Should a beginner buy a Positive Grid Spark amp?
By - smsmith208
It's the best practice amp I've ever had. I wish something like this existed when I started playing. (Works with bass/electric guitar and electric acoustic. Has a headphone jack, can be connected to PC and used as an audio interface)
- Small and compact.
- LOUD for its size with a nice full sound. Not high pitched and tinny like most small amps.
- Very affordable, less than $300
- Insanely versatile. With the app and downloading tones from tone cloud you can find a tone for any genre, most famous guitar players or even specific songs.
- Access to 30 different amps, several different effects, delays, reverbs, over drives, compressors and noise gates.
- Works well with real pedals
- Not loud enough? Want to jam with a drummer? You can plug the headphone 'out' into a powered cabinet or your soundboard via the headphone jack. Volume for days.
- Sounds great at very low volumes. Sounds great with headphones.
- USB out lets you connect straight to a computer and the amp comes with some recording software.
- Control everything on the fly with your phone or tablet.
- The app can learn 8 bars of a song and create a unique drum AND bass track for you. Not only that, you have 3 or 4 types of drummer you can choose from (Rock, funk etc.). You can also choose to turn the bass off.
- The app has YouTube integration that allows you to play any song from YouTube and it will analyze it and give you the chords for it in real time while you play along. THIS would have been a game changer in my early learning days and is great now to get the basic bones of the song sorted out.
- Makes me want to play guitar every time I walk past it. What new tones can I find? What effects should I try? Maybe I should have a little jam with a backing track the amp will play for me.
- It works with guitar, bass and electric acoustics. One practice amp to rule them all.
- You can have 4 tones saved to the amp itself and you can swap them out whenever you want using the app. That way you don't have to have your phone all the time. You can adjust all the effect parameters physically on top of the amp as well.
- It's a really good sounding Bluetooth speaker.
- No foot switch (there are alternatives you can purchase, but they are all kind of work arounds or you have to modify the actual amp itself.)
- The app, while intuitive and very easy to use, can be spotty some times. I wouldn't trust it live. Sometimes the app will close randomly, the app will sometimes not let you click on anything and you have to restart it. Software bug type problems.
Sorry for the wall of text, but I've been VERY impressed with this little amp.
Other con is that there's no easy way for it to work with a looper pedal, while being able to take advantage of the variety of tones. So you can't really layer the different sounds on top of each other, all loops will have the same tone. There are some workarounds, but they're not great.
Thank you for all these details! I've actually got an account for BIAS FX from Positive Grid (I run that into my Macbook/Garageband), so I'm curious if there was there any sort "microtransaction" to get more tones with the purchase of the amp?
I haven’t run into any so far, but Positive Grid has been heavily promoting a licensed Jimi Hendrix bundle (release date TBD)… no price attached but it sort of smells like a micro transaction play to me. Time will tell.
Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately, because I WOULD pay for specific things) there are no microtransactions.
HOWEVER, since I've bought it they have added a new overdrive pedal, a few new amp models and two new EQ pedals. I would assume they will continue to add more effects and such as time goes on, based on what they've been doing so far.
When it comes to switching the effects, say mid song as you’re playing along with the track, is that easy to do?
Unfortunately, no. I have my phone on a music stand so I can tap the effects and turn them on and off.
There is a footswitch that lets you turn them on and off that you can buy from another company (called [Air Step](https://xsonicaudio.com/pages/airstepsparkedition)), but the problem with this is it works over the Bluetooth connection to your amp. This means you can't control your amp with your phone AND the foot switch at the same time, it's one or the other. Not a good method in my opinion. So if you have your 4 chosen presets set to the amp, the foot switch can switch between those 4 channels and it can turn the modulation effect for each channel off and on, that's it.
I'm hoping they come out with a better solution, or maybe even a slightly pricier version of The Spark that allows for a more robust foot switch.
EDIT- After looking at the Airstep website, it appears the foot switch has 3 different modes. One of the modes allows you to turn on and off multiple things on one channel. (delay, OD, modulation, reverb)
dang, sounds like a headache.. I love what the Spark offers (especially at that price point), but love the functionality of something like a Boss GT-1 for the switching capabilities... there's always something...
agree fully on the first comment - I wish it existed when I started 20 years ago.
It would’ve been game changing if it had come out in the 90s at a comparable price point. Obviously having an app would be out of the question but if it were like the heads that came out earlier with the built in tones/effects or something like that then it would’ve been the best thing for everyone.
Anything is better than that 10g.
The Positive Grid is a nice little amp with a ton of nice features and easy to use.
I like mine
After trying to get the spark to "just work" I sold it an picked up a 100mkII. This is the amp I really wanted.
Spark is great if you want to get in an tinker around. I just wanted to plug in and play.
Yeah I was on the edge of buying the spark, I'm glad I didn't, I do wish I had gotten the 100w instead of the 50w
This has a great advantage over the spark - pitch shifter. A beginner can use it with rocksmith and avoid constant tuning to other tunings
I would say yes. Not only do you get the modeling functionality, the app has play along / jam capabilities, as well as the ability to give you a rough approximation of the chords used in a song you might want to learn. Also, the song presets can help you learn how effects are used in playing your favorite songs. HTH.
Absolutely. It’s also a great way to break into pedals and figure out which amp is right for you.
You won't outgrow the amp for a while, it will do everything you need it to do while at home/practicing.
I think the positive grid is the best practice amp you can buy right now.
Does it sound like a 100 watt tube stack? No.
Does it give you a good sound with lots of features for most things you can think of? Yes.
Yes, buy a small modeling amp. Doesnt matter which one from my perspective, take the one u like.
It also allows you to record your guitar directly into a DAW. You don't need another $300 microphone to record.
Pro: good amp! good app! good recording!
Con: corded, so if you need to be quiet you have to hook up headphones
I have a positive grid and [https://www.boss.info/us/products/waza-air/](https://www.boss.info/us/products/waza-air/)
I use the boss mostly so I don't disturb the family. When I play out loud, it's the Positive Grid.
Waza-Air cost more than the amp, by far. People really love those headphones but man, pricey.....
You are correct. If I had to start over, I'd only buy one guitar and one amp/headphone. For my style of playing it would be the Ibanez Jem and the Waza headphones. That would have cost me something like $2,000 total. I could realistically play the rest of my life with those two things and be happy (I'm not a performer so I really don't need an amp).
Now what I did end up buying to get to this point....was redonkulous.
I have all kinds of equipment, I've been collecting stuff for years but I still eye those headphones now and again before deciding that they can't be worth the money. Then someone like you gets me thinking about them again.....
I've heard nothing but Positive things about the Spark. The guitar store near me that sells them always runs out because everyone is coming to pick one up. I haven't got one, I have a Kemper that I can plug headphones and get different tones out of, but I'd definitely get the Spark if I were you.
I always recommend the Vox Valvetronix combo amps. I dunno man. They have tubes in the pre-amp section, lots of models and a ton of effects. They have a power knob that lets you overdrive volume/gain/master normally but reduces the wattage of the amp which gives you the best tones at low volume that I've ever seen. I had the 25 in another country and the 50 here. Loved them both so much. Maybe I loved the smaller one more? Maybe. Best practice amp I've ever had. Can drop it on a stage in a club and legitimately cut through the mix with my 50. Everyone in my band was shocked when it pulled it's own weight live.
Been playing 15 years, (bedroom guitarist) just bought the posotive grid! Its awsome, really is! Deffo worth the money, fun to play along with, the tone choices are endless and amazing! Connect with ur phone and laptop to play along with, I use it mainly for backing tracks to solo over and get different sounds with! Not only that, it looks awsome, sounds amazing, me and the wife play music through it as just a standard Bluetooth speaker! And if I'm being honest, I STILL haven't used it to its full potential yet! Keep finding loads of little extras and nice bits to it! 100% worth the purchase!
It’s a perfect beginner amp. You’ll obviously need an interface to get the most of out of it (like an iPad or whatever) but it’s an outstanding beginner amp.
I'm also looking at the Positive Grid practice amp.. could you explain more the benefit of needing an interface??
I've got a Focusrite Scarlett product now that I plug into and run to Garageband...
Interface is probably the wrong word. You just need a device to access the software. If you buy the amp and plug it in, it’s fine. You’ve got four presets (clean, crunch, high gain, and metal). You can reasonably tweak it from there. But if you want the chord finder stuff, backing tracks, or full customization of pedals and amp models, you need a phone or tablet or whatever.
My neighbor has one and loves it. He sounds good trough it. He loves the features. I think for a lot of people it’s a good fit not just beginners. Pull the trigger!!!!
Yes, great little practice amps and they sound pretty good! I play my spark more than my 100watt Boss Katana.
Ya. I have the katana and always wondered how different the spark would be. I love my katana but have been tempted for the late night practice. You would recommend a purchase?
Main reason is the headphone out of the katana isn’t great imo
The spark is definitely different I wouldn’t say worse, albeit the app can be a bit janky. I haven’t tried headphones with the spark and the volume control for late night can be a bit tricky to dial in, it’s still worth it tho especially considering the cost.
I have been looking at the trio + or spark for the drum and bass backing just to make the practice a bit more involved
The spark is a great little amp for home and practice. Especially with the last update…the EQ pedal allows you to roll off the low end which is one of the sparks more complained about issues.
I just got it a couple weeks ago, I don't really have much to compare it to, but it is so fun and i can't stop using it.
Just a comment that lots of things can cause buzzing... such as single coil pickups among other things. Not saying you shouldn't upgrade your amp, you should, just pointing out the amp might not be the cause of buzz.
Hmmm. Ok. My epiphone les Paul muse has hum buckers and I still get a a lot of buzzing
Yep, could very well be the amp.... Could also be a bad cable, or an issue with the guitars electronics, bad setup (buzz would be coming from the strings buzzing against the frets in that case), etc.
I know it's a side topic, just wanted to point out the buzzing may not be the amp. If that's the main issue your trying to solve with a new amp, make sure it's the amp that's causing the buzz.
I haven’t heard anything but good things about the Spark, but also look into the Yamaha THR line. I have the 10II and love it for practice.
But Rocksmith and a Real Tone Cable (PC. Has to be PC) and visit CustomForge and grab tons of great songs.
Game itself is a great learning tool and has fun 80s arcade games to increase your skills
Rocksmith. Steam sales are the best time to get it besides RIGHT NOW is a good time too
It will also play nicely with audio interfaces if you already have one of those. I've made it work with my 2i2, but it does have to be plugged specifically into the left port.
Be sure to upgrade the cable as well. I was selling one of those cheap starter kits I had taken on trade a while back and just showing the guy the amp/guitar using my nicer cables made it sound 10x better than the garbage cable supplied with the kit
Yep. I recently supported my local guitar shop by buying a decent cable
I have a spark amp and love it!
It's the first amp I bought when I got an electric guitar this summer, still the only amp I have. Figured I would spend $300 on one piece of equipment, then avoid spending any additional money on any more guitar gear. So far I haven't, the amp has been awesome.
Sounds like an amazing little amp. I’m impressed with it. Though, I personally would get nothing productive done if I had that many options. If you just want to have a fun & like to toy with ideas & effects, it seems like the perfect amp for you. If you are limited in your productive time & just want simplicity to keep you productive, this may not be ideal.
my coach advised me against it, as it makes you lazy ear training wise