If you grew up in the 1980s, you probably received a Gorilla GG-20 amp for practicing your electric guitar.
Even the look of this amp screams like it came from 1985.
You’ve got the diagonal gold stripes across the front, some squared mesh for diffusion, and the brand name in large print along the bottom right when facing the unit.
Were you a bass player in the 1980s? If so, you might have had a Gorilla GB-30 amp instead. It offers 30 watts of power and a three-band EQ to deliver some extra results.
Does Anyone Remember Gorilla Amps?
Although Gorilla amps provide a nostalgic moment for guitar players in the 1980s, the product offered a low-quality sound. It was suitable for practicing, but it could not impress a room during a gig. Since younger players used them, cranking the volume to max didn’t help matters much.
Gorilla amps might not have a high reputation today, but you can find some enthusiasts looking for ways to bring back the memories of their earliest lessons online.
If you had one of these, do you remember writing those two chord songs to perform for your friends?
We think of those moments with fondness.
When you give an honest thought about how the Gorilla amp performed, it was like putting guitar strings against corrugated cardboard while having a box fan blowing in the room.
If you look in the gear rooms of today’s guitarists, you’ll see the Gorilla amp sitting there quite often.
They don’t use them because of how they sound, but they also don’t get rid of them because of the nostalgic value it offers.
Think of the Gorilla amp as the place where you start learning how to play the electric guitar. It lets you practice and compose without putting your better equipment at risk of failure.
What Does the Gorilla Amp Sound Like?
When you plug a modern guitar into the Gorilla GG-20, you’ll receive a reasonably pure tone when the volume levels stay low.
It helps to run the sound through a compressor microphone AND use EQ gear to eliminate the hum and buzz that comes from the unit.
After taking those steps, the amp’s sound feels like it could rival anything that gets produced by today’s top brands.
By the time you get your setup to a place where the amplifier shines, you’ve spent as much as you would on one that isn’t designed for beginners.
That’s where the benefits typically end for guitarists. Once you switch to the distortion effect on a Gorilla amp, you lose crispness and note detail.
Even if you’re picking, tapping, or lightly strumming, the only way to avoid frequency loss to the listener is to play and stop each note.
If you have the expertise to make them sound good, a Gorilla amp is a legitimate cheap buy that can let you rig up a vintage set.
The issue is that these amps were often encountered by a generation who were learning their first chords on them.
Best Beginner Amps to Start Using Today
If you can find a Gorilla amp at a Goodwill store, St. Vincent de Paul thrift shop, or a Habitat for Humanity resale location, it might be worth picking up.
You won’t want to spend more than $30 on it in that situation.
When you have some cash to put down for a beginner’s amp, you’ll find that several excellent models are available today.
It might be better to put that $30 toward one of the following equipment choices!
When you want an amp of a similar size and output for learning to the Gorilla GG-20, your best option today is the Fender Mustang LT-25.
This digital guitar amp delivers an 8-inch speaker with a unique design that makes it feel like a top-cabinet unit.
It comes with a simple user interface with a 1.8-inch color display to let you manage your sounds.
You’ll have almost triple the adjustments on this Fender amp compared to the older models that get stashed into closets.
It even provides a wooden cabinet with a built-in handle for easy portability.
There’s a USB interface for firmware and recording updates, along with a stereo headphone output for practicing without disturbing others.
Although this guitar amp only produces 12 watts through a six-inch speaker, it still comes with a three-band EQ and dual-gain controls.
You’ll find the sound quality is remarkably high, even at louder volumes, making it a suitable option for portable practice or an impromptu gig with a trusted microphone.
The Orange Crush PiX CR12L lets you find the right tone comfortably with its dialing mechanisms.
You can add overdrive or manage the gain while taking advantage of the unique basketweave front that comes from this brand. No one will believe this unit is only 12 amps when you start using it!
If you want a little extra power with your new electric guitar amp, the Fender Mustang GT-40 is an excellent choice.
Once you reach this level, you’re potentially paying as much for the amplifier as you did for the instrument.
That means you’ll want to be committed (or be getting this amp for someone who is) to stay the course on the learning process.
What makes this amp stand out from most other beginner’s models is its Bluetooth® inclusion.
You receive streaming and control for the amplifier through a companion app on your mobile device. A 24-month warranty is included with the purchase.
Additional Gear You’ll Need for Playing the Electric Guitar
If you’ve never played the electric guitar before, you might think you’re ready to go when you have an instrument and one of these amps available to use.
That’s the beginning of your gear needs instead of the end. You’ll want to make sure these additional items are available.
|Picks:||● You’ll need to get a few high-quality picks to get started. |
● Thinner picks typically work better than thicker ones to help you learn how to strum.
● It’ll also reduce the risk of snapping strings as you get to know your instrument better.
|Tuner:||● Although some beginner instrument kits come with a guitar tuner, you’ll want to invest in a reliable one eventually. |
● If you’re just getting started, a clip-on model is suitable for most players.
● Once you start putting together a pedal collection, you’ll want to route it through there instead.
|Spare Strings:||● Even with the thinnest picks possible, strings wear out on your instrument. |
● You should get into the practice of having at least two complete spare sets at home to ensure you can keep playing if something happens.
● Although everyone has unique preferences, it helps to find a brand you like and stick with it.
● Playing with 2+ different manufacturers is a recipe for disaster.
|Guitar Strap:||● Since you’re not playing a classical guitar, you’ll want a strap to balance your instrument while practicing. |
● A wider one will better distribute the weight across your shoulders, so try to get something measuring at least three inches for the best results.
|Strap Locks:||● If you plan to stand and play your guitar, you’ll want strap locks in place to prevent the instrument from falling. |
● Without this gear, you’re risking a fall that starts high enough that the instrument’s neck could snap.
● Since the cheaper ones work, there’s no excuse to try to save money at this step.
|Metronome:||● When you start learning how to play the guitar, you’ll want to think about the rhythms and speed you need to strum, pick, or tap. |
● You can find online options that sound tones to keep you on pace, but the mechanical ones produce the best results.
● Although you’ll need to wind them, it’s possible to get a 20- to a 30-minute practice session with each effort.
|Capo:||● A capo lets you change the pitch your guitar plays on open strings. |
● It sits across your instrument’s neck to switch the key when you play chords.
● When you look for this equipment, you’ll want to make sure the item is rated to work with your string type.
● Electric guitars aren’t compatible with ones that use nylon strings.
Gorilla Amps: One More Thought to Consider
A final item to consider for your new guitar and amp combo is a music stand. Although you can put your music or learning lessons on a table or couch, this technique leads to poor playing form.
You’ll find it is much easier to achieve positive results without straining your muscles or joints with a music stand that lets you move pages or hold multiple sheets simultaneously.
Gorilla amps will always be something that I remember fondly. I spent long evenings in my room, strumming my guitar while looking up at the stars through my window.
Although I can’t remember the songs that were written at that time, those moments helped shape the musician I am today.