Review: Four Force EM-1 Combo Amplifier

Four Force amps showed up at last year's Summer NAMM show and took home the Best of Show award.

Now they’re back with the EM-1 combo amp. It’s a lightweight, grab-and-go, 5-watt amp that shares a striking resemblance to Darth Vader.

You’ve been there: You have your gigging amp, but you want something to keep at home to practice or record ideas with. Sure, you can lug a 100-watt head and matching 4x12 cab up a flight of steps just to be able to crank it up somewhere between 0 and 1, but, well, that's just miserable all the way around.

The idea behind the EM-1 is to mimic the sounds of big tube amp in a small 5-watt, 12-pound, solid-state package. The control panel offers an input jack, a 3-band EQ consisting of Bass, Mid and Treble knobs, a Gain and Master Volume knob and a ¼-inch output jack in case you’d like to disable the stock 10-inch speaker and power another cabinet. The amp can power speaker loads from 4 to 16 ohms.

The combo is a Class A design with a J-Fet preamp and an audiophile Mosfet power amp. What I like best about this amp is it’s built to sound great on any combination of settings. You can crank it up and it doesn’t thin out. I credit some of this to the ports on the back of the amp. The amp offers four different gain stages. The electronics are quality, meaning this isn’t one of those practice amps that picks up your local country music station whether you want it or not!

I could keep typing, but let’s get to the sound clips.

Clip 1 is a the neck pickup of a Tele with the amp cranked up and clean. Still full with plenty of bottom. Clip 2 is the same Tele on the bridge pickup with the amp’s gain set around 12 o’clock. Hey, we’ve got an amp with useable clean and dirty tones! For Clip 3, I plugged a Les Paul and an AMT Metalizer pedal in front to see how much gain I could get away with.

Retail Price: EM-1, $199.99

You can't believe everything you read on the Internet, but Billy Voight is a gear reviewer, bassist and guitarist from Pennsylvania. He has Hartke bass amps and Walden acoustic guitars to thank for supplying some of the finest gear on his musical journey. Need Billy's help in creating noise for your next project? Drop him a line at

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month*

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49