Amplifiers! Head+Cabinet vs Combo

Amplifiers!  Head+Cabinet vs Combo

Thinking of upgrading my setup, I had a blackstar ID 100 but it got fried so I think it's time for an upgrade! I don't have any preference regarding the company, however i mostly play Extreme metal(Death,Thrash,Black,Doom) and I don't want to surpass $1000 

Any recommendations? 

Major Insane

So when I decided it was time for an amp upgrade I first decided what I actually wanted before deciding if I wanted a head + cab or a combo. The reason for that is simple. I just wanted to get exactly what I wanted in terms of sound and not limit myself in terms of construction of the amp.


I took some time to go out to a couple of different stores with my guitar to just try out amps. After I decided which amp I wanted in terms of sound I decided if I would get a combo or a head. Which was made very easy for me as the amp didn't come in a combo option.

A couple of things to keep in mind though. A head and combo is more flexible, you might in the future change out one of the two. Can't really do that in a combo.

A combo however is easier to move, they are generally smaller then a head and a 212 and definitely smaller then a head and a 412.

Mind you, combo's usually weigh a lot. splitting that weight over two devices can be useful. Also, where are you going to use the amp? Gonna play some very large stages without any proper PA system? might need a 412 to get the volume, however if you are gonna play some small stages that 412 is some massive overkill and might just not be worth the hassle of moving it, let alone the room it takes up on stage. A 212 is gonna be a lot better as an option there.

Also from an engineers point of view, I hate when some band shows up at a stage which is way to small for a 412 and the guitarist insists on using it as it looks cool. Of course next he will want to crank the amp and causing issues with volume for everyone. Just don't be that guy

Now as far as amps go, with the style of music you play you probably want something which sounds tight and modern. You didn't specify where you are in the world, but considering your budget is in dollars I'm gonna guess the USA.

Now I'm not sure about the prices there, but I guess some things to look at would be ENGL, Mesa (perhaps with a boost to tighten it up), a 5150/6505. This is by no means a complete list. Just go out there and try things.

Have a look at what you can get used as well if you don't mind that.

One last thought from me, if you go for the head + cab option, definitely invest in a good cab. A good cab can last you a long long time, even over different amps.


Well I'm mostly looking for a Head+212 cabinet combo (maybe a pedal if the distortion is not great)I want the whole set, for practising, band practice and gigs! Any recommendations?  My favorite Pickup is the Dimarzio X2N or EMG-81,I don't want to go above 700€,depends if the amp is worth it! 

Yiannis wrote:

Well I'm mostly looking for a Head+212 cabinet combo (maybe a pedal if the distortion is not great)I want the whole set, for practising, band practice and gigs! Any recommendations?  My favorite Pickup is the Dimarzio X2N or EMG-81,I don't want to go above 700€,depends if the amp is worth it! 

I used the budget it USD because I thought that the majority of users here are Americans,also there aren't many met all amps or guitars here(Greece)

Major Insane

Alright, so with you being from Europe changes things. As prices are quite different on this side of the pond. One of the examples for that is that a Mesa Dual Recto in Europe is about the same price as a Diezel VH4. I know which one I would prefer .

So the American amps are gonna be a bit harder to stretch to in the budget I guess, but some suggestions would be 5150, 6505. If you can find it used one of the amps I really like is the ENGL Ritchie Blackmore. ENGL also make some smaller and less expensive amps. Now I haven't been able to try them myself but from some video's they seem pretty good. The Metal master looks like a pretty decent one. The 20 Watt version also has a powersoak which will make your neighbours not kill themselves.

Another option would be the Bugera stuff, they make some decent sounding 'copies' of famous amps. the Trirec for instance.

On a tighter budget it might be worth checking out the Joyo bantamp, especially the Zombie seems to be rather okay. Now with the solidstate power section it might not be enough for a large venue without being miced up. But smaller venues shouldn't be much of an issue.

A bit more out there would be some of the orange amps. The Dark Terror or the new Brent Hinds Sig amp, again for the smaller pricepoint there is the Micro Dark, which I use as a backup amp for if my main one goes down or is somewhere else. Now I'm not playing large venues so the power section for me is plenty but its the same situation as the Joyo amps.

A suggestion even further out there. Get your hands on an amp with a good power section and a FX loop. Run a Diezel VH4 pedal as the pre-amp in that. Now this is no substitute for the actual amp, but its gets you a very solid sound.

As cabs go, for the price you really can't beat the Harley Benton G212 Vintage. They are great value for a cab loaded with V30s. Again here the best tip is just to go out and try some. There are loads of flavours here.


I really like the sound of the Valvestate 8100,it's too bad I wasn't there the amp was in it's best days! Do you know any amp that sounds similar to the Valve state? 

Major Insane

Can't say that I've ever heard a Valvestate 8100 in real life, so can't really give you a replacement for it. However if you like the sound of it why not get one? Here in the Netherlands they are fairly common in the used market. Do note that they use a tube in the pre-amp section which might need replacing. If it hasn't been done in a while be sure to factor that into the buying price.

Flying Dutchmen

Here another one from NL. I had A valvestate 8080 in the nineties. Nice practice amp for home, but it does not cut through the mix. My personal recommendation would to get a full tube amp. Here in NL you see pretty regular Mesa combo's coming by for around 700€ which will fully blow the marshall away (Quality and soundwise) ...

it is also A matter of personal favour (mesa in My case)

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