Magazine Archive

Home -> Magazines -> Issues -> Articles in this issue -> View

Combo Comparison

Five 50W Combo Amps

Article from Making Music, November 1987


King Of Thing Jerry Uwins bends his ears (and his back) over five 50 watt guitar combos, each for less than £200. So where do they come from, Jerry?


WE SAY



Three British, two Korean. All rated at or around 50W RMS, single 12in driven, with reverb, and any one — excluding footswitch(es) — yours for under two-hundred smackers.

If these are the similarities, the differences (given just £23 between cheapest and most expensive) are significant. Whether assessed by sheer number of knobs and sockets, or each combo's relative proficiency at producing a spectrum of clean to filthy sounds. And continuing to do so under the duress of high volume settings.

A perusal in affabeck lauder.

Colt 50R: Dimensionally, the most compact. And proof that good things often come in small, if in this case hessian-fabric covered, packages.

Keeping to the essentials, Custom Sound have designed an amp which can overdrive like a good'un and still produce decent clean sounds. A combination of attributes not to be taken for granted.

In fact the Colt's Boost, front-panel or footswitch activated (via a single stereo socket which also controls reverb on/off), supplies the best range of distortion of all the test combos. Solid, tight and forward. Only brickbat is the reverb's rather limited range.

Gorilla CG110: Divide catalogue number by two to obtain true power rating of this Korean contender. Good range (helped by treble High Boost switch) of clean sounds at moderate sound levels but unpleasant, randomly ragged break-up as the wick is wound up — even through Normal channel.

A much better bet for hooligan stuff. Tube Stack, used with the quirky Mid Boost switch which overrides the Middle setting and automatically whacks it up to max, is aptly named. Convincing valve-like overdrive, the biz for chaps steeped in shades of the blues. Otherwise, slightly fizzy distortion, so be cautious with treble boost. Excellent reverb range but overly cavernous at maximum.

Laney Linebacker L505: One of the most feature packed. Two channels (the only amp so equipped) — separate, switchable or mixable, and an FX loop make this a very versatile combo. Fashionable too, with its cut-back cabinet fascia.

Paradoxically, it took longer and required more concentration to line up some decent sounds. They're all there, though — classy if not ear-piercing clean tonalities, controllable overdrive breakup, and commendable distortion. It's just that the many available permutations of channel(s) versus master, Gain boost, EQ, etc, demand more time be spent figuring things out. To my ears Presence adds little, except a modest contrast between 0 and 10.

Like the Colt, the Laney needs a stereo-jacked double footswitch to operate, in this case, channel change and reverb. Reverb quality and usable range earn top marks.

Marlin 50RC: Korean, the cheapest and, like the Laney, a lot for your money including an FX loop and a switchable on-board Chorus whose quality, given the combo's price tag, is more than adequate.

A quid pro quo for all this may be cost savings in the combo's construction. Although largest of the five, the Marlin's cabinet uses only ½in chipboard; the others are either ⅝in or ¾in. In a 'throwing combos into the gig truck' contest, the Marlin may not fare too well.

In other respects it acquits itself well. Broad, sparkly clean sounds, and scope enough in the (sometimes fizzy) distortion genre. There are a couple of (Korean again) quirks.

When using a footswitch, overdrive switches automatically to full-on rather than to the setting you've already dialled up. That becomes the Off position. Also the reverb, like the Gorilla's, is over-endowed and can become too cathedral-like. With either, though, at least you'll never run out of reverb!

Vox Venue Lead 50: With only a master/channel volume means of overdriving, the compact Lead 50 appears a poor contender against the others' bells and whistles. Unfair to an extent. Since, set against the annoying absence of any switchable boost, the Vox simply does a dependable job.

It's as loud as the rest, and has good clean sounds that can be retained up to a decent level. And the overdrive, whose quality I'd rank only marginally below the Colt, can be wound in progressively.

The reverb's OK too. Overall, a success for minimalism.

DECISION



Hard one this. Some excel at specific tasks, but in absolute terms there's not a duffer among them. A prompt verdict must go thus, and is based on playing criteria.

For predominantly clean work, the Marlin or Vox. For dishing the dirt the Colt or, for the same usage plus sheer flexibility, the Laney.

If pressed to put folding stuff somewhere near my gob for a personal overall favourite, I'd have to elect the chunky little Colt. It's unfussy. Good noises for all repertoires are ready and waiting and, most important, it feels kinda supportive.

They Say

Model Colt 50R Gorilla CG110 Laney Linebacker L50R Marlin 50RC Vox Venue Lead 50
Price £199.95 £189.00 £188.00 £176.50 £189.00
Power (RMS) 50W 55W 50W 50W 50W
Speaker 1x12" 1x12" 1x12" 1x12" 1x12"
Cab Back Open Open Sealed Open Sealed
Channels One One Two One One
Inputs Hi, Lo Boost, Normal A/B/Ch Mix 1,2 Hi, Lo
Controls Boost (with Sw) Ch Vol Mstr ctrls: Ch Volume Volume
Ch Gain Master Vol Presence Overdrive Master
Master Vol Tube Stack Reverb Master Vol Vol
Reverb Reverb Volume Reverb Reverb
Channel A: Chorus Switch
Master Vol Rate
Gain (with Pull Boost) Depth
Channel B:
Master Vol
Gain
EQ Bass Treble (with High Boost Sw) Channel A: Treble Bass
Middle Middle (with Mid Boost Sw) Treble Middle Middle
Treble Bass Middle Bass Treble
Bass (with Pull Boost)
Channel B:
Treble
Middle
Bass
Front Panel Foot Sw Sockets Reverb/Boost (Combined) None Reverb/Ch Change (Combined) None Reverb
Rear Panel Sockets DI Out Pwr Amp In FX Send FX Send DI Out
Slave in Pre Amp Out FX Return FX Return Slave In
Phones Line Out DI Out Line Out Phones
Reverb Phones Overdrive
Tube Stack Reverb
Chorus
Phones




Previous Article in this issue

Chord of the Month

Next article in this issue

Chord of the Month


Publisher: Making Music - Track Record Publishing Ltd, Nexus Media Ltd.

The current copyright owner/s of this content may differ from the originally published copyright notice.
More details on copyright ownership...

 

Making Music - Nov 1987

Review by Jerry Uwins

Previous article in this issue:

> Chord of the Month

Next article in this issue:

> Chord of the Month


Help Support The Things You Love

mu:zines is the result of thousands of hours of effort, and will require many thousands more going forward to reach our goals of getting all this content online.

If you value this resource, you can support this project - it really helps!

Donations for March 2024

Please note: Our yearly hosting fees are due every March, so monetary donations are especially appreciated to help meet this cost. Thank you for your support!

Issues donated this month: 0

New issues that have been donated or scanned for us this month.

Funds donated this month: £0.00

All donations and support are gratefully appreciated - thank you.


Magazines Needed - Can You Help?

Do you have any of these magazine issues?

> See all issues we need

If so, and you can donate, lend or scan them to help complete our archive, please get in touch via the Contribute page - thanks!

They Say

Model Colt 50R Gorilla CG110 Laney Linebacker L50R Marlin 50RC Vox Venue Lead 50
Price £199.95 £189.00 £188.00 £176.50 £189.00
Power (RMS) 50W 55W 50W 50W 50W
Speaker 1x12" 1x12" 1x12" 1x12" 1x12"
Cab Back Open Open Sealed Open Sealed
Channels One One Two One One
Inputs Hi, Lo Boost, Normal A/B/Ch Mix 1,2 Hi, Lo
Controls Boost (with Sw) Ch Vol Mstr ctrls: Ch Volume Volume
Ch Gain Master Vol Presence Overdrive Master
Master Vol Tube Stack Reverb Master Vol Vol
Reverb Reverb Volume Reverb Reverb
Channel A: Chorus Switch
Master Vol Rate
Gain (with Pull Boost) Depth
Channel B:
Master Vol
Gain
EQ Bass Treble (with High Boost Sw) Channel A: Treble Bass
Middle Middle (with Mid Boost Sw) Treble Middle Middle
Treble Bass Middle Bass Treble
Bass (with Pull Boost)
Channel B:
Treble
Middle
Bass
Front Panel Foot Sw Sockets Reverb/Boost (Combined) None Reverb/Ch Change (Combined) None Reverb
Rear Panel Sockets DI Out Pwr Amp In FX Send FX Send DI Out
Slave in Pre Amp Out FX Return FX Return Slave In
Phones Line Out DI Out Line Out Phones
Reverb Phones Overdrive
Tube Stack Reverb
Chorus
Phones




Previous Article in this issue

Chord of the Month

Next article in this issue

Chord of the Month


Publisher: Making Music - Track Record Publishing Ltd, Nexus Media Ltd.

The current copyright owner/s of this content may differ from the originally published copyright notice.
More details on copyright ownership...

 

Please Contribute to mu:zines by supplying magazines, scanning or donating funds. Thanks!

Monetary donations go towards site running costs, and the occasional coffee for me if there's anything left over!
muzines_logo_02

Small Print

Terms of usePrivacy