Sometimes a little more is all you need. Power, that is. At 12 watts, the two-channel Laney LX12 combo amp gives you slightly more ‘oomph’ than your average 10 watt bedroom practice amp and comes with some other highly desirable features. Though it came out a few years ago, the LX12 has held its own in the practice amp domain. While there is certainly not enough volume to keep up with your drummer (but that’s why you have your monster 120 watt amp in the studio, right?), it packs plenty to practice those licks in your room without blasting the windows out. And neither do you need to sacrifice tone or break the bank. Doesn’t take your fancy as a combo? Then read the Blackstar HT-1 review or head over to the best guitar amp reviews.
The Laney LX12 is one of the sturdiest practice amps on the market. It has a solid cabinet construction with a black vinyl cover, metal corners, rubber feet, and a gloss black metal grill protecting a 6″ custom designed driver. No need to fear your speaker getting punched through on this thing without breaking out the power tools. All this bulletproofing doesn’t weigh it down either! It tips the scales at only 4.8kg, unlike its back-breaking biggest brother, the LX120RT, weighing in at 18.5kg. The only fault some may find is that it’s only available in black, unless the “dark and brooding” side of life is your style.
The front panel has everything you need to craft your sound: a mono input, channel switch, crunch level, a global 3-band EQ, volume, a stereo auxiliary input, and headphone jack. No unnecessary frills here.
The LX12 is a step up from its smaller brother, the LX10, that only provides 10 watts into a 5″ driver with a 2-band EQ. The LX12 has more power, a bigger sound, and more features than the LX10 and is likely a better investment as a real practice amp for performing musicians.
Though it’s no tube amp, the solid-state circuitry provides good tone and plenty of gain. As one would expect from a solid-state amplifier, the clean channel resists the breakup at high levels that characterize many tube amps, yielding crystal clear tones at full volume. This also makes the channel somewhat plain and colorless, but the 3-band EQ allows some shaping to take place.
Hitting the channel switch boosts the gain and enables the use of the crunch knob. Though only a single pre-amp stage of gain, the sonic change is clear: cranking the crunch to 10 is extreme and most players won’t need that much gain but it is certainly nice to have it in reserve, although this channel, like the clean, is somewhat uninspiring. As with any amount of pre-amp distortion, there is noticeable humming (especially if you’re using single-coil pickups) but it is nothing out of the ordinary. If that single stage of gain isn’t enough, Laney also makes the LX20 and the LX20R, both of which are stepped up versions of the LX12 with 20 watts of power in an 8″ driver, master volume in the crunch channel, and two stages of pre-amp gain for even more distortion goodness. The latter also comes with a built-in reverb, something lacking from the LX12.
The 3-band EQ comes in really handy with the distortion channel, allowing one to scoop the mids for a modern sounding distortion (a la Killswitch Engage, whose guitarists are sporting Laney full stacks) or cranking them for that classic rock lead punch. If opting for the former, a proper distortion pedal is recommended.
My main gripe with the amp would be the global EQ, but it doesn’t matter so much here since the channels aren’t able to be changed by a foot switch anyway. Well, that and the lack of an onboard reverb. But maybe I’m just a reverb junkie…
The auxiliary input provides a very convenient way to practice along with any track. The 1/4″ jack accepts a stereo input which is then summed to mono in the internal circuitry; unfortunately, you would need to control the level outside of the amp since there is no adjustment for the auxiliary volume on the amp itself. The headphone out (the mono instrument signal split to two channels) allows you to practice late at night without disturbing anyone’s sleep—except yours, of course.
For the price, the Laney LX12 is a solid little bedroom amp that will give you years of use. The two-channel design allows some flexibility in that you don’t always have to plug in a pedal, though for a more refined distortion, it is suggested.
If the LX12 is a bit small or lacking for your needs, Laney’s LX line extends to the aforementioned LX120RT, a serious amplifier fit for a full band and outfitted with 2×12″ drivers. The LX line also features 20, 35, and 65 watt combos (with 8″, 10″, and 12″ drivers, respectively) if you need more power. With increased power also comes more features, including foot switchable channels, onboard reverb, independent channel EQ, external speaker jacks, and an FX loop.
Cabinet Design Black metal corners, gloss metal grille and rubber feet
CD Input Yes (Stereo jack)
Channels 1 with switchable gain
Packed Dimensions (HxWxD mm) 340 x 339 x 220
Drivers 1×6″ Custom Driver
Equalisation Global Bass, Mid and Treble
FX Loop(s) No
Headphone Socket Yes
Inputs 1x Jack
Kick Proof Metal Grill Yes
Line Out No
Master Effects Level Controls No
Power 12 Watts
Speaker connections No
Weight 5.2 Kg Packed, 4.8 Kg Unit
Unit Dims – for int. case (HxWxD mm) 293 x 282 x 173
Solid practice amp that won't break the bank.
Reader Rating13 Votes
12 watts gives a little more than the usual 10
Stereo auxiliary input
Virtually indestructible construction
No onboard reverb
Can't switch channels with a foot switch
Distortion leaves something to be desired at high levels