Guitar amplifier

Mesa-Boogie "Mark IV", a guitar combo amplifier
A 1940s-era Valco combo amp.
Fender Deluxe 1953
Gibson Lancer GA-35 (mid-1960s) guitar amplifier
U2 guitarist The Edge's 1964 Vox AC30 combo amp.
A Fender Bassman amp head with a 15" speaker cabinet.
Kustom 200 bass amp – amp head and speakers, 100 watts RMS, two channels, two 15" speakers, 1971
Gjika Gold Amp ("Shawn Lane Amp) 1989 - Class A single-ended high-power 8-EL34 tube guitar amplifier that was used on Shawn Lane's Powers of Ten.
The glow from four "Electro Harmonix KT88" brand power tubes lights up the inside of a Traynor YBA-200 bass guitar amplifier
Rear view of a tube (valve) combo guitar amplifier. Visible are two glass output tubes, six smaller preamp tubes in their metal tube retainers, and both the power transformer and the output transformer.
A modeling amplifier, shown from above. Note the various amplifier and speaker emulations selectable via the rotary knob on the left.
Metal guitarist Klaus Eichstadt in front of his Marshall stack.
A 3×6 stack of mock Marshall guitar cabinets for Jeff Hanneman of Slayer
A Marshall JCM 900's knobs for equalization, gain, reverb and volume.
Marshall is a popular amplifier manufacturer for metal and hard rock. Pictured is the MG15DFX guitar amplifier.
Even in the 2010s, the vintage Fender Bandmaster remains a sought-after amp by guitarists. Note the four inputs, two for regular sound and two that run through the onboard "vibrato" (tremolo) effect unit. The amp pictured is a 1968 model.
The patch bay at the rear panel of this Line 6 Flextone guitar amp provides several additional inputs and outputs, including stereo XLR DI unit outputs.

Electronic device or system that strengthens the electrical signal from a pickup on an electric guitar, bass guitar, or acoustic guitar so that it can produce sound through one or more loudspeakers, which are typically housed in a wooden cabinet.

- Guitar amplifier
Mesa-Boogie "Mark IV", a guitar combo amplifier

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A "Turbo Distortion" guitar effect pedal manufactured by Boss

Distortion (music)

Distortion and overdrive are forms of audio signal processing used to alter the sound of amplified electric musical instruments, usually by increasing their gain, producing a "fuzzy", "growling", or "gritty" tone.

Distortion and overdrive are forms of audio signal processing used to alter the sound of amplified electric musical instruments, usually by increasing their gain, producing a "fuzzy", "growling", or "gritty" tone.

A "Turbo Distortion" guitar effect pedal manufactured by Boss
The guitar solo on Chuck Berry's 1955 single "Maybellene" features "warm" overtone distortion produced by an inexpensive valve (tube) amplifier.
Big Muff fuzzboxes: a NYC re-issue (L) and a Russian Sovtek version (R)
Waveform plot showing the different types of clipping. Valve overdrive is a form of soft limiting, while transistor clipping or extremely overdriven valves resemble hard clipping.
Triode valve
The Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer is a popular overdrive pedal
A pair of 6L6GC power valves, often used in American-made amplifiers
A Line 6 modeling amplifier shown from above. Note the various amplifier and speaker emulations selectable via the rotary knob on the left.
Electronic audio compression devices, such as this DBX 566, are used by audio engineers to prevent signal peaks from causing unwanted distortion.

Guitarists playing electric blues originally obtained an overdriven sound by turning up their vacuum tube-powered guitar amplifiers to high volumes, which caused the signal to distort.

A stereo graphic equalizer. For the left and right bands of the sound content, there are a series of vertical faders, which can be used to boost or cut specific frequency ranges. This equalizer is set to a smiley face curve, in which the mid-range sound frequencies are cut.

Equalization (audio)

Process of adjusting the volume of different frequency bands within an audio signal.

Process of adjusting the volume of different frequency bands within an audio signal.

A stereo graphic equalizer. For the left and right bands of the sound content, there are a series of vertical faders, which can be used to boost or cut specific frequency ranges. This equalizer is set to a smiley face curve, in which the mid-range sound frequencies are cut.
Equalizers are also made in compact pedal-style effect units for use by electric guitarists. This pedal is a parametric equalizer.
The very uneven spectrum of white noise played through imperfect speakers and modified by room acoustics (top) is equalized using a sophisticated filter using digital hardware (bottom). The resulting "flat" response fails, however, at 71 Hz where the original system had a null in its response which cannot be corrected.
Two first-order shelving filters: a −3dB bass cut (red), and a +9dB treble boost (blue).
Second-order filter responses.
400px
UREI graphic and parametric EQs; the device on top is a Power conditioner.
The equalizer-section from the Audient ASP8024 Mixing console. The upper section has high and low shelving EQ, the lower section has fully parametric EQ.
A first order low-pass (high-cut) filter implemented using only a resistor and capacitor.

Equalizers are used in recording studios, radio studios and production control rooms, and live sound reinforcement and in instrument amplifiers, such as guitar amplifiers, to correct or adjust the response of microphones, instrument pick-ups, loudspeakers, and hall acoustics.

Electric guitar

The "Frying Pan", 1932
Electro-Spanish by Ken Roberts, 1935
The Fender Stratocaster has one of the most often emulated electric guitar shapes
Epiphone semi-acoustic hollow-body guitar
Detail of a Squier-made Fender Stratocaster. Note the vibrato arm, the 3 single-coil pickups, the volume and tone knobs.
Tune-o-matic with "strings through the body" construction (without stopbar)
Pickups on a Fender Squier "Fat Strat" guitar—a "humbucker" pickup on the left and two single-coil pickups on the right.
Roasted Maple guitar neck blanks with flame figure before shaping
A bolt-on neck
A neck-through bass guitar
An electric guitar store

An electric guitar is a guitar that requires external amplification in order to be heard at typical performance volumes, unlike a standard acoustic guitar (however combinations of the two - a semi-acoustic guitar and an electric acoustic (see below) guitar - exists).

Alternating current (green curve). The horizontal axis measures time (it also represents zero voltage/current) ; the vertical, current or voltage.

Alternating current

Electric current which periodically reverses direction and changes its magnitude continuously with time in contrast to direct current (DC) which flows only in one direction.

Electric current which periodically reverses direction and changes its magnitude continuously with time in contrast to direct current (DC) which flows only in one direction.

Alternating current (green curve). The horizontal axis measures time (it also represents zero voltage/current) ; the vertical, current or voltage.
A schematic representation of long distance electric power transmission. From left to right: G=generator, U=step up transformer, V=voltage at beginning of transmission line, Pt=power entering transmission line, I=current in wires, R=total resistance in wires, Pw=power lost in transmission line, Pe=power reaching the end of the transmission line,  D=step down transformer, C=consumers.
Three-phase high-voltage transmission lines use alternating currents to distribute power over long distances between electric generation plants and consumers. The lines in the picture are located in eastern Utah.
A sine wave, over one cycle (360°). The dashed line represents the root mean square (RMS) value at about 0.707.
The Hungarian "ZBD" Team (Károly Zipernowsky, Ottó Bláthy, Miksa Déri), inventors of the first high efficiency, closed-core shunt connection transformer
The prototype of the ZBD transformer on display at the Széchenyi István Memorial Exhibition, Nagycenk in Hungary
Westinghouse Early AC System 1887
(US patent 373035)

In certain applications, like guitar amplifiers, different waveforms are used, such as triangular waves or square waves.

A pedalboard allows a performer to create a ready-to-use chain of multiple pedals to achieve certain types of sounds. Signal chain order: tuner, compressor, octave generator, wah-wah pedal, overdrive, distortion, fuzz, EQ and tremolo.

Effects unit

Electronic device that alters the sound of a musical instrument or other audio source through audio signal processing.

Electronic device that alters the sound of a musical instrument or other audio source through audio signal processing.

A pedalboard allows a performer to create a ready-to-use chain of multiple pedals to achieve certain types of sounds. Signal chain order: tuner, compressor, octave generator, wah-wah pedal, overdrive, distortion, fuzz, EQ and tremolo.
Various type of guitar and bass effect pedals.
Ibanez Tube Screamer TS9 overdrive pedal
An example of an effects chain. From the input [right] to the output [left]:
Rackmounted effects in road cases. These road cases have the front protective panels removed so the units can be operated. The protective panels are put back on and latched shut to protect the effects during transportation.
The Eventide HE3000 Ultra-Harmonizer pictured here displays the entire name of an effect or setting, which helps users to find their preferred settings and effects.
Multi-effects like this Boss ME-50 include many effects in one pedal.
Even in the 2010s, the vintage Fender Bandmaster remains a sought-after amp by guitarists (pictured is a 1968 model). Note the four inputs, two for regular sound and two which are run through the onboard tremolo effect unit.
A Fender Vibrolux Reverb amp and a ROSS amp
The Fuzz Face effect pedal.
Several Boss pedals connected together.
"Clipping" an instrument's audio signal produces distortion
A rack of rackmount audio compressors in a recording studio. From top to bottom: Retro Instruments/Gates STA level; Spectra Sonic; Dbx 162; Dbx 165; Empirical Labs Distressor; Smart Research C2; Chandler Limited TG1; Daking FET (91579); and Altec 436c.
Peter Frampton's Talk box.
Thomas Organ Cry Baby Wah-wah pedal (1970) manufactured by JEN.
An MXR-101 Phaser pedal
An Electro-Harmonix Polyphonic Octaver Generator (POG).
A vintage Echoplex EP-2 delay effect
Folded line spring reverberation
An EBow guitar string resonator.
A Line 6 modeling amplifier shown from above. Note the various amplifier and speaker emulations selectable via the rotary knob on the left.
A rotating Leslie speaker in a clear plastic cabinet. Typically, the Leslie is mounted in a wooden cabinet.
A selection of bass effect pedals at a music store.
T-Rex brand "Mudhoney" overdrive pedal.
Some rock and pop guitarists and bassists use "stompbox" format electronic tuners.
This footswitch controls an effect (distortion), but it is not an effects pedal as the case does not contain effects circuitry; it is just a switch.

They may also be built into guitar amplifiers, instruments (such as the Hammond B-3 organ), tabletop units designed for DJs and record producers, and rackmounts, and are widely used as audio plug-ins in such common formats as VST, AAX, and AU.

Piezoelectric balance presented by Pierre Curie to Lord Kelvin, Hunterian Museum, Glasgow

Piezoelectricity

Electric charge that accumulates in certain solid materials—such as crystals, certain ceramics, and biological matter such as bone, DNA, and various proteins—in response to applied mechanical stress.

Electric charge that accumulates in certain solid materials—such as crystals, certain ceramics, and biological matter such as bone, DNA, and various proteins—in response to applied mechanical stress.

Piezoelectric balance presented by Pierre Curie to Lord Kelvin, Hunterian Museum, Glasgow
View of piezo crystal in the top of a Curie compensator in the Museum of Scotland.
A piezoelectric disk generates a voltage when deformed (change in shape is greatly exaggerated).
Piezoelectric plate used to convert audio signal to sound waves
Any spatially separated charge will result in an electric field, and therefore an electric potential. Shown here is a standard dielectric in a capacitor. In a piezoelectric device, mechanical stress, instead of an externally applied voltage, causes the charge separation in the individual atoms of the material.
Tetragonal unit cell of lead titanate
Piezoelectric disk used as a guitar pickup
Many rocket-propelled grenades used a piezoelectric fuse. Pictured, a Russian RPG-7
Metal disk with piezoelectric disk attached, used in a buzzer
A stick-slip actuator

It is used in the pickups of some electronically amplified guitars and as triggers in most modern electronic drums.

Tremolo notation

Tremolo

Trembling effect.

Trembling effect.

Tremolo notation
Tremolo examples

Electronic tremolo effects were available on many early guitar amplifiers.

MTX Audio loudspeaker enclosures (with rear panel reflex port tubes) which can mount 15 inch woofers, mid-range drivers and horn and/or compression tweeters. In this photo, only one driver is mounted.

Loudspeaker enclosure

Enclosure in which speaker drivers (e.g., loudspeakers and tweeters) and associated electronic hardware, such as crossover circuits and, in some cases, power amplifiers, are mounted.

Enclosure in which speaker drivers (e.g., loudspeakers and tweeters) and associated electronic hardware, such as crossover circuits and, in some cases, power amplifiers, are mounted.

MTX Audio loudspeaker enclosures (with rear panel reflex port tubes) which can mount 15 inch woofers, mid-range drivers and horn and/or compression tweeters. In this photo, only one driver is mounted.
A cabinet with loudspeakers mounted in the holes. Number 1 is a mid-range driver. Number 2 is a high-range driver. Number 3 indicates two low-frequency woofers. Below the bottom woofer is a bass reflex port.
A Lansing Iconic multicell horn loudspeaker from 1937.
Medium density fiberboard is a mediocre material out of which loudspeaker enclosures are built.
A small "bookshelf speaker", an LS3/5A, with its protective grille cover removed.
A box stuffed with fiberglass insulation to increase the effective volume of the box.
A closed-box loudspeaker enclosure.
Isobaric loudspeaker in a cone-to-magnet (in-phase) arrangement. The image above shows a sealed enclosure; vented enclosures may also use the isobaric scheme.
Bass reflex enclosure.
RCA shelf stereo bass reflex multi-way speakers.
Passive radiator enclosure.
Compound or 4th-order band-pass enclosure.
Dipole speakers and their radiation pattern.
Horn loudspeaker schematic.
Multiple entry horn.
Transmission line enclosure.

Electric musical instruments invented in the 20th century, such as the electric guitar, electric bass and synthesizer, among others, are amplified using instrument amplifiers and speaker cabinets (e.g., guitar amplifier speaker cabinets).

A Fender "combo" amplifier. The combination amplifier is a preamplifier, power amplifier and tone controls and one or more loudspeakers or drivers mounted in a portable wooden cabinet. This amp's sound is being picked up with a microphone in a recording studio.

Instrument amplifier

Electronic device that converts the often barely audible or purely electronic signal of a musical instrument into a larger electronic signal to feed to a loudspeaker.

Electronic device that converts the often barely audible or purely electronic signal of a musical instrument into a larger electronic signal to feed to a loudspeaker.

A Fender "combo" amplifier. The combination amplifier is a preamplifier, power amplifier and tone controls and one or more loudspeakers or drivers mounted in a portable wooden cabinet. This amp's sound is being picked up with a microphone in a recording studio.
A Vox AC30 used by The Beatles
A small Gibson "combo" amplifier.
A 3×6 stack of mock Marshall guitar cabinets for Jeff Hanneman of Slayer
A 2 x 10" bass speaker cabinet stacked on top of a 15" cabinet, with separate bass amplifier "head" unit
A small keyboard amplifier suitable for at-home practice capable of mixing the inputs from two keyboards.
A Trace Elliot "Bonneville" tube amplifier as seen from the rear view: note the vacuum tubes extending into the wooden cabinet.

Instrument amplifiers are available for specific instruments, including the electric guitar, electric bass, electric/electronic keyboards, and acoustic instruments such as the mandolin and banjo.

Dale in 2013

Dick Dale

American rock guitarist.

American rock guitarist.

Dale in 2013
Fender Showman, owned by Dick Dale
Dale performing in 2006

Working together with Leo Fender, Dale also pushed the limits of electric amplification technology, helping to develop new equipment that was capable of producing thick and previously unheard volumes including the first-ever 100-watt guitar amplifier.