Should I upgrade my amp, or my guitar?

This question has been around for much longer than I have. Musicians are often faced with these conflicting issues, often losing sleep and damaging their relationships. “Should I buy that Mayones or just get that Friedman I saw?”

The true question you should be asking is, “Am I satisfied with my tone?”

Every aspect of your gear affects your tone, even your cables. I would argue that most of your tone comes from the amplifier you use. Every amp model has a different gain structure, different voicings, different EQ structure, and pretty much everything else aside from tubes. Even then, different tube manufacturers have tons of different tubes, all differently voiced and made of different materials.

Amplifiers are long term investments. I see people trade guitars like currency everyday, and I myself usually don’t keep a guitar for over 6 months unless I absolutely love it. If you’re looking for a new sound, consider the fact that buying a new amp isn’t always the most cost-efficient approach. There are plenty of companies that mod amps, such as Voodoo Amps, and a ton of different pedal companies that help you change your sound.

Amp mods are something I have yet to venture into. However, friends of mine that have gotten their amps modded are very happy with them. Professionally installed modifications to your amp’s circuit do not harm value, they can often make your amp sell for more than the usual used prices; often by $100 or more. I plan on sending my Peavey 5150II to Voodoo Amps just to see how it behaves afterwards. If all goes well, I may even write about it!

If you’re looking to refresh the high gain of your amp without the hassle of shipping it off to be modded, I recommend looking into overdrive pedals. They’re all different and each one adds something cool to the table, whether it be built-in noise gates or true vintage distortion. Some pedals are even made to mimic the gain of other amps or other legendary pedals.

If you’re satisfied with the way your guitar feels and sounds, then an amp upgrade or pedal upgrade may be the answer for you. If you feel like you can get more out of your guitar then you should consider upgrading or getting a new guitar!


Now let’s talk about guitars.


Guitars have been upgraded since aftermarket parts became available. I can guarantee that almost every guitarist has owned or will own a little partscaster project at one point.

If you feel like you can get more out of your guitar, you can always just switch out the pickups or upgrade the hardware. This is honestly a cost-effective way of turning a cheap guitar into a true performance machine.(We have an article dedicated to showing some love to your cheap guitars). Even if your guitar isn’t cheap, there may be things that you may want to change to suit your particular needs or style.

One of the biggest changes you can make to your guitar is upgrading the pickups. This may require some soldering. If soldering is something new to you, we have an awesome in depth guide on how to solder!

Changing the bridge can also have a big impact on your guitar. It can improve tuning stability, intonation, and sustain. All three of these characteristics are crucial, whether you perform or just jam in your bedroom. Changing the nut and tuners can also help you get more out of your guitar.  A good nut can improve tuning stability, intonation, and sustain too. Locking tuners give you the best tuning stability you can get.

A good set up will have a huge difference on how your guitar feels. Raising or lowering the action and adjusting your neck to your needs can really affect how much you bond with your guitar. Most guitarists prefer to have low action and a flat neck. This setup is really good for faster playing! Blues guitarists historically had high action, one guitarist that had very high action was Stevie Ray Vaughan. SRV used really thick strings and a high action. Many people claim that that was an important part of his tone.

If you’re still unsatisfied with your amplifier or guitar after trying everything than it would probably be a good idea to change your rig up a bit. Many of us own multiple guitars and amps, simply because we like to collect! If you just want to change things up, do you!

In the end, do whatever makes you happy. I’m in no position to tell you to not get that Friedman you saw for sale, or that sweet Mayones you saw a week ago. GAS is a serious condition and must be enabled at every possible moment!


Whatever you do, if you decide that a new guitar is the way to go, don’t forget that we are authorized dealers of a ton of great brands and can get you your dream guitar at the best price point possible!

We hope you enjoyed this article! If you did, make sure to check out more, because we upload new reviews, technical articles, lessons, and more daily!

This article was written by Mike Azernov, our editor located in New York

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