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 let’s get into it and answer the question – can you hook up a guitar amp to a stereo?
Quick answer: Yes – a guitar amp can be plugged into an average home stereo. This post answers how to do so.
Who crafted this post:
David has been playing guitar since 1998, his main focus back then was hard rock and metal. With years, his music tastes evolved and he eventually started appreciating all musical styles. Although officially an agricultural engineer, David began writing for Ultimate Guitar in 2017 where he’s currently working as a senior editor.
Editing & Research: Teemu Suomala
Playing guitar since 2009. Mainly focused on electric guitars, although jamming with acoustics too. Has played dozens and dozens of different guitars through different amps and pedals over the years. That’s why he started this blog in January 2020 and started sharing his experience. Has produced content for several large guitar websites, such as Songsterr, Musicnotes, GuitarGuitar, and Ultimate Guitar.
Can You Hook Up 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. But the tone might not be very good and there are a few important things 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 usually 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 if you are using a cable with 1/4 jacks, like usually with guitars, you can use a 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.
But remember, if you just plug your guitar into a stereo unit, the tone might not be very good.
Also, you should also look to use a stereo, 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.
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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
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. Here’s a solid DI box:
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.
Many guitar amps these days, including smaller ones, also have a line-out jack. You can use these to connect them to any hi-fi devices using instrument cables and adapters.
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 there are different types of Line-outs with different amps.
But no matter the method that you go with, you’ll always need to be extra-careful and start with a very low volume, and then slowly turn it up. If you notice any clipping or unusual noises, it’s 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 usually need two instrument cables and a splitter adapter that lets you plug in two mono cables into one stereo input.
Most guitar amps these days have an input for auxiliary devices. Usually you can just plug AUX cable from amps AUX output to Stereo units input.
Sometimes you might need a 1/4 to 1/8 adapter to do so:
Hear how guitar and amp sound when hooked up to stereo speakers. Remember to make sure that speakers can handle amps power and impedance:
Are Guitar Amps Mono or Stereo?
Like most electric instruments, electric guitars are mono. And in almost all cases, guitar amps are in mono too. However, there are also stereo guitar amps. This includes anything in the lower-price level and up to “boutique” professional tube amplifiers. But these are not that common.
How Can I Make My Guitar Amp Stereo?
A one mono amp can never really become a stereo device. If you want to stereo sound, you’ll need two amplifiers and a pedal or a multi-effects processor that has a stereo output. Another option is getting a specialized stereo amplifier.
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 stereo 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.
The practice of playing electric guitars through home stereos is not uncommon. While this is mostly what some beginners or intermediate players resort to, sometimes we see experienced guitarists do it 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 and feel free to share this post too.
I wish you all the best and keep rocking!
Here’s Our Favorite Gear Right Now!
Our Favorite Guitars:
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Our favorite Electric guitar of 2021 was the PRS SE Custom 24-08. It gives so much versatility, comfort, and good tones that it’s impossible to ignore.
For beginners, Yamaha FG800 is our go-to guitar. It offers more than any other guitar in the same price range.
For intermediate and beginners with bigger wallets, Gretsch G5024E Rancher offers so clear and detailed tones, plus easy playability that I had to include it here.
Seagull S6 Original is the best acoustic around the $500 mark. It has the construction, sound, and feel that many more expensive guitars don’t achieve.
Our Favorite Amps:
For beginners, Fender Mustang LT25 offers the most. It’s versatile, sounds good, and is simple to use.
For most home players, Boss Katana 50MKii is the amp that serves you in any situation. From country to metal.
If you are searching for a tube amp for home use, Blackstar HT-5R MKii is my go-to option because it sounds so good, and you can adjust the wattage(power).
When it comes to acoustic guitar amps, Fender Acoustasonic 40 will serve most people really well. But our favorite is Fishman Loudbox Mini BT. It offers a professional level tone and volume with a price most people can afford.