Ten-Amp Extravaganza - Intro

Amplifiers come in so many flavors these days that it can make your head spin trying to figure out what’s the best for your style and tastes. From GP’s vantage point, it often seems that everyone wants in on the guitar-amp action—an assertion borne out by the number of heads, combos, and half-stacks sent to our offices in the last few months. A survey of the new arrivals underscores the fact that guitar players are being presented with a mind-bending array of choices in tube, solid-state, modeling, and hybrid designs.

Guitarists can have it all now, from sweet-toned, early-’50s-style combos to high-gain marvels that had their genesis in the more-is-more thinking of the late ’90s—sometimes all in one amp. So it definitely pays to keep an open mind when evaluating what’s out there, as what ultimately works best for you may not always be in keeping with any preconceived notion of the “right” amp. For example, if the ability to call on lots of different sounds during a gig is important to you, then perhaps a digital-modeling amp—rather than a swanky, hand-wired boutique combo—is the best way to go. And what if you’ve always envisioned yourself rocking out though a pair of wound-up half-stacks, but the reality is that a 1x10 combo is better suited for the places you play? The good news is that all bets are definitely on when it comes to finding exactly what it takes to rock your world.

For this Roundup, we selected ten very different amplifiers, and set out to discover what they’re all about. We tested them on gigs and in our sound lab, using Fender Strats and Teles, a Fernandes Ravelle, Gibson and Epiphone Les Pauls, and PRS McCarty and Brazilian models.