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What is the best Electric Guitar Amp for under $500?

Updated on May 30, 2013

Amps : Loud, Ugly and Awesome!

I still remember my first Amp : a chunky second / third / maybe fourth (?) hand Peavey bought from a Pawn Shop. It was loud, ugly and awesome.

Twenty years have passed, I no longer thrash out shoddy Grunge Rock on my Fender Tele (though I do still play my beloved Tele). I no longer have long hair and Recording no longer means a Four Track and an old storeroom.

An ever developing Home Recording Studio has taken the place of the Four Track ; but when my Arts Voice Channel Pre Amp arrived, I hooked up my good old Telecaster and cranked up the Tubes : I guess a Microphone Test would have been more sensible, but I couldn't resist a taste of Tube Amped Overdrive :-)

As a Teenager my Amp requirements were Zen-like in their straight forwardness : big and loud. The world of Amps, however, is a complicated and expensive one. Like most creative people, I've spent my life earning next to no money. Any purchase as pricey as a Guitar Amp, has to be meticulously researched first. This lens is the result of that on going research.

How many Guitar Amps do you Own?

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A Simple Introduction to Guitar Amps

An Electric Guitar Amp consists of three basic elements :1. Preamp2. Amp / Head3. Speaker(s) / CabinetLet's take a look at each of three basic elements in greater detail.

What is a Preamp?

1. A Preamp* : A preamplifier provides the tone of the Amp's sound. One way of thinking about it is that, the Preamp determines the color scheme you use to paint your Guitar signal. The actual Electrical Signal it creates is small. The Preamp requires additional amplification, in order to function as a Guitar Amp.



*Though it is possible to buy separate Preamps, they are usually only used in 'Studio-based Rack systems' or 'High-End Live Rack Systems'. More often than not, you find them built into Audio Interfaces and Mixers.

In the world of Electric Guitar Amps, it is almost always the case that the Preamp is built-in : Preamps have, because of this, become effectively invisible, in relation to Guitar Amps.

Preamp Image by Music First Audio

Quick Tips : Preamps

Preamp = ToneIt 'colors' your Guitar Signal

What is an Amp / Head?

2. Amp / Head : If the Preamp provides the color scheme for your Guitar Signal, the Amp / Head is what enlarges your color scheme. It does this buy adding water / wattage to the color and mixing it up and up, and up. Put simply, the Amp / Head takes a small audio signal and makes it bigger. The amount to which the Amp / Head enlarges the original audio signal, depends on the Wattage of the Amp.


Different Amps have different ways of 'growing the signal'. There are three basic types to be considered : Tube, Solid State and Amp Modeling. Each of these Amp Types add their own characteristics to the Guitar Signal, while doing their work to make it bigger :

Tube Amps are considered by Guitar Purists to produce the 'warmest, most authentic' Guitar Sound. The Tube Amp still tends to be the 'weapon of choice' for the vast majority of 'Professional Guitarists'.

*Tube Amps are, however, expensive to buy and repair, when compared to the other types of Amp on the market. This is due to the increasing scarcity of companies that still make 'Tube Technology' (most of whom are based in Eastern Europe, Russia and China).

Solid State Amps are seen as the most 'cost effective' way of producing a large amount of 'clean power'. Whereas a Tube Amp will add its own color to the Guitar Signal as it Amps it, thus 'coloring / changing' the Preamp Tone, Solid State Amps remain far more faithful to the incoming Preamp Tone when Amping it up.

*Purely in terms of tone : the advantages / disadvantages of Tube Amps versus Solid State Amps are going to come down to the mentality of the individual Guitarist.

Amp Modeling : stands apart from the other two types of Amp. Whereas their technology is based in the 'real world', Amp Modeling relies on Software Based Technology to do it's work. In addition to this, while the other two types of Amp produce finite, singular, individual sounds, Amp Modeling can 'recreate' any number of different Amp Sounds from the same Amp.

*For more information on Amp Modeling see further down this lens, where you'll find two sections dedicated to it.

Amp Head Image by Gutch220

Quick Tips : Amps / Heads

Amp = Power'Makes the color bigger'

What is a Speaker / Cabinet?


Speaker(s) / cabinet : Just as is the case with your domestic HiFi, the Speaker(s) / cabinet are what allow people to hear the amplified signal. If the Preamp provides the color scheme, the Amp the enlargement / mix of the color scheme, the Speaker(s) / cabinet are the 'brushes' with which your Guitar Signal is painted / projected onto the room / venue (the canvas).

As is the case with actual paint brushes, a Speaker / cabinet adds its own unique characteristics to the Guitar Tone Mix. These characteristics depend on a range of factors : from the material in which the Speaker is housed, to the Speaker material itself, the build quality and methodology of suspending / isolating the speaker, the manner in which the Speaker is powered, and the size of the Speaker itself.

These construction and material factors determine how the Speaker(s) / cabinet broadcasts the Guitar Signal. For example : this could result in a Speaker / Cabinet that favors a particular EQ range - i.e. giving a more 'bassy' sound or giving a 'fuller sound' in the mid-range. A Speaker / Cabinet may reproduce sound to a higher quality across a wider dynamic range (from low to high). You may also find Speakers / Cabinets that do better with sudden changes in EQ level. A swift shift from low to high, by the Guitarist, can result in some Speakers / Cabinets distorting the signal (while their construction materials 'flex' to catch up with the Guitarist).

All three of these elements are required for a functioning Electric Guitar Amp. However, as is the case with Preamps, each element does not have to occupy its own box or case (as a stand alone device)*.

*It is possible to buy all three elements as separate pieces of equipment. Indeed, some Guitarists may prefer the control and customization three individual devices would offer them. It is, however, an expensive option and probably only suitable for Guitarists with a considerable amount of experience working with a wide range of Preamp / Amp / Speaker combinations.

Cabinets Image by Jaakonam

Quick Tips : Speakers / Cabinets

Speakers = 'Brushes the color into the room'

Which type of Amp Setup is Best for You?

How do you like your Amp Setup?

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What is the best Guitar Amp for under $50?

What is a Mini Amp?

A Mini Amp is an ultra small, portable Amp design solely for the purposes of practicing. They typically range between 1 - 3 Watts and are intended for Guitarists to use in situations where a larger, louder Amp would be inpractical and / or anti-social*.

Repeated visits from angry neighbors and / or The Police, tend to interrupt the flow of a practice session.

A Mini Amp is usually battery power, with the option of using a 9v adaptor. This option is worth considering, as Mini Amps tend to eat batteries and as a result, the cost can mount up quickly.

Useful only as a Practice Tool, a Mini Amp does not give enough 'juice' for live performance. It is designed and intended only for practice and fun. For this reason, Mini Amps tend to be very affordable in price (or at least they should be).

*It is worth noting that you could label the Mini Amp a false economy. Once heavy battery usage and / or the cost of a 9v Adaptor are factored in, the Mini Amp does not look as cheap an option.

If, in addition to the above, you add in the limitations of a Mini Amp's use, spending more money (at first) on a full Practice Amp begins to look like a more cost effective option. Certainly it is worth considering.

Mini Amps : Serious Practice Tool or Gimic?

Are Mini Amps a serious practice tool or a gimic?

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What is the Best Mini Amp for under $50?

The Number One Mini Amp for under $50 : Danelectro N10B Honey Tone Mini Amp

Let's take a closer look at the The Number One Mini Amp for under $50 : Danelectro N10B Honey Tone Mini Amp :

Looking more like a 60s style Radio you'd see on the set of Madmen, the Danelectro N10 stands apart in the typically Heavy Metal Styled world of Electric Guitar Amps. The Danelectro N10 is a genuine piece of classic, retro stylish design.

This 'stand out from the crowd' piece of design nostalgia comes in a range of colors schemes : Burgundy (as featured here), Black, Aqua and Yellow. The addition of a real leather carry handle, is a cool, hip design feature adding to the overall effect of this quirky little Guitar Amp. A metal belt clip on the rear of the amp, demonstrates that the Danelectro N10 is also concerned with function, not just style.

In terms of performance, the Danelectro N10 offers both clean and overdriven Guitar tone. In addition to this, it claims to be louder than most other mini Amps*.

*Danelectro offer no test evidence to back up this claim, so you'll have to decide yourself whether you choose to believe them or not.

Personally I love the look of the Danelectro N10. Focused on building my Home Recording Studio, I have absolutely no practical need for this Amp whatsoever. I do, however, find myself thinking it'd be nice to own one. I think hooking my Guitar up to a Danelectro N10 to a quick jam session, would bring a bigger smile to my face than other Amps would.

The flipside of this, of course, is that the Danelectro N10 will not be for everyone. As is the the case with all singular, stand out designed products, the Danelectro N10 is going to fall into that 'love it or hate it' category. For some Guitarists, the Danelectro N10 will look silly and old hat.

*I like to read actual customer reviews. It is always useful to hear what people who have bought and used the Amp have to say.

After reading through all the customer reviews on Amazon, I feel these quotes are the most representative of Customer Feedback. I hope they will help inform your decision.

Danelectro N10B Honey Tone Mini Amp in Burgundy
Danelectro N10B Honey Tone Mini Amp in Burgundy

Positive Reviews"A headphone jack on the amp means you can enjoy the amp's impressive sound quality without bothering the neighbors or waking your spouse."...from 5 Star Review by Amazon Customer Andrea L. Polk."Small and cheap enough to have more than one (keep one at work, in the car, etc), but really big, quality sound."...from 5 Star Review by Amazon Customer Eric C. Larson.Negative Reviews"The battery was not able to carry the load... ...Started cutting in and out right from the get go, and was completely useless after 5min."...from 1 Star Review by Amazon Customer Thomas A Minor."This small guitar amp has a terrible sound on clean and on distortion."...from 1 Star Review by Amazon Customer Tom.

 

Danelectro N10 : Video Demos

Danelectro N10 : Pros and Cons

Pros :'Cheap as Chips'Unique striking designClean & Overdrive TonesHeadphone JackBelt ClipCons :V. Short Battery LifeMixed feedback on sound qualityConclusion :A quirky, fun Mini Amp for a tiny price.Not to everyone's taste. Additional 9V Power Adapter is a must.For such a low price, and if you like the design, I find it hard to believe you can go wrong

Would you Buy a Danelectro N10?

Would you buy a Danelectro N10?

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What is a Headphone Amp?

A Headphone Amp is a super super small Amp that plus directly into your Guitar and simulates the sound of a full sized Amp, via a pair of headphones.

Just as is the case with Mini Amps, Headphone Amps are designed and intended solely for the purposed of Guitar practice. However unlike Mini Amps that come with a built in tiny speaker and headphones as an option, a Headphone Amp only works through Headphones*.

*It is in fact possible to buy 'mini cabinets' for most, if not all, Headphone Amps. This additional piece of kit effectively turns the Headphone Amp into a Mini Amp.

Headphone Amps are usually more expensive than their Mini Amp competition. On the face of it this seems illogical, but Headphone Amps tend to boast a far higher standard of Amp Tone quality : many Headphone Amps are modeled on iconic Amps of the past and their classic sounds.

Manufacturers of Headphone Amps tend to offer them in a range of flavors to fit most styles of Electric Guitar. This makes it very possible for a Guitarist to find the exact Guitar Tone they're are looking for, within the world of Headphone Amps.

Whereas Mini Amps can only claim to be 'sort of portable', the Headphone Amp is geniunely portable. This portable capacity is only limited by Battery Life. Here again the Headphone Amp has an advantage over it's Mini Amp competition : it takes far less energy to power a Headphone Amp than it does a speaker (no matter how small). This gives the Headphone Amp a massive advantage in Battery life and, therefore, the cost of powering it.

Overall Headphone Amps offer a solid practice option with a wide choice of styles to suit person Guitarist tastes, but at a relatively high price for its place in the market.

Do You Use a Headphone Amp for Practice?

Do you use a headphone amp for practice?

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What is the Best Headphone Amp for under $50?

The Number One Headphone Amp for under $50 : Vox amPlug AC30 Guitar Headphone Amp

Let's take a closer look at the The Number One Headphone Amp for under $50 : Vox amPlug AC30 Guitar Headphone Amp

The Vox amPlug range of Headphone Amps are little Rock Davids in a Goliath world of chunky, Heavy Metal Amps. Plugging directly into your Guitar, the Vox amPlug is available in nine** distinct musical tones / styles : Lead*, Bass, VOX AC30 (the one featured here), Classic Rock, Metal*, Acoustic, Night Train, Twin and Joe Satriani Signature*.

*The Lead, Metal and Joe Satriani Signature Vox amPlugs all featured in the original Top Ten List, before I removed them to provide as much variety in the list as possible.

**I've written a breakdown of the different types / styles of Vox amPlug. It follows this module.

Vox have taken the classic sounds / tones of their signature Amps and crammed them into this tiny Amp gems. Each Vox amPlug is designed to give a Guitarist a big Amp sound through a fully portable, easy to use, Amp set-up. As the term suggests, a Headphone Amp is designed to work solely with a pair of Headphones*.

*Though it is possible to hook up a Vox amPlug to a Vox amPlug Cabinet and create your own tiny Head and Cabinet system (can't help but smile at the idea of that one).

In addition to the headphone out, the Vox amPlug also has an aux jack input. This nifty feature allows a Guitarist to play along to their favorite songs on CD or MP3 Player.

Vox claim that the Vox amPlug will run for 15 hours on Batteries. This is a fantastic amount of battery life for something as energy hungry as an Amp, though you still might want to invest in a rechargeable battery system.

Designed to be the ultimate in convenient, 'big sound in a small package' portable 'anytime, any place' Guitar practice tech, the Vox amPlug makes a strong case for its top spot as Number One Headphone Amp for under $50

*I like to read actual customer reviews. It is always useful to hear what people who have bought and used the Amp have to say.

After reading through all the customer reviews on Amazon, I feel these quotes are the most representative of Customer Feedback. I hope they will help inform your decision.

[OLD MODEL] Vox amPlug AC30 Guitar Headphone Amp
[OLD MODEL] Vox amPlug AC30 Guitar Headphone Amp

Positive Reviews"It's the closest thing I've ever heard to a real Vox AC30 tube amp, without having the real thing cranked and miked up in a room."...from 5 Star Review by Amazon Customer Kevin W. Sturges."It has three wheel controls: volume, gain, and tone. Turn up the gain and you get a nice Brian May-type overdrive. Dial the gain down, turn up the tone and volume and it's very Beatles mid 60's clean."...from 5 Star Review by Amazon Customer The California Consumer.Negative Reviews"The quarter inch male plug is slightly too short to engage the female socket on my guitar."...from 1 Star Review by Amazon Customer Ronald D. Hackett."The sound quality is unlistenable, the battery compartment door... ...fell off... ...the controls are difficult to access while playing."...from 1 Star Review by Amazon Customer Cameraman.

 

Vox amPlug AC30 : Video Demos

A collection of demos for the Vox amPlug AC30, ranging from it's clean to overdrive tone.

What are the Different Styles of the Vox amPlug?

AC30: Vintage Top Boost SoundAcoustic: Fat / Bright tones 4 Electro-Acoustic GuitarsBass: compression & boost 4 Bass GuitarsClassic Rock: 100w UK Hi-GainJoe Satriani: Distortion + Hi-Gain Vacuum Tube + DelayLead: Hi-Gain & Digital DelayMetal: Modern US Hi-Gain distortionNight Train: Intense Hi-Gain ToneTwin: Clean 2x12" American Classic + Chorus

Vox amPlug Range : Which is Best for You?

Which Vox amPlug would you buy?

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Vox amPlug Range : Video Demos

In addition to the Vox amPlug AC30 Video Demos above, I've also put together a collection of Video Demos for the Vox amPlug Range.

The videos are arranged alphabetically and feature the various Vox amPlugs in the following order : Acoustic, Bass, Classic Rock, Joe Satriani Signature, Lead, and Metal. The number of videos per Vox amPlug varies between 3 and 5.

*I could not find any videos for the Night Train or Twin. Don't know why. Perhaps they are very new or just not that popular with folks.

Vox amPlug : Pros and Cons

Pros :Extensive range of Iconic AmpsComprehensive ControlsDirect InAUX 4 CD / MP3 Player15Hrs BatteryCons :Not cheapQuestionable Build QualityDoesn't fit all GuitarsDifficult to control when playingBattery Life questionedConclusion :A choice of flavors to suit every taste.Not cheap 4Practice kit, buy rechargable batteries.Great option, when Amps are not practical.

Mini Amp Vs Headphone Amp

Which do you prefer, a Mini Amp or a Headphone Amp?

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What is the best Guitar Amp for under $100?

What is Guitar Amp Modeling?

Is it the bizarre act of building scale model replicas of famous Guitar Amps?

No. Amp Modeling is like the T1000 of the Guitar World : the T1000 was a 'liquid metal Terminator', Amp Modeling is a 'liquid metal Guitar Amp'.

In head scratching technical terms, Amp Modeling is software based system for 'forging' a particular Amp Sound / Tone in a virtual environment. The use of complex mathematical equations (so complex, they'd make even Neo crawl into a ball and weep for his Mother) 'game' out the different sound characteristics of a specific Amp, as they are effected by the various parametres of Amp usage - eg. input signal, gain, EQ, volume, recording mic position, venue size etc.

These equations then form the basis for a Matrix (yep, it's really called that) which the Software Engineers can run different types of Input Signal through, in order to see how their Virtual Matrix Amp performs. They can then compare that performance with the original Amp and make adjustments to the Amp Matrix as needed.

When featured on an Amp (on opposed to being purely software based), Amp Modeling takes your Amps existing 'real world sound characteristics' and can morph them on a digital / virtual level into a different set of characteristics.

This 'tonal morphing' can either be relatively slight - for example, changing the Gain characteristics of your amp - or it can be a wholesale morph into an entirely different Amp : now your $100 Fender Mustang I (the Amp I have beside me right now) sounds like a classic Fender Amp of the 70s.

What does all this mean in Real Terms?

Amp Modeling means that your little Practice Amp can produce the 'big sound' of a Stack Amp (without the volume, of course). It also means that your massive mega-watt monster will perfom as sweetly as the dinkiest Practice Amp, without 'chocking' for lack of oxygen at extreme low power levels.

Amp Modeling also means you no longer have to buy a variety of Amps, at great expense, to get a variety of Amp tones. Amp Modeling allows your Amp to morph into, in theory, any other type of Amp, for which the software has been written. The cost-saving benefits of Amp Modeling speak for themselves. Particularly for those of us who are building a Home Recording Studio and simply can not afford to buy countless Amps & Heads.

Do you Use Amp Modeling?

Do you use Amp Modeling?

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Number One Guitar Practice Amp for under $100 : Fender Mustang I - Fender Mustang I : Customer Reviews

Let's take a closer look at the Number One Guitar Practice Amp for under $100* : Fender Mustang I

*It should also be noted that not only is the Fender Mustang I the Top Rated Guitar Amp for under $100, it is also The Top Rated Guitar Amp on Amazon.

I should this review by saying, the Fender Mustang I is the Amp I own. I add my own personal feedback for the Fender Mustang I a little after this module (just after the demo videos). I think it's best, if I keep the two separate.

The Fender Mustang I is a solid looking, chunk of an amp, targeted straight at the Practice Amp Market. It comes with a 20 Watt 8" Speaker (designed specifically for the Fender Mustang I) and packs enough Rock-Punch to more than satisfy the needs of any home practice session. In fact, for heavy distortion sessions, you may find yourself airing on the side of caution and using the Headphone socket. This will, of course, depend on how you feel about annoying your neighbors (they may deserve the occasional act of annoyance from time to time).

The Fender Mustang I will also stretch to Jam and 'on the quiet side' Band Rehearsal Sessions (though your bandmates may choose to blow you out of the water, just for the giggle of it). I think you could also probably get away with using the Fender Mustang I for a small, intimate Gig, though you may feel more comfortable with a bit more 'Watt Space' to breathe into - even if you don't end up using it.

One of the major attractions of the Fender Mustang I is its built in Amp Modeling software (see the explanation above for more info on Amp Modeling). The Fender Mustang I comes with an array of 24 Amp Styles / Tones already arranged and Set-Up, ready for you to use. They range from such iconic sounds such as Twin Reverb, British 60s and American 90s.

The Amp Modeling software on Fender Mustang I can easily be paired with its generous selection of 24 built in effects, ranging from Chorus, Flange and Phase, Tremolo, Vibratone and Step Filter and a host of Delay & Reverb effects. With these combinations, a Guitarist has a wide range of Custom Sound options to play with and create their own personalized Guitar tone.

In addition to the ample onboard effects, the Fender Mustang I is able to connect to your Computer or Laptop via USB (Cable Included). This gives you access to Fender's Fuse Software (PC and Mac Compatible). The Fuse Software opens up the Fender Mustang I, giving you a far deeper level of control and customization. You can also share and download Presets created by other Fender Mustang I users. This is a really nice additional feature.

The Fender Mustang I does not stop there with its bag of tricks. You can also use the USB Connection to record and edit your own songs with a Fender Limited Version of Ableton Live Lite 8. Though obviously not the full version, this DAW will give you a solid set of recording options. You can easily use your Fender Mustang I as a Microphone input and record vocals as well. This makes the Fender Mustang I and additional software, a fully functional Audio Interface and Recording Studio good enough to record decent sounding Demos (perhaps more).

Fender may well have out done themselves with the Mustang I. Let's see if the Customer Reviews on Amazon back this up.

*I like to read actual customer reviews. It is always useful to hear what people who have bought and used the Amp have to say.

After reading through all the customer reviews on Amazon, I feel these quotes are the most representative of Customer Feedback. I hope they will help inform your decision.

Fender Mustang I : Video Demos

Fender Mustang I : Best Amp for Beginners?

Is the Fender Mustang I the best Amp for beginners?

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What do I think of my Fender Mustang I?

What was I Looking for in an Amp?

Before buying the Fender Mustang I I did a lot of research. I was looking for, first and foremost, a Practice Amp that would allow me to Jam with my brother, with him on his Acoustic Guitar and me on my Electric. I live in a very quiet apartment building, in a quiet suburb of a quiet town, where noise
pollution appears to be the one crime The Police will always follow up on (I think you could actually murder someone here, as long as you gagged them first and beat them to death with cushions). I, therefore, didn't want anything to loud or, indeed, that 'looked' too loud.

Since restarting with the Guitar (after a 15 year break), songs had been falling out of me. I was desperate to start recording them, before I forgot them. I'd been looking at Audio Interfaces, but the idea of an Amp that would also serve as a basic Audio Interface was very appealing.

In terms of brand I play a Fender Telecaster '77, so my eye naturally fell on Fender Amps as a good place to start looking.

Which of my Needs did the Fender Mustang I Meet?

In terms of my most basic requirement, to be able to jam with my brother, the Mustang I is more than enough. I have also more recently run my Fender Mexican Standard Precision Bass through the Mustang I (at low volume), while jamming with my brother (him on his Vibraphone). The Mustang I performed really well, my Bass was clean and full toned.

*The headphone socket is also extremely useful for practicing in my neighborhood, where even the kids don't seem to make too much noise.

The addition of the Amp Modeling and On Board Effects have really surprised me. My Guitar sounds so good, it should be illegal. I have, on occasion, found myself giggling like a school girl whilst ripping out my hamfisted riffs and solos on its iconic distortion settings.

Which of my Needs did the Fender Mustang I Fall Short On?

A big reason I selected the Mustang I was to use it for basic recording. The USB connection itself works great, no complaints there. The bundled in Fender ASIO driver is also very good. I noted that some reviewers did not care for the Amplitude Software, but I actually really like it. I found it easy to use and enjoyed the range of tones it produced*.

*I used it with a demo version of Cubase 5 quite happily. Unfortunately upon upgrading to Cubase Artist 6.5, I found that Amplitude was no longer compatible. This is a shame, as I prefer to the Effects bundled in as part of Cubase.

The problem with using the Mustang I as part of a Recording Studio has nothing to do with the Amp itself, but is related to the bundled in DAW software : Ableton Live Lite 8.

I found Ableton Live Lite 8 easy enough to record a single track with, but as soon as I wanted to do anything more complicated, I couldn't get anywhere. It as though they've simplified the Interface to such a degree, it's impossible to figure how to do anything, but the most basic of tasks. The long and the short of it is that, I simply did not enjoy working with Ableton Live Lite 8.

Is the Fender Mustang I a Good Buy?

Yes, absolutely. The Mustang I is more than worth its money for what it does well : act as a Practice Amp with a stack of Effects and Amp Tones. The recording option feels like a bit of an 'add on', not really part of the main design. Whereas the Amp and it's onboard features are comprehensive and well thought out, the Recording feature seems thrown together and under tested.

If you're looking for a top quality Practice Amp at an affordable price, you can't go far wrong with the Fender Mustang I. If, on the other hand, you're looking for an affordable 'starter kit' for Home Recording, I would recommend* the Tascam US-144 MKII : it comes with Cubase Limited (a far better piece of DAW software in my opinion) and is a very solid 4 in / 4 out USB powered Audio Interface.

*I bought the Tascam US-144 MKII and used it happily until I recently upgraded to a Steinberg Yamaha MR816x (which is a fantastic, but much more expensive Audio Interface).

Oh, I almost forgot to mention : the onboard Tuner on the Mustang I is rubbish! Don't use it :-)

Fender Mustang I : Pros and Cons

Pros :A lot of Amp for PriceLoads of Positive ReviewsGreat Vintage SoundsOnboard EffectsV. Customizable with USB + FuseChunky Build QualityCons :DAW Software LimitedNot Compatible with PPC MacConclusion :Fantastic Practice Amp with all the Effects a Beginner Guitarist needs.Prob. not up for the job as Starter Pack Recording Studio, but may be ok for demo work.

Would You Buy a Fender Mustang I?

Would you buy a Fender Mustang I?

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What are the Disadvantages of Guitar Amp Modeling?

On the face of it, it's hard to believe there could be any disadvantages to Amp Modeling : it provides an ultra-affordable, comprehensive in range and professional in quality, fully customizable Guitar Amp Tones and Effects system for as a little as a $100. How could anyone have a problem with that?

*Amp Modeling is, though, a fundamentally different approach to the act of 'amping' a Guitar signal.

Traditional Guitar Amps did their work mechanically. They were physical, almost 'organic', pieces of equipment : The Guitar signal was grown within the mechanics of the Amps, in a real world environment. The Guitarist had a direct relationship with their Traditional Guitar Amps : Gain, Volume and Tone was effected by adjusting dials and switches. The process was a tactile, physical experience for the Guitarist.

Amp Modeling, on the other hand, is software based, regardless of whether it comes packaged as purely a PC-based tool or housed within the body of an Amp (or other piece of equipment). The direct, tangible relationship between Guitarist and Traditional Guitar Amp is lost. For many Guitarist this loss is too much to justify the benefits of Amp Modeling.

*It would easy to dismiss this attitude as 'old fashioned', but in reality, and this is true for all Musicians, making music is an emotional experience. If a Guitarist simply doesn't like working with Amp Modeling, their playing will reflect that fact. We all have to play with joy in our hearts. Anything, however beneficial, that gets in the way of that joy, is not worth using.

*Amp Modeling is without doubt a fantastic tool for Guitarists, but it is a very technical, software based tool.

Not everybody enjoys using computers. In fact some people actually hate using computers. Playing music has, traditionally, been a Computer Free Zone, but not anymore : computer based studio software dominates music recording ; midi forms the core of all modern keyboard work ; drums and percussion are often programmed, or played live, but digitally using samples ; even the simple act of singing has not escape the world of high-tech processors and effects.

Playing Guitar is no different with Amp Modeling now being featured on next to all Modern Amps as standard. For Tech-Heads like myself, this simply adds to the fun and joy of playing Guitar. For people trying to avoid computers, the spread of Amp Modeling to Industry standard presents a real problem : they don't want to spend hours techno-fiddling on computers to set up their new Amp, they simply want to plug in and play.

I, like many Guitarists, am a huge fan of Amp Modeling, but this is not true of all Guitarists : some simply wish to find a Guitar and Amp combination that works for them, and then craft their relationship with those two mechnical real world pieces of kit.

Amp Modeling : too Techy / Complicated?

Is Guitar Amp Modeling too techy and complicated for your tastes?

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What is the Best Portable Amp for under $100?

Number One Portable Guitar Amp for under $100 : Pignose 7-100 - Pignose 7-100 : Customer Reviews

Let's take a look at the Number One Portable Guitar Amp for under $100 : Pignose 7-100.

*The Pignose 7-100 represents an absolutely different approach to building Amps, to that of the Fender Mustang I. The Mustang 1 is a modern, high-tech animal, born of the 21st Century and loaded with all the Amp Modeling and USB based software interfaces you'd expect from an ultra-modern Amp.

The Pignose 7-100 could not be more different from the Mustang 1. If you are a Guitarist that weeps (gently) at the thought of Amp Modeling and required computer shenanigans, the Pignose 7-100 may well be the Amp for you.

whereas the Mustang 1 focuses on a high level of customization and variety of Amp Tone, the Pignose 7-100 concentrates on giving the Guitarist one, perfect tonal range from clean to overdriven. The obvious disadavantage of this approach is that if you don't like that tonal range, Pignose 7-100 is not going to be for you. However if the Pignose 7-100 tone suits you, then this odd, unique and funky little Amp becomes a very attractive piece of kit indeed.

The Pignose 7-100 is highly focused on being as portable as possible : it runs on 'six pen light batteries'* and you can attach a Guitar Strap to it (at extra expense), sling it over your shoulder and take your Guitar Practice on the road (or around your home, back garden, favorite park, mountain range or tropical rain forest).

*For Guitarists not looking to consume batteries the way Axl Rose goes through bandmates, an optional 9v Adaptor can be purchased (mo' money), though this obviously limits the portable nature of the Pignose 7-100 (unless you have some pretty impressive extension leads).

The Pignose 7-100 does not stop with being Portable and for Practice only. This little 5 watt Amp claims to be good for live performance and studio work too. In the case of live performance, the Pignose 7-100 would clearly need additional amping. I assume this would be achieved by micing up the Pignose 7-100 and running that mic-ed Amp sound into a larger, conventional amp, as I can see no line out on the Pignose 7-100. In regard to studio work the Pignose 7-100 would, once again, require micing, but this is no different from a great many amps. In fact micing an Amp is still preferred over using a line out, by a great many Guitarists.

There is something uniquely appealing about the Pignose 7-100 approach to amping a Guitar in this Amp Modeling world. I don't think I would spend the money on it as this stage of building my recording studio. I still, for example, need a decent pro-quality Amp Modeling processor, the flexibility of which must take priority. I could, however, see myself spending the money on a Pignose 7-100 in the long term. I think it could a colorful addition to my studio sound as a whole : something to separate me from the usual Amp Modeled, button pushing, effects driven, studio jockeys out there.

*I like to read actual customer reviews. It is always useful to hear what people who have bought and used the Amp have to say.

After reading through all the customer reviews on Amazon, I feel these quotes are the most representative of Customer Feedback. I hope they will help inform your decision.

Pignose 7-100 Legendary portable amplifier
Pignose 7-100 Legendary portable amplifier

Positive Reviews"...a classic!! ...see guitarists the likes of Frank Zappa, Johnny Winter and Ronnie Wood have all kicked out the jams on one of these..."...from 5 Star Review by Amazon Customer "The Woj"."The little Pignose is the most portable (and runs off of plain old batteries, no less) and fun little practice amp I've owned."...from 5 Star Review by Amazon Customer Guitar Man.Negative Reviews"You get kind of a clean sound ,or kind of a muddy sound, or at full volume a useless sound which sounds similiar to a blown speaker."...from 2 Star Review by Amazon Customer RSV "Guitar-Randy"."The hardware - the corner protectors, hinges, and latch - all seem cheaper and less precisely constructed than the earlier versions."...from 3 Star Review by Amazon Customer D Hines.

 

Pignose 7-100 : Video Demos

Here we have a collection of videos about the Pignose 7-100 : the first video kicks off with 'How to Get the Best Sound out of Your Pignose 7-100'.

*This tallys with a lot of the more negative reviews I read, that complained about the Pignose 7-100 not having a clean sound. Apparently it does, you just need to know how to 'find' it.

The second video is a nifty collection of songs and styles, with the Pignose 7-100 settings listed on the screen. Then there's a straight demo of the Pignose 7-100 using a Les Paul, followed by a review (very nice image and audio quality on this video). Finally we finish off with a 'How Loud is a Pignose 7-100' video ...vital information :-)

Pignose 7-100 : Pros and Cons

Pros :Iconic Amp & ToneV. PortableUnique design & SoundCons :Construction Quality QuestionableClean Sound hard to findToo expensive?Conclusion :A 'love it or hate it' Amp.Like nothing else, but not for everyone.Prob. not the quality Amp of yesteryear.Unique, portable and cool.

Would You Buy a Pignose 7-100?

Would you buy a Pignose 7-100?

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Amp Modeling Vs Traditional Amps

Do you prefer to use Amp Modeling or Traditional Amps?

Amp Modeling, because...

Amp Modeling, because...

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      What is the best Guitar Amp for under $250?

      What is a Boutique Amp?

      Why can't I Find a Definition for Boutique Amp?

      'In 1884 the Parisan City Authority passed into Civil Law a set of rules defining the qualities Street Performers must have to work the Boulevards, cafés and Boutiques of Paris. These rules included the training, experience, critical acclaim and, yes, even size of the Performer or Group of Performers. This law was intended to make Parisan Street Performance the envy of the World (though in fact it just gave raise to a bunch of silly and very annoying Mime Artists - as they were the only type of Performer that could easily pass the Standards imposed by the Law).

      This law remained on the City of Paris Statute Books until the late 70s, when it was realised that French Rock 'n' Roll God Johnny Hallyday did not meet the law's strict requirements and could not, therefore, technically perfom within the City Limits of Paris, the Law was quickly revoked.

      The revoking of the Law did not, however, prevent it from giving rise to a particular type of Electric Guitar Amp, designed specifically for Guitarists to perform in and around the Boutiques of Paris.'

      ...taken from 'Toby's Bumper Book of Made-Up and Imaginary Knowledge'

      The quote above is obviously just a little silliness I found myself indulging in, on a lazy Sunday morning in the breathless humidity of this mid August Summer heatwave. It does, however, lead us nicely into our first important point : for all the word 'Boutique' has to do with 'Boutique Amps', it might as well be true.

      In product terms, there are two types of words in this world : words that actually define a specific technical characteristic and words that the Marketing Department added, because they thought it make sales. Tube Amp is an example of the first type of word, as it actually defines a tangible technical charactaristic that is central to the manufactor and functioning of the Amp. Boutique Amp, on the other hand, is a good example of the second type.

      Do a google search for any other type of Amp, be it Tube, Valve, Pre or Power, and you will find any number of clear definitions, all of which consistent with each other in their meaning. Do a google search for Boutique Amp and you will find virtually no consensus whatsoever, spread across various 'opinion heavy / fact lite' Guitar and Amp Forums. This is because the term Boutique Amp does not define a specific technical characteristic(s), but rather a 'style of Amp'.

      Boutique Image by Arnaud 25

      Boutique Amps : Principles, not Definitions

      *This does not mean there is no way to describe a Boutique Amp, but only that our description will be one of general principles rather than specific technical characteristics. I think there is consensus between the vast majority of Guitarists as to which Guitar Amps are Boutique Amps and which are not.This clearly demonstrates that there are consistent characteristics that apply to Boutique Amps.

      What are the Basic Defining Characteristics of a Boutique Amp?

      1. 'Boutique Amps are Small'

      Where there does seem to be almost universal consensus between Guitarists, is that Boutique Amps are not Oversized Monsters, they are small Amps*.

      *The terminology 'small' is a potentially misleading one in the world of Guitars and Guitar Amps. In this particular point, I am using the word 'small' to refer to the actual physical size of the Amp. 'Small' is often used by Guitarists to describe, not only physical size of an Amp, but also the number of Watts / how much power it has.

      Boutique Amps are 'petit' Amps. They are perfect for home, studio or perhaps even, 'intimate gig' use. A Boutique Amps tends to be no larger than an 'over night bag', and quite often smaller than that. The small physical size of a Boutique Amps makes them ideal for Guitar Practice in domestic or close quartered situations, where a larger amp would be inconvenient for all concerned. Boutique Amps can be easily stowed away after use, and do no intrude upon space when in use.

      2. 'Boutique Amps are Low Watt'

      *The physical size of an amp and its number of Watts are obviously closely related, hence the Guitarist habit of using the term 'small' to describe the two traits collectively.

      Boutique Amps are low Watt amps. They usually run between 5 and 25 watts (maybe 50 watts at a stretch). As I have already said, Boutique Amps are ideal for use at home, in the studio or at 'café style gigs'. The low Wattage of a Boutique Amp allows Guitarists a full range of tonal expression, from lush clean tones to crunchy 'true amp' overdrive, at a 'user friendly volume' that doesn't blow the doors of the place.

      3. 'Boutique Amps have a Unique Sound'

      Boutique Amps simply must have their one unique, easily recognisable sound. This is, for the most part, what a Guitarist is buying after all : in a world of Amp Modeling, where every Amp claims to be able to sound like every other Amp, a Guitarist buys a Boutique Amp to strike through the generic din of univeral Amp simulation.

      Boutique Amps are for 'old skool' Guitarists looking for a 'one trick pony', that does that one trick perfectly. Boutique Amps do not offer a multitude of different Amp Tones. They are not, therefore, ideal purchases as first amps for beginners*.

      *An Amp with Amp Modeling is a far better option for a first amp, as it gives the Guitarist a range of Amp Sounds / Tones to play with and get used to.

      A Boutique Amp is for later in the life of a Guitarist, when, quite simply, they have played through enough different Amps to know specifically what sound they are looking for in an Amp. If you have ask the question, 'Is this Boutique Amp the right sound for my style of Guitaring?', you should not buy a Boutique Amp.

      4. 'Boutique Amps have a Unique Design'

      This does not mean that Boutique Amps have to be pretty little things. A Boutique Amp can be a vulgar as the most 'in your face Metal Spewing Creature', but a Boutique Amp must be unique and stand out in its vulgarity. Put simply, a Boutique Amp can not look like any other Amp on the market.

      Typically Boutique Amp tend to be retro in style. They usually have a post modernistic, vintage inspired design that borders on the Kitsch. A good many Boutique Amps could be bought solely for their Visual Styling and placed upon the shelves and coffee tables of trendy loft apartments, to be used as conversation starters and talking points.

      Boutique Amps : Pros and Cons

      Pros :Ideal for home & StudioUnique tone / soundStylish DesignCons :Not for BeginnersExpensiveInflexibleConclusion :Cool alternative to mass produced Amps and Amp Modeling.Allows Guitarists to stand out from the crowd.Great for specific types of music (eg. Blues & Jazz)You will love or hate your Boutique Amp, there is no inbetween.

      Are Boutique Amps Worth the Money?

      Are Boutique Amps worth the money?

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      What is the Best Boutique Amp for under $250?

      Number One Electric Guitar Boutique Amp for under $250 : Bugera V5 5-Watt Class-A Valve Amplifier Combo - Bugera V5 : Customer Reviews

      Let's take a look at the Number One Electric Guitar Boutique Amp for under $250 : Bugera V5 5-Watt Class-A Valve Amplifier Combo with Reverb And Power Attenuator.

      *At the tender age of three years old, Bugera very much fill stand out in the crowd of heavy weight established Guitar World names like Marshall and Fender. This ultra young upstart company have come along way in only three years, winning a 'Gold Award for Overall Value from Guitar World'.

      Bugera pride themselves on being, as they put it on their website, 'picky picky picky'. They boast an extremely high level of quality control, claiming that one in every four technicians at their factory is a Quality Control Inspector. They also state that everyone of their Amps is tested by an experienced Guitarist, before it leaves the factory.

      Bugera's first featured offering on this lens is the Top Rated Boutique Amp for under $250, the Bugera V5 5-Watt Class-A Valve Amplifier Combo. This stylish looking little monster, comes packaged in Vintage feel two tone vinyl with eyecatching attention to detail - such as the matching stitching around the speaker box. The addition of chunky corner pads runs well with the overall style of the Amp, but more importantly will serve well to prelong the lifetime of the Amp. The Bugera V5's control knobs remind me of the knobs you'd find on Madmen Style 60s Ovens : they look chunky, friendly and useable.

      Though a super modern company, Bugera making looking to past for inspiration central to their Brand. The Bugera V5 is no exception to this retro / classic approach to Amp building. In a world of globalised mass production and assembly lines that literally span continents, the Bugera V5 makes it first 'stand out from the crowd play' by being Hand Built. There is something infinitely romantic about the idea of hand built instruments and their supporting equipment. Music very much belongs to the soul and the tools of a musician should belong to it too.

      The Bugera V5 makes its second strong play to win over the hearts and minds of the purists, with its EL84 Valve driven Amp and its 12AX7 Valve driven Preamp. Claiming a 'authentic 60s Preamp Design' that produces a wide classic sounding tonal range from lush, delicious blues tones to chunky crunch overdrive, the Bugera V5 gives the impression, though a new company's product, that it might as well have been picked up by Marty McFly in the mid 60s on his way 'Back to the Future'.

      The Bugera V5, however, is not simply an act of technological nostalgia : it comes with a 'flux capacitor' sounding 'switchable power attenuator'. As well as allowing you to 'channel to phasers through the warp engines', the switchable power attenuator makes it possible to use the Amp at 5, 1 or 0.1 Watts. This is a fantastic little option that will prevent your neighbors and / or loved ones from killing you mid 'rock out session'.

      Another 'life saving' feature for late night practising Guitarists, is the Bugera V5's headphone out. For complicated technical reasons that exceed my 'our amps go up to 11' level of techno-know-how, having a headphone out on a all valve amp is extremely tricky and, therefore, extremely rare. The Bugera V5 also has the ability to connect to a second speaker via a 1/4" jack. Finally the Bugera V5 comes with a vintage reverb effect, that Bugera rate as 'studio calibre'.

      The Bugera V5 makes an impressive case for itself and gives the impression of a comprehensive, thought out and classic Boutique Amp, but will the Customer Reviews agree?

      *I like to read actual customer reviews. It is always useful to hear what people who have bought and used the Amp have to say.

      After reading through all the customer reviews on Amazon, I feel these quotes are the most representative of Customer Feedback. I hope they will help inform your decision.

      Bugera V5 5-Watt Class-A Valve Amplifier Combo with Reverb And Power Attenuator
      Bugera V5 5-Watt Class-A Valve Amplifier Combo with Reverb And Power Attenuator

      Positive Reviews"I really like the way it sounds... ...on 1 watt. Very full bottom end that sounds like a 10" rather than the 8" that is in the cabinet."...from 5 Star Review by Desert Rat."For recording, with an amp like this running about halfway, you can capture the amp's sweet spot at reasonable volumes."...from 5 Star Review by J. Clark.Negative Reviews"The Bugera is impressive for the price, but that doesn't mean it's a good amp."...from 3 Star Review by Amazon Customer Dr. Limfoma Mbweebwee."It* was very muddy."...from 3 Star Review by Amazon Customer Obscurant.*In the final review, the Customer is referring to the 'sound / tone' of the amp. They were not implying their Postman had dropped the Amp, whilst walking through a field. :-)

       

      Bugera V5 : Video Demos

      A collection of video reviews / demos of the Bugera V5. They range a lot in terms of style and a bit or so in terms of video quality. They should give you a good idea of the Amp's performance both in the hands of expert players armed with top quality Guitars, and more everyday players armed with more affordable Guitars.

      Bugera V5 - Features : Video Demos

      Some additional video demos for you, featuring specific aspects of the Bugera V5 performance. The first video demonstrates the Bugera V5 in its 0.1 Watt Mode. The second video features the Bugera V5 driving a Randall 4x12 Cabinet, which sounds cool even before you've started watching the video. The final three videos all focus on the 'making it loud' with the Bugera V5 : Videos one and two of the three feature the Bugera V5 being played using its overdrive / full gain, the third and final video is a demonstration of how to achieve a Metal Tone using the Bugera V5 (with the help of an effects pedal or two).

      Bugera V5 : Pros and Cons

      Pros :Classic sound / affordableVintage features / modern usabilityFull valveVariable WattageHeadphone & Speaker OutCons :Heavy (weight)Mixed reviews 4 soundConclusion :'Love it or hate it' Amp, Vintage looks & sound.Variable wattage perfect 4 practice & recording.Headphone & Speaker out + Pro Standard Reverb, make the Bugera V5 a very attractive Amp in its price range*

      Would You Buy a Bugera V5?

      Would you buy a Bugera V5?

      See results

      Guitar Amps : Price Range

      *I thought I'd better add a quick note about price range, and how it relates to Amp Quality

      Anyone who takes a look at my Guitar related Squidoo Lenses will see I do a lot of research into equipment, the science behind the equipment and the application of the two in the playing / recording situation. I do this to build the best Squidoo Lenses I can, and because I'm a perfectionist with serious emotional problems :-)

      As a consequence, I read a lot of reviews (both professional and customer written). In almost every regard I prefer the customer reviews, but there is one aspect of product review a small percentage of customers seem to willfully overlook : price range.

      I will give you all an example from my own equipment buying experience. I have a Yamaha Steinberg MR816x audio interface, which I use with Cubase Artist 6.5. I love it : if you get a 'spot on' firewire card (and I do mean 'spot on' : not just Texas Instruments Chipset, but the specific Texas Instruments Chipset for your system), the level of compatibility and reliability you will enjoy with Cubase is beyond compare (in my experience).

      Reviews for the MR816x are almost universally 'off the chart' in terms of praise, but I did read one negative review that sticks in my mind. The review was written by a French Customer, so I will paraphrase into English :

      "Rubbish. Not professional at all. You are all stupid. If you want a professional audio interface, you should buy a Prism Sound Orpheus."

      Technically the reviewer is correct, the Prism Sound Orpheus is a superior audio interface. It's about... eh... (let me do some quick calculations on my super-high-tech blackboard and chalk set up) ...five times as good.

      Now, let me see... what is the difference in price between a Yamaha Steinberg MR816x and a Prism Sound Orpheus... eh... (let me check my abacus) ...the Prism Sound Orpheus is about five times the price of the Yamaha Steinberg MR816x.

      There does seem to be a certain type of 'smarty pants' reviewer that like to demonstrate their expert knowledge, by stating the blindingly obvious : spending lots more money, gets you more stuff. When reading customer reviews be mindful of this trait. It is important to know that an Amp for under $500 is not going to be the same quality as one over $1,000, but I think we're all smart enough to figure that our ourselves. I'll finish with an expression as old as the hills :

      'You get what you pay for.'

      How much Did You Spend on Your Last Amp?

      How much money did you spend on your last Amp?

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      What is the Best Amp Head for under $250?

      Number One Electric Guitar Amp Head for under $250 : Kustom The Defender 5H Class A Guitar Amp Head - Kustom The Defender 5H : Customer Reviews

      Let's take a look at the Number One Electric Guitar Amp Head for under $250 : Kustom The Defender 5H Class A Guitar Amp Head.

      *Kustom Amps began live in the 1960S, when a young American business man Bud Ross came up with the idea of covering Amps with car upholstery. Guitarists loved the result and rest, as they say, is history.

      The Kustom Defender 5H is the first 'Amp Head**' we've featured on this lens. It comes package in a sleek, black, metallic box with a convenient black handle on the top. The all black facade is broken only by the white of the 'Kustom' Brand and 'The Defender' Amp Name, printed in stylish vintage lettering, and finished off by a white line that runs across the vents on the front of the amp. The front of Kustom Defender 5H has the smallest number of 'ampy-bits', I've ever seen on an Amp : one input, one volume knob, one on / off button.

      This simplistic approach to Amp styling and mechanical design, gives the Kustom Defender 5H a 'punchyness' that I really like. The Amp Head looks like a stocky, little fighter : small, but not to be messed with. As a Guitarist you may or may not care what your kit looks like, the sounds is, after all, paramount, but I think we get a little childish thrill from our kit looking cool as well as sounding cool.

      *The Product Features on the Kustom Defender 5H's Amazon page appear to contain an error : the Kustom Defender 5H is a 5 Watt Amp (hence the name), not a 18 Watt Amp as it is described (twice) on the product page. I've checked this information with Kustom's own wesite, and they list it as a 5 Watt Amp in its product specs.

      In terms of Amp Features, Kustom Defender 5H is certainly keeping things simple : this single channel 5 Watt Head comes complete with a Volume Control, and that's about it. The Kustom Defender 5H has no onboard effects, no Amp Modelling, no Effects Loop or Direct Out. It doesn't even have individual Tone Controls for bass, mid and high. Unsurprisingly there's is also no foot switch, after all what would you use it?

      *I think it's already clear that the Kustom Defender 5H is not for 'Tech-Heads' and 'Guitar Geeks'. This Amp Head is very much 'Sans Toys'.

      What we have here is a hammer, in a world of nail guns : the Kustom Defender 5H features one 12AX7 Preamp Tube and one EL84 Power Amp Tube. At low volumes it'll give you tones as smooth as thick, dark chocolate melted over silk, but crank that sucker up (using the one and only control : the volume knob) and this lion cub will start to roar.

      *Kustom designed the Kustom Defender 5H to work with their Defender 1x12 Speaker Cabinet. In a rare example of customization options, the Kustom Defender 5H has three speaker outputs : 4, 8 and 16 ohm.

      The Kustom Defender 5H is as 'old skool' as they come. This Amp Head was clearly built for Guitarist looking for a simpler, no thrills, just 'does the job' Amp Head. The question is, will the customer reviews back that up?

      *For more information regarding the differences between Amp Heads and Combo Amps, check out the explanations I've written a little further down this lens.

      *I like to read actual customer reviews. It is always useful to hear what people who have bought and used the Amp have to say.

      After reading through all the customer reviews on Amazon, I feel these quotes are the most representative of Customer Feedback. I hope they will help inform your decision.

      Kustom  The Defender 5H Class A Guitar Amp Head
      Kustom The Defender 5H Class A Guitar Amp Head

      Positive Reviews"You can keep the volue low for sweet and creamy or crank the little dude up for some muddy distortion."...from 5 Star Review by Amazon Customer John Stanley."...it responds to the most subtle nuance of string manipulation and rewards the player with glassy, bell-like overtones that make the resulting music rich and dynamic."br/>...from 5 Star Review by Amazon Customer K. Beach.Negative Reviews"The amp sounded sterile and had no vibe to it."...from 1 Star Review by Amazon Customer Van M. Brzycki."It caught on fire! I even turned it down during the show just because it was miked and I didn't need to push it."...from 1 Star Review by Amazon Customer Van M. Brzycki.*An Amp catching Fire is a pretty alarming development. I've checked on Google and I can find no other reference to a Kustom Defender 5H, but that doesn't mean it this is a one off.

       

      Kustom Defender 5H : Video Demos

      A collection of video reviews / demos for the Kustom Defender 5H : the first two videos are reviews and the following three* of straight demos

      *The third of and final video of the three demo videos is not in English, but you're not going to be watching an amp demo to listen to the English :-)

      Kustom Defender 5H : Pros and Cons

      Pros :Affordable priceStylish Vintage DesignFull Tube AmpAuthentic ToneCons :No Onboard EffectsNo EQNo Line Out or Effects LoopConclusion :Designed for 'True Blue Rock 'n' Rollers'. An old skool Blue Collar Tube Amp.Not for 'Tech Heads and Customizers'. A one trick Rock 'n' Roll pony.You'll love it, or you'll hate it.

      Would You Buy a Kustom Defender 5H?

      Would you buy a Kustom Defender 5H?

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      What is the best Guitar Amp for under $500?

      What is the Difference between a Combo Amp and a Head & Cabinet System?

      The difference between a Combo Amp and Head and Cabinet is simple enough : the Combo Amp has Amp and Speaker(s) (and Preamp, of course) built into one device. The Head and Cabinet, on the other hand, has a separate device for the Amp (the Head - with preamp built in) and a separate device(s) for the Speaker(s) (the Cabinet).In terms of which is better, it really depends on your own personal needs.

      What are the Pros and Cons of a Combo Amp?

      1. 'One is the most practical number that there's ever been...'

      The most obvious advantage of a Combo Amp is that, it's only one piece of kit to store, transport and set up.

      This makes it an 'easier to live with', more practical option for Guitarists with limited storage space - i.e. younger Guitarists living at home with Mom and Dad or older Guitarists whos wives / husbands / girlfriends / boyfriends don't actually want to live in a Guitar Equipment Storage Facility ...with a sofa squeezed in ...and possibly a bed (if there's room between the Marshall Stack Amps, of course).

      Combo Amps also offer a more sensible solution for those of us with access to cars at best. Even the largest of Combo Amps should (probably) squeeze into most small cars (though your friends may have to walk). This is a far cheaper and realistic transport option than that of vans and trucks - which may well be required for larger multi device pieces of kit.

      Few bands / Guitarists are given enough set up time when arriving at a gig. A Combo Amp is obviously quicker to set up than that of a Head and Cabinet combination. This will give you more time to set up your Effect Pedals and Guitar, which in turn will take the pressure of you and help you get your head into a 'performance space'.

      2. 'It's the power of watts...'

      The clearest disadvantage to a Combo Amp is its 'limited' Wattage. I say 'limited' only in comparison to Head and Cabinet systems. There are plenty of Combo Amps on the market that offer plenty of 'bang'. In fact, a nice big Combo Amp will provide a Guitarist with all the Rock-Juice he / she needs in even - say, for example - a small town hall sized venue*.

      *It's important to note that 'Venue Size' is not the only factor, when deciding if your Combo Amp has enough power for a particular gig - for example, the number of people in the audience will affect how loud you sound :

      Sound is vibration. Soft things absorb vibrations. Human beings and the clothes they wear are soft. The more people there are at your gig, the more Amp Power you will need to 'sound loud'.

      Don't believe me? Have you ever been to a Cinema, when it's nearly empty? The movie starts and the volume blows your head off, because it's set for a busy Movie Theatre filled with loads of people. A good projectionist will then quickly turn the volume down, but the damage is done : you need to go to hospital to have you head reattached.

      3. 'Anything you can Amp, I can Amp better...'

      A major advantage of Combo Amps is there flexiblity. With Amp Modeling*, modern Combo Amps will serve you equally well for home practice, band rehearsal and small to medium sized gigs. Having to only buy one amp saves you money, which means, of course, you can spend 'saved money' on buying a really rock-tastic Combo Amp! :-)

      ...some people might argue it would be better to spend the 'saved money' on more sensible things, but since when did being a Guitarist have anything to do with being sensible?

      I've written an explanation of Amp Modeling and it can found higher up on this lens.

      What is the Best Combo Amp for under $500?

      Number One Combo Amp for under $500 : Line 6 Spider Jam Guitar Amplifier

      Let's take a look at the Number One Combo Amp for under $500 : Line 6 Spider Jam Guitar Amplifier.

      *Line 6 have become synonymous with Amp Modeling and are widely regarded as the Top Amp Modelers in the business. Their flagship Amp Modeling System the POD HD PRO is certainly on my list of 'toys' for my home recording studio. With their Spider Jam Guitar Amp attracting a slew of positive customer reviews, Line 6 seem to be able to build Amps to as equally high a standard as they can simulate the amps of other companies.

      In my opinion the Spider Jam Guitar Amp is a curious choice for 'Number One Guitar Combo Amp for under $500' by Customer Rating, as I have always been suspious of any piece of equipment that comes with, on the face of it, unrelated technology built in : the addition of a '100+ drum loops and jam tracks', smacks of gimic to me. In my opinion, and experience, having drum loops built into a Guitar Amp is about as professional as having a 'pit lane limiter' fitted to a Sports Car (just because that's what Formula One Cars have).

      *To put it another way, if I want a drum machine I'll buy a drum machine. If I've a bought an Amp, I want all of my money to go on the mechanics of the Amp itself ; not on drum machines, or tuners or a 'mojito maker' (though the last option does have a certain appeal).

      My personal feelings aside though, let's take a look at the considerable array of features the Spider Jam Guitar Amp has to over us. Clearly targeted at the practice / rehearsal market, the Spider Jam Guitar Amp adds a 'Mini Stereo MP3/CD Input' to its 'play by yourself' features. This allows you to either play along with your favorite track as it is played by your MP3/CD device, or record the track and store it in the Spider Jam Guitar Amp's onboard memory.

      Pairing the 'domestic audio friendly' AUX input with the onboard jam tracks and drums loops, makes a lot sense. The Spider Jam Guitar Amp is then made even more comprehensive for home practice with free access to Line 6's Online collection of Guitar Learning Resources : offering you over 500 Guitar Lessons, jam tracks and tones.

      *I have to give Line 6 their credit, the Spider Jam Guitar Amp is a very well thought out Practice Amp.

      Line 6 have not stop at 'home practice market' either, the Spider Jam Guitar Amp comes with both a XLR MIC Input and a 1/4" AUX Input, which can be used for a second instrument, such as a Bass Guitar or Keyboard. Add to these two additional inputs the jam tracks & drum loops, and you have the option of using one amp, the Spider Jam Guitar Amp, to rehearse Guitar, Vocals and Bass or Keyboard to a pre-programmed backing track (all coming through one speaker).

      *I'm not sure this setup qualifies as 'professional' exactly, but the ease and convenience of it, coupled with the money you'd save needing only one Amp, makes it a fantastic option for Bands and Musicians just starting up in the business.

      The Spider Jam Guitar Amp does not just concern itself with the 'practice / rehearsal market'. It comes loaded with a 75 Watt Amp and 12" Speaker, which should serve a Guitarist well for small to medium sized gigs. Line 6 include their famous Amp Modeling technology which gives you '12 Custom Amps' and a range of effects : from Chorus, Flanger & Phaser to Tremolo and Delay, Tape Echo, Sweep Echo and Reverb. These effects also work with the Vocal and AUX Inputs (which is pretty handy), which in addition to this are served by Modeled Preamps and compression & EQ.

      *All the Amps Models and Effects on the Spider Jam Guitar Amp can be added to for free, by visiting the Line 6 Website.

      The Spider Jam Guitar Amp is also fully compatible with Line 6's range of FBV Express and Shortboard Pedals. This well thought out level of comprehensive usability across the Line 6 range of products, is clearly a huge plus for the Spider Jam Guitar Amp. It feels like a very 'solid design'. As I have already said I'm not a huge fan of this type of Amp, but the range of features offered by the Spider Jam Guitar Amp has impressed me greatly. Equipment, of any type, usually leaves you thinking, 'if only it had...'. The Line 6 Spider Jam Guitar Amp leaves me thinking, 'Wow... that really is everything I could think of.'. Let's see if the Customer Reviews back up this impression.

      Line 6 Spider Jam : Customer Reviews

      *I like to read actual customer reviews. It is always useful to hear what people who have bought and used the Amp have to say.

      After reading through all the customer reviews on Amazon, I feel these quotes are the most representative of Customer Feedback. I hope they will help inform your decision.

      Line 6 Spider Jam Guitar Amplifier
      Line 6 Spider Jam Guitar Amplifier

      Positive Reviews"The backing tracks sound great, the artist created presets are awesome, and the drum tracks sound very professional!"...from 5 Star Review by Amazon Customer Carlos."The amp can get really loud and I don't see why you could not use it to gig with as long as the venue is no larger than a standard bar or side show."...from 5 Star Review by Amazon Customer R. W. Milyard.Negative Reviews"The amp models, song presents, and player presets sound cheap and digital."...from 3 Star Review by Amazon Customer J. Rendall."Once you turn the volume up it really looses its clarity. I would not recommend this for gigs even though it does say you can....from 3 Star Review by Amazon Customer joe smith.*It should be noted that the Spider Jam Guitar Amp recieved no 1 star or 2 star reviews. Even the negative comments you see hear, were balanced by positive statements regarding the range of features the Spider Jam Guitar Amp offered.

       

      Spider Jam Extra Features : Good or Bad?

      Do you like the extra features on the Line 6 Spider Jam?

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      Line 6 Spider Jam : Video Demos

      To start of with, here are a collection of Video Reviews / Demos for the Spider Jam Guitar Amp. The second, third and fourth videos are all part of one indepth review, which is certainly worth a watch if you're thinking of buying a Spider Jam Guitar Amp. The final video is a 'official video' from Line 6.

      Line 6 Spider Jam : Loops & Effects Videos

      As always seems to be the case with Line 6 Products, there are a huge amount of videos on youtube featuring the Spider Jam Guitar Amp. These videos focus on the Spider Jam Guitar Amp key selling point, in my opinion, its use as a Home Practice Amp.

      We start off with two videos focused on 'How to use the Spider Jam Guitar Amp Loop Tool' (the first is an 'official from video' from Line 6). We then have a demo of using the Spider Jam Guitar Amp as a practice amp for jamming. Finally the last two videos, feature examples of the Spider Jam Guitar Amp's 'Song Presets' and 'Amp Models'. The Amp Modeling demo video is very good, the Song Presets video is... not as good :-)

      Line 6 Spider Jam Video Demos : Blues

      Here we have the first of three collections of videos focused on the Spider Jam Guitar Amp use as a Practice Amp, each collection focused on a particular style of Guitaring. This first collection is focused on using the Spider Jam Guitar Amp to practice Blues Guitar ...and a little Jazz too.

      Line 6 Spider Jam Video Demos : Rock

      From Blues, we move to Rock Guitaring. It should be noted that a couple of these videos are made by kids. Their ability as Guitarists is, understandably for their age, still developing. I think this makes for a perfect video demo for the Spider Jam Guitar Amp, as practice is clearly its targeted function. Video after video, featuring expert Guitarists is of questionable value. After all, most of us are not experts (I know I'm not). :-)

      Line 6 Spider Jam Video Demos : Metal

      Finally we have a collection of video demos featuring the Spider Jam Guitar Amp being used for Metal Guitaring. I think Metal Guitarists must love Line 6 Amp sounds, as I could easily have filled this collection with twenty videos.

      Line 6 Spider Jam : Pros and Cons

      Pros :Comprehensive Practice Amp with...Mic & 2nd Instrument InputJam Tracks & Song PresetsLoop CreationAmp Modeling + EffectsExtra Online ContentFree Online Guitar LessonsCons :Questionable Gig Amp...Conflicting Reviews of Sound QualitySome reports of technical failureConclusion :A near perfect Practice Amp.Maybe not 'so perfect' as a Gig Amp.

      Would You Buy a Line 6 Spider Jam?

      Would you buy a Line 6 Spider Jam?

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      Line 6 Spider Jam : My Personal Take

      I try to review each product based on its clear design intentions (and how successful it is in achieving those intentions), rather than my own personal feelings / opinions regarding a particular type of product or company.

      Line 6 have clearly been very successful in creating a fantastic Practice Amp in the form of the Spider Jam Guitar Amp. I still feel though, that my initial reservations regarding this type of Amp have merit. The fact that a number of Customers complained about the Spider Jam Guitar Amp's performance live does not surprise me : a company can only spend 'x' amount of dollars on 'Research and Development'. If Line 6 are including backing tracks etc, then that's money they're not spending on the Amp and Speaker.

      On balance my problem with the Spider Jam Guitar Amp is not that it comes loaded with so many features designed for Home Practice. I have to admit, I was wrong to make fun of the addition of backing tracks etc. However, with the Spider Jam Guitar Amp being so perfect for Home Practice, it does beg one obvious question : Why is the Spider Jam Guitar Amp a 75 Watt Amp?

      Unless your home happens to be a Medieval Castle, you simple don't need and probably can not use 75 watts worth of Amp power. As I've already said on this lens, I have a Mustang I and it has more than enough power for Home Practice.

      Anyway, these are only my own personal feelings. The Spider Jam Guitar Amp is clearly a big hit with a lot of Customers.

      Line 6 Spider Jam : Do You Agree with Me?

      Do you agree with my evaluation of the Spider Jam?

      Yes, because...

      Yes, because...

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          Amps, Heads & Speakers

          What are the Pros and Cons of a Head & Cabinet System?

          1. 'Big Wattage! Big wattage! Talk about Wattage my Amp's got it!'

          The clearest advantage offered by a Head and Cabinet is power. With all the good will in the world, a Combo Amp is only going to take you so far up the rock food chain. For larger venues and many more outdoor gigs (where the sound level gets 'lost in the air' a lot quicker than indoors), a Head and Cabinet is the only 'stand alone solution'*.

          *Many Guitarists prefer to stick with a Combo Amp and then Mic it through the PA, in order to achieve the necessary volume levels required for larger gigs. Whether this Combo Amp / PA Mix is a better solution than using a stand alone Head and Cabinet, is going to come down to the individual tastes of each Guitarist :

          The Combo Amp / PA Mix solution carries the advantage of being able to stick to one Amp for all situations. This allows a Guitarist to concentrate on developing his / her Guitar tone through just one Amp.

          The stand alone Head and Cabinet solution has the advantage of leaving control of the Output Guitar Sound solely in the hands of the Guitarist. Varying Sound Engineers and, indeed, PA Systems will effect the Guitar Tone in ways that will be difficult for the Guitarist to predict. This, in turn, will make it difficult for the Guitarist to achieve exactly the tone they're looking for on a particular song.

          2. 'I Amped it My Way!'

          The second major advantage of a Head and Cabinet set-up is the option to mix and match different makes of Amp Head with different makes of Cabinet. This gives the Guitarist a level of 'sound customization', he / she is not going to have (for obvious reasons) with a Combo Amp.

          3. Fat Bottomed Amps

          The first major disadvantage of a Head and Cabinet set-up is, it's really only suitable or large gigs. Your local Coffee House manager is not going to be pleased, if you 'Marty McFly' his customers with your Six Trillion Watt Mega Head and Cabinet of Death System. In addition to the potential HUGE noise level, Head and Cabinet tend to take up a lot of room. No Café / Restaurant owner is going to be best pleased, if you take up half his floor space with your Amp.*

          This all adds up to one conclusion : if you're going to buy & Head and Cabinet, you're probably also going to have to buy a Combo Amp for smaller gigs, rehearsal and home practice.

          *The sheer size of a Head and Cabinet set-up also adds transportation and storage headaches that a Combo Amp spares you from. Transporting a Head and Cabinet is certainly going to require a larger car, if not a van or truck. In addition to this, storage of a Head and Cabinet will probably require a designated storage space at your home. This may or may not drive the people you live with completely nuts.

          Which is Better, a Combo Amp of a Head & Cabinet?

          Comparing a Combo Amp with a Head and Cabinet and asking 'Which is Better?', is like comparing a regular Pick Up Truck with a Monster Truck and asking 'Which is Better?'. If you've got yourself a big show tonight where driving over cars, through fire and high speed racing on 'BMX Style Off Road Tracks' is required, a Monster Truck is just the ticket. If you need to drop the Kids off at school, before heading across town to do the shopping, all in heavy traffic, the Monster Truck may be considered 'overkill' (...though it could help with the heavy traffic).

          A Combo Amp is the Pick Up Truck of Guitar Amps. It's a solid, reliable performer that's good for most situations, from home practice to rehearsal, small and medium sized gigs (plus - when Mic-ed and fed through a PA - it'll work for big gigs too). The Head and Cabinet is the big show performance animal. It was born to tour, to rock to blow your mind. The Head and Cabinet is the Monster Truck of the Guitar Amp world.

          If you're a relatively inexperienced Guitarist and / or on a budget looking for your first or second Amp, a Combo Amp is almost certainly going to be the way to go. The Combo Amp is going to fit the widest variety of situations. It's going to cover the most bases.

          A Head and Cabinet is really only an option for more experienced Guitarists, who play large venues on a regular basis. I say 'experienced', because to take full advantage of being able to 'mix and match' Head with Cabinet is going to require a working knowledge of a wide range of Amp Set-Ups.

          There is, of course, an exception to all this : if you're a Guitarist who just wants a Head and Cabinet Set-Up for the sheer Rock of it, why not just buy one? What else is life for, if it's not for trying to experience your dreams :-)

          What is the Best Amp Head for under $500?

          Number One Amp / Head for under $500

          Jet City Amplification JCA20H

          Let's take a look at the Number One Amp / Head for under $500 : Jet City Amplification JCA20H 20 Watt Guitar Tube Amplifier Head.

          *'For those who know', is the phrase that springs to mind when you think of Jet City Amps. Certainly they're company, not afraid to 'talk themselves and their mission statement up'. Headed on the creative side by industry wide respected Amp Designers Michael Soldano, Doug Roberts and Andy Marshall, Jet City have plenty and them some to talk up.

          Jet City's mission statement is as bold, as the language they use to talk about it : to provide Custom Pro Quality Amps at an Affordable Price. Claiming to be lite on 'Bean Counters and MBAs', Jet City position themselves as Guitar loving, tone crazy, tube junkies in it for the blast, the love and the overdrive - not the money. Let's see if the JCA20H lives up to their mighty ideals :

          Jet City describe their JCA20H has having, '...absolutely no gimmick features to dilute the all-tube signal path'. As I've already said on this lens, I'm not a fan of Amps with seemingly unrelated technology built in (as it takes research and design money from the amp itself). The Jet City JCA20H sounds like an Amp designed very much after my own heart :

          This single channel Amp Head comes loaded with three 12AX7s in the Preamp and two EL84s in the Power Amp, to give Guitarists a full bodied, from the dawn of rock, tube tone.

          The Jet City JCA20H stands in stark contrast to the modern trend of Amp Modeling with the most 'no nonsense' array of controls you'll likely to see in this day and age : Preamp Gain, Bass, Middle, Treble, Master, Presence. This set of 'no bells and whistles' controls allows a Guitarist to adjust, tweek and personalize their full tube sound, before it is sent to the Jet City JCA20H's choice of 20 watts into 16 ohm or two times 8 ohm speaker outputs.

          *The Jet City JCA20H reminds me of real Italian cooking : simple food made well, with the best ingredients available.

          I have a really good feeling about this Amp. To give you an idea of how good a feeling, while writing this review I've been pausing to check out Jet City Amps with a view to buying one in the future. ...but will the Customer Reviews back up my feeling?

          Jet City JCA20H : Customer Reviews

          *I like to read actual customer reviews. It is always useful to hear what people who have bought and used the Amp have to say.

          After reading through all the customer reviews on Amazon, I feel these quotes are the most representative of Customer Feedback. I hope they will help inform your decision.

          Jet City Amplification JCA20H 20 Watt Guitar Tube  Amplifier Head
          Jet City Amplification JCA20H 20 Watt Guitar Tube Amplifier Head

          Positive Reviews"The overdrive is very gritty and crunchy, and it's as British sounding as they come."...from 5 Star Review by Amazon Customer Slashaholic."I found the best and most fun way to play this single channel amp is to set a good lead/rythm tone, and then just roll back the guitar's volume knob for cleaner sounds."...from 4 Star Review by Amazon Customer Ed.Negative Reviews"Generally speaking, the 20H doesn't have much clean headroom... ...the cleans in this way are functional but I wouldn't call them noteworthy."...from 3 Star Review by Amazon Customer Ian M. Mcclintock."...it is only a single channel amp. ...there is no FX loop."...from 4 Star Review by Amazon Customer W. Van Der Westhuysen.*You'll note that there were no 1 star or 2 star reviews for the Jet City JCA20H. The negative comments you've read here came with a 3 Star and then 4 star review, and we're balanced by a lot of praise for the Amp.

           

          Jet City JCA20H : Video Demos

          Kicking off the Video Demos for the Jet City JCA20H, we have a review of just the head by itself. It is followed by a series of demonstration videos focused on the Jet City JCA20H's tone*, from clean to crunch.

          *These videos feature the Jet City JCA20H being used with a variety of different speaker cabinets.

          The second video on this list is particularly useful, as the Guitarist includes captions denoting the various settings he is using.

          Jet City JCA20H Video Demos : with JCA12s Half Stack

          The next collection of videos feature the Jet City JCA20H paired with its sister half stack the Jet City JCA12s. Here we have an array of videos taking you through the various tones, this Jet City stack can give you.

          Jet City JCA20H Video Demos : Clean

          Just two videos now of the Jet City JCA20H clean tone. Both videos seem to back up the impression given by customer review that it is difficult to get a really nice clean tone from a Jet City JCA20H, as the Guitarist in each video focus on 'how to achieve a clean tone'. Usually in youtube vidoes Guitarists just focus on showing off ; the fact they feel the need to place explanation in front of exhibition, is indication of the difficultly involved*.

          *Let's be honest, the only person with a bigger ego than a lead Guitarist is a lead singer. Trust me, I should know... when I was a lead singer in band, our lead Guitarist was a real ego-monster. ...even gave me a run for my money, but I was always the bigger diva!

          It should be noted, in the interests of fairness, that if you were to take the egos of the Lead Guitarist and Lead Singer and combine them, together their unified 'mega-ego' would still be dwarfed by that of the House DJ with his 'wheels of steel'. :p

          Jet City JCA20H Video Demos : Metal

          Set Phasers to, 'What? Huh? ...sorry I don't hear so well nowadays, I used to play Guitar in a band'. Yep, you guessed it : it's metal time (read outloud with heavy reverb and a vulgar amount of pitch shift applied).

          In all seriousness, this is an important collection of videos : a lot of concerns were raised about whether the Jet City JCA20H could produce a really, 'from pits of hell, stinking of fast death' metal tone. These videos are a fantastic range of examples of how to achieve a 'skull crunching, earth shattering' variety of metal tones from the Jet City JCA20H.

          Jet City JCA20H : Pros and Cons

          Pros :Immense sound for priceFull Tube AmpKeep it simple constructionVintage OverdriveExcellent Design PedigreeCons :Tricky Clean SoundNo Effects LoopOnly One ChannelConclusion :A vast chunk of Amp for the price.Perfect for vintage stylesGreat foundation for modern styles when coupled with effect pedals etc.

          Would You Buy a Jet City JCA20H?

          Would you buy a Jet City JCA20H?

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          Conclusion

          What is the best Amp for under $500

          In terms of Combo Amps, I'm going to say the Fender Mustang I (and by extension the Mustang series). The Mustang I is loaded with so many quality sounding effects and tones for the price, you simply can not go wrong with it. It's a fantastic little practice amp.

          You can play straight out of the box with zero setup time and have a fantastic jam session. Then, for the technically minded, you can load up the Fender Fuse software and really go to town on customizing your own personal Guitar sound.

          If the Mustang I is not enough 'boom!' for you, there is always the Mustang II & III to provide a Guitarist with the necessary 'kaboom!'.

          *So impressed am I with the vintage tones of the Mustang Series, I've been having a on-going debate with myself about which Amp Modeling I should pair with my Cubase Setup : the Yamaha THR10 or the Mustang Floor. ...this debate has been going on now for at least three months. Believe me if the Mustang was compatible with Cubase, it would have been a much shorter debate.

          When it comes to Amp Heads, I'm going to vote for the Jet City JCA20H. I love the philosophy behind making this Amp : simple, quality, well designed and built.

          *I really believe one of the biggest disadvantages of the digital age, is that it gives us too many choices. You don't need to vary every parameter to get what you need for a piece of technology. I don't, for example, feel the need to vary how well my brakes work on my car.

          The Jet City JCA20H is a 'love it or hate it' product. It does what it does, very well indeed. As a Guitarist, it will either suit your needs down to the ground or it really will not. What more could we ask for in life, but a simple, clear choice?

          Which is Your Favorite Amp for under $500?

          Which is your favorite Guitar Amp for under $500?

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          Are these the Best Amps for under $500?

          Do the Amps listed here represent the best Amps for under $500?

          Yes, because...

          Yes, because...

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                • tobydavis profile image
                  Author

                  tobydavis 4 years ago

                  @Bartukas: Thank you - glad you liked it - I agree - anything Guitar based is worth a look :-)

                • profile image

                  Bartukas 4 years ago

                  Nice lens i like everythin about guitars

                • tobydavis profile image
                  Author

                  tobydavis 4 years ago

                  @IamShea: Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and for your kind words - that's exactly what I was working for : an enjoyable lens that would help people new to the world of Amps.

                • IamShea profile image

                  IamShea 4 years ago

                  This is a great lens to educate a newer person into the world of amps. I really enjoyed it!