Can you use an amp head with a regular amp?

Can you use an amp head with a regular amp?

The world of music amplification is full of creative possibilities, and musicians are constantly experimenting with different gear combinations to shape their unique sounds. One intriguing question that often arises is whether you can use an amp head with a regular amp. In this article, we will explore this intriguing possibility, delving into the potential benefits and considerations of using an amp head in conjunction with a traditional amplifier.

Understanding Amp Heads and Traditional Amps

Before we dive into the topic, it’s essential to understand what an amp head and a traditional amp are and how they differ.

Amp Head:

An amp head, or amplifier head, is a standalone unit that contains the amplification circuitry responsible for boosting and shaping the audio signal from a musical instrument. It’s a crucial component for electric guitarists and bassists and can be connected to external speaker cabinets to project sound. Amp heads are often known for their versatility and are available in various configurations, including tube (valve) and solid-state designs.

Traditional Amp:

When we refer to a “regular” or “traditional” amp, we generally mean a combo amplifier. A combo amp is an all-in-one unit that houses both the amplifier circuitry and the speakers in a single enclosure. Combo amps are popular for their convenience, portability, and ease of use, making them a common choice for practice, small gigs, and studio recording.

The Basics of Using an Amp Head with a Regular Amp

Now, let’s explore the possibilities and benefits of using an amp head with a regular amp.

1. Extending Sound Options:

One of the primary advantages of using an amp head with a regular amp is the ability to expand your tonal palette. When you use an amp head, you have control over the amplifier’s preamp section, which shapes the initial character of your sound. By connecting an amp head to a regular amp, you can use the preamp section of the head to shape your tone before it reaches the amp’s built-in amplifier.

2. Mixing Tube and Solid-State Sounds:

If you have both a tube amp head and a solid-state combo amp, you can experiment with blending the tonal characteristics of both. Tube amps are known for their warm and rich sound, while solid-state amps often offer clarity and reliability. By using an amp head with a regular amp, you can combine the best of both worlds to create a unique sonic signature.

3. Increased Power and Volume:

If you have a high-powered amp head, connecting it to a regular amp can significantly increase your overall power and volume capabilities. This is particularly useful when you need to fill larger venues or play with a loud band. The combination of the amp head’s power amp and the regular amp’s speakers can deliver a bigger sound.

4. Customized Signal Chain:

Using an amp head with a regular amp allows you to create a customized signal chain. You can experiment with various pedal effects before the amp head and use the regular amp’s built-in effects loop for post-amp effects. This level of control enables you to shape your sound in a way that suits your playing style and genre.

5. Versatility in Gigging:

For gigging musicians, having the flexibility to use an amp head with a regular amp can be a game-changer. You can choose between using the regular amp’s built-in amp and speakers for smaller gigs and bringing the amp head for more extensive shows where additional power and tonal control are needed.

Considerations and Limitations

While the idea of using an amp head with a regular amp opens up exciting possibilities, it’s important to consider some practical factors and limitations:

1. Compatibility: Ensure that the amp head and regular amp you intend to use together are compatible in terms of impedance and power handling. Mismatched components can lead to damage or suboptimal performance.

2. Size and Portability: Amp heads are typically larger and heavier than regular combo amps. Consider the logistics of transporting and setting up your gear, especially if you plan to use this combination for live performances.

3. Signal Routing: Experimenting with signal routing can be complex. Be prepared to invest time in understanding how to connect and control the amp head and regular amp effectively.

4. Sound Quality: The quality of your sound will depend on the specific gear you’re using. Not all combinations will yield desirable results, so be prepared to experiment and adjust settings to achieve your desired sound.

5. Cost: Owning both an amp head and a regular amp can be expensive. Ensure that the benefits you gain from this setup justify the investment.


In conclusion, using an amp head with a regular amp is a creative approach that can expand your sonic possibilities, increase your power and volume capabilities, and provide greater control over your tone. However, it’s important to carefully consider compatibility, logistics, and sound quality when implementing this setup.

Musicians who are adventurous and open to experimentation may find that using an amp head with a regular amp offers a unique avenue for sound exploration and customization. Whether you’re seeking to blend different amplifier technologies, expand your tonal palette, or optimize your gear for different gigging scenarios, this combination can provide a versatile and exciting addition to your musical toolkit.

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