Setting up the effects each time you want to play your guitar can be a pain. A solution is to get a small practice amp that has effect loops so that you can place effects between the pre amps.
The best small amp with effect loop is the katanna 100. While not the cheapest, it offers a solid audio experience and a wide variety of modes and effects. It also has a more powerful stack that gives the audio a richer and fuller sound.
Another recommendation for those on a budget will be the orange crush 35rt. Full review of it below.
Boss Katana 100 review
Another small amp with effects loop is the Boss Katana 100. It is also a solid state amp that packs a punch.
- Sounds great at low volume: Similar to the orange crush, the Katana 100 is able to sounds great without cracking up the volume (0.5W to be exact). However, if you crack it up to 50W, you will be able to a small crowd. This is great for small venue gigging.
- Variety of sound models: There are quite a number of different amp models that is available including clean, crunch, brown, acoustic etc. If you want to the amp as a pedal platform, the clean model is an excellent option to use.
- Effects: The way effects are handled is very easy to understand. There are 3 knobs for effects, which are more than enough to cater to the bedroom playing. The 3 knobs control the following: (i) boost/modulation, (ii) delay/FX and (iii) reverb. There are also 3 color led buttons – Blues Drive (GREEN), Overdrive (RED), and Distortion (ORANGE). So, you can mix and match the knobs and color to create a wide variety of effects.
- Headphone jack: The Katanna 100 has a headphone jack as well.
- Lack of finer control for effects: While the effect dashboard is effective, there is one glaring weakness. You can create the effect but no control over the level of details, at least not without touching the software.
Orange Crush 35RT review
The orange crush 35rt is a solid state amp that has its own distinct sound. Fans of this distinct sound really love it while others might not agree with its appeal.
- Does not need high volume to perform: What I like about the orange crush 35rt is that at bedroom volume, it can already sound great. Other amps might need to be cranked up in volume to sound good but that defeats the bedroom amp concept.
- Dual channel: The 35rt has two distinct channel. One is a clean and bright tone. The other has a dirty channel that allows you to distort your audio. It is important to note that the 35rt’s clean tone is different from the famous Fender type of tone.
- Headphone Jack: The sound over the headphone is great, giving you the impression of a 4-speaker Orange amp
- Affordable pricing: Compared to the likes of Boss Katana 100, Blackstar HT 5 etc, the orange crush 35rt cost about $50-75 less.
- Flat tone: The tone seems to be pretty unresponsive to changes in dynamics and volume. What it does at high volume is simply adding to the high end, making the sound more shrill like.
Orange Crush 35rt vs Boss Katana 100
Both of these small amp have effect loops but which one is suitable for you?
Although both amps are solid state amps, there is big difference in their audio quality. The orange crush 35rt has a distinct audio tone but limited flexibility while the Katanna 100 offers more versatility due to its multi effect processor. Unless you prefer the tone of the orange crush, Katanna 100 will make a better choice.
Other key differences between the two amps:
- Variety of effects: The Katanna 100 wins this hands down. The Orange crush has only 2 channels, while the Katanna 100 has 4 different modes. This is on top of the 3 effects knobs that the Katanna 100 possess.
- Crunch tone: If you like old school style of crunch, the orange crush provide more of that than the Katanna 100. That is actually the strength of the 35rt and is the main reason why it has its fans.
- Speaker quality: The orange crush has a single speaker while the Katanna 100 boost a guitar stack that make it sound richer and fuller. This guitar stack comprise 4 pre amp voicing that links to a power amp, giving it a tube like effect.
- Weight: The Katanna 100 is around 32.6 pounds while the Orange Crush 35rt is slightly lighter at 30.4 pounds
- Price: The Orange Crush 35rt is about $50 cheaper than the Katanna 100
How to use an effects loop on a guitar amp
Once you have decided on the right amp with built in effect loop, it is time to learn how to set up it effectively.
- Look for out the 2 jacks at the back of the amp, named “send” and “receive” , as well as an input jack
- The recommended way is to have the distortion, drive and even fuzz pedal set up before the amp and goes into the input jack
- The modulation, delay and eq pedals are then set after the amp, using the send and receive jack
- Doing the above will avoid the modulation and delay kind of pedal from coloring your tone. Most of the time, they will dull the audio if they are set up before the amp.
This kind of effects loop are not necessary for all. This is only useful for players who like overdrive and delay, and yet want to preserve the richness of the tone.
For small amps with effects loop, both the orange crush 35rt and the katanna 100 are excellent choices.
Between the two, I will go for the katanna 100 if price is not an issue, and you prefer variety in your playing style and audio quality.
For folks who want a certain distinct tone, the orange crush 35rt will be a better choice, especially with its lower prices and lighter weight.