Amp advice

If you were to upgrade your amp would you get a combo or head and cabinet? What’s the pluses and negatives?

I just have a cheapy right now for practice but wouldn’t mind joining a band in the future so I’m just curious.


In my opinion, having a separate head and cab setup offers a lot more flexibility. I used to have four heads and four cabs. For practice, I would use my smaller cabs, and for jamming with friends, I’d go for the larger ones, like the 2x10 and 2x12 stacks. The different heads allowed me to switch between styles easily, and I’ve always been a big fan of external preamps.

On the other hand, combos have their advantages; they are more compact and easier to set up and carry. You don’t need extra cables except for the power and instrument plugs. However, some combos may lack certain inputs and outputs, like an FX loop, but that often depends on the price point. Some combos even offer the option to plug in additional cabs.

Both options have their merits. These days, I prefer playing on a small combo.


I asked myself that same question and eventually decided on the stack as opposed to a combo amp. Like @Paul says, it gives a bit more flexibility as well as easier upgrade paths as the need arises. For example, if you get a beefy enough cab, you can start with a lower powered amp at first then, if the need arises, you can just upgrade the head instead of having to buy a whole new setup.

As to WHAT head/cab setup? Welcome to decision paralysis.

Personally, I was leaning heavily towards the Ampeg PF-50 and corresponding cab because the majority of the music I play would have been recorded on the B-15. Fortunately or unfortunately, I wound up falling in love/lust with the Ampeg Venture stack after trying it. The emulation of the B-15 and SVT amps that it has, at least to my ear, are more than close enough to cover everything I would want to do. On top of that, it has it’s own nice distinct yet clean sound when the emulation (which they call Super Grit Tech) isn’t enabled.


Didn’t even think about the flexibility side. Good point.


Big subject @swiens

I have a few combo amps because they’re light and I can carry everything in one go. I take my Rumble 100 to jam sessions. Loud enough if the drummer doesn’t go nuts.

I can use the pre amp built into the amp ie the Controls on the top or I can take my Ampeg pre amp and plug into the FX port to bypass the Fender pre amp and just get the sound of my Ampeg. So the amp is just a cabinet.

If you do a search on the forum there are a few threads in this.

For me the Rumble 100 was reasonably priced, light and loud enough to play out.

I have a bigger amp as well but currently I don’t need it.


Being quite visually oriented, this one made me laugh way too hard :rofl:


I bought a good combo out of the gate. I have no reason to buy another combo. So if I was going to buy another amp, it would be a Head and Cab. Specifically, if I was in the market, I’d buy a Mesa Boogie Bass Prodigy Four:88 and a matching 4x10 cab.


I shouldn’t of asked this question, it’s taking me down a deep rabbit hole of wants.


A lot of gear decisions comes down to what you rule out because some things you just don’t care about. Then there’s budget.

The Fender Rumble line of amps are probably the best you can get for your money.

If the Ampeg sound is what you’re after, go straight for the Ampeg. Since their purchase by Yamaha, Ampeg has gained a whole new life. More expensive than Fender but not so much more as to rule them out. The new stuff they’ve been putting out the last few years is pretty impressive.

500 Watts is plenty for even the loudest drummers and more than enough to cause ear damage. If you end up in a situation where you need more, then there would be PA support. You see higher wattage amps because Class D technology has made it more affordable.

If you want to get real crazy with it, you can build your sound around a particular preamp you like and it doesn’t matter what amp you get since you can (like @Barney was saying) run the line to the amp’s FX return. That way you are using your own preamp, skipping the amp’s built in preamp, and using the amp’s power section to boost the signal as it goes to the speakers.

Man, I love this stuff.


So much to learn lol. So you’re pretty much saying get a head and find a tone that I like and use it with my practice amp.

When the time comes were I need something bigger like a 410 or 412 I’ll have everything ready to go? My brain is a bit fried from Billy Jean so I might be misunderstanding.

I guess I might have to hold out on starting a pedal board for a bit.


Oh man. I didn’t realize you were fighting with Billie Jean. Good luck. It takes time but you’ll get it.

More than anything, I suggest making a trip to a store that has multiple different amps you can try. When I was looking for an amp I went around the stack of amps and tried each one. You’ll be surprised how quickly you go, not that one, or that one, maybe this one.

Put off the decision for as long as you can. That way you’ll have a chance to try as much stuff as possible. The more you try, the more you’ll start to gravitate towards one out of the bunch. There’s plenty of time to work all this out.


I’m in no rush, mostly planning for the future.

Just started Billie Jean, I can do it slow but she’s definitely not my lover lol. Thanks for the advice


@eric.kiser provided great insights. In my opinion, a good amplifier should have more than just basic features. It should include:

  • An effects loop
  • An auxiliary input for drums or backing tracks
  • A headphone output for practicing quietly
  • A direct output (DI out)
  • Preferable a drive setting

The Fender Rumble 100 combo amp also meets all these criteria.


I was eyeing up an ampeg 112 but might check out the venture and Mesa Boogie. This guy seems kinda interesting


For sure, it’s a neat little amp and it ticks most boxes! For drive you can easily use an overdrive or distortion pedal in front of your amp.

If you are planning to join a band in the future I would certainly check out the Venture or Mesa amps. You probably want something with 500W or higher. This one is about 75-100W and maybe better suited for practice.


If you’re looking to join a band where you rehearse at moderate to loud levels and maybe play gigs at clubs / bars / smaller venues, a combo amp will be much more convenient and will easily handle the volume requirements.

I had a Fender Rumble 500.
I sold it for an Ampeg SVT head and single 15" speaker rig.
I regret it every time I have to take the extra trip(s) to the car to load in and out.

There is plenty of expansion capability with an amp/speaker rig, but it is the least convenient way to go. There may be some great models that are easy to move and carry, that would help.

Whatever you get - make sure it’s at least 200 - 350 watts minimum.

My factors in actually getting things were always - what could I afford, and what could I play on to try out.
Getting a chance to play it and mess with it is massively important.


This other thread is a bit similar.


This one has caught my eye. Seems to have what I’m looking for. If I started doing gigs I can’t see me needing much more. Plus the price is where I’m comfortable with.


Solid choice :ok_hand:


If it sounds good and it’s affordable, that seems like a great way to go!