Tom Quayle reviews the Kustom KG100FX212 Amplifier – a 30-watt guitar combo with two 12-inch Kustom speakers, two channels, and reverb, delay and chorus effects. Designed to offer a wide range of clean and dirty tones while providing rugged dependability and intuitive operation, The KG100FX212 offers some inspiring, versatile and dynamic tones that are perfect for a wide variety of musical styles without breaking the bank.
There’s a general misconception in the guitar world that solid-state equals bad and tubes always equals good. There are some huge benefits to using solid-state amps, such as lower weight, greater reliability and tonal consistency, but one of the biggest upsides of going solid-state is cost. Kustom may not be a household name in the amp world, but they are producing some of the most affordable and genuinely giggable amps on the market right now (think the price of the average boutique pedal for a 100w amp) and, whilst they’ll never replace your beloved high-end tube amps, they actually sound good too - albeit with some small caveats due to the price.
The Kustom KG100FX212 is a 100w 2-channel combo amplifier featuring a pair of 12” Kustom speakers, built-in delay, reverb and chorus effects and a variety of ins and outs for all manner of tonal situations. The Rhythm (clean to mild crunch) and Lead channels share a three-band EQ but have independent volume and gain controls whilst both channels can have either delay or reverb switched on, as well as the chorus effect, with an overall level control tailoring the amount of wet signal required.
The front panel also includes an aux input for jamming along with tracks (which sound surprisingly decent through these guitar voiced speakers) and a headphone out for silent practice or recording. On the backside you’ll find a single extension speaker out and an effects loop plus a footswitch input for channel switching.
Considering the price, this is a very well built piece of kit that feels very solidly constructed with quality workmanship and controls. Nothing feels particularly cheap or corner-cutting, the only real external indicator that this isn’t a more expensive tube amp being the lightweight for such a large amplifier. It’s an attractive design that wouldn’t look out of place next to an amp costing three or four times it’s asking price.
Where things get really surprising though, is when you plug into the rhythm channel for the first time. Here you’ll find a highly articulate, rich-sounding and dynamic clean tone that has bags of character and is a genuine pleasure to play through. The KG100FX212 would make for a great pedal platform with its powerful EQ section and decent onboard reverb/delay, taking drive pedals well and offering much of the playing feel and articulation you’d expect from a far more expensive amplifier. The Lead channel isn’t quite as impressive, thanks to a high level of hiss and noise at even moderate gain levels, although it still sounds way better than many other amps in this price range, especially at this power rating. This could be easily fixed with a noise gate, although if you’re buying an amp at this price point, you maybe don’t have the extra cash for a pedal to go alongside it.
Inevitably, at this price point, there will be some compromises and, if you can live with the noisy hiss from the Lead channel and pop sound whilst switching channels, you’ll find an array of quality tones on offer here too with tons of gain on tap for saturated lead tones or scooped metal sounds that respond well to volume changes on your guitar or pick attack. The KG100FX212 might just surprise you with what a solid-state amp can achieve from a tonal and feel perspective in 2021. Many guitar teachers across the land would kill to have something like this in their practice/teaching rooms compared to the hideous, cheap solid-state amps that we’ve all had such negative experiences with.
Kustom have created somewhat of a bargain with the KG100FX212 - it’s amazingly affordable considering what’s on offer, sounding and feeling great to play and plenty loud enough for any standard gig you might throw at it. You’ll certainly have no issue competing with even the most vociferous of drummers. It’s easy to dial in some great tones, and the lightweight, solid-state design has some big benefits compared to heavy tube amps - especially if you’re carting your gear around a lot (although who’s doing that these days!?). If you want a good sounding amp at a bargain price, look no further - it will make a great backup, too for when your beloved tube amp blows a fuse or ruptures an EL34 mid-song! Well worth checking out.
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