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The Best 5 Cheap Guitar Combos of 2013

The Best 5 Cheap Guitar Combos of 2013

Every guitarist will know how easy it is to be consumed with 4×12 cabinets, 100W heads, and ‘compact’ pedal boards that leave little room for any fellow band members front-of-stage. However, there is another hard-working product group that has served beginners, tutors and musicians with an overall desire to keep the noise down all through the decades: let us take you through that group as we examine the best 5 cheap guitar combos!

Here we take a look at some of the biggest hitters currently on the market and how to decide which model best suits you.

Orange Crush Pix 20LDX at Red Dog MusicOrange Crush Pix 20LDX

20W, 8” Speaker

This classic retro-look amp features 2 channels of solid-state punch, both of which will satisfy any and all musicians looking for a great 70’s-style tone. On the effects side the Crush features reverbs, delays, chorus, flanger, tremolo and vibrato, although interested shoppers should bear in mind here that only one effect can be activated at once. The amp also features a fully integrated diatonic tuner; a headphone output and an auxiliary input that offers users the ability to connect their external music devices and play along to their favorite songs. At only £128 it’s our cheapest on test for this article, and offers sterling value for money!

Vox VT20+ at Red Dog MusicVox VT20 Plus

30W, 8” Speaker

The VT20+ is rather unique as it’s the only amp in this test to feature a tube only in its preamp stage. This helps to give a truer vintage tone akin to the larger valve amps out on the market. Rather than traditional channels, the Vox Valvetronix Plus range uses amp-modelling patches to offer the player a selection of sounds all the way from clean up to high-gain and metal. 4 user programmable presets are also available on the amp to save sounds and switch between them easily either using the on-board controls, or an optional VFS5 footswitch. The stomp-box modeling options are impressive: reverbs, delays, all sorts of modulation (chorus, flanger, etc.), a tube-screamer style overdrive boost, a rotary speaker and an auto-wah. The amp also includes a basic attenuation tool, which reduces the power and allows the user to get more overdrive at a lower volume. The VT20+ is available off the shelf today at £129.

Roland Cube 20XL at Red Dog MusicRoland Cube 20XL

20W, 8” Speaker

Roland’s latest 20W Cube (from the XL range released in 2010) features a conventional 2-channel switching system. However the high-gain channel offers 5 different overdrive and distortion options to match whatever genre and sound you require. There is also a Powersqueezer function that attenuates the signal and allows for higher gain at lower volumes, as well as the usual headphone and auxiliary music device I/O for quiet home use and play-alongs. Onto the effects: the Cube features reverb, delay, chorus, flanger, phaser tremolo and octave. An important feature to note about Roland effects is that they feature COSM technology (Composite Object Sound Modelling). This means that they’ll share circuitry from Roland’s other products and you can enjoy a multitude of Boss stomp-box-standard effects all inside your Cube XL. That considered, the £145 price tag makes this amp a bit of a steal.

Fender Mustang II v2 at Red Dog MusicFender Mustang II

40W, 12” Speaker

The Fender Mustang is the largest of the amps on test and boasts a higher wattage as a result. The amp features similar modeling features to the Vox including 17 amp models matched with varying levels of distortion plus the option of modulation, reverb and delay effects. Channels are easily changeable by a footswitch input, and an auxiliary input and headphone output are also included. However, the secret weapon that makes this amplifier so unique in this test is its USB socket. When connected to your computer, the amp’s sounds can be controlled on-screen via Fender’s FUSE software, your playing can be recorded directly into a DAW (such as Ableton Live Lite), and users can jam with other players around the world with Fender’s Band-Jam software. This makes the Fender Mustang a great tool for guitarists interested in recording or jamming. The model is currently up at £164.

Blackstar HT1 at Red Dog MusicBlackstar HT1

1W, 8” Speaker

Ending with a 1W amplifier might appear to border on lunacy by this point, considering all the power and the features that we’ve seen, but the Blackstar has a key difference from all of the above: utilizing ECC83 and ECC82 tubes, the HT1 is an all-valve combo. As such it has a distinct advantage over its budget rivals in that it really does deliver the great valve-tone that guitarists have come to love over the years. The amp also comes equipped with a clean/overdrive channel switch, a 1-band EQ featuring Blackstar’s ISF (Infinite Shape Feature) technology, headphone and aux-in sockets, and even an 8 ohm output to connect an extension speaker. This last feature also makes it handy for gigging, as you have the ability to expand beyond the internal 8” speaker and really raise some hell. This model is available for only £169. If you want to take the step up to a version that includes built-in reverb, then the HT-1R is for you at £199.

Summing up the best cheap guitar combos

Having been through all the specifications it is clear that each of these amps has something for everyone. If you’re keen on multi-effects then the Vox VT+ and Roland Cube XL models have a lot to offer, where as if you’re starting out and prefer a more straightforward interface then the Crush is an ideal choice. If you’re keen to get jamming with fellow guitarists or want to begin putting down your own material then the Mustang is a good shout, or if you’re an experienced player with a beautiful but unwieldy Marshall JCM800 you’re simply not allowed to bust out at home: HT1.

However, the real key here is the sounds. Get in store, listen to some demos, only then will you know if the amp is fit for your own personal taste, then it’s just your job to get on with playing!


Red Dog Music is the UK’s friendliest musical instrument and pro-audio dealer. Between our 5000 square foot Edinburgh shop filled with an incredible range of products, and a London showroom in Clapham specialising in high-end instruments, dj and pro-audio, Red Dog Music has you covered from north to south and from performance to playback.

About The Author

Red Dog Music

Dawsons Music is delighted to announce that the Red Dog Music brand is now part of the Dawsons family. This is an exciting opportunity to bring both communities together and create a stronger, wider network of people passionate about music gear. We both share a common heritage to support musicians throughout the UK and Dawsons want to support Red Dog Music customers in their continued musical journey.

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