Undoubtedly, you started playing with a combo amp. Your 10-watt practice amplifier is an example of this type. It is essentially an all-in-one unit that with a tuner, power source, and speaker. The advantage of going this route is that you have one piece of equipment to haul around place to place rather than separate pieces you have to hook up every time.
Serious and professional musicians often opt to get separate components to fine-tune their sound. However, a combo amp is an excellent choice no matter what your skill level. It’ll serve the purpose just fine. And don’t think that you can’t rock the house with one. They pack plenty of sound and power.
The number one rule with buying a combo amp is that you need the right one for the instrument you’re playing. That means an electric or acoustic axe with a guitar amplifier and a bass with one for it. The reason rests with the frequencies. A guitar and a bass use different parts of the spectrum. We’ll focus our selections on the former type.
Check out our picks for the best combo guitar amps.
The Blackstar FLY3 is small, very small at under 3 pounds with a 3-inch speaker. Looks are deceptive because it actually delivers some decent sound for something that doesn’t look much bigger than a radio. It is solid state with two channels, overdrive and clean. It has a good range too with the manufacturer’s proprietary Infinite Shape Feature (ISF).
Its dimensions are a tiny 7.6 x 5.6 x 4.3 inches. You can use it with either DC or six AA batteries for sound on the go. It has an auxiliary line in, emulated line out, and a headphone output. It even has a delay effect. The sound is warm but not uber-loud, as you may expect. It’s affordably priced if you want to have a spare to jam at the beach.
Behringer Ultracoustic AT108 Acoustic Combo Amp
The Behringer Ultracoustic AT108 Acoustic Combo Amp stands out for its slick design. This amplifier looks sick. It reminded us of a 1950s jukebox. It packs 20 watts of power with an 8-inch speaker. It has Virtual Tube Circuitry (VTC) which gives you the warmth of tubes. It’d make a good choice as a practice amp with its lineup of features.
It has a microphone input that you can adjust with its separate volume control. There is also a CD input to jam with your favorite tunes. It has a three-band equalizer for customizing your sound. It is excellent for the size. While it comes with a one-year warranty, you can bump it up to three years if you register the product within 90 days of your purchase.
Peavey Rage 258
The Peavey Rage 258 has a fun, vintage vibe to it. This one also has the manufacturer’s proprietary TransTube technology to replicate the tube sound. It has an 8-inch Blue Marvel speaker with a three-band equalizer and brings 25 watts of power to the table. The sound is loud and warm. It was better than we expected for a solid state product.
It has a decent range for a product at this price point. It has two channel and three voicing that include modern, vintage, and stack. It is also a good choice for a practice amp with a CD input and headphone output. You can use pedals with it too. Peavey hasn’t changed this model a lot through the year which speaks volumes about its reliability.
The Yamaha THR5A is not your average bear. It has its unique retro look with its own take on the tube simulation. You’ll find more bells and whistles at this price point. It comes with a range of effects including tremolo and reverb. It has four acoustic mic settings. It shines with great depth and warmth to its sound. There are two 8-cm speakers with a chromatic tuner.
It provides 10 watts of power that you can run either on eight AA batteries or AC. It has the usual roundup of inputs and outputs, but, alas, nothing for a mic. It’s lightweight at 7 pounds. You could use it for practice or on gigs as long as the room wasn’t too big. It’s easy to use and simple to dial into your sound.
Marshall MG50CFX MG Series
The Marshall MG50CFX MG Series is another step up the amplifier stairway. This model features one 12-inch speaker with 50 watts of power. It has four channels that deliver clear, warm sound. The range is amazing. It has a three-band equalizer with a nice selection of tonal options including crunch and clean.
There is also a decent spectrum of digital FX such as two reverb settings and four kinds of delay. You also have your pick of classic or modern vibe with the damping switch on this solid state amp. As you may expect, amps with all these extra goodies have a weight to match with this one at over 36 pounds.
Fender Champion 100
The Fender Champion 100 is worth considering both as a practice and gig-worthy amp. It packs 100 watts of power with two 12-inch speakers. It has digital amplifier modeling so that you can dial into the sound you want. It features a plethora of onboard effects such as chorus, reverb, and more. It also includes a two-button footswitch.
It has two channels and an effects loop. The sound is phenomenal with a huge range of diversity. It’s clean while delivering great warmth. The controls are intuitive and easy to use. If you had to buy just one amp, it certainly belongs on your short list. We’d be hard-pressed to come up with any downsides. It is big. This puppy weighs in at forty pounds.
Boss Katana KTN-100 100W 1x12 Combo Amplifier
The Boss Katana KTN-100 100W 1x12 Combo Amplifier boosts the fitting name of this series that gets its inspiration from the sword of the Japanese samurai. Versatility is the ideal way to describe this beast which offers 15 different effects to customize your sound. But, wait, there’s more! You can tap into another 55 BOSS effects through the software.
It has one 12-inch speaker with a three-band equalizer and five amp modes from which to choose. Power attenuation and a tilt stand are baked into this model. The sound is clear and top-notch which we’d expect from Boss. It is well-made to last for the long haul. The controls are intuitive. Its voice definitely will rock the house.
Fishman Loudbox Artist PRO-LBX-600 Acoustic Combo Amp
The Fishman Loudbox Artist PRO-LBX-600 Acoustic Combo Amp kicks it up a notch with 120 watts of power. Let’s just say that it’s appropriately named. It has two channels with a mute to control the output. You can customize the reverb and delay. It comes with a slew of other effects including slap echo and flanger along with a dedicated effects loop.
Its drivers include a 1-inch soft dome tweeter and 8-inch woofer. Its channels take both ¼ inch XLR instruments or mics. The auxiliary inputs take ¼ and ⅛ connectors. The warm of tone is comfy with big, clear sound. Not only is it versatile, but it’s easy to strike the right balance to get the effects you want.
Vox Custom AC15C1
The Vox Custom AC15C1 is the legendary amp from a manufacturer known for its high-quality products. This one is no exception. It features 15 watts RMS power with one 12-inch speaker. It has two channels, including Vox’s Top Boost. Its range of effects includes its classic tremolo and its snappy spring reverb. Its outputs include two loudspeaker jack, extension and external.
Its sound is warm and rich from this all-tube driven amplifier that delivers the unmistakable British tone. Its voice is sweet and clear along the entire spectrum of volume. The quality of the build is superb with that vintage look we love in these amps. It’s the one that is worth a look if you’re picky particular about your sound.
Fender '65 Deluxe Reverb 22-Watt 1x12-Inch Guitar Combo Amp
The Fender '65 Deluxe Reverb 22-Watt 1x12-Inch Guitar Combo Amp falls under the if-I-could-get-the-rad-amp-of-my-dreams category. This reissue brings back the vibe of the 60s in a big way in this tube-driven model. It has two channels and four inputs. Its 22 watts power a 12-inch Jensen C-12K speaker. There is a two-button footswitch baked in too.
It offers a wide range of effects including Fender’s signature tremolo and reverb that is out of this world. The sound is nothing short of amazing with controls that make it easy to dial into your vibe. Its voice is clear and sweet but can rattle the windows if that’s your thing. Whether you play rock or jam to the blues, your axe will thank you for choosing this one.
Buying a combo guitar amp is an important purchase because it defines your sound. It can also make the difference between one that is easy to use and one that creates more frustration than it’s worth. To make the most out of it, keep two things in mind. First, set a budget and stick to it. Second, consider the places where you play.
If you’re just jamming at home, it doesn’t make sense to pop for a beast that you’ll never fully enjoy—unless you are far off the grid. Think about how you like to play and go from there. And if you make the leap to doing gigs, you can always upgrade.