How to find the best Guitar Amp Settings (2023)

by Guest Contributor | How to find the best Guitar Amp Settings (1) 4,2 / 5,0 | Approximate reading time: 7 Minutes

How to find the best guitar amp settings –5 common mistakes · Source: Remise 3


Your long-cherished dream has finally come true and you’re standing in front of your dream amp and the perfect combination of pedals, holding the guitar of your dreams. But no matter what you do: The sound isn’t what you had hoped for. And even if it sounds halfway decent at home, chances are that the sound still doesn’t cut it in the rehearsal room or on stage. Many of us have been in this situation and there are various reasons for it. But mostly, it comes down to the guitar amp settings – and those are usually easy to fix. In this article, we share five tips on how to find the best guitar amp settings.


Guitar Amp Settings – Quick Facts

What different types of guitar amplifiers are available?

  • Tube amps still play a major role, because their sound has shaped the characteristic guitar tones from rock and metal to jazz and country. But transistor (solid-state) amps and so-called modeling amps are also becoming more and more popular.

What is the difference between tube amps, transistor amps, and modeling amps?

  • Tube amps create their sound with classic vacuum tubes, while transistor amps are based on semiconductors and modeling amps use digital DSP algorithms to reproduce the characteristics of various amps. Hybrid amps, which usually use a combination of a tube preamp and a transistor power amp, are another variant.

Which amp has the best sound?

  • No matter which type of guitar amp you use, you’ll basically find similar knobs and settings on all of them. The tips in this article aren’t limited to a particular type of amplifier, but apply to all.

1. Fine-tuning guitar amp settings – by yourself or with your band?

Many people make the mistake of sitting in front of their amp in their living room and tweaking the knobs until they’re happy with the results. But you’re forgetting one thing: The sound also depends on the context! The best sound doesn’t do you any good if you can’t cut through the mix. So here’s my tip: Dial in your sound in the rehearsal room, together with your bandmates. Ask your band to play a groove, so that you can find the best guitar amp settings for your band’s overall sound. Finding the best sound for each instrument is an important part of rehearsing, and one that the whole band should participate and have their say in!

What if that isn’t an option?

If you can’t work on your guitar amp settings together with your band, you should at least listen to a backing track at home and adjust your guitar sound accordingly. When you’re done, the resulting sound may sound weird or unfamiliar on its own, and that’s perfectly normal. Just listen to some isolated guitar tracks from famous players on Youtube. You’ll be surprised how different a guitar sounds by itself, when the context of the song is removed!

2. How to find the best EQ setting on your guitar amp

Why the midrange is so important

The midrange frequencies from about 400 Hz to 4 kHz can sound unpleasant and very direct, especially when the high mids are overrepresented. Unfortunately, the two terms “assertive” and “pleasant” aren’t necessarily on the same page. If you set the mids too low, you get a pleasant feel-good sound that can conceal weaknesses in your playing, but it puts you at the back of the line in the mix. The guitar is a midrange instrument; it has its strongest frequencies in this range and also the strongest bite and potential to cut through. In other words: While too much midrange can sound unpleasant, the mids are also where your guitar can really shine and sit well in the mix. Too much bass gets in the way of the bass player, and the treble and high-mid ranges are often reserved for keys or vocals.

How to dial in the right amount of mids

Since the midrange control is designed differently on every amp, and the cabinet and guitar also contribute to the sound, it’s not possible to give universal advice. However, if you feel that your guitar isn’t really coming through, just try it out! By the way, the room you’re in can also affect the sound. So try to stay flexible and don’t stick to a certain knob setting!

The analyzer curves below are an example of what the mid control does on a Marshall Plexi. On the left, the mids are at the minimum, and on the right, they’re cranked all the way up. As you can see, the mid knob causes a significant boost between 700 Hz and 2.5 kHz. Of course, this will look different with other sounds and amp models.

Effect of the mid knob on a Marshall Plexi

3. Guitar Amp Settings: How much Reverb?

Reverb is often used as a mixing tool to create depth: the more reverb, the further back in the mix a sound is perceived. Of course, this applies to guitar amps as well, and that’s why you should use caution when using reverb.

It feels great to have a bit of reverb in the guitar signal, and again, it can gloss over and cover up some playing weaknesses. But it’s usually best to leave it to the mixing engineer to determine the required amount of reverb – on stage and in the studio. Using too much reverb can also make your guitar sound muddy.


That said, there are of course situations where you need reverb as an integral part of your sound. Some styles like surf, rockabilly, or ambient rely on reverb as a characteristic effect. But a good engineer will know this and adjust the overall settings accordingly. If you must use your own reverb, use it sparingly and turn it down if it washes out your sound too much.

  • Best budget reverb pedals

4. Guitar Amp Settings: What does the Gain Knob actually do?

Many guitarists tend to reach for the gain knob when they want to sound heavier and more aggressive. However, the opposite often happens. Guitar amp settings with a lot of gain compress your sound, wash out the attacks, and soften the transients. However, it’s understandable that you might want a “singing” high-gain tone, especially for lead sounds, and plenty of gain also makes playing much easier. So here’s my tip: Dial in a rhythm sound with a moderate gain setting and a lead sound with a bit more distortion. Again, make your guitar amp settings in the context of the band and check that the sound comes through and is well-defined in the overall mix.

5. How to adjust the Channel Volume

Do you use a two-channel amp or pedals?

A common problem is that despite your efforts to dial in matching settings, clean and rhythm sounds often differ in volume. This is due to the fact that different sounds have different perceived loudnesses, depending on which frequencies are particularly dominant.

How do the pickups affect the amp sound?

Let’s say you use the clean channel with an intermediate pickup setting and the rhythm channel with a bridge humbucker, which is somewhat louder. Consider these choices carefully in the context of the band and the overall mix. Play to a backing track and move back and forth between both channels. Also ask your bandmates what they think of the sound.

Having a hard time saying goodbye to sounds?

Sounds that feel good in the practice room might not be the same on stage or with the band. Try to be open to the fact that certain tough choices are beneficial to your band’s overall sound. This way, you’ll find it easier to let go. The mixing engineer and your bandmates will appreciate it!

How to remember your Guitar Amp Settings

Cell phones are an awesome way to document guitar amp settings! My tip is to set up your amp in the rehearsal room the way you want it to sound, and then take a picture of it right away. Then you’ll be able to quickly reproduce those settings at your next gig or rehearsal.

We hope this article has been of some help to you for finding the best guitar amp settings!

More Guitar and Amp Tips for Beginners

  • The best guitar for beginners: Acoustic or electric?
  • Best Boutique Guitar Amps
  • Best Value Tube Guitar Amps
  • Best Practice Amps
  • Best Electric Guitar for Beginners
  • Best Acoustic Guitar for Beginners

Note: This article was originally published in German on

Image Sources:

  • Effect of the mid knob on a Marshall Plexi: Remise 3

How to find the best Guitar Amp Settings (5)How to find the best Guitar Amp Settings (6)

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3 responses to “How to find the best Guitar Amp Settings”

    23 May 2023 at 3:24 am

    sound good


    How to find the best Guitar Amp Settings (12) Daniel Lurie Gittelson says:

    23 May 2023 at 2:49 pm

    Play through a DAW with background music and record. Adjust guitar sound until you get what you want


    23 May 2023 at 6:21 pm

    appreciate new information on new gear thanks


    Leave a Reply

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How to find the best Guitar Amp Settings? ›

For a distorted tone, set your amplifier settings to 7-9 for gain, 4-5 for bass, 5-7 for mids and 5-7 for treble. For metal, consider decreasing the mids and increasing the treble and bass. For heavy rock distortion, lower the gain slightly, and increase the mids. Keep in mind, that this is just a starting point.

How do I get the best sound out of my guitar amp? ›

How to Make a Guitar Amp Sound Better
  1. Understand your amp.
  2. Ease off on the gain.
  3. Boost your mids.
  4. Placement is key.
  5. Consider adding pedals.
  6. Care for your cables.
  7. Select the right pickup.

How do I set my amp to sound better? ›

Getting a Good Clean Tone
  1. Select your clean channel or turn the gain down if you don't have multiple channels. ...
  2. Turn off all amp effects and effect pedals. ...
  3. Bring the bass, mid & treble knobs all to 12 o'clock. ...
  4. Keep the gain fairly low and adjust the volume to a suitable level. ...
  5. Jam for a while to get a feel for the tone.
Jun 27, 2016

What is the best amp setting for rhythm guitar? ›

Most rhythm guitar settings will be around 4-6. Bass: this refers to the low-end sound that your amp produces. The lower the bass, the thinner the sound will be. Try your bass on around 5-6 to start with and then work from there.

What amp settings did Jimi Hendrix use? ›

Question: What Amp Settings did Jimi Hendrix Use? Answer: Jimi Hendrix's amp settings depended greatly on the song he was performing, but generally, he has the bass at around 4, the mids at 8, the treble at 6, and the gain at 4 or 5.

What frequency should I set my amp to? ›

Set the crossover point around 10 Hz below the lowest frequency your speakers can produce without issue. (keep in mind that the most common recommendation for crossover frequency is 80 Hz).

What is the best tone for electric guitar? ›

Bright, chime-y clean tones are great for giving your playing lots of clarity. Go easy on the gain, because any distortion will lead to too much harsh high frequency distortion, but be sure to give it enough that it sounds nice and full.

Does amp gain affect sound quality? ›

On the other hand, gain increases the loudness which ultimately affects your speaker's sound quality. Increasing the gain on your speaker will result in a louder sound output but without any distortion. Increasing the gain further on your speaker will eventually reach the volume limit of the amplifier or speaker.

How do I know if my amp is powerful enough? ›

A good amplifier uses signal power with maximum efficiency, achieving a high signal-to-noise ratio. That is, the level of the audio signal is significantly higher than the accompanying signal noise. Anything above 100 dB should provide excellent sound quality with minimal distortion and maximal clarity.

Should I use high or low input on guitar amp? ›

When it comes to guitar amps, there are two types of input signals that can be used: high and low. High input signals are typically used when the guitar is being played through an overdriven amp, while low input signals are best suited for clean tones.

How do I match my guitar amp to my speakers? ›

As a general rule, the wattage of your guitar amp should be twice the wattage of your speaker. So, if you have a 100 watt speaker, you should look for an amp that is 200 watts or less.

What amp settings did Metallica use? ›

A relatively low mids-setting is characteristic for Metallica, which is often described as “scooping” the amp. Treble: this determines the high frequency sounds. The higher the treble is, the sharper and more defined the sound will be.

What amp settings does Metallica use? ›

Metallic Amp Settings and EQ Best Practices
  • Amplifier. GAIN: 10 / BASS: 8 / MID: 6 / TREBLE: 4 / REVERB: 0.
  • Guitar. VOLUME KNOB: 10 / TONE KNOB: 10 / PICKUP POSITION: Middle or Bridge.
  • Distortion Pedal (if needed) VOLUME: 5 percent above amp's clean volume / GAIN: 8 / BASS: 7 / MIDS: 6 / TREBLE: 3.
Dec 27, 2022

How loud should a guitar amp be on stage? ›

In general, however, most amps should be turned up to at least half volume on stage to ensure that the audience can hear the music clearly. If you're playing in a large venue, you may need to turn the volume up even higher to be heard over the noise of the crowd.

What amp settings did Eddie Van Halen use? ›

This tone is pretty simple, Eddie Van Halen used his legendary Marshall Plexi amplifier famously cranked to the hilt with every knob turned up to 10 (or 11!) and his iconic Frankenstein guitar with the single humbucker in the bridge. The reverb and room mic effects mixed in also have an influence on this recording.

What amp settings did Van Halen use? ›

If you are trying to achieve Van Halen's tone, start with the following amp settings: Channel: distorted. Gain: 7-8. Bass: 5-6.

What amp settings does ACDC use? ›

Quick Guide AC/DC Amp Settings

Gain: 5-6. Bass: 4-5. Mids: 5-6. Treble: 6-7.

Why does my guitar amp sound so bad? ›

There can be many reasons why your guitar amp might sound bad. It could be that the tubes need to be replaced, or that the speaker is blown. It could also be that the settings on the amp are not ideal for the type of sound you're trying to achieve.

What amp settings for blues? ›

The Quick Answer. Start with the following amp settings for blues guitar: low-moderate gain (2-4), low-moderate bass (2-4), medium to high mids (6-8) and medium to high treble (6-8). If your amplifier has built-in reverb, make sure you turn this on and have it set to around 1-4.

How do I make my amp sound crunchy? ›

To get a good crunch tone, use either the overdrive channel on your amp with the gain halfway, or use the clean channel and crank the gain. Alternatively, use an overdrive pedal through a clean amp. Slightly boost the treble and mids in comparison to the bass and use the bridge pickup on the guitar.

What should my gain be set at? ›

For using tones and your ears to set an amp's gain, I recommend sticking with only the 40, 100, 400, or 1K Hz tones. They don't hurt at all. The 100 Hz tone alone will do for both subwoofer and full-range speaker amps.

How should I EQ my amp? ›

When learning how to EQ a guitar amp, gradually tweak each control until you find the sweet spot. When you EQ your amp, make sure that you spend some time on each control. Don't just dive straight into adjusting every single knob, pick one control and gradually turn it until you are happy with your guitar tone.

How many channels should my amp have? ›

The number of channels you need on your car amplifier depends on the number of speakers you have in your car sound system. Generally, you need one channel per speaker.

What is most important for guitar tone? ›

Middle - This is this most important control. Middle (mids) settings can change the whole character of the sound. Taking the mids out of a heavily distorted sound (a low setting of 2-3) might give a classic 80's "scooped rock" sound whereas a higher mid setting will make it more “honky”.

How do I make my electric guitar sound professional? ›

To start you off right, here are 10 great tips for improving your electric guitar tone, as published on
  1. Use fatter strings: If you're after fatter tone, try using heavier strings. ...
  2. Understand your speakers: ...
  3. Be clear: ...
  4. Go unplugged: ...
  5. Play fewer notes: ...
  6. Play with dynamics: ...
  7. Use two amps: ...
  8. Tune your guitar:
Feb 10, 2012

How do I get the best rock guitar tone? ›

Nailing the Classic Rock Tone
  1. Choose your gear. ...
  2. Make your EQ work for your guitar. ...
  3. Balance amp and guitar volume. ...
  4. Don't go too gain heavy. ...
  5. Use Effects to your advantage.
Jan 28, 2021

What happens if gain is too high? ›

If the gain is too high at the input stage, your audio will reach the point of distortion or clipping. This can be a good or bad thing depending on what you are going for, as you might want to get some distortion with an amplifier, though you might want a clean tone for digital audio.

What happens if gain is too low? ›

Noise floor will take over if you do not give your microphone enough gain to counter it. Not providing your microphone with enough gain will cause the signal to be too close to the noise floor which will result in a low signal to noise floor ratio.

How many watts is a good amplifier? ›

For home use your amp should be around 20W. For most gigs and live performances in venues that hold around 100 people, you should have either a 20W tube amp, or a 40W solid state amp if you're playing without a band. If you're playing with a drummer, you'll likely need a 100W solid state amp, or a 50W valve amp.

How many watts is a powerful amplifier? ›

Considering the above specifications, you will need an amplifier that is compatible with the speaker having 4 ohm impedance, and the amp should have at least 20W of power output. But to get good enough performance, the amplifier needs to be 150W at least because the higher range of the speaker is 300W.

How much louder is a 100 watt amp? ›

One watt=90 dB. One hundred watts, or 100X more power=110 dB. That's a huge increase in power but only a "doubled double" (4X) increase in terms of perceived volume levels!

Do guitar amps sound better on the floor? ›

When placed on the floor, the amp will “couple” with the surface, boosting low frequencies. When miking the amp for recording or sound reinforcement, that boosted low end can create problems. 2. The amp will disperse its sound into the room better if it is raised up.

Should a guitar amp be on the floor or stand? ›

With your amp on the floor, it is absorbing a lot of bass vibrations directly from the amp and transferring them through walls and ceilings. By raising the amp, you take away the chance for the floor to project your bass throughout the building.

How important is wattage in a guitar amp? ›

While many factors can affect the volume of an amplifier, such as the efficiency of the speaker and the type of music being played, wattage is one of the most important. Simply put, the more watts an amplifier has, the louder it will be. This is why 100 watt guitar amps are usually louder than 50 watt amps.

Is it OK to use a 16 ohm speaker with 8 ohm amp? ›

Case 1: running a 16 ohm speaker with an 8 ohm amp output

With this combination, the voltage at the speaker output will rise, while the current will almost halve. The power will drop, although you probably won't notice it too much, as this combination will likely increase the mids in your tone.

Do amp and speaker ohms need to match? ›

The bottom line: Our general advice would be that it's fine to connect speakers with a higher impedance to an amplifier capable operating with a lower impedance, but what you shouldn't do is connect speakers with a lower impedance (say, 4 ohms) to an amplifier with a higher minimum impendence (10 ohms, for example).

What power amp for 100w speakers? ›

A 50-watt per channel amplifier will work fine with speakers rated at 100 watts.

What amp did the Rolling Stones use? ›

Richards is well known for his use of Marshall amplifiers. He has been using them since the early days of the Stones, and they are still his amplifier of choice today. He typically uses a 100 watt Marshall head with 4×12 cabinets. Richards' amp setup is fairly simple, but it is highly effective.

What amp did paul McCartney use? ›

What a lot of people do not know is that the 1964 6G6-B Bassman was actually the most recorded amplifier by The Beatles. The amp was first used by Paul McCartney as his main bass amp from 1965 to mid 1967 (he did use a Vox during this time but not as much as the Bassman).

What amp did Bon Jovi use? ›

What amps do Bon Jovi use? The lead guitarist of Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora primarily uses Blackstar and Marshall amplifiers.

What amp did Megadeth use? ›

For the type of high gain thrash metal that Megadeth is known for, there really is only one amp: Marshall. Mustaine has used both the JCM800 and JVM410H. These amp heads are usually paired with either a 1960 or ORI Marshall cabinet. He hasn't exclusively used Marshall amps, however.

How do I make my amp sound metal? ›

The Quick Answer. To achieve a good metal tone, have your amp settings on high for bass and gain, mid-low for the mids setting and mid-high for the treble setting. The key to achieving a good metal tone is high gain, high sustain and lot's of low-end (bass).

What is ideal amplifier noise? ›

For an ideal amplifier, when a signal passes through the system, then no noise is added to the signal, and input SNR is equal to the output SNR and hence NF for the ideal amplifier is 1 or 0 dB.

What guitar amp settings for rock sound? ›

So what settings do you need for rock music? Usually for the having the bass on 5, the treble on 4 and the mids on 7 is a good place to start. If you're struggling to get a thick tone, but don't want to up your gain any more, then try increasing your mids.

Why does my guitar sound bad on amp? ›

The most common reasons for a muddy guitar sound are having your guitar's tone knob is turned down too far, using old guitar strings, or your amp's EQ knobs are set wrong.

How do I get the best metal sound from my amp? ›

The Quick Answer

To achieve a good metal tone, have your amp settings on high for bass and gain, mid-low for the mids setting and mid-high for the treble setting. The key to achieving a good metal tone is high gain, high sustain and lot's of low-end (bass). Remember, this is just a starting point.

How do you make a solid state amp sound like a tube amp? ›

Use a Tube Preamp Distortion Pedal

Turn a Solid State Amplifier into a "Tube Amp" with a Tube Pedal?! Using a tube distortion pedal, you ensure your tone does not lack the character you might lose when using a solid-state or digital distortion. These distortions are known to sound fizzy and, in some cases, lifeless.

Can a good amp make a cheap guitar sound good? ›

Yes, they can. If you are good enough, you can make any guitar sound good. Also, the amp and strings you are using have a huge impact on your tone. So if you replace stock strings with better ones and choose a solid amp, you can sound really good with a cheap guitar.

Why do old guitar amps sound better? ›

Why do vintage amps sound so good? Vintage amps have a stronger sound due to the fact that their internal circuitry is primarily hand-wired, with an emphasis on detail. Furthermore, tubes add warmth to the output, which makes it more musical, and even order harmonics add order to the sound.

How long should a guitar amp last? ›

So, how long do guitar amps (solid-state, tube) last? A solid-state amp usually lasts more than 30 years even if you play it every day. Tube amps have a similar lifespan, but they require additional work like re-tubing every 2 years.

What not to do with a guitar amp? ›

Never, never, never run the amp with no speaker plugged in. This can cause major damage. Do not flip the power switch off, then back on rapidly. This can cause power supply damage.

Can an amp ruin a guitar? ›

If you're a guitar player, you've probably wondered if plugging your guitar into an amplifier can damage it. The answer is yes and no. While an amp can't physically ruin your guitar, it can cause serious damage if it's not used correctly.

Why do cheap guitars sound bad? ›

Generally, cheap guitars come with really thick top woods. It means that much of the sound is absorbed in the wood, reducing sound volume or color when you play. It can lead to a poor and uninspiring sound. Unfortunately, you can't fix this problem because you can't change your guitar's body.

How do you get a crunchy metal tone? ›

How to improve guitar tone for metal:
  1. Use high quality gain (with amp or pedal)
  2. Use either scooped amp settings or tighter bass.
  3. Use the bridge pickup.
  4. Add some pedals (distortion and compression are useful)
  5. Use a high gain amp.
  6. Pick a guitar designed for metal.

What amp settings for Metallica? ›

A relatively low mids-setting is characteristic for Metallica, which is often described as “scooping” the amp. Treble: this determines the high frequency sounds. The higher the treble is, the sharper and more defined the sound will be. Turn the treble up to 6 to start with to avoid the tone becoming muddy.

Do tubes sound better than solid state? ›

Are solid-state or tube amps better? Answer: Tube amps are generally regarded as “better”, more dynamic, responsive and pleasing on the ear in terms of sound quality at high volumes, but solid-state amps have more functionality and built-in features and are often cheaper and need less maintenance.

What solid state amp sounds most like a tube amp? ›

Whilst there are countless solid state modeling amps on the market, few come anywhere close to producing the truly authentic, tube-tones of Fender's Tonemaster series, which is why our pick for the best solid state amp you can buy right now is the Fender Tonemaster Deluxe Reverb.

Why do tube amps sound better than solid state? ›

One reason for the superior sound of tube amps is that they tend to produce a more natural and organic sound. This is because tube amps generate their sound by amplifying the vibrations of the guitar strings, rather than using digital signals like solid state amps.


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