How To Power A Guitar Amp Outdoors

how to power a guitar amp outdoors

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Are you a guitarist struggling to figure out how to power a guitar amp outdoors? If so, then you’re definitely in the right place.

Powering a guitar amp outdoors is actually easier than you think. There are multiple ways to power your guitar amp outdoors, including using a battery-powered amp, a gas generator, a car battery, and more. 

In this article, you’ll get to know all about using guitar amps outdoors, how to run a guitar amp off a battery, different ways how to power a guitar amp outdoors, important tips to remember when running your guitar amp outdoors, and more. Continue reading to know all the answers that you are looking for.

Can you power a guitar amp outdoors?

Although some consider it open for discussion, the electric guitar is easily one of the most versatile instruments. This instrument opens up an entirely new world of possibilities when combined with amps, pedals, and other devices to help you change the tone. But things can get tricky sometimes as you require all the devices if you want to sound good. It could become an issue when you’ve to go outdoors and perform. Even the smallest live shows can be quite difficult if you have to take your entire guitar rig with you.

If you need to play your guitar outdoors, you should bring your guitar gear with you. As you cannot play without an amp or some sort of PA system, this particular issue can become tricky. After all, it is not like you can easily find a power source in every little corner of the street. This gives rise to an important question – How to power a guitar amp outdoors?

Understand the different types of guitar amps

Once you know that you want to play your guitar outside, there are a few things that you’ll require. First, you will need a sturdy stool to sit on. There are different types of guitar amps that you can use, so you’ll need to know a thing or two about them.

Tube amps

A tube amp is an amplifier that will amplify the electric signals generated by an acoustic or bass guitar using valves or vacuum tubes. For electrically-powered string instruments, these signals are generated by the pickups. They will be transmitted through the tubes, which then end up getting amplified once they exit.

Many guitarists prefer using tube amps due to their warm, broad tone, and natural distortion. Most tube amps feature distinct channels, which can quickly turn from clean to distorted tones. Most tube amps come with distinct channels that quickly go from clean to distorted tones. However, tube performance may degrade over time. This is why this type of amp will require proper maintenance and replacement if needed.

Solid-state amps

Solid-state amps are primarily designed with power sections and a preamp that is made up of transistors. Solid-state amps are known for their dependability and longevity. Typically, solid-state amps offer a much “cleaner” sound compared to their tube amp counterparts.

These amps are popular among musicians for the purpose of practicing. Meanwhile, professionals use them frequently on tour, as they require very little maintenance. Solid-state amps sound great from the bottom up when talking about practicing volume. These amps are beneficial for bands and artists with a wide range of songs who frequently flip between different genres.

Modeling amps

Modeling amps or also known as digital amps are the modern iterations of an amplifier. These work by “modeling” the sounds of a wide variety of traditional tube amps using software technology. 

In simple terms, a modeling amp can easily simulate the sound quality of other types of amps. Many models are designed to incorporate built-in effects like delay, chorus, and others for making the produced sounds more dynamic.

As modeling amps generally use computer components, they are lighter than tube amps and solid-state amps. Moreover, some models have digital or analog outputs with speaker emulation that enables direct connection to a recording interface.

Hybrid amp

A hybrid amp uses an actual tube or valve in combination with the solid-state components of the guitar amps. This design effectively manages to combine the advantages of different types of amps into a single amp. The features can easily replicate a tube amp’s sound quality without requiring the heavy power tubes, improving the portability aspect. Musicians who play outdoors regularly prefer using the hybrid amp. This is the case because hybrid amps are easier to transport, while they also produce a dynamic sound.

Challenges of using a guitar amp outdoors

It isn’t that rare to see guitarists performing outdoors, even with huge amplifiers and complex pedalboards. While it is far from an impossible task, it’ll still come with its own set of challenges.

Firstly, you will have to think of a place where you will be able to perform. Guitar amps focus largely on the mid-frequencies, and sometimes it can be ear-piercing. Ensure that you aren’t bothering anyone present at the location where you’ll be performing.

Secondly, you will have to find a way to transport the amp and keep it safe when you are performing. Most solid-state amps are rather sturdy and can also withstand rough handling. However, the more transportable your amp is, the better it will be.

If you really want to go out and perform with a tube amp, ensure that you keep it safe during your performance and transportation. As for how to transport it, a simple trolley with a rigid plastic container will do a decent job.  However, the most difficult challenge will easily be how to power a guitar amp outdoors.

How to power a guitar amp outdoors?

There are multiple methods that you can use for establishing the power supply for your guitar amp. Some common ones are –

1. Use a battery-powered amp

Instead of searching for a power source, you can prefer using a battery-powered guitar amp. This will make your guitar setup much more convenient. When battery-powered amps first hit the market, they weren’t all that ideal. They didn’t offer a good tone and the build quality needed a lot of improvement.

However, thanks to the excitement in technology, portable amps ended up becoming a reliable piece of guitar equipment for guitarists. Today, most battery-powered amps have become compact, and yet they deliver excellent sound quality even on low-volume settings. They’re designed to offer a super sound, which makes them ideal for musicians who have to perform frequently without gaps.

2. Using gas generator

It’s very common for outdoor rock shows, as they typically produce more power than standard batteries. As such, you can always use a gas generator as a power source for your amp. However, it’s highly recommended that you should use an inverter type as it is capable of delivering clean power. It’s also comparatively quieter than standard gas generators, which tremendously benefits any music-related event.

When using is equipment, you’ll have to check the wattage and your amp’s voltage requirement. For instance, an 800W generator can easily sustain 6.6 amps. If it draws less than the total amps you’re having, there wouldn’t be an issue with your power supply. If you feel that buying a gas generator is too expensive, some shops do offer rental services for high-quality equipment.

3. Using a car battery

A car battery will be a practical solution for powering a guitar amp outdoors. You’ll have to convert the DC power from the car battery to AC to accomplish this. As you might know, AC power is what’s running on the power outlets of your home.

Most automobile batteries are powerful enough that they can operate a 50W or even a 100W amp. You should remember that using it for a long time can quickly drain a standard car battery. If you go for this option, you’ll need to be aware that you cannot connect your amp directly. You’ll require a pure sine wave converter to make your car battery a potent power source.

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Other power inverters aren’t that acceptable or safe for a guitar amp. Before purchasing a power inverter, ensure that it has a red and black clamp. You’ll need to connect these clamps to the batteries while having the red clamp attached to the positive while having the black clamp attached to the negative.

The inverter should be off before you attach the clamps. There are usually one or more sockets on the power inverters. You can either directly power the guitar amp from the inverter or use an extension cable for powering multiple electronics.

Alternative for how to run a guitar amp off a battery

There are some amps (even the ones with substantial output power) that can be powered using batteries. However, if you don’t have an amp that can be operated with a battery, you’ll need to look for a power source.

Look for a place for plugging in your extension cord

The simplest method would be to find any potential power source at the location where you’ll be performing. Also, make sure you aren’t involving yourself in electricity theft. Try and make an arrangement with the people nearby or a local business and plug your extension cord there.

A restaurant pub, a kiosk, or your local town hall, there are many options. You will be surprised to find out how many people are open to supporting local artists. This method will allow you to use your full guitar setup and even your tube amp.

In some cases, the business owners might charge a fee for the electricity, but it’ll likely be minimal. However, it’s better to pay for electricity than have no electricity at all.

Car battery using a power inverter

If regular batteries aren’t a possibility, you may have to look for possible alternatives. This is why many buskers and guitarists prefer using an electric or acoustic guitar amp using a car battery as a power source. You can even use lead-acid deep-cycle batteries for campers, golf cart batteries, buggy batteries, or something similar for powering amps. You can also use smaller batteries, even the ones with 12Ah.

However, you cannot just connect your guitar amp directly to a car battery. For that, you’ll also require a power inverter. More precisely, use a pure sine wave inverter. It can be easily found on online platforms like Amazon or eBay. It’ll be important to get a pure sine power inverter, as other options will neither be suitable nor safe.

Ensure that you’re buying power inverters that have two clamps – one black and one red. You’ll have to connect the clamps to your battery. The red clamp will go on the positive side, while the black one will go on the negative one. Before you connect the clamps to the battery, ensure that your inverter is off.

Power inverters come with one or more electrical outlets. You can either power the amp directly using the inverter or use extension cords to power multiple devices. If you don’t have the budget to buy a new power inverter, you can ask a friend or neighbor to let you borrow one. If you feel like you’ll need the inverter a lot, it’ll be wise to buy one for yourself.

Key tips to remember when powering your guitar amp outdoors

Playing the electric guitar outdoors is really fun, whether you’re playing alone in cloudy weather or performing an outdoor gig. Many musicians love playing the guitar in the streets or playing in a serene natural environment when chilling or camping. Of course, you’ll need to put together a guitar rig with your electric guitar so that others can hear your music.

1. Get heard

An electric guitar sound is usually too low to be heard clearly. Therefore, you will require something to make your guitar’s signal hearable. There are many great portable amps and small speakers that will help you rock in public.

person sitting on a guitar amp, playing guitar, performing outside

Regular amps

You can either carry a full-stack amp or a combo amp to wherever you want to play the guitar. However, they might cause a little back pain due to their heavy weight. Moreover, they require AC power for running, so they don’t give you the absolute joy and freedom of playing anywhere.

Portable amps

Portable amps are great for playing remotely, but they don’t sound as good, loud, or saturated as regular amps. However, they will save the day if you want to jam in unconventional places. Most of them will have battery compartments so that you don’t need to look around for an AC socket in the middle of a street.

Small speakers

Small speakers or Bluetooth speakers that you want to play music through are convenient devices to make yourself hearable in a small area. Unfortunately, as the signal coming out of your guitar is too weak, small speakers will struggle to amplify your guitar sound fully when you’re connecting your guitar directly to them.

The output voltage of smartphones and computers is higher than a direct guitar signal. The signal out of your smartphone is strong enough for Bluetooth speakers to handle. However, the same cannot be said for guitars. Small speakers can give you decent results when you are connecting your guitar to your smartphone and connecting them to the speakers.

2. Use guitar effects

People can easily get bored from hearing the same sound if they hear it for an extended period of time. Using guitar effects for changing your tone and giving different colors to your music will be an entertaining way of playing in public. Effects like distortion and overdrive will help you reach that rocking heavy-metal tone. Meanwhile, time-based effects like tremolo and delay are fun and make the crowd feel better. Having a good equalizer will make everyone feel better, and a noise-gate will kill any unwanted feedback noises.

Analog guitar pedals

Analog guitar pedals are easily the most traditional form of guitar effects. They’ve been in the market since the 40s and have been the most common way to generate guitar effects for decades. 99% of the time, each pedal will stand for a single effect (i.e. reverb pedal, chorus pedal, overdrive pedal). Moreover, each pedal will require a different adapter or a different battery. Having a pedalboard with multiple effects will be the most convenient way to play outside.

Multi-FX processors

Multi-effects processors or guitar processors are digital boards that offer hundreds of pedals amp simulations. They’re a great choice for guitarists who want as many effects as possible from a single power source. On average, they’re heavier than a portable amp, but still a bit too light compared to hundreds of pedals and amps.

Your smartphones and tablets

Your Android or iOS smartphones/tablets are mature enough for simulating acts such as multi-effects processors. They shouldn’t be counted as extra gear, as they’ll already be there. Moreover, you won’t require any power source for running them as long as they’re charged. Using smartphones to generate guitar effects will be the most portable way to play the electric guitar.

They’ll make it possible for you to use your Bluetooth speakers as a viable output source. 

3. Use drum machines and backing tracks

Playing your guitar through a drum machine beat or a hit song will attract more people. Additionally, it’ll be more fun for you as a guitarist as well. Some multi-effects processors and guitar effects apps come with drum machine preset bank or backing track features. Whether you’re playing with some friends near a campfire or you’re playing the guitar on the streets, using backing tracks and rhythms will make sure everyone is cheering.

4. Consider your and your guitar’s health

Playing an electric guitar outdoors might be harmful and dangerous if you’re not careful. Keep safety precautions in mind if you’re about to play the guitar outside.

Your health

The weather and environment will play a key role when it comes to your health and safety. This is even more significant if you’re playing with a regular guitar amp. You should avoid rainy weather and wet places at all costs. The amps can easily discharge huge electricity even if they’re not plugged into the AC source because of the capacitors.

You should also look to avoid any direct sunlight for cold weather for a long duration of time. It’s a known fact that sometimes, you just cannot stop playing the guitar. However, you shouldn’t let things get too far.

Moreover, you should look for an ideal location for your guitar-playing sessions so that you don’t disturb peaceful neighborhoods. Remember, you shouldn’t try to play in dangerous or illegal places.

Your guitar and gear’s health

Guitars are made up of wood, and you should consider them to be living, breathing instruments. They shouldn’t get too dry or too moist. Direct sunlight or being way too close to a campfire might hurt a lot more than your guitar’s paint. In some cases, it could even leave permanent damage to its sound. 99% of guitar pedals, processors, and amps are nowhere near water-resistant. You can very well count them dead if they end up getting soaked.

How to play electric guitar ANYWHERE with this device! (Portable Busking Setup)

Conclusion

Thank you for reading. Hopefully, now you know a lot more about using guitar amps outdoors, how to run a guitar amp off a battery, different ways how to power a guitar amp outdoors, important tips to remember when running your guitar amp outdoors, and more. It’s not always possible to find a power source and start playing the guitar everywhere you go. However, powering a guitar amp outside is much easier than you think. There are several ways you can power your guitar amp when you’re outdoors, including using a car battery as a power source, a gas generator, or utilizing battery-powered amps, among others.

Rick Pena

Rick Pena

Rick is the founder of All Stringed. He started playing with a classical guitar when he was 10, but changed soon to electric guitar and later also to an acoustic. You can find more about him here.