Guitarists, whats a reliable small combo

amp for recording and small live venues?

My Fender Pro 185 is just too heavy for my aging back. I need something with one 12" speaker that will give me good sound with a variety of music styles, and also be reliable. I’d like to spend around $400. Thanks.

Peavey Classic 30
Laney VC15 or LC30

Laney makes amazing amps.

I would second the Classic 30. Good stuff

Good suggestions. I’ll add the Carvin Nomad. I have the Carvin BelAire (2x12) and LOVE IT!! Nomad is the same amp but in 1x12 configuration.


Hey ET, Yeah, the Peavey Classic 30 is an incredible little amp. You won’t go wrong with it. Another good bet is the Fender Blonde Blues Junior.

The smaller Laneys are great 80s rock type amps but I don’t know about being a versatile amp. You don’t hear much about them but they do kick booty.

I´ll second the Fender Blues Junior
Of course it´s got a bluesy appeal rather than the wide variety.
I gigged with a friend who had put a blue vox bulldog speaker in the amp. It played louder than my rack system with 2 12" speakers.

I’ll triple the Peavey C-30 plus you might look out for a Peavey Bravo…Great stack in a box under 2 bills. Maybe the Ampeg Jet.


I’ve noticed most of these suggestions are for tube amps. Would someone make a good recommendation for a solid-state combo with similar specs? My son has a 2x12 Crate GFX 212 amp. I like it for heavy rock/metal stuff and really clean sounds but in-between tones are kinda lousy. Overall, I prefer my Carvin tube amp.

Any REALLY good solid-staters out there?


Look out for an old Yamaha or LAB combo. On the other hand modelling amps are great sounding and cheap these days.

I recorded some guys one time and the gtr player was using one of the behringer 2-10 amps. I was really suprised at how good it sounded. Plus they are cheap. With the price range you listed you could buy two of them so when one craps out you’ll have a backup :D
I remember lifting it to move it and it was pretty light.

I’ll also second the Blues Jr., assuming you want the Fender blues tube amp sound. Don’t know how the blond differs from the blackface.

When I got my Hot Rod Deluxe, the Blues Jr’s didn’t have vol/gain, just a vol level, so you couldn’t control the amount of distortion. That was a total no-go for me, so I got the HRD, which is really too loud for most of my uses (home, home recording, jam with friends). It’s fine for bars, but the more recent Jr’s are too. Eventually they got their head back on straight at Fender and added the gain knob, so now the Jr is a very useful little beast.

The Blues Jr handles a small bar well enough, as long as you’re not playing with a Ginger Baker wannabe drummer, or some super loud guitarist. It also makes a good amp for blues harp.

Little amps like this really are best for recording.

Best bet is to go to your local shop and try the alternatives, and take the one that sounds good to you. Reliability seems a lot higher for these little jobs than for the big monsters, too. At least, I’ve had a couple little amps over the years and never had any problems.

"Any REALLY good solid-staters out there?"

Any of the small combos from Marshall would fit this request.

LearJeff, I agreenthat the smaller amps are best for recording. Even at loud volumes with a larger amp, you can’t get that buttery low-end tone.

Tech 21(the SansAmp guys) make great solid state amps. I have the Trademark 60 and am really in love with it. 2 channel and a wide range of tones.

I also have the Peavey Classic 30. Excellent tube amp.


Thanks everyone for all the great suggestions. I’m going to locate all the various models suggested and try them out. One I found that wasn’t mentioned that has gotten really good reviews is the Kustom Quad 65 DFX. Now for the hard work!

Peavey Bandit! Bandit! Bandit! ebay under 2 bills…absolutely great sound. Had one sold it cause I just like tubes and have been sorry ever since.


Quote (dave @ June 18 2005,11:21)
Tech 21(the SansAmp guys) make great solid state amps. I have the Trademark 60 and am really in love with it. 2 channel and a wide range of tones.

I also have the Peavey Classic 30. Excellent tube amp.


Tech 21 for sure!!!!!!!!! Best amp I have ever purchased.

I’ve been using a Fender Stage 100 for live playing for the last couple of years. Plenty of volume and it comes close to a Fender tube amp sound, especially in the clean channel, which is all I use. I use it in conjunction with a Digitech RP200 for effects. Mine is a 3-year-old model with spring reverb. The newer ones have digital effects, and the latest version is called the Stage 1000. It’s also got a line out and an extension speaker jack which if used with the internal 12, gives you 160 Watts. And, it’s not heavy!
In the studio, it’s got a little hum, so I normally go direct through the RP200, or straight to the board and add effects in N.

I had a Peavey Bandit (1993 model with Scorpion 12), which was great in the studio, but not so great for live, IMHO. Sold it last year 'cause I wasn’t using it.


As for Laney, you gotta look at the right models. They make some absolutley wonderful class A amps for that more AC30 type tone.

Jeez Guys,

Some great choices there.

This may not be relevant but since I have rarely ever bought a new amp, I can only kick in some possible used choices. Always check out any used amp thoroughly and run it long and loud enough (in a hot room too if possible) to make sure it isn’t flakey.

TrackGrrrl’s used small combo faves:

1. Gibson Goldtone GA15RV - make sure you get one that has the newer style tube sockets. The earlier ones melted. This amp is my classic tone gold standard. Brought tears to my eyes the day I took it home. I mean it.

2. Mesa Boogie Studio .22 series - There are a few versions of these floating around with major differences in features. High gain channel can be a little over the top or harsh depending on what tubes you have in the pre stages. Get one running right and it can be very sweet.

Solid State:
1. Polytone Mini-Brute - favorite with jazz session players that rocks out nicely if you add some pedals.

2. Some Roland SS units may not be up there with the newest stuff but they are quality built and if you get a used deal…

3. The sleeper jazz guitar amp that can be had used for under $100 - Peavey Minx Bass Amp - plug in an archtop or similar and surprise the s**t out of yourself. Great to carry as a backup amp cause it can be used for electric guitar, a-e guitar, bass, keys…