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Combo Guitar Amplifiers

Buying Guide: Instrument Amplifiers
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Your electric guitar and your amplifier go together like jazz and blues. The guitar is the instrument, but the amplifier is its voice. Choosing the right amplifier is essential to getting the most out of your guitar—thankfully, there are plenty of options to give you exactly the features that you need. Of the many available types of amps, none are more versatile than combo guitar amplifiers. A combo guitar amplifier is an all-in-one unit that provides everything you need to start playing. While combo amps are more modestly powered than large stack-and-head units, they can still pump out enough juice to serve all but the largest of venues. The outstanding combination of power and convenience makes the combo amp an integral part of any guitarist's gear. Whether you're on your way to rehearsal or your next gig, one of the greatest advantages of a compact combo guitar amplifier is portability. Pick it up, put it in the trunk, drive, unpack, plug in and play. You won't need a forklift to get one of these amplifiers onto the stage—and if you're into busking, it can make a handy stool in a pinch. Combo amplifiers come in four types: solid-state, tube, modeling and hybrid. While the solid-state versus tube debate is a long one that probably won't be going away any time soon, each side has its advantages and the choice is up to you. Solid-state amplifiers use transistors for preamp and power, producing a clean tone with great reliability. These amps are great for touring, since the chances of a breakdown are slim to none. Many guitarists swear by the warm, rich tone and organic sound of tube amps. Tending to sound louder at the same power level and usually featuring separate channels to switch instantly between clean and distorted tones, a tube amplifier delivers a level of character that sets them apart from solid-state technology. The sweet spot for you may be the best of both worlds: a hybrid or modeling guitar amplifier. Hybrid amps give you the best of both worlds by using tubes in the preamp along with a solid-state power section, giving you the rich sound generation of tubes together with the benefits of solid-state. A modeling amp is an altogether different beast, using fully-digital processing to simulate numerous different amplifiers so you can program in the exact sound you want. Whichever type of amplifier is right for you, the benefits are clear. With a combo guitar amplifier, you get big power in a compact, portable package along with your choice of solid-state, tube, hybrid or digital amplification to deliver your preferred balance of character and reliability.

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