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This compact Crate PowerBlock amp is no longer in production, but you can get a used one for around $100.
Electro Harmonix 22 Caliber
Stree price: $104
This thing is tiny, about the size of a smallish pedal. It’s cheap as you could hope for and sounded good online. Worth a look.
Street price: $245
This is a “friend of a friend” recommendation. I’ve never even seen this amp, but the size works and I’m told that it sounds great and can keep up with loud drums.
Peavy Bandit 112
Street price: #349.99
(find secondhand for as little as $50)
A combo amp but can drive any cabinet. There’s nothing pretty about this amp, but it is cheap and nearly indestructible. Pick a used one up for $50 and leave it in your trunk just in case. I actually saw Keith Urban play through one of these with his old band, The Ranch, and he sounded like… well … Keith Urban.
Street price: $239
The size of a largeish stomp box, this amp can plug into a 4x12 cab and rawk. Or run the headphone out directly into a board for a convincing speakersimulated sound.
Diago Little Smasher
Street price: $189
Though I’ve not played through this head, the size and simplicity appeals to me. A meager 5 watts may not be able to keep up with the band, but in a pinch, this could get you through.
Street price: No longer in production, around $50 to $120 used
15 watts Street price: No longer in production, around $50 to $120 used A combo amp with a measly 5" speaker, this sounds great when driving a 4x12. Very small and light. I’ve used this for everything from guitar to pedal steel to bass. Sounds great, less filling.
3. Leave your top
shelf rig at home
If you read Premier Guitar you probably have stuff … lots and lots of stuff: multiple amps, guitars, stomp boxes, etc. Assuming that’s the case, you may reconsider touring with your best gear. Gear is made to be played, but regrettably, the road is like Ike Turner, constantly handing out a beating. Your “best” stuff will soon become your “okay” stuff, eventually downgrading to your “not working” stuff. I only use my favorite amps for recording and travel with my “B” amps. As abysmal as it is to have your amp die on tour, having your best amp not work at a session is worse.
Guitars aren’t as susceptible to breaking down as amps are, but they are more likely to be stolen. Escaping unnoticed with a hefty amp is difficult, but it’s relatively easy to grab a guitar and run. I’ve never lost a guitar on the road, but I know people who have had their beloved axes stolen right off the stage, out of a van or hotel room, or even taken in the airport. I do bring out some favorite guitars on the road, but I try to never let them leave my sight.