A:We cannot answer this question exactly, because your music and your ears will determine what’s true for you. However, as an overview, here is some information about
the three ways we’ve seen people use amplification for touch-style instruments –
Because the instrument has bass and melody outputs, some people simply use a bass amp for the bass sound and a guitar amp for the melody sound. If you were gigging, this can be a lot of stuff to haul, but at home it’s not all that difficult.
Of course two amps cost more than one amp, but it is a fact that bass amps are built so as to be very *kind* to the sound from bass strings, and guitar amps are built so as to be very *kind* to the sound from guitar strings. So this two-amp plan does work pretty well for getting a great sound.
Tapper Teed Rockwell, for one, uses a Fender Twin Reverb. He plugs both the bass and the melody leads into the single amp. His reasoning is that the instrument is *one* instrument, and so he wants to have *one* amp. Now Teed is also a guy who uses very little in the way of effects.
He says his fingers are his effects. And he gets a great sound from the single amp.
If you’re selecting a single amp, the thing to beware of is this — Some bass amps will produce rather a muffled sound for the guitar strings, and some guitar amps will produce rather a weak bass sound. However, other bass amps and guitar amps can produce excellent results.
Your ears must be your teacher. And most any guitar store will let you try amps, as much as you like. (Just don’t play ‘Stairway to Heaven,’ OK?)
ONE KEYBOARD-TYPE AMP WITH EFFECTS
Some use this particular method, because it allows them to have a rather light-weight amp which can handle very low and very high sounds. Keyboard amps or PA-type amps are made to handle both very low and very high sounds.
Now, bear in mind that keyboard or PA amps are *not* designed to be *kind* to the sound of bass or guitar like bass and guitar amps are made to do, and also anybody playing loud rock and roll should be aware that over-driving a keyboard amp doesn’t get a great sound but can damage the amp instead, because they’re built differently from guitar and bass amps.
Also, most everybody who uses a PA-amp uses *something* to condition the bass and melody sound before it goes into the keyboard amp. Some folks use two direct boxes, and sometimes these direct boxes have amp modelling built in, so it sounds like your melody is a guitar amp and your bass is a bass amp.
Other folks use guitar stomp boxes on the floor. Other folks (including me) have experimented with floor-type keyboard effects which can then produce a wide range of lush and exotic sounds.
We’ve also had good results with amp-emulating and effects units like the Johnson J-Station or the Line Six units. And I’ve also had totally great results with the Guitar Rig software from Native Instruments. It runs on your computer, and lets you choose amps and effects, and has great sound. (The videos I’ll mention below were done using the Guitar Rig software, but with very minimal effects, as I wanted a very clean and bare sound.)
We cannot really recommend a particular amp or effects chain. For one thing, they change every year, and so who can be up to date? But, more importantly, your own ears will tell you the answers fast, and we could never guess those answers, just because we’re all different guys and different musicians. I (Traktor) play ‘elevator music’, and I like jazz harmonies and ‘beautiful music’ mixes, used in standard, Beatles tunes, and bossa novas. Your music will be different, and even if you played the same songs, you’d treat them differently, and you’d best enjoy some different
However, though we don’t know the answer, we know where the answer can easily be found — Go to any music store, and plug in and try the things. Your ears and your budget will tell you the answer quickly.
Also, remember that you can *start* with almost anything, because your earliest practice will be getting the feel of it. Luckily, your past training will transfer quickly, and the process is a lot of fun. And after a couple of weeks playing through *anything*, you’ll probably be in a better position to specify what you’d prefer more exactly.