Good, Low-Range Amps?

Now, I’m going to preface this by saying that despite me playing guitar for a good 3 years or so, I don’t really know the first thing about amplifiers. I’m looking for a decent amp. It doesn’t need to be very powerful, as I’m almost exclusively using it for practicing at home; I just need something so that I can finally use my Strat with any degree of accuracy. I need sound which is at least decent, and I need distortion. I’m mostly trying to play metal. And here’s what’s making this so hard: I have a very limited budget. Very limited. Like, 100€ at the very most.

Does anyone have any recommendations? Any things I should look out for? Is this liable to be decent? Any particular things to look out for? How reliable are used amps?

I’d be interested in this thread as well - we’re giving our son a decent (probably better-used) bass for Xmas and other than full-size performance amps, I don’t know squat about them. Discourse amongst yourselves.

Although FYI, bass amps are very different beasts from guitar amps. :wink:

I do know that. Side comments in the bass range appreciated.

Moderator Action

This is more of an opinion thing than a factual question.

Moving thread from General Questions to In My Humble Opinion.

For playing at home it’s hard to beat the 20-Watt Fender Mustang amp, and it looks to be in your price range. I plan to buy one of those if my little Peavy amp ever dies…

I agree with Maserschmidt. The 20w Fender Mustang is a great little practice amp. The modeling effects are cool, and the price is right. I have tried one of these and was impressed.

Guitar amps don’t just amplify the sound, they also distort it. They just happen to distort it in a way that sounds “good” for an electric guitar. If you ever play music through one you can hear a bit better how exactly it distorts the sound.

Keyboard and bass amps give a much cleaner, undistorted sound. If you see an amp marked as a keyboard/bass amp then it has a good wide range frequency response and doesn’t distort much. If it is only listed as a bass amp, then it might just focus on the lower end and might not do so well with higher frequencies. Depending on your bass and your style of music, this might be a good thing or it might be limiting.

Getting back to the guitar amp, the first thing is to stay away from stage amps as they are going to be too overpowered for home use (you seem to realize this already). Even if you find a cheap stage amp, playing it at low volume often doesn’t sound very good.

The next thing is you really just need to hear it. Because guitar amps do distort the sound, which amp sounds “best” is purely a matter of opinion. Eddie Van Halen used to only play through Marshall amplifiers, and even then only through one specific one until it died. Tom Sholz from the group Boston rewired his amplifier until it gave him the sound he wanted. Your choice of amplifier will very much be what sounds best to you.

I personally play through a fairly clean amplifier and use a digital effects pedal that emulates many different amplifiers. Unless you get really lucky in the used section of your local music store, that’s probably not going to be an option for you. Still, it doesn’t hurt to look. My amp and the effects box were both purchased used. I have quite a few effects pedals as well. Some were purchased new, some used, and some I made myself (I’m an electrical engineer). The typical “metal” sound at the very least needs distortion. Sometimes the amp itself will give you the distortion sound (and maybe reverb), otherwise you’ll have to get an external distortion pedal. Phaser, flanger, and overdrive can also be used in different combinations. A limited budget is going to make buying these very difficult. If you can find a used digital combo effects pedal that’s probably your best bang for the buck.

I’m partial to Fender amps, but again that’s mostly a matter of opinion. Go down to ye ol local music store and see what they have. Take your own guitar with you. Don’t be afraid to try a bunch of different things out. Don’t buy anything until you like the sound that comes out of it.

I bought a lot of used stuff when I was younger (especially way back when, since I was a broke college student). While there is always a chance that used stuff will break, overall I’ve had good luck with the things I’ve purchased used.

I looked this one up on Ebay… In terms of price, yeah, it actually is pretty close to my price range. In terms of shipping… How the fuck do they reckon $828?! :confused: The big national German music supplier, Thomann, has it for 135€. That’s… not too bad. I think I can find it at a lower price, though… I’ll keep this one on the short list. :smiley:

Here where I live in Munich, my “local music store” is pristine, virgin, and won’t sully itself with the likes of… ugh… used goods. It’s up there on the list of things I miss from the states - we had GREAT dingy, crappy music shops in Ellsworth and Bangor, and sometimes, that’s all you really wanted.

I did pick up a distortion pedal a while back… The problem is, it sounds like absolute ass, and if I can avoid using it for anything other than the crazier things I write, then I’ll be quite glad about that.

Yeah… I figure, I live in Munich… There’s gotta be at least one dingy, authentic hole in the wall that can cater to my needs. :smiley: I just gotta look. Maybe this weekend.

Thanks for the tips. :slight_smile:

Holy moly! I wonder much these guys charge to ship to Germany via Amazon?

Musical instruments and amps are some of the most widely pawned items around. I suggest checking local shops. You can find good amps at great prices.

I asked this very question not long ago. A fellow Doper pitied me and sent me a pretty decent practice amp, a Roland Micro Cube. It has a number of settings that allow distortion or cleaner sound, reverb and all that. Hard to go wrong for the price.

I have a Line6 Spider III (they’ve moved up to the Spider IV’s now). Perfect size for a home amp and has nice effects as well. I’ve been pretty happy with it for 4 years now.

They just don’t. :frowning:

Heyyyyy I recognize that amp from my old music school! I love that amp! And these guys have it for 105€ and free shipping within Germany! Now given that my Xbox, Laptop, and TV broke all at the same time, and I have to manage my finances… Well, we’ll see if I can afford it. Either way, score! :smiley:

<grabs football, goes for the touchdown>

Moving from IMHO to Cafe Society, as a music-type thread.

<blows kiss to the good engineer>

Glad I could help! Hate it’s so expensive over there - I got mine on a special at Guitar Center one time for $79.00.

Well, for inexpensive bass amps, the Acoustic line at Muscian’s Friend and Guitar Center is hard to beat. I played their B200 combo on stage for a couple of years. Basic, not quite loud enough to keep up with my band (it’s a loud band), but great sounds for an inexpensive combo. They don’t appear to have any models available for $100 or less right now, but there are a couple in the $150-200 range.

As far as the used market goes, I normally wouldn’t buy used gear from a music store unless they had exactly what I wanted. They’re usually pricey. Individuals or pawn shops are usually more of a bargain (but double check the prices, anyway!). Are there no pawn shops in Germany?

From your own link there is this:

Spider IV

For 99 euros.

And “Kostenlose Lieferung” means free shipping, yes?


Well, it turned out “died” was kind of a broad term, as I just retired my old amp and bought the Mustang for $119 on Amazon. And it’s as cool as I expected! It duplicates so many effects that I’m going to be fiddling with them for a long while.

Man I love new toys. :smiley: