The normal voltage is typically 100, 120, or 240 volts. A dual voltage guitar amplifier is a guitar amp that can operate with both standard electrical voltages. The two most common voltages in the world are 120V and 240V.
In this article, I’ll cover what voltage to use and whether or not you need a step-up transformer.
So without further ado, let’s get started!
Guitar Amp Volt 100, 120, and 240V – Which One Should You Pick?
So, how do we know which voltage we should use? Let’s look at the amplifier itself.
Most guitar amps have a label on the back that states the voltage it needs. It will be something like “AC 100 V-240V” or it might just say the voltage.
If your amplifier doesn’t have any verbiage specifying which voltage you should use then pick either one and go for it!
It’s not going to hurt anything because you’re not running current through the amp.
There’s no power flowing through it; it’s not like you’re frying your amplifier.
If your amplifier was made for 120 volts and you use 240 volts then it is likely that nothing will happen when you plug it into the electricity.
However, if there’s any chance something can go wrong, such as a bad ground or other dangerous problem then I would just avoid using 240 volts.
I would not use 240 volts unless your amplifier specifically says that it can run on that voltage or if you’re sure there’s not a bad ground somewhere.
If you’re buying an amplifier for playing at home, 120 volts should be just fine.
Are Guitar Amps AC or DC?
The power transformer and rectifier operate together as an electron pump, extracting electrons from the amp circuit to create a positive voltage (electron scarcity = positive voltage).
To increase the signal, the amplifier’s circuits require DC. The amp is powered by DC, but the guitar signal passing through it is AC.
Most guitar amps have one power transformer and rectifier circuit that is used for the entire amp.
The power enters through a plug and goes out to your speakers after going through the amplifier circuits.
Amplifiers designed for use with vacuum tubes (tube amps) typically have two large transformers.
One transformer provides power to the tube side of the amplifier and one transformer supplies DC for the solid-state components (transistorized amps).
How Do You Check Amp Voltage?
When it comes to guitar amps, using a multimeter can be useful because you’ll want to know the voltage that your amplifier is operating at.
A multimeter is a tool that can measure the electrical properties of many things. A basic multimeter may check voltage, resistance, and current, and it’s also known as a volt-ohm-milliammeter (VOM).
The way you check the voltage is simple.
Just take your multimeter and plug it into the appropriate jack, preferably the one closest to where the power cord plugs in.
You should see a meter popping up on the display that shows you what kind of volts are coming through.
The meter will have numbers that range from 0-19 or something like that. It’s generally in increments of 5 or 10 volts.
Make sure you know the difference between voltage and current measurements when you are using your multimeter.
When you double or half the voltage it could have an effect on the current measurement reading if you don’t change it back to zero before changing what type of measurement is being displayed.
The multimeter may be different depending on what brand you have, but if you check out the manual then it will show you how to measure volts.
This is all that’s involved in checking amp voltage!
How Does Voltage Affect amplifiers?
When voltage increases, heat increases.
Excessive heat can damage the amplifier because all of the components are packed into a very small space and blow out the interior of your amplifier.
The high voltage that flows through tubes will cause them to get extremely hot quickly.
When playing an amp that has 6L6 power tubes (JTM-45 head and Bluesbreaker combo for instance) it’s normal for the tubes to glow brightly when the amp is played at full volume.
The only time that you should be concerned about this happening is if there are any problems with the amp or if one of your tubes looks much brighter than the others.
As a result of the increased power, many guitarists will notice a subtle orange or yellow-gold glow in their amplifier’s tubes as they play.
This is typical, and as the filament heats up, you should expect to see some orangey glow emanating from your tubes.
However, if it’s not the tubes that are glowing orange, but rather the metal plate of the tube that is doing so, there may be a problem.
Although the tubes will become orange as they heat up, the plates should ideally remain black. If you notice that the plates have changed color or become red, you might risk a blowout if you continue to play.
Can Low Voltage Damage An Amplifier?
There may not be any consequences if the voltage going into your amplifier drops a little, but you should keep an eye on it to make sure that it doesn’t drop too low.
If the voltage drops below 10 volts then something might start acting up because of it.
When too much current is drawn through conductors (wires) that are too small in diameter, too long or both, voltage drop occurs.
Some gear will overheat under reduced voltage conditions since to try and generate the same amount of power at a lower voltage will draw more current. More current = More heat.
If you pay attention to all of this and keep your amp powered correctly, then it shouldn’t be a problem.
Does A Guitar Amp Need To Be Grounded?
A grounded outlet will help keep your amp safe because it keeps the ground wire intact.
If you happen to have an older house with two-prong outlets, you can get yourself a three-to-two prong adapter to make sure that the chassis of the amplifier is grounded.
You should also check for any exposed metal or screws that may be touching the chassis of your amplifier.
A good way to tell if you need to fix this is if your amp makes a buzzing sound when you touch it with alligator clips on both sides of the metal (clipping off the amp).
You should adjust these screws and make sure that nothing is touching the chassis without insulation.
If you still think that your amp is acting up for any reason, unplug the power cord and re-measure it with a multimeter to see if there’s really a voltage drop.
The most common cause of this happening has nothing to do with the amplifier itself but rather how it connects to its power source.