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Guitar combo amplifiers include all the components of an amp stack in one enclosure. In fact, combo amps go back as far as electric guitars themselves, with pioneers like Leo Fender vastly expanding and improving the concept in the 1950s. Virtually every major amp company, like Marshall, Vox, and Fender, makes combo models, while a massive crop of boutique builders like Dr. Z and Tone King continue to push the boundaries of how good combo amps can sound.

What Is a Guitar Combo Amp?

A guitar combo amp is literally the whole package—it’s the power amp and speaker in one box. Typically, the power amp section includes equalizer, volume, gain, and often reverb. The speaker is chosen by the amplifier manufacturer to sound fantastic with the power amp, so you don’t have to experience any option paralysis that can come with choosing a cab for your amp head.

What Are Valve Guitar Amps?

A valve guitar combo amp is the same thing as a tube guitar amp. The vacuum tubes in a guitar amp increase the power (aka amplitude) of the signal. This is in contrast to solid state amplifiers, which use diodes and transistors to amplify the signal.

Tube amps are typically more lightweight than solid state amplifiers, but are also more fragile as tubes can break more easily (and need to get replaced as they’re used). Tube amps are sought-after for their warm, overdriven sound.

What Are The Pros and Cons of Using a Guitar Combo Amp Compared to a Separate Head and Cabinet?

The pros and cons of guitar combos vs. a separate head and cabinet depend on what you value most in a guitar amp. If you’re looking for something that’s a grab-and-go solution, you’ll probably be happiest with a combo amp. If you don’t need tons of wattage to fill an enormous room (of if you don’t need a ton of headroom), combo amps are a great solution.

If you do need a lot of volume or headroom, you might be better off with a separate head and cabinet. Likewise, if you want to be able to experiment with different speakers and cabinet configurations, you might be happier with a separate head and cabinet.

How Big Of A Guitar Combo Amp Do I Need?

If you're a gigging guitarist lugging your gear around the city and don't require the power and size of a full-blown amp stack, a simple 1x12 combo amp is probably all that you require.

Guitar combo amps come in a lot of different sizes, both in terms of speakers and wattage. More watts typically means a louder amplifier, and it also often means a bigger, heavier amplifier. An amp with more watts will also have more “headroom” aka the tone will stay cleaner at louder volumes. You should take all of those considerations to heart when choosing the best guitar combo amplifier for you.

Guitar Combo Amps Near Me

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