Amps

Power and personality in a 50-watt combo optimized for pedals.

A well-thought-out bundle of features in a compact, powerful combo for the pedal-friendly age. Lots of personality.

Tube changes require removing the entire chassis.

$1,499

Supro 1932R Royale
suprousa.com

4
4.5
4
4.5

While some tube-amp makers buck the proliferation of pedal-dominated rigs, others thrive by taking an “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” approach to the pedal platform concept. Supro’s new Model 1932R Royale isn’t the first Supro designed with pedal-centric players in mind. But the high-headroom 50-watt 1x12 combo is a natural for the role. Given this predisposition, the Royale is promoted as Supro’s “first loud, clean amp.” And if your expectations of Supro are still informed by the grungy, midrange-saturated Supros of the 1960s—and the reissues inspired by them—the Royale may surprise.

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Bilt and Milkman collaborate on a tweed Deluxe-style amp that adds tone options and enticing styling.

Responsive with an impressively wide range of tones. Bass knob is a welcome addition. Super sleek. Successfully sags at high volumes.

Only available to Bilt owners. Expensive. Cabinet finish might not hold up to heavy gigging.

$2,999 base price (available as add-on to Bilt order, or to current Bilt owners)

5
5
5
4

There’s a good chance your first electric guitar came in a packaged set with an amp, case, cable, some picks, a tuner, and maybe even an instruction book. Mine did—and I still remember the excitement I felt while opening it on that fateful Christmas morning. The Bilt Starter Pack is a chic, high-end, customized guitar/amp combo package designed to re-capture that thrill for players with fancier tastes. And while the Starter Pack isn’t exactly designed for budget-conscious newbies, unless you already own a Bilt guitar, it’s the only way to get your hands on the new Bilt Amp.

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Room to get raunchy and clean, with reverb and tremolo that sound like a dream.

Great tremolo and reverb in a combo that’s relatively portable. Fantastic looks. Powerful enough for big clubs but not too loud.

Overdrive tones can sound rather ratty and ragged—a cool thing, if that’s your jam, but don’t expect refined lead tones.

$999

Harmony H650
harmony.com

3.5
3.5
4
4

Hot on the heels of their very cool vintage guitar reimaginations, the revitalized Harmony’s new tube combos are bound to stir up excitement for their tasty retro looks alone. But while the navy blue vinyl covering and white woven-fabric grille cloth with gold piping make the H650 reviewed here a head-turner, its power and clean-to-dirty tone range will garner double-takes, too.

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The Champ better watch its back.

Super versatile tone control. Throaty voice and impressive mass for a 5-watt, 8-inch-speaker amp. Happy with pedals. Drop-dead gorgeous.

Hefty price tag for a little amp.

$1,299

Magnatone Starlite
magnatoneusa.com

5
5
4.5
4

The fact that small amps excel—and can sound really big—in studio situations isn’t news as much as it’s audio engineering gospel. But while little amps like the Fender Champ, Gibson Skylark, and Danelectro DM10 have been pulling feats of trompe-l’oeil on records for decades, some small combos still sound bigger and badder than others. And I feel pretty good about making the case for Magnatone’s new 5-watt Starlite as one of the biggest sounding—and most flexible—little amps that’s ever joined this club of overachievers.

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