What Is A Combo Amp?

Whether you’re a beginner who’s just starting out with an electric guitar or an experienced player who’s in the market for a new amplifier you may be wondering which amp is the best to use since there’s an overwhelming amount of amps out there.

One of the more important decisions you’ll encounter is whether you want a combo or head and cabinet amplifier. 

What Is A Combo Amp

We’ll discuss both and the differences between them to help you decide which amp will be the best for the sound you’re looking for.

Let’s get right into it. 

What Is The Difference Between A Combo And Head And Cabinet Amplifier?

How Does A Head And Cabinet Amplifier Work?

As the name suggests, a guitar head and cab amplifier are two separate pieces of equipment.

The head is an amplifier and determines the guitar’s tone and the cab is a speaker designed to receive the powered signal from the amplifier. 

Different Types Of Head And Cabinet Amplifiers On The Market

There are two main types of head and cab amps out there on the market, these are half stack and full stack.

Half stack most likely gets its name because the head is stacked on top of the cabinet and in these half stacks there can be up to four speakers.

But they are usually heavy and tall. 

Full stack is the ultimate dream of most rock stars out there because it’s very loud and has great distortion.

A full stack is the same as a half stack but with an extra speaker cabinet. 

Reasons To Buy A Head And Cabinet Over A Combo 

Weight

As the head and cab amp is a two-piece set up, each piece will be a lot lighter than a combo amplifier even though you’ll have to make two trips to transport the amps to wherever you need them. 

Customization

Again, the novelty of the head and cab being two separate pieces means that it is easily customizable, all amps will be ‘paired’ or ‘matched’ which means the manufacturer has made it so the head and cab compliments each other, but you by no means have to use them together, you can mix and match different heads with different cabs and vice versa (just as long as the impedance matches up).

This allows you to freely experiment to find what sound fits your vibe the best, it also allows you to upgrade much more easily when the time comes.

Volume

Larger cabs tend to have a much larger power capacity and thus typically make much more noise. This can be useful if you’re playing at bigger venues, or even outdoors.

The head and cab will give you much more sound projection.

If these benefits sound good to you and will suit your needs best, then a head and cab amplifier may be the one for you. 

What Is A Combo Amp?

The name might give what this one is away, a combo amp is a combination of the head and cab components conjoined into one amplifier.

It’s basically the exact same thing as a head and cab amp but the two parts are just one.

This means less setting up as the work has already been done for you. 

Different Types Of Combo Amplifiers On The Market

There are usually two main types of combo amps out there, the first is a basic combo amp. 

A basic combo amp is what we’ve just discussed, a combination of the two main components.

The market for combo amps offers a lot of variety for color, size, power and price.

Combo amp with amp modeling offers the latest tech combined with a traditional combo amp to give you more flexibility regarding your tone.

They each have a range of digital amps and cabs that let you access multiple tones. 

What Is A Combo Amp (1)

Reasons To Buy A Combo Amp Over A Head And Cabinet Amp

Compact

As we discussed earlier the head and cab amp is lighter to carry, but it’s a lot more inconvenient to transport around as you’ll always need to make two trips to carry the two separate pieces.

A combo amp combines the two so it makes it a lot easier to transport to wherever you need.

Minimal Setup

Since the combo amp combines both the components, you needn’t worry about setting it up.

You don’t need to worry about matching each component to the other or wondering about impedance as it’s already been done for you.

Open VS Closed Back

With a combo amp you also have another choice to make, whether to have an open or closed back.

An open back lets the sound come out from both sides of the speaker whilst the closed back only lets the sound come out from the front. 

Cost

Combo amps are much more affordable than head and cab amps as you’re buying one piece of equipment rather than two. 

Final Thoughts

Regardless of if you’re a beginner or an experienced guitar player, choosing the best amp for playing can be a difficult and boring task.

There are so many options to choose from and each amp offers a different sound. 

Combo amps are useful if you’re going to be playing smaller venues and have a lower budget, or if you’re a beginner, because they’re easy to set up and are versatile for if you want to change your sound more frequently. 

Head and cabinet amps are a great amp for if you’re playing larger venues as the sound distribution is next to none and the fact that they’re easily customizable allows you to upgrade without having to buy a completely new amp or you can customize as you please to fit whatever genre and musical context you require.

We hope this article has given you a bit more insight into what type of amp will fit you best, there’s no right or wrong answer and the ultimate decision is up to you and which amp will best suit your needs. 

References

Vinnie

I'm Vinnie, and I'm here to support you to create your own studio at home, whether it’s for photography, recording audio, podcasts, or videos!

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