Guitar World Staff Picks: Paul Riario’s Top 5 Amplifiers of 2011

This has been an interesting year in amplifiers.

Never before have I seen so much tweakability on the front and top control panels of the many amplifiers that have shown up at our door here at Guitar World.

The emergence of numerous slider-switches, mini-toggles and push buttons seem to have suddenly taken up real estate normally reserved for control knobs of amplifiers! At this point it’s not enough just to have gain, volume and EQ to achieve your sound.

Manufacturers have given guitarists added flexibility with these switches in amp-voicings, gain stacking and structure and additional EQ options — and I haven’t even mentioned the sophisticated back-panel features of some of these amps!

Regardless, it’s nice that these options are available, and it’s probably what guitarists are looking for these days. But I’m a firm believer that you can’t have your amp do it all. It’s more about finding an amp that suits your style of playing and sounds great with the least amount of fiddling.

So with that, here are my choices of my favorite amplifiers of 2011, whether you’re a fiddler or plug-in-and-play guy (or girl).

Paul Riario on Paul Riario:I try very hard to remain under the radar, despite being on camera as gear editor at Guitar World, but in this age of social media, it was only a matter of time before it had to come to this. So with that, I will make my blog painless and a quick and easy read so you can get on to more important things like practicing guitar and sweep picking, or if you’re like me, getting tiger blood transfusions and figuring out how to be Olivia Wilde’s boy toy. I will use this blog to inform you of things I find cool; like new gear I’m playing through and what I’m watching, reading or listening to at any given moment. So feel free to ask me anything that’s gear related — or if you have a problem with your girlfriend, ya know, life lesson stuff, I’m pretty good at that too — and I’ll do my best to answer or address it here.

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Paul Riario

Paul Riario has been the tech/gear editor and online video presence for Guitar World for over 25 years. Paul is one of the few gear editors who has actually played and owned nearly all the original gear that most guitarists wax poetically about, and has survived this long by knowing every useless musical tidbit of classic rock, new wave, hair metal, grunge, and alternative genres. When Paul is not riding his road bike at any given moment, he remains a working musician, playing in two bands called SuperTrans Am and Radio Nashville.