Best Amps for Fender American Tone

If you’re looking for an affordable amp with classic American tones, you’re probably considering a Fender. Fender is synonymous with American tone because of their heavy reliance on 6V6 and 6LV tubes since they came on the scene in the 1950’s, but they’re not the only option. Here are a few of the more affordable Fender amps available today along with a few other brands with their own unique “Fender sound.”

FENDER SUPER CHAMP X2 AMPLIFIER

The X2 is a 15w 1X10″ combo amp with two 6V6 output tubes and a single 12AX7 preamp tube. It’s equipped with a 10 inch Fender special design speaker, dual channel, USB out for speaker emulated recording.

What makes the Super Champ X2 different from other tube amps is that it is also a modeling amp. The X2 has a special “voicing” knob that lets you choose between 16 different amp types (Tweed, Blackface, British, Hot Rod, Metal and more). Also included are 15 effects with effects adjust control and a TAP tempo control for delay time/modulation rate adjustments.

For those who like even more control over their tonal possibilities, the X2 can be plugged into a compute via the USB port and you can then have full control over the amp voicing and effects defaults, effects parameters deep editing, with the Fender FUSE™ software.

The Fender Super Champ X2 currently sells for $379.99.

FENDER 68 CUSTOM DELUXE REVERB AMPLIFIER

This reissue of the classic ‘68 Silverface amp sports both reverb and tremelo on both channels, and a tone stack circuit based on the popular Fender Bassman model amplifier. The ’68 Custom Deluxe Reverb reissue is an excellent amp for pedals and the new tone stack redesign reduces negative feedback that often plagued the original.

The ‘68 Custom Deluxe Reverb reissue has greater sensitivity and reaction to your playing, meaning you get a lot more out of the often neglected volume and tone knob on your guitar. Roll off the volume for a cleaner tone, crank it up for more breakup and crunching gain.

The ‘68 Custom Deluxe Reverb reissue features a 12″ Celestion G12V-70 speaker, comes with a fitted amplifier cover and 2-button footswitch and sells for $1049.99.

FENDER 68 CUSTOM PRINCETON REVERB AMPLIFIER

Much like the ‘68 Custom Deluxe, the Fender ’68 Princeton Reverb has gotten a custom overhaul. This reissue of the famous ’68 Princeton Reverb features a redesigned, modern tone circuit similar to the ’68 Custom Deluxe Reverb reissue. It’s great with pedals and very responsive.

This Princeton reissue is a bit smaller than the ‘68 Custom Deluxe Reverb: the Princeton is 12w with a 10″ Celestion TEN 30 speaker. A fitted amplifier cover and 2-button footswitch are included

Both the ‘68 Custom Deluxe Reverb and the ’68 Princeton Reverb feature Fender’s new (in 1968) silver and turquoise front panel and classy aluminum “drip edge” grille cloth trim look, with classic Fender 6V6 all tube tone.

The ‘68 Princeton Reverb reissue sells for $890.

EPIPHONE “ELECTAR” CENTURY

Epiphone’s “Electar” is an 18w all tube combo amp with a cool vintage style all its own. It owes a lot of its unique style to the fact that this vintage look goes back to 1939 – far further than most “vintage” amps. But don’t let the look fool you, it’s all modern construction and guts inside.

The Electar is powered by two 6V6 output tubes and two 12AX7 preamp tubes, and has a 12″ speaker. Controls include a Master Volume with pull “boost” and a Master Tone. The boost is great for searing treble lead tones, and the Master volume lets you get better overdrive tones at lower volumes. It also has three inputs: Bright, Normal and Dark; which is unique. Also included is a output for a speaker extension to drive a larger configuration external cabinet.

The Epiphone Electar 1939 Century amplifier has the vibe of 1930’s Manhattan, with the modern Fender style tube tone all for only $372.

VHT AV-SP1-12/20RT SPECIAL

The VHT 12/20 Special is an all tube combo amp with great flexibility and features. For starters, it ships with a pair 6V6 output tubes but VHT Special 12/20 offers two output-power ranges:

safely located behind the rear panel, a special voltage range switch provides the proper voltages for 6V6 or EL84 output tubes (in 12-watt low-voltage/low-power mode). The high voltage 20-watt setting provides the ideal voltages for higher-power 6L6 or EL34 output tubes.

Beyond that, the Special 12/20 also has a variable Watt control that can reduce the maximum output power to less than one watt. This makes it very handy for home practice.

Lastly, the VHT 12/20 Special has 6V6 tube driven reverb (with variable control depth) and tremolo with slow/fast switch, all for only $750.

VHT AV-SP1-6U SPECIAL 6 ULTRA

The VHT Special 6 is a great deal for anyone looking for an affordable, all tube amp with versatility and gain. It’s got the standard Overdrive and Clean inputs, overdrive, tone and volume controls.

What makes the VHT Special 6 Ultra different is that the volume control has a pull boost which acts as a mid-range gain. The Depth control allows you to vary the output tubes low frequency toll off point, which helps you to sculpt your sound the way you want it for various pickup and cabinet pairings. Also unique to the Ultra is the “Ultra” control knob which controls the level added gain to the output for maximum overdrive.

The VHT Special 6 Ultra also has a power-attenuating watts control which lets you dial in the output wattage from 0.5w all the way to 6w. This is an excellent feature for those looking for an all-tube practice amp that won’t shatter the windows in the bedroom.

Lastly, the VHT Special 6 Ultra features two speaker out lines and variable impedance for 4, 8 an 16 ohm speaker cabinets and a tube-drive effects loop.

Like its big brother (the Special 12/20), the Special 6 Ultra ships with a 6V6 output tube for sweet Fender like clean and rich overdrive tones and 2 12AX7 tubes in the preamp but it can accept a wide range of alternate output tubes as well.

The VHT Special 6 Ultra is quite an attractive all-tube amp and sells for only $399.99.

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Best Amps for British Tone

Looking to get an amp with that classic British tone, but don’t need a full Marshall stack? Looking for that vintage EL84 tube tone at a price that won’t put you in the poor house? Look no further. Here are some of the best low watt EL84 tube amps on the market today.

You can’t talk about EL84 tubes without talking about Marshall Amplifiers, so what better place to start this list of the best than with Marshall amps?

Marshall DSL15C DSL Series

marshall_dsl15cThe DSL15C is Marshall’s 15w, all tube combo amp. It’s compact, but packs a punch with classic EL84 tube tone. The DSL15C has two 6L6 tubes in the power section, but the preamp is all EL84s.. three of them to be exact.

15 watts may not sound like a lot, but for a tube amp it’s plenty loud for practice or small gigs. In fact, one of the things that makes the DSL15C so cool is that it has a pentode/triode switch for selecting the full 15w or a half 7.5w of output. That’s a great bit of versatility, and long time readers of this blog know that versatility is a big deal here.

The DSL15C also features a foot switchable gain channel that lets you switch between classic gain and ultra gain. Also present is a “deep switch” that gives your tone a bit of a low end boost.

With all these features and a 12″ Celestial G12E speaker and built in reverb, the DSL15C captures the classic EL84 British sound in a tight little tone package for only $539.99.

Marshall Limited Edition DSL5CCW

Marshall-DSL5CNext up on the list is one of Marshall’s smallest tube amps: the DSL5CCW, 5w 1×10″ all tube guitar combo amplifier. The DSL5CCW is powered by 3 ECC83 tubes and 1 12BH7/ECC99 tube. It’s got 2 channels – classic gain and ultra, and like it’s big brother (the DSL15C) the channels are foot switchable.

Yes, it’s 5 watts of pure British tone but it’s decked out in a cool, limited edition brown Country Western vinyl covering and tan basketweave cloth. What?

This portable little honey is capable of everything from Plexi-style cleans to JCM800-esque snarl to all out high gain crunch for just $499.99.

Orange Tiny Terror 10

Orange amplifiers carry on the British tone heritage that began with Marshall and they do it well.

orange_tiny_terror_10The Tiny Terror 10 is a 15w, all tube 1×10 combo amplifier with wonderful harmonic clean tones and sweet distortion. This amp features gain, tone and volume controls and 3-stage gain with a single 10″ Celestian speaker. With its 2 12AX7 tubes in the preamp and 2 EL84 tubes in the power section, the Orange Tiny Terror 10 cranks out some serious British tone for the surprisingly low price of $519.

The Tiny Terror is a LOUD amp in a compact size and really pairs well with single coil guitars.

Blackstar HT1 Series

Blackstar-HT1RLastly, is the Blackstar HT1 1w, 1×8″ combo amp. Yes, you read that right – 1 watt. Don’t laugh because this little guy is perfect if you’re looking for an all tube practice amp you can actually get some good British crunch tone out of. Good overdrive is all about headroom. Lots of headroom means lots of great clean tone. Less headroom means your tone is going to break up sooner (ie.: at a lower volume). That’s what the Blackstar HT1 does so well.

The HT1 uses a dual-triode 12AU7, wired in a push-pull circuit, to produce the same kind of crunch and break-up characteristics you would find in a traditional 100w amp , but at a much lower volume. Paired with the ISF (Infinite Shape Feature) circuit, you get the ability to sculpt your overdrive tone from sparkly US tone to dark UK crunch and everything in between.

Features include volume, gain, and ISF tone control and overdrive switch. There is also a speaker/headphone output and MP3 line in.

Powered by a single ECC82 (12AU7) tube and a single ECC83 (12AX7) tube in the preamp, the Blackstar HT1 1×8 is the perfect all tube amplifier for recording or practicing.

Perhaps the best feature is the price – an incredible $249.

 

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Best Guitar Amplifiers Under $100

Whether you’re looking for the best practice amp you can get for your kids or yourself, or even looking for something new to play around with you’ve come to the right place.

Playing with different gear is a great way to get the creative juices flowing and break out of any rut you may find yourself in. There is perhaps no piece of gear that influences your tone and style more than the amplifier. Here are a few low cost amplifiers that should add a little spice to your practice.

BATTERY POWERED AMPLIFIERS

Battery powered amps are about as small as you get for traditional solid state amplifiers. They’re not as portable as headphone amps (like the VOX amPlug), but battery powered amps are better for practicing with others. They’re the perfect fit right between the 10-20w practice amp and the headphone amp. And they’re conversation starters.

THE LEGENDARY PIGNOSE 7-100

pignose-7-100The Pignose 7-100 is a unique looking and playing amplifier. It’s genius is its simplicity. It has a single knob that looks like a pig’s nose and is located on the front. That one knob controls the power, volume and distortion. It works with your guitar’s volume knob too, so the tonal possibilities are surprisingly diverse.

At a glance:

  • 5w amp with 5? speaker.
  • Runs on 6 AA batteries or an optional AC adapter.
  • About the size of a shoe box and weighs around 5lbs.
  • Hinged design and can be played either fully closed, wide open or at any point in between.
  • It also has an open space inside that can be used to store the AC adapter or guitar cable when not in use.
  • A preamp out jack which makes it possible to play the Pignose through a larger and more powerful amplifier (or PA) or straight into a mixing board.

The Pignose 7-100 has a distinctive look and sound that is like no other. It’s stylish and funky, and is definitely a conversation starter

The Legendary Pignose 7-100 sells for about $75

BLACKSTAR FLY3

blackstar-fly3The Blackstar FLY 3 is a 3 watt mini amp that runs off battery or DC power.

The FLY 3 has standard MP3 / LINE IN jack and a headphone output jack. It’s 3 watts and features clean and overdrive channels and digital ‘tape’ delay effect.

It’s compact and portable and features Blackstar’s patented “Infinite Shape Feature (ISF)”, which lets you vary the tonal character of the amp.

When turned towards zero, it gives a tight, focused, percussive response, characteristic of American amplifiers. When turned towards 10, the response becomes woody, crunchy and warm, like traditional British amps.

The Blackstar FLY3 sells for $59.99

SMALLER, LOW WATT PRACTICE AMPS

The VOX V9160 Pathfinder 10 Combo Amplifier

vox-v9106-10w-pathfinderThe Pathfinder 10 is like the classic VOX AC15’s little brother. You get classic VOX look and VOX tone at a great price. The Pathfinder 10 has a clean/overdrive switch which lets you choose tones ranging from VOX chime to creamy, warm overdrive.

With its 10 watts of power and custom 6.5 inch speaker the VOX Pathfinder 10 is a great amp for everything from clean leads to crunchy rock and blues. Also included are Bass and Treble EQ, and a lineout/headphone jack.

The Pathfinder 10 sells for $79.99

MARSHALL MG15CF

marshall-mg15cfThe MG15CF is pure Marshall tone in a compact 15 watt combo. It features clean and overdrive channels, 3 band EQ, and MP3/line in jack and a headphone jack. The MG15CF sports the modern Marshall look and is decked out in a bold carbon-fibre exterior.

The Marshall MG15CF sells for only $99

ORANGE CRUSH 12

orange-crush-12The Orange Crush 12 is a 12w solid state amplifier with a 6 inch speaker. It also features 3 band EQ, volume and gain controls. The headphone out jack with the Orange CabSim circuit. This lets you emulate the sound of a 4×12″ cabinet through the headphone jack.. Sweet!

The Orange Crush 12 gives you great British crunch tone in a portable practice amp at an affordable price of only $99

Vox MINI3

VOX_MINI3_G2_classic

The VOX MINI3 G2, Classic

The Vox MINI3 is a 3-Watt amplifier that runs on either 6 AA batteries for up to 30 hours, or an AC adapter. The MINI3 has the distinctive VOX look and great VOX tone.

features include:

  • 3 watts
  • 5″ speaker
  • Clean/Overdrive switch
  • Volume, Gain, Bass and Treble controls
  • Line-out/Headphone processed output
  • 8 editable effects:
    1. Compressor
    2. Chorus
    3. Flanger
    4. Tremelo
    5. Delay
    6. Echo
    7. Spring Reverb
    8. Room Reverb
  • 11 amp models:
    1. Fender Blackface 2×12
    2. Fender Tweed 4×12
    3. Vox AC15
    4. Vox AC30 (with treble boost)
    5. Marshall Plexi
    6. Marshall 80’s
    7. Orange
    8. Fender Supersonic
    9. US High gain
    10. Boutique Clean
    11. Direct line in for use with keyboards or straight guitar with no effects/models
  • Dedicated mic input, with dedicated reverb
  • Aux/mp3 line in

The Vox Mini3 might be the best battery powered amp on the market and sells for $99

Peavey Solo 12W Transtube

Peavey-Solo-12WPeavey’s Solo amplifier is a 12w amp with an 8″ Blue Marvel speaker.

What makes the Peavey Solo stand out from other more basic amps is Peavey’s TransTube technology. TransTube is
tube emulation circuitry that stem from the patented preamp and power amp designs:

The preamp section tailors gain to meet the need for any amount of drive, from crystal clear to thick, smooth sustain. The power amp reacts just like a tube output section by responding to the preamp with natural compression that increases as the amp gets louder. With TransTube, you get a killer amp with wide ranging dynamics and natural “grit,” just like a tube amp!

Other features:

  • Clean and Lead channels
  • 3 band passive EQ
  • ¼” stereo input
  • Direct Out jack
  • Low damping factor for lively tube power amp sound.
  • Headphone jack

The Peavey Solo sells for just $89.99

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The Best Gifts for Guitar Players

Every year near Christmas, Father’s day and my Birthday I rack my brain trying to come up with a list of gift ideas to give to my family. Most of the time this gift list includes a few guitar based items because playing guitar is a very big hobby of mine. I’ve put this list together for myself and anyone else who may be looking for gift ideas for the guitar player in their lives. This list isn’t for guitar lovers. You won’t find dorm room refrigerators shaped like a Marshall stack, or guitar shaped bottle openers. This list is the best gifts for guitarists – as in people who play guitar and love doing it!

I’ve broken down the list into different price points.guitar-gifts

If you’ve got any that I missed, feel free to share them in the comments section below.

All prices at the time of this writing and may be subject to change.

GIFTS UNDER $20

CAPOS

I had a friend in high school who thought that using a capo meant you couldn’t play very well. His view was that using a capo made it easier to play certain chords, and he naturally looked down on capo using guitar players as some form of inferior species. At the time, I didn’t really know enough to argue with him but I’ve since learned enough to abandon that line of thinking. Capos are really there to make transposing a song’s key easier. As such, they are nearly essential to anyone who wants to play with another musician – especially if they just want to jam informally and don’t have time to arrange a song in a different key.

What makes a good capo?

One essential attribute of a good capo is that it doesn’t screw up the tuning of the guitar when you put it on. Another nice thing is if the capo is quick and easy to put on and take off. Two of the best capos I’ve found are:

Kyser KG6B 6 String Capo

kyser-kg6b-6-string-capoThe KG6B might sound like a Soviet era spy agency, but it’s really a strong and lightweight aluminum capo. It’s spring-tension design make it a quick release, easy deploy kind of capo that won’t mess up your tuning.

It sells for $13 and has 9 different styles to choose from.

And if you’re a total nut on the six string, you can use this capo like Tommy Emmanuel does in his famous Beatles medley:

Here’s a video of Tommy Emmanuel explaining how he uses a quick release capo:

 

Shubb Deluxe Series GC-30 (S1) capo

shubb-s1-stainless-steel-guitar-capoIf your not into the quick release, mid medley key change like Tommy you can give the Shubb GC-30 a try. It’s a beautifully designed capo that’s accurate and strong, yet gentle as a finger on the fretboard. It does exactly what a capo is supposed to do without sending the guitar out of tune. It’s stainless steel design makes it more resistant to wear and tear, meaning it should last a good many years.

The GC-30 currently sells for $15.92.

CLIP-ON TUNERS

Tuners have come a long way since the guitar first became popular. No more tuning forks or pitch pipes. In fact, you don’t even need a cumbersome device to balance on your knee. I know, you can get plenty of free tuning apps on your smartphone these days, but they really aren’t the same.

Here are two of the most accurate clip-on tuners on the market today.

Snark SN5X Clip-On Tuner for Guitar, Bass & Violin

snark-clip-on-tunerFirst up is the ever popular, and whimsical looking Snark. It features a full color display that rotates a full 360 degrees for easy viewing. It simply clips to the headstock of the guitar and shows the note currently being plucked by vibration – perfect for tuning in noisy environments (kids, bars, etc…). Also works in bass and violins!

This Snark sells for $9.96

Meisel COM-80 Clip-On Tuner

meisel-com-80-clip-on-tunerThe runner up for clip-on tuner is the Meisel COM-80. This tuner also features an easy to read back-lit LCD display, but it’s not as adjustable as the Snark. It also scores very high for accuracy, and is adjustable from 27.5Hz to 1760Hz. It’s a chromatic tuner calibrated for Guitar, Bass, Violin and Ukelele

The Meisel COM-80 currently sells for $10.99

NOVELTY GUITAR STRAPS

fashionable-sublimation-guitar-strapGuitar straps make great gifts. They can be functional and they can be conversation starters. They are often as unique as the player who uses them and give guitar players another way to express their individuality. You don’t have to spend a ton of money on them either. Here are a few favorites that sell from $5-20, great for the player who has everything.

HUMIDIFIERS

Acoustic guitars (and even hollow body electrics) like to be humid, but not too humid. It’s a balance. If a guitars isn’t maintained in within the proper humidity for long, it will start with losing intonation and will eventually get a cracked body, warped neck or more.

Luckily, guitar humidifiers are cheap. Here are two of the best guitar humidifiers for under $20.

GUITAR STRINGS

STINGS FOR ELECTRIC GUITARS

ERNIE BALL REGULAR SLINKY NICKEL WOUND SETS

ernie-ball-regular-slinky-nickel-wound-setsErnie Ball Slinky electric guitar strings are used by artists from Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, Jimmy Page, AC/DC, John Petrucci, Slash, Green Day and more. They are made in California, U.S.A. and consist of specific gauges and core-to-wrap ratios which create balanced rich harmonics and that signature Slinky feel.

Nickel Wound Slinky strings take a high carbon steel core and tin plate it and wrap it in nickel plated steel. This makes for a balanced tone that compliments all guitar types and playing styles.

The gauges run: .010 .013 .017 .026 .036 .046.

These Ernie Ball regular Slinky strings are sold in packs of 3 or individual sets ($14.11 for 3 pack, or $4.62 for one)

D’ADDARIO EXL110-3D

d-addario-exl110-3dThe D’Addario EXL110-3D electric guitar strings are corrosion resistant Round wound with nickel-plated steel for distinctive bright tone. The string gauges are .010, .013, .017, .026, .036, .046.

These are made in the U.S.A. and sell for $9.95 for 3 sets

ELIXIR STRINGS W POLYWEB COATING

elixir-strings-electric-guitar-strings-polywebElixir is the pioneer in coated strings. The original POLYWEB coating creates a soft and slick feel while providing resistance to grime and rust. This means the strings last longer – both looking new longer and sounding great longer.

A pack of Elixir POLYWEB light gauge (.010 .013 .017 .026 .036 .046) strings sells for $10.43. They’re more expensive than other strings, but they also last up to 3 times as long.

STRINGS FOR ACOUSTIC GUITARS

ELIXIR STRINGS 80/20 BRONZE ACOUSTIC STRINGS

elixir-strings-80-20-polywebThese are the acoustic version of the Elixir POLYWEB strings. They are an 80/20 blend (80% copper, 20% zinc) and feature Elixir’s special POLYWEB coating for smoother feel and longer life. The 80/20 mix provides a warm tone and the POLYWEB coating keeps the strings looking and sounding new for months.

The single pack of Elixir 80/20 bronze POLYWEB strings sells for $13.99.

D’ADDARIO EJ16 PHOSPHOR BRONZE

d-addario-ej16The D’Addario EJ16 Phosphor Bronze acoustic guitar strings offer a balanced tone and also provide D’Addario’s EXP coating for longer life. Similar to Elixir’s POLYWEB, but not as expensive. I’ve had good results with both kinds, but haven’t ever done a serious, scientific comparison of the two.. maybe someday I will.

In the meantime, you can get these excellent strings in a 3-pack for $12.99, or in a single pack for only $4.95.

 

MARTIN M140 BRONZE

martin-m140Lastly, I offer the Martin M140 Bronze acoustic guitar strings. These are also an 80/20 Bronze blend and offer brilliant sound and clarity with rich bass and bright treble. They are not coated for long life, but they also sell for only $3.32 so there’s your trade off. Great stocking stuffers though.

NOVELTY GUITAR PICKS

pick-geekWhether you’re looking for something different to pluck the old six string with or something for more of an arts and crafts project, the guitar picks on this list will fit the bill.

Guitar picks are always in demand for guitar players, because they’re always getting lost! At least that’s how it seems. Besides, they make for great stocking stuffers, birthday, father’s day or even mother’s day gifts for the guitarist in your life. They’re small, unique and not too pricey.

Here are some of the best novelty guitar picks around today.

GIFTS UNDER $50

VOX AMPLUG AMPS

The VOX amPlug headphone amps are not really amplifiers. They are pocket sized amp simulators that plug into you guitar input jack in place of the instrument cable. Then you plug in your headphones and jam out without disturbing the peace.

The amPlug headphone amp comes in a number of versions but the three best are on this list. Each one has 9 effects (3 chorus, 3 delay and 3 reverb), a fold-able plug to make it stow more easily in the pocket and runs off two AAA size batteries.

Each also has an AUX In jack so you can jam along with your favorite music.

VOX AMPLUG AC30

vox_amplug_ac30The VOX AC30 amPlug models the vintage AC30 top boost sound used by so many British bands in the 70’s.

The VOX AC30 amPlug Headphone amp sells for $32.

VOX AMPLUG METAL

vox_amplug_metalLastly, the VOX Metal amPlug models the high gain US amp sound. (Think Fender Supersonic, Mesa Boogie and Peavey).

Great for lead tone, not so great for clean.

The VOX Metal amPlug Headphone amp sells for $32.

VOX AMPLUG CLASSIC ROCK

vox_amplug_classicrockThe VOX Classic Rock amPlug models the classic UK 100 w amp sound. (think Marshall stack)

The VOX Classic Rock amPlug Headphone amp sells for $35.

BATTERY POWERED AMPLIFIERS

Here are a few battery powered amplifiers that a 9 volt battery and will fit comfortably on a desk (and maybe even a large Christmas stocking).

They’re not great for practicing with other people, but fit the bill for quick solo practice, and they’re fun and funky.

FENDER MINI TONE-MASTER

Fender-Mini-Tone-MasterThis is a miniaturized version of the classic Tone-Master and Fender does a great job of keeping true to the authentic Fender details here – cab corners, retro grille cloth, and vintage white control knobs.
At a glance:
• 1w battery powered amplifier that features two 2? speakers.
• Gain, Volume, Tone and Power controls.
• Powered by single 9V battery (included), or AC adapter

The Fender Mini Tone-Master sells for $35.28

FENDER-MINI-57-TWIN

Fender-Mini-57-TwinThis is quite simply a battery powered, highly portable version of the original Fender ’57 Twin Amp

At a glance:
• Completely captures the vintage 50’s look with its miniature chicken head knobs, down to its tweed covering and brown grille.
• Made of real wood and not plastic.
• 1w battery powered guitar amplifier with twin 2? speakers.
• Built-in distortion, Power, volume, and tone controls.
• Runs on a single 9V battery or power adapter.

The Fender-Mini-57-Twin sells for $36.95

MARSHALL MS-2

Marshall-MS-2-Mini-AmpModern technology has now made it possible to grab the Marshall MS-2 Mini Amp and take that Marshall tone with you – anywhere.

The Marshall MS-2 Mini Amp has that classic Marshall look and crunch, with surprisingly loud volume for such a little thing. it’s just 5-3/4″ high and even includes a belt clip!

It features controls for overdrive, tone, and volume and is powered by one 9V battery.

The Marshall MS-2 Mini Amp is a 1w battery powered amp that makes a great and fun gift or a truly portable practice amp, and sells for around $45

GUITAR AMPLIFIERS UNDER $100

Playing with different gear is a great way to get the creative juices flowing and break out of any rut you may find yourself in. There is perhaps no piece of gear that influences your tone and style more than the amplifier. Here are a few low cost amplifiers that should add a little spice to your practice.

BATTERY POWERED AMPLIFIERS

Battery powered amps are not quite as portable as the VOX amPlug, but they are audible to those around you. They’re the perfect fit right between the 10-20w practice amp and the headphone amp. And they’re conversation starters.

THE LEGENDARY PIGNOSE 7-100

pignose-7-100The Pignose 7-100 is a unique looking and playing amplifier. It’s genius is its simplicity. It has a single knob that looks like a pig’s nose and is located on the front. That one knob controls the power, volume and distortion. It works with your guitar’s volume knob too, so the tonal possibilities are surprisingly diverse.

At a glance:
• 5w amp with 5″ speaker.
• Runs on 6 AA batteries or an optional AC adapter.
• About the size of a shoe box and weighs around 5lbs.
• Hinged design and can be played either fully closed, wide open or at any point in between.
• It also has an open space inside that can be used to store the AC adapter or guitar cable when not in use.
• A preamp out jack which makes it possible to play the Pignose through a larger and more powerful amplifier (or PA) or straight into a mixing board.
The Pignose 7-100 has a distinctive look and sound that is like no other. It’s stylish and funky, and is definitely a conversation starter

The Legendary Pignose 7-100 sells for about $75

ORANGE MICRO CRUSH

Orange-Micro-Crush-CR3The Orange Micro Crush CR3 is all Orange, from the woven grill to rubber footstools and trademark Orange finish. It’s also wood, and not plastic.

At a glance:
• 3w battery powered amp.
• Single 4″ speaker.
• Clean and Overdrive channels.
• Tone control.
• Chromatic tuner.
• Headphone jack
• Runs on a single 9v battery or AC adapter.

This is a great way to get the British Orange crunch.

The Orange Micro Crush CR3 sells for $68

BLACKSTAR FLY3

blackstar-fly3The Blackstar FLY 3 is a 3 watt mini amp that runs off battery or DC power. It’s compact and portable and features Blackstar’s patented “Infinite Shape Feature (ISF)”, which lets you vary the tonal character of the amp.

When turned towards zero, it gives a tight, focused, percussive response, characteristic of American amplifiers. When turned towards 10, the response becomes woody, crunchy and warm, like traditional British amps.

The FLY 3 also has standard MP3 / LINE IN jack and a headphone output jack.

It’s 3 watts and features clean and overdrive channels and digital ‘tape’ delay effect.

The Blackstar FLY3 sells for $59.99

SMALLER, LOW WATT AMPS

The VOX V9160 Pathfinder 10 Combo Amplifier

vox-v9106-10w-pathfinderThe Pathfinder 10 is like the classic VOX AC15’s little brother. You get classic VOX look and VOX tone at a great price. The Pathfinder 10 has a clean/overdrive switch which lets you choose tones ranging from VOX chime to creamy, warm overdrive.

With its 10 watts of power and custom 6.5 inch speaker the VOX Pathfinder 10 is a great amp for everything from clean leads to crunchy rock and blues. Also included are Bass and Treble EQ, and a lineout/headphone jack.

The Pathfinder 10 sells for $79.99

MARSHALL MG15CF

marshall-mg15cfThe MG15CF is pure Marshall tone in a compact 15 watt combo. It features clean and overdrive channels, 3 band EQ, and MP3/line in jack and a headphone jack. The MG15CF sports the modern Marshall look and is decked out in a bold carbon-fibre exterior.

The Marshall MG15CF sells for only $99

ORANGE CRUSH 12

orange-crush-12The Orange Crush 12 is a 12w solid state amplifier with a 6 inch speaker. It also features 3 band EQ, volume and gain controls. The headphone out jack with the Orange CabSim circuit. This lets you emulate the sound of a 4×12″ cabinet through the headphone jack.. Sweet!

The Orange Crush 12 gives you great British crunch tone in a portable practice amp at an affordable price of only $99

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Best Cheap Guitar Humidifiers

Acoustic guitars (and hollow body electrics) like to be humid, but not too humid. It’s a balance. Guitars that are left to dry out can cause serious headaches and even costly repairs down the road. It starts with losing intonation and can end with a cracked body, warped neck or more.

Some symptoms of dry guitar include:

• Sharp fret ends
• Neck bow (slight curve in guitar neck bringing the fretboard away from the strings)
• Sunken top
• Lifted bridge
• Lower string height, buzzing notes
• Cracking of the neck and/or guitar body
• Changes in the instruments tone

There are generally two types of humidifiers for guitars: One Way- the kind that adds moisture, and Two Way – the kind that adds and removes to balance overall moisture. The kind that only adds moisture is typically used in parts of the country that suffer dry air during part of the year. The Northeastern United States in the winter months is one example. The second kind can be used during humid seasons (again Northeastern United States in the summer) or humid locations, like Florida. This kind of humidifier will add moisture when it’s dry, and soak up excess moisture when it’s humid.

Here are two of the best of each type for under $20.

D’Addario One-Way Acoustic Guitar Humidifier

daddario-acoustic-guitar-humidifier
This D’Addario humidifier adds moisture to your guitar without damaging the finish because it is suspended by the strings and never touches the guitar body. There are no clips or fasteners and it’s easy to use.

To use this humidifier, simply place the moistened sponge inside the case and place the case between the 3rd and 4th strings. The humidifier just hangs in the sound hole of the guitar so it never touches the body of the instrument, and releases the moisture slowly and evenly keeping your guitar perfectly humidified.

The D’Addario One-Way Acoustic Guitar Humidifier sells for $8.95

D’Addario Two-Way Humidification System

daddario-two-way-humidification-systemThe two-way humidifier is just like the one way above, except that a special packet is used in place of a sponge. This packet maintains a constant 45%-50% relative humidity level within your instruments case. This system eliminates the guesswork of maintaining your guitar’s proper humidity level because it seeks to balance between 45-50% by adding or removing moisture

The D’Addario Two-Way Humidification System sells for $19.13

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Great Novelty Guitar Straps for Gift Ideas

Guitar straps make great gifts. They can be functional and they can be conversation starters. They are often as unique as the player who uses them and give guitar players another way to express their individuality. You don’t have to spend a ton of money on them either. Here are a few favorites that sell from $5-20, great for the player who has everything.

Voodoo Guitar Strap From Planet Waves

voodoo-guitar-strapThis durable guitar strap with unique Voodoo style design is adjustable from 35″ to 59.5″ long, and also features the Planet Waves Planet Lock system. The Planet Waves patented Planet Lock system fits virtually any guitar and stays locked in place until you release the side pin.

The Voodoo guitar strap sells for $19.99

This guy should’ve had a guitar strap with the Planet Lock system

guitar-swing-fail-_sz2x

Fretfunk Acoustic Guitar Strap Button

fretfunk-acoustic-guitar-strap-buttonHere’s a handy accessory if your acoustic guitar is like mine – missing a strap pin near the neck. The Fretfunk strap button wraps around the point where the headstock meets the nut and voila! you now have a strap pin for any standard guitar strap. This strap is suitable for acoustic guitar and acoustic bass and is easy to use.

Best of all, it’s only $7.99

Ralph Marlin Artistic Guitar Strap

ralph-marlin-artistic-guitar-strapThese may look like designer neck ties, but they’re not. They are in fact 3″ wide guitar straps with classic art designs. Adjustable from 47″-63″ with leather ends. Designs include:

  • The Scream, by Edvard Munch
  • The Persistence of Memory, by Salvador Dali
  • The Statue of David, by Michelangelo
  • American Gothic, by Grant Wood
  • The Starry Night, by Vincent van Gogh
  • and more!$16.99 per strap

Guitar Strap With 3 Pick Holders

guitar-strap-with-3-pick-holdersThere’s nothing fancy about this guitar strap, but it is one of the more functional I’ve seen. This Nylon strap is about 2″ wide with leather end tabs and a length from 32.3″ to 51.2″. What makes this strap so handy is that it contains 3 little pockets for holding extra picks. No matter where to go, you’ll never be without a pick again!

sells for $4.99

Fashionable Sublimation Guitar Strap

fashionable-sublimation-guitar-strapHere’s a strap for anyone looking for a fashionable, unique strap that’s also affordable. Each strap is made from high grade polyester and features a unique (i.e.: random) pattern of vibrant color on black background. Each strap has a quality leather end but also comes with end-ties that are specially designed for acoustic guitars that don’t have a front strap button.

These sell for $14.99 each

D’Andrea US Flag Guitar Strap

Let your patriotic fervor fly with this high quality US flag guitar strap. The strap is fabric with leather end tabs and can expand to a full 54 inches.

us-flag-guitar-strap

The US Flag strap sells for $14.96

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Are Made in America Guitars Worth the Money?

Many people feel that foreign made guitars are inferior quality and should be avoided, but that may be based on outdated factors.

A brief history of foreign made guitars

American guitar makers began to favor offshore manufacturing starting in the mid 1960’s. At this point, foreign made guitars were often of shoddy quality. This is the root of the “all foreign guitars are crap” mindset. In the 1970’s, the trend reversed and Asian made guitars (Yamaha, Ibanez, Tokai, and Aria) were seen as superior quality. Fender didn’t help themselves any here after they were purchased by CBS and CBS implemented numerous cost cutting measures that ultimately negatively affected quality.

Flash forward to today and modern manufacturing techniques and quality control practices mean that the quality is much more consistent.

Why are foreign made guitars cheaper?

You may be wondering if the cheaper price tag on foreign guitars is indicative of cheaper parts or construction. That’s not necessarily true. Much of the cost difference has to do with labor costs, which is the result of regulations and ultimately the standard of living. This is seen in the move from Japanese manufacturing in the 70’s and 80’s to other, less wealthy Asian countries. As Japan experienced a manufacturing boom, wages rose and so did related costs. This made countries like Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia and China more affordable, so production expanded to them.

us16052555-body-xlargeAside from labor, there are certain material differences between domestic and foreign guitar models. These sorts of differences are individual to each guitar brand. Gibson for instance reserves certain body finish styles and colors for its American Made Gibson line, while Fender reserves its upgraded electronics for its American Made lines.

In general, the foreign made models usually contain the more standard, or stock, pickups and pots while the American Made models usually sport the premium electronics.

This is actually not a bad thing if you’re willing to swap pickups and pots yourself. If you’re handy with a soldering iron, you can pick up a Mexican made Fender for half the price of an American one and swap the pots and pickups with upgrades from the custom shop and have a close approximation to an American Made Fender at about 2/3 the price. The price difference is much larger for Gibson, but technically you can’t really get a non-American made Gibson. All of Gibson’s foreign made models are under different brand names, Epiphone for example. But the quality is not that much different in the core of the product (i.e.: minus the bells and whistles).

In the end, I think Dave Hunter, writing for Guitar Player magazine,says it best:

The upshot: choose your instrument according to the specs and features and prices that suit you—and most importantly, its feel in your hands and its sound to your own ears—rather than approaching with any bias related to where it was made. We are truly spoiled for choices in the 21st century, and it’s a great time to be alive as a guitarist!

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The Best Novelty Guitar Picks for Gifts

Whether you’re looking for something different to pluck the old six string with or something for more of an arts and crafts project, the guitar picks on this list will fit the bill.

Guitar picks are always in demand for guitar players, because they’re always getting lost! At least that’s how it seems. Besides, they make for great stocking stuffers, birthday, father’s day or even mother’s day gifts for the guitarist in your life. They’re small, unique and not too pricey.

Premium Meditation Guitar Picks

meditation-picks

Here’s one for the mindful guitar picker – a collection of 10 medium picks, with meditative, “mindfulness” images. Each pick has picture printed on both sides in vibrant color. These medium thickness picks are celluloid and give a warm, fat tone.

These meditation themed picks currently sell for $8.99.

A Bag O’ Picks From Pick Geek

Ask any guitarist and they will gladly tell you that their biggest enemy is not stage fright, it’s the plectrum gremlin that makes off with their picks when they aren’t looking.

It may seem like 51 guitar picks is excessive, but believe me – it’s not.

This is a great deal from Pick Geek

pick-geek50 guitar picks of various weight (extra heavy, heavy, medium, and light) plus 1 bonus steel guitar pick all in one funky holder bag. Each pick features one of 14 different color designs and you can choose from celluloid or Totrex

The Bag O’ Picks currently sells for $14.99 (that’s less than 30 cents per pick!)

Dunlop Lucky 13 Pick Tin

For those players among us who are a bit less funky and a bit more inked, there is this tin of collectible Dunlop Lucky 13 picks. You get 6 medium gauge totex picks with “full-throttle, in-your-face tattoo & rockabilly imagery” all in a Lucky 13 collectors tin.

Celebrate your rebellious side and rock out with piece of Dunlop’s homage to Grease, Gas and Glory.

The Dunlop Lucky 13 collection sells for $7.65

lucky-13-picks

Peavey Classic Marvel Super Heroes Guitar Pick Pack

Fight evil while you rock out with this collection of vintage Marvel super heroes – including Capt. America, Iron Man, The Hulk, Spiderman and more! Each pick has one super hero face emblazoned on it (except the one with the classic Marvel logo) and is medium thickness.

Get your Peavey Marvel Super Heroes pack for $19.95

peavey-marvel-picks

Surrealist Artwork Inspired By Salvador Dali

Talk about a conversation piece! This set of 12 celluloid picks comes with a tin box and leather keychain pick holder. Each pick has 2 stunning miniature reproductions of paintings by surrealist artist Jose Roosevelt. These picks are a standard medium size of 0.71mm and are made of high quality, durable celluloid.

surrealist-picks

These Surrealist Picks sell for $14.95

Vincent Van Gogh Guitar Pick Collection

This set of 12 celluloid picks comes with a tin box and leather keychain pick holder. Each pick has 2 miniature reproductions of paintings by Vincent Can Gogh (one on each side). These picks are a standard medium size of 0.71mm and are made of high quality, durable celluloid.

van-gogh-picks

The Vincent Van Gogh collection sells for $14.95

Renaissance Art Guitar Pick Collection

This set of 12 celluloid picks comes with a tin box and leather keychain pick holder. Each pick has 2 miniature reproductions of paintings by Renaissance masters: Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Rembrandt’s, Vermeer & Munch. (one on each side). These picks are a standard medium size of 0.71mm and are made of high quality, durable celluloid.

renaissance-picks

This Renaissance Art collection sells for $13.95

Dragon’s Heart Guitar Pick

Ok, yeah I know.. nine bucks for a single pick is kind of crazy, but this is no ordinary pick!

The Original Dragon’s Heart pick is made from polyamide-imide with 12% graphite content. This makes it extremely durable. The manufacturer claims that a single Dragon’s Heart pick can endure over 1000 hours play before the edges become marred. With 3 optimized playing edges, this pick is a great gift for the shredder or even jazz player in your life.

dragons-heart-pick

Get your piece of the Dragon’s Heart for $9.69 (that’s less than a penny per hour of durability!)

Guitar Themed Picks

What better way to pick your guitar than with a guitar themed pick?! Of course, you might run the risk of triggering some kind of funky six-string supernova, but hey – why not live a little?

This collection contains 12 assorted gauge (light, medium and heavy gauge) premium celluloid picks. Each pick has a guitar-themed design on both sides, including: Keep Calm and Play Guitar, Without Music Life Would Bb, I heart Guitar and more.

guitar-picks

This collection sells for $15.99

Christian Guitar Picks

Here’s a 12 piece pick pack for Christian pickers – regardless of what kind of music they play. Each pick is premium quality, colorful pearl celluloid of medium (0.71mm) thickness. Each pick features one of six Christian themed, inspirational messages on both sides.

christian-guitar-picks

The Christian Guitar Picks sell for $10.99

The Beatles Guitar Picks

beatles-picks

Here’s a set for the Fab-Four fanatic in your life. Each medium gauge pick features a stylized “The Beatles” logo or Album name on each side. I’m not sure how long these will be available, but I have a set of the previous run (about 6 years ago) with Revolver style Beatles faces and they are among my favorite picks.

Get The Beatles pick collection for $9.99

USA Flag Guitar Picks

Here’s your choice for the American patriot on your gift list. It’s the ChromaCast 10 pack of medium (0.73mm) guitar picks. Each pick features a matte, non-slip finish and speckled American Flag design.

american-flag-picksThis collection of 10 American Flag guitar picks sells for only $3.99

Peavey Star Wars Pick Collection

Here’s a great collection of picks for the Star Wars fan on your list – a set of 12 medium gauge guitar picks from Peavey. Each pick has a full color photo of a Star Wars character from the original series (movies IV, V, VI):

  • Luke
  • Han
  • Yoda
  • Leia
  • Storm Trooper
  • Boba Fett
  • Darth Vader
  • and more

star-wars-picksThe Peavey Star Wars Pick Collection sells for $19.95

Clayton Pin-Ups Picks

Lastly, this set of 12 classic pin-up style beauties from Clayton Picks. Each pick features a matte surface with one of 6 different photo-realistic pin-up designs by artist Susan Heidi.pin-up-picks

Currently sells for $3.58

 

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How to Sound Like Jimi Hendrix (on Budget Guitar Gear)

This article focuses on gear, not technique. You can devote many years to trying to learn Jimi’s style and play like him, but this is more about getting a guitar rig that will get you close to recreating the Jimi Hendrix tone at various times in his career.

In short, this is about capturing a tone similar to Jimi Hendrix. It’s not about playing like him.

Also, note that this is a basic list of gear that will get you close to 80% of Jimi’s tone. He was well known for trying many different techniques and gear throughout his brief career. This list covers the gear you will need to get something close to 80% of his tone. It covers the core of his sound but not every flourish, so to speak. Basically, this is not an exhaustive list for gear collectors and Hendrix aficionados. This is a list of inexpensive gear to use if you want to capture tones close to what Hendrix is most known for.

Now that the preliminary disclaimers have been dispatched, on with the list…

First up on the list is Jimi’s choice of guitar. While Hendrix is known to have played a Gibson Flying V on occasion, he is most known for playing a Fender Stratocaster.

“1969 Fender Stratocaster, original pick-ups, maple neck, strung upside down for a left-handed … genius, Jimi Hendrix.”

Ford Fairlane

If you want your tone to sound like Jimi, it’s essential to use a strat. As mentioned above, Jimi did play other guitars at times, but he’s so well known for playing a Stratocaster that it’s downright iconic. And the fact that Jimi played a right-handed strat that he strung upside down is so legendary it’s become a cliche (as evidenced by the quote above)

DENMARK - SEPTEMBER 03: Photo of Jimi Hendrix 10; Jimi Hendrix KB-Hallen Copenhagen September 3 1970 (Photo by Jan Persson/Redferns)

DENMARK – SEPTEMBER 03: Photo of Jimi Hendrix 10; Jimi Hendrix KB-Hallen Copenhagen September 3 1970 (Photo by Jan Persson/Redferns)

If you’ve got the money, then by all means go for an American made Fender Stratocaster, but the Mexican made is half the price and sounds just as sweet.

61awxcmla2l-_sl1500_Next up on the list is Jimi’s choice of amplifiers. He’s most known for two: The Marshall stack, and the Fender Bassman. Either one of these will set you back thousands of dollars if you go for the authentic. Lucky for you, modern technology makes it possible to achieve fairly accurate Hendrix like tone at a fraction of the price (and volume).

Marshall DSL15C

Marshall DSL15C

The best choice here is all tube, and for the budget conscious buyer that means the Marshall DSL15C DSL Series 15-Watt Guitar Combo Amp. It’s 15 watts of Marshall crunch and searing lead tone at just under $600.

Fender Bassman

Fender Bassman

That covers Jimi’s high-decibel, hard rock sound from such classics as Purple Haze, Foxy Lady and most of his early and mid-sixty’s sound. For his softer, more blues based side (think Electric Ladyland, especially “Voodoo Chile”) you’ll want the Fender Bassman tone, but that’ll set you back a bit more.

The Fender Mustang II

The Fender Mustang II

So, if you’re like me you’ll want something not too expensive and versatile. One of the most inexpensive and versatile amps on the market today is the Fender Mustang series. I recommend the Fender Mustang II V2 40-Watt 1×12-Inch Combo Electric Guitar Amplifier as the budget friendly option with enough bang for playing solo or small gigs. The Fender Mustang amp is a modeling amp, so it uses onboard software to model various other amplifier models and cabinets and does so convincingly. Just dial up a Marshal Plexi or Fender Bassman and voila!

The next piece of the Hendrix tone puzzle is the effects chain.

Jimi’s favored effects pedal were Fuzz and Wah, and later some Chorus/Vibe.

Hendrix Fuzzface

Hendrix Fuzzface

If you’re shooting for the authentic Hendrix Fuzz tone, you’ll want to check out the Dunlop Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face Distortion. If you want a good approximation for a few bucks less, check out the Dunlop FFM1 Silicon Fuzz Face Mini Distortion.

Dunlop Fuzzface Mini

Dunlop Fuzzface Mini

Jimi’s favored Wah pedal was the Vox Wah V847A, which is still available today.

VOX V845 Classic Wah Wah

VOX V845 Classic Wah Wah

Another favored sound of Hendrix in his later career was the Octave Fuzz (think “One Rainy Wish” from Axis: Bold as Love). A good choice today is the Electro-Harmonix Octavix Octave Fuzz Pedal.

Electro Harmonix Octavix Octave Fuzz

Electro Harmonix Octavix Octave Fuzz

Lastly, if you’re searching for the Hendrix “Star Spangled Banner” from Woodstock or “Machine Gun” from Band of Gypsys you’ll want to

Dunlop M68 Uni Vibe

Dunlop M68 Uni Vibe

use a Univibe pedal. The best bang for your buck here is the Dunlop M68 Uni-Vibe Chorus/Vibrato.

 

 

 

Pro Tips.

Here are a few bonus pro tips for nailing the Hendrix tone.

Strings.

Jimi preferred light strings, and according to Eddie Kramer, sometimes even banjo strings. This will definitely help you with bending notes. The great thing about strings is that they are probably the cheapest change you can make. Two great choices are Electro-Harmonix NIC9 Nickel Wound Ultra Light Electric Guitar Strings and D’Addario EXL120 Nickel Wound Electric Guitar Strings, Super Light, 9-42.

Cables.

Jimi preferred coiled guitar cables. Why is this worth mentioning? Because coiled cables in Jimi’s day had a bigger effect on tone than cables today. Coiled cables in the 60’s remove a lot of the higher frequencies which reduces the brightness you hear. This is especially important with single coil pickups, as are found in Stratocasters – Jimi’s cable choice likely mellowed the tone of his strat in ways modern cables do not.

Playing tips.

I said this post wasn’t about how to play like Hendrix, but here are some super-simple tips that are easy to implement and best of all – free!

Tune half-step down.

Hendrix tuned his guitar a half a step down (Eb Ab Db Gb Bb Eb). If you don’t follow suit, you won’t sound quite right for the Hendrix tone.

Pickups.

Use the middle or neck pickups as Jimi rarely used the bridge pick up.

Also, he favored rolling back the volume knob on the guitar for to get a “clean” tone, as opposed to a foot switch or channel swap…

This is all done with modern, inexpensive off the shelf gear so what you’ll get is a close approximation… not magic bullet solution…

e n j o y!

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The Best College Dorm Room Amps – Under $120

Whether you’re looking for a quiet practice amp to bring to your college dorm, or just something that won’t wake the kids at night you’ve come to the right place. This list has everything from silent pocket amps to small, portable practice amps and everything in between – and all for under $120! (most things are well under $100).

Silent amps

I know what you’re thinking: Silent amps? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of an amp?

Well, the amps on this part of the list are silent to everyone but you!

VOX amPlug headphone only amps

The VOX amPlug headphone amps have been around since 2007, but they’ve recently gotten an overhaul. The new G2 versions feature an improved analog circuit, 9 effects (3 chorus, 3 delay and 3 reverb) and a fold-able plug to make it stow more easily in the pocket.

AC30

vox_amplug_ac30The VOX AC30 amPlug models the vintage AC30 top boost sound used by so many British bands in the 70’s.

Click to check the current price

Classic rock

vox_amplug_classicrockThe VOX Classic Rock amPlug models the classic UK 100 w amp sound. (think Marshall stack)

Click to check the current price

 

Metal

vox_amplug_metalLastly, the VOX Metal amPlug models the high gain US amp sound. (Think Fender Supersonic, Mesa Boogie and Peavey).

Great for lead tone, not so great for clean. 😉

Click to check the current price

CONCLUSION

PROS:

  • 2AAA batteries (Can use rechargeable).
  • Small enough to fit in your pocket.
  • 3.5mm input AUX jack so you can pipe music into the amPlug to play along to.
  • Surprisingly true tonal rendering for the style (i.e. AC30 sounds like a vintage AC30…).
  • Built in effects (chorus, delay and reverb).
  • Less than $40.
  • It’s an amp that can fit comfortably in your gig bag, making storage a non-issue.
  • Dead simple to use.

CONS:

  • No external output beyond headphone jack (difficult to record or play back for others).
  • Limited styles. (Compared to the digital modelers on this list which have 100’s of tonal possibilities).
  • No rhythm tracks.
  • Limited effects.

iRig

irigiRig is the ultimate in portable amp modeling and recording. About the size of an iPhone, the iRig sits between your guitar and your iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, Mac and select Android devices as well. Using IK Media’s AmpliTube multi-effects processor, you get:

• An integrated music player
• A dedicated recorder
• A tuner
• Large collection of digital models of amplifiers and stompboxes – vintage and new.

PROS:

  • Tons of realistic amp and effects modeling.
  • Easy to record what you play.
  • Send your output (raw or modeled) to an external amplifier.
  • Completely silent when using headphones, so you won’t wake your dorm mates (or the kids!).

CONS:

Requires a smart phone or tablet, so this is an awesome add-on but not the complete package.

Click to check the current price

Digitech Element XP

digitech_element_xpThe Digitech Element XP is a stompbox on steroids. Not as portable as the VOX amPlugs or iRig, but smaller than most practice amps (except those on this list below).

The Element XP at a glance:

• 58 effects (12 amps, 9 cabinets, 37 stomp boxes)
• 100 factory presets
• room for 100 user presets (edits to the factory presets)
• 20 tone/fx bank combinations
• Built-in chromatic tuner
• Built-in expression pedal – for Wah effect, volume swell, overdrive boost, etc..
• Power supply included
• 45 High quality drum patterns
• 1/4″ a guitar input along
• Stereo 1/4″ output jack
• Aux In to jam along with your favorite songs

PROS:

  • You get a ton of features and modeling capability in a relatively small and inexpensive package.
  • Recording is easy since the stereo line out can be run into another amplifier or mixer for direct recording.

CONS:

  • Not quite as portable as the iRig and amPlug.
  • Can be easy to get lost in effects and amp tweaking for the novice.

Click to check the current price

VOX stomplab IIG

vox_stomplab_iigThe Vox StompLab IIG (A.K.A. Vox StompLab 2G) is much like the Digitech Element XP, except perhaps a bit easier to use and built with metal housing.

Features include:

• 100 presets categorized into styles such as rock, blues, metal, and pop.
• Easy to use and intuitive interface.
• 103 types of modeling effects.
• Edit and save 20 of your own user models.
• Battery (4 AA) or AC adapter powered.
• Tuner.
• Headphone out line.

PROS:

  • Easy to use, despite the large array of models and effects.
  • Solid, yet compact build.

CONS:

  • Not as complex or versatile as the Digitech Element XP
    Not as simple to record as the iRig
  • No looper or rhythm samples

Click to check the current price

Zoom G1Xon

zoom_g1xonThe Zoom G1Xon Guitar Effects With Expression Pedal.

• 75 effects, including distortion, compression, modulation, delay, reverb, and 14 realistic amp models
• Built-in expression pedal for overdrive, volume control, wah-wah, or filtering
• Onboard chromatic tuner and Looper
• 68 rhythm patterns
• Separate input jacks for connection of guitar and personal music player, plus an output jack that can be used with amplifier or headphones
• Runs on 4 AA batteries or optional AC adapter, with alkaline battery life of 20 hours

PROS:

  • Has rhythm generator and looper, making it fun and easy to creating your own backing tracks to jam over.

CONS:

  • Not as solid looking as the Vox Stompbox IIG.
  • Looper only has a 30 second buffer.

Click to check the current price

QUIET COMBO AMPS

You may be surprised to learn that many major amp manufacturers today have a battery powered, mini version of their amps available. Most run on a single 9-volt battery, others on the standard AA size.

Marshall MS-4 Micro Stack Amp

Marshall-MS-4-Micro-Stack-AmpThe Marshall MS-4 Micro stack is what it sounds like – a miniaturized Marshall Stack.
At a glance:

  • 1w battery powered guitar amplifier
  • 2 independent speaker cabs – each with a single 3? speaker
  • Amp head with Gain, Volume and Tone controls.
  • Powered by a single 9v battery or optional AC power adapter
  • Headphone jack

The Marshall MS-4 Micro stack is small and stands only 9 3/4? tall, and is switchable between Clean and Overdrive modes.

Click to check the current price

Fender Mini Tone-Master

Fender-Mini-Tone-MasterThis is a miniaturized version of the classic Tone-Master and Fender does a great job of keeping true to the authentic Fender details here – cab corners, retro grille cloth, and vintage white control knobs.

At a glance:

  • 1w battery powered amplifier that features two 2? speakers.
  • Gain, Volume, Tone and Power controls.
  • Powered by single 9V battery (included), or AC adapter

Click to check the current price

Fender-Mini-57-Twin

This is quite simply a battery powered, highly portable version of the original Fender ’57 Twin Amp.

Fender-Mini-57-Twin

At a glance:

  • Completely captures the vintage 50’s look with its miniature chicken head knobs, down to its tweed covering and brown grille.
  • Made of real wood and not plastic.
  • 1w battery powered guitar amplifier with twin 2? speakers.
  • Built-in distortion, Power, volume, and tone controls.
  • Runs on a single 9V battery or power adapter.

Click to check the current price

The VOX MINI3 G2.

The Mini3 might just be the ultimate battery powered modeling amp – It’s powerful enough for street performances or picnics with the family or wherever, and check out the features:

VOX_MINI3_G2_ivory

  • Based on the VOX Valvetronix family of amps and includes a new Bassilator circuit that provides richer low-end frequencies.
  • 8 editable effects.
  • 11 amp models.
  • A direct line connection for ultimate clean tone, or portable PA!
  • powered by 6-AA batteries or AC adapter.

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Vox-AC1-RhythmVOX

The AC1 RhythmVOX is a great battery powered practice amp AND also a rhythm box too!

At a glance:

  • 66 Rhythm/Song Patterns for rhythm practice and experimentation.
  • A host of song style beats.
  • Configurable beat patterns, tempo and volume.
  • Gain, tone, and volume controls.
  • Headphone jack.
  • Aux In jack – to jam along with your CD or MP3 player.
  • A pair of 3? speakers.

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Orange Micro Crush

The Orange Micro Crush CR3 is all Orange, from the woven grill to rubber footstools and trademark Orange finish. it’s also wood, and not plastic.

Orange-Micro-Crush-CR3

At a glance:

  • 3w battery powered amp.
  • Single 4? speaker.
  • Clean and Overdrive channels.
  • Tone control.
  • Chromatic tuner.
  • Headphone jack
  • Runs on a single 9v battery or AC adapter.

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CONCLUSION

PROS:

  • Each has a headphone jack, so you can practice without waking the neighbors but also has a speaker (or 2) so you can play without headphones.
  • The run on batteries, so you don’t need to worry about an outlet or power strip and can take it anywhere.
  • Very portable

CONS:

  • Not as fully featured as some of the modeling boxes on the list (eg: iRig, Digitech, Stomplab and Zoom)

THE LEGENDARY PIGNOSE 7-100

The Pignose 7-100 is a unique looking and playing amplifier. It’s genius is its simplicity. It has a single knob that looks like a pig’s nose and is located on the front. That one knob controls the power, volume and distortion. It works with your guitar’s volume knob too, so the tonal possibilities are surprisingly diverse.

pignose-7-100

At a glance:

  • 5w amp with 5″ speaker.
  • Runs on 6 AA batteries or an optional AC adapter.
  • About the size of a shoe box and weighs around 5lbs.
  • Hinged design and can be played either fully closed, wide open or at any point in between.
  • It also has an open space inside that can be used to store the AC adapter or guitar cable when not in use.
  • A preamp out jack which makes it possible to play the Pignose through a larger and more powerful amplifier (or PA) or straight into a mixing board.

The Pignose 7-100 has a distinctive look and sound that is like no other. It’s stylish and funky, and is definitely a conversation starter.

Read the full review here

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