Over the last 25 to 30 years, it has been nearly impossible to buy a decent brand-new guitar amplifier for less than $200. The cost of an amplifier in this price range wasn’t the only thing that was low – so were the volume output, sound quality and players’ expectations for getting an amp that could be used for anything other than disappointing solo practice sessions.
The Gamma G25 and G50 guitar combo amplifiers from Acoustic Control (Guitar Center’s amp-manufacturing division) offer a surprising exception to this phenomenon, particularly during these times of rampant inflation, when it costs almost $200 to fill your gas tank.
The Gamma G25 and G50 are genuine guitar amps in the truest sense, meaning they are loud enough to gig with and sound good enough to record. While these combos may lack the bells and whistles (like built-in digital effects or dozens of amp models) of their slightly more expensive competition, the emphasis on good, solid guitar tones is refreshing for a combo that costs about as much as a stomp box.
The Gamma G25 is a 25-watt combo with a single 10-inch speaker, while the G50 is a 50-watt 1x12 combo. Beyond those specs, the features of each are basically identical.
A two-channel design provides a straightforward Blue channel with only a volume control and a versatile Red channel with Drive and Volume controls, and a voicing switch (Clean, Blues, Rock, Metal). The Bass, Mid and Treble controls are shared for both channels. There are also an 1/8-inch Aux input and headphone jacks and a Bluetooth switch for linking a Bluetooth audio device.
The rear panel is spartan, providing only a ¼-inch jack for an optional footswitch, for toggling between the Blue and Red channels.
When it comes to sound quality, the Gamma G25 and G50 punch well above other contenders in a similar price range.
Emphasis was clearly placed on the essentials, such as the True Blue speakers, which deliver outstanding headroom and are tuned to accentuate desirable guitar tones across an optimal frequency range. The tone controls are versatile and provide attractive tones across their entire range – no weird or artificial-sounding frequency peaks here. The Blue channel remains clean yet aggressively punchy across its entire volume output range, making it an ideal base for a pedal or multi-effects rig.
The Red channel delivers what its Voicing switch promises: the Clean setting matches the Blue channel’s full-bodied character but can be pushed to crunchy overdrive via the Drive control; the Blues setting offers more aggressive overdrive with slightly scooped mids; the Rock setting is decidedly more crunchy and saturated with a more prominent midrange lead voice; and the Metal setting is full-out high-gain distortion with excellent note definition, tight bass and mids that can be scooped or boosted in your face.
Throughout, the bass never sounds flabby and the treble is never piercing or harsh. The mids may not sound quite as refined or silky smooth as those of a $2,000 boutique amp – with some guitars the mids can have a slightly nasal, wah-like quality – but hey, you get what you pay for (and, in the case of the Gamma combos, surprisingly much more).
Overall, the combos pair well with a wide variety of guitars and pickups, from Stat- and Tele-style single coils to P-90 and hot-rodded humbuckers. The Aux In and Bluetooth features allow users to play external audio sources through the amp, but because the Gamma combos are guitar amps first and foremost and not designed for full-range hi-fi applications, this is more of a convenience for practice.
Sound quality via headphones is impressive, and the combo’s internal speaker is automatically bypassed when headphones are plugged in. The G50 is impressively loud enough to gig with in a full-band situation, and even the lower-powered G25 can handle smaller club gigs – as long as the drummer doesn’t think he’s Alex Van Halen.
Street Price: $139.99 (G25); $199.99 (G50)
Manufacturer: Acoustic Control Corporation, acousticamplification.com
Guitar World Gold Award – Performance
- The Blue channel provides loud, full-bodied clean tone that makes an ideal base for a pedal or multi-effects rig
- The Red channel provides a selection of Clean, Blues, Rock and Metal voices with varying levels of gain and slightly different overall tonal character