Hooking Up Your Amplifier
Any budding musician should know how to play his/her own instruments. Pianists should know how to fiddle with the piano while guitarists should know how to pluck the strings of a guitar. Any budding musician should also know the other devices that one should have to get the most out of their respective instruments.
There are many accompanying electronic devices that a musician should have as part of their musical arsenal. Of course, each instrument will have devices that are unique to them. For example, a drummer should have a pedal to go with the bass drum. Some of the staple are the equalizers, stereos, cable wires, and the venerable amplifier.
Amplifiers are devices used to make the output of your instrument greater than it’s natural intensity. That is why it is called as an amplifier, it amplifies. Some sounds may be distorted because raw amplification may also amplify unwanted sounds. Equalizers are tasked to edit the sound coming out from the amplifier.
The steps below will talk about the “installation” per se of an amplifier to your chosen instrument. The instrument “guitar” will be used in this case owing to its familiarity for the general public but any instrument will do provided some deviation from the steps to be listed below will be observed.
Step One: Gathering Needed devices
As with other endeavors, planning and gathering the needed devices/materials are essential in order to be successful. Listed below are the devices that you may need for this particular activity.
- Audio Amplifier (may also be named as Guitar Amplifier for amplifiers specific to guitar use).
- Surge Protector
- Guitar (or any kind of instrument that can be connected to an amplifier)
- Speaker (if amplifier has no built in internal speaker)
- Equalizer (if amplifier has no built in internal equalizer)
- Guitar Pedals
Step Two:Getting your Amplifier Ready
The following steps must be followed according to the sequence prescribed below.
- Go to the back of the amp and locate the power cable. It is usually the only cable wire at the back of your amp. Also, the back of the amp is almost bare, as the front of the amp will have all the knobs and controls.
- Most of the power cables in audio amps are detachable. Make sure to never interchange the ends of the cables. You do not want to insert the end that is supposed to be inserted to the amp to the power outlet.
- Connect the male side of the power cable (the one with the pointy ends) to the power socket. Make sure that the power socket that you are using is grounded. You do not want to be electrocuted. A socket that is grounded will have three prongs to insert to.
Protip: Get surge protector to defend your audio amplifier from random spikes in your electrical supply. Surge protectors look like extension wires with additional outlets (power strips). The only difference is that surge protectors can defend your amps from up to a certain degree of electrical spike (capacity is usually undisclosed) while power strips offer close to zero protection.
Step Three: Combo or Not?
Check if your audio amp is a combo one. Combo Amplifiers have its own speaker built-in to its superstructure. You can skip this step if your won amp is a combo one although you may still follow this step if you want to use a bigger speaker.
Note: A cabinet is a placeholder/container of one or more stereo-speakers.
- Buy a cable that can connect an amplifier to a cabinet (speakers). Ask the staff from a music store for this.
- Locate another port at the back of your amplifier. Ask an expert or read the manual if you are having some difficulty.
- Connect the cable to the aforementioned port.
- The other end should be connected to another port in the cabinet. Again, ask for expert help if you are unable to locate the port.
Step Four: Connecting your Guitar
- Another cable (audio cable should be used for this step).
- Locate the output port on your guitar (or any instrument that is compatible with an audio amplifier). This is located at the front of the head of the guitar, below the strings.
- Insert one end of the audio cable to the output port of the guitar.
- Locate the input port of your audio amplifier. This is located at the front of your your amp. Their maybe different input ports as each port will produce a different iteration of the input coming from the guitar. Experiment with these.
- Insert the other end of the audio cable to the input port of your amp.
Protip: Your amp must always be off if no guitar is connected. Only turn it on if said guitar is already connected. Doing otherwise may damage your amp. 😉
Step Five: Turning your Amp on
Turn on your audio amplifier once it is connected to the power socket and the guitar. The on/off switch is at the front part of your amplifier. Consult the manual if you can not located the said switch. This problem usually arises of your amp is a second-hand one and the names of the switches has already faded.
Troubleshooting: Here are some steps that you may enact if your audio amplifier does not turn on even if you have plugged in and flipped the on/off switch to on status.
- Use another power outlet. The power outlet that you are currently using may be faulty. Have it checked by an electrician.
- Use another surge protector. The surge protector that you are currently using may be faulty.
- If both the power outlet and the surge protector are fine then it is time to have your audio amplifier to be checked by a repair shop nearby. Also, you may also call the customer service number of the audio brand that you have. Also check if you audio amp is under warranty.
Step Six: Adjustments
You can alter the output once the amp is on. Listed below are ways to edit the sound coming out of your amp.
- Adjust the volume. Take special not of the knobs “Pre” and “Post” (Drive and master for some).One knob controls the pre-amplification volume while the other controls the post amplification-volume.
- Use an equalizer to further edit the sound. An equalizer edits the frequencies of the sound. The equalizer may be built-in your amp or may be a separate device.
- Buy a guitar pedal to further change the sound.
Follow the steps above and you will be enjoying your guitar in no time. If you are having some difficulties, don’t hesitate to approach any studio staff near your area. For device problems, call the customer service hotline for your respective amp brands.
I’m Mark Mullen. For the last 20 years I’ve worked with some of German’s biggest bands and promotion companies organizing industrial sound systems and special acoustic installations. I created this site as a resource for my many friends worldwide to make the process of buying a quality amp easier.