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Three New Mini Tube Amps

February 15, 2012
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The compact amp market continues to expand as new releases by Carvin, Hughes & Kettner, and Mesa/Boogie add to the list of small, tube-powered heads that have been popping up over the last few years. Ranging from 15 watts to as much as 50 watts, mini amps have a natural appeal for many players who want an easy-to-carry rig for club dates, rehearsals, and studio work. Mini-amps can be quite sophisticated too, offering features such as footswitchable channels, power-reduction and voicing switches, effects loops, and many of the other functions that big amps typically have. Paired with a small cabinet carrying one or more 10" or 12" speakers, the mini rig stashes easily and can often be slung over your shoulder in a padded carry bag.

On deck this month are the Carvin V3M, Hughes & Kettner Tubemeister 18, and the Mesa/ Boogie Mini Rectifier Twenty-Five. These amps definitely come at the mini equation from different angles, though they all use the popular EL84 for power and have a complement of 12AX7s in their preamp stages.

The guitars used for these tests included an Epiphone Nighthawk, Fender Stratocaster and Telecaster, a Gibson Custom Historic 1959 Les Paul, and a PRS SC58.

This roundup also includes a sidebar comparison of two pocket-sized solid-state amps: the Electro- Harmonix 44 Magnum and the Traynor QuarterHorse.

More from this Roundup:

Carvin V3M
Hughes & Kettner Tubemeister 18 Head
Solid-State Micro Amps
Mesa/Boogie Mini Rectifier Twenty-Five
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