How do I charge the Electric Guitar now?

Hi all! I’m going to buy an Electric Guitar for my husband to play with, but I know exactly nothing about Electric Guitars! What he asked for is it to be black and that he can have the distorsions effects :laughing:

He’s going to just muck around with it, no courses or anything as he won’t have much spare time with his job. He has an incredibile ear and can work out melodies in no time on the first two thinnest strings just for the fun of it, and he also has a strong and solid sense of Rhythm.

So my question is: what do I need to buy for the distorsion, an amp? a pedal? a pre-amp?

I need something small and on a budget just to start him off with for his mucking around…I guess he’ll just have fun to work out riffs and maybe I can find some Blues stuff he can easily learn.

Thanks in advance for helping me with this!

5 Likes

Hi Silvia -

I’m no expert, but my 2c would be to consider looking at something like the boss katana amp (if budget allows - it’s not too crazy). That has a lot of built in effects, including distortion. I don’t own one, but plenty here do. You could go the pedal route, but if you need an amp anyhow, then it’s a great place to start.
If distortion is his thing, then I’d be looking at a guitar with humbucker pickups, but you can get distorted sounds with pretty much anything.

1 Like

start him off with a pair of headphones and a headphone amp, then you can get him an amp that you can hear when he gets good.

they can be ridiculously cheap, like this one:

or ridiculously expensive like this:

Personally I’d go budget, then you can spend more on the guitar :grinning:

2 Likes

OK this one is pretty simple. Get one that you like even if you have no immediate plans. Encourage him not to follow any courses and make sure he gets absolutely no access to learning material. Give him a couple of months, he’ll jack it in and we can celebrate Silvias NGD. :wink:

15 Likes

Toby I don’t want an Electric Guitar for me, if I had to buy one more guitar I would buy an acoustic, mine is so heavy, I would like to have a lighter one. But it’ll be his Birthday in March and as we’re now going out for live music most weekends he’s getting so inspired! He would ask and retreat the day after…but yesterday while we were at the Pizzeria eating listening and tapping he went like: “so are you going to buy this f🤐 Electric Guitar or not?” It’s time to buy it. No time for formal learning, just find some fun and enjoyment in working out things as a child would.

1 Like

Fender Stratocaster and a kotana would be a good start

1 Like

If you get him a multieffect, you can use it as headphone amp AND have fun with distortions but also delays, reverbs etc…

light overdrive, good crunch or a bucketload of distortion is 3 different things.
Playing them dry without delay or reverb isn’t always that pleasing either.

I found a multieffect a valuable first step into effects because I had a lot for the price of 1, one connection and options to send it to any decent sounding clean amp.
It made me discover what effects I liked and which I’ll seldom use.

Heck, if it is a multieffect with a speakersim in it, you can send it to a home stereo as well!

2 Likes

Hey Silvia!

From what you’ve described I think something as easy to use as possible makes sense. No need for pedals, you need an amp to use them properly anyway.

If I was you I would get him a cheap (or maybe just inexpensive, instead of cheap) modelling amp. They have loads of effects and sounds built in, and some of heaps of presets you can scroll through to make it easy.

Ones to consider: Positive Grid Spark, Fender Mustang LT25 or LT50, Boss Katana. There are plenty of others too, but those are the most popular entry ones. I think the Katana costs a bit more than the other ones.

With any of those, he’ll be able to plug in, find a cool distortion tone and play away.

3 Likes

Hi Silvia

Would help to know where in the world you live, and roughly what the budget is for the guitar + amp/pedals

Also do you want your husband to hear the guitar, the whole house, or the whole street?

1 Like

Boss Katana Mk Ii, Squier strat or Tele & some decent headphones would be my advice. If he’s looking for humbuckers, Epiphone hss some nice modest cost SGs or Les Pauls.
Have fun & let us know which f :flushed::grimacing::zipper_mouth_face:ing electric you get!!!’

Tod

1 Like

Others have given good advice but, I thought I would go into some detail, as this seems to be an area you aren’t familiar with.

Just to be clear, regardless of whether he wants distortion or not, he will need an amp.

Playing an electric guitar without one is pretty pointless other than for occasional scale practice/warmups (but even those should be done with an amp where possible).

Now the good news is that guitar amps come in many forms, as others have indicated.

Detailing some of the main options:

Standard analogue guitar amp (solid-state or valve)
The two main types are combo (meaning they include both the amplifier and the speaker) amps you can also get separate amp “heads” and separate speakers. Most people go for combos.

These tend to be fairly large boxes because you really need at least an 8 inch speaker for these to sound good, and many amps come with a 10 or 12 inch speaker.

There are some smaller units, such as the Vox Pathfinders and others, and there are some smaller amp heads that you can pair up with a mini cabinet, such as the Orange Micro series. This is mine. It sounds decent, and it gets pretty loud, but the sound from the 8 in speaker is fairly compromised:

One advantage is the amp head is quite small and you can plug it into any sized cabinet of the right impedance, so I could take it a rehearsal room and plug it onto one of their speaker cabinets.

One thing to realise is the power output claims of guitar amps should largely be ignored: they are relatively meaningless. In reality, how loud a guitar amp gets isn’t just about the power output, but about the amplifier circuit and speaker efficiency. There are some 10W guitar amps that will be louder than other amps which claim to be 50W.

Whether the amp directly supports distortion or not depends on the amp. Some amps don’t really have anything other than a mild overdrive, whilst a Laney amp I used to own simply would not do clean tones at all.

Within this category, the only real difference between a “Practice amp” and other amps is how big they are and how loud they get. And what people consider to be “practice amps” is largely a matter of opinion (my Laney was considered a practice amp by some, but it was a 15W valve amp and I couldn’t turn the volume up above about 2 at home without damaging my ears).

Most amps of this sort will do overdriven tones, but to get “high-gain” or distortion it’s normal to do this with a separate pedal.

A lot of amps in this category don’t have headphone capability, and many of the ones that do don’t have a good-sounding headphone capability.

Full-sized Digital modelling amps
These are amps which are a similar form factor to the standard analogue amps (and similar sizes) but which use digital modelling technology and solid-state electronics.

The advantage of these is that they tend to be physically lighter, but also far more versatile as they not only model multiple styles of analogue amp, but usually also include a bunch of pedal emulations, so you won’t need to buy separate pedals to get all sorts of overdriven and distortion tones.

They also often have other capabilities like USB recording (so you can record without buying an audio interface) and they normally have decent headphone outputs. Some have Bluetooth so you can stream music to them, although in my experience in this category, it’s something you would only do for backing tracks, rather than for casual music listening.

And they usually will work at low volumes so you can use them both as a “real amp” for rehearsals with a band, as well as at low volumes for home practice use.

Popular amps in this category include the Boss Katana 50/100, The Fender Mustang series, The Fender LT series, Blackstar Core series, and many others.

Digital Modelling Practice amps
These are small, quiet amps dedicated for practice. These are really good if you need portability or don’t have a lot of space. I’ve been using my Yamaha THR10ii for the last couple of years in various apartments where I really couldn’t use a bigger amp. And it’s also portable enough that I can carry it as hand luggage on airplanes.

In general, these things do not get loud and are unsuitable for band practice or gigging. In some cases it is possible to plug in an external amp or powered speaker cabinet, but, in general, your options for this are fairly limited.

They come in a range of sizes from pocket-sized up to something larger than a shoe box.

They share a lot of characteristics with their larger cousins, but the sound quality from them is not naturally as good as they tend to have smaller speakers (5 inch or less) and use digital processing tricks to make them sound more like a proper guitar amp.

They tend to be simpler to use and have fewer capabilities than their bigger cousins, but that’s not always the case. Some of these amps really require an app to use them properly, so if messing with phone apps is a problem, that’s something to look out for.

In this category, most of the devices also support Bluetooth streaming, and they are very suitable for using to listen to music; they will give similar quality to a Bluetooth speaker of a similar size.

Some of these have options for battery use and wireless.

Devices in this Category include things like the Boss Katana Mini and Air, the Positive Grid devices, the Nux Mighty Space and Air, The Yamaha THR series

Headphone amps
These are portable units which have no speakers of their own and which, commonly, plug directly into the guitar. They are pretty much always digital modelling systems and have similar capabilities to practice amps (including, in some cases, Bluetooth streaming).

These can be connected to an external amp (like a home stereo) if you want, but the primary use for these is for headphones, so I wouldn’t consider these if he is likely to spend an significant time playing without headphones.

A lot of these are cheap enough that you can get them alongside another amp.

Most of them will need an app to control them.

Devices include the Vox Amplugs, Boss Pocket GT, Nux Mighty Plug, Fender Mustang Micro, etc. Also the Boss Waza Air which is actually a set of high-quality headphones with the guitar amp built in.

Multifx systems

These are, basically, similar to the headphone amps in that they are a digital modelling system without any speakers. But these are, almost always, floor mounting units with switches and, sometimes, expression pedals to allow them to be foot controlled.

These can either plug into a normal guitar amp to provide extra effects and tones, or into headphones. They can also be connected to dedicated speakers systems known as FRFR speakers.

These units are very common, with a wide variety at all price ranges from around $100 to $1,500 or more depending on the quality and capabilities you want.

Frankly, even at the low price points, many of these units are really good.

Examples include the Zoom series (G1X Four, G3, G5, etc.), Boss range (GT-1, GX100, GT1000, ME90 etc.), and units from Valeton, AxeFX, Neural (Quad Cortex), Line6 (Pod Go, Helix range), Fractal Audio (FM series), and Fender (ToneMaster Pro).

My personal view is, if you have the space for it, a Boss Katana or Fender Mustang would be a good choice for a versatile amplifier with more effects than you can shake a stick at, and the ability to be cranked loudly, but also to be used at bedroom volumes or with headphones.

If you just want headphone use, a headphone amp or a multifx pedal board. the former is more portable, but the multifx unit is more flexible and can be used without an app.

For a headphone amp, I would recommend the Nux MP3.

For a cheap multifx device, I think it’s hard to go wrong with a Boss GT-1. I’ve been using one for years and they can sound pretty good, are quite portable, and I’ve seen a fair number of gigging musicians using them (and Boss pedalboards in general), including this one:

Cheers,

Keith

12 Likes

Oh, what information you get Silvia :sweat_smile: …KISS, because of your description I say…second hand black guitar around 150 euros and a modeling amp also second hand max 200 euros and off you he go… :smiley:
Greetings

2 Likes

Great overview from Keith @Majik, interesting read!
I had the same thought as Rogier, maybe keep an eye also on the used market. Plenty off almost new stuff out there at interesting price points. Lot’s of people sell stuff in great condition. I think you can’t go wrong with a good modelling amp, like a Katana or a Fender Mustang and a nice quality guitar, which can both be resold, when your hubby gets more into it and takes his own decisions, maybe earlier as you think… the virus is treacherous :joy:.

2 Likes

These are nice, there is a cheaper model too (THR5) if you’re not looking to spend as much.

And of course I can recommend the Yamaha Pacifica guitar :slightly_smiling_face: (although it’s a bit heavy)

2 Likes

Thank you all so much for the input! So…I surely need an amp, probably a combo amp? No headphones thing, he wouldn’t use it.

Now I think I might get some very basic thing waiting for.,

I might need some more help…

1 Like

A Yamaha Pacifica or a Fender Squier? The Yamaha has that thing called humbucker @mathsjunky suggested for distortion + 2× single coil ( if only I knew what I’m talking about :rofl:) while the Fender has 3x single coil things (!?! what the heck! The Yamaha doesn’t say about the neck width, the wider would be the better choice.

I was thinking that if he can have a bit of distortion with the humbucker thing then I can go for a simple and cheap amp…if the guitar will get to be something more than a cool addition to the living room furniture I’m sure he’ll be able to chose what he likes best (also he knows a lot more than me about technology).

https://www.strumentimusicali.net/product_info.php/products_id/175522/fender-squier-sonic-stratocaster-mn-black.html

https://www.strumentimusicali.net/product_info.php/products_id/26995/yamaha-pacifica-012-ii-metallic-black.html

For the Amp you all mentioned the Boss Katana…but there are so many models…

You can distort any pickup. it is a function more of the amp/pedals than the pickup. The timbre will change with the pickup, and while we have two fundamental styles, they also vary based on design and choice of electronics around the pickup.

You will want to pick out if you like humbucker or single coil sounds. Did you see this video that was posted today?

Watch the pickup switch position throughout that video and associate that with the sound changes. This may give you a better idea of what to look for in a pickup.

For the Tele and Strat, switch to the player’s left will indicate the neck pickup, to the right will be bridge. There are other positions, but I didn’t see those used.
For the ES335 and Les Paul, the switch up means neck, middle means both pickups, and down means bridge.

1 Like

The humbucker alone won’t give you the distorted sound, but it will give a ‘fatter’ sound, typically with a higher output that distorts more easily. You can distort pretty much anything with a suitable amp or pedal. The Yamaha probably has more variety with both humbucker and single coil, but I’d say get whichever floats your (his) boat - you will still be able to distort it with the right amp or pedal.

1 Like

It’s a very popular, and well regarded amp, and not too expensive.

He will certainly have plenty of options to get “overdrive” from that: there’s 3 channels with various levels of distortion ranging from “crunch” to a fairly high gain “Brown” channel (with 2 variations on each). On top of that there are 20 emulations of boost, overdrive, and distortion pedals.

I should say a few (!) words about “distortion”: it’s a bit of a vague term that has been extended by the guitar-playing community beyond it’s original meaning, along with the term “gain”.

In electronics, “gain” is a measurement of amplification, and “distortion” is what happens when a signal gets damaged or corrupted in some way.

In the guitar world, when you turn the amp input stages up by increasing the “gain”, it tends to “overdrive” the amp: there’s too much signal for the amp to handle and it starts to distort it. As such, guitar players often refer to highly distorted tones as “high-gain” tones.

This is one form of “distortion” that is caused by the amplifier itself. You can increase the amount of guitar amp overdrive by putting something in front which increases the gain even further, and this is what “boost” pedals do.

More commonly, guitar players refer to this as “overdrive”, and tend to treat “distortion” as something separate: there are pedals which specifically create artificial distortion, using a variety of circuits (which usually perform “hard clipping”) which give different tonal characteristics to the distortion.

As @sequences says, this is largely independent of the pickups (although they can have a minor influence).

Which is why I said that, typically, guitar players looking for “distortion” traditionally tend to do this by using specific distortion pedals, like the Boss DS-1,the Proco RAT, or the Marshall Guv’nor (to name some of the more classic ones).

These, along with “soft clipping” overdrives and boosts, are built into many modelling amps, including the Katana.

As to which model, I would suggest the Katana 50 is a great starting point. The latest and greatest is currently the mk2, but you should be able to get the original Mk1 on the used market for a very good price.

Cheers,

Keith

3 Likes

I would agree with the Katana 50 mk2 as a great amp. I owned one for a while but eventually moved up to the Katana 100 mk 2 to give me enough sound to fill a hall. For home use, at full power, the 50 has more power than your neighbours will be comfortable with :wink:

3 Likes