davies produced distortion effects by connecting the already distorted output of one amplifier into the input of another. Later, most guitar amps were provided with preamplifier distortion controls, and "fuzz boxes" and other effects units were engineered to safely and reliably produce these sounds. In the 2000s, overdrive and distortion has become an integral part of many styles of electric guitar playing, ranging from blues rock to heavy metal and hardcore punk. Guitar combo amplifiers were at first used with bass guitars and electric pianos, but these instruments produce a wider frequency range and need a full-range speaker system. Much more amplifier power is required to reproduce low-frequency sound, especially at high volume. Reproducing low frequencies also requires a suitable woofer or subwoofer speaker and enclosure, with bass cabinets often being larger in size than a cabinet for mid-range or high-range sounds. As well, the open-back cabinets used on many electric guitar amps, while effective for electric guitar, do not have good bass reproduction. Woofer enclosures must be larger and more sturdily built than cabinets for mid-range or high-frequency (tweeter) speakers. As such, in the 1950s, when Ampeg introduced bass amplifier and speaker systems, bass guitarists began to use them. Similarly, Hammond organ players used a specialized keyboard combo amplifier, the Leslie speaker cabinet, which contains a woofer for the low frequencies and a horn for the high frequencies. The Leslie horns rotate and a baffle around the woofer rotates as well, producing a rich tremolo and chorus effect. A Fender Bassman amp head with a 15" speaker cabinet. Typically, guitar amplifiers have two amplifying circuit stages and in addition frequently have tone-shaping electric circuits, which usually include at least bass and treble controls, which function similarly to the equivalent controls on a home hi-fi system. More expensive amplifiers typically have more controls for other frequency ranges, such as one or two "midrange" controls and a "presence" control for high frequencies. Some guitar amplifiers have a graphic equalizer, which uses vertical faders to control multiple frequency bands. Some more expensive bass amps have a parametric equalizer, which enables precise control of tone. The first amplifier stage is a preamplifier. It amplifies the audio signal to a level that can drive the power stage. The preamplifier also changes the tone of the signal; high preamp settings add overdrive. The power amplifier produces a high current signal to drive a loudspeaker and produce sound. Various types of tone stages may affect the guitar signal: Tone stages may also provide electronic effects—such as equalization, compression, distortion, chorus, or reverb. Amplifiers may use vacuum tubes (called valves in Britain), solid-state (transistor) devices, or both. The two common guitar amplifier configurations are: a combination ("combo") amplifier that includes an amplifier and one or more speakers in a single cabinet, and a standalone amplifier (often called a "head" or "amp head"), which passes the amplified signal via a speaker cable to one or more external speaker cabinets. A wide range of speaker configurations are available in guitar cabinets—from cabinets with a single speaker (e.g., 1×10" or 1×12") or multiple speakers (e.g., 2×10", 4×10" or 8x10"). Guitar amplifiers vary widely in price and quality. Many music equipment companies import small, low-powered practice amplifiers for students and beginners that sell for less than $50 USD. Other companies produce expensive custom-made amplifiers for professional musicians, which can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars (USD). Most combo amplifiers have a carrying handle, and many combo amplifiers and cabinets have metal or plastic-reinforced corners to protect the amp during transportation. Control knobs and buttons are typically on the front of the cabinet or chassis, though in some cases, the knobs are on a recessed panel at the back of the top of the amplifier. The most basic amps only have a few knobs, which typically control volume, bass and treble. More expensive amps may have a number of knobs that control pre-amp volume (or "gain"), distortion or overdrive, volume, bass, mid and treble, and reverb. Some older amps (and their re-issued versions) have a knob that controls a vibrato or tremolo effect. The 1/4" input jack is typically mounted on the front of the amplifier. In the simplest, least expensive amplifiers, this 1/4" jack is the only jack on the amplifier. More expensive amplifiers may have a patch bay for multiple inputs and outputs, such as a pre-amp out (for sending to another guitar amplifier), a second low gain input, to use with active basses, an in jack to create an effects loop (when used with the pre-amp out jack), an external speaker output (for powering an additional speaker cabinet), and stereo RCA jacks or an 1/8" jack, for connecting a CD player or MP3 player so that a player can practice along with recorded music. Some amps have a 1/4" jack for connecting a pedal to turn the amp's onboard overdrive and reverb on and off or to switch between channels. Some amps have an XLR jack for a microphone, either for the guitar amp to be used for singing (in effect as a mini-PA system, or, for acoustic guitar, to mix a mic signal with a pickup signal. The vast majority of guitar amps can only be powered by AC mains power (plugging into a wall outlet); however, a small number of practice amps designed for buskers also have battery power so they can be used for street performances. Kustom 200 bass amp – amp head and speakers, 100 watts RMS, two channels, two 15" speakers, 1971 A combo amp contains the amplifier and one or more speakers in a single cabinet. In a "head and speaker cabinet" configuration, the amplifier and speaker each have their own cabinet. The amplifier (head) may drive one or more speaker cabinets. In the 1920s, guitarists played through public address amplifiers, but by the 1940s, this was uncommon. A rare exception in the 1990s was grunge guitarist Kurt Cobain, who used four 800 watt PA amplifiers in his early guitar set-up. Besides instrument inputs and speaker outputs (typically via 1/4" jacks), an amp may have other inputs and outputs. These can include an auxiliary input jack (sometimes with its own level control, for a drum machine), "send" and "return" jacks to create an effects loop, a “line out” jack and an extension speaker jack. Practice amps sometimes have a 1/4" headphone jack, or stereo RCA or mini jacks for connecting a CD player, portable media player or other sound source. Some guitar amps have an XLR input so that a microphone can be plugged in for singing. Guitar amps that include a mic input are in effect small, portable PA systems. Some amps, typically bass amps, have an XLR connector to provide a balanced output from the preamp section to go into a PA system or recording input. Instrument amplifiers are available in a wide range of price, quality, and performance levels. Some are designed for beginners, such as small, low-wattage practice amps, which typically have a single 8" speaker and about 10 watts, or smaller "combo" amps with relatively low wattage (15 to 20 watts) and a single 10" speaker. Mid- to large-size "combo" amps with 30 to 50 watts and one 12" speaker or four 10" speakers are best for high-volume situations, such as band rehearsals and onstage performances. For large venues, such as outdoor music festivals, guitarists may use one or more 100 watt (or several hundred watt) heads with one or more 8x10” cabinets. Some guitar amps are strongly associated with specific instruments or genres, such as the Marshall amps, which are widely used in heavy metal music. Gjika Gold Amp ("Shawn Lane Amp) 1989 - Class A single-ended high-power 8-EL34 tube guitar amplifier that was used on Shawn Lane's Powers of Ten. Main article: Valve amplifier The glow from four "Electro Harmonix KT88" brand power tubes lights up the inside of a Traynor YBA-200 bass guitar amplifier Vacuum tubes (called "valves" in British English) were by far the dominant active electronic components in most instrument amplifier applications until the 1970s, when solid-state semiconductors (transistors) started taking over. Transistor amplifiers are less expensive to build and maintain, reduce the weight and heat of an amplifier, and tend to be more reliable and more shock-resistant. Tubes are fragile and they must be replaced and maintained periodically. As well, serious problems with the tubes can render an amplifier inoperable until the issue is resolved. In the 2000s, high-end tube instrument amplifiers (along with a small number of hi-fi power amplifiers used by audiophiles and high-end studio microphone preamplifiers) survive as the few exceptions, because of their perceived sound quality. Tube enthusiasts believe that tube amps produce a "warmer" sound and a more natural "overdrive" sound. Typically, tube amps use one or more dual triodes in the preamplifier section to provide sufficient voltage gain to offset tone control losses and drive the power amplifier section. While tube technology is, in many ways, outdated, tube amps remain popular since many guitarists prefer their sound. Rear view of a tube (valve) combo guitar amplifier. Visible are two glass output tubes, six smaller preamp tubes in their metal tube retainers, and both the power transformer and the output transformer. Since the 1980s, most inexpensive and mid-priced guitar amplifiers are based on transistor or semiconductor (solid-state) circuits. Some designs incorporate tubes in the preamp stage for their subjectively warmer overdrive sound—see "Hybrid amplifiers", below. Solid-state amplifiers are much cheaper to produce and more reliable, and they are usually much lighter than tube amplifiers. Solid state amps are less fragile than tube amps. High-end solid-state amplifiers are less common, since many professional guitarists tend to favor vacuum tubes. Some jazz guitarists, however, tend to favor the "cleaner" sound of solid-state amplifiers; only a few solid-state amps have enduring attraction, such as the Roland Jazz Chorus. Solid-state amplifiers vary in output power, functionality, size, price, and sound quality in a wide range, from practice amplifiers to combos suitable for gigging to professional models intended for session musicians who do studio recording work. A hybrid amplifier involves one of two combinations of tube and solid-state amplification. It may have a tube power amp fed by a solid-state pre-amp circuit, as in most of the original MusicMan Amps, later amplifier models from Alamo Electronics, the Fender Super Champ XD, and the Roland Bolt amplifier. Randall Amplifiers V2 and T2 use hybrid amp technology. Alternatively, a tube pre-amp can feed a solid-state output stage, as in models from Kustom, Hartke, SWR and Vox. This approach dispenses with the need for an output transformer and easily achieves modern power levels. A modeling amplifier, shown from above. Note the various amplifier and speaker emulations selectable via the rotary knob on the left. Microprocessor technology allows the use of digital onboard effects in guitar amps to create numerous different sounds and tones that simulate the sound of a range of tube amplifiers and different sized speaker cabinets, all using the same amplifier and speaker. These are known as modeling amplifiers, and can be programmed with simulated characteristic tones of different existing amplifier models (and speaker cabinets—even microphone type or placement), or dialed in to the user's taste. Many amps of this type are also programmable by way of USB connection to a home computer or laptop. Line 6 is generally credited with bringing modeling amplification to the market. Modeling amplifiers and stompbox pedals, rackmount units, and software that models specific amplifiers, speakers cabinets, and microphones can provide a large number of sounds and tones. Players can get a reasonable facsimile of the sound of tube amplifiers, vintage combo amplifiers, and huge 8x10” speaker stacks without bringing all that heavy equipment to the studio or stage. The use of "full range, flat response" (FRFR) amplification systems by electric guitarists has received an extra impetus from modeling amplifiers. Before widespread availability of modeling, guitarists did not commonly plug electric guitars straight into PA systems or powered speakers, because most genres relied on the tonal coloration of a regular guitar amplifier setup—from the preamplifier, equalization filters, power amp, guitar speakers, and cabinet design. The FRFR approach assumes the tone is shaped by sound processors in the signal chain before the amplifier and speaker stage, so it strives to not add further coloration. or dedicated combo-style amplifiers with a broad frequency range. Such processors can be traditional guitar effects, a modeling amplifier (without power amplifier), or a computer running tone-shaping software. Using a modeling amp or a multi effects pedal used with line level output, a guitarist can plug in the guitar into a flat response mic input or into a keyboard amplifier. Acoustic amplifiers are intended for acoustic guitars and other acoustic instruments, especially for the way these instruments are used in relatively quiet genres such as folk and bluegrass. They are similar to keyboard amplifiers, in that they have a relatively flat frequency response with minimal coloration. To produce this relatively "clean" sound, these amplifiers often have powerful amplifiers (providing up to 800 watts RMS), to provide additional "Headroom" and prevent unwanted distortion. Since an 800 watt amplifier built with standard Class AB technology is heavy, some acoustic amplifier manufacturers use lightweight Class D amplifiers, which are also called "switching amplifiers." Acoustic amplifiers produce an uncolored, "acoustic" sound when used with acoustic instruments with built-in transducer pickups or microphones. The amplifiers often come with a simple mixer, so that the signals from a pickup and condenser microphone can be blended. Since the early 2000s, it has become increasingly common for acoustic amplifiers to provide a range of digital effects, such as reverb and compression. As well, these amplifiers often contain feedback-suppressing devices, such as notch filters or parametric equalizers. Main article: Vintage musical equipment Vintage guitar amps are guitar amplifier "heads", speaker cabinets and combo amp/speaker cabinets from the past which guitarists, record producers and bandleaders seek out for their unique tone. Some recording studios have a selection of the most popular vintage guitar combo amps, amp heads and speaker stacks, so that performers can get a retro sound. During the 1980s, when most guitar amps being manufactured used "solid state" semiconductor technology, many musicians seeking an older style of sound (for blues, roots rock, etc.) favored older amps that used vacuum tubes (called "valves" in the UK). Popular vintage models include the Fender Showman, Bassman and Vibroverb amps, and older models made by Ampeg, Gibson, Marshall, and Vox, as well as other smaller companies such as Valco, Danelectro, and Premier. Orange amplifier and cabinet from the 2000s with a look and design approach reminiscent of the 1960s and 70s. Vintage amplifiers can be very costly, due to their rarity. A less costly alternative is "reissued" vintage amplifiers. By the 1990s, many of these vintage amplifiers had become so popular and sought after, that manufacturers began to reissue some models, while newer, smaller companies built newly made amps that boasted a "vintage sound". The degree to which a "reissued" or "vintage style" guitar amp can recreate its historical equivalent varies from manufacturer and often also depends on the price point of the product. A relatively inexpensive "reissue" amp aimed at amateur guitarists will probably have less strict attention to historical detail than a high-priced reissue aimed at professional session musicians. Metal guitarist Klaus Eichstadt in front of his Marshall stack. A 3×6 stack of mock Marshall guitar cabinets for Jeff Hanneman of Slayer An amplifier stack consists of an amplifier head atop a speaker cabinet—a head on top of one cabinet is commonly called a half stack, a head atop two cabinets a full stack. The cabinet that the head sits on often has an angled top in front, while the lower cabinet of a full stack has a straight front. The first version of the Marshall stack was an amp head on an 8×12 cabinet, meaning a single speaker cabinet containing eight 12" guitar speakers. After six of these cabinets were made, the cabinet arrangement was changed to an amp head on two 4×12 (four 12" speakers) cabinets to make the cabinets more transportable. Some touring metal and rock bands have used a large array of guitar speaker cabinets for their impressive appearance. Some of these arrangements include only the fronts of speaker cabinets mounted on a large frame. There are many varieties of speaker combinations used in guitar speaker cabinets, including one 12" speaker, one 15" speaker (this is more common for bass amplifiers than for electric guitar cabinets), two 10" speakers, four 10" speakers, four 12" speakers, or eight 10" speakers. Less commonly, guitar cabinets may contain different sizes of speaker in the same cabinet. Cabinets with eight 10" speakers are large and heavy, and they are often equipped with wheels and a "towel bar"-style handle for transport. Some cabinets use mixed speaker types, such as one 15" speaker and two 10" speakers. Combo guitar amplifier cabinets and guitar speaker cabinets use several different designs, including the "open back" cabinet, the closed back cabinet (a sealed box), and, less commonly, bass reflex designs, which use a closed back with a vent or port cut into the cabinet. With guitar amps, most "open back" amp cabinets are not fully open; part of the back is enclosed with panels. Combo guitar amp cabinets and standalone speaker cabinets are often made of plywood. Some are made of MDF or particle board—especially in low-budget models. Cabinet size and depth, material types, assembly methods, type and thickness of the baffle material (the wood panel that holds the speaker), and the way the baffle attaches to the cabinet all affect tone. When two or more speakers are used in the same cabinet, or when two cabinets are used together, the speakers can be wired in parallel or in series, or in a combination of the two (e.g., two 2x10" cabinets, with the two speakers wired in series, can be connected together in parallel). Whether speakers are wired in parallel or in series affects the impedance of the system. Two 8 ohm speakers wired in parallel have 4 ohm impedance. Guitarists who connect multiple cabinets to an amplifier must consider the amp's minimum impedance. Parallel vs. series also affects tone and sound. Speakers wired in parallel slightly dampen[s] and restrain[s] them, giving what some describe as "tighter response" and "smoother breakup". Some describe speakers wired in series (usually no more than two) as sounding "...looser, giving a slightly more raw, open and edgy sound." A Marshall JCM 900's knobs for equalization, gain, reverb and volume. The relationship between power output in watts and perceived volume is not immediately obvious. The human ear perceives a 5-watt amplifier as half as loud as a 50-watt amplifier (a tenfold increase in power), and a half-watt amplifier is a quarter as loud as a 50-watt amp. Doubling the output power of an amplifier results in a "just noticeable" increase in volume, so a 100-watt amplifier is only just noticeably louder than a 50-watt amplifier. Such generalizations are also subject to the human ear's tendency to behave as a natural compressor at high volumes. For electric guitar amplifiers, there is often[vague] a distinction between "practice" or "recording studio" guitar amps, with output power ratings of less than one watt to 20 watts, and "performance" or "stage" amps of 30 watts or higher. Traditionally,[according to whom?] these have been fixed-power amplifiers,[jargon] with some models having a half-power switch to slightly reduce the listening volume while preserving power-tube distortion. Power attenuation[when defined as?] can be used with either low-power or high-power amplifiers, resulting in variable-power amplifiers. A high-power amplifier with power attenuation can produce power-tube distortion through a range of listening volumes, but with a decrease in high power distortion. Other technologies, such as dual rectifiers and the sag circuit[jargon]—which should not be confused with attenuation—allow high power amplifiers to produce low power volume while preserving high power distortion. Speaker efficiency is also a major factor affecting a tube amplifier's maximum volume. For bass instruments, higher-power amplifiers are needed to reproduce low-frequency sounds. While an electric guitarist would be able to play at a small club with a 50-watt amplifier, a bass player performing in the same venue would probably need an amplifier with 200 or more watts. Marshall is a popular amplifier manufacturer for metal and hard rock. Pictured is the MG15DFX guitar amplifier. Distortion is a feature available on many guitar amplifiers that is not typically found on keyboard or bass guitar amplifiers. Tube guitar amplifiers can produce distortion through pre-distortion equalization, preamp tube distortion, post-distortion EQ, power-tube distortion, tube rectifier compression, output transformer distortion, guitar speaker distortion, and guitar speaker and cabinet frequency response. Because many factors beyond preamp distortion contribute to a particular guitarist's sound, recording engineers and PA system techs typically put a microphone in front of the guitar speaker, rather than only use the guitar amp's pre-amp out signal. A sound engineer or music producer may send the DI out signal from the pickups to a separate track at the same time, so they can re-amp the signal later. In contrast, it is fairly common to use a DI box with electric bass. Distortion sound or "texture" from guitar amplifiers is further shaped or processed through the frequency response and distortion factors in the microphones (their response, placement, and multi-microphone comb filtering effects), microphone preamps, mixer channel equalization, and compression. Additionally, the basic sound produced by the guitar amplifier can be changed and shaped by adding distortion and/or equalization effect pedals before the amp's input jack, in the effects loop just before the tube power amp, or after the power tubes. Power-tube distortion is required for amp sounds in some genres. In a standard master-volume guitar amp, as the amp's final or master volume is increased beyond the full power of the amplifier, power tube distortion is produced. The "power soak" approach places the attenuation between the power tubes and the guitar speaker. In the re-amped or "dummy load" approach, the tube power amp drives a mostly resistive dummy load while an additional low power amp drives the guitar speaker. In the isolation box approach, the guitar amplifier is used with a guitar speaker in a separate cabinet. A soundproofed isolation cabinet, isolation box, isolation booth, or isolation room can be used. Even in the 2010s, the vintage Fender Bandmaster remains a sought-after amp by guitarists. Note the four inputs, two for regular sound and two that run through the on-board "vibrato" (tremolo) effect unit. The amp pictured is a 1968 model. A variety of labels are used for level attenuation potentiometers (knobs) in a guitar amplifier and other guitar equipment. Electric guitars and basses have a volume control on the instrument that attenuates the signal from selected pickups. There may be two volume controls on an electric guitar or bass, wired in parallel to mix the signal levels from the neck and bridge pickups. Rolling back the guitar's volume control also changes the pickup's equalization or frequency response, which can provide pre-distortion equalization. The simplest guitar amplifiers, such as some vintage amps and modern practice amps, have only a single volume control. Most have two volume controls: a first volume control called "preamplifier" or "gain" and a master volume control. The preamp or gain control works differently on different guitar amp designs. On an amp designed for acoustic guitar, turning up the preamp knob pre-amplifies the signal—but even at its maximum setting, the preamp control is unlikely to produce much overdrive. However, with amps designed for electric guitarists playing blues, hard rock and heavy metal music, turning up the preamp or gain knob usually produces overdrive distortion. Some electric guitar amps have three controls in the volume section: pre-amplifier, distortion and master control. Turning up the preamp and distortion knobs in varying combinations can create a range of overdrive tones, from a gentle, warm growling overdrive suitable for a traditional blues show or a rockabilly band to the extreme distortion used in hardcore punk and death metal. On some electric guitar amps, the "gain" knob is equivalent to the distortion control on a distortion pedal, and similarly may have a side-effect of changing the proportion of bass and treble sent to the next stage. The patch bay at the rear panel of this Line 6 Flextone guitar amp provides a number of additional inputs and outputs, including stereo XLR DI unit outputs. A simple, inexpensive amplifier may have only two tone controls, a passive bass and treble control. In some better quality amps, one or more midrange controls are provided. On the most expensive amps, there may be shelving equalizers for bass and treble, a number of mid-range controls (e.g., low mid, mid and high mid), and a graphic equalizer or parametric equalizer. The amplifier's master volume control restricts the amount of signal permitted through to the driver stage and the power amplifier. When using a power attenuator with a tube amplifier, the master volume no longer acts as the master volume control. Instead, the power attenuator's attenuation control controls the power delivered to the speaker, and the amplifier's master volume control determines the amount of power-tube distortion. Power-supply based power reduction is controlled by a knob on the tube power amp, variously labeled "wattage", "power", "scale", "power scale", or "power dampening".
One of the first challenges faced by the advancing guitar player is learning a core group of basic guitar chords. Why is it so important to learn these basic chords? Chords form the backbone of most rock and pop songs, and provide the harmonic accompaniment to the melody and instrumental solos.Rhythm guitar based on basic chords provides many of the most memorable rock riffs... think AC/DC's "Back in Black" or The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again". What's really amazing is that by learning no more than 10 to 15 basic guitar chords, you will be equipped to play thousands of rock and pop songs!First let's establish the definition of a chord. A chord is three or more different musical notes played together. In the case of the guitar, this means that at least three strings are strummed or plucked simultaneously to sound three or more notes. Since the guitar has six strings, the maximum numbers of notes in a guitar chord is six. All chords can be placed in one of three groups based on the musical structure of the chord: Major, Minor, or Seventh. Each of these chord groups has its own "sound" or "feel". Major chords sound stable and complete. Minor chords can evoke a more somber or pensive mood, and Seventh chords are jazzy and somewhat incomplete sounding.There is no standard list of "basic guitar chords" that every one agrees to. However, there is general agreement that there is a list of somewhere between 8 and 18 basic guitar chords (open string) that every guitarist must know cold. These chords are used in all musical styles from rock and pop to country, jazz, and classical. No matter where you are on your guitar-playing path, you should take the time to learn and master the basic chords. Getting these right will ensure you have the basic tools and skills to learn many songs and increase your playing enjoyment.So what are the basic guitar chords? Our basic stable includes the major and minor chords from four common musical keys, A,G,C, and D. They are played as "open chords", that is at least one string in the chord is not fretted (pressed down with a finger). Open chords are easier to learn and play than more advanced chords such as Barre chords, or complex chords further up the guitar neck. Our list of basic major and minor chords is: A Major (or A), A Minor (or Am), C, D, Dm, E, Em, F, GThese chords can be best learned as chord "families" (by key) that can be combined into great-sounding chord sequences that make up lots of popular songs. Using this chord family approach is much more interesting and useful than just memorizing a bunch of chords in random order!These chords grouped by chord family (key) are as follows:A Family (Key of A): A, D, ED Family (Key of D): D, Em, G, AG Family (Key of G): G, Am, C, D, EmC Family (Key of C): C, Dm, Em, F, GTips for Learning the Basic Chords:1. Pick a Chord Family and master it. This will give you quick success and let you play great sounding progressions right away. 2. Use a Guitar Chord Chart as a reference tool. A chord chart shows each chord as an easy to read "chord diagram" with exact finger positions. See this example of a chart of basic guitar chords.3. Find the chords and lyrics for an easy song that is based on the chord family so you can apply your skills. Many great songs are based on only three chords!4. Ensure each string sounds right. Take care to make sure that each string is sounding clearly, and that only the strings that should be played are played.5. Practice, practice, practice! Every day, practice continually change from one chord to another until you can do it rapidly. Learn the chord families one at a time.6. Master all the basic chords first. Only then move on to Barre chords and other more complex chords. First things first! 7. Expand with 7th chords. As a next step you can easily expand on your basic chord knowledge by adding 7th and minor 7th chords based on the nine basic major and minor chords.8. Have fun using your new skills! Enjoy your musical ability by applying it to learning a small set of 5-10 songs you know really well and can confidently play at any time.Copyright 2005 Peter Bussey of http://www.guitar-players-toolbox.com This article can be reprinted freely online, as long as the entire article and the resource box are included.
Jump to navigation Jump to search An instrument amplifier is an electronic device that converts the often barely audible or purely electronic signal of a musical instrument into a larger electronic signal to feed to a loudspeaker. An instrument amplifier is used with musical instruments such as an electric guitar, an electric bass, electric organ, synthesizers and drum machine to convert the signal from the pickup (with guitars and other string instruments and some keyboards) or other sound source (e.g, a synthesizer's signal) into an electronic signal that has enough power, due to being routed through a power amplifier, capable of driving one or more loudspeaker that can be heard by the performers and audience. Combination ("combo") amplifiers include a preamplifier, a power amplifier, tone controls, and one or more speakers in a cabinet, a housing or box usually made of hardwood, plywood or particleboard (or, less commonly, moulded plastic). Instrument amplifiers for some instruments are also available without an internal speaker; these amplifiers, called heads, must plug into one or more external speaker cabinets. Instrument amplifiers also have features that let the performer modify the signal's tone, such as changing the equalization (adjusting bass and treble tone) or adding electronic effects such as intentional distortion/overdrive, reverb or chorus effect. A Fender "combo" amplifier. The combination amplifier is a preamplifier, power amplifier and tone controls and one or more loudspeakers or drivers mounted in a portable wooden cabinet. This amp's sound is being picked up with a microphone in a recording studio. Instrument amplifiers are available for specific instruments, including the electric guitar, electric bass, electric/electronic keyboards, and acoustic instruments such as the mandolin and banjo. Some amplifiers are designed for specific styles of music, such as the "traditional"-style "tweed" guitar amplifiers, such as the Fender Bassman used by blues and country music musicians, and the Marshall amplifiers used by hard rock and heavy metal bands. Unlike home "hi-fi" amplifiers or public address systems, which are designed to accurately reproduce the source sound signals with as little harmonic distortion as possible and without changing the tone or equalization (at least not unless the hi-fi owner adjusts it themselves with a graphic equalizer), instrument amplifiers are often designed to add additional tonal coloration to the original signal, emphasize (or de-emphasize) certain frequencies (most electric guitar amps roll off the very high frequencies), and, in the case of guitar amplifiers designed for electric guitar or Hammond organ, offer the capability to intentionally add some degree of "overdrive" or distortion to the tone. The two exceptions are keyboard amplifiers designed for use with digital pianos and synthesizers and "acoustic" instrument amplifiers for use with acoustic guitar or fiddle in a folk music setting, which typically aim for a relatively flat frequency response (i.e., no added colouration of the sound) and little or no distortion of the signal. Main article: Guitar amplifier A Vox AC30 used by The Beatles A guitar amplifier amplifies the electrical signal of an electric guitar (or, less commonly, with acoustic amplifiers, an acoustic guitar) so that it can drive a loudspeaker at sufficient volume for the performer and audience to hear. Most guitar amplifiers can also modify the instrument's with controls that emphasize or de-emphasize certain frequencies and add electronic effects. String vibrations are sensed by a suitable microphone or pickup, depending on the type of guitar. For electric guitars, strings are almost always made of metal, and the pickup works by electro-magnetic induction (these are called magnetic pickups; they are the most widely used type of pickup on electric guitars). Acoustic guitars do not usually have a built-in pickup or microphone, at least with entry-level and beginner instruments. Some acoustic guitars have a small condenser microphone mounted inside the body, which designed to convert acoustic vibrations into an electrical signal, but usually they do so from direct contact with the strings (replacing the guitar's bridge) or with the guitar's body, rather than having a membrane like general-purpose microphones. Acoustic guitars may also use a piezoelectric pickup, which converts the vibrations of the instrument into an electronic signal. More rarely, a magnetic pickup may be mounted in the sound hole of an acoustic guitar; while magnetic pickups do not have the same acoustic tone that microphones and piezo pickups can produce, magnetic pickups are more resistant to acoustic feedback. A small Gibson "combo" amplifier. Standard amplifiers, such as the Fender "tweed"-style amps (e.g., the Fender Bassman) and Gibson amps, are often used by traditional rock, blues, and country musicians who wish to create a "vintage" 1950s-style sound. They are used by electric guitarists, pedal steel guitar players, and blues harmonica ("harp") players. Combo amplifiers such as the Fender Super Reverb have powerful, loud tube amplifiers, four 10" speakers, and they often have built-in reverb and "vibrato" effects units. Smaller guitar amps are also available, which have fewer speakers (some have only one speaker) and lighter, less powerful amplifier units. Smaller guitar amps are easier to transport to gigs and sound recording sessions. Smaller amps are widely used in small venue shows (nightclubs) and in recordings, because players can obtain the tone they want without having to have an excessively loud volume. One of the challenge with the large, powerful 4x10 Fender Bassman-type amps is that to get the tone a player wants, she has to turn up the amp to too loud a volume. These amps are designed to produce a variety of sounds ranging from a clean, warm sound (when used in country and soft rock) to a growling, natural overdrive, when the volume is set near its maximum, (when used for blues, rockabilly, psychobilly, and roots rock). These amplifiers usually have a sharp treble roll-off at 5 kHz to reduce the extreme high frequencies, and a bass roll-off at 60–100 Hz to reduce unwanted boominess. The nickname "tweed" refers to the lacquered beige-light brown fabric covering used on these amplifiers. The smallest "combo" amplifiers, which are mainly used for individual practice and warm-up purposes, may have only a single 8" or 10" speaker. Some harmonica players use these small combo amplifiers for concert performances, though, because it is easier to create natural overdrive with these lower-powered amplifiers. Larger combo amplifiers, with one 12 inch speaker or two or four 10 or 12 inch speakers are used for club performances and larger venues. For large concert venues such as stadiums, performers may also use an amplifier "head" with several separate speaker cabinets (which usually contain two or four 12" speakers). A 3×6 stack of mock Marshall guitar cabinets for Jeff Hanneman of Slayer Electric guitar amplifiers designed for heavy metal are used to add an aggressive "drive", intensity, and "edge" to the guitar sound with distortion effects, preamplification boost controls (sometimes with multiple stages of preamps), and tone filters. While many of the most expensive, high-end models use 1950s-style tube amplifiers (even in the 2000s), there are also many models that use transistor amplifiers, or a mixture of the two technologies (i.e., a tube preamplifier with a transistor power amplifier). Amplifiers of this type, such as Marshall amplifiers, are used in a range of the louder, heavier genres of rock, including hard rock, heavy metal, and hardcore punk. This type of amplifier is available in a range of formats, ranging from small, self contained combo amplifiers for rehearsal and warm-ups to heavy "heads" that are used with separate speaker cabinets—colloquially referred to as a "stack." In the late 1960s and early 1970s, public address systems at rock concerts were used mainly for the vocals. As a result, to get a loud electric guitar sound, early heavy metal and rock-blues bands often used "stacks" of 4x12" Marshall speaker cabinets on the stage. In 1969, Jimi Hendrix used four stacks to create a powerful lead sound, and in the early 1970s by the band Blue Öyster Cult used an entire wall of Marshall Amplifiers to create a roaring wall of sound that projected massive volume and sonic power. In the 1980s, metal bands such as Slayer and Yngwie Malmsteen also used "walls" of over 20 Marshall cabinets. However, by the 1980s and 1990s, most of the sound at live concerts was produced by the sound reinforcement system rather than the onstage guitar amplifiers, so most of these cabinets were not connected to an amplifier. Instead, walls of speaker cabinets were used for aesthetic reasons. Amplifiers for harder, heavier genres often use valve amplifiers (known as "tube amplifiers" in North America) also. Valve amplifiers are perceived by musicians and fans to have a "warmer" tone than those of transistor amps, particularly when overdriven (turned up to the level that the amplifier starts to clip or shear off the wave forms). Instead of abruptly clipping off the signal at cut-off and saturation levels, the signal is rounded off more smoothly. Vacuum tubes also exhibit different harmonic effects than transistors. In contrast to the "tweed"-style amplifiers, which use speakers in an open-backed cabinet, companies such as Marshall tend to use 12" speakers in a closed-back cabinet. These amplifiers usually allow users to switch between "clean" and distorted tones (or a rhythm guitar-style "crunch" tone and a sustained "lead" tone) with a foot-operated switch. A 2 x 10" bass speaker cabinet stacked on top of a 15" cabinet, with separate bass amplifier "head" unit Bass amplifiers are designed for bass guitars or more rarely, for upright bass. They differ from amplifiers for the regular (and comparatively higher-pitched) electric guitar in several respects. They have extended low frequency response and tone controls optimised for bass instruments, which produce pitches of 41 Hz, in the case of a standard four-string electric bass or double bass, or even lower for five- or six-string electric basses. Higher-cost bass amplifiers sometimes include built-in bass effects, which are electronic effects units designed for electric bass or more rarely, for upright bass. Common built-in effects include audio compressor or limiter features, which help to keep the amplifier from doing unwanted distorting at high volume levels and potentially damaging the speakers; equalizers; and in some amps from the 1980s and more commonly in the 2000s, bass overdrive. Bass amps may provide an XLR DI output for plugging the bass amp signal directly into a mixing board or PA system. Larger, more powerful bass amplifiers (300 or more watts) are often provided with internal or external metal heat sinks and/or fans to help keep the amplifier cool. Speaker cabinets designed for bass usually use larger loudspeakers (or more loudspeakers, in the case of the popular 4x10" cabinets, which contain four 10" speakers) than the cabinets used for other instruments, so that they can move the larger amounts of air needed to reproduce low frequencies. Bass players have to use more powerful amplifiers than the electric guitarists, because deep bass frequencies take more power to amplify. As such, in a band in which the electric guitar player uses a 50 watt guitar amp, the bass player typically uses a 200 watt to 300 watt bass amp. While the largest speakers commonly used for regular electric guitar are 12" speakers, electric bass speaker cabinets often use 15" speakers. Bass players who play styles of music that require an extended low-range response, such as death metal, sometimes use speaker cabinets with 18" speakers or add a large subwoofer cabinet to their rig. Speakers for bass instrument amplification tend to be heavier-duty than those for regular electric guitar, and the speaker cabinets are typically more rigidly constructed and heavily braced, to prevent unwanted buzzes and rattles. Bass cabinets often include bass reflex ports, vents or openings in the cabinet, which improve the bass response and low-end, especially at high volumes. A small keyboard amplifier suitable for at-home practice capable of mixing the inputs from two keyboards. A keyboard amplifier, used for the stage piano, synthesizer, clonewheel organs and similar instruments, is distinct from other types of amplification systems due to the particular challenges associated with keyboards; namely, to provide solid low-frequency sound reproduction and crisp high-frequency sound reproduction. It is typically a combination amplifier that contains a two, three, or four-channel mixer, a pre-amplifier for each channel, equalization controls, a power amplifier, a speaker, and a horn, all in a single cabinet. Notable exceptions include keyboard amplifiers for specific keyboard types. The vintage Leslie speaker cabinet and modern recreations, which are generally used for Hammond organs, use a tube amplifier that is often turned up to add a warm, "growling" overdrive. Some electric pianos have built-in amplifiers and speakers, in addition to outputs for external amplification. These amplifiers are intended for acoustic instruments such as violin ("fiddle"), mandolin, and acoustic guitar—especially for the way musicians play these instruments in quieter genres such as folk and bluegrass. They are similar to keyboard amplifiers, in that they have a relatively flat frequency response and avoid tonal coloration. To produce this relatively "clean" sound, these amplifiers often have very powerful amplifiers (up to 800 watts RMS), to provide additional "headroom" and prevent unwanted distortion. Since an 800 watt amplifier built with standard Class AB technology would be heavy, some acoustic amplifier manufacturers use lightweight Class D, "switching amplifiers." Acoustic amplifier designs strive to produce a clean, transparent, "acoustic" sound that does not—except for reverb and other effects—alter the natural instrument sound, other than to make it louder. Amplifiers often come with a simple mixer to blend signals from a pickup and microphone. Since the early 2000s, it is increasingly common for acoustic amplifiers to provided digital effects, such as reverb and compression. Some also contain feedback-suppressing devices, such as notch filters or parametric equalizers. Instrument amplifiers have a different purpose than 'Hi-Fi' (high fidelity) stereo amplifiers in radios and home stereo systems. Hi-fi home stereo amplifiers strive to accurately reproduce signals from pre-recorded music, with as little harmonic distortion as possible. In contrast, instrument amplifiers are add additional tonal coloration to the original signal or emphasize certain frequencies. For electric instruments such as electric guitar, the amplifier helps to create the instrument's tone by boosting the input signal gain and distorting the signal, and by emphasizing frequencies deemed desirable (e.g., low frequencies) and de-emphasizing frequencies deemed undesirable (e.g., very high frequencies). In the 1960s and 1970s, large, heavy, high output power amplifiers were preferred for instrument amplifiers, especially for large concerts, because public address systems were generally only used to amplify the vocals. Moreover, in the 1960s, PA systems typically did not use monitor speaker systems to amplify the music for the onstage musicians. Instead, the musicians were expected to have instrument amplifiers that were powerful enough to provide amplification for the stage and audience. In late 1960s and early 1970s rock concerts, bands often used large stacks of speaker cabinets powered by heavy tube amplifiers such as the Super Valve Technology (SVT) amplifier, which was often used with eight 10" speakers. However, over subsequent decades, PA systems substantially improved, and used different approaches, such as horn-loaded "bass bins" (in the 1980s) and subwoofers (1990s and 2000s) to amplify bass frequencies. As well, in the 1980s and 1990s, monitor systems substantially improved, which helped sound engineers provide onstage musicians with a better reproduction of their instruments' sound. As a result of improvements to PA and monitor systems, musicians in the 2000s no longer need huge, powerful amplifier systems. A small combo amplifier patched into the PA suffices. In the 2000s, virtually all sound reaching the audience in large venues comes from the PA system. Onstage instrument amplifiers are more likely to be at a low volume, because high volume levels onstage make it harder for the sound engineer to control the sound mix. As a result, in many large venues much of the onstage sound reaching the musicians now comes from in-ear monitors, not from the instrument amplifiers. While stacks of huge speaker cabinets and amplifiers are still used in concerts (especially in heavy metal), this is often mainly for aesthetics or to create a more authentic tone. The switch to smaller instrument amplifiers makes it easier for musicians to transport their equipment to performances. As well, it makes concert stage management easier at large clubs and festivals where several bands are performing in sequence, because the bands can be moved on and off the stage more quickly. Instrument amplifiers may be based on thermionic ("tube" or "valve") or solid state (transistor) technology. Vacuum tubes were the dominant active electronic components in amplifiers from the 1930s through the early 1970s, and tube amplifiers remain preferred by many musicians and producers. Some musicians feel that tube amplifiers produce a "warmer" or more "natural" sound than solid state units, and a more pleasing overdrive sound when overdriven. However, these subjective assessments of the attributes of tube amplifiers' sound qualities are the subject of ongoing debate. Tube amps are more fragile, require more maintenance, and are usually more expensive than solid state amps. Tube amplifiers produce more heat than solid state amplifiers, but few manufacturers of these units include cooling fans in the chassis. While tube amplifiers do need to attain a proper operating temperature, if the temperature goes above this operating temperature, it may shorten the tubes' lifespan and lead to tonal inconsistencies. A Trace Elliot "Bonneville" tube amplifier as seen from the rear view: note the vacuum tubes extending into the wooden cabinet. By the 1960s and 1970s, semiconductor transistor-based amplifiers began to become more popular because they are less expensive, more resistant to bumps during transportation, lighter-weight, and require less maintenance. In some cases, tube and solid-state technologies are used together in amplifiers. A common setup is the use of a tube preamplifier with a solid-state power amplifier. There are also an increasing range of products that use digital signal processing and digital modeling technology to simulate many different combinations of amp and cabinets. The output transistors of solid-state amplifiers can be passively cooled by using metal fins called heatsinks to radiate away the heat. For high-wattage amplifiers (over 800 watts), a fan is often used to move air across internal heatsinks. The most common hybrid amp design is to use a tube preamp with a solid state power amplifier. This gives users the pleasing preamp and overdrive tone of a tube amp with the lowered cost, maintenance and weight of a solid state power amp.
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