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 Great Combo Amps? 
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Motorman

Joined: Tue Oct 31, 2006 6:17 am
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Post Great Combo Amps?
So I realized my Carvin Legacy half-stack is just wayyyy too big to cart around for gigs and it's pretty annoying. It also has way too much volume on tap that I don't really need for gigs. I was wondering, what good combo tube amps are out there (looking for possibly two speakers) that get loud enough to play over a loud drummer, another guitarist (who plays pretty much clean acoustic or electric through a marshall mg half stack), a keyboardist, and a bassist. Also it must also have a great gain/clean tone as well that isn't squealy and noisy, an effects loop, and takes to pedals well since I use some to overdrive and boost the gain and clean tone. Budget isn't really an issue.

I was thinking I should just sell my legacy half-stack and get the legacy combo amp but I was wondering if you more experienced guitarists out there had any better suggestions (or maybe advise that i keep the half-stack for some reason?)?? I


Fri Jan 15, 2010 3:30 am
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Motorman

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hrmm i can't seem to edit my post because i forgot something so sorry about the double post but i have a pretty nub-ish question as well:

If I get a combo version of my same amp, will it still sound the same and just not be as loud as the half-stack version? I don't mind the cut in volume as long as I still get the same tone!

So I guess basically my question is, is a combo amp just a smaller, quieter version of their half-stack counterpart with the same tonal quality?


Fri Jan 15, 2010 3:33 am
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Motorman
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If you like the sound of your amp and only wants it to be easier to move around, buy a smaller cab :D

You will of course get lower volume and the sound won't be exactly the same, but its probably the cheapest way to solve the problem!

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Fri Jan 15, 2010 3:53 am
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Viking Kong
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The combo won't be much quieter than the head at all. They are both 100 watt amps. Because of the smaller cabinet and 2 speakers instead of 4 the combo may sound slightly different than the head. Plugged into your 4x12 instead of the combo speakers it should sound exactly like the head. Both will be loud.

To get a quieter amp you need to get a lower power amp, or an attenuator.

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Fri Jan 15, 2010 3:58 am
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Motorman
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xjustice09x wrote:
The combo won't be much quieter than the head at all. They are both 100 watt amps. Because of the smaller cabinet and 2 speakers instead of 4 the combo may sound slightly different than the head. Plugged into your 4x12 instead of the combo speakers it should sound exactly like the head. Both will be loud.

To get a quieter amp you need to get a lower power amp, or an attenuator.


Combo's are still pretty fricken loud beasts, especially if valved.... seriously, I managed to get my Marshall to 8.5 one day a bit drunk one day, the whole suburb heard me!!!! :twisted: A combo will solve your size, but not volume...

One way around that is if you have a distortion pedal that has a volume button - crank the amp, but lower the volume on the pedal. I do that so I can practice without having my wife and kids kill because of the noise!

Otherwise an attenuator is the way to go.....

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Fri Jan 15, 2010 4:23 am
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Motorman

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Plugged into your 4x12 instead of the combo speakers it should sound exactly like the head. Both will be loud.

Plugging what into my 4x12? Sorry, I'm a little confused by this :(


Anyways, so less speakers results in a different sound? I thought the speakers just gauged how loud it was gonna be. I guess I don't exactly want a worse sound...what's the point of a combo then?

I guess I'm looking for a great-sounding amp with the ease and portability of a combo...there's gotta be something out there right? I was thinking maybe the Engl Screamer. http://guitars.musiciansfriend.com/prod ... sku=481595

But maybe keeping the half-stack is the better idea...I clearly don't know what I'm doing haha.

To be honest, the BIGGEST issue i have is setup time. Even though I have a pedalboard for all my pedals in front of the amp that are already connected to each other, I still need to cart my half-stack onstage, then connect my two send/return effects loop cables for my delay pedal. Then I need a seperate power adaptor for that. So then I need to plug an extension cable into a power outlet, then a surge protector into that, and then plug the power adaptor in. Then, for my pedal board, I need to plug in my voodoo labs, then a seperate power supply for my whammy pedal, and then the long cable for my guitar and one into the amp.

It doesn't seem like much but it takes a while! I'm just trying to find a way to streamline it and I was thinking of starting with a combo amp to make things go by a little quicker. If I was just plugging straight into the amp, this would be no problem...


Fri Jan 15, 2010 4:37 am
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Viking Kong
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Many combos have output jacks that you can plug into the combo speakers, a seperate cab, or possibly both. If you plugged into a 4x12 instead of using the combo speakers it would get rid of any tone differences between the head and combo due to the speakers and combo cabinet. Basically I was saying that the amp section of the combo and head should be identical.

Less speakers will push less air so yes it might be slightly quieter than a 4x12. Regardless a 100 watt amp will be very loud regardless of how many speakers you are playing through.

How loud an amp will be is determined by the amps power, not the number of speakers. If you want quieter like I posted before look for a lower power amp, or get an attenuator.

A combo will sound different than a head. Their are many variables that affect tone. The amp, speakers, speaker cabinet are just a few. Its not just due to a reduction in speakers. Larger cabs like 4x12's will typically have more low end than a 2x12.

If you want more portability a combo is easier to move than a half stack. Another option if you really like your amp is to get a 2x12 instead of a 4x12. They are much easier to lug around than a 4x12.

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Fri Jan 15, 2010 4:57 am
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I can't really understand why someone would lug around a half stack.. a head + 2x12 can get you the same results, IMO.

If you want to get a combo, some to check out.. Laney: VC series, or the new Lionhearts Mesa: Lonestar, Tremoverb, Stilletto (USED)

Those won't kill you if you buy used.

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Fri Jan 15, 2010 10:31 am
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Dr. X
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im in the club with just getting a 2x12 cab. that's what i'm currently running right now through a mesa boogie mkiv

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Fri Jan 15, 2010 1:00 pm
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Motorman

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hrmm okay, it seems as if the 2x12 is a more prudent way to go. however, my new question is this:

if a cabinet is 2x12 (so two speakers) connected to a head, whats the difference between that and a combo which has two speakers? less tubes or something? im just confused about the perceived sonic differences of a combo amp and a head connected to a 2x12 speaker cabinet


Sat Jan 16, 2010 8:18 am
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Motorman

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http://www.carvinguitars.com/products/s ... uct=VL2212

like this for example, it seems to be a 2x12 'combo'. isnt this the same thing as a head with a 2x12 cab? sorry again for the double post


Sat Jan 16, 2010 8:30 am
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Sometimes combo/head models may differ.. but basically a combo is just the head with a cab built in together. Often you'll find people covert their combos to heads, or heads to combos. The amp themselves are the same.. it's the speakers that will make any difference.

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Sat Jan 16, 2010 10:11 am
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Motorman

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ahhh okay, it seems like these have the same features. looks like i might as well get the combo then, it has the same speakers as the 2x12 stand-alone cab anddd the built in head is convenient as well. i hear tube life is the only real difference, and that tube life in a combo isn't as good as tube life in a standallone head. but it seems technically there should really be no diff. in sound between a 2x12 combo and head/2x12 cab if they have same speakers, etc.


Sat Jan 16, 2010 5:15 pm
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Viking Kong
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JohnStamos wrote:

if a cabinet is 2x12 (so two speakers) connected to a head, whats the difference between that and a combo which has two speakers? less tubes or something? im just confused about the perceived sonic differences of a combo amp and a head connected to a 2x12 speaker cabinet


The number of tubes has to do with the power amp. The less tubes the lower power the amp is.

Most of the time its due to the cabinet. Its not just the speakers alone. Cabinet construction and dimensions have a noticeable affect on the tone. For example a standard size Mesa Boogie cab has less low end than an oversized recto cab even if they both have Celestion vintage 30's. A Mesa 2x12 will probably have less low end than both of the 4x12's.

Sometimes the cab will have an open back or half open back. Things like that can affect tone.

If the speaker cabinet part of the combo is identical in dimensions to the 2x12, and the amp part is put on top of that it probably will sound the same as a head and a 2x12.

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Sat Jan 16, 2010 5:54 pm
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Viking Kong
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There are many variables that affect the tone of an amp or a combo, but there is no need to get hung up on all of them. Understanding all the physics behind it all is great, but can be overwhelming.

In the end what matters is that you like the tone you get from the amp. If possible demo any amps you are interested in and get what sounds best to you.

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Sat Jan 16, 2010 6:12 pm
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Motorman

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sweet, thanks guys i really appreciate all the help.

so anyways, im looking for a good combo amp with thick, saturated distortion. i love that thick, mid heavy distortion sound and im having trouble finding an amp that really delivers on that and still responds to personal playing dynamics because I want to still retain some originality in my tone.

any help? thanks :) maybe the carvin v3? any suggestions completely welcome, thank you sooo much!!


Mon Jan 18, 2010 9:24 am
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Motorman
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What about the Bogner Alchemist 2x12 combo?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4zqk0lICfg&feature=related
Go to 2:15 or 3:48 for some high gain lead tone.

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Mon Jan 18, 2010 7:21 pm
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Dr. X
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Check out the new Blackstar HT-Venue range, which were announced at NAMM. Seriously awesome sounding.

A mate of mine (runs www.iheartguitarblog.com - might have read it) got to demo and review a prototype HT-40 combo, and said it was amazing. Reminded him of the Bogner Alchemist, but even more versatile. Should be a bit cheaper too.

I love my HT-5, and am considering the HT-20 head.

I did a write up with all the Youtube Blackstar demos on my blog if you want to watch them. :)
http://lonephantom.wordpress.com/2010/0 ... ue-series/


Thu Jan 21, 2010 2:22 am
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