Do You Need An Amp To Play Electric Guitar? The Top 3 Options!

do you need an amp to play electric guitar?

Do you need an amp to play electric guitar in 2023? Well, yes and no! Today we look at your options if you are just getting started with electric guitar.


Do You Need An Amp To Play Electric Guitar? Yes, and No!

If you are just getting started with electric guitar, then you have probably noticed that you need something to amplify the actual electric guitar. Amps are what make the guitar ‘electric” in the first place right? The most traditional way to do this is with a regular amplifier. So yes, you DO need a guitar amplifier of some sort. But there are many more options these days.

A physical amplifier will always be the easiest way, especially if you are not tech savvy. Not to mention the myriad of choices that are available these days, from tiny amps to gigantic ones!

We are going to take a look at all of the different amp options you have as a guitarist, starting with actual traditional amplifiers. There are so many different ways to amplify your guitar nowadays, and some can be just as easy as plugging into a physical amplifier. There are so many amp options, and we will guide you through the best!


#1. A Traditional Practice Amp: The Easy Way!

Do you need an amp to play electric guitar

Traditional amplifiers will never go out of style. The most popular amplifier for beginners is called a “combo amp” and it has a speaker built in. These come in all shapes and sizes, and here in the office we all use the BOSS Katana! These are an easy way to start playing electric guitar for beginners, and most practice amps come with a headphone jack these days to play quietly.

Physical amps come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. You certainly do not need to spring for a big one these days, with a large speaker. There are many of the “mini amp” styles that are portable and even run on batteries! The choices really are limitless. One of our favorite “mini” amp is the Spark by Positive Grid, since it is small and can be controlled with your phone via the Spark App!

Practice amps are usually on the smaller side, but they are perfect for “bedroom” guitar practice. Many amps these days have built-in effects, and they have many sound options. Many of these smaller amps have everything you need to get started playing electric guitar.

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Bonus Amp: Fender Mustang Micro: The Portable Amp

do you need an amp to play electric guitar?

Do you need an amp to play electric guitar? Well, you need something LIKE an amplifier for sure! The Fender Mustang Micro is probably the easiest way we have found for beginners to get started. You simply plug the device into your guitar input, and put on a pair of headphones! It acts as a mini headphone amp, and we have done plenty of content about the Mustang Micro!

This little gadget works great if you plan on using headphones for guitar practice. It runs on an internal battery that lasts up to 4 hours, and has many different sounds/amplifier tones to choose from. There are built-in effects like reverb and delay, as well. The Mustang Micro also supports Bluetooth, so you can jam along with your favorite songs!


# 2. Processors/ All In One Units

These have also gained popularity over the last 10 years or so, and they keep getting better and better! The most popular brand is probably Line 6 when it comes to these kinds of “all in one” processors. These all have a line out/headphone jack that allows you to practice quietly. These “all in one” units can do just about anything, even the budget models.

These usually come in the form of a small pedalboard, and they can cost between $100 all the way to $3000! It really depends on the model, and how much you want the processor to do. The reason these are so popular, is because they “mimic” different amplifiers. You can have a pristine clean tone, or heavy Metal tones all in one unit!

These also come with tons of effects built-in, and ready to go. This means you never have to buy separate effects pedals, and these processor units can be programmed via USB with your computer! You can plug the unit up, and program all of the sounds you want, and then save that sound in a “bank”. Then you can pull up the “bank” any time you want, and you have that tone instantly!

do you need an amp to play electric guitar?

The expensive models like the Line 6 Helix is made for professionals, and many pro guitarists use them on stage! But even the less expensive models can hook up to your computer, and record your guitar. This is a great option if you want to start recording guitar. You can do it with just about any computer, and you can even record songs silently with headphones!

Multi-Effects Processors also have some valuable tools for practice as well. Some of these small units have a built-in drum machine, or a looper that will help you when it comes to practice. These are a great choice for any new guitarist that doesn’t have much space, and wants a portable “all in one” solution. They come pre-loaded with hundreds of sounds to try out, and can take the place of a traditional amp.

The learning curve when it comes to programming these yourself can be pretty steep with the bigger units. The small, affordable units are usually much easier to figure out since they have limited features. But you really cannot beat a good processor if you want lots of different sounds! Processors are ideal for tech-savvy guitarists!

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#3. Amp Simulators/Computer Programs

do you need an amp to play electric guitar?

This is the final way you can amplify your guitar, and it is the most popular way right now! Amp simulators are programs that you download on your computer. These act as a “virtual amplifier” and have a visual interface so you can change the settings. Most look just like a “real life” amplifier, they are just digital!

To do this, you need to have an audio interface for your computer like the Universal Audio VOLT. The interface then connects to your computer via USB, and you plug your guitar into the interface. This is not only simple, but also a great way to start recording guitar! You can use headphones as well so this is yet another quiet option to play electric guitar.

There are many amp sims out there to choose from, and some are even free! The expensive ones usually act more like a processor (listed above) since they mimic many different types of amplifiers and speakers. the more expensive ones have hundreds of options, while the free ones offer just one or two amps.

Almost all audio interfaces come with some sort of DAW, or “digital audio workstation”. These are the same programs that the big studios use to capture audio.

This is not only an inexpensive way to get started as a beginner guitarist, but it is the future of guitar. More and more professional studios are using amp simulators to record. This is because it is so easy to pull up the tone you want! Most amp sims work with Mac and Windows alike. All you need is an audio interface, and a computer!

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Do You Need An Amp To Play Electric Guitar?

As you see, the options are vast. You will always have traditional amps that are physical. But technology has really caught up! There are many ways now to amplify your electric guitar, and all of them work in different ways. Some people prefer a physical amplifier, while others prefer an amp sim, or multi-effects processor. There is no wrong way to amplify your guitar.

I still think that most beginner guitarists can benefit from having a real, physical amp to start out their journey. But there is nothing wrong with any of the options we have listed today. These are all great options, and your budget will dictate which method is best for you.

There are no wrong answers when it comes to choosing an amplifier! All of these methods are great, and it really depends on how involved you want the process to be, in the end. Some digital options do have a learning curve, but then again, so do physical amplifiers. Choose which one fits you the best.

Do You Need An Amp To Play Electric Guitar?

The options these days are vast. You will always have traditional amps that are physical, with a speaker. But technology has really caught up! There are many ways now to amplify your electric guitar. Some guitarists prefer a physical amplifier, while others prefer an amp sim, or multi-effects processor. There is no wrong way to amplify your guitar.

Are Real Amps Better Than Amp Sims?

There are no wrong answers when it comes to choosing an amplifier! All of these methods are great, and it really depends on how involved you want the process to be, in the end. Some digital options do have a learning curve, but then again, so do physical amplifiers. Choose which one fits you the best.

Do I need An Audio Interface To Record Guitar?

You need an audio interface to record electric guitar with your computer. The interface then connects to your computer via USB, and you plug your guitar into the interface. This is not only simple, but also a great way to start recording guitar! You can use headphones as well so this is yet another quiet option to play electric guitar.

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