guitar amp

A modeling amp in vintage disguise.

Pros: Great balance between digital power and simplicity. Lightweight and super affordable. Nice app for editing.

Cons: Footswitch not included. Some functions are not intuitive and require a look at the manual. No digital readout.

$399.99

Line 6 Catalyst 100
line6.com

4
4.5
4
5

Line 6’s Catalyst series is the latest in a generation of amplifiers bridging the gap between digital modeling’s enormous possibilities and many players’ desires for old-school simplicity. These amps offer detailed, convincing amp models—but not too many of them—in a compact, vintage-style design that makes avoidance of option fatigue a priority. The very accessible prices also make the series a direct competitor to Boss’ ultra-successful Katana amps. The Catalyst is offered in three models: Catalyst 60 and Catalyst 100 (both of which have one 12" speaker), and the Catalyst 200, which has two 12" speakers. For this review I tested the Catalyst 100, which sells for a very modest $399.

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A sublime pairing: a vintage black-panel Princeton Reverb and a Jazzmaster. The amp's debut model year was 1964, six years after this offset guitar debuted at the NAMM show.

Let's take a look under this iconic amp's hood and learn about its tonal quirks, easy mods, and more.

Fender's Princeton Reverb is an iconic tube amp that has been in production for almost 60 years. Intended to be a student and practice amp, the Princeton became widely popular among both professional and amateur players. Its strength lies in its simplicity and light weight, and in this column, I'll share my insights on how to get great tone from this model.

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Light and heavy coexist in a very flexible 50-watt amp that defies Rectifier expectations.

Reliable Mesa build quality. A versatile bundle of clean, crunchy, and mean tones. Super-useful peripheral features.

Players seeking ultra-heavy Rectifier tones of old might want a pedal in front to get it there.

$1,999 street (head or rackmount) & $2199 street (1x12 combo)

Mesa/Boogie Rectifier Badlander 50
mesaboogie.com

4.5
4.5
5
4.5

Mesa/Boogie is both fond of reinvention and adept at it. Late last year, the Mesa/Boogie folks reimagined the Rectifier series amps, which became near-ubiquitous in metal and grunge circles in the wake of their 1992 release. The beastly Badlander 100 was the first of these new Rectifiers to hit the streets. It's now joined by the more modestly powered Rectifier Badlander 50—which is available as a head (reviewed here), 1x12 combo, or rackmount head—and can be powered by a pair of Brit-flavored EL34s or more-American-voiced 6L6s.

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