Small Amps – Great Sound (Part 2)

Ok I think I’m getting closer with the amp, but as ever I’ve been thinking a little too hard about what I want and inevitably I’ve gone down the ‘what if it could do this route’.

What I want is to prove a point. I’ve come to the conclusion recently that most guitar players in church only need about 7-8 watts in a small, easy to carry and great sounding tube amp which they can change sounds and colour with a few well chosen pedals. A well built 7 watt tube amp can compete with a drummer and be driven hard enough at church volumes to sound like it should without the sound man, backing vocalists and Pastor all saying ‘can you turn it down please?’ So many of us have bough the amp of our dreams only to find we can just about turn it up to 1.5 in the worship band.

So this is my little made up mission. To find a small lightweight tube amp with one, great sounding single channel that is well made and doesn’t cost the earth. So I made a list (you can see it in a previous blog small amps article) Job done… er… no.

Then I thought about the extra ‘stuff’ I have to carry as a guitarist. Amp head, cab, pedals, pedal board, power supplies, cables etc, etc. and thought ‘wouldn’t it be nice if I could do away with all that and just walk into a gig with one guitar and one small amp, connect the two together and play! Lugging equipment gets boring after a while.

So what about making a combo amp where the back panel pulls away to reveal your trusty pedals mounted on the inside of it which then becomes your pedal board! Voila! One now open backed combo and when you’ve finished you just replace the pedal panel into the amp, pick up thy axe and walk. Except its never quite that simple is it? How do you attach the panel to the amp and how do you find a combo cabinet with the right dimensions so the pedals won’t foul the tubes or speaker once mounted. And, how do you still keep the whole assembly lightweight and compact? I could go to a custom boutique place but it may cost a fortune, which isn’t really the point.

So my little mission has got more complicated, but I think I’ve defined it.

To build myself boutique quality and tone one-box combo amp solution that can house enough pedals to do the job, still be lightweight, as small as possible without compromising sound quality AND cost less than $500! Can I do it? We’ll see… I have a cunning plan…