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How to choose combo

Updated 04.09.2023
5 min. read
Juraj Haruštiak
The electric guitar is an instrument that sooner or later requires a good amplifier. But how to find out which amplifier is good and which shall soonbore you? We hope that once you read the following lines, your choice of amplifier will become easier. Let us go to it.
How to choose combo

What is the difference between an amplifier and a combo?

Guitar Amplifier is a term most frequently connected with the so-called “head”. It is basically an amplifier equipped with everything, but one thing – a speaker. That is why it needs a loudspeaker, which transforms all the magic of an amplifier into your individual sound. In the case of a combo, it is clear from the name already that it is an end-combination of an amplifier and of one or more speakers. The combo is lighter, mobile, but usually smaller and can therefore be used in club concerts. The saved space will be appreciated by your fellow players wherever you rehearse.

What is the combo/ amplifier good for?

This is the beginning of one of the most important steps in choosing the equipment. Keep in mind that for quieter genres the smaller combos, those that excel in the clear sound, are sufficient. When you are rehearsing at home, you will appreciate the high functionality and compactness of small model combos. While on a true concert stage, the sound needs something extra. Choose your new amplifier based on its future use.

Are there some basic types of amplifiers?

The amplifiers can be divided into vacuum tube amplifiers, solid-state amplifiers and hybrid amplifiers. This division does not only represent the structure and type, but also the characteristic sound, the dynamics and some other characteristics that define each type. The so-called vacuum tube amplifier is considered to be the true classic. This does not mean that your ideal amplifier will not be a solid-state or a hybrid.

Why choose a solid-state amplifier?

Solid-State Guitar Amplifier Heads were developed as a modern and reliable alternative to vacuum tube amplifiers and experienced their greatest fame in the 80s. Solid-state amplifiers are known for their lower dynamics and a more natural pitch, but they are also more reliable thanks to their extremely sturdy frame. Moreover, the transistors are less likely to naturally distort the sound, that is why these amplifiers retain a very loud and clear sound. They are a perfect fit for jazz players.

Why choose a vacuum tube amplifier?

Tube Guitar Amplifier Heads are the true classic and the first choice for the majority of guitar players. This long outdated, but well-tried, amplifier construction provides a very natural and dynamically rich sound. The tubes are fragile and susceptible to various issues due to temperature, humidity, or strong vibrations. Vacuum tube amplifiers are known for their natural distortion, which is very rich in harmonics, comfortableand responds strongly when using various pedals

Why choose a hybrid amplifier?

Hybrid Guitar Amplifier Heads in most cases offers the best of both worlds. The preamplifier uses tubes while the post-amplifiers, responsible for the volume and the overall output, is solid-state. They are known for their reliability, dynamics and a decent sound.

How powerful combo/ amplifier do I need?

Output is another factor that strongly influences the final satisfaction of the guitar player. However, pay heed when looking at the numbers. You can consider output in a way as a reference for the volume, but the general rule is that with the same output vacuum tube amplifiers are SIGNIFICANTLY louder than solid-state amplifiers. This is especially true with combos of a lower output than 15-30W.

If you consider the hypothetical situation, that you want to play in a band with a drummer, you will need solid-state amplifier with at least 50W, on the other hand vacuum tube amplifiers of 15W may be sufficient. If you plan to just play at home or rehearse with a friend on an acoustic instrument, you are going to have no problems with a 20-30W combo.

Are there any other differences than output for combos?

The sound of a combo is in a major way influenced by the placement of the speakers. In the first place, it is the diameter of the speakers that influences the sound. Speakers with a diameter of 8” sound less full then the ones with 12”. Combos with an installation of 2x12" speakers are perfect for bigger club concerts.

Is the guitar combo or amplifier suitable also for an acoustic-electric guitar?

There are no limits to the imagination and creativity, but if you want to get everything out of your acoustic-electric guitar, we would recommend acoustic guitar combo. These specialized combos had their frequency adapted to a full and natural expression of the acoustic instrument and do not waste sound on distortion.

Do I need anything else with the combo?

Do you now have a better idea as to what combo or amplifier is right for you? Do not forget the instrument cable. As this trifle is the direct link between your instrument and the desired sound. It is sometimes worth to include a pair of special effects pedals between the combo and the guitar. How to choose some interesting ones, you can find here. We wish you a lot of fun discovering the sounds!

Guitar Combos