Hello everyone,

This is going to be a long post, so I apologize in advance, but please help me out~

I'm going to be going to college next year, and I obviously want to keep playing guitar. I'm not entirely sure what to do though regarding playing, so I would like some advice.

My current rig:
Fernandes Retrorocket Deluxe DG (EMG SA David Gilmour signature pickups)
Fender Lonestar Deluxe Stratocaster (Texas Special neck and mid, Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates Bridge Humbucker)
Zoom G5
Bugera V5
Fender Mustang II

First of all, what do you guys think about bringing an electric guitar to college? Anyone have experience regarding how safe it stays? I love my Fernandes, I play it almost all the time, but if college is going to be semi dangerous for a guitar (note: I am NOT a partyer or anything, probably no dorm parties or anything to be worried about), I'm not sure I want to risk it.

Secondly, I have a problem with amplification. At home, I currently have my Zoom G5 run into a dedicated set of some old Klipsch speaker stacks my dad has in our garage. That set up works great... but obviously, that can't work at college, but I can also just run it with headphones, which is an option. I also have a Bugera V5 that I enjoy playing (keep it on the 1 watt mode at home, volume maxed, gain around 8 and I go from clean to crunch with guitar's volume knob). I wouldn't mind bringing the Bugera to college instead and just running that, it does have a headphone output like the G5 does which is nice, and a 0.1 watt mode if I want to not use headphones but still need to keep it super quiet. I have a pair of Sennheiser HD215 headphones, but I might get a new pair for college (realistically not though, honestly these headphones sound great with my laptop and the few times I've played guitar through them I'm fine with the sound, and after all, if you like it, keep it).

However, I have issues with both of these. I want to be able to play small shows at college. Just the "standard" music scene that I've heard so much about, playing at small clubs and small local places. The problem with the G5 is that I have no amplification for it.

The solution I'm thinking is that I need to get a small powered speakers (I've seen the Rokit KRK speakers mentioned here before). How loud can a powered speaker get? The advantage I see to getting a speaker is that I can also hook it up to my laptop for watching movies and other stuff, it won't be restricted to only being for my guitar, so my parents might pay for some of it.

Additionally, at school I performed at my school's international showcase (~500 people theater), and what they asked me to do was to plug my G5 into my Fender Mustang through the MP3 in and just crank the volume on that. Volume on 6 was plenty loud enough for the performance, but the whole building is designed to be acoustically amazing, as it is my school's drama theater. I would prefer not to do this as my solution, I'm pretty sure there's a better way.

The problem with the Bugera is that it's too quiet to play in public. 5 watts is simply not enough. At school, I jam with a few friends, and the G5 is not nearly loud enough to compete with a drummer and keep any semblance of clean tones. I mostly play clean/blues/heavy blues levels of gain (swapping between them with my volume knob is a big part of my style), so having this type of tone is very important to me. At school, I run the G5 into a PA system in the classroom (the teacher there is a musician, he has a drumkit in there and a PA system for mics, I just run the G5 into it since it has a lot of channels, and the bassist runs straight into it as well).

My solution for this is (obviously) get a bigger amp. I was looking at amps like a Fender Blues Jr., but at $550, it's way out of budget. My budget cap is probably $300. I'm thinking I need a small 15-20 watt tube amp (or ~50 solid state/modeling, if it'll be a good idea) that can stay loud and clean when my volume knob is down and go up beyond the edge of breakup when my guitar volume is dimed (I usually play with the volume knob down at ~5-6 for standard touchy dirt tones, down a bit for pure cleans, up a bit for crunch, and dimed for soloing). As for pedals, I have a Danelectro Daddy-O overdrive, but I really would prefer not having to use pedals (and my guitar has a mid boost knob that acts as a very nice boost when I roll it up, so there's that).

What amps would you guys suggest? I'm not too knowledgeable about amps, the only small/medium amps I know are the Blues Jr., Vox AC15 (personally, I'm not too fond of its sound, and $630 is WAY out of budget, for sure), Laney Cub12r, and Bugera V22. All of these are above my soft budget of 300 (can probably be stretched to about... 350ish?), which is why I've been considering the powered speakers more (the Rokit KRK 5 G3 speakers run for 150 each on Amazon, I can get 2 of them for 300). However, I am willing to buy used and/or online. My location is in the Bay Area, CA, USA. If I haven't been clear, my amp requirements are something that has a solid clean tone and a solid bluesy/heavy blues distortion tone that is very touch sensitive, so I can roll between the gain and clean with my guitar volume. No need for super heavy gain or metal distortion or anything, that's just not my cup of tea . The amp ALSO needs to sound good quiet. I'm not expecting a headphone output, but I want to be able to practice in my dorm with an amp (volume on like... .5 or 1, using preamp gain xD. I realize that I probably can't get my power tube non MV distortion with a 15 watt tube amp at super quiet levels, although the Laney does have a <1 watt input, which is enticing).

Which option would be better, buying powered speakers for my G5 or leaving it at home and getting a small combo? If you're going to answer with "combo because modeling sucks", you're contributing nothing to this discussion, so please don't answer. I'm perfectly happy with the tones I get from my G5, thank you very much. I don't know which one would be more practical, although I'm leaning towards a combo amp. My reasoning is based on moving stuff from one location to another. If I use a combo: one hand guitar case, other hand combo, cables in my backpack. If I use the G5: one hand guitar case, one hand G5 case, and... how will I move the speakers? One hand holds guitar case and G5 case, another hand holds speakers? I'm not too sure how easily transportable they would be. However, speakers have their advantage over a small combo: they're MUCH cheaper than amps, and I can use them with other stuff (hook them up to my laptop), not just my guitar, and my parents might chip in a bit (ALWAYS a great plus~).

Buying right now is not going to happen, I just wanted to get the jump on this so I'm not frantically freaking out over how I'm going to play come next year (and is somewhat spurred by the other thread asking for a metal practice amp for his college dorm).

TL;DR: small clean bluesy combo amp for college, ~300 (used is fine), or powered speakers + modeling? and why?

EDIT: I just remembered the ZT Lunchbox exists. 300 dollars, 200 watts, headphone output too, extremely rugged, it looks great on paper, and it sounds great clean too, but I'm not sure if it can get GAINY enough for me (funny, never thought I'd say that), based on this demo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5ave1vU4ds
Then again, he is using vintage output tele pickups, and my EMG SA/Texas Specials & Pearly Gates humbucker are considerably higher output.
Last edited by wahalrus at Nov 20, 2014,
Powered wedge. Even a 12" wedge isn't that big and you can use it gigging as well. Look at Carvin.
Are you talking about this?

Looking at the specifications, I see that it has an impedance of 8 ohms. Does that mean that it works as an 8 ohm cab? If so, then my G5 can't run it, it has a direct out, not a speaker output. Sorry if this a dumb question, I really don't know very much about PAs/speakers/etc. Also, does it need to be plugged into an outlet? And do I need a mixer to use one or can I plug straight into it?

Thanks for the suggestion! Do you have any particular reason you're suggesting a wedge over a combo amp?
Here are my two cents. Get an amp sim software either standalone or use a daw. Iterface won't run you too much and if you have an ipad or mac theres even more for you. It'll be a cheap option you can you with your headphones you enjoy!
Thanks for the advice, but I'm not really sure how that helps? I have a perfectly good modeler, the G5, and I'm looking for ways to play amplified. I'm sure a digital interface can sound good with headphones, plenty do, but so does my G5's modeling. I'm not looking to get a new modeler. I don't think you understood what I was asking, I want something that can also make a lot of noise if need be xD