So, you have a guitar and an amp, but you’re not sure how to get started. There are just a few things you need to know in order to start playing, and you will be operating your amplifier like a professional in no time.
First of all, you will need a guitar cable to connect your guitar to the amp. Be sure the amplifier is “off” and that the guitar cable is plugged first into the amp’s input jack. Plug the cable in all the way. Some amps have two input jacks, and it should not matter which one you use. When one end of your guitar cable is plugged into the amp’s input jack, plug the other end into your guitar’s output jack. Be sure it is plugged in all the way.
Next, you will want to make sure the volume knobs on your amplifier’s preamp are turned all the way down to zero. This is important because if the volume is turned up high when you turn on the amplifier, you may be greeted with horrible, screeching noise or feedback that wakes up your neighbors! If your amplifier has two volume knobs, turn both of them down all the way.
The last thing you will want to do before turning on your amplifier is locate the button on your preamp labeled “channel,” “overdrive,” or distortion.” Be sure that it is depressed, that is, that it is in the position where it is sticking farthest out from the amp. This is the button that will switch your amp from a clean to distortion or overdrive channel, and you don’t want to turn on your amp in anything other than clean channel if you’re using it for the first time. Again, the result may be an auditory disaster–wailing feedback one can hear out in the streets.
Now, make sure your amp is plugged in to the wall, and you’re ready to turn on the power to the amp by flipping the on/off switch. When you turn on the amp and strum, no sound should be coming out yet because you have the volume turned all the way down. Slowly turn up the volume until you can hear the sound of your guitar coming out of the amp while you play. When the volume is up high enough to your liking, just leave it there. Playing too loudly just makes it more difficult to pick out the nuances of your playing, and it’s not good for your ears. Adjust any other knobs to fit your taste as well. Your amp probably has adjustments for high (treble), low (bass), and mid (mid-range) tones that you can play with until you achieve a sound you want to maintain.
Finally, experiment with your amp’s distortion or overdrive channel. Press the channel selector button, and slowly turn up the volume knob associated with your amp’s other channel so that it is also at a comfortable level. This channel should also have its own high, low, and mid settings for you to adjust to your liking. Another additional adjustment in this channel, however, is the “gain” setting. The higher one sets the gain on his or her amp, the more fuzz and rough distortion is added to the sound of the channel.