When it comes to pushing the limits of guitar amplification technology, there is one amp that has been at the forefront of that conversation in 2020 – Positive Grid's Spark.
As the world’s premier smart amp, Spark is a desktop amp you can jam along with. It also tells you the chords to your favourite songs, with access to over 10,000 tones. And it's resonating with guitarists – you’ll now find one in more than 100,000 homes worldwide.
But a funny thing is happening with guitarists who own Sparks – they find themselves playing more than they ever have.
Sometimes we get carried away when a new piece of gear blows our mind, but 100,000 people can’t be wrong. The Spark is more than living up to its billing as the state-of-the-art guitar amp for the bedroom, studio or backstage. When you get to grips with its intuitive features and hear the quality of the tones, it’s easy to see why.
The Spark is a compact powerhouse, with 40-watts of Class D power driving a pair of custom designed four-inch speakers. Housed in a cabinet covered in textured black vinyl, and finished with a black/brown grille cloth and a removable leather handle, it looks like a “proper amplifier”...
And by presenting next-gen tech in an approachable format, it very much is.
Approachable is good. We guitarists love new technologies but, let’s face it, guitar playing is a quasi-neanderthal activity, bending steel and banging on wood, so it’s nice when you come across a control panel as intuitively designed as Spark’s.
In presenting new features in user-friendly format, Spark has changed thousands of guitarists' relationship with their instrument – players such as Charlie M., a Spark player, whose love for the amp is such that it's bringing out the Rolling Stone within.
"I've had my Spark for just over a month now, and I feel as though PG must have invaded my dreams," says Charlie. "As far as I'm concerned, when I adjust my Spark and slip on my headphones late at night or early in the morning, I am Keith Richards playing in a stadium – at least until my wife walks in and asks what the hell I'm doing."
You could teleport a player from the 1960s and plug ‘em into a Spark and they’d be able to dial in a tone. They may, however, have trouble removing their jaw from the floor after cycling through the options, or upon learning that the tone they are hearing isn’t from tubes.
Under the hood, the Spark uses Positive Grid’s BIAS modelling tech to place 30 amp models and 40 onboard effects at your disposal. Save your favourite tones down to presets so that they are instantly retrievable.
Alternatively, download one from ToneCloud, Spark’s library of over 10,000 guitar and bass, amp and effects presets. It’s easy – and quite honestly, heaps of fun.
The options are plentiful, verging on the ridiculous (this, folks, costs less than 300 bucks). The four-inch speakers do a superlative job of projecting three-dimensional tone, and excel when you inject a little delay into your tones.
Players of all styles will find a heap of inspiring tones. And with fully-customizable amp models and effects for electric guitar, acoustic and bass, Spark is the go-to amp for every instrument.
Kirk Hammett has a Spark at home, as does Polyphia’s Tim Henson. Zepparella’s Gretchen Menn is a fan, too.
Menn describes the Spark as “a valuable, very convenient tool for a pro” that’s ideal for beginners. “The combination of available tones, features, and ease of use makes the Spark a perfect amp for someone just getting started,” notes Menn.
For beginners, the Auto Chord feature is an invaluable learning tool that is accelerating their development as players. But the Spark is all about deepening a guitarist's relationship with the instrument – making it more a way of life than a hobby.
You can see the proof on social media; the calloused fingers, the gear purchases inspired by a rekindled love of playing and chasing tones.
You think Charlie M has some explaining to do when his wife catches him playing in the laundry room like it's Madison Square Garden and that mop against the wall is Jagger?
Well, what about Paul Fearis, whose Spark gave him gear acquisition syndrome (it's a thing) so bad that he splurged on a Fender American Ultra Telecaster – in a Texas Tea finish. Nice one, Paul.
The Spark is infectious. Who wouldn't love being able to summon a backing track on the fly and play along with the Smart Jam feature. Spark owners know that feeling; they know when they switch the amp on practice is going to be fun.
More to the point, it's going to be effective, too. And when you have a veritable smorgasbord of different amp tones and effects at your disposal, it can feel like anything is possible.
Already, Spark has created a vibrant online community of players sharing tone tips and their experiences with an amplifier that opens up new musical possibilities for all of us, novice and expert alike.
Most notably, the Spark Amp Owners Club is a thriving Facebook group of over 8,000 members, where guitarists discuss playing, Spark tips and tricks, and more on a daily basis. A brief look at the comments reveals a common theme: the joy of interacting with Spark has members playing more guitar than they ever have before.
The Spark is available exclusively via Positive Grid, priced $299. You can read more about the amplifier and its features in MusicRadar’s five-star review.
But what you don’t want to do is wait. The 100,000 sales is a watershed moment for Positive Grid and the company is offering 10 percent off the Spark until 21 September 2020. Grab yours here.