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Modelling Amplifier Buyers Guide


They say that practice makes perfect but how can you practice when you don’t know which amp to use?! You can find yourself asking questions like ‘which one is best for me?’ and ‘what’s the difference?’

Here we've reviewed 5 of the most popular amplifiers with built in effects and let you know a little more about them so you can make up your own mind on which will be best for you.

These are a fantastic option if you are new to playing and want to expand your range of sounds so that you can jump around the living room pretending to be on stage at Wembley, or if you already are a fantastic guitarist and are just looking for an alternative to getting your pedal board out each time you want to dream up a new riff, then these could be the answer.

Take a look at what we think of Fender's Mustang i; Blackstar's ID Core 20; Roland's Cube 20GX; VOX's Valvetronic VT20+ & Blackstar's ID15TVP.....

FENDER MUSTANG I V2 - £90 


Classic, old-school looks with advanced technology and simple controls.

It’s so easy to get playing around right away with the 24 built in effects and 17 amp models.

Create some awesome sounds with 12 modulation effects such as chorus, tremolo, octave or vibratone and 12 delay / reverb effects such as tape
delay or hall reverb.

The clean and overdrive tones are just supreme!

By experimenting with the models you can easily replicate some
classic sounds of the past!

Start blending in some effects like delay and reverb and you’re away with a great tone in seconds.

20 watts of power means it can be quiet enough for bedroom use but it can also go pretty loud, more than adequate for use at home.

The ‘Fender Fuse’ software adds yet another impressive feature to this little box of tricks!  

Replicate some
classic sounds
of the past!

Plug the Mustang into your computer and be immersed in an online community where you can dial
up your dream tone on screen, save it and even share it with other users.

With all the visuals of amps,
pedals and effects racks it’s
super easy to digitally edit your
tones and effects.

Overall it’s pretty awesome!

It looks great, sounds superb and
is very affordable, perfect for
home and bedroom use! 
 

Fender Mustang Multi Effects Amplifier

SUMMARY:
Tone Quality: 4/5
Ease of Use & Controls 3/5
Quality of Effects 4/5
Value for Money 5/5
Optional Footswitch: Yes

Pro: Great amp models & AMAZING value for money.
Con: Tricky to master the effects unless you use the software and view them on screen.




 

BLACKSTAR ID: CORE 20 - £119

 

Standard Blackstar design, cool minimal looks and awesome effects mean this amp packs in a load of great features for a low price tag.

With 20 watts (2x10W) of power it’s OK for home and bedroom practice.

Its two speaker, stereo configuration makes the effects sound amazing. If you love guitar effects you’ll love this one!

The way they blend between the speakers is awesome for a little practice amp!

With 12 different effects and 6 voices they’ve taken quite a stripped down, easy to use approach.

Simply choose your clean or drive type, set the volume, gain and EQ, dial in your effect and you’re away.

There’s loads of gain on offer, making it ideal for a range of styles from Jazz to Rock to full on Metal!

The quality of the overdrives could be a little better, but it really doesn’t take away from how good the overall sound is.

The ISF (Infinite Shaping Feature) is the master tone control here. Blend from American to UK sounding amps with just one knob… simple but extremely effective.

Ideal for a range of styles from Jazz to Rock to full on Metal!

If that just isn’t enough then you can even plug it into your computer and fine tune your tones with the Blackstar Insider software.

A fantastic feature, which allows endless amounts of fun with a huge variety of tones.

Create your ideal sound with the on-screen controls and hear it out of the amp instantly!

Store your patches and share them with the thriving Insider community.

Fun, easy, affordable… and for the money, just brilliant.

SUMMARY:
Tone Quality: 3/5
Ease of Use & Controls 4/5
Quality of Effects 5/5
Value for Money 4/5
Optional Footswitch: Yes

Pro:  Stereo speakers and great sounding effects.
Con: Volume is a little lacking as it's not a true 20 watt amp.




ROLAND CUBE 20GX - £149

 

Are Roland Cubes a thing of the past?

Definitely not!

Even though these have been around for a while they definitely don’t come last in this amp race!

It’s not the most attractive looking one on offer but does that matter when we’re talking about tones and sounds?

The control panel may look a bit scary but it’s actually really easy to use!

The overdrive tones are very good, perhaps one of the best in this group. The cleans are a little thin but it’s not bad at all.

With 7 different voices including an acoustic simulator and clean there’s a range of tones and gains you can get.

The crazy Metal Stack setting gives a load of gain, which is great to chug away those riffs on!

Blend in one of 4 modulations, 2 delays, 2 reverbs and even octave effects and you’ve got a nice useable tone to jam with.

Like a certain setting? Then simply save it for the next practice session.

The option of the Cube Jam app via the i-CUBE LINK connection allows you to turn your iOS device into a recording / jam station.

Simply download the app, plug in and play to your songs through the amp and choose from numerous advanced amp models, tones and sounds.

There are perhaps more modern options for a bit cheaper but it’s a serious contender nonetheless!

The Cube is compact and has an overall great sound and with 20 watts of power it’s perfect for the bedroom or home use.



Turn your iOS device into a recording / jam station

SUMMARY:
Tone Quality: 4/5
Ease of Use & Controls 3/5
Quality of Effects 3/5
Value for Money 3/5
Optional Footswitch: Yes

Pro:  Awesome overdrive tones and effects.
Con: Perhaps a bit pricey compared to other models.




VOX VALVETRONIC VT20+ - £135

The Vox VT20+ gives classic Vox looks with a huge amount of sounds and effects.

With the addition of a pre-amp valve the drive tones are pure and accurate and with a maximum power of 30 watts there’s more than enough volume for home use.

The control panel looks like there’s a lot going on… It may take a little time to get your head around all the controls but once it makes perfect sense, it will open up doors to countless sounds right at your fingertips.

With 33 amp models and 26 effects to have fun with, there’s lots to explore... you won’t get bored with this one!.

Choose from a number of cool effects such as flanger, chorus, pitch shift or tape echo.

The addition of 8 user channels means you can store your favourite tones to recall when ever you need, you’ll never lose that perfect sound!

99 preset effect programs give you ready-to-go tones, which are all fantastic and fun. 

99 preset effect programs give you ready-to-go tones which are all fantastic and fun to play through.

What’s really cool, though, is the ‘Song Preset List’ where you can find preset tones that sound just like some famous guitar songs.

Find sounds such as Enter Sandman, Sweet Child O’ Mine, Smells Like Teen Spirit and so many more!

This feature definitely makes up for having no connectivity to your computer or mobile device.

A great little amplifier at a fantastic price.

SUMMARY:
Tone Quality: 4/5
Ease of Use & Controls 3/5
Quality of Effects 4/5
Value for Money 4/5
Optional Footswitch: Yes

Pro: 
A valve pre amp to give really great tones.
Con: A little tricky at first to understand the controls.




BLACKSTAR ID:15TVP - £199

The ID:15TVP - ‘True Valve Power’ - is a pretty unique modelling amp that does everything you would expect and more.

There’s a little button labelled ‘TVP’ which when pressed boosts volume and EQ to be as ‘loud as valve’.

It’s quite remarkable, test it next to a valve amp with the same power rating of 15 watts and it really does keep up.

With the option to choose which power amp valve style you want to use, it’s a little bit ‘techy’ but with a bit of practice you’ll find the ideal sound easily and see that the different settings can give you fantastic results.

Just choose your voice of which type of drive you want, add some EQ, choose your valve type and then add 3 simultaneous effects!

Choose from 4 modulations, 4 delays and 4 reverbs!

When you find that sound you like just save it in the memory banks for next time!

The ISF (Infinite Shaping Feature) allows you to take your sound from an American style amp all the way to a UK style and anywhere in between with just one knob, a great feature which opens doors to loads of good tones.

The drive sounds are really good, especially when the TVP is engaged!

Effects are nice and blend together well.

Use the FREE software to manipulate your sounds on screen with stunning visuals.

All round, it’s just a nice sounding amplifier, which is great for at home or even at a band practice session.

Like the ID:CORE you get the option of the Blackstar Insider software which allows deep editing of your tone.

Use the FREE software to manipulate your sounds on screen with stunning visuals.

Store your favourite patches for next time and share them around the online community!

It may not be the cheapest one in our amp race but it’s not being left behind… the extra few £'s are worth it just for the awesomeness of the ‘TVP’ button.

Lots of possibility, loads of great tones. Awesome.

SUMMARY:
Tone Quality: 5/5
Ease of Use & Controls 3/5
Quality of Effects 4/5
Value for Money 4/5
Optional Footswitch: Yes

Pro: 
Great valve emulation gives defined tones as loud as a valve amp.
Con: 
Can take a little while to find the tones you want, but use the software to make it easier.




OUR VERDICT


SO WHAT’S THE VERDICT

All of these amps have their strengths and are all fantastic, but each have their own specialities.

     If you just want top quality overdrive tones then go for the Mustang, Cube or the VT20+.

     If you love the effects side of things more, then consider the Mustang, ID:CORE or the ID:15TVP.

     If you are looking a transistor amp that's as close to valve as they can get, then take a look at the VOX and Blackstar ID15TVP.

     But is you want something that's as loud as a valve amp but with the relability of modern electronics, then it has to be the Blackstar ID:15TVP.


Whichever you choose you won’t be let down, with excellent features and good value for money you can be sure to find the ideal one for you.

 

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