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#1
I am looking for a belated Christmas present for myself, and I feel like it should be guitar related. I just started taking learning guitar seriously a few months ago and am currently taking lessons. I do most of my practicing unplugged due to the family (new baby and 5 year old daughter, as well as a mother who needs peace!), as well as with a sonic port plugged in to my iPad with headphones. I am looking for a toy that will encourage me or enable me to practice more.

The options that I have considered are:
-a small modeling amp that can be played at low volumes (I am leaning toward the Yamaha THR10, but open to others) and with headphones
-some kind of pedal/interface that would play drum beats and possibly incorporate a tuner/effects that would be quicker and easier to plug and play (same role as sonic port, but with drum beats)
-a looper pedal or other interface that would offer this functionality. I haven't discovered the use for it, but it was recommended by my teacher.
-a travel guitar (Traveler) to allow me to practice when I am traveling (frequently for work)
-Vox Amphones for easy plug and play practice

Any recommendations? Other ideas welcome.

Thanks
#2
I've had a bunch of experience with the Yamaha THR recently. I've been really impressed. Makes recording ideas for my bandmates real easy. That gets my vote.
#3
A used Pod HD Desktop. Great for practice and has plenty of uses outside of the beginner phase.

There's also the Line 6 Amplifi TT for $200. Based on older Pod tech. Uses a tablet or smartphone to configure amps and FX.
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#4
Zoom G1on/G3/G5.

You obviously have the budget for the G5, but if you're just looking for a practice tool the G1on has an aux input that comes in very handy.

All feature a looper, usb interface and drum sequencer (which automatically synchs with the looper). They also all have a great range of effects and amp/cab sims that match up nicely to the equivalent POD - the main difference being most PODs don't include the looper & drum sequencer, and I don't think any have the aux input you get on the G1on.

You could even get the G1on & still have enough money left over to get the travel guitar you mentioned in the OP.
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Last edited by GaryBillington at Jan 13, 2015,
#5
Get a portable digital modeling device. They range from $99-300, and are available from companies like Korg, Line6, Boss and Tascam. Regardless of manufacturer, they all deliver a powerful practice tool that easily fits in a gig bag or guitar case, so you can practice anywhere you feel comfortable bringing your guitar. Usually used with headphones, they can also be used with your standard rig as a small MFX unit.

Some of note:
Boss Micro-BR 4 track
http://www.bossus.com/gear/productdetails.php?ProductId=818

Boss Micro-BR 80
http://www.bossus.com/gear/productdetails.php?ProductId=1167

Pocket POD
http://www.guitarcenter.com/Line-6-Pocket-POD-Guitar-Multi-Effects-Processor-104391875-i1173933.gc

Tascam GT-R1
http://tascam.com/product/gt-r1/

Korg Pandora Mini
http://www.guitarcenter.com/Korg-Pandora-Mini-PXMINI-Guitar-Multi-Effects-Processor-H70754-i1746466.gc

Korg Px4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvaXhaTW-B8&sns=em

Korg Pandora Stomp
http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/PandoraSTOr/

Korg Px5
http://www.guitarcenter.com/Korg-Pandora-PX5D-Guitar-Multi-Effects-Processor-104821715-i1387080.gc

Here is a visual comparison of (left to right) Tascam, my PX-5 and one of my Px4s to my old Aiwa cassette player, all resting on a 9"x12" manilla mailing envelope:



They all differ, but common features include:
  • Tuner
  • Metronome
  • Digital drumbeats
  • Amp modeling
  • Pedal modeling

...most of which can be modified somewhat. In addition, they usually include some kind of microphone or computer interface for recording. Some have loopers and phrase trainers.

FWIW, there are also apps for smartphones & other portable devices that do some of the same stuff, so that may be an option for you as well.
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
Last edited by dannyalcatraz at Jan 13, 2015,
#6
Thank you for all of the great recommendations. As I briefly mentioned, I am currently using the Line 6 Sonic Port and Mobile POD app on my iPad mini. It works well and allows me to get a great tone and play along with backing tracks. I have found that I am not inclined to get plugged in because the iPad is not a dedicated device with a simple on/off switch. So while it is not terribly difficult, the act of connecting the iPad, plugging in the guitar, putting on the headphones, opening the App, etc. is just cumbersome enough to keep me from doing it. Furthermore, to play along to a metronome or drum beat, I have to go to a different app and fiddle with getting connected. I am not sure why the Mobile Pod app doesn't have a built in metronome or drum beats or loop feature, but it is what it is.

I have been leaning towards the amp because I feel I could simply plug in and start playing. But it does not add the other practice tools that the above listed devices do. I feel silly considering the Line 6 POD when I have the app version, but it seems there is value in just plugging in to a stand alone device.

Keep the recommendations coming!
#7
Used Peavey Tube Vypyr 60. Should cost you about 250$

Modeling combo amp that has a real vacuum tube pre-amp and power amp. It has a built-in looper, a tuner, can plug headphones in, has plenty of effects and it is the definition of "plug in and play".
I don't think it has a drum machine but it has a lot going for it, and it sounds pretty good.

It's also going to be loud enough that you could play a live show with it.


I could also support the suggestion for the Zoom G3. Get it used and get a powered speaker for about 300 bucks all told. Then you'd have approximately the same capabilities as you'd get from the Tube Vypyr, but you'd also have a rhythm machine.
The Vypyr will probably sound a little nicer. The Zoom has more effects and amp models and an easier interface. The Zoom is also a lot more portable. You could take the zoom with you anywhere and use your headphones to practice.
Last edited by paul.housley.7 at Jan 13, 2015,
#8
I feel silly considering the Line 6 POD when I have the app version, but it seems there is value in just plugging in to a stand alone device.


While having something like an app on an iPad that can do it all is seductive, it is often more intuitive and easier to use a device designed from the ground up for the purpose.

When I use my Korgs or Tascam, accessing the metronome or drum sequences is just a few button pushes.
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
Last edited by dannyalcatraz at Jan 13, 2015,
#9
I have three Korg Pandoras; an older PX3D, a current PX5D and a Pandora Mini.

All three are small enough to toss into the accessory pocket of your case or gig bag, all run on batteries or with an AC power brick, and all have a really extensive (huge, in fact) list of practice options. Aside from a ton of amps/cabs/FX, there's a auxiliary input that allows you to play along with your iGizmo, a slower-downer (slows down the song without changing the pitch), a pitch-shifter (changes the pitch without affecting the speed), a phrase trainer (play up to 40 seconds of a song over and over again to practice with that section of the song), a metronome, a tuner, drum tracks, bass tracks, a USB output (and the PX5D came with recording software) and much more. You can run the output, of course, into any small amp (I've got an old EVJr that was $50 used) if you need noise. Otherwise, the Korgs are tiny and awesome for practicing with headphones.

My other practice gizmo is the Pod HD (desktop "bean") which has all the electronics of the HD500, but which can easily perch on your desk. No practice-specific things in the Pod, however. Just awesome sound.
#10
2 PX-4s and a PX-5 for me, HA!
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#11
Quote by paul.housley.7
Used Peavey Tube Vypyr 60. Should cost you about 250$

Modeling combo amp that has a real vacuum tube pre-amp and power amp.

No it doesn't, it has a tube power section and that is it. the only modeler that has both and it is still not a full tube pre is the L6 spider valve
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#12
Just bought myself a Boss Micro BR 80 as mentioned by dannyalcatraz for exactly the same reasons you gave. So far I'm pretty happy... Metronome, tuner, modelling amp, jam along to built in tracks or download your own, make your own rhythm tracks, 8 track recorder, USB interface, Sonar DAW software.
See MICRO BR BR-80 Digital Recorder Introduction: http://youtu.be/lyCpTVnf7-8
Last edited by Alt-V at Jan 14, 2015,
#13
Quote by Robbgnarly
No it doesn't, it has a tube power section and that is it. the only modeler that has both and it is still not a full tube pre is the L6 spider valve


I'm gonna stand my ground on this one. I am not absolutely certain about the Vypyr, but I believe it's got the same basic set-up as the Superchamp X2.

In the Fender you've got a solid state modeling section that feeds a single gain stage in the 12ax7 preamp tube. The other half of the 12ax7 (dual triode tube) is the phase inverter.
It's not exactly a tube pre-amp, both because it doesn't have a tone stack and because 1 gain stage is not enough amplification, but it's more than a solid state pre-amp.

I think it's purely a matter of opinion whether it deserves to be called tube or not, but "hybrid" certainly still applies. The solid state stuff can't be bypassed.
#14
Quote by paul.housley.7
I'm gonna stand my ground on this one. I am not absolutely certain about the Vypyr, but I believe it's got the same basic set-up as the Superchamp X2.

In the Fender you've got a solid state modeling section that feeds a single gain stage in the 12ax7 preamp tube. The other half of the 12ax7 (dual triode tube) is the phase inverter.
It's not exactly a tube pre-amp, both because it doesn't have a tone stack and because 1 gain stage is not enough amplification, but it's more than a solid state pre-amp.

I think it's purely a matter of opinion whether it deserves to be called tube or not, but "hybrid" certainly still applies. The solid state stuff can't be bypassed.

Nope, your wrong. The vypyr tube has only a tube power section, the 12ax7 is the PI and nothing more. The entire preamp is SS "trans-tube" as peavey calls it.
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#15
Quote by Robbgnarly
The entire preamp is SS "trans-tube" as peavey calls it.


Is this pre- or post- power section reassignment surgery?
#16
Quote by Robbgnarly
Nope, your wrong. The vypyr tube has only a tube power section, the 12ax7 is the PI and nothing more. The entire preamp is SS "trans-tube" as peavey calls it.


Okay. I couldn't dig that information up. I believe you. I don't know why they'd waste half of a perfectly good tube, but that's their business I guess.

But I did catch you on the Super Champ. I know that one has a gain stage.
#17
Quote by dspellman
Is this pre- or post- power section reassignment surgery?

Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#18
A looping pedal. Hands down. Get the best one you can for $300, which is a pretty damn good unit.
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#19
I would say that the Boss BR 80 is about the best tool I have yet had to help me practice. The drum beats are quite good and well 8 tracks of recording power plus a great amp and effects modeling.
I used it exclusively here on my music page.
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#20
I did a little thinking about it last night, and what I REALLY need is a little practice space and I need a dedicated time to practice. At this point, I don't have either and I can't reasonably acquire either. So I am attempting to compensate for those two critical items with a piece of gear.

If I can create a set-up that is small/clean/design worthy enough to reside in my living room next to my guitar, that would allow me to walk up, switch on and start playing (and have the tools that important for short stints of practice); then it is likely I will get better quality of practice in the short bursts of time that I have available. To me, this means that I will have a device that will be plugged in, that my guitar will be plugged in to, that will have dedicated headphones connected, and with the flip of a switch I am playing in my preferred sound. I would like to have the option to unplug the headphones and hear the sound out loud. I would like to have the ability to tune, play to a metronome, play to some drum beats, and play along with backing tracks.

(sorry for the wall of text, but I am thinking out loud here, which helps me solve this puzzle)

I can have an amp under the table/against the wall that simply acts as a speaker if I am using a device that is well enough suited for all other tasks. OR I can get an amp that handles more of the tasks (modeling, tuning, metronome, headphone connection, etc) and use a simpler device to handle things like drum beats, looping, etc that can't be handled at the amp level.

Still thinking on this one...
#21
for $300 do not buy anything that has a tube in it - it's a gimmick.

A small Modelling amp would be your best bet - they are fantastic . Make sure it has an aux in and use the Ipad or your phone to cue up a drum beat or backing track ( there are a million drum apps - "Drum Beats+" on ios is perfect - you can choose the style, bpm etc.).
#22
A portable digital modeler, a modeling amp, or MFX pedal are your main options.

The PDMs are the most compact & portable. You can even use one while walking around the house or yard. (Can be used like an MFX pedal.)

The modeling amps give you that important option of actually having a speaker, so you don't HAVE to use headphones.

The MFX pedal opens up your options on the amps, since they can be used with basically anything.
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#23
I made the mistake of thinking that I could hide a small combo amp underneath an end table behind the couch. It was audible but the sound quality was greatly compromised. It was also a pain in the butt to adjust the controls.

I really think that you need to get a powered speaker and then get a device that will handle all of your practice needs. The Korg type devices, the Pods and the Zoom G3 are a few that can do what you need.
#24
reverb66 lead me in a direction that might make sense. If I get an amp that has the appropriate configurability; I can have the amp as my main interface (basic modeling, on board tuner, aux input, and headphone jack), then rely on my aux input (iPad/iPod) for backing tracks, drum beats, metronome, etc. Additionally, I can handle looping with a dedicated looping device. I have been a bit too caught up in capturing too much of the functions in one device. If I want to spend a lot of time configuring my tone using a modeling device, I already have the sonic port.

For the sake of this conversation, let's say that I am going to configure my set-up as described above and I am going to start from scratch. I need a low volume practice amp that I can plug an input device into and headphones in to. I need headphones. I need a looping pedal (that does not need to be able to do a lot of effects, beats, or modeling (a tuner would be nice if it is nicer and easier to use than one that would come on-board with the amp, otherwise I have other tuning solutions).

My first thought is something like this (and I have very little experience with these, just what I read on the web:
Amp-
Fender Mustang - Leaning towards the Mustang I
Yamaha THR5 or 10
Orange Crush CR20LDX
Line6, Roland Cube, Peavy, etc

Headphones-
I have quite a few sets of headphones and ear-buds, but I think a dedicated set of headphones for my guitar practice is justified.
AKG K240 -Leaning towards these
Senheiser HD280


Looper-
If a simple basic tone that I like is achievable through the amp, then I don't need the looper to be a comprehensive effects/modeling device. But if the best value is a device that offers modeling and effects, then that would be a bonus (and I could rely on fewer features to on the amp).
Last edited by Moto4Fun at Jan 15, 2015,
#25
Don't cheap out on headphones. You want the full-sized over the ear kind by someone non-trendy. Think Sony, Aiwa, Bose, Sennheiser, etc. Not only do they sound better- and more properly EQed- than things like Beats or Skullcandy, they block out more background noise, so you won't blast your ears with too much volume.

Typically, such headphones can cost $50+, but you can find refurbished ones for a little as $5 a pair at outlets or online.
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#26
Quote by dannyalcatraz
Don't cheap out on headphones. You want the full-sized over the ear kind by someone non-trendy. Think Sony, Aiwa, Bose, Sennheiser, etc. Not only do they sound better- and more properly EQed- than things like Beats or Skullcandy, they block out more background noise, so you won't blast your ears with too much volume.

Typically, such headphones can cost $50+, but you can find refurbished ones for a little as $5 a pair at outlets or online.



Yeah, thanks. I have Beats earbuds that work fine with my cell phone, I have Beats Studios that work well on air planes with my iPod/iPad. I have various other headphones and eaerbuds from Sony and Senheiser. The best guitar option that I currently have are Sure in-ear monitors. They sound great, but add to the "set-up time" that I am trying to eliminate. I am leaning towards the AKG k240 for their circum-aural semi-open design.
#27
How about this then:

Buy yourself a Vox mini5.
http://www.voxamps.com/mini5

I haven't used this particular model, but I've used other Vox modeling amps and they were fairly nice. It would fulfill an important criteria in a number of different possible plans for you.

First of all it's a complete modeling amp. Plug and play - adequate volume for practicing - headphone jack, etc...
Second of all it's a powered speaker if you know how to use it. If you decide to get one of those Pods or Korgs or Zoom units then you can plug into the aux input and thereby bypass the Vox models and Vox tone stack. That's important because otherwise you'd be applying effects to a signal that has already been altered by the other device.
It's also really small. I mean that in a good way.

I've been doing something similar with a Roland Micro-cube. I love my micro-cube but if I had a choice between the micro-cube and the Vox mini5 I think I'd have to go for the Vox. It has extra features that I would like to have including
: Drumroll:
Rhythm tracks. 99 of them. Boom.

So you get this, then if you want to add a looper you can add a looper. Done. Easy. High five.
#28
I think I have narrowed my set-up choices down to these options:
-FenderMustangI, ZoomG1on, AKG k240 (approx. $250)
-or-
-Yamaha THR10C, ZoomG1on, AKG K240 (approx. $375)

I still haven't decided which amp I should go with. I currently have a cheap Marshall with no modeling that would fill the void until I decide. My priority is to get the Zoom and dedicated headphone. A nice table top amp that would look acceptable in my grown-up living room like the Yamaha seems pretty appealing.
#29
I just pulled the trigger on the Fender Mustang Mini. It was mostly off of my radar as I was considering the Mustang I. I had pretty much settled on the THR and was debating between the multiple variations and which used eBay seller to buy from. But seeing the Mustang mini in person along side the Roland Micro Cube, various small Orange combo amps, and considering the significant price difference and the ability to support local; I decided to go with the Mini. There were a couple reasons, and the sound wasn't a consideration. I want this to go on the end table in my living room. Looks matter. The ability to see the controls (vs the Roland controls which are in the back half of the top of the cabinet, and the nice vintage look really appealed to me.

Tonight I will determine on my own if I will be happy with the sound. The shop has a nice return policy, so if it doesn't meet my expectations, I can take it in and swap it without much hassle.

This decision has opened up the budget a little bit. I have an amp and headphone for under $200 OTD. I now have a little money available for a looping device or other practice gadget.
Last edited by Moto4Fun at Jan 20, 2015,
#30
Woot!
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#31
Thanks for that! I am already starting to second guess my decision. It is nice to hear/see a WOOT every now and then!
#32
I have spent a couple late nights messing with my new set-up. One thing is certain: sitting down to practice is simpler by having the amp with headphone connected and guitar plugged in all ready to go. I have the ipad plugged in and ready as well. It is funny because the iPad and associated apps were part of the problem, but it is already easier by having the amp in place and ready to be used.

I am using a couple useful apps (Amazing Slower Downer and Drum Beats +) and I am finding that I will be able to advance with these tools.

Next on my list was a looping function to be able to throw down my own rythm/riffs to be able to play on top of. I was seriously considering the Zoom G1on for what appears to be its extraordinary value. But there are some features I will not need. I don't need the Aux in, headphone out, tuner, etc at this point because that can be handled on the amp. I suppose having those features still has value as I would be able to take the pedal, guitar, and headphones and practice elsewhere.

I just wanted to see if there was any reason I should consider a more expensive and more specialized looping device.
#33
Probably not at this point, but perhaps down the road.
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#34
There are a few simple, $100(new) loopers on the market. I think the Ditto started a trend of simple loopers, now both Boss (RC1) and Digitech (Jamman Solo/xt) have one.

Having said that, and I know I'm late, a Zoom G3 is perfect for your situation. Just get a lil powered speaker for when you wanna play loud. With the G3 you can get a drum beat going (built-in), use the octave effect and loop a "bass" line, overdub a rhythm guitar riff and play lead over a full backing band. All of the features are very quick and very easy to use, and it sounds good through headphones. I've been having a good time stomping all over mine for a couple years now, still works good as new.
But if you dig the amp you have now, might as well just get a simple looper. Or, you can be frugal like me and get a delay/looper combo, there are dozens of them it seems. TC Flashback, Line 6 DL4/ DL8, Vox Delaylab, Stereo Memory Man w/Hazari, to name a few.
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#35
The zoom g1on is on its way. Sometimes I totally overthink these things and ultimately buy something on a whim or get what I was originally going to get. I am already stoked with my new setup. The mini mustang was not really on my radar, but fits nicely in my living room and does everything I need it to do. The headphones are great. I assume the zoom will meet my needs as well. Thank you for all of the alternative ideas!
#36
I'm in an identical situation, i have an apogee interface and use it with my mac (+good speakers/wireless headphones) as my sole source of amplification right now. I also have a number of apps on the ipad but i too find it quite annoying setting up the chain of cables and navigate around the apps, plus i like to use the ipad for tabs quite often.

Right now i'm most tempted to buy a Blackstar HT-1R (i know its not an 'all tube' amp before anyone feels the need to point that out) just to have the simplest practice setup and keep using mac/ipad when i want to tweak, use effects add metronome etc. a footsitchable looper does sound good though.... ARGHHHH!!!

edit- didn't see the 2nd page, the discussion has moved on a bit. quick question though, does a looper need to sit inside an amps effects loop to work properly?
Last edited by jecooper86 at Jan 29, 2015,
#37
That is a good question, and one that I hope someone will answer. I did find myself n a related predicament yesterday when I received my zoom and started messing with it. How do I keep the models in the pedal from interacting with the models in the amp? It appears that I can create an effect free patch, then let the amp do the modeling. But what will that do to the drum beats or the loop sound? I need to figure out how to get my amp in to a non-modeled effect free state and let the pedal do the modeling and effects when I use it.

This exercise is teaching me more about effects chains and signal path than I ever envisioned when I started (which is a great thing). If you already know a bit about this subject, it is certainly necessary to consider when choosing your amp and pedals.
#38
Not to be a jerk, but I did mention that stuff when I advocated for the Vox mini5.
I would be willing to bet that your best option now is to run the Zoom into the aux input of the Mustang mini. That should bypass all the modelling in the Mustang. I don't know for certain.
I can tell you that the trick works w/ my Roland micro-cube, but it has the disadvantage of bypassing the micro-cube's volume control. You might need to control volume via the Zoom.

Or you can pick up a cheap line mixer and run the signal through that. That's what I ended up doing. The line mixer controls volume levels for me.
#39
I hate to say you told me so....LOL I am learning by the minute with this stuff and yes that VOX looks like it would have handled all of the same things with a tad bit additional. Live and learn. What I really bought the pedal for was the looper. Frankly it is the cheapest looping function I could find and has the added benefit of being a mobile practice center, tuner, and the modeling stuff. What I really need to figure out is how to remove all models/effects from the signal coming from the pedal and just use the looper as is and use the amp for the effect. Like you suggest, I might find it useful to run through the aux in. I will try this options and hopefully find hapiness.
#40
This is where I think the Fender Super Champ X2 is a very good choice for this type of thing. On the clean channel it will take pedals and you get that classic Fender clean from a mostly tube amp rig, that there is no substitute for a real clean amp.

It works good at low volume and is more relaxing than listening thru headphones.

Music is usually soothing to other people.

To use headphones you could buy an inexpensive mixer (great to have anyway) and plug the headphones into the mixer's headphone jack.

The SCX2 is a great amp and there is a large variety of upgrade speakers available.

Well, the deal is done now, so it doesn't matter, except in retrospect. Experience teaches us things we didn't know.
"Now all the things that use to mean so much to me have got me old before my time." G. Allman, "Old Before My Time", Hittin' The Note cd.
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