Category Archives for Amps

The Top Four Best Guitar Amps That Are Under $100

The Top Four Best Guitar Amps Under $100 That You’ll Really Love

If you’re like most musicians, you’re probably on a budget. One great thing about big name music companies is that they know that a lot of musicians don’t have a whole lot of money, which is why they offer a whole range of amps that are $100 or below.

Are $100 amps even any good?

Yes, they are! You can totally spend $100 and purchase yourself a decent amp that will be great to practice with at home. However, if you’re looking to purchase a $100 amp that you want to perform with, I would suggest that you lower your expectations.

It’s very difficult to find a great performing amp that will represent your musical abilities to the fullest potential for under $100. As long as you have an understanding that these amps are great to use for practicing, you’re less likely to be disappointed by what these amps are capable of offering.

What should I expect to find in a $100 amp?                                                                                                                       

The main purpose of purchasing an amp that’s under $100 is to get your hands on an amp that allows you to practice at home. Technically, you can purchase yourself an amp for $100 that you can use to play with at live venues, but you shouldn’t expect superb quality from
these amps.

Most of the amps that are under $100 are great to use for playing small, light gigs, but the main purpose for most of these amps are to use for practice. You should not expect a $100 amp to produce an incredible tone; if that’s what you’re looking for, I suggest that you look for an amp that costs $500 or more.

Blackstar ID: Core 10 V2                                                                                        

                                                                             

When it comes to producing affordable practice amps, Blackstar has really been creative with a lot of their newer releases, for both their solid-state designs and their tube model designs. When using a practice amp, you typically don’t expect it sound like a full sized, expensive amplifier, right?

That’s exactly how Blackstar has broken all stigma with inexpensive practice amps, by producing their Core 10 V2 amplifier.

This amp produces a strong enough output that musicians not only receive incredible tone but an incredible bargain because of the price tag that’s on this beauty.  A lot of the different effects and voices that the ID: Core 10 V2 produces are incredible, but there are some choices that seem to be lacking just a bit.

If you’re looking for a great practice amp that delivers amazing tone, this is the amplifier you want to go with.

Vox Pathfinder 10  

                                                                                                              

Vox made sure to create an affordable amp that is useful but isn’t over the top. You get a gain knob, a two band EQ, a button that allows you to switch from clean to over drive, and a volume knob. This is a simple amp that makes it perfect for practicing on.

Personally, I think that this is the best amp for beginners to play on because it’s so incredibly simple to use; the Vox Pathfinder is easy to operate, but it’s also easy to shape your own
unique tone.

Vox is a brand that’s best known for their tube amps, but the Pathfinder 10 really goes to show that the tone that their solid state amps produce isn’t anything to mess around with either. If you’ve ever played around with amps from Vox before, you should expect the same clean from the Pathfinder 10 as you do with the other amps that Vox produces.

Pressing the channel toggle button will provide you with a very natural sounding growl that you can shape for any purpose you have. The tonal prodcution that the Pathfinder 10 produces is very organic and you can customize this sound to fit your personal needs. Especially for the price tag, the Pathfinder 10 is a very impressive amp.

Peavey Backstage                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

The Peavey Backstage amplifier is an amp that provides players with a twist. This is a great amp to use if you’re a beginner but if you’re someone who has some experience, the Peavey Backstage is an amp that will give you years of reliable performance.

The Peavey Backstage may look like just your typical economically responsible small amp, but it’s a lot more.

When it comes to your expectation of tone, Peavey really did an amazing job producing a solid state practice amp that produces a very similar sound to a tube amp. Out of all five amps discussed in this article, the Peavey Backstage has always been my favorite to use.

I’ve found that all of the materials used in this amp are extremely durable and it’s been comprised of solid construction. I’ve accidentally dropped this amp a few times and it hasn’t failed me yet.

Fender Mini Deluxe

MD20-large

Fender is known for producing amazing guitars, but they aren’t well known for producing amplifiers that are affordable and quality. Fender has a great selection of different amplifiers that are great to play on; for right around $100, the Fender Mini Deluxe is an amazing choice to go with. This beauty is a micro amp that has amazing performance capabilities.

While many may worry that because the Fender Mini Deluxe is a micro amp, that it’s not very versatile. Yes, it’s true that this amp is limited by design, it still offers an incredible amount of versatility for such an affordable amplifier.

As for the features, the Fender Mini Deluxe comes with a one Watt power rating, a two-inch speaker that really does deliver well in tonal aspects, runs on battery power, although you can use a wall wart power adapter, and is incredibly lightweight.

This is a great amp to store away with you if you do a lot of traveling and always want to have a backup amp on you, as the Mini Deluxe is extremely mobile.

You should keep an open mind when judging the performance of this amp because it’s not going to perform the same as an expensive mini amp or the same as a full sized amp. This amp does not have a very wide dynamic range, but it does deliver in an incredible tone. You get just another volume to be able to hear your guitar comfortably while practicing.

Conclusion

There are many options on the market for when it comes to shopping for inexpensive amplifiers. Having a practice amp is a necessity for any guitarist’s home setup; these inexpensive amps may come with a few compromises for the price tag, but having an at home practice guitar is one of the best investments you can make for yourself.

As always, with all major purchases, you should take some time to play around with different budget amps before deciding on one. After playing, you can always go price shopping online, but it’s strongly suggested that you take some time to play the amp that you’re looking at before purchasing it. Good luck on your amp hunting!

Play Harder: The Best Combo Amps for Metal

When you imagine an image of a generic metal guitarist, I think it’s easy to go straight to an image of some dude in front of a half stack at a small gig, or a wall of stacks at a bigger gig.

There are two things about that imagined picture. Firstly, it’s not always dudes, and secondly, a minimum of a half stack is not always practical. To be honest, by “not always practical,” I actually mean “rarely practical.”

Let’s face it: most of us are not playing ginormous stages, and have to lug our gear in and out of venues ourselves, and usually get there via an average car rather than a van or truck. A combo is much easier to fit in with a guitar, backup guitar, pedalboard, and that band member who doesn’t drive.

There’s also the matter of balancing cost with tone. A half stack rig will typically be more expensive than a combo.

Let’s say your budget is $1,000: you can probably get an amp head with digital modelling that has a metal setting, that you’re never going to get to fully crank anyway, or, you can a decent tube-driven combo amp, that’ll come with a bit of warmth, and a generally rounder, fuller, and better quality tone.

For this roundup, I’ll take you through a few of the high-quality combos on the market that will be well-paired with a metal player. It’ll cover a range of budget, and focus on tube-driven amps: these are the best!

If these are still beyond your budget, the metal setting of a modeling amp may well be your best bet, but a round up of the metal settings of modeling amps is a different listicle.

With this in mind, there aren’t really alternatives for most of the amps here. The market for dedicated amps for metal players is very small.

Blackstar HT Metal 1 | MSRP: $279.99

Now, isn’t this just the diddliest?

This may not be a gigging amp, but it packs more than enough of a punch for practicing your shredding, and for recording sessions.

It has just one single watt of output, which sounds measly, and you know, it a lot of amps it would be. Namely solid state ones. However, this packs a couple of tubes into its diminutive casing, which makes things a little louder than you might expect: the sound here will be cranked by an ECC83 and an ECC82.

This is not an amp that will intimidate. It only has a single eight inch speaker. But, we’re looking specifically at voicing here, and with that in mind, this little combo certainly won’t disappoint. In case the name didn’t give it away, this little amp has been voiced and set up to play all of the metal.

Looking at the top panel, and the Metal 1 comes with a minimalist control selection as far as amps go. You’ve got three jack plugs: one for your input, one as a kind of auxiliary input for attaching an MP3 player or something, and then an output which you can use for headphones, or as a line out for recording directly.

The controls you have at your disposal are gain, volume, EQ, and reverb, as well as a button for overdrive. It’s all very tidy. The EQ isn’t like a regular EQ though. It’s actually Blackstar’s trademark ISF control, for deciding whether you want a UK sound, or an American sound, or a blend of both.

Alternative

Blackstar HT Metal 5 – the Metal 1’s big brother, with a 12 inch speaker, independent tone controls for each channel, as well as a full set of EQ controls.

Marshall DSL40C | MSRP: $970

Here’s the token Marshall.

I’ll be honest, this isn’t the most metal of metal amps. To be fair, Marshalls are best known for rock, particularly that of a blue-inspired nature. It’s not the first name that comes to mind for metal.

In saying that, they can be cranked sufficiently to head in the right direction, particularly if you favor old school metal from the UK – I’m thinking the likes of Saxon, Judas Priest, and of course, Motörhead.

This is quite the tube monster for an amp with a single speaker, giving your playing so much clarity. It’s pre-amp rocks three ECC83s, while its power amp rocks another EC883 and two EL34s. That’s quite a lot for such a modestly sized amp!

It comes with a single 12-inch speaker – a Celestion Seventy 80 – and runs at 40 watts. For most of us, that really will be plenty.

The key feature here will be the Ultra Gain channel. I guess the name of that channel gives its intention away! But yes, head there, crank it up, et voila: a pleasant metal tone with plenty of definition and clarity.

There aren’t too many surprised on the top panel. You’ve got your usual EQ controls, with a not so usual knob for resonance, and a Reverb control for each channel. Each channel has its own gain and volume controls, and the Ultra Gain channel comes with additional Lead 1 and Lead 2 controls.

It also includes a footswitch for you to switch from one sound to another while you’re playing onstage.

Peavey 6505+ | MSRP: $999.99

Peavey’s 6505 head is very much an amp with a longstanding positive reputation in metal, favored by the likes of Trivium, Bullet for my Valentine, and Machine Head, and it now comes in combo form.

If the aforementioned bands float your boat, this could be a good solution if you need thing something more compact for not playing in venues the size they pack out.

Looking through the specs of the Peavey, it essentially looks like a souped up version of the Marshall we just looked at. There’s nothing wrong with that, and actually is probably a bonus for playing the metal.

This boasts a 60 watt RMS, and a Sheffield speaker.

But the real winning spec with this amp is the fact that it’s an absolute tube-fest! Five 12XA7s in the preamp and two 6L6GCs in the power section! That’s some muscle right there!

It comes with two foot-switchable channels, each with its own EQ controls. The footswitch is sold separately, which is standard, but I always feel that’s a bit of a pain.

Built-in reverb on an amp is no big deal, but the reverb on the 6505+ is a little bit special. It’s a genuine old school spring reverb, made with three actual springs! It’s very rarely you’ll find that these days – usually it is a digital feature. It does also add to the weight of the amp, which will already be heavy enough with all of those tubes.

Laney Ironheart IRT30-112 | MSRP: $1499.99

I feel like I should start this by clarifying two things.

First, ignore that MSRP – you can get these for around $700. Secondly, This reviewer is a Laney user and quite the fanboy.

Let’s proceed.

One of the worst things about the United States is how rare Laney dealers are. They are a British brand, based in the West Midlands. While they do make several models in the east, the Ironheart is their flagship line, so these are designed and made in England.

Their best-known user is Black Sabbath’s, Tony Iommi. It doesn’t get more metal than that! Sabbath hail from the city of Birmingham, which is where Laney’s first shop was before they moved a little bit out the road to Halesowen.

Company history aside, this is a fairly killer amp in such compact housing. I feel like this is a bit of a hybrid between the Marshall and the Peavey.

It’s got three ECC83 tubes in the preamp, coupled with a pair of 6L6s for power. It has a 30 watt RMS, which sounds quieter than the 60 watt Peavey, but this is not a quiet amp!

You’ll have three channels at your disposal: clean, rhythm and lead. It has a line-in for an MP3 player or another external audio source, which I find a little odd on an amp at this price that’s clearly aimed at seasoned players.

A subtle feature the Ironheart includes is an attenuator. Full capacity output is fine for gigs, but if you’re in your living room, it’s likely that you’ll want to tone it down a bit, without compromising on your tone. This will help with that.

Alternative

Laney Ironheart IRT60-212 – If you like the sound of what this amp offers, but worry that it may not have enough “oomph,” it has a bigger brother with 60 watts RMS, and an additional 12-inch speaker.

Engl Metalmaster 20 | MSRP: $1374.99

If you’re not familiar with Engl amps, I’m sad for you. They’re made in Germany, with a focus on quality, and boy, do they make the most of the famed German precision.

Like many others on this list, the Metalmaster started life as a head and was later ported to a tidy little combo.

There isn’t actually too much to say about this amp. It’s very much a case of building a quality amp with outstanding parts and craftsmanship, devoid of bells, or indeed whistles.

The speaker is a 10 inch G10N-40 from Celestion, and the 20 in the amp’s name is it wattage. Duh. Its preamp comes with two ECC83 tubes, while its power amp includes two EL84s. All good.

It comes with two channels, and here’s where I think some players might be put off. You can switch between channels with a footswitch, and that’s lovely, but they have a shared EQ. With the price of this amp, I’d expect more versatility for my dollars.

I know we’re considering this in terms of metal players, and that’s generally a loud and heavily distorted affair. If you literally have zero intention of ever expecting to need a change and use the clean channel, by all means, give this one a go.

Alternative

Engl Metalmaster 40 – like Laney and Blackstars we’ve looked at, this Engl comes with a more powerful big brother if you need.

Diezel Einstein | MSRP: around $2018.53

Whenever there’s a listicle of metal amps, it’s likely to be headed up by Diezel. They’re not a massively popular brand, but I’m very certain that’s to do with the cost. It’s a bit prohibitive to many players.

Diezel is a Swiss brand, and are actually pretty difficult to find in the United States.

They claim this combo version of the Einstein is more vintage sounding than it’s head/cab alternatives. Personally, I think it’s all relative.

The preamp of the Einstein has a 12AX7 tube, but in the power amp section, you’ve actually got a choice of what tubes you want. You can choose from two EL34s, 6550s, 6L6s or KT88s. Picking on the cost of this amp again, I feel like, at this price, a little bit of choice and customization is no harm.

It’s 50 watts strong, and come loaded with a 12 inch Celestion speaker.

The channel options are interesting. You’ve essentially got four options, but I find the way it’s structured pretty weirdly. Within Channel 1, you have three selectable modes: Clean, Texas, and Mega. Texas is intended to give a classic rock sound, while Mega is aimed at hard rock.

Then channel 2 is simply called lead, and that’s where you metallers will want to live, amongst all of its cajones-induced, squealing high gains!

That’s all fine, but I’m not sure why they didn’t treat all of those as four separate channels.

Aside from all of that, it weighs over 68lbs. This is not a light amp. Which is awkward: do you want to spend that amount of money on an amp that’s so heavy it increases your likelihood of dropping it? Tricky…

Comparison Table

Model Blackstar HT Metal 1 Marshall DSL40C Peavey 6505+
MSRP $279.99 (Check out the latest prices here!) $970 (Check out the latest prices here.) $999.99 (Check out the latest prices here.)
Country of origin UK UK US
Speakers 8 inch Blackstar 12 inch Celestion Seventy 80 12 inch Sheffield
Wattage 1 watt 40 watts 60 watts
Tubes 1 x ECC83; 1 x ECC82 Preamp – 3 x ECC83; Power amp – 1 x EC883, 2 x EL34 Preamp – 5 x 12XA7; Power amp – 2 x 6L6GC

 

Model Laney Lionheart IRT30-112 Engl Metalmaster 20 Diezel Einstein
MSRP $1499.99 $1374.99 (Check out the latest prices here!) $2018.53
Country of origin UK Germany Switzerland
Speakers 12 inch HH 10 inch Celestion G10N-40 12 inch Celestion
Wattage 30 watts 20 watts 50 watts
Tubes Preamp – 3 x ECC83; Power amp – 2 x 6L6 Preamp – 2 x ECC83; Power amp – 2 x EL84s Preamp – 1 x 12AX7; Power amp – choice of 2 x EL34, 2 x 6550, 2 x 6L6, or 2 x KT88

Conclusion

If you’re a metal guitarist and want to get the best quality metal sounds in a rig that won’t be a pain to put in the back of your car, hopefully, this list will give you a few ideas.

These amps really are the best of the best, and you will have to pay for that quality. As I said at the start if you’re on a tighter budget, it’s difficult to find a modeling amp that won’t have a metal preset, but you will be sacrificing the warmth of these tube-driven babies.

As always, the best thing to do is to head down to your local guitar store and try them. See how they sound to your ears, and your own style of playing.

The Full Fender Hot Rod Deluxe Review You’ll Love

The one thing that Fender are best known for doing exceptionally well, after their guitars, is making amps.

They have released quite the number over the years, and were one of the earliest manufacturers – they needed to make them for people to play their new Fender guitars through. It was a sensible business decision when a lot of people were probably still claiming the whole thing was just a fad!

The Hot Rod Deluxe first appeared in 1995, and since 2010 is on its third iteration. It has one of the best reputations around, so let’s see what it can do.

Core Specs

Looking at the list of specs, and it’s all very unassuming. It’s a high-end amp, and that’s something that’s difficult to reflect in listing the components that go into it.

I guess with this in mind, it’s the American construction and the Fender brand that you’re paying for as much as anything else.

Output 40 watts
Amp type Valve
Speaker configuration One twelve inch speaker
Effects Just reverb
Channels Three

Output

So far so good. At this stage, it doesn’t look too exciting, but we’ll get into things a bit later in the review when we start looking at the specifics of how these specs come together.

This will work well for…

Hmm… it’s easy to say “people playing Fender guitars” here, but there are plenty of examples of pleasant humbuckery through one of these amps.

I would say that it would work well for anybody looking for literally the most classic of classic blues rock tones, whether they favor single-coiled Fender guitars or something with humbuckers, like a Gibson Les Paul or SG.

Obviously, you can do what you want with it, but when we start looking and listening, this amp was made for cranking gently: a bit more than clean, but the warmth of the tone would be wasted on anything too distorted.

Parts

Let’s take a more detailed look at some of the core specs from above.

The big sell apart from the brand is the tone. Those tones are determined by the valves involved. In this case, that’s three 12AX7s in the preamp section, holding hands with two 6L6s in the power section. That’s a standard looking setup for amps of this size.

It’s also a considerable part of the weightiness of this amp!

Taking a look at the box that houses these valves, and it’s made of 7-ply maple and birchwood. In terms of durability and that, there’s nothing too exceptional about that. Sais ply comes with a traditional black Tolex covering.

The speaker is contained behind silver sparkle grille cloth. I know it’s kind of a traditional Fender design point, but I’m not a big fan of it. I feel like something glittery would fit better if they were going for a full outrageous design.

Behind that grille cloth is a Celestion G12P-80 speaker – that’s been on Hot Rod Deluxes since 2010.

Not too many surprises on the top panel: two inputs – I’ll talk about those in a bit; two volume controls – one each for the channel and for the master volume; your EQ and reverb knobs, and one for presence; channel selection switches; and an effects loop for you, which for some reason is called ‘preamp out’ and ‘power amp in.’

Construction

Hey, remember that time Fender put out a product with their name on it that was so poorly constructed it fell apart when you looked at it? Yeah, me neither. That’s not a thing.

If you’re spending this amount of money on an amp, it’s likely that you’re a gigging musician, so you need something that’s going to be able to survive the wear and tear of lugging an amp in and out of venues.

It’s hard to imagine or demonstrate or test for that in a review. The best I can do is give it a gentle shake, and firm prods, and see if anything moves or rattles that shouldn’t. That’s what I did, and it all seemed completely solid.

Shaking and prodding aside, I took a closer look at the amp, and everything was cleanly put together. Everything that was supposed to be flush was. There was nothing that implied anything but the greatest care in the craftsmanship of this amp.

I feel that with amps, even more so than guitars, good quality electrics are super-important. I’ve certainly had more problems with such things in amps! I took a look, and it all looked fine, but honestly, I wouldn’t call myself an expert on electrics.

Tones

I tried a single coil and a humbucking guitar to try and give the fullest idea of what’s going on. My default EQ settings are bass at four, and middle and treble each at six. My preference is for gain to be set at six – I like it driven, but not too dirty.

When I was going through the parts, I mentioned the Hot Rod Deluxe comes with two inputs. Let’s take a look at them. Input 1 is a regular input, while Input 2 is slightly lower ohmage, which gives it a softer tone.

Plugging in a single coil guitar to start with. There’s no doubt it was rocking in Input 1, but I felt the brightness of the single coils made it a bit harsh for my liking, no matter what the channel. I’ sure others would like it, but it wasn’t for me.

Switching it to Input 2 though, that’s where it was at. The warmest of cleans, and treading the line of dirt on the first overdrive channel would keep any lick-orientated blues rocker satisfied.

Pickup up a humbucker-equipped guitar, it was a different experience. Input 1 worked far better for it, and I may have nudged the gain a little beyond my standard setting for a one-way ticket to riffsville.

Playability

I normally consider playability in terms of how much enjoyment a guitarist gets from playing a piece of kit, as that will determine how much they want to play it.

With the likes of a straight up, all quality, no frills, classic valve amp, there’s less to say than with the likes of a modeling amp that does 784 different things!

Here’s the thing. With something as straightforward as this, the most thing you have to enjoy is the tone. That’s what it’s for.

With the various channels and the two inputs, you might be surprised by how much versatility you can actually get out of it. If you switch between single coil and humbucking guitars during your set, the dual input will cover you, and the three channels should cover off most classic electric guitar sounds.

If you’re looking for a solid gigging amp that will do all of the valve tones you’ll ever need, you won’t need to look any further than the Hot Rod Deluxe. If that’s the sound you love, it’s got all of the playability.

Pros and Cons

  • Classic Fender amp sounds
  • Lush warm tube tones
  • Surprisingly versatile
  • Solidly built
  • An amp like this will never be cheap — Check out the latest discounts and prices here!
  • Would be wasted on players who favor a heavily distorted sound
  • It’s far from the prettiest amp on the market
  • Personally, I’m not sure of the value of the second driven channel

Alternatives to Try

There are plenty of alternative amps if the Hot Rod Deluxe IIIhas peaked your interest, but isn’t quite hitting home.

Marshall DSL40C

I think it’s actually illegal to talk about guitar amps without mentioning Marshall, so let’s get that out of the way!

I mentioned that the second dirty channel on the Hot Rod was a bit pointless, as getting to that level of dirt detracted from its valviness. If you need to play harder, but retain the warmth of a valve amp, Marshall’s DSL40C should be a more than satisfactory alternative.

It retains all-valve goodness, looks as traditional as traditional can be, and is fudging loud! This one is very much for the rockers. I like it best with a set of humbuckers and some fat riffs.

Vox AC15

If you like some British flavor for your sound, but the Marshall is a bit heavy, the Vox AC15 will do the job. A lower output than the Fender or the Marshall, at 15 watts, it’s a very refined sound. There’s a debate of whether 15 watts is powerful enough to gig with, but if you’re spending this much on an amp, your amp will be miced up and going through monitors, so it’s no problem.

Blackstar HT Club 40

Blackstar amps are amongst the most highly regarded of the newer amp brands. Their HT Club 40 is one that this reviewer was very close to buying once.

It’s a unique amp, and I’ve never seen a valve amp like it. It essentially comes with a knob that allows you to adjust the voicing to more American or more British tones. As it’s a knob, you can dial in as much of a balance of either as you want. Very cool!

My Final Thoughts

I would suggest the Fender Hot Rod Deluxe III is an ideal amp for a mature musician, who‘s looking for quality tones, rather than just being the loudest person in the room.

It’s an ideal gigging amp for such a musician: it’s highly likely they’re beyond the days of trying to impress people with the size of their stack.

If you’re looking for high-end, tube-driven blues or blues rock, I’d definitely recommend getting down to your local guitar store and cranking out a few licks. I’ll be very surprised if you didn’t like it!

Guitar Amps Explained- What are the Different Varieties?

When going shopping for guitar amps for your electric guitar, there are many things that you need to keep in mind before making any final decisions. Amps are defined by the type of technology that is used in order to produce sound; the type of technology that is used in the amp affects the way your music sounds.

Before making your final purchase, you should be well-informed on what you’re actually buying.

What are the different types of amps that are available on the market?

Tube Amps

Vacuum tube amps are large, glass cylinders that are in amps that turn orange and get hot, the more that they’re used. Tube amps aren’t very popular anymore because they tend to be more expensive, they’re very heavy to carry around, it’s hard to find replacement tubes, and the tubes burn out often and are high maintenance.

Tube amps are old and are very hard to come across, they’ve still left their mark in history by producing loud and responsive tones.

Solid State Amps

If you’re looking for an amp that isn’t going to cost you an arm and a leg, the solid state amp is a great purchase to make. The technology that’s used in this amp has printed circuit boards and transistors. Also, the technology in this amp makes it very popular among performing guitarists and that’s because of the amp’s tone, which also includes sound distortion.

Not to mention these amps and light weight, reliable, inexpensive, and offer a wide range of tonal alterations and effects. Solid state amps are also very popular because they’re built to be sturdy, which means that they don’t need repairs very often.

That’s why solid state amps are the most popular practice amp among all electric guitar players.

If you’re looking for an amp that isn’t going to cost you an arm and a leg, the solid state amp is a great purchase to make. The technology that’s used in this amp has printed circuit boards and transistors. Also, the technology in this amp makes it very popular among performing guitarists and that’s because of the amp’s tone, which also includes sound distortion.

Not to mention these amps and light weight, reliable, inexpensive, and offer a wide range of tonal alterations and effects. Solid state amps are also very popular because they’re built to be sturdy, which means that they don’t need repairs very often.

That’s why solid state amps are the most popular practice amp among all electric guitar players.

Of course, if you are looking for some great solid state amp suggestions, please read my article here! 

Hybrid Amps

The technology that’s used in hybrid amps include solid state and tube electronics, hence the name. In the hybrid amp, the preamp uses a tube in order to start the initial sound, while the power amp depends on the solid state technology in order to drive the sound to the speakers of the amp.

Digital Modeling Amps

Digital modeling amps emulate the sound of a tube amp, without carrying the same physical weight that a tube amp does. Instead of having a tube produce the sound on digital modeling amps, there’s a computer inside of the amp that produces the sound; this computer also has the ability to produce a whole plethora of other sounds.

Another benefit of digital modeling amps is that they are programmable and more often than not, they have built in effects like delay and chorus.

Let’s take a second to get into talking more about digital modeling amps for a quick second. They’re an amp that people often claim is their holy grail amp, but what makes a modeling amp so different than any other amps?

Modeling amps can range in quality; meaning, you can purchase yourself a basic amp that doesn’t have any cool effects all the way to a high end amp that offers a combo with tube powering, as well as providing you with whatever tonal effect you may want or need.

People like digital modeling amps for one major reason: they have so many different effects and options packed into one amp. Guitarists don’t have to jerry rig together two amps anymore; now, they have the option of purchasing a modeling amp.

Modeling amps are also very popular to travel with; they make great practice amps, but also provide amazing sound quality to make them perfect for on stage performances.

Each amp has its own pros and cons; there’s no one amp that is better than the other options. Your choice really all depends on what tone you’re looking for.

Other Effects

It seems like there are more options to choose from when going shopping for amps compared to all of the different electric guitar options there are.

You can choose an amp based on the sound you want, the technology inside of the amp, the configuration, and size. Above, we talked about the four different types of electric guitar amplifiers, which are: digital modeling (also just called modeling), hybrids, solid state (also called analog), and tube amps.

Construction and configuration: Amps are more complex then they seem to be! The thickness of the wood used to create the cabinet is a large factor that decides the type and quality of the sound that’s produced from the amp. Having a piece of wood that is half of an inch thick helps to produce a stronger, larger sound.

There are some amps that have the combination of the amplifier and the speaker in one cabinet; however, there are other amps that have the amp and the speaker in different cabinets.

On other amps, the amp is broken into two completely different units, which makes carrying the overall amp lighter, since you don’t have to carry the weight of the speaker and the amp in one system.

Speaker size and power: The size and power rating of the speaker that you choose will depend on price and application. Amps that are meant for practice are typically a modeling or solid state unit, that have a power between ten to thirty watts, paired with eight to ten inch speakers.

If you plan on playing at rehearsals with small groups or at small venues, you’re going to want to decide between purchasing a digital modeling amp or a tube amp; these options feature a larger, twelve-inch speaker, as well as a fifty-watt power rating.

Lastly, amps that are going to be played in front of large audiences are going to have a power average of one hundred watts and more.

If this happens to be too pricey for you, you can also combine two medium sized speakers (twelve-inch speakers) and stack them on top of each other, with a separate speaker and head cabinets.

Channel switching: Amps that allow you to switch between different preamp channels allow you to switch from a clean sound to a distorted sound. Amps that offer channel switching sometimes will come with a footswitch; however, digital modeling amps typically need the footswitch to be purchased additionally.

Effect loops: This allows you to add rack units or stomp boxes after the preamp area of the amp, in order to avoid amplifying any extra effect noise.

Reverb units: When talking about reverb, there are some amps that use digital reverb, which produces a sound that has a machine-like tone to it. On the other hand, there are other amps that use spring reverbs, which produce a natural sounding tone.

Built in effects: Some amps are famous simply because all of the built-in effects that they offer. Modeling guitars are often jam packed with these different effects.

Let’s take a second to talk about speakers

Does the size of a speaker really matter that much? Yes, it does! There are different size speakers for a reason; different size speakers produce different sounds. The smaller the speaker is, the higher the frequencies it can produce. A twenty-inch speaker is not going to produce the treble notes as well as a ten-inch speaker.

You’re also going to want to look to see if the amp that you’re looking at comes with an open backed cabinet or a closed cabinet design. There are going to be amps that you test out that are the same exact size but produce totally different sounds.

Open back cabinets have a panel covering half of the back, which allows more of the sound from the speaker to emit more sound from the back and the sides of the amp. People who use open back cabinets often mention that they notice that the sound produced from this speaker sounds more natural and open.

The only downside about the open back cabinets is that the bass notes don’t resonate very well, as the open back design of the cabinet benefits the higher frequencies. Open back cabinets fill the room with sound, because the panels aren’t preventing the sound from radiating from the amp.

On the other end, closed back cabinets are do a good job at projecting the sound forward, which accentuates the middle and bass ranges. This is because the back of the cabinet is closed, which stops any sound from coming out from the back and the sides.

The common complaint with this guitar comes from people who perform on stage; they find that with this guitar, the sound only is directed straight ahead.

Sound doesn’t resonate to the sides, which causes the sound coming from the speakers to be a maximum when you’re standing directly in front of the speakers.

Your next question is likely to be ‘which one is right for me?’ Since each electric guitar, playing style, and desired sound is unique, there is no direct answer for this question.

If you’re looking for an amp that’s going to provide you with a crisp definition, you’re going to want to purchase yourself a closed back cabinet. If you want a natural sound that’s going to fill the room, go purchasing yourself an open back cabinet.

Conclusion

Picking your guitar amp is also going to take some planning, careful thought, and knowledge. Before you make any final decisions on what amp you’re going to purchase, I would suggest taking your guitar into a shop and testing out several different amp options; this includes testing out different amp sizes, cabinet options, and different types.

Make sure that you’re very happy with the amp’s sound projection and tone before you finally decide. I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about the different type of guitar amps!

Top Five Best Solid State Amps for Maximum Amplitude

Top Five Best Solid State Amps for Maximum Amplitude

Solid state amplifiers have only been around since the mid 1900’s. The reason why these amps are called solid state is because the electricity maneuvers through solid material, rather than a vacuum like there is in tube amps.

Solid state amps use transistors rather than tubes in order to amplify signals. In other words, solid state amps use analog technology in order to increase the decibel level. Since there is no digital technology used in this amp, these amps are very reliable and can be used every day.

The only common complaint that users have about solid state amps is that they are very prone to distortion.

If you’re reading this and you are a bass player, you will know that solid state amps are something that are dependable and produce a quality signal. However, if you aren’t a bass guitar player, then you will know that the use of a solid state amp is somewhat controversial.

Solid state amps produce a clean, uncolored sound, while also being easy to carry around because they are light weight and have amazing power behind them.

Solid state amplifiers are more popular than tube amps because they are less expensive, are more reliable, and don’t require much maintenance. Also, a solid state amp can produce more output than a tube amp of the same size.

Solid state amps have a clean, unflavored sound, and have faster transient response times; the higher end solid state amps have more tone options in comparison to a tube amp.

Compared to all other amps out there, solid state amps are the most common among beginners and budget players. They are readily available, so that means you’re not going to have a hard time finding a solid state amp!

What is a guitar amp used for?

A guitar amp is used to pick up an electric guitar, acoustic-electric guitar, or bass guitar’s weak electric signal and produces it through one (or several) loudspeakers, that are typically held inside of a wooden cabinet.

What’s the difference between a solid state amp and a tube amp?

A guitar tube amp uses one or multiple vacuum tubes to amplify the signal that the guitar produces. On the other hand, solid state amps use solid state electronics to amplify the
guitar signal.

Typically, tube amps are more expensive and are a lot pricier when it comes to operation costs because you have to occasionally replace the tubes. Solid state amps are more durable, less expensive, and more reliable.

What are the best solid state amps available on the
market today?

Below, I have created a list of the five best solid state amps that are available on the
market today.

Benchmark Media Systems AHB2 Power Amplifier

When I first laid my eyes on the Benchmark Media Systems AHB2 Amp, I was immediately attracted to the physical appearance of this amp. It’s a compact amp and it’s super lightweight, weighing only about twelve and a half pounds. This amp also has a toggle switch that allows you to choose between three input sensitive levels; it also has an XLR jack for signal input.

As for output, theBenchmark Media Systems AHB2 Amp allows users to choose between a stereo pair of Neutrik NL2 sockets or traditional multiway connectors. There is a third Neutrik NL4 that is provided for players to use when the amp is in bridge mode, which can be selected by using the second toggle switch.

On the front of the amp, there is an on and off switch that is used by a push button. The Benchmark Media Systems AHB2 Amp has a class-AB output section combined with auxiliary low power feed for the amp. The power supply for this amp is controlled by a switch mode.

Spec RPA-W7EX Real Sound Power Amplifier

The RPA W7EX Real Sound is the only stereo power amp that Spec offers. This amp is based on class D circuit’s, which means that this amp is a high-resolution amp; this also means that it’s efficient at dispersing heat, has a whole ton of power behind it, low noise floor, and can drive any speaker.

There was a lot of time and effort put into the creation of this amp, making sure that it didn’t produce a brittle, bass lacking sound that is common in class-D amps. This amp is a hit not only because of the clean sound it produces but also because of the size!

In whole, this amp is the same size as a stack of three medium to large size notebook computers. Not to mention that it’s lighter than fifteen pounds!

Since there was so much time put into this amp, making sure that it disperse heat really well, the RPA W7EX Real Sound Amp doesn’t produce much heat. And because this amp doesn’t produce a lot of heat, it was a lot easier to create an amp that produces a natural sound.

There are slabs of natural wood that create the footers and the side panels, which really help to ensure this amp creates a natural sound. The wood diminishes the vibrations that come from the guitar and resonates with the signal of the audio. This makes the tone richer, more natural, and resonate better.

As for the circuitry of this amp, there are five circuit boards right underneath the lid of this amp and they are all connected using copper wiring.

NAD Masters Series M22 Power Amplifier

While this is a really nice amp, I would only suggest this to someone who is super serious about performing. The price tag on this amp is well above $4,000 which is super high. If you are a performing professional, you should check this amp out. If you aren’t, I would suggest you scroll down to the next amp that we’re talking about.

The M22 is no means a traditional DC amp, but rather feed forward design that extracts the low passed signal from the inputs and puts it into the main signal at a later period in time. The design of this amp uses a modulate and negative feedback to keep the distortion low throughout the audio band.

While the speculations of this amp are amazing, I personally think the pricing is still a little too high. Another common complaint about this amp is that it’s very boxy; instead of feeling like an electronic device to use for music, it feels and looks more like a block carved out of metal.

The speakers on this amp are amazing; they make even the smallest adjustment easily perceived. This is a wide sound stage amp that pairs well with colorful instruments. While I didn’t pair this amp with my voice, I would say that this amp would be amazing for a vocalist.

If you’re looking for an amp that’s going to fill an entire opera hall with sound, you’ve found your amp.

Jeff Rowland Design Group Model 1 Power Amplifier

If you’ve ever used the Jeff Rowland Group Model 7 Amp, you know that’s a dinosaur. The Model 7 amp is super heavy and bulky. However, their Model 1’s size is petite compared to the Model 7, making the comparison almost comical.

If you consider a Stereophile, you’re going to fall in love with this guitar. Also, if you are someone who loves the sound of an amp that’s more laid back compared to an amp that jumps out at you, you are also going to love this amp. Instead, it’s an amp that slowly builds the impact of
the sound.

The entire operation of this amp is very balanced; by having a balanced operation, there is an improved rejection of outfit noise interfering with the operation.

Jeff Rowland Design has also provided an adjustable input impedances in order to help improve the interface between line level components; by taking care of the cable as a transmission line while also increasing the power transfer.

Conclusion

Finding a solid state amp that’s in your price range and fits your performance needs. But, hopefully, this guide has helped make your decision a little bit easier. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading!

The 4 Best Fender® Guitar Amps (In My Humble Opinion)

Musicians today have more tools at their disposal than ever before to create music that sounds exactly how they want it to. But among so many different types of guitars, effects, samplers, digital processing units, and amps, it’s easy to feel inundated and utterly paralyzed.

A nearly foolproof way to make sure you spend your money wisely and choose an excellent product is by sticking with one of the huge names in the industry, like Fender, for example, who’s been making quality gear since 1946. But, even then… there are just so many options! How do the gear manufacturer giants expect us to decide what to spend our hard-earned dough on?

As guitar experts, we decided to make things a little easier for you by breaking it down. Here are the ins and outs of the 4 Best Fender Guitar Amps on the market today.

Well… what are we waiting for? Let’s get rockin’!

  1. Champion 100 (2×12) – $349.99

Ah, what better way to start off than with the Champion? Praised for its unending versatility, the Champion 100 2×12 combo amp is truly something to behold. Weighing in at a midrange 40 lbs., the Champion boasts twin Special Design speakers that produce a whopping 100 watts of power and comes dressed in sexy black vinyl and a classic silver grill cloth.

The Champion 100’s onboard effects are impressive, to say the least. With separate effect settings for each channel and each effect knob offering a wide range of sounds—including delay, chorus+delay+reverb, tremolo, flange, and more—you’re sure to be satisfied with your tone.

But other than the onboard effects, channel 2’s amp modeling is really where the Champion outshines its competition. The Voice knob offers tweed, blackface, British, metal, and jazz amp modeling settings… and boy do they deliver! No matter what sound you’re looking for, it’s there. Just dial it in.

Between the impressive amp modeling, onboard effects, and effect loop, the Champion 100 is without a doubt one of the most versatile amps on the market. Do you pride yourself on playing in a wide variety of genres? Do you go nuts over creative tone and timbre shifts? Then rest easy, because this may just be the amp for you.

  1. Blues Deluxe Reissue (1×12) – $769.99

Let’s take a step back in time to the 1950s, a time when pompadours, poodle skirts, and tweed-covered amps were a dime a dozen. That’s where this classic amp hails from.

The Blues Deluxe Reissue is a tad bit smaller than the Champion, but weighs five pounds more, at 45 lbs. total. This increase in weight is due largely due to the five tubes sitting snug inside the cabinet. Three pre-amp tubes and two power tubes give the Deluxe a rich, vintage tone that’s both more authentic and a better use of money than your Tinder date last week was.

An amp that exudes a confident air, the Deluxe pumps out 40 watts of power through a single 12” Eminence® Special Design speaker that responds beautifully to the complex richness of the tube sound. While it lacks effects and modeling, the simple straight-through signal chain responds dynamically to effects in the effect loop.

With pretty basic faceplate controls, most of your sound design comes from the presence and reverb knobs, the drive channel selector, and the bright switch.

The Blues Deluxe Reissue is a sweet amp for its confident simplicity and vintage tweed look. What it lacks in onboard effect processing, it more than makes up for in tube richness and vintage style.

  1. ’65 Super Reverb (4×10) – $1,549.99

Look out, here comes the boxy heavyweight! The Super Reverb 4×10 Combo boasts four 10” Jensen® P10R speakers with Alnico magnets and produces a strong 45 watts of sound. This is on the heavier end for a combo amp, weighing in at 65 lbs.

Just take a look inside and you’ll find four preamp tubes, two power tubes, and a rectifier tube, giving the Super Reverb all-tube circuitry. The amp offers two channels (normal and vibrato) with two inputs on each channel. The vibrato channel, of course, is the amp’s namesake—with reverb, speed, and intensity knobs ready to be dialed into your preferred taste.

While the Super Reverb is plenty loud, the 4×10 arrangement does produce different tonal qualities than the next amp on the list, the Twin Reverb 2×12. With 4×10” Alnico speakers, the sound will break up and begin showing off the classic Fender distortion at a slightly lower volume level.

The sound is generally a little bit more transparent and open as well and has a bit of tasteful sag where the Twin plays loud and punchy right down the middle.

If you’re playing smaller venues and you dig some vintage Fender grit, this is an excellent choice. Read on for more about the Twin…

  1. ’65 Twin Reverb (2×12) – $1,449.99

Last but not least, we have the wonderfully renowned Fender Twin Reverb 2×12. Recognized around the world for its punchy power and wide-set classic vinyl appearance, the Twin has lots to brag about.

Where the Super Reverb has 4×10 Jensen speakers with Alnicos, the Twin offers two 12” Jensen C12Ks with ceramic magnets. The designers knew what they were doing when the opted for ceramic magnets alongside the 2×12 85-watt combo.

Where the Super Reverb delivers a broader, more transparent tone, the Twin provides a powerful punch, getting gritty only at higher volumes. That means through a Twin, cleans will sound clean until you crank it up to 11.

Another difference between the Super and the Twin is in the tube setup. The Twin Reverb has six preamp tubes and four power tubes and utilizes a solid state rectifier. The resultant sound is rich and vibrant with a highly sensitive dynamic range.

And of course, another reason for the Twin’s fame is the built-in spring reverb. The famous glossy shimmer that Fender’s amps have provided for decades live on in the Twin Reverb. A note about the Reverb, though, is that because the best tone comes out at mid-to-loud volume settings, it plays loud.

If you’re playing smaller rooms or have sensitive neighbors, this might not be the best choice because of its massive volume… because absolutely nobody wants to sit around and play a Twin Reverb with the volume ducked just under the 1.

The Final Note

So, there you have it. Fender has been producing some of the world’s best guitars and amps for 70 years, and boy do they know what they’re doing! With a huge line-up of amp options—both vintage and new/reissue—there’s truly something for everybody. (Well… nearly, anyway.)

Fender’s Champion 100, Blues Deluxe Reissue, Super Reverb, and Twin Reverb sit proudly at the top of the food chain, spanning across a huge range of prices. But, I know now you’re thinking, “So, tell me… which one’s the best?” Truth be told, the issue isn’t about quality, because all of Fender’s amps are truly fantastic. The deciding factors are twofold: price range and tone desire.

Obviously, the Champion 100 is the cheapest of the bunch ($349.99). While it uses fully solid state amplification, the amp modeling settings are fantastic and you will still get the tone you want.

For the price, it’s an absolute steal. The Blues Deluxe is a little bit pricier ($769.99) and is the perfect mid-range tube amp if you’re looking for a clean, responsive signal without any onboard effect processing.

Both the Super and Twin Reverbs are on the upper end of the price range ($1,549.99 and $1,449.99 respectively), but they deliver enormously in tube processing, vintage Fender tone, and rich shimmering reverb.

As we’ve discussed, the Super produces a slightly more transparent and broad tone, while the Twin’s tone is pointed, punchy, and loud.

Whichever amp you decide on, you’ll love it. So what are you waiting for? Get up and go find your dream amp. It’s waiting for you at this very moment.

Top 5 Guitar Combo Amps To Get Bang For Your Buck

Top 5 Guitar Combo Amps To Get Bang For Your Buck

Whether you’re looking for an amp to rock out in your bedroom until your mom gets home from work or to showcase your killer riffs at rehearsal with your blues/death metal/jazz/funk ensemble, combo amps are a great way to get a powerful sound without the powerful blow to your wallet that a stack amplifier packs.

Until you’ve got a team of willing roadies loading your gear into sold-out stadiums, a good combo amp is the best investment you can make to get there.

Here I’ll show you the highest quality combo amps you can get for your money and break down the pros and cons so you can make the best choice to suit your needs. I’m just going to cover the cream of the crop here.

I don’t want to waste your time with amps that aren’t going to last or deliver professional quality every time. Essentially, every amp in this list is great, so it’s really a matter of personal preference, style, and budget. Enough rambling, let’s get to it!

What Are You Looking For?

  • Everyone has a budget and when it comes to amps, you usually get what you pay for. Sure, you can pick up an amp at the pawn shop that’s good enough to get you through practice for a hundred bucks, but it’s not going to have the sweet tone you’re looking for unless you’re starting a Germs cover band.  I always suggest saving up a little more dough before you buy because if you’re serious about playing, you could be using your new amp for years to come.
  • Combo amps range pretty widely in power. You could have an amp that’s fine for solo bedroom sessions with as little as 5 watts. If you’re using it for practice or playing gigs, you’ll want to look into a higher range up to around 50-150 watts. 150w is more than enough to melt every face in the bar.
  • Are you going to be pulling your new amp out of a van every day for shows and practice? Then you’ll want something light and easy to move. Most combo amps are pretty portable, but there are still a few that are no fun to move after a long night under hot stage lights.
  • Are you in a soul/blues fusion band or a thrash metal/punk rock band? Your amp is going to make all the difference in capturing the sound you’re looking for. A blues amp simply isn’t going to deliver those crushing tones to your heavy metal palm muting, and an amp designed for thrash isn’t going to give you the sharpness and warm clarity you want for your blues band. Hopefully, we can help you find the amp that’s tooled for your style.

The Goods

Orange Amplifiers Crush Pro CR120C

Easily one of the best out there. Orange still holds strong as one of the titans in putting together an excellent combo amp without emptying your pockets and the Crush Pro is no exception. This 2×2 amp features all the power you need for a show or rehearsal at 120w with a pair of 16 ohm Voice of the World speakers you’ll be leaving ears ringing.

Great speakers coupled with Orange’s legendary solid-state design give you a great dose of the clarity and definition that people have come to expect from an Orange amplifier. If you’re playing some rock n’ roll or any genre that needs sharp tones and defined sound; Orange is still where it’s at.

Roland Blues Cube Artist

This old-school blues master is back and better than ever. Roland has implemented their patented Tube Logic design to bring you an amazing solid-state amp that captures the classic sound of the tweed-era tube amplifiers via meticulous digital processing. The single 12” speaker packs a great punch for a blues player at 60w.

Variable power output coupled with clean and crunch channels give this amp a versatile range of sounds that ranges from nearly any classic blues tone to searing hard rock.

The adjustable power output is a great feature when you need full, powerful tones without face-melting volume. This amp truly captures the essence and sound of the 50’s style fender amp, at a fraction of the cost to get one.

Fender Mustang IV V.2

This amp is no joke and the numbers prove it. The Fender Mustang IV V.2 is one of the top selling combo amps in the world today. With a world of versatile effects and settings and 150w of power to back it up, you’ve got some serious muscle and range to work with.

This amp produces some great warm tones, reminiscent of your favorite Fender tube sounds with a nice middle tone. This amp is easily one of the best on the market and that isn’t going to change for a while.

I’ve used these amps myself and love their versatility. I can play my mustang in a glam rock band and then make a few adjustments to be ready to rock with a metal band. This isn’t one of those amps with a wide range and terrible tone. This one really has a great quality sound across its entire range.

Mesa Boogie Mark V

It wouldn’t be a list of the best amps you can get without a Mesa Boogie in the mix. This amp is one of the most versatile and multi-featured amps available today. This one packs a punch with 90w of power that’s also fully adjustable. Even though this is a tube amp the good folks at Mesa Boogie added a feature to play solid state as well. That’s just awesome.

The Mark V has a single 12″ speaker and features a 5 channel EQ for each channel, making it one of the most versatile amps. The Mark IV hold the prestigious title of being the most expensive amp on the list by a mile, but with Mesa Boogie, you get what you pay for. Whether you’re looking for a light mod-rock sound or searing thrash metal, this amp delivers every time.

EVH 5150III

Eddie has done it again. This 2×12 amp features fully adjustable power and impedance ranging from 50w to 1w and. Powered by seven pre-amp tubes and two power tubes, this amp has an incredible rock n’ roll punch.

You also get a load of features with this amp that include rear-panel MIDI input and preamp output, two rear-panel parallel speaker outputs, built-in DSP reverb, rear-panel effects loop and headphone jack, and a four-button footswitch.

I find this amp especially great for bar shows and recording. The adjustable power and impedance make it possible to achieve nearly any warmth and tone you want to record.

This amp has never been my favorite for playing lead at a big show, but for laying down tracks and rhythm guitar, this amp is ‘the one’.

So, How Do They Stack Up?

Blues Cube EVH 5150 Mark V Crush Pro Mustang IV
Power 60w 50w 90w 120w 150w
Weight 35 lbs. 84 lbs. 80 lbs. 63 lbs. 47 lbs.
Price $900 $1,500 $2,500 $700 $500
Sound Blues/Rock Rock/Metal Versatile Rock Versatile