So I recently got my first electric guitar with a mini amp: Rockburn ST Style, Spartan Music Portable Battery Mini Amp.

So on the guitar there are two knobs which are simply labelled 'tone' and the mini amp, alongside the volume and power has a single knob named 'tone' whilst others may say treble, bass and middle.

Knowing nothing about amps or electric (though I have experience playing acoustic for a while), is it possible to get a rock sound on my guitar or should I upgrade to an amp with the bass,treble and middle options? I ask this because right now it simply sounds like a loud acoustic guitar.

  • You need to be more specific about the term 'rock sound' on your question. Define / elaborate it further whether you want it in a more distorted manner or an overdrive sound or a clean one, etc... Because as it's mentioned in your question, even a loud acoustic guitar sound can be applied in rock music. Nov 13, 2015 at 5:32
  • While it is true that a "distortion" pedal is what many people use. At the very least, rock relies on "gain before the amp" (many amps have a gain or overdrive switch built in.) Most of the sound of, say Hendrix or Page is just volume and gain. Check out some videos of a "gain pedal" but "yeah" set aside some cash for a better amp.
    – Yorik
    Nov 13, 2015 at 18:51
  • What's the model number for your amp? Alternatively, upload a picture of the front panel.
    – NReilingh
    Nov 20, 2015 at 15:25
  • You have 2 tone knobs and no volume knob on your guitar? Nov 24, 2015 at 16:02

6 Answers 6


The amp you described (the Spartan Music Portable Battery Mini Amp) has an actual overdrive switch (it's the last knob). If you want a rock sound, you can turn the overdrive on, set the tone around 7 or 8 (that will accentuate the mid frequencies) and give a test. With time, you'll know what kind of setup fits your play style. Also, as you develop your play style, you'll eventually move on to another amp that works better for you.


The short answer comes from "Spinal Tap." "this one goes to eleven.(Nigel Tufnel)"

There's actually some craft and usable knowledge buried in that humor...on a setup such as yours, you get as close to a "rock" sound as you're going to get by opening everything up "wide open," i.e. turning everything up to as high as it goes.


If you don't want to crank your amp to maximum, you need to use a fuzz box or distortion box.


Buy a distortion pedal. I suppose it will give you a rock sound without having to crank the amp!


If you do not want to spring for a distortion pedal, on your amp turn your level down and your gain up for a basic distortion effect. Then mess around with the tone until you have something close to the sound you want. That's what Yorik is describing to you in the comments.


Rock guitar includes many tones and effects. Your amp has one tone knob that moved to the right increases treble and left bass. This is the simplest of EQs. You can't add high, mid, and low frequencies, only reduce highs for lows and visa versa. That knob at 12 o'clock would be like having high, mid, and low knobs at 12 o'clock. If the amp has a distortion or over drive control that can be used to get what is called a "dirty," sound from a guitar as opposed to a clean sound. Both are found in rock.

Your little amp can play rock at any setting. A common way to set it is to keep adjusting the controls on it and your guitar until you find a sound you like. Any control setting can be a rock setting as there are thousands of rock songs ranging from the cleanest treble twang to deep dark distortion.

Overdrive and distortion effect imitates an amp with the volume turned up high enough to overdrive the speaker. Distortion effect makes the distorted sound with or without high volume. Distortion without an effect was first was used to get a thick sustain from tube amps for blues. It required a powerful amp with very heavy duty speakers to sound decent. Distortion came to be an effect device, not overdriving speakers, which also became an effect. If equipped, turn up the distortion or overdrive on the amp to get a raspy sustained sound great for power chords and lead.


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