ok it isn't a guitar question as such, soz guys, but i'm totally confused about buying a PA, i want it just to practice with my band and maybe small venues, any ideas about brands, rigs? it will be used for mainly for voice, sometimes with a synth and acoustic axe. CHEERS GUS
i suggest you look for used systems, if you have access to any kind of craigs list or similar.

bands upgrade their PAs all the time, and there are some really good bargins out there.

starter systems, like the $150-250, sound techs, kustoms and squier packages are all fine for band garage practice.
but after a while the speakers or system might start to cut out, and that makes them a little shoddy for gig use, imo.

Yamaha makes some nice middle of the road, gig worthy systems.

if you play out at a venue, most supply a pa for the singer. so, in that case, i suggest you dont break the bank getting a system that'll only be used at home.
if you play a lot of high school parties, you'll probably would want something closer in quality to yamaha.

you need several parts. one of them needs to be powered.

mixer, speakers and amp.

or a powered mixer and speakers.
or powered speakers and mixer. and so on.

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It all depends on your price range, In my experince 4 track mixer and 2 mackie speakers are just great for 2 or 3 vocalists and the ocassional acoustic guitar. A Behringer Xenyx 1202 for 66 quid and 2 Behringer B300 gives you a total of 300 watt at £515 or you could go for a Kustom KPA-100 for £259 and that gives you a wattage of 100 watts.

As i said it all depends on your budget, i hope i have helped you.
i prefer a powered mixer, or power speakers just because its less stuff to carry around.

What the dude at guitar center told me was, to get a nice mixer, something you wont need to upgrade for a while, like a mackie.
And with my budget he said get powered speakers, for the time being.
Mackie stuff isn't what it used to be. For practice and small gigs I use a Peavey powered mixer. Plenty enough power for that. Plus reliability has never been an issue. There are some pretty decent main speakers out there right now. The yamahas are really nice sounding. If you ever get in a crunch for more channels just pick up a smaller mixer and run that to the powered one.
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i'd recommend get yourself one or two active speakers. if you have a mixing desk then that's even better, if not then i'd get one first for you and the rest of the band.

i got myself a gemini gx-801 for 120 quid the other day for me to practise vocals with. am going to use it all week, but it seems perfectly fine for amplification.
Thanks for the help guys... so i need mixer amp and speakers? do u guys ever need fold backs if ur gigging? and is it alright to have one of those powered mixers thats the amp aswell, or is that a tautology? i have heard they can be a bit dodge?