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Can You Hook Up a Guitar Amp to a Stereo? And How?

Can You Hook Up a Guitar Amp to a Stereo

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While providing musicians with different ways of artistic expression, the electric guitar can be a bit of a complicated instrument. As you may already know, the instrument doesn’t really do anything on its own, but rather requires you to purchase a specialized electric guitar amplifier, and possibly some additional pedals, multi-effects units, or other devices.

And for this reason, things can get a little too expensive, especially if you’re working on a limited budget.

Due to this particular issue, many have wondered whether the electric guitar can be played through a regular home stereo. Well, the issue might not be that simple, but we’ll see to get into it and answer the question – can you hook up a guitar amp to a stereo?

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So, can you hook up a guitar to a stereo?

In case you’re looking for a short answer, then yes – an electric guitar can be plugged into an average home stereo. However, there are a few important issues to think about first.

For quite some time now, most of the regular home stereo devices come with an auxiliary input, simply labeled as “Aux.” This goes for any kind of a hi-fi device format, whether it’s a standalone unit or a more complex setup that includes separate components.

These inputs are the regular 1/8-inch TRS jacks that support your average aux cables. You can plug in your computer or any other device that has a 1/8-inch jack as well, you’ll just need a simple cable to do so. Or you can use 1/8 to 1/4 adapter.

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Some old and even new stereo equipment have 1/4-inch TRS jacks in them, so you won’t need any adapters with these kinds of stereos.

Electric guitars, basses, electro-acoustic guitars, or basically any electric instrument – they all have standard 1/4-inch jacks and work with any regular mono instrument cable.

Although bigger and in mono instead of stereo formation, these connectors are pretty much similar. And there are simple adapters that will help you bridge this difference. These 1/4-inch to 1/8-inch adapters are available in most of the music stores or online shops. For example, this adapter should do the trick for you(goes into a guitars cable jack):

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Additionally, you should also look to use a stereo one, which will allow you to be heard on both of the speakers on your home stereo. And there are plenty of other solutions, including cables that come with a stereo 1/8-inch end and a mono 1/4-inch jack on the other end.

Can You Hook Up a Guitar Amp to a Stereo?

Again, the simple answer first: yes – a guitar amp can be plugged into an average home stereo. Let’s get into different ways of doing so.

Different ways to hook up a guitar amp to a stereo

But you’ll need to know that any home stereo is a hi-fi device, while the guitars are intended for lo-fi (low fidelity) amplifiers. Electric guitar pickups focus mostly on mid-end and higher mids, which might be harmful to your average hi-fi amplifiers and speakers. This is why we don’t recommend that you use a distortion pedal without some sort of an additional device, like a DI box or a pedal with its integrated cabinet simulator.

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If you have a guitar preamp with an output for mixers, you’ll get a pretty convincing tone. The same goes for any multi-effects processor or a guitar modeler, which can be pretty useful. Other than that, you can plug in a guitar directly to your home stereo without any effects, but your tone won’t be as nearly as good compared to a regular guitar amp.

Many guitar amps these days, including smaller ones, also have a line out jacks. You can use these to connect them to any hi-fi devices using instrument cables and adapters.

photo shows a line out jack in a guitar amp

Here you can see a Line-out jack in a Music Man guitar amp. In this case, you might need an XLR to TRS Cable or XLR Male to Female Microphone Cable, depending on your stereo equipment input jack.

But no matter the method that you go with, you’ll always need to be extra-careful and start with very low volume, and then slowly turn it up. If you notice any clipping or unusual noises, it’s the best that you keep everything at a lower volume.

Additionally, some multi-effects processors come with separate left and right outputs and feature stereo presets and effects. For this, you’ll need two instrument cables and a splitter adapter that lets you plug in two mono cables into one stereo input.

Hear how guitar and amps sound when hooked up to a stereo:

Are guitar amps mono or stereo?

Like most of the electric instruments, electric guitars are mono. In almost all cases, guitar amps are in mono. There are, however, examples of stereo guitar amps. This includes anything in the lower-price level and up to “boutique” professional tube amplifiers. These are, however, not so common.

How can I make my guitar amp stereo?

A one mono amp can never really become a stereo device. For this, you’ll need two amplifiers and any pedal or a multi-effects processor that has a stereo output. Other than that, you’ll either need a specialized stereo amplifier or two mono amps if you want to play in stereo.

I found this video, it will definitely help you out with stereo sounds:

Can you use a guitar amp to play music?

As mentioned, guitar amps are lo-fi, which means they’re not exactly designed to play music from standard devices. They have only one speaker, which usually focuses on the middle part of the audible spectrum. You can technically play music from any device, you’ll just need to make sure to have it playing in mono mode, but they’ll still sound a little “muffled.”

However, many guitar amps these days, especially those for beginners, have a special input for auxiliary devices. These amps usually come with RCA inputs, and you can use any standard cable with a 1/8-inch on one end and two RCA connectors on the other end.

Can I use a stereo cable for a guitar?

Technically, you can use any 1/4-inch cable with your guitar, whether it’s mono or stereo. However, any standard electric guitar is in mono, so the cable will only pick up one channel, functionally working as a mono cable. The extra wire in the cable that serves as the second channel will just be ignored.

Conclusion

The practice of playing electric guitars through home stereos is not uncommon. While this is mostly what some beginners or intermediate players resort to, it’s also not that uncommon to see some experienced guitarists do for practice sessions.

If you’re using a multi-effects processor, guitar preamp, DI box, or an amp modeler, you won’t experience any issues. Other than that, you’ll need to be extra careful, especially if you have distortion pedals in your signal chain.

I hope that this article helped you out! If you have any questions, leave a comment down below. Feel free to share this post too.

I wish you all the best and keep rocking!

Teemu Suomala

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