so i'm still on the lookout for a small, lower priced combo. the problem is that our local stores seem to be set up to make sure everything sounds its worst or at least nothing like it will sound played at home or anywhere else. the bass room at west l.a. guitar center, which is our closest store, has amazing properties to make almost everything sound like mud. amps i'm familiar with sound 50% worse, amps i'm not as familiar with i can't get familiar due to the poor room acoustics. the only combo that sounds good there to me is the TC BG250 2x8, and it's above my budget; besides, i know that not one amp there sounds the way it will sound either at other stores OR where i play. hollywood guitar center, with their crappy new layout, always has guitar players pounding away, and it's worse than before. the only way to hear an amp is to put it at ear level, and last time i did that, i ended up with ear pain for a couple weeks. hollywood sam ash's open room seems to suck up the sound, and at ear level without turning way up makes everything sound better than it sounds where i use them; torrance sam ash has a huge open room with a high ceiling, guaranteed to give no idea of how things will sound unless you play in a huge open room with a high ceiling. and so it goes. we live by 7 guitar centers and 3 sam ash stores, and not one of them is going to give a decent idea of how amps sound. so i'm wondering how you choose a combo or amp and cab when you know that what you hear at the store isn't the sound you'll hear from the combo or amp once you play it anywhere else. is it the luck of the draw? do you figure you can always return it? inquiring minds want to know!