EVEN THOUGH IT’S ONE OF THE MOST AFFORDABLE AMPS IN THIS ROUNDUP, THE B-52 LS-100 HAS THE power and features to share the stage with any amp here. The solid-state, 100-watt LS-100 has a Clean channel, two Overdrive channels, an effects loop, and even a line out for recording. Despite its wide range of tonal options, this amp is simple to use and provides instant gratification in both clean and distorted modes. The Clean channel is straightforward with a 3-band EQ and a Mid Cut button. It excels at very clean, pure sounds, and with the Mid Cut engaged it almost sounds like you’re playing an acoustic guitar. With the Mid Cut out, you get fuller, warmer tones. This channel is capable of huge headroom, remaining clean even at deafening volumes.
On the dirty side, you get a medium-gain Overdrive channel and a high-gain Overdrive channel, each with its own Gain and Volume knobs, although they share the 3-band EQ. Both can dish out an incredible amount of distortion and are perfect for chugging metal tones and gutwrenching lead sounds. There is a Contour control that can be assigned to either Overdrive channel or both. This is a super-intuitive control for changing the overall midrange character of the LS-100, from old-school bark with more mids to a fully scooped death tone. We liked it with Gain 1 about halfway up with the Contour set for a mid scoop and Gain 2 cranked with no Contour. This made it easy to switch between a tight, chunky rhythm tone and a louder, more mid-heavy lead tone that could cut through any mix.
The LS-100’s rear panel is fairly simple, but B-52 provides level controls for the effect send and return—a welcome addition. There is also a level control on the speaker-simulated Record Out. This obviously comes in handy for direct recording, but it can also go to a mixing board, saving you the hassle of miking your LS-100 on a gig. The LS-100 is full of versatility, with tones that range from sparkling clean sounds to killer heavy tones with monstrous gain. This amp is a must-have for rockers who want a powerful, great-sounding metal amp at an unbelievable price. —Stephen Ordonez
(323) 277-4100; b-52guitar.com
PRICE $599 retail/ $299 street (head)
CONTROLS Front panel: Gain 1, Gain 2, Contour assign, Bass, Mid, Treble, Volume 1, Volume 2 (Overdrive channel); Volume, Bass, Mid, Treble, Mid cut switch (Clean channel); Master Volume, Reverb; Switches for Channel, Gain select, and Contour assign. Rear panel: Effects loop with Send and Return Level controls, International Voltage Select switch for 115 volt and 230 volts.
POWER 100 watts
EXTRAS Three-button footswitch (Channel and Gain Select, Reverb on/off), Speaker-Simulated Line Out with Level control for direct recording, 16-gauge metal grille for protection
SPEAKER B-52 4x12 w/custom- built, 100-watt speakers; $599 retail/$299 street
MAXIMUM MEASURED VOLUME 118dB
WEIGHT 34 lbs (head)
KUDOS Great amp for a great price. Wide range of tones. Instant gratification.