Student Guitar Amp Buying Guide

Choosing your first practice amp can be a difficult process due to the amount of choices available on the market today. As a student studying music performance at LIPA sixth form college, I needed an amp that was suitable for everyday practice with good quality sound and ideally a few built in FX. So, I put 5 amps to the test, all within the same price range to see which one suited me best.


Let’s start with the Marshall Code 25. The first feature of this amp that appealed to me is the ability to stream music from an IOS or Android device via Bluetooth. This would make practicing along to a backing track easier as it would mean I wouldn’t have to bother with an extra speaker in order to get the sound levels right. Another feature, which caught my interest, was being able to use CODE as a DAW interface to record onto a computer. Often, I have to send certain guitar parts to other musicians so they can practice along. Rather than using a separate recording device to do this, Code 25 is handy and no sound quality is lost. This is useful is you are in a band and struggle to arrange practices. With over 27 FX built into the amp it definitely gives a varied range.


Moving on, I tested the Boss Katana 50, which was definitely a favourite. This amp is slightly bigger than the Marshall Code 25 with 50-watt power as opposed to the Code’s 25-watt power. One of the features I like about this amp is that I’m able to control the amount of power the amp gives out. This amp has the option of; clean, crunch, lead, brown and acoustic along with 58 FX. Although this amp doesn’t offer the same features The Code 25 does, I really liked the sound quality of this amp, and the tones I could achieve easily with the FX.


Next, I tried the Blackstar ID Core 40. The sound quality of this amp was also very good. This amp offers 12 FX, which is a lot less than the Code 25 and the Katana 50. However, it does have more channels than the Katana 50. It offers; clean warm, clean bright, crunch, super crunch, OD1 and 0D2 which all have a nice tone. Whilst I wanted an amp with FX,I also wanted an amp that was simple to use, with a bit of practice I’m sure controlling the FX of this amp would become easier but I found the Katana 50 to be a lot simpler. If recording into your computer is something that you would like, this is a cheaper alternative to the Code 25 as it has the same feature.


After that, I tried the Fender Mustang GT-40. This amp offers 21 upgraded amp models and 47 FX. This amp has WIFI meaning you can easily do software updates on the amp, as well as Bluetooth so you can share what you are playing through the Fender Tone app. Similar to the Code 25, you can stream music from your mobile device, and so it can also be used as a high quality speaker. This is the most expensive of all the amps I have tried, and offers an aspect of each.


In the end, I decided to purchase the Boss Katana 50 as I feel it suited me best and what I wanted it for, I like the fact it has so many FX and the good sound quality.

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