In this case, it's amplifaction. Not even specifically guitar amplification. Let me explain.
At home I have an electronic drum kit which has never had a dedicated amp, and the kids especially The Boy likes to play on it. I don't like them using my amp for it, because drums are really thumpy and can "blow" a guitar amp. My daughter plays bass guitar through an awful keyboard amp. My gig amp is an old Ashton busker's amp which has an adequate sound, but it doesn't have a lot of punch.
So I happend to walk past a music store, and went in. "I want a cheap amp that I can put an electric drum, a bass guitar, and an acoustic guitar through." (Yes I knew this is impossible, but I wanted to see what he said ;-))
A super-chatty and helpful bloke then spent an hour and a half with me. Here's a quick list about what we talked about in relation to my issue:
- Electronic drums have a huge thump on the bass drum waveform, which requires a lot of power and speaker size to properly service. Guitars generally don't create anything thumpy like a bass drum so guitar amps aren't designed to do that.
- Bass guitars are lower frequency but also don't have that thump of a bass drum waveform. They will work on a guitar amp but again, guitar amps aren't designed for that lower frequency.
- Practise amps and guitar amps aren't just about amplification, they are also about effects and getting a "sound" out of your guitar. Years ago I decided for a classical guitar completely clean is what I like, let the room shape the sound. Some equalisation is nice to overcome room limitations, but the guitar does that at the pre-amp. Perhaps a tiny bit of reverb is nice for some people, like if you were playing outside with no "room feel", but for me, any effects just "muddies" the sound.
- You can buy speakers - passive speakers, and active speakers. Passive means you need an amp to drive them. Active means they have an amp in them. An active speaker is kinda like a PA (Public Address) system, but PAs generally have a bit more going on - some sort of mixing, multiple inputs, a sub separate from one or more midrange speakers, and built in amps. More like a package. An Active speaker is a speaker, with an effect-free amp built in.
Uh oh. Now it was a case of "why don't I buy a new amp for me, and let the kids blow up my existing amp?" And then it came back to something I have been avoiding for a decade - "Okay, if I'm going to buy and amp for me, what should I get?" Because now we were back into the land of guitar amps. Arghh!
"Okay, show me The Best." I played through some good 'ole AER Compacts. "Righto - stop right there, I don't need to see any more. I have researched amps many times over the last decade, and was about to buy an AER years ago, but didn't. If I need an amp for me, it will be an AER Compact. And this one is still a beautiful sound." They are still $1500 amps however and that doesn't fit in my budget.
And that got me through the barrier, w00t! Because see, I already know that I "need" an AER, but currently don't want to afford it. And one of these plastic fantastic active speakers will achieve what I need right now (drums, bass, acoustic, even the piano). (The shop dude reckoned if I had two of them, with a little mixer, that would actually be a really good fit for me - it would "fill" a venue creating stereo sound and it would be great.)
I had been looking at the secondhand market on and off for a year for an amp. I was in the shop. This amp fitted what I needed. It was more than what I wanted to pay, but what I wanted to pay was zero. So I walked out with it, a Behringer Eurolive B112D.
Heh, it says "1000W". I'm an electronics engineer, you aren't fooling me Behringer. In fact a brash statement such as that immediately puts me off. What I had to do was ignore that "specification" and judge it purely on what it could do. And when I put it on the drums, and kicked that bass drum, streuth! The 12" speaker and whatever actual power is driving it is _plenty_ enough. And then I played my nylon through it, and the fatness of the sound was beautiful. It's coming with me to gigs from now on :-)
...but in the back of my mind lurks the AER Compact Classic Pro - the classical guitar version AER amp. I mentally decided that all gig proceeds I get from now on will go into a jar labelled "AER" :-)