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Top 3 Best Amps If You HATE Using The Amp Heads Provided At The Gig Venue - According To Dave

Guitarists! What are the chances that, after plugging in your guitars and pedalboards for a gig at a venue, you find the amp sucks? Even worse, the amps they offer don't generate the tones you want? And when you finally suck it up, gave in and dealt with the amps at the venue, did you discover that you weren't performing at your finest because you were always wrangling with the amp while you are playing?

Sounds like you need a guitar amp that you can carry anywhere and never disappoint you! I have rounded together the top 3 best of the best guitar amps heads as recommended by me, your friendly neighbourhood guitarist-man Dave!

Why I Never Liked Using The Amps At The Gig Venue?

There are many reasons why I always choose not to run my rig through the amps they provide whenever I play live with my band, especially if we are performing at smaller gig venues. Even though nowadays I can just forgo using amps entirely and instead use my Fractal multieffects pedal and connect it straight to the front of the house mixer, nothing can still beat the feel of having a real amp pumping out the air and my guitar sounds blasting and reverberating directly to my face. So if I do choose to have an amp on stage, I'll always make sure the amp sounds, feels, and is able to accommodate my playing very well so that I can have a really good time performing.

So, why do I (sometimes) hate using amps they provide at gig places? Well......No. 1, not enough HEADROOM!

Headroom is the amount of volume you can get before distorting your sound. Most of the time, I would describe my playing style is very versatile in the sense that if I want to play clean tones, I really want clean tones, and if I want to freak the hell out of the audience with my nasty high gain tones, I can do so with ease at any given volume I want without worrying about my guitar tone sounding shitty and muddy. And often times, because most amps at every gig venue here in Malaysia, on average, are in pretty bad and beat-up condition because they are either too old or too often used and abused by guitarists of other bands, or worse, the amp's wattage doesn't suit the space. So as a general rule, I would be more lenient in using the amps they provide if:

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  1. They provide mid-high class tier amps (or flasghip models, which are wayyyyy better) as I know these kind of amps won't dissapoint
  2. The amps they provide has good wattage and tones that would compliment my playings (as in if I want to play blues or hard rock in a small gig, and If I see a Peavey Transtube or a Peavey Bandit on the stage, I'll say "NOPE the f*&# out of there!")

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"I don't usually play through amps when playing live. But when I do, I'll sure as hell use a bloody good one!" says Dave.

Next, as a guitarist who regularly uses pedals, I frequently see amps on stage that are not at all pedal friendly.

Some amps don't even have an effects loop (or "FX loops," as some would call them. If you see "Send" and "Return" holes behind the amp, that's the one!) to plug my pedals in through. If this is the case, you'll have to run them into the front or input of your amp and hope for the best, which I hate if that situation happens to me. This is crucial for me because plugging in my multieffects pedal straight into the input of the amp will often result in horrible guitar tones that will come out of the speakers because there's already a preamp section in my multieffects pedal, so if using my preamp section in the pedal going through the amp's preamp section just doesn't make sense to me. So in order to combat this problem, most amp manufacturers provide the effects loop jacks at the back of the amp so that your pedals will bypass the amp's preamp section and hence sound more organic, more like how the pedal are supposed to sound.

And lastly, when I see the amp heads and the cabinets oddly paired, I know for sure I won't like how they will sound when they are played.

Think of it this way; You want to play metal music, but you see a 100-watt high gain amp head being paired with a 2x12" speaker cabinet that is meant to play mainly cleaner kinds of guitar tones, like a VOX speaker cab with Celestion G12M Greenback speakers... You know where this is going, right?

Most gig venue owners will use whatever amps or cabinets they have available for guitarists to use because, let's face it, we're not Joe Bonamassa or Kirk Hammett, who can simply demand which amp and speaker combo we want to use on stage. Although it would be cool and fun to just mix and match amp heads and cabs and see how it sounds, I would rather save that for the recording studio to experiment with and instead focus primarily on performing because most of the time I already know my guitar tone 99.9% of the time, so figuring out how to achieve my sound from weird amp combos would defeat the purpose of me trying to save time setting up and soundchecking.

Now, if you're a guitarist like me and dissatisfied with the guitar amplifiers you must use at gig venues, then, my friend, you need a guitar amp head! You should definitely check out my top 3 amp heads, which I'll now show you.


3 - Friedman Runt 20 Head

"The tones in this amp is just balls to the wall; Huge and packs a punch!"

- Dave

If you're looking for uncompromising guitar tone in a lower-wattage amp, the Friedman Runt-20 is a tiny 20-watt head with three 12AX7 preamp tubes and a pair of EL-84s in its output section. The two channels of this amp let you switch between chimey cleans and scorching high gain while maintaining amazing touch sensitivity. The Runt-20 is meticulously built with a speaker-load and cab-emulated XLR out to deliver silent performance on par with the best digital cab emulations currently available.

The Runt-20 can easily produce tones across the whole gain spectrum despite only having two channels and a limited number of parameters. The clean channel has a single volume knob and a 3-way bright switch, making it simple to use. You'll adore the rich vintage crunch and smoky jazz-style tones that this channel can provide. The Runt-20 comes alive in the overdrive channel with a rich, deep gain that will nail '70s hard rock and be easily pushed into contemporary high-gain aggressiveness.

The Runt-20 all-tube electric guitar amplifier head is designed to be an effective tool for session and live guitarists in every way. In addition to having a wide range of tones, its 20-watt rating makes it a favourite for live performances. The Baltic wood cabinetry of the amplifier is incredibly robust and can easily withstand the rigours of travel. Furthermore, both channels have been specially voiced to play nice with all of your favourite pedals. Add in a buffered series effects loop, and you've got an incredibly versatile guitar amp!

๐Ÿ˜ป What I like :

  • Massive sound with an affordable price tag
  • Built-in cab sim for direct to-console use
  • Dual channel mode that gives you a clean channel if you need one
  • Onboard memory that saves knob settings Text

๐Ÿ˜ฟ What I dislike :

  • Not much, if i had to be nitpicky I wish it could house an XLR out, to split the signal with cab sim & without cab sim. But that would make the price go up.

Watch my demo!


2 - Orange Rockerverb 50 and 100 MkIII

With the introduction of the Rockerverb series of electric guitar amplifiers in the early 2000s, a new age of high-gain Orange Amplification tone was inaugurated. The conclusion of over a decade of fine-tuning improvements to that game-changing amplifier is the all-tube Rockerverb 50 and 100 MKIII. The MKIII boasts a newly voiced clean channel for a more varied chimey tone and a dirty channel that will take you anywhere from traditional British crunch to the very heaviest in modern metal. With power scaling and footswitchable attenuation, the Rockerverb MKIII series amps can take you virtually everywhere.

The MKIII version of the Rockerverb guitar amplifiers ups the ante with revoiced channels to obtain even more variety, clarity, and headroom. The Rockerverb guitar amplifiers have been a mainstay in many guitarists' rigs for years. While keeping the antique feel of its non-master volume design, the clean channel now has a dual-band EQ and more headroom. The dirty channel is designed to provide filth; it thrusts you into crunchy rock 'n' roll territory before throttling you into contemporary high-gain grind.

Nothing... nada, sounds like a tube amp. Orange is fully aware of this and created the Rockerverb 100 MKIII entirely out of tubes. Moreover, the tubes are not just found in the pre and power sections. With the power of 12AT7 tubes, the integrated lush-sounding spring reverb and buffered effects loop have both been tuned to give you a more distinct, natural, and usable tone.

"Takes pedal very well and just has the "magic dust" in the way it saturates!"

- Dave

๐Ÿ˜ป What I like :

  • The best pedal platform amp
  • It has a sweet saturation - slamming a boost/OD pedal into the gain channel just sounds so good
  • Has an excellent mic'd up tone when paired with an Orange Cabinet

๐Ÿ˜ฟ What I dislike :

  • For some people the gain channel may not be to their liking
  • May need a pedal to tighten up gain channel for more demanding metal genres
  • Probably not the best amp to play blues

Bonus!

Check out the new Orange Super Crush 100 head too! The best solid state amp in the market today!

Watch my demo!


1- Hughes & Kettner Tubemeister Deluxe 40

"It offers everything you could ever need in one amp within a very good price bracket. Multiple channels, Gain Boost, Cab Simulated out and MIDI (40 watts model) as well as sounding great on its own; with & without pedals."

- Dave

I can't stress enough about this amp, it is the very why I use this amp for every guitar and pedal demos in our YouTube channel! By the way, do check out and follow our other YouTube channel Rhythm & Beard to see the latest, wackiest and greatest guitar related content starring me!

With the Hughes & Kettner TubeMeister Deluxe 40 (or 20 if your budget is restricted) guitar amplifier, experience a new level of amp control. To help you find the perfect tone for any size gig, this three-channel tone machine has an integrated power soak with selectable 40W, 18W, 5W, and 1W operation. You can even pick speaker-off mode for genuine silence recording that won't harm your amp. For a cleaner stage setup and complete control over your live sound, you may send a speaker-simulated signal straight to a board without a mic using the integrated H&K Red Box DI. To preserve your guitar signal on the way in, you can route your delays and reverbs after the preamp stage using a serial effects loop.

The famous 12AX7/EL84 combo from the TubeMeister produces sparkling cleans and eruptive leads through its three footswitchable channels and quick, well-known 3-band EQs. The TubeMeister is flexible for live work, live work, recording and power soak, the TubeMeister makes the TubeMeister TubeMeister, flexible for live work, recording and practise. You may dial down the TubeMeister's to 40 watt without without without without tube tone tone and response.

Tubes can be ticking time bombs that break at the worst possible times, despite the fact that they sound wonderful. For the greatest sound and the longest tube life, the TubeMeister Deluxe's Tube Safety Control (TSC) continuously monitors power tubes and modifies their bias. To safeguard your amplifier, the TSC removes failing power tubes from the circuit while allowing you to quickly assess their condition.

๐Ÿ˜ป What I like :

  • High Headroom & takes pedal well
  • One of the most versatile tube amps - able to cover tonnes of tone
  • Has a cab simulated DI out.

๐Ÿ˜ฟ What I dislike :

  • NONE!

It's the amp that I use in all our YouTube videos! Watch it here!

Just the amp sound with a guitar

With an overdrive pedal

With delay pedals



Get all these awesome face-melting distortion pedals on our website!

Hughes & Kettner Tubemeister Deluxe 40

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Hughes & Kettner Tubemeister Deluxe 20

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Orange Rockerverb 100 MkIII

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Orange Rockerverb 50 MkIII

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Orange Super Crush 100

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Friedman Runt 20

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