7 Of The Best Blues Amps for Guitar (under $1000).

What makes for good blues amps? It’s a question with many answers, but  sustain, crunchy overdrive, good clean tone and a certain look are all part of the formula. It’s true that the blues can be played on just about any amp, but here are 7 amps that have what it takes to make for great blues amps – and each is under $1,000.

7 Great Guitar Amps for Blues.

Vox Amps

The most famous Vox amps, the AC15 and AC30, don’t look the part of classic blues amps, but they play the part just fine.

Sure, the Vox AC 30 is renowned for it’s jangly, Beatles vibe and searing treble tone of Brian May, but Brian Jones got plenty of dirty bluesy tone when he used his on Rolling Stones records. And Rory Gallagher paired his with a Dallas Rangemaster treble booster to craft his signature sound.

vox-valvetronix-20w

In short, the Vox AC30 delivers the blues goods, especially when you crank it. But that could be a problem at times because a cranked AC30 (or even AC15) can be LOUD.

Also, the AC30 is expensive, at around $1,200. The AC15 is more affordable, in the $600 range.

But if you’re on a budget or have to keep an eye on volume from time to time, then you should check out the Vox Valvetronix series.

I recommend either the Vox Valvetronix VT20 or Vox Valvetronix VT60. They are essentially the same amp, but the Vox Valvetronix VT20 is a 20w 1×8 combo amp and the Vox Valvetronix VT40 is the 60w, 1×10 version.

Both are solid state, modeling amps based on Vox Valve Reactor technology for true tube modeling realism.

Both come with 99 presets (33 song presets, 33 basic presets and 33 presets with effects.), and a ton of useful features like mp3/AUX in, headphone out, and each is foot-switchable and programmable.

Vox Valvetronix VT20 sells for about $179 and the Vox Valvetronix VT40 sells for $250 and have a timeless black motif to their appearance.

Demo

Fender Amps

Fender Excelsior

The Fender Excelsior is a 13w, 1×15 all-tube combo amp with a unique 1950’s vibe, sound and style all its own.

The Excelsior is powered by dual 12ZX7 tubes in the preamp and dual 6V6 tubes in the power output section and houses a 15″ Eminence Legend speaker.

The Excelsior also has onboard tremelo and a bright/dark tone switch for treble or bass emphasis. It’s one of the great and simple blues amps that takes pedals well and it’s also great for harmonica too.

The Excelsior can also drive an external speaker cabinet, if the 15″ Legend isn’t enough for you.

Oh, and they’re part of Fender’s Pawn Shop series, which means not were made, so they will be collectible.

Here’s the Excelsior amp in a blues style demo

And another:

Comes in four colors and sells for about $299-350 (depending on visual style/color)

fender-excelsior-antique-blush

fender-excelsior-brown

fender-excelsior-surf-green

fender-excelsior-sonic-blue-angled

Fender Blues Deluxe Reissue 40-Watt 1×12-Inch Guitar Combo Amp – Tweed

To many players, nothing says blues amp quite like a Fender Blues Deluxe, in Tweed.

Tweed is just a classic, vintage blues look – and tone.

Fender is renowned for their clean tones, and the Fender Blues Deluxe is no exception. It delivers 40 watts of tube driven tone with plenty of headroom for clean tone and great bluesy breakup when it’s driven. It also has on-board spring reverb, an essential blues effect.

The 12″ Eminence special-design speaker gives plenty of punch and offers enhanced midrange to help you break through any mix.

fender-blues-deluxe-40w

The Fender Blues Deluxe is powered by two 6L6 Groove Tubes output tubes and three 12AX7 preamp tubes. In addition to the spring reverb, the Fender Blues Deluxe also features an effects loop, two-button channel footswitch, classic tweed covering and chicken head knobs on a chrome control panel.

The Fender Blues Deluxe makes a great blues, rock and country amp.

Demo

Fender Hot Rod Series Blues Junior NOS 15W 1×12 Tube Guitar Combo Amp

The Fender Blues Junior NOS is a modern blues machine built to vintage specs and using new, old stock parts.

The Fender Hot Rod Series Blues Junior NOS 15W 1×12 Tube Guitar Combo Amp is an all tube (2 EL84 Groove Tube output tubes and 3 – 12AX7 preamp tubes), 15w combo featuring a single 12″ Jensen C12 speaker. It has a single channel with “Fat” Switch, reverb, and a footswitch jack so you can toggle the Fat switch on/off more easily. It’s got vintage knobs for reverb, master, middle, bass and treble control.

fender-hot-rod-blues-junior

Tweed finish with pinstripe grille cloth complete the vintage blues look.

The Fender Hot Rod Series Blues Junior NOS 15W 1×12 Tube Guitar Combo Amp is a great blues amp for the price, but it’s also good for jazz and classic rock.

Demo

Peavey Amps

Peavey has a reputation for metal amps, but they also make some of the best blues amps around. Just check these out..

Peavey Delta Blues 210 guitar Amplifier with Tremolo

The Peavey Delta Blues 210 is a guitar combo amp with tremolo and reverb.

Peavey-Delta-Blues-210-guitar-Amplifier-Tremolo

This is a great amp for those who dig the Fender sound, but want something a bit different in style or a bit less money. While the Peavey Delta Blues 210 is inspired by Fender, it is its own beast. It handles clean jazz and country tones all the way up to classic rock overdrive.

Packed with 2 10″ Blue Marvel speakers, three 12AX7 and four EL84 tubes and on board tremelo and reverb, the Peavey Delta Blues 210 definitely makes the killer blues amps list.

Demo

Peavey Delta Blue 115 (II) 1×15″ 30-Watt Tube Combo Amp

eavey-Delta-Blue-115-1x15-30-Watt-Tube-Combo-AmpNext in the Peavey blues amps lineup is the Delta Blue 115. It’s a 30w combo amp with a single 15″ speaker. With 3 12AX7 and 4 EL84 tubes, it’s powerful enough for gigging and built for blues with onboard spring reverb and tremolo.

The Peavey Delta Blue 115 also features an effects loop, optional footswitch, and an output for an extension cabinet.

Demo

Marshall Amps

Marshall Class5 – 1×10 Combo

One of my all time dream amps is the Marshall 1962 Bluesbreaker. This kind of sucks though, because at $2,499 it is well outside my budget. (That’s why it’s a still a dream)

But luckily, Marshall has a similar blues amp that fits the budget player much better, coming in at around the $400 mark.

Marshall-Class5-1x10-Combo

The Marshall Class 5 – 1×10 Combo is, as the name suggests, a 5w, 1×10 all tube combo amp that’s perfect for home, studio and small gigs. It’s got a headphone output jack, and Volume, Treble, Middle, and Bass controls.

What you get with the Marshall Class 5 is pure Marshall tone – from bluesy cleans to plexi style crunch, and everything in between. All of that without being a 200lb behemoth, stacked to blow the roof off.

With 2 ECC83 pre-amp tubes, and 1 EL84 power tube, it’s light but powerful enough to get you great tone where ever you are.

Demo

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The legendary Pignose 7-100 Portable Amp Review.

The Pignose 7-100 Legendary small portable amp might just change your life…

One of the best things you can do as a guitarist to improve your playing is to shake things up a bit. Change your routine. Change what you play or how you play it. Many times this leads to buying a new piece of guitar gear, which is OK – provided you don’t fool yourself into thinking it will make you play like a specific guitarist….

For example, buying an Eric Clapton Fender Stratocaster will not make you play (or sound) like Eric Clapton. It will make you sound like you, playing an Eric Clapton Fender Stratocaster.

But that’s not to say that changing guitar gear won’t change your sound. It absolutely will – if it’s different than what you currently use.

If you only ever play electric guitar, then learning to play on an acoustic guitar will change how you play the electric (and vice versa).

To that end, I am recommending you take a look at the Pignose 7-100 Legendary. It’s a small, portable amplifier with a look and sound all its own.

It’s a vintage look and unique sound, but it’s best feature is its simplicity.

Behold: The Pignose 7-100

pignose-7-100The Pignose 7-100 is a 5w, truly portable amplifier. It’s a solid state amp with a 5″ speaker and runs on 6 AA batteries or an optional AC adapter.

It’s small, about the size of a shoe box and weighs around 5lbs. You can even attach a standard guitar strap and sling the Pignose over your shoulder, for maximum portability.

It features a hinged design and can be played either fully closed, wide open or at any point in between. And if you have a buddy open and close it while you’re playing, you can achieve a sort of poor-man’s wah-wah effect.

It also has an open space inside that can be used to store the AC adapter when not in use. I don’t have the adapter and have opted for rechargeable AA batteries instead, so I use that cavity to store my guitar cable.

The Pignose 7-100 also has a preamp out jack which makes it possible to play the Pignose through a large and more powerful amplifier (or PA) or straight into a mixing board.

pignose-7-100-inside.jpg

Pignose 7-100 Inside View

But what makes the Pignose 7-100 standout as a way to shake up your playing and get you out of your rut is it’s super-simple feature set. It has exactly one knob on the whole thing. That’s it.

Oh, and it’s shaped like a pig’s nose. Very cool.

Turn it to the the right until it clicks, and it’s on at very low volume. Volume increases as you turn the knob further to the right, but the tone changes with it.

You see, this is where the Pignose 7-100 gets interesting…

Why I recommend the Pignose 7-100

The Pignose 7-100 has a distinctive look and sound that is like no other. It’s stylish and funky, and playing through it is bound to change how you play and how you think about playing.

Here’s why…

How to use a Pignose 7-100

I know a lot of players who never touch the knobs on their guitars. I’ve even seen instructional videos that claim the control knobs on a guitar should never be touched. They say to leave them all – volume, and tone for all pickups – on 10, and just adjust the settings on the amp. They claim that anything less than 10 will simply rob your tone and make you guitar sound crappy.

That’s complete and total bullstein.

Those knobs are on your guitar for a reason! Truly great players know this, because they took the time to learn it.

This is why I love the Pignose 7-100 so much. It sounds like total crap, if all you do is crank it to the max and do the same on your guitar tone and volume knobs. But dial those back, and you get some sweet tone for a 5″ speaker.

You see, the Pignose 7-100 is really a teacher. It practically forces you to learn to play more dynamically, and use the knobs on your guitar to achieve good tone. It’s a different way of thinking than many are used to.

How to get a clean tone from your Pignose 7-100
  1. Turn the volume to max on the Pignose 7-100, and the volume on your guitar to just above off.
  2. Turn the volume on your guitar to max, and the volume on the Pignose 7-100 to just above “on”

From there, you can increase the volume on the guitar and/or the Pignose 7-100 to get more overdrive and (eventually) increasingly fuzzy distortion.

Yeah, crank everything to the max and it will sound like an amp with a blown speaker. But learn to control the subtleties of your tone, and you will be rewarded with a great sound and a remarkably responsive little box of sweetness.

Here’s an example tone Demo:

Pignose 7-100 Blues demo

Here’s a really good demo of the blues possibilities (WARNING: the volume in the beginning is low, but gets LOUD when he starts playing..):

Conclusion

Are there better all-around amps that are just as portable? Sure. The Roland Micro Cube and Vox Pathfinder are two solid contenders, but the Pignose 7-100 is it’s own creature. It looks different, sounds different and plays different.

If you want something that’s easy to carry from place to place and different enough to help you break out of any rut you might be in, then the Pignose 7-100 Legendary portable amplifier fits the bill.

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Comparison: Fender Mustang Amp v1 vs v2

Since I posted Fender Mustang 1 vs 2, a Comparison, Fender has released another version of their popular Mustang series of modeling amps; the v.2.

Since then, I’ve gotten a lot of emails about the differences between the original Fender Mustang (v.1) and the newer v.2 and how they compare. Rather than copy my replies to everyone individually, I figured i would just write a post about it and be done. 😉

Difference between the Fender Mustang v1 and v2

The new v.2 models have gotten minor upgrades to the control panel, but otherwise look very much the same.

The new v.2 models have gotten minor upgrades to the control panel, but otherwise look very much the same.

Here’s a brief overview of what’s new in the Mustang v.2:

The V.2 is physically much the same as the V.1, except the outer covering is now tolex and the control panel has a more “modern” look.

The new Mustang V.2 series includes five new amp models, five new stompboxes, and pitch shifting (only available when you connect your amp to Fender Fuse).

New Amp Models in v.2

The five Amp Models are:

  • Studio Preamp
  • ’57 Twin
  • ’60s Thrift
  • British Watts
  • British Colour

I know the ’57 Twin was/is available as a download from the FUSE community page for the v1 Mustang series, and it was very popular. Fender probably decided to include it in the presets for that reason.

“’60s Thrift” is code for Silvertone amps, “British Watts” is the HiWatt, and “British Colour’ is an Orange amp style.

New Effects in v.2

Five New Stomp Box Effects:

  • Ranger Boost
  • Green Box
  • Orange Box
  • Black Box
  • Big Fuzz

And, like the Mustang V.1, all effects and amp models are tweakable when connected to the FUSE software via USB cable. Unlike the Mustang V.1, some of the new effects require an expression pedal (sold separately) to fully use.

Fender Mustang V.2 Demo

Final thoughts

The Fender Mustang series of amps is easily one of the best on the market. Not everyone will enjoy all the amp or effects presets, but with the Fender FUSE software you can tweak to your heart’s content. I long ago replaced most presets with my own versions and some I downloaded from the Fender community site. I’ve gone through a couple of sets of presets since I got it, and that’s one of the best things about it – whenever I find myself in a rut, or looking for a new sound, I can change my amp to suit my needs.

Fender FUSE is not hard to use (it provides an excellent visual simulation of your sound rig), but if you’re not comfortable with computers it’s probably not a big selling point. But for those who welcome modern technological tools, FUSE is a huge plus. With it, you can tweak just about every aspect of the Mustang.

So, is the Mustang v.2 worth the extra money?

If you’re looking at a Mustang III, IV or V, then the answer is yes. This is due mostly because the v.1 versions of those amps had a bug that is know as “FIZZ” among their grumpy owners. V.2 solves the FIZZ problem.

Note: The Mustang I and II models never had the FIZZ issue, so the only reason to buy a v.2 over a v.1 for those models is for the new effects or amp models.

Eventually, the v.1 versions will all be sold, so you won’t have the option of choosing. But until that happens, you can still snag a v.1 for much less than a v.2, and if you’re not hot for the new effects or amp models and are looking for a Mustang I or II, you can get a sweet deal.

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The 12 Best Low Watt Tube Amps For Under $500.

Low watt tube amps have become a popular niche for players and manufacturers alike. It used to be that tube amps were reserved for the 50 – 100w range, for venues much larger than a bedroom. These tube amps were way too much power for the hobbyist to practice with at home. They were typically too damn big too.

These days, there are a host of lower wattage tube amps on the market, and many for less than $500. Some are decidedly vintage style, while others are classic or modern style. Whatever your personal taste, you should be able to find a low watt tube amp to your liking on this list of the best small tube amps available today.

Low Watt Tube Amps For Under $500

Blackstar amps

Blackstar brings 3 amps to the low watt party: the HT5R, HT1R and the HT1MC.

Blackstar HT5R 5-Watt 1×12 Combo Amp with Reverb

Blackstar-HT5R

The Blackstar HT5R is a 5 Watt, all-tube amp (1 ECC83 (12AX7), and 1 12BH7 tubes) with a single 12-Inch speaker. It’s got 2 channels (clean, and overdrive), 3-Band EQ and reverb. It also has a series effects loop, stereo MP3/Line input, headphone out and comes with a footswitch for switching channels.

Another really cool thing the Blackstar HT-5Rbrings to the party is the ability to model 1×12 or 4×12 in a line out, which is awesome for recording.

The Blackstar HT5R delivers crunch and tube breakup tones that you’d expect from a 100w amp through the use of a 12BH7 dual triode valve in push-pull configuration. The result is a big sound, from a modest, 5-watt amp.

Bottom line: the Blackstar HT5R is a great low watt practice and home studio amp, with killer tube powered metal tone, all for $499.99.

Here’s a great all-around demo

Blackstar HT1R 1×8 Series Combo Amp with Reverb

Blackstar-HT1R

The Blackstar HT1R is the “mini-me” to the Blackstar HT-5R. Instead of a 12″ speaker, the Blackstar HT1R has a single 8″ speaker, and instead of 5w, the Blackstar HT1R is 1w, powered by a single ECC83 (12AX7), and single ECC82 (12AU7) power tubes.

The Blackstar HT1R can also be plugged into an external speaker cab, and can easily drive a 4×12 cabinet. It currently sells for only $329.99.

Here’s a Demo

Blackstar HT Metal Series HT1MC 1W 1×8 Combo w/Reverb

Blackstar-HT-Metal-Series-HT1MC-1W

The Blackstar HT1MC is the low watt Metal brother to the HT1R. It’s also 1w, with a 1×8″ speaker configuration, features reverb, and speaker out emulation. It’s also a true tube amp powered by an ECC83 and ECC82 tube combo.

What sets the Blackstar HT1MC apart from other tube amps on this list however is it’s look. The Blackstar HT1MC is a “stripped-down, tube-driven metal monster” and it looks the part!

Powerful enough for great metal crunch tone, but won’t disturb the peace. The Blackstar HT1MC has excellent clarity even at high gain levels, but can also do rock and blues and sells for $379.77.

Check out the demo (More than just Metal!)

 

Low watt tube amps by VHT

VHT AV-SP1-6 Special 6 Combo Amplifier

vht_special_6The VHT Special 6 is a 6 watt, 10-inch all tube combo amp built with modders in mind, so if you’re handy with a soldering iron, the sky is the limit!

The out of the box configuration features One 12AX7 Preamp Tube, One 6V6 output tube and special high sensitivity 10″ VHT Special Design speaker. It also includes a footswitchable boost mode and 4, 8, and 16 Ohm speaker out jacks for driving larger cabs.

The VHT Special 6 also features a High/Low power switch that enhances low-volume tones with extra-smooth richness. In low power mode, you can get great distortion with a reasonable volume for home practice, and in high-power mode, it is loud enough to compete with a drummer for practice or small gigs.

The VHT Special 6 is a modders dream that excels at both clean and overdriven tones. The VHT Special 6 sells for just $249.99.

 

Low watt tube amps by Bugera

Bugera V5 Infinium

bugera_v5_infiniumThe Bugera V5 Infinium is a 5w all tube amp for less than $200.

Let that sink in for a moment.

For the price of a really good solid state amp, you can get an all tube amp. But that’s not all.

The Bugera V5 Infinium Class-A amp is driven by a single EL84 tube with a single 12AX7 tube in the preamp and a specially designed 8″ Turbosound speaker. This is a classic combination for the British crunch and buttery blues tone. Another great feature is the power attenuator, which effectively lets you decrease the headroom and get killer overdrive or distortion at a lower volume. Besides the basic Volume, Tone and Gain controls, the V5 also has a sensitive digital reverb capable of dialing in everything from subtle to downright cavernous.

Where the Bugera V5 Infinium really makes its mark is with it’s Tube Life Multiplier technology. According to Bugera, this tech ensures greater reliability and consistent tone over the lifespan of your tubes by monitoring the performance of each of the amplifier’s output tubes and maintaining them at their ideal operating point for an evenly distributed load. There’s also an LED next to each tube that lets you know when it’s about to die.

All for a startling $199.99!

 

Low watt tube amps by Vox

Vox AC4C1 1×10″ 4 Watt Tube Combo

The Vox AC4C1 is a 4w tube amp, powered by two 12AX7 tubes in the preamp, and a single EL84 in the power amp section. It sports a 10″ Celestion Speaker, and has Gain, Treble, Bass, and Volume controls.

VOX-AC4C1-BL

Like most other amps on this list, the Vox AC4C1 has external Speaker-Output terminals for driving an external speaker cab, though it lacks some of the more modern recording features of the Hughes & Kettner Tubemeister 5 Combo.

What the Vox AC4C1 does have plenty of is pure, tube driven Vox tone and style. The 10″ speaker gives the Vox AC4C1 a wide, dynamic range and the EL84 gives it classic British crunch. It also has the Top Boost tone, made popular in the VOX AC30.

vox-AC4C1-4W-creamThe Vox AC4C1 is available in 2 styles:

Check out this Demo here:

VOX AC10C1

vox_ac10c1Get cranked up tone without cranking up! The Vox AC10 is a 10 watt combo amp with Two 12AX7 tubes for the preamp and two EL84 tubes for the output. It’s got the classic Vox look and British crunch and chime. The controls include Volume, Grain, Bass, Treble and Reverb. It should be noted that the reverb is digital and very sensitive- great for classic rock to full out surf.

The Vox AC10 comes with a 10 inch Celestion speaker but also features a speaker out jack so you can run it to drive an external cab.

Think of the AC10 as the stripped down little brother to the AC15 – great for small gigs, studio and home playing and sells for $449.99.

 

VOX AC4TVmini 4W Tube Guitar Combo Amp

Vox-AC4TVAs the name suggests, the AC4TVmini is the smallest version of the AC4TV series. Like it’s larger brother, it ‘s powered by a single 12AX7 tube in the preamp section, and a single EL84 in the power section. But the 8″ speaker is swapped out for a smaller still 6.5″ custom Vox speaker.

You’re basically trading some volume and dynamic range for greater portability.

Demo

 

Low watt tube amps by Marshall

Marshall DSL5C 1×10 5w combo

A lot of people don’t get the Marshall DSL5C, especially Marshall fans. They just don’t see the point in low watt amps, and frankly look down on anyone who doesn’t play a 100w Marshall stack. Well, the Marshall DSL5C just isn’t for them. It’s perfect for fans of the Marshall tube tone who just want a rock solid tube amp for practicing or playing the occasional small gig.

The Marshall DSL5C is a versatile amp that truly delivers on Marshall tone – everything from Plexi-style cleans to JCM800 snarl to modern day high gain. It is powered by 3 ECC83 tubes in the pre amp, and a single 12BH7/ECC99 in the power amp section. It features 2 channels: Classic and “ultra gain”. 😀

Marshall-DSL5C

What makes the Marshall DSL5C even better is the power switch. Like the Vox AC4TV, the Marshall DSL5C can run at full wattage (5w) or lower wattage (1w), which means you get all that sweet crunch and tube saturated distortion at volumes low enough to not piss off the neighbors.

The Marshall DSL5C also features a series FX loop, and headphone out, audio in (for mp3 players) and an extension speaker for driving an external speaker cab.

The Marshall DSL5C comes with a footswitch and houses a Celestion Ten 30 10″ speaker. Controls include: volume, gain, presence, bass, middle, treble, deep switch (increases low end frequency), and toneshift (which acts like a mid scoop). $499.99

Demo

 

Low watt tube amps by Epiphone

The Epiphone “1939” Century Amplifier

The  “1939” Century amplifier takes you back to the days when amplifiers were new. Its art Deco inspired look would be at home in Epiphone’s early days in Manhattan, but totally unique nearly 80 years later. You can rest assured that while the sound and look are vintage, the electronics are modern.
epiphone_1939_century_amplifier
The Epiphone 1939 Century amplifier is an 18w, all tube Class A/B combo amp. It’s powered by two 12AX7 and two 6V6 tubes and features a 12″ Electar speaker. Controls are pretty basic with a master volume and master tone, but the master volume has a pull mode for a “boost” effect.

Where things get a bit more unique is with the inputs. There are three of them – bright, normal and dark. There is also an extension speaker out jack and internal bias adjustment for tweaking the response of the 6V6 power tubes. $373.14

 

Low watt tube amps by Fender

Fender Super Champ X2 15w 1×10

And finally, we come to the Fender Super Champ X2 15w 1×10″ combo. At first glance, the Fender Super Champ X2 appears to be a more traditional amp with its black vinyl covering and silver grille cloth front. Although it doesn’t look as boutique as the Ramparte and Excelsior or as spacy as the Vaporizer, it’s not as traditional as it looks either.

fender-super-champ-x2-angled

The Super Champ X2 is a 15w, low watt tube amp with a Fender Special 10 inch speaker, but it also blends the digital amp modeling (“voicings”) and effects found on Fender’s popular Mustang series of amplifiers.

The Super Champ X2 is a modern modeling amp in a traditional package that gives you the warmth of an all tube amp with the flexibility of more modern solid state amps.

The Super Champ X2 is powered by a single 12AX7 tube in the preamp and a pair of 6V6 tubes in the power section.

$379.99

Demo:

Low watt tube amps by Laney

Laney Cub 8 5w tube amp

laney_cub_8_5w
The first offering from Laney amps on this list is the Cub 8, a 5w class A combo amp with a focus on tone and simplicity in a small package.

The Cub 8 features an 8″ Celestion speaker, Hi & LO input (clean & overdrive) and a tone and volume knob. It’s powered by a single ECC83 pre amp tube and a single 6V6GT tube in the power section.

The Laney Cub 8 is a great low watt amp perfect for practice or home recording and really captures the classic fender tweed-like tone.

The Cub 8 is a great little tube amp for only $199.95

Laney Cub 10 10w tube amp

Next of from Laney Amplifiers is the middle child of the Cub series, the Laney Cub 10.
laney_cub_10
The cub 10 is a 10w, class A/B amp with a 10″ Celestion speaker, two E CC83 pre amp tubes and two 6V6GT output tubes. The controls and inputs are identical to the Cub 8.

Where the Cub 10 differs from its little brother is in the sound and power consumption. Being class A/B, it’s a bit more efficient than the Cub 8 and doesn’t run quite as hot. The larger speaker and double tube compliment give the Cub 10 a bigger mid-range sound. Since the natural range of the guitar is the mid-range, this is perfect for guitarists who want to cut through the mix in a band or recording setting.

The Laney Cub 10 is a nice, low watt package for expressive mid-range clean tone to Zeppelin like gain and vintage tone for only $249.95.

Laney Cub 12 15w tube amp

laney_cub_12Lastly, we have the big brother: the Laney Cub 12 – a 15w all tube class A/B amplifier, with three ECC83 tubes in the pre amp and two EL84s in the power amp stage. This gives the Cub 12 a much bigger voice than the Cub 8 and 10. And if 12″ of Celestion isn’t enough for you, there’s also an external speaker out jack.

In addition, the Cub 12 also features reverb (digital), tone and volume (as with the Cubs 8 and 10) and bass, middle treble EQ and gain control. The Cub 12 also has an FX loop.

Instead of a Hi/LO input, the Laney Cub 12 has a 15w and <1w input. Jack into the 15w input and you get the full throated roar, jack into the <1w and you get a more manageable volume for practice, with substantially less headroom. This means that you can get those dreamy, creamy British overdrive tones that EL84s are known for at a much lower volume. The Cub 12 sells for $399.00.

 

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The 8 Best Battery Powered Guitar Amps Today!

Battery powered guitar amplifiers have come a long way. Technology has advanced to the point where you can now get classic Fender or Marshall tones in an amp about the size of a lunch box.

Better still- you can get classic Vox tones with a built-in beatbox for honing your rhythm chops anywhere you go. Or get virtually 11 different amps all in one, small portable battery powered amplifier.

The times, they are a changing but I think these changes are a good thing.

Here are 8 of the best battery powered guitar amplifiers on the market today, from big-name makers.

Marshall MS-4 Micro Stack Amp Review

The Marshall MS-4 Micro stack is what it sounds like – a miniaturized Marshall Stack.

Marshall-MS-4-Micro-Stack-Amp

It’s a 1w battery powered guitar amplifier featuring 2 independent speaker cabs – each with a single 3″ speaker – and an amp head with Gain, Volume and Tone controls. The Marshall MS-4 Micro stack is small and stands only 9 3/4″ tall.

The amp is switchable between Clean and Overdrive modes, and the single Tone control lets you adjust the balance between bass and treble. The Marshall MS-4 Is a playable little amp that is well suited for classic rock and blues, but not jazz or metal.

The Marshall MS-4 Micro stack is powered by a single 9v battery or optional AC power adapter and sells for about $60.

read more for a full review and demo of the Marshall MS-4 Micro stack.

Marshall MS-2

What a great time we live in!

Marshall-MS-2-Mini-Amp

Modern 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

Demo

Fender Mini Tone-Master

Last up on the mini Fender hit parade is the Fender Mini Tone-Master Amp. This is a miniaturized version of the classic Tone-Master. As with all amps mini, the Mini Tone-Master provides pretty nice tone – considering its tiny size.

Fender-Mini-Tone-Master

Fender does another exceptional job of keeping true to the authentic Fender details here – cab corners, retro grille cloth, and vintage white control knobs.

The Fender Mini Tone-Master Amp is a small 1w battery powered amplifier that features two 2″ speakers, Gain, Volume, Tone and Power controls. It runs on a single 9V battery (included), or AC adapter and measures 6-1/2″ W x 6-1/8″ H x 2-1/4″ D

Unlike the Fender ’57 mini, the Fender Mini Tone-Master Amp is all plastic, but lightweight and small. It sells for $29.99.

Clean DEMO:

Distortion DEMO:

Fender ’57 Mini

Fender-Mini-57-Twin

The Fender Mini ’57 Twin Amp is for all the Fender Tweed fans out there. This is quite simply a battery powered, highly portable version of the original.

Measuring at just 2.8″ x 9″ x 8″ and weighing less than 2 lbs, this is a ’57 Twin for your desk or to just grab and go practice anytime!

The Fender Mini ’57 Twin Amp completely captures the vintage 50’s look from its miniature chicken head knobs, down to its tweed covering and brown grille.

It’s a bit more sturdy than many other battery powered guitar amplifiers out there, since the Fender Mini ’57 Twin is made of real wood and not plastic.

Beyond the vintage look, it’s a rocking little amp too. The Fender Mini ’57 Twin is a small 1w battery powered guitar amplifier with twin 2″ speakers, Built-in distortion, Power, volume, and tone controls. It runs on a single 9V battery or power adapter.

The Fender Mini ’57 Twin Amp sells for about $43, and would make a nice addition to a game room, or office or bedroom.

read more for a full review and demo of the Fender Mini ’57 Twin Amp.

Fender Mini Deluxe

fender-min-deluxe-amp

The Fender Mini Deluxe looks exactly like a shrunken Fender Hot Rod Deluxe. It even includes identical “dogbone” handle, chrome control plate, mini chicken-head knobs. It’s a 1w, battery powered guitar amplifier with a single 2″ speaker. The Fender Mini Deluxe runs on one 9v battery, and includes headphone out, Volume, Tone and Drive controls.

The Fender Mini Deluxe measures at 5.8″ x 6.2″ x 2.8″ and weighs in at just over 1 lb. It’s highly portable, and great for practice anywhere.

The Fender Mini Deluxe sells for around $35.

read more for a full review and demo of the Fender Mini Deluxe.

VOX Mini3 G2 Modeling Guitar Amplifier Review

The VOX MINI3 G2 is quite possibly the ultimate portable modeling amp.

VOX_MINI3_G2_ivory

The VOX MINI3 G2, Ivory

It’s powerful and portable enough for street performances or picnics with the family or wherever.

Unlike some other battery powered amps, the VOX MINI3 G2 is not a toy. It’s a serious modeling amp based on the VOX Valvetronix family of amps and includes a new Bassilator circuit that provides richer low-end frequencies, which is great high-gain players looking for a deep metal tone.

The VOX MINI3 G2 features 8 editable effects, 11 amp models and a direct line connection for ultimate clean tone, or portable PA!

The VOX MINI3 G2 runs on 6-AA batteries or AC adapter, weighs 6.6 lbs (3 kg) and measures10.32″ (262mm) x 6.85″ (174 mm) x 8.78″ (223mm).

read more for a full review and demo of the VOX MINI3 G2 .

Vox AC1 RhythmVOX Portable Practice Amp Review

Vox-AC1-RhythmVOX

The AC1 RhythmVOX is not just a great portable practice amp, but it’s a rhythm box too. The RhythmVOX features 66 Rhythm/Song Patterns for rhythm practice and experimentation. From straight forward metronome to song accompaniment with a host of song style beats, the AC1 RhythmVOX is a box of fun.

The quality of the beat patterns is excellent and the tempo and volume of each can be controlled in an intuitive way, so you can quickly dial in the settings you want.

Features include gain, tone, and volume controls, headphone jack, Aux In jack – to jam along with your CD or MP3 player and a pair of 3″ speakers.

Coming in at about the size of a lunchbox (7″W x 2-1/2″D x 5″H) and weighing about 1 lb, the Vox AC1 RhythmVOX is a truly portable battery powered amp, but also runs on AC adapter.

read more for a full review and demo of the AC1 RhythmVOX.

Orange Micro Crush

orange-micro-crush-amp

The Orange Micro Crush CR3 a 3w battery powered amp from famed Orange Amplifiers. With a single 4″ speaker, overdrive channel, and tone control, this little guy can rock!

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.

The CR3 has a chromatic tuner, headphone jack and runs on a single 9v battery 9or AC adapter).

It may be small, but the Orange Micro Crush CR3 is all Orange and it’s a little beast.

read more for a full review and demo of the Orange Micro Crush amp.

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VOX Mini3 G2 Modeling Guitar Amplifier Review.

The VOX MINI3 G2 is not only proof that great things can sometimes come in small packages, but is also possibly the ultimate portable modeling amp.

It’s powerful, portable and extremely versatile – what’s not to love?

VOX_MINI3_G2_classic

The VOX MINI3 G2, Classic

In fact, the VOX MINI3 G2 Modeling Guitar Amplifier is portable and powerful enough to take out for street performances or picnics with the family or wherever.

With professional looks and compact design on the outside, and advanced modeling technology based on the VOX Valvetronix family of amps, the VOX MINI3 G2 is no toy!

What’s different in the G2 from the MINI3?

As you may have noticed, this review is for the VOX MINI3 G2, so you may be wondering: just what’s different between the VOX MINI3 (first generation) and the G2 (second generation)?

The bulk of the differences boil down to two things:

  1. The Bassilator Circuit
  2. Improved sound effects

The Bassilator Circuit

The VOX Bassilator is a newly designed circuit that provides richer low-end frequencies, beyond what is available by EQ alone. This is a big plus for high-gain players looking for a deep metal tone.

The effect of the Bassilator circuit can be heard at low level volumes as well, and really rounds out the sound.

Improved sound effects

The VOX MINI3 G2 features revamped on-board effects that are less digital sounding and easier to use than the first generation MINI3.

VOX MINI3 G2 Features at a Glance

  • Direct line connection for a keyboard or other source that is
    clean and free of distortion.
  • New Bassilator circuit – delivers a rich low end, especially
    with high-gain models
  • Built-in tuner
  • AUX input (ideal for connecting an MP3 player)
  • AC or battery powered portability (6-AA batteries)
  • Dedicated mic input with separate volume and reverb/delay
    controls – ideal for vocals
  • 11 amp models
  • Detachable shoulder-type carry strap for transporting your
    MINI3 with ease.
  • Audio Inputs: INPUT , MIC IN , AUX IN
  • Audio Outputs: Headphones
  • Speaker: 1×5 inch; 4Ω
  • Signal processing: A/D conversion = 24-bit, D/A conversion =
    24-bit, sampling frequency =44.1 KHz

11 Amp models

VOX_MINI3_G2_ivory

The VOX MINI3 G2, Ivory

The VOX MINI3 G2 provides 11 different amp models, across a wide range of genres. This is the heart of its versatility. It nails the British VOX tone (as one would hope! 😉 ), but also classic vintage through modern high-gain – and even rare boutique amps!

The VOX MINI3 G2 uses the same Valvetronix software that has earned VOX much acclaim for its warm, natural tube modeled tones.

There is also a Clean model that can be used with virtually any instrument you’d care to plug into, making it usable with not just electric guitar, but acoustic-electric guitar and even keyboards.

Here’s a run down of the amp models available on the VOX MINI3 G2:

  • BTQ CLEAN
  • BLACK 2×12
  • TWEED 4×10
  • AC15
  • AC30TB
  • UK ’70S
  • UK ’80S
  • UK ’90S
  • CALI METAL
  • US HIGAIN
  • LINE

Effects

VOX_MINI3_G2_topAs mentioned above, the VOX MINI3 G2 features improved effects that are even easier to use than the first generation. And for reverb fans out there, the VOX MINI3 G2 features a dedicated reverb and delay effects section!

Extra care and attention have been given to the VOX MINI3 G2 effect interface to make it even easier for you to not only select, but also configure each effect. The tap tempo button, for instance, makes it simple to synchronize the delay time to the temp you wish to play.

Each effect is also editable, which means that once you have the effect set to where you like it, you can save it and go back to it with the twist of a knob anytime you like.

Here’s a list of the effects provided by the VOX MINI3 G2:

  • Compression
  • Chorus
  • Flanger
  • Tremolo
  • Delay/Reverb
    • Analog
    • Tape echo
    • Spring
    • Room

The VOX MINI3 G2 is a portable battery powered amplifier.

VOX_MINI3_G2_black

The VOX MINI3 G2 , Black

The VOX MINI3 G2 is ultra portable, weighing in at 6.6 lbs (3 kg) and measuring 10.32″ (262mm) x 6.85″ (174 mm) x 8.78″ (223mm). It runs run 6-AA batteries, or an optional AC power adapter. The battery run time varies with style of play, but VOX states you should get up to 10 hours of play on a single set of AA batteries.

There’s also a detachable strap, so you can carry your VOX MINI3 G2 by hand or over the shoulder.

The VOX MINI3 G2 is versatile!

With 11 amp models and 8 customizable on-board effects, the VOX MINI3 G2 is a highly versatile portable guitar amplifier – but it’s even more versatile than that!

You see, the VOX MINI3 G2 is not just a great little guitar amp. It’s “LINE” model of amp, is pure clean tone that makes it ideal for acoustic-electric guitar, keyboard or even mp3 which makes it an excellent, portable PA system!

The VOX MINI3 G2also has a separate mic input with its own dedicated volume and reverb/delay controls.

This make the VOX MINI3 G2 HUGE for busking or on-the-fly performances wherever you may be.

The VOX MINI3 G2 is pure VOX.

The VOX MINI3 G2 is a great portable, battery powered guitar amp that’s capable of so much more, but it also keeps to the VOX tradition. From the trademark diamond grill design to the “chimey VOX cleans” and British Crunch, the VOX MINI3 G2 is pure VOX quality and design.

DEMO:

Demo from VOX:

Amp model demo, from The ToneKing:

Effects Demo:

 

The VOX MINI3 G2 sells for about $120 and comes in 3 color variations:

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Fender ’57 Mini Twin Vintage Tweed Amp Review

The Fender Mini ’57 Twin is a great way to take that vintage tweed look with you wherever you go. Measuring at just 2.8 x 9 x 8 inches and weighing under 2 lbs, this little guy is made to grab and go.

The Fender Mini ’57 Twin Amp captures the vintage 50’s look with its tweed covering, brown grille and miniature chicken head knobs. The Fender Mini ’57 Twin is a truly portable, battery-powered amp that’s great for practice, or just jamming in a bedroom, office or hotel room.

Fender-Mini-57-Twin

Whether you want to practice at night without waking the wife/kids/neighbors, or just want to grab an amp and go when you have a few extra minutes, the Fender Mini ’57 Twin is a great choice. It’s also made of wood, and not plastic like most other portable amps.

Fender Mini ’57 Twin Features

  • Super-realistic look
  • 1 watt
  • Twin 2″ speakers
  • Tweed-covered wood cab
  • Built-in distortion
  • Power, volume, and tone controls
  • 9V power adapter jack
  • 1/4″ headphone jack

The Fender Mini ’57 Twin is a great little amp for the size. It’s quite capable of putting out a decent volume on overdrive, and but clean enough to play quietly too.

The Fender Mini ’57 Twin runs off of a single 9v Battery or AC power adapter (not included). The Planet Waves 9V Power Adapter is recommended, and available for less than $10.

Conclusion

Sure it’s small, but that’s the point. This puppy oozes vintage style, and can produce some decent tones. Actually, pretty remarkable tones for its size.

The Fender ’57 Mini nails the vintage 1957 tweed look, and proves that great things sometimes do come in small packages. It’s the perfect gift for the Fender fan in your family.

The Fender Mini ’57 Twin Amp sells for about $43, and would make a nice addition to a game room, or office or bedroom. It’s a truly vintage looking conversation piece that rocks.

 

Fender Mini ’57 Mini Twin Demo:

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Fender Mini Deluxe Amp Review.

Honey, I shrunk the Hot Rod Deluxe!

OK, so it’s not as powerful as that, but this little puppy can still rock – for its size!

The Fender Mini Deluxe looks like the “Mini-Me” to the Fender Hot Rod Deluxe – it includes identical “dogbone” handle, chrome control plate, mini chicken-head knobs. The Fender Mini Deluxe has Fender tone too (just a bit less of it than it’s 40w, tube powered big brother)! In fact, it’s a 1w solid state amp with a single 2″ speaker.

Fender Mini Deluxe Features

This is where I usually state the “features at a glance”, but to be honest – the Fender Mini Deluxe is a really simple battery powered amp and there isn’t a lot of room for bells and whistles. These pretty much are the features:

  • One watt of power
  • Single 8 ohm, two-inch speaker
  • 9V battery-powered
  • Headphone out
  • simple controls: Volume, Tone, Drive

Is the Fender Mini Deluxe a toy or a real amp?Fender Mini Deluxe

This is the big debate.

People who love the Fender Mini Deluxe say it’s the real deal, while people who bought it expecting a “real” amp say it’s a toy you’d expect to buy at Walmart.

The truth is somewhere in the middle.

The Fender Mini Deluxe is pretty awesome for its size ( 5.8 x 6.2 x 2.8 inches and just over 1 lb) and price, but it will not compare to a traditional practice amp. It’s surprisingly loud for its size, but it won’t rattle any windows.

Yes the Fender Mini Deluxe is a bit of a novelty, but it’s a rocking novelty well suited for late-night, dorm or apartment practice. And selling for around $35, the Fender Mini Deluxe Amp is a very well priced novelty at that.

Besides, the damn thing is just so cute!

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Vox AC1 RhythmVOX Portable Practice Amp Review.

The AC1 RhythmVOX ups the ante on the battery powered guitar amplifier stage. It’s a great portable practice amp, but the beauty of the RhythmVOX lies in the 66 Rhythm/Song Patterns it provides for hours of fun.

Vox-AC1-RhythmVOXThe RhythmVOX can be used as a straight forward metronome, or song accompaniment with a host of song style beats.

Coming in at about the size of a lunchbox (7″W x 2-1/2″D x 5″H) and weighing about 1 lb, the Vox AC1 RhythmVOX is a truly portable battery powered amp.

AC1 RhythmVOX Features

Rhythm Features

At the heart of the AC1 is a Rhythm box. Sure, the RhythmVOX is a great little amp, but what really makes it stand apart from the rest of the portable battery powered amps are the Rhythm Features.

Rhythm specs at a glance:

  • Includes a total of 66 built-in Rhythm/Song Patterns
  • Tempo range: 40-240bpm
  • One extended-length additional song pattern

The Vox AC1 RhythmVOX includes 10 rhythm patterns ranging from standard, metronome beats – including 4 beat, 8 beat and 16 beat – to more advanced style-based pattens like blues, funk reggae and jazz.

Add to these patterns, the ability to select 6 different variations of each and you get a total of 66 rhythm parts to chose from! Also included is an extended, multi-measure drum part.

The quality of these beat patterns is excellent. The tempo and volume of each can be controlled in an intuitive way, so you can quickly dial in the settings you want.

Amp Features

The AC1 RhythmVOX is much more than just a rhythm box, it’s also a very competent little amp.

Here are a few of the amp features:

  • gain, tone, and volume controls
  • A pair of 3″ speakers delivers a full-bodied sound
  • A dedicated E-string tuner
  • headphone jack (essential for private practice)
  • Aux In jack – to jam along with your CD or MP3 player
  • Optional AC power adapter

The AC1 utilizes the same analog circuitry as the Vox amPlug series of headphone amps, and includes an Overdrive switch for increased sonic variation- on for high-gain sound;off for a bright, clean sound.

The RhythmVOX is a truly portable battery powered amp that runs off 6 AA batteries for up to 26 hours of play, but an AC power adapter is also available.

Conclusion

Whether you’re a beginner who is using the RhythmVOX to help practice keeping the beat or a more advanced player looking to break out of your rut and create some new avenues of exploration, this little guy delivers the goods.

AC1 RhythmVOX is impressive for a portable battery powered practice amp with a full compliment of tone shaping possibilities through the tone, volume, gain and overdrive controls. You’ll be surprised how good a pair of twin 3″ speakers can sound!

But the AC1 is also a great little beatbox, destined to send you down a host of new playing possibilities

The AC1 RhythmVOX currently sells for about $49 on Amazon.

Demo

I’ll finish things off with a demo of the Vox AC1 RhythmVOX in action:

(click here if the video above doesn’t play.)

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Peavey Vypyr VIP 1 – 20 Watt Amplifier, a New Kind of Modeling Amp

There are modeling amps, and then there is the Peavey Vypyr VIP. Where most modeling amps model, well, different amplifiers, the Peavey Vypyr VIP models different kinds of amplifiers.

Consider one of my favorite modeling amps on the market today: the Fender Mustang series. These amps are hands down the most versatile modeling amps I’ve seen – for guitar.

And here’s what sets the Peavey Vypyr VIP apart from other modeling amps.

The Mustang (and other modeling amps) let you switch from playing say, a Vox AC30 to a Vintage Marshall stack to a Fender Twin Reverb and many others, but the Peavey Vypyr VIP 1 20W Amplifier lets you switch from a guitar amp to a bass amp to an acoustic amp!

The Peavey Vypyr VIP models different amps as well (just like a traditional modeling amp) but works with bass, acoustic and electric guitar. What’s more – the Peavey Vypyr VIP lets you mimic a variety of different instruments with your guitar.

For example, you can plug in your trusty axe flip a few switches and viola, you’re playing an electric violin! How cool is that?

Peavey Vypyr VIP DetailsPeavey-Vypyr-VIP-1-20w

The Peavey Vypyr VIP has the following features:

  • 20 Watts
  • Acoustic guitar simulation
  • Bass guitar Simulation
  • Acoustically ported semi-closed back
  • Patented TransTube technology
  • Acoustic guitar simulation
  • Bass guitar Simulation
  • Acoustically ported semi-closed back
  • Patented TransTube® technology
  • 16 Presets
  • Specially voiced 8″ modeling speaker
  • 25 amp accessible effects
  • 36 on board amp models
  • 6 bass amp models
  • 6 acoustic amp models
  • On-board looper activated with optional Sanpera™ I or II
  • WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) controls
  • Amp accessible real time dual parameter controls
  • Amp accessible global reverb and delay
  • Tap Tempo
  • Bi-directional USB Data Midi Audio record out
  • Aux/MP3/CD input
  • Studio quality headphone out
  • Up to 4 effects simultaneously
  • Enhanced chromatic tuner

The “VIP” in Peavey Vypyr VIP stand for Variable Instrument Performance , and Peavey is touting it as:

The world’s first amp that contains Bass guitar, Acoustic guitar and Electric guitar amplifier models.

The Peavey Vypyr VIP 1 20W Amplifier is powered by Peavey’s powerful 32-bit, floating point SHARC processors and utilizes their patented Transtube® analog circuitry to provide authentic sound for their vintage amp models.

The Peavey Vypyr VIP also provides a bi-directional USB data and audio port for an easy way to record, and or connect to our VYPYR software and store presets, get lessons, and practice to backing tracks while connected to your computer.

It’s all WYSIWYG, baby.

If all of the above seems like a lot of details and impossible to use without a computer science degree, it isn’t it.

The Peavey Vypyr VIP uses WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) controls, so all effects, amp models and parameter controls can be accessed via the amp itself. This lets you see and adjust the control position quickly with no guessing where the control is supposed to be, or having to manually move it to where it should be preset to preset.

Conclusion

The Peavey Vypyr VIP 1 20W Amplifier is not just an awesome practice amp, it’s well suited to recording as well. With the ability to handle – and model – a variety of instruments, it really opens up the creative possibilities for the amateur and hobbyist. It’s also a great amp for anyone who plays multiple instruments in a band. Say you play electric guitar and bass in your band, you’d have only one amp (HINT: the Peavey Vypyr VIP) to bring to practice for both instruments.

Here’s a demo (click this link if the video below doesn’t play):

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