Purchasing the right guitar amp is important, as the watts, inputs, modes, and type of amp will all affect your playing. For example, if you want a loud amp with a natural tube overdrive, you should purchase a high-watt tube amp rather than a small solid-state practice amp. Several factors go into buying a new amp, but one of the most important is the wattage. The wattage determines how loud your amp can get, so understanding how many watts you need allows you to ensure you purchase the best amp. In this article, I will review how many watts your guitar amp needs for different scenarios.
Does more watts mean a louder amp?
In the most basic terms, watts are the unit of measurement for electrical power. So, the more watts a device has, the more powerful it is. When it comes to guitar amps, this generally means that an amplifier with more watts is louder and can produce more sound without distorting. However, it is not as simple as that because watts do not directly correlate to volume but instead the electrical power. There are other factors that determine how loud an amp is, such as the speaker size, the type of amp (tube or solid-state), and other amp settings.
The correlation between watts and volume is also not linear. For example, a 100w amp is not 10 times louder than a 10w amp. In fact, it is only twice as loud.
How many watts do you really need?
Have you ever strummed your electric guitar unplugged? If you have, you now know that you definetely need an amp to project your sound.
Few guitarists truly understand amp wattage. Guitar amps run from as low as 5 watts up to 200 watts. Determining how many watts you need comes down to how loud you want your guitar to be. If you just plan to practice by yourself in your room, a 10 to 15-watt amp will be more than enough, but a 15-watt amp won’t have enough power if you plan to play with a drummer and bassist. Guitarists generally use amps between 20 and 100 watts. Anything over 100 watts is overkill unless you need some serious power for HUGE venues.
Remember, you can always mic your amp on stage so you don’t need a ridiculously loud amp.
You should also keep in mind that if you really want your amp to be loud, you should look at a high-wattage amp with speakers large enough to handle the output; otherwise, the high wattage is a waste.
How many watts do you need for gigging?
A gigging guitarist playing with a drummer should use at least a 50-watt solid-state amp or a 30-watt tube amp. However, larger gigs in big open venues may require a 100-watt solid-state amp or a 50-watt tube amp. Keep in mind that most venues will mic your amp, so your speakers won’t do all the work, the PA system will project your amp.
How many watts do you need for practice?
If you are just playing guitar alone in your room or practicing with a band, you don’t need to play as loud as you would at a gig. You’ll only need an amp that has between 10 to 30 watts. However, you can always use a larger amp for practice with the volume turned down.
How many watts do you need for recording?
I recommend using a 10-30 watt tube amp or a 20-50 watt solid state amp for a recording session. You really don’t need to use a massive 50-watt tube amp for a recording session. But you also may want to get louder levels than you would in a practice session.
When it comes to your guitar amp’s speakers, size matters! The size of your speakers goes hand in hand with wattage and will determine how loud the amp can play. Medium to large-sized amps should have at least one 10-inch speaker, but it is also common to see 12 and 15-inch speakers. Larger amps and cabinets typically have 2 to 4 speakers in them. In my opinion, 12-inch speakers sound the best for guitar amps because they match the frequency parameters a guitar makes. That being said, 15-inch speakers have more low-end, and 10-inch speakers have a unique “boom” effect, so it really depends on what kind of sound you are after. I don’t recommend using speakers smaller than 10 inches for anything other than practicing because they will not be loud enough.
Are tube amps louder than solid-state amps?
Tube amps use entirely different technology than solid-state amps. They are the preferred amp type for most guitarists because the tubes offer a more authentic and clear sound. One of the biggest contrasts between tube amps and solid-state amps is that tube amps sound much louder even when at the same wattage. While tube amps aren’t actually louder, they sound much louder because when you start playing louder out of a tube amp, the sound distorts and the overdrive boosts the signal. So, a 20-watt tube amp may sound louder than a 50-watt solid-state amp.
How many watts does the typical guitar amp have
Guitar amps come in all sizes, from tiny 1w speakers to massive 100w+ stacks. Here are the size ranges of typical guitar amps and how loud they can get.
less than 5 watts
Anything less than 5w is not going to get very loud. These amps are generally called mini or micro amps and are not loud enough for gigging or playing with a drummer. But a 5-watt tube still can have a bit of power and can definitely be used for practicing at home or even with another guitarist. That said, 5-watt tube amps break up and distort at much lower volumes than higher-wattage amps.
Many small beginner amps are in this range. A 15w solid-state amp is definitely a suitable size for practice and even small gigs. A tube amp in this range will be pretty loud, especially if it has a 10 to 12-inch speaker.
This is what most guitarists consider the golden range. Amps in this wattage range are usually loud enough to play most gigs but aren’t overkill for smaller settings. You won’t have to push the amp too hard in live settings, but it isn’t so loud that you have to keep the master volume at 1 the entire time.
This is where amps start getting much bigger. A 50-100w amp can get very loud and is typically unnecessary unless you want a seriously loud amp and are playing big venues. The benefit of these amps is that they still sound great at loud volumes since you don’t have to crank them. A 50w+ tube amps are quite popular for this reason.
How many watts does a bass amp need?
Bass amps need more power than guitar amps due to the lower frequency notes of bass. So while a guitarist can easily get by with a 50-watt amp, bassists need an absolute minimum of 100 watts, even for a practice rig.
Can you play guitar through a bass amp?
You can absolutely play guitar through a bass amp! Many guitarists prefer them because they have a wider frequency range and provide a deeper tone than guitar amps.
Can you play bass through a guitar amp?
While you can play guitar through a bass amp without any problems, it is not a good idea to play bass through a guitar amp. Guitar amps are not made to handle the low frequencies of basses, so you will risk blowing the speaker if you play bass too loudly out of a guitar amp.