Choose the Best Combo Amp for Metal
Customer’s Choice: the Best Rated Combo Amps for Metal
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A wide selection of guitar amplifiers is available to the buyer on online storefronts. First, you need to figure out exactly how the sound of your instrument is amplified and what is needed for this.
Very often, many people confuse the concept of guitar amplification with audio amplification, the main purpose of which is to amplify a sound signal without any distortion. You need to understand that the sound of an electric guitar coming from a speaker is the result of many factors. These are the properties of the instrument itself and the characteristics of the guitar amplifier.
Of course, the volume of the guitar sound also depends on the amplifier. However, this is only a side function. The main job of a guitar amplifier is to shape the sound of an electric guitar. Therefore, there is a huge variety of models with all kinds of sound colors.
Each amp is optimized for a specific instrument. These are mainly acoustic, bass, and electric guitars.
The electric guitar amplifier is structurally the most complex of all types. This is understandable, because this instrument, due to the use of various effects (in particular, distortion), can produce a sound of a fairly wide range.
Amplifiers for “acoustics” are designed to transmit the high, middle, and low frequencies of acoustic sound. Experts advise against resorting to distortions in this case. Such devices are usually designed with their speakers.
Bass amps are less designed to reproduce any kind of effects, as they focus on the transmission of low frequencies. Usually have built-in large speakers.
For musicians, the question is “how to play?” always relevant. Playing through the sound card of a computer with a program like Guitar Rig installed is, of course, the simplest and cheapest option, but here two problems arise: firstly, “creating” a high-quality sound becomes a difficult task, “secondly” arises when trying to turn the guitar on to the rehearsal point – all the errors of playing technique, which the computer masked during processing, “come out” when playing through the amplifier. So, if the guitar has become a serious hobby for you, purchasing a good amp for your home will be the best solution. Read about the pros and cons of the best combo amplifiers in our review.
Blackstar Electric Guitar Mini Amplifier – the best for digital ‘tape’ delay effect
The device went on sale relatively recently, two or three years ago. The manufacturer presented it as a portable device with the functions of a guitar combo amplifier. Three-inch speaker, headphone output, 3W class A / B amplifier with Patented ISF.
- Small and comfortable;
- Affordable price;
- A fairly rich range of adjustments allows you to play at least blues, even hard rock;
- Big tone, even at the lowest volumes.
- Small wattage;
- Few adjustments;
- At low volume, you will have to “warm-up” the amplifier with a preamp or lotion.
The size is very small – the amplifier weighs only 1.68 pounds and fits comfortably in a bag, which makes it an indispensable device for guitarists who often have to move from place to place. Of the advantages, buyers are attracted by the compact size and the ability to record their tracks.
Fender Mustang I (V.2) 20-Watt – the best for the ratio of sound, volume, and quality
With additional effects, you can achieve the right sound for every style of music, from classical jazz to hard rock. There is an additional input for working with a media player. Thanks to the headphone output, you can play completely silently without disturbing others.
- Clayton Picks Exotic DWS/3 Guitar Picks;
- Pick sampler;
- Wide adjustment possibilities;
- A very decent sound.
- Not the most affordable price.
A handle is built into the amplifier for easy portability. The construction consists of a flexible rubber-coated plate that will support a lot of weight, but at the same time provide comfort. The amplifier has a separate headphone output. 3.5mm jack for virtually silent rehearsals.
All control elements are located on the front of the panel, which provides convenient debugging while playing the guitar. A two-band equalizer helps you play with overdrive and clear sound. Supports fast switching with one button. Non-slip feet are built into the lower part of the case to securely hold the amplifier in an upright position
Fender Mustang LT-25 – Digital Guitar Amplifier – the best for compact size, smooth sound
The device with the two-channel mode is equipped with a pair of 12 sound emitters, produces a great sound when set at any volume. Thanks to additional effects, it is possible to achieve the desired sound according to the musical style. There is an additional connector for simultaneous operation with a media player. A headphone output allows you to improve your gaming experience with little to no noise, without causing discomfort to those around you.
- 8″ color display;
- USB interface for recording;
- There are a headphone and microphone jack;
- Average price;
- High power
- Wooden cabinet;
- Bass is poorly audible;
- Few settings for effects;
- The sound is not high quality, especially the voice.
Convenient small “combo” with a worldwide reputation. In terms of technical characteristics, it is excellent for small concerts or a studio. This amplifier sounds very much like the old school. Therefore, if you decide to play metal, then this version of the guitar amplifier will suit you perfectly.
Orange Amps Electric Guitar Power Amplifier – the best for easy tuning
A built-in tuner makes tuning easy, and a headphone jack makes it easy to play in any setting. Equalizer function and overdrive level control ensure the most accurate sound control.
- Surround sound;
- Flexible customization;
- No signal fluctuations;
- Sound recording function;
- Small size.
- High power consumption.
This combo amplifier is worth purchasing for use not only at home but also on the road. The versatility and individual setting of the device provide a comfortable game for beginners and professionals.
Monoprice 40-Watt 1×10 Guitar Combo Amplifier – the best for high and low inputs
The 15 W output power predetermines a significant headroom of sound volume while maintaining its high quality. The digital effects function block supports reverb, chorus, flanger, and other useful synthetic impressions. Analog modeling expands the possibilities for fine-tuning the sound. An optional footswitch during installation guarantees the most comfortable and efficient program switching.
- 0.5% total harmonic distortion;
- 3-band equalizer
- Good sound;
- Not the most favorable combination of price and functionality.
This model does not really shine with functionality, but the main thing in it is still not a conventional “quantity”, but still quality. Here we see the real professional level. However, with all the outstanding qualities of this combo amplifier, buyers still note a somewhat inflated cost, which, if it matches the quality, does not correspond to the functionality.
Depending on the elements included in the schematic diagram, all guitar combos can be divided into:
A lamp amp is every guitarist’s dream, built into a cult. This is the oldest class of amplifiers and still uses tubes and circuits that produce a soft, clean, easy-to-hear guitar sound. This is especially true for pure sound. The “overloaded” tube amplifier is considered the standard for “heavy” sound.
The main advantage of tube combo amplifiers is the so-called “warm tube sound” and ideal “overdriven”, which is why professionals often prefer them.
Among the shortcomings, it is worth noting: cost (they are significantly more expensive than transistor ones), high weight, fragility (and therefore special transportation conditions), as well as the need for regular and timely replacement of lamps.
Transistor combo amplifiers are the most popular due to their affordability. Among the advantages of this type of combo are their simplicity in operation, low cost, low weight, and reliability. The sound of such combos cannot be attributed to disadvantages, but they are undoubtedly inferior to tube combos, which is especially felt at high power and high volume. Despite this, it is still recommended to purchase a transistor model for home use.
Digital or modeling combo amps use digital emulations of classic tube circuits. This is a fairly new type of combo, which until recently could not boast of high-quality sound, it was unnatural, but modern models sound very convincing and can compete with other types of combo. Also, an undoubted advantage is the presence of a built-in effects processor in such devices.
The hybrid combo models have a built-in tube preamp and a transistor power amplifier. These combos are a compromise between the expensive tube and budget transistor devices.
Let’s try to give some general tips to help you navigate the choice of a combo amplifier.
Decide on the purpose of use.
Consider why you need a combo. For home, for playing in one or another performer, for rehearsals, concerts, performances in small rooms. Select the power of the amplifier following the tasks.
Note that “lamps” of the same wattage as other types of combos sound brighter and louder.
A compact device with a power of 10-15 watts is suitable for practicing at home. For rehearsals, depending on the area of the room and the composition of the performers, take a combo from 30 W. For concert performances – from 50 W.
It is generally accepted that for a comfortable joint play, a bass player’s amp should be about 2 times more powerful than an electric guitarist’s amplifier.
This is perhaps the most important characteristic of an amp to build on. Therefore, the first question that needs to be answered before buying: why do I need a combo amplifier?
If you plan to use a combo amplifier for home rehearsals, the compact 10 – 30 W model is the best choice.
If you plan to rehearse with a group, then the power of the amplifier should be at least 50 W so that it can be heard simultaneously with the drum kit. Typically, 50 – 150 W models are purchased for rehearsal bases.
At concert venues, combo amplifiers with a power of more than 1000 watts are used.
It should be borne in mind that the power of tube amps is actually “more powerful” than transistor and digital ones. That is, the numbers are the same, but the sensations are different. So a 5 W tube amplifier corresponds in sound, for example, to a 15 W transistor amplifier.
We have already talked about the advantages and disadvantages of tube and transistor amplifiers. Therefore, when choosing a combo for this parameter, you should first evaluate your financial capabilities. Tube guitar amplifiers of similar power are usually much more expensive than others, due to sound quality. And, undoubtedly, lamp devices are worth their money, but they are not always needed, for example, at home. For home rehearsals, you can easily get by with an inexpensive solid-state combo, especially if you’re a budding guitarist.
If, nevertheless, you decide to buy a tube model as your first combo, then take into account the fact that its sound “tube” features are revealed at a volume of at least 50% of the maximum. At low volumes, you will not be able to appreciate all the charm of its sound. Thus, buying a 50-watt model for a home without letting it showcase its full power is irrational. Perfect for a rehearsal base.
Having decided on the power and circuitry of the future purchase, you should pay attention to the manufacturers of combo amplifiers, because the models of different manufacturers have their nuances.
For example, FENDER combo amplifiers are characterized by clear and soft sound, they will be appreciated by musicians of jazz, blues, folk, funk styles. And for playing rock music, MARSHALL combo amplifiers are most suitable, which have a powerful suppressive overdrive. KUSTOM models combine clear sound, decent power, excellent speakers, and a low price, but they cannot boast of sound effects, so they are best used in conjunction with additional pedals. The aforementioned combo amplifiers have earned a name for themselves thanks to their excellent value for money.
Availability of additional effects and functions.
Different models can differ significantly: from a completely “empty” combo to a heaped one with a built-in effects processor, audio interface, and the ability to configure via a smartphone. Typically a combo amp has 3-band EQ, overdrive, and reverb. As a rule, the quality of the built-in effects in inexpensive models is not encouraging, so it is better to use separate effect pedals, which give a better and cleaner sound, the more convenient it is when playing the guitar.
So, now you know what a combo is, what types of it are, what are their pros and cons. We hope this article will help you make the right choice.
Useful Video: Fender Mustang I V2 Guitar Amplifier Combo Demo Review
A combo amplifier is an amplifier and speaker system in one device. Some modern combo amps are so compact that they can be carried on a belt. But it is not uncommon for professional guitarists to buy themselves several large, powerful devices to fit certain songs, since they sound different.
There are three types of guitar combo amplifiers – transistor, tube, and combined. Transistor ones are cheaper, tube ones are more expensive. But you shouldn’t buy the cheapest combo amplifiers, it is better to consider models from the middle price range – they will have much higher sound quality. An important selection criterion is a purpose for which the device is purchased. For home use, a small device is enough; for concert stages, more powerful models are needed.