Whether you are a rock, blues, or country guitarist. It’s no secret that there are hundreds if not thousands of guitar amplifiers available on the market. From valve, solid-state, modeling, and more, the amount of variation in products is often quite overwhelming.
However, fear not. In this article, you will learn what the best guitar amps are, what makes a fantastic guitar amp and with any luck, you’ll be able to find today’s best deals on the guitar amp of your choice.
Best Digital Amp
Boss Katana 100 mkii
Although titans of the pedal world, over the past ten years or so, Boss has begun to delve into the amplifier market.
The Boss Katana series has truly taken the world by storm and has been a revolutionary amplifier for many musicians. Whether it’s for home use, recording or stage. The Boss Katana 100 MkII is one of the best guitar amps and is a product that every guitarist should check out.
The Boss Katana 100 MkII is arguably one of the best guitar amps of the last 10 years. This is the perfect guitar amp for gigging musicians due to it having 100 watts. This is more than powerful enough for stage and studio.
However, if this is too loud for you, the Katana has an extremely flexible power switching module, allowing you to move between 0.5 watts, 50 watts and the sheer power of 100 watts. So whether you want to rock out in your bedroom or in front of millions of people on stage, the Boss Katana has you covered.
Furthermore, this solid-state amplifier is extremely versatile. The katana has five onboard amp models, ranging from Acoustic, Clean, Crunch, Lead and Brown. This means that regardless of what type of guitar you play, there is a sound in there for you.
As well as this, what sets this amplifier out from the rest of the crowd is its built-in effects. Ranging from modulation, delay, digital reverb and a variety of boosts, the Katana series features a range of tones that will cover any musical scenario.
Although the tweakability is limited on the amp itself, you can further edit the effects and amp sounds via Boss’s tone studio app. As well as this, within the app you’ll find a whole bunch of presets available.
The amount of versatility on this amplifier is simply outstanding, it’s a tone master in the making and is the smartest amp on the market today.
- 100 watts ensures it is plenty loud enough for gigging.
- Plenty of effects is available on the amp which can be easily tweaked in the app or on the amp.
- Boss’s tone studio allows users to download presets to further enhance their tone.
- An effects loop and the addition of ‘power amp’ in and multiple speaker outputs increase the versatile of this solid-state amplifier.
- Solid-state amps aren’t for everyone.
- Some users may find the number of controls and features on the amp overwhelming.
Best Tube Amp
Fender Hot Rod Deluxe IV
Just like their rich heritage in guitars, Fender has arguably created some of the best guitar amps in the world. Whether it’s amplifier models like the Fender Twin, Fender 68 Custom, or Princeton, there’s no mistaking their iconic vintage tones.
Fender guitar amps are suitable for genres of music such as Funk, Rock, Country, Blues, and Jazz. One of their best guitar amps is the ‘Hot Rod Deluxe IV’, let’s learn more about it.
As Fender Amps go, the Fender Hot Rod Deluxe is a modern classic. The amp itself features a power rating of 40 watts, three channels (clean, drive, and more drive), a Celestion 12″ A-Type speaker, and a genuine spring reverb tank.
The classic fender tone of this tube amp can be controlled via the onboard controls. As a user, you have presence, reverb, master volume controls, bass, treble, drive select switch, drive volume, and a bright switch.
The manipulation of these controls really allows you as a user to control your sound. Whether you’re a country chicken picker or a heavy rock guitar hero, the onboard controls really let you dial in your sound.
Similar to the Fender 68 Custom Deluxe Reverb, what makes this amplifier extremely versatile is the use of two inputs. Here, the first input works as a standard input jack, whereas the second jack has a -6db reduction. This is perfect if you have a guitar that has high output pickups.
In addition, the onboard effects loop allows you to place time-based effects such as modulation and delay in between the tube preamp and power amp, ensuring that you get greater clarity of tone.
The hot rod deluxe uses 3 x 12ax7 preamp tubes and 2x 6L6 power tubes, guaranteeing you that classic fender tone. And the onboard channels can be changed via the Footswitch that Fender supply with the amp.
Our only criticism of the Fender Hot Rod Deluxe is that it’s extremely heavy. At 41lbs, you may need a small roadie crew to help you move it from gig to gig.
Long story short, if you’re a musician who gigs regularly, then the Fender Hot Rod Deluxe is one of today’s best deals and is easily one of the best guitar amps available.
- Takes pedals extremely well due to the excellent clean channel.
- A real spring reverb tank gives you that authentic fender tone.
- 3 channels, ranging from clean, crunch and lead.
- The onboard effects loop is extremely useful.
- The drive channel isn’t for everyone.
- May be too loud for bedroom use.
Best Valve Head
Marshall Studio Classic SC20H
Out of all the amplifier brands out there, Marshall is a company that is simply iconic. So much so, that even non-guitarists recognise their impact on rock music history.
Whether you like Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Angus Young or Slash, there is simply nothing like the sound of a cranked Marshall stack.
One of Marshall’s best guitar amps is the ‘Marshall Studio Classic SC20H’, it’s a serious tone master that is well worth a look.
Based on one of the best guitar amps of all time, the JCM800. The SC20H is a smaller version of this amplifier, which offers iconic Marshall tones at a reasonable volume, making it a fantastic studio amp.
The power rating of this amp is 20watts, however, it can be shifted down to 5 watts, meaning that even at home, you can get access to the natural overdrive that these amp models are so famous for.
One of the key features of this product is that it is made exclusively in the UK. Of course, this bumps up the price of the amp, however, it doesn’t ensure that you are guaranteed a degree of quality.
As well as this, the amp itself uses two ECC83 preamp tubes and two EL84 power amp valves. These tubes give you the classic tones so famously associated with Marshall style amplifiers.
The single channel of this amplifier ensures that you have access to simplicity as a guitarist. The amp can be controlled via the presence, bass, middle, treble, master, and pre-amp controls. These controls allow you to manipulate clean tones to high gain sounds which have more than enough gain for most players, as well as everything in between
Furthermore, the amp features an FX loop, 16 or 8ohm outputs as well as a direct out, giving you a whole wealth of versatility as a guitarist.
The only downside of this amplifier is that 20 watts may not be enough for some players, and due to it only being an amp head, you will have to purchase a separate cabinet to use the amplifier in all its glory.
Although this amp doesn’t have the same wattage or power rating as its older brother, the SC20H is a tone king and offers you that Marshall grunt at a low volume. In short, if you want a great studio amp then this is one of today’s best deals.
- Provides authentic Marshall tone at a competitive price.
- A compact version of one of the most iconic amps of all time. (JCM800).
- Built-in attenuator with the ability to switch the amp to 5 watts.
- Built-in the UK and is all valve.
- Features a series effects loop that enhances the overall versatility of the amplifier.
- Only a single channel is available.
Best Small Combo Amp
Vox is one of those companies that are often uttered in the same sentence as Fender and Marshall, and there’s a good reason why.
With notable players such as The Beatles, Brian May, and Rory Gallagher, Vox amps are responsible for many iconic guitar sounds over the past 100 years.
Boasting models such as the AC30, AC15 and AC10 models, Vox amps have a distinct chime that is like no other. The AC10 is one of the best guitar amps of all time, let’s find out more about it.
As guitar amplification goes, the Vox AC10 is one of Vox’s most iconic amplifiers. The AC10 is perfectly suited for bedroom guitarists, small gigs, or for the budding recording guitarist. Its low wattage allows you to get those glowing glass tubes cooking at a reasonable volume, ensuring that you get maximum tone at a decent volume.
The AC10 looks extremely stylish, with authentic basket weave Rolex, gold piping, brown diamond speaker cloth, and a plastic carry handle. Not only does this amp sound the part, but it also looks it too.
The AC10’s bigger brother, the AC30 is often infamous for its heavyweight and impracticality for most people. However, the AC10 is much lighter coming in at 12.3kg. So whether you need to move it in the studio or transport it from gig to gig, the AC10 can be your perfect companion.
The 10” speaker has a bright chime which works fantastically for pop, indie, and country. However, if this isn’t to your liking, you can also add an external cabinet to the amplifier to take your tonal palette further.
Although this is a small amplifier, you may be mistaken that these guitar amps cannot be gigged. However, with venues requiring less sound on stage, getting a lower wattage amp can often provide you with a singing valve tone without the need for a huge amp.
However, of course, the only downside to this is that 10 watts aren’t a lot of headroom. So if you own a guitar with high output humbuckers, you may struggle to get consistent clean tones out of the AC10.
Overall, if you want a classic Vox amp with authentic Vox tones, that is easy on your bank balance and is a tone master in-studio or stage. The AC10 is one of the best guitar amps available.
- The low wattage of these tube amplifiers is perfect for recording or small gigs.
- The layout is extremely simple to understand due to their only being a gain, bass, treble, volume, and digital reverb control.
- The AC10 gives the user access to authentic Vox tones without the high prices of an AC30 or AC15.
- Comes with 2 preamp tubes (12ax7) and 2 power amp tubes. (EL84).
- The power rating of 10-watts may not be enough for some users.
- The sound of a 10-inch speaker isn’t for everyone and there’s no effects loop.
Best Solid State Combo Amp
During the 70s and 80s, solid-state amplifiers became increasingly popular. Differing from a valve amp, solid-state amps use transistors to amplify their signal.
These guitar amps are often popular amongst many guitarists as they provide a crystal clear guitar sound, are much lighter and tend to be more reliable.
One of the best guitar amps that are solid-state is the Roland JC40. Let’s learn more about it.
The Jazz Chorus line was one of Roland’s most famous amplifiers and is largely responsible for the addition of heavily chorused tones and crystal clear sounds that featured from the 80s onwards. Although a lot of these amplifier models were discontinued, over the past 10 years Roland has begun to brink them back into their product line. One of Roland’s current best guitar amps is the Roland JC40, let’s learn more about it.
Firstly, the specification is largely similar to a lot of guitar amps. It features a volume, treble, middle, bass, distortion and reverb control, as well as an effects loop. As well as this, we have a stereo input, line out and twelve-inch speakers that provide a rich tone that is warm and present.
In terms of the overall sound of the amplifier, its clean channel is what really makes it shine. Whether you’re an indie rocker or jazz purist, this is easily one of the best guitar amps for any guitarist who wants a clean sound that is vibrant and has plenty of clarity.
However, what separates this solid-state amplifier is the onboard chorus circuit. The chorus section of this amplifier is arguably what makes this line of guitar amps so unique. As we have two speakers, we get a true stereo chorus sound on offer.
The rate and depth are controlled by the onboard controls and the chorus sound can be changed to a vibrato with the flick of a switch. If you don’t want to be hands-on with the amp, you can connect an external footswitch that allows you to change between chorus and vibrato sounds as well as turn on the onboard distortion channel.
Overall, if you’re looking for a unique solid-state amplifier with a rich tonal history, then the Roland JC40 is a tone king and is easily one of the best guitar amps available.
- The clean tone contains rich highs and a sparking presence, perfect for guitarists who use pedals.
- The stereo capabilities of these combo amps allow for more expansive sounds.
- The amp features that classic ‘JC120’ chorus sound as well as an onboard stereo fx loop.
- The amplifier takes pedals extremely well.
- The onboard overdrive channel isn’t to everyone’s taste.
- No amp channel footswitch is provided.
- Could be argued that this amplifier is on the expensive side.
Best Modelling Amp
Line 6 Helix
Over the past 20 years or so, the modeling of guitar amplifiers has become increasingly popular. With the development in digital technology, a lot of modeling amplifiers are getting increasingly close to the real thing.
As well as this, the convenience of having 1000s of tones available at your fingertips is extremely appealing.
One of the best modeling amps out there is the Line 6 Helix. Let’s learn more about it.
When discussing modeling amps, it’s very rare that the Line6 Helix isn’t mentioned. Coined as probably one of the best pieces of guitar gear in the past 10 years, the Helix offers 1024 preset locations that can be organised into eight setlists that contain 32 banks with four presets each. Each of these settings can be made of eight blocks with four stereo signal paths and complete with every effect imaginable.
The helix comes loaded with over 41 modeling amps which are constantly being updated by the Line6 team. Whether you require Vox, Marshall, Fender, Engl, Divided by 13 or the infamous dumble amp. There is a whole host of amp brands at your feet which can be loaded up within the click of a switch.
As well as having guitar amps, Line6 has also thought to implement bass amps, a range of cabinets and mic simulations, as well as the option to load in your own impulse responses.
Furthermore, what makes the Helix stand out from a traditional amp setup is the addition of effects. We have a variety of overdrives, distortions, fuzzes, choruses, phasers, flangers, tremolos, delays, reverbs and looper. Within each of these categories, there are a number of different models that can be tweaked to each player’s individual tastes.
The main advantage of the helix is that it is extremely lightweight and portable, so if you’re a musician on the move or a studio player, it takes little to no effort to transport and is easily one of today’s best deals for a guitar amp.
However, the main downside to the helix is that if you want to amplify it, you’ll need a separate solid-state power amp or you’ll have to rely on the venues PA system. However, if you’re looking for an all in one solution for any musical scenario, the Line6 Helix is easily one of the best guitar amps available.
- A variety of different amps and effects are available for the user. The unit covers pretty much every effect ever invented.
- Perfect for the session and recording musicians who require a wide variety of sounds.
- The addition of effect loops allows users to run additional pedals within the helix.
- Onboard treadle can be assigned to any parameter within the helix, offering the user instant flexibility.
- If you want to amplify this modeller, you will have to either plug into a PA or get an external speaker.
- Although the helix itself is intuitive, it may be too overwhelming for some users.
Best Guitar Amp For Practice
As guitarists, it is no secret that if we want to get better at our instrument, we must practice.
However, at home, cranking up your Marshall stack is guaranteed to get you into trouble with your neighbours. So what do we do? Do we simply suffer in silence and not play at all, or do we look at a solution around this?
One solution to this is to purchase a practice amplifier. One of the best guitar amps for practice is the Yamaha THR10.
The Yamaha THR10 is arguably one of the best guitar amps for guitarists who love to practice. What makes this one of the best guitar amps is its simplicity and ease of use. Furthermore, the sheer breadth of tones available is outstanding.
The Yamaha THR10 comes with 8 amp models and allows you to easily go from clean to scream with the twist of a dial. As well as this, if you manage to dial in your favourite sound, you can save it within the amplifiers 5 preset spots. So, there’s no worrying about losing your favourite tone ever again.
One of the best features of this line of guitar amps is the stereo solid-state speakers effects and built in tuner. The effects panel gives you a wide choice of effect types including chorus, flanger, phaser, tremolo, delay and reverb. For practice purposes, this is excellent as it allows you to dial in authentic guitar tones with as little hassle as possible.
In addition, if you’re worried about the amp being too loud at home, the onboard headphone input and aux in allow you to practice silently. Simply adjust the amps master volume control to your own taste and away you go!
What makes this amp stand out from the crowd is that it can also be used as a USB interface. So if you’re a recording enthusiast, the THR10 allows you to record tones directly into your computer and also comes complete with Cubase AI.
Whether you’re a professional guitarist looking for a simple practice solution or a bedroom player who wants great tones at low volume, the Yamaha THR10 is one of today’s best deals.
- The amplifier looks extremely cool. So much so, it might not even look out of place in your front room.
- A whole wealth of sounds including clean, crunch, lead, modern as well as lots of effects are available with this amp.
- You have the option of saving 5 onboard presets, ensuring that you get playing as quickly as possible.
- The headphone jack allows for silent practice, as well as this, there is an aux-in jack to allow you to play to backing tracks.
- The black section of the casing lets the design of this amp down slightly.
Best Hybrid Guitar Amp
Orange Micro Terror Head
Orange amplifiers are one of the most popular amplifier brands on the planet. Founded by Clifford Cooper in London in 1968, Orange makes amplifiers for players of all budgets.
From soaring rock sounds to subtle cleans, Orange has a distinctive sound that has been used on thousands of records since the late 60s.
One amplifier line that was an instant hit was the ‘Terror’ series. Whether it’s the tiny terror, dark terror or micro terror. This amplifier has a unique sound that is there to make you want to rock.
The orange micro terror head is one of the coolest guitar amps around. Although it may be small in size, that’s where the tiny nature of this amplifier ends. Boasting roaring distorted tones that Orange are so famous for, this is easily one of the best guitar amps available in its price range.
These guitar amps weigh in at just under one kilogram and feature a single 12AX7 tube preamp and solid-state power amp. Boasting a 20-watt power rating, the Micro Terror Head, works extremely well in the studio and may even work in some band situations. (Although, you may need to mic it up!).
What makes the Micro Terror Head one of the best guitar amps is the fact that it is extremely simple and easy to use. This is a single-channel amplifier that features volume, tone and gain controls. If you want access to clean tones, turn the gain down and the volume amp. If you want access to more distorted sounds, turn the gain up and adjust the volume to taste.
As well as this, the Orange Micro Terror Head features an aux-in and headphone output, meaning you can rock out silently whether you are.
The amp can be plugged into any 8/16 ohm cabinet. So whether you have a 1×12, 2×12 or 4×12 cab, as long as you get the ohm rating you’ll be rocking in no time. However, if you like to place your pedals in the effects loop, you aren’t able to do so on this amp.
Overall, the Orange Micro Terror Head is a lot of fun at a great price. However, it isn’t a toy. It’s a fantastic guitar amp that is one of today’s best deals and could be exactly what you’re looking for.
- Extremely small and portable.
- Very simple and easy to use.
- The addition of an onboard aux in and headphone jack are nice features.
- Classic orange sound at a very reasonable price.
- 20 watts may not be enough clean headroom for some players.
- Some players have noted that the headphone output can sound harsh.
- No effects loop.
It’s no secret that there are many different types of guitar amplifiers. From doing a quick google search, you’ll soon find out that even brands such as Fender and Marshall have over 10-20 different models. Multiply this by all the other brands on the market, and you’ll easily find 1000s of amps available.
For someone who is new to the amplifier market, this is can be extremely stressful and overwhelming for consumers.
If you feel like this is you, don’t worry. In this part of the article, we’re going to break down the different amplifier types and their features, to ensure that you find today’s best deals on guitar amps.
Guitar Amp Configurations
When discussing guitar amplifiers, there are two different ways of setting up a guitar amplifier. These are:
- Amp Head and Speaker.
- Combo Amplifier.
Amp Head & Speaker Cabinet
This is where we essentially ‘split’ the amplifier in two. The main ‘head’ section of the amp is where you get all your controls such as the input, gain, bass, middle, treble, and volume.
This then splits into a separate speaker cabinet allowing your guitar to be amplified.
There are many positives to this, one being that you have easier access to bigger speaker cabinets like a 2×12 or 4×12. Or, if that’s not for you, you can go to the other end of the spectrum and choose a smaller cabinet like a 1×12 or 1×10 cab.
Although you have to carry two units, some may argue that it’s easier to carry around as you actually split the weight of the two items.
The obvious advantage here is that you get a degree of flexibility that isn’t possible with a combo amplifier. If at any point you’re not happy with your sound, you can simply change your head or cab without having to replace the whole amp.
A combo amplifier is an all in one solution. This gives you access to both the amplifier section and speaker in one complete setup.
This is great for players who don’t want the hassle of carrying two items around. Depending on the type of amp, these are often more portable and lighter than a head and cab setup.
The main downside of a combo amplifier is that you are limited in flexibility. Although it’s possible to change the speaker in a combo amp if you’re not happy with it, It’s not as easy to change the core structure of the amplifier.
Now we’ve discussed amp configuration, let’s discuss the main type of guitar amps.
Valve Guitar Amplifier
Valve guitar amplifiers or tube amps have been around since the dawn of rock and roll. This type of amp uses a vacuum tube to increase the output signal.
Valves provide the player with a warm sound that is perfect for pretty much every genre of music.
A valve amp can be split into two sections, the tube preamp and the power amp. The preamp provides EQ and gain, whereas the power amp does all the heavy lifting and amplifies your signal.
One of the main advantages of a valve amp is the tone. There is simply nothing like the sound of a valve being pushed to its limit. The increased overtones and harmonics are simply something that has to be experienced by any guitarist, however, sometimes the reliability of this type of amplifier can be questionable.
A solid-state amp uses different technology compared to a valve amplifier. This amp uses transistor circuits to convert your electronic guitar into an amplified signal. These are often preferred by jazz guitarists who want the clean headroom of a solid-state amp, but other rock musicians such as Andy Summers and Johnny Greenwood have also been known to use this type of amp.
A hybrid amplifier marries solid-state and valve amps together. Essentially what we have here is the preamp of a valve amplifier combined with the power section of a solid-state amplifier.
Although these amps aren’t as common as valve amplifiers, guitarists such as Dimebag Darrell and Gus G. Some players often prefer these amps as they have the great tone of tubes but with the added reliability of solid-state amplifiers.
Modeling and digital amps have become extremely popular over the last 20 years or so. This type of amplifier offers the player increased flexibility with the addition of digital emulations of effects and guitar amplifiers.
Want to switch your distorted lead sound to a clean compressed sound with chorus and delay with one click of a button? No problem.
Want to switch from a harmonized guitar with a Vox AC30 amp to a maxed-out screaming Marshall stack? Again no issue. With digital amps, only you stand in the way of what can be achieved.
However, some may argue that the tone isn’t as good. As well as this, too many options can often lead to confusion for some players.
There are many types of amplifier speakers, all produce different tones and sounds and work for a wide range of styles. Here’s a list of the different types of speakers:
- 1 x 10.
This speaker is often found in smaller guitar amps. Particularly low wattage amps such as the Fender Pro Junior or Vox AC4. This is a great recording speaker, however, it isn’t suitable for genres of music such as metal.
- 1 x 12.
This guitar speaker is often found in most combo amps and there’s a reason why. It offers the user top end and presence whilst also retaining some low-end too.
- 2 x 10.
Although this speaker combination isn’t seen very often, it’s worth mentioning as it offers the user chime, clarity, and presence. The added speaker offers the guitarist extra low end
- 2 X 12.
Two 12 inch speakers are perfect for the gigging and recording musician. Offering a balanced frequency spectrum, this type of speaker combo provides the user with a decent amount of power at a lighter weight.
- 4 x 10.
Just like 2x10s, this setup isn’t seen as often. However, it does feature in one of Fender’s most famous amp, the Super Reverb. The addition of 4x10s offers the player chime, clarity, punch, and of course, headroom.
- 4 x 12.
If you’ve ever seen a rock band like AC/DC or Guns and Roses. This is the choice of speakers for them. Offering a powerful, gritty sound. 4×12 cabinets are THE sound of rock and roll.
An effect loop is often used on amplifiers so the player has the option of placing their time-based effects such as choruses, reverbs and delay between the preamp and power amp section of the amplifier.
This can add clarity and definition to your sound, however, you do need to use more cables when doing this.
To learn more about this method, go here.
What Are The Main Controls On A Guitar Amp?
On a guitar amp, there are many different controls. On each amp it may be different, however, it usually boils down to these core features:
- Gain – This controls the amount of distortion.
- Bass – This controls the low-end frequency and will add a thump to your guitar tone.
- Middle – This adds more ‘mids’ to your sound and will make your guitar sound chunkier.
- Treble – This controls the overall brightness of your amp. The more you turn this control up, the more sparkle you’ll have in your sound. The less it’s turned up, the darker your sound will be.
- Volume/Master Volume – This controls the level of your sound. Crank this control!
What Guitar Amp Has The Most Effects?
These days when it comes to guitar amplifiers, they often have lots of in-built effects. They all tend to have lots of effects, however, the ones with the most effects are:
- Boss Katana. (More effects are available through the amp’s app).
- Fender Mustang.
- Positive Grid Spark.
What Is The Best Amp?
This depends on what you want to achieve as a guitarist and what type of player you are.
Tube amps are great for recording and performing and work great for musicians who want the best out of their guitar sound. However, some tube amps can be high maintenance.
Often solid-state amps get a bad rep for not being as good sounding as valve amplifiers. However, many jazz guitarists prefer these amps as they have a cleaner, more direct tone than a tube amp.
Modelling amps are great for the guitarist who wants it all. They cover pretty much every amp or effect you’ll ever need, however some purists may argue that they don’t sound as good as the real thing. But there is no doubting that their size and wealth of tones available is extremely convenient.