Roland MicroCube

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As someone who makes his living playing and teaching guitar, I love the tone and power that large, loud amplifiers provide. But there are many times and places where a big amp just doesn’t work. Sometimes it’s just carting it around; sometimes it’s space issues. If you live in an apartment or townhouse, playing a large amp at supersonic volumes can make for some really bad neighbor relationships or even get you evicted. You really can’t take a large amp camping either, unless you use a power inverter and drain your car battery. Also, you have a difficult time taking it traveling on business or vacation.

What to do? For all those places, the Roland MicroCube is perfect. This little amp has been around for about four years and is loaded with features closely related to its larger, louder cousins. The controls on the top provide a wide range of sonic possibilities. Along with a knob for tone, there are controls for gain (think distortion control) and volume. Most importantly, the MicroCube uses digital modeling to make it versatile and good sounding. What’s digital modeling? That’s where you take a bunch of great-sounding full-size amps and digitally sample the sounds they make and then apply that to the sound architecture of another amp.

The models on the MicroCube make it very versatile. Models include Black Panel (an early 60′s Fender amp style), Brit Combo (a Vox AC-30TB), Stack (Marshall JMP1987), R-fier (think Mesa Boogie here), JC Clean (based on the popular Roland Jazz Chorus amp) and a setting for microphone and acoustic guitar. There’s a “tuning fork” switch that puts out a three-pitch tone to make tuning easy. There are also various effects such as chorus, flanger, phaser, tremolo, echo, and reverb, which makes it sound as though you’re playing in a big room. On the back is a headphone output (that shuts the speaker off when in use), an auxillary line input and power in for a 9 volt DC power source. I love portable, and for such a small amp this thing puts out, and with great tone. My favorite setting? Brit Combo with a little distortion along with my lapsteel.

-- Jeff Bragg  

Roland MicroCube Blk Portable Guitar Amplifier
$110

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by Roland