Tube amps come in two different configurations. One is the amplifier by itself – the head – which contains the pre amp and end stage and is what creates the tone, colours the sound and amplifies the guitar signal, and the other is the combo, which as its name suggests is a combination of amplifier head and speaker in the one box. All of our amplifiers, from the 5w to the 100w are available as either head or combo, but which one is best for you really depends a lot on your personal requirements.
Tube heads provide the tone and amplification required to make your guitar sound warm and full, as well as all of the control for you to tweak your tone and get a great sound. Tube heads have the advantage of being smaller and lighter; however the lack of a dedicated speaker means that this kind of amplifier is useless without an external speaker cabinet.
This means that amplifier heads are a little more suited to professional players, who can have the freedom to use any speaker cabinet they want with the amplifier. They are also very useful to places like recording studios, as different amplifier sounds may be required on different tracks, and it is easy to just switch heads on a single speaker cabinet. For the general user, however, the lack of a built-in speaker cab can be an inconvenience, as it means that you have to spend more money on the cab, and carry two things around with you when you play a gig.
The combo amp is better suited to people who need ease of use and convenience in an amplifier. As the speaker is already connected, a combo allows for easier transportation and setup of your gear, which is great if you like to go gigging and don’t have a car to carry a lot of things in!
Some combo amps give you the option of either using the built-in speaker, or connecting to a different speaker cab – Baroni Lab combos are like this – so that in a way you can have the best of both worlds. One drawback can be that once you get past around 40w, combo amps can become a little heavy and therefore slightly more awkward to transport.
Generally speaking, if quick setup and no nonsense is what you need, then a combo amp can be the best choice. For more freedom with speaker configurations and a more professional rig, the head is usually a bit more useful.