Guitar Amp Combos

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About Guitar Amp Combos

Guitar amp combos are the most popular type of guitar amplification. Keeping everything within one enclosure is very practical so it's no wonder so many guitarists choose combos. Guitar combos can vary wildly both in size and technology whilst falling roughly into two major categories: solid state and valve.

Valve combos, also known as tube combos, are based on classic old-school technology and are what many people think of when they talk about guitar amps. Valve combos are traditionally nice and loud, with famous models from Vox and Fender giving some full stacks a run for their money in terms of volume! Nowadays, lots of manufacturers produce tube combos with very low power ratings to allow sensible home use. Valves need to be 'cranked' to get the best tones so less power is a good thing in a suburban context!

Solid state amps are usually the kind you find with lots of features such as amp modelling and built-in effects. Since these amps use computer circuit-boards to make the sounds out of samples, they can mimic a variety of famous amplifiers and give you an excellent palette of sounds to play with. Most home practice amps are solid state and all of the major companies make their own range. These ranges include much bigger versions too, for rehearsing and gigging with.

Each type of technology has its benefits and drawbacks. Certain players prefer certain types for different reasons. At guitarguitar, we keep an extensive selection of electric guitar combos in stock in every one of our UK stores from a huge range of major manufacturers and boutique builders. Browse our entire selection of amp heads, cabs and combos online or visit us to try them out for yourself in one of our soundproof booths!

Frequently Asked Questions about Guitar Amp Combos

This is really a matter of taste. If you are relatively new to guitar playing, it can be really exciting to have an amp with loads of FX on board to play around with and learn. Later on, you may find you want a different type of amp that focuses on a particular sound rather than being a 'jack of a trades' with something for everyone. We would recommend digital amps with lots of features for practicing with. You can often buy an additional foot controller to take better advantage of the FX and increase the fun factor. Whether this is the type of amp you gig with or not is entirely up to you but there is no denying their appeal, practicality and value...and the fun they provide!
'Headroom' refers to how loud an amp can get whilst remaining clean. Some amplifiers overload relatively quickly and experience signal break up to sound at least semi-distorted when used at stage volume. This means they have a low level of headroom. This is neither good nor bad: if you want to have a great distorted tone then headroom isn't much of a factor but if you want to have a loud and pristine clean tone then you need more volume and the right type of amp. Fender tube combos such as the Twin Reverb are great examples of amps that can be wound up to terrifyingly loud volumes but still retain an absolutely clean tone.
The most popular solid state guitar combo is the Blackstar ID Core 10 V2, closely followed by the BOSS Katana KTN-50. The Blackstar is a fantastic amp for using in the home and studio. The BOSS amp is a great all rounder that is loud enough for smaller gigs.
This is a popular question! Let's assume you will be able to play reasonably loud in the house. We recommend looking at the following amps: the Fender Blues Junior, the Vox AC15C1 and the Blackstar HT Studio 20. Smaller wattage amps may well be better for the home but you will not be able to use them for gigs. Conversely, solid state amplifiers will be able to supply you with a variety of tones at low volumes, even if they are high wattage amps.
Usually, you can hear it because your tone will decrease in quality quite significantly. If the valves in your amp are visible then merely looking at them should tell you. Switch on your amp and give the valves a minute or two to warm up. If one of them is glowing less (or not at all) than the others, it may be time to replace it! Make sure you read your amp's manual about this. Often, valves need to be changed in pairs, especially power amp valves (the bigger ones). Please make sure you are fully informed before you do anything.