Why Is My Guitar Not Playing Through Amp? [3 Ways To Fix It]

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If you’re an electrical guitarist you already know how essential an amp is. An amplifier converts the electrical signals in your guitar to produce sound. It can boost your volume, clean up the sound, and even control your tone, but what happens if your guitar isn’t playing through an amp?

If your guitar isn’t playing through the amp, you should ensure that your amp is plugged in and turned on and that all the wires are connected properly. If your guitar still isn’t playing, it may mean that there is an issue with the amp, your guitar cables, or your guitar. Small technical issues can be found and resolved quickly.

We understand the importance of an amp to make sure your guitar works flawlessly. Read on as we tell you how to locate and fix the issue to have you back strumming in no time.

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3 Ways To Troubleshoot Your Guitar Amp

Amps are indispensable for any electrical guitarist. However, your amp may break down from time to time and might require some troubleshooting to bring it back to its initial condition. 

Below we have some steps that can allow you to determine the problem and fix it.

Warning: Be careful when troubleshooting an amp as it can be extremely dangerous and poses a shock hazard. Make sure that the amplifier is disconnected from any electrical switch. Amplifiers can store electricity for a short time so we recommend waiting a bit before repairing it.

1. Perform Basic Checks on Your Amp

The first step in fixing your amp issue is to locate the problem. It’s important to conduct basic checks first to find out what’s wrong with the amp. 

With any luck, it’ll turn out to be a small issue and your amp will be up and working in no time.

  • Check your amplifier and make sure that it’s connected properly to the power outlet. 
  • Ensure that the amplifier is turned on and that all the cables are properly connected. 
  • Check that the guitar is properly plugged in with the amplifier. 

If everything is connected the way it’s supposed to the next step is to check if the amp is turning on or not. 

2. Ensure the Amp Is Turning On

Try connecting the amp to a different guitar to see if it works. 

If you don’t have a spare guitar, plug in a cable into the amp and turn up the volume slightly.  If you place a finger on the top of the cable and it makes a humming sound it means that the amp is working.

3. Check The Cables & Speakers

If the guitar still isn’t playing the problem could be faulty cables. Replace the cables of the amp with new cables to check if it works

Malfunctioning speakers can also be an issue so try connecting the amp to speakers that you know are working and test it out.

If you tried all of the above and the amp still didn’t work, it may be time to open it up and repair it.

Repairing The Amp

If you have a tube amp, a problem in the tubes may be causing your amplifier to malfunction. 

Open your amp and inspect the tubes for any damage such as cracks. Stains inside the tube also indicate damage to the tube. If a tube is visibly damaged you have to replace it.

If there’s no visible damage, tap the top of each tube with a pencil and listen for distortion. Tapping the tubes will create vibrations with a slight sound. If the sound is unusual such as a bad rattle or even a squeal, it may indicate a broken tube.

If you’ve located a damaged tube, you’ll most likely need to replace it. You can find an identical tube online. 

Make sure that the new tube has the same amp rating as the old one. Once you’ve gotten your new tube all you have to do is gently wiggle the old tube out of the amp and press in the new one.

However, if there is no issue with the tubes and your amp still doesn’t work properly, we recommend taking it to a professional electrician who can diagnose and repair the problem efficiently. 

5 Things That May Be Damaging Your Amp

Repairing your amplifier may not be enough. You have to take steps to ensure that you aren’t damaging your amp.

Here are 5 things that you may be doing that are harming your equipment:

1. Not Connecting a Speaker

Not connecting a speaker output can cause your amp to overload and become damaged. Without an output, all the voltage that the amp produces has nowhere to go and may cause the system and tubes to overheat.

To prevent this, use your amp with a proper speaker. Make sure that the speaker and amp are compatible.

2. Not Using It Enough

Not using your amp enough might be causing more harm than good. Leaving your amp alone can cause your power supply caps to stop working and may cause the wiring inside to depreciate. 

Turning on your amplifier for a few minutes every couple of weeks can allow it to warm up and function properly.

3. Installing the Wrong Tubes

Most amps are designed to work with a specific model of tubes that have distinct features. 

Using the wrong model of tubes may cause the electrical components of your amp to malfunction. Always make sure you research the type of tube that goes into your amp.

4. Not Allowing It to Cool Down

Amps need adequate airflow to maintain the internal temperature of the tubes. If the airflow is blocked and the heat can’t dissipate, the amp may overheat. Excessive or repeated overheating can cause damage to your amp.

Always ensure the airflow of your amp isn’t restricted.

5. Leaving It On

Your amp has tubes inside that have a relatively short lifespan. Each tube has a lifespan of between 500 to 800 hours depending on the model. 

If you leave your amp on for longer amounts of time without using it, you will end up wasting the lifespan of the tube and it will ultimately cost you more money to replace them (not to mention the electricity bill).

We recommend switching your amp off after sessions!


Q: How Many Watts Is a Good Amp?

A 20W amp is considered good if you want to use your amp at home. 

However, if you want to play live you will require an amp that has a rating of 50W or higher depending on the size of your venue.

Q: Can You Play Acoustic Guitar on a Regular Amp?

You can play an acoustic guitar on a regular amp. You don’t need to buy a special acoustic amplifier for your acoustic guitar. Playing your acoustic on an electrical amp won’t damage your guitar or your amp.

Final Thoughts

Your amp may be the most important thing in your jamming sessions (after your guitar ofcourse). If your amplifier ever stops working, you can take the necessary steps to fix it and make it as good as new. We hope this article helps you keep your amplifier in good condition. Happy jamming!



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