Simple Guide to Guitar Amp Controls & Settings

If you have an electric guitar, you’ll need a guitar amp for it to sound like it does on real songs. The controls vary, but here I’ll take you through the common controls.

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Controls on the amplifier

Most of these controls are found on all amplifiers. Many amplifiers have 2 'channels' named Clean & Overdrive switchable by a button or pedal.

Volume – Loudness

Gain/ Drive - Technically signal level, but in reality it’s the amount of fuzz, aka overdrive! There are 2 types of Gain or fuzz;

Overdrive – More natural sounding ‘fuzz’ sound similar to old valve amplifiers Distortion – A massive amount of fuzz, generally artificially created

EQ/ Equalization - How we affect the treble, mid and bass

  • ?Bass – Low frequencies, deepness, boominess, etc
  • ?Middle – in between low and high. Boosting can make your sound more prominent or clearer (great for solos), reducing can fill out your sound, making your amp sound bigger ?
  • Treble – High frequencies, brightness
  • Common guitar FX

    Some amplifiers have effects built in, many don't. I prefer choosing an amplifier without effects as you tend to get a better quality amp if it doesn't have a lot of flashy effects on it. You can then choose the effects stomp boxes you like, or purchase a multi FX to cover all the bases. in my experience, FX that come in stomp box or multi FX format tend to be of higher quality than those that are built into an amplifier.

    Reverb – the sound of a space, a room or hall sound, basically a lot of echoes but they sound just like a room or a big hall.

    Delay - can be a single echo, or many echoes, but each ‘delayed’ sound can be heard think the guitar sound of U2 songs, or when you shout down a tunnel

    Chorus - The sound is duplicated to sound like many guitars at once, like a 'chorus' of singers. Very 80s sounding with a watery/ ripple like sound quality, used in the intro of Knocking On Heavens Door by Guns n' Roses!

    Phaser - Similar to chorus, but sounds different. Hear it on the intro of Mystery Song by Status Quo!

    Flanger - again similar effect type to chorus, but sounds more like a jet plane taking off! Hear it on Breakdown by Foo Fighters!