What is more important – a good guitar or a good amp?

On a limited budget, what is more important – a good guitar or a good amp?

I’d strongly argue the amp and I’ll explain why.

You can buy a workable low end guitar nowadays. My secondary guitar is a low end Schecter. My primary is a Paul Reed Smith, but anyone who tours knows Murphy’s Law – just when you’re about to do a lead and you got that hot groupie eyeing you, a string will break and you have to quickly switch guitars.

So considering our budget, the band spends its money on recording, session musicians, and of course our sound. We also spend a lot of money on our videos. That leaves very little money for nice to have items, like secondary guitars.

My secondary guitar cost me a whopping $128 used. It’s Schecter’s low end model, but the thing is, it’s a damn good guitar, other than the pickups being so bad that they’re unusable. So yes, I had to go out and buy Seymour Duncan (JB in the bridge and 59 in the neck). That cost me another $130, so now we’re talking $258. Still cheap.

This Orange head cost $2300 and each speaker cabinet is $1000. Worth every penny. Of all the high end amps I’ve tried so far, I like the following the best:

My favorite high end amps so far (no, I haven’t tried everything)

Mesa Boogie – Wonderful all-around amp. Warm but heavy sound.
Peavey – Amazing gain. Love the dirty channel. Every note was crisp, but the clean channel lacked soul and was unusable.
Laney – Dollar for dollar, this amp was the best of the series. I’d argue that if money was an issue, go with Laney.
Marshall – Wonderful all-around amp. Now this is personal opinion and comparing amp sounds is like comparing your taste in beautiful women with your best friend – it is subjective. You could argue that one woman is more beautiful than the other and your best friend could argue the opposite, but in reality, both women are beautiful. Same with amps. I’d take Mesa Boogie over Marshall. My opinion.
Orange – That said, Orange makes the best amps both for Metal and for the Blues.

All five of these amps are good enough and it really comes down to personal preference.

So before I continue the what is more important – amp or guitar argument…

What constitutes a good guitar?

1. The neck. If the guitar has a lousy neck, it’s a lousy guitar. It’s not even usuable
2. The pickups. Good thing about these is you can always swap them out for the pickups you want.
3. Features – 22 frets vs 24? 3 pickups vs 2? Tremelo system? 7 strings vs 6 strings? Things like this could be a deal breaker too.
4. Looks. Yes. This is important. Every guitarist wants to look good and anyone who says otherwise is a liar.

And the very last thing we have to discuss before getting to my argument is what makes a guitar sound good.

In order of importance – what creates good sound?

1. The amp. A crappy amp, it doesn’t matter if you’re the best guitarist in the world with the best guitar in the world. You’re going to have a crappy sound. Your playing may still be impressive, but your sound will not.
2. The guitar itself. Mostly when I say this, I mean the wood. But it’s also the shape and of course how much wood. Obviously if you used the best wood and your body was just a 2×4, you’re going to have crappy sound.
3. The pickups. Crappy pickups will kill a guitar sound even with the right amp and the right guitar. The good thing about this problem is you can always swap out the pickups.

So the closing argument for good guitar or a good amp…

You really need to watch the video. I play both a low end guitar with a high end amp, and a pretty good guitar with a high end amp. Not too much difference in both the sound in the playing. Of course, the Paul Reed Smith is better on both accounts, but if you’re thinking dollar for dollar, not by enough if you’re stretched thin on budget.

I’m not going to torture you with a crappy amp and a very good guitar. It will be torture to your ears. It will be torture to your neighbors. In fact, your neighbors may throw a brick through your window.

I rest my case. Buy a good amp first.

Roman and Skitz from Astral Eyes

Roman and Skitz


Roman is an artist, composer, writer, and travel junkie, and he can still throw a football

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