As a guitar player, thoroughly researching your instrument is crucial, but it’s equally important to look into the accessories that help you and your audiences hear all of your hard work. For anyone interested in melting faces in an outdoor arena one day or simply wanting to perform for friends, the right amp can make quite a difference. This article will explore the dos and don’ts when it comes to buying an amp and what qualities appropriately suit your musical needs.
For most players, finding the right guitar amp is, at first, more a matter of function than of fame. You need an amp, or at least you really, really want an amp. But where do you even start? The possibilities seem endless, the terminology may be new, and not knowing what questions to ask can be frustrating. Finding the right amp should be simplified and easy, which is why we’re here.
We’ll start this article by reviewing the best guitar amps at each price point, but if you want to learn more about amps before reading reviews, check out our guitar amp information guide at the bottom of the page here.
|Name of Product||Image of Product||Description||Price Range||Full Review|
|1. Marshall DSL40CR 1x12” 40-watt Tube Combo Amp (Best Value Combo)||Tube 40W Combo 1x12||$750||Read Full Review Below|
|2. Marshall Origin OR120H 20-watt Tube Head (Best Value Head)||Tube 20W Head||$400||Read Full Review Below|
|3. Mesa Boogie Mark Five (Best Overall Head)||Tube 90W/45W/10W Head||$2600||Read Full Review Below|
|4. Fender 64 Custom Deluxe Reverb (Best Overall Combo)||Tube 20W Combo 1x12||$2500||Read Full Review Below|
|5. Blackstar HT Venue Series Club 40 40W 1x12 Combo MK11 (Best Clean Tone)||Tube 40W Combo 1x12||$800||Read Full Review Below|
|6. Hughes and Kettner Black Spirit 200||200W (2W, 20W settings)||$950||Read Full Review Below|
|7. Blackstar ID150H 150W Digital Guitar Amplifier Head (Best Under $400)||Solid State 150W Head||$400||Read Full Review Below|
|8. Marshall Studio Classic 20W Tube Guitar Amp Head||Tube 20W Head||$1,300||Read Full Review Below|
|9. Fender Mustang I V.2 20W 1x8 Guitar Combo Amp Black (Best Under $200)||Solid State 20W Combo 1x8||$140||Read Full Review Below|
|10. Marshall JCM800 2203X||Tube 100W Head||$3200||Read Full Review Below|
|11. Roland JC-120 Jazz Chorus||Solid State 2 x 60W||$1000||Read Full Review Below|
|12. Vox Custom AC15CI 15W 1x12 Tube Guitar Combo Amp||Tube 15W Combo 1x12||$680||Read Full Review Below|
|13. Marshall Mini Silver Jubilee 2525C 1x12 Tube Guitar Combo Amp||Tube 20W Combo 1x12||$1,500||Read Full Review Below|
|14. Peavey 6505+ 120W Guitar Amp Head||Tube 120W Amp Head||$1,300||Read Full Review Below|
|15. Peavey Envoy 110 Guitar Amplifier with TransTube Technology||Solid State 40W Combo 1x10||$350||Read Full Review Below|
|16. Vox MSB25 Mini Superbeetle 25W 1x10” Mini Guitar Amplifier Stack Black||Solid State 25W Mini Stack 1x10||$330||Read Full Review Below|
|17. Fender Champion 20 Guitar Combo Amp Black||Solid State 20W Combo 1x8||$130||Read Full Review Below|
|18. Fender Frontman 10G 10W Guitar Combo Amp Black||Solid State 10W Combo 1x6||$60||Read Full Review Below|
|19. Fender Acoustatonic 40 40W 2x6.5 Acoustic Guitar Amplifier Brown||Solid State 40W Combo 2x6.5||$200||Read Full Review Below|
|20. Vox Pathfinder 10 Guitar Combo Amp||Solid State 10W Combo 1x6.5||$90||Read Full Review Below|
|21. Blackstar Special Edition Studio 10 KT88 10W 1x12 Tube Guitar Amp Combo Emerald||Tube 10W Combo 1x12||$550||Read Full Review Below|
|22. Blackstar Fly 3W Guitar Combo Amp||Solid State 3W Combo 1x3||$60||Read Full Review Below|
|23. Blackstar ID: Core 10 V2 10W Digital Stereo Guitar Combo Amp||Solid State 10W Combo 2x5||$130||Read Full Review Below|
|24. Peavey Bandit 112 Guitar Amplifier with TransTube Technology||Solid State 80W Combo 1x12||$450||Read Full Review Below|
|25. Peavey Rage 258 Guitar Amplifier with TransTube Technology||Solid State 25W Combo 1x8||$130||Read Full Review Below|
|26. Peavey 6505 120W Guitar Amp Head||Tube 120W Head||$1000||Read Full Review Below|
|27. Marshall Code 50 1x12” 50-watt Digital Combo Amp||Solid State 50W Combo||$300||Read Full Review Below|
Here Are the Best Guitar Amps
1. Marshall DSL40CR (Best Value Combo)
My Review: The Marshall DSL40CR 1×12″ 40-watt Tube Combo Amp delivers a product ready for anything from practice to the big performance. This amp gives you options when it comes to customizing your sound. Whether admiring its powerful Gain and Volume controls (per channel), stunning Resonance control, or versatile effects loop, this combo amp delivers a quality tube sound that harkens back to rock of the 1960s. Additionally, utilize the adjustable power level for a balance that suits the venue. You get all of this, plus Marshall’s cutting edge technology known as the Softube speaker-emulated output, recreating features such as an iconic 1960 speaker cabinet. With this tool in your hands, you’ll easily be able to record and modify your sound in the way you see fit.
Key Specs and Features: This tube amp can conjure any classic Marshall sound. There are two channels available, Classic Gain and Ultra Gain, each providing two modes. These are Clean/Crunch and OD1/OD2, respectively. With 40W (with a 20W setting) and a 1 x 12″ Celestion V-Type speaker, you’ll have plenty of power for gigs at home and small venues. Further, adjust your volume for the appropriate setting with the high and low power modes. The refined EQ section and its studio-grade digital reverb give you flexibility with your tone. Don’t forget about recording your work and using the line output with Softube’s accurate emulation of a Marshall 1960 cab. Also included in this model is the 2-way footswitch, meant for switching from channel to channel as well as turning reverb on and off.
Hardware: This combo amp has an average weight for its size and power. With a weight of 50.4 pounds and dimensions of H19.29″ x W24.4″ x D9.9″, you’ll easily be able to transport it to gigs around town. Additionally, this amp is made from a smooth and sophisticated black Tolex.
Who Will Use the Most?
As mentioned by one reviewer, the Marshall DSL40CR 1×12” 40-watt Tube Combo Amp has “Serious amplification for rock performance!” For serious guitar players looking to upgrade from their current amp, this may be the one for you.
The Bottom Line: The bottom line is that you are paying the top-notch quality when buying this amp. It sells at a reasonable price that delivers a high-impact tube sound.
2. Marshall Origin OR120H 20-watt Tube Head (Best Value Head)
My Review: Looking for a tube amp that delivers simplicity and power? Consider the Marshall Origin OR120H 20-watt Tube Head. This marvel gives you the tools for a tone reminiscent of a vintage Marshall tone. The Presence tone and 3-band EQ allows you to customize your sound in the way you see fit. Give your sound that extra punch with the Gain and Master controls. The distinct Tilt controls allow you to combine bright and normal and the built-in FX loop makes using the pedalboard a walk in the park. Further enhancing your sound will be the included foot-switchable gain boost necessary to display your unique soloing abilities. Whether harkening back to the sounds of the 1960s, or desiring a new personal sound, the Marshall prides itself on simplicity, affordability, and versatility.
Key Specs and Features: This tube amp delivers plenty of power with 20 watts and 3W/0.5W adjustable power settings. This model contains 3 x ECC83 preamp tubes as well as 2 x EL34 power tubes. Utilizing all of its unique features in creating novel tone quality, consider using the 3-band EQ and distinct Tilt control, producing combinations of normal and bright sounds. There is a 1 x 1/4″ input in addition to 1 x 1/4″ (16 ohm), 2 x 1/4″ (2 x 16 ohm / single 8 ohm), 1 x 1/4″ (DI out) outputs. Finally, the built-in FX loop puts effects between the preamp section, providing you as the player with a wide variety of tonal options.
Hardware: Its simple design and compact build make the Marshall Origin an easy amplifier for transporting to gigs. Carrying this model will be simple because of its standard construction material of smooth black Tolex. Weighing in at 20.7 pounds and having the dimensions of H8.8 x W20.4 x D8.6, you will have no problem bringing this amp to gigs and back home.
Who Will Use the Most?
With a simplistic design, all the while providing the player with an exquisite palette of tonal options, the Marshall Origin will benefit beginning guitar players the most.
The Bottom Line: The bottom line is that this amp is reasonably priced for the versatility it provides the player. For beginners on a budget, you should seriously consider this amp as a worthy investment for your future musical career. I’d say this is the best guitar amp for the money right now.
3. Mesa Boogie Mark Five 90-watt Tube Head (Best Overall Head)
My Review: Rather than the industry-standard two-channels generally found in amps, this head amp comes with an extra channel, adding to its genre-bending versatility and the excitement of finding and crafting your own favorite sounds. Channel 1 is classic, vintage clean with a sparkling high end, while channel 2 is throaty and crunchy; channel 3 gives you a high-gain sound that’s particularly reminiscent of 80s metal. There are also three distinct voices for each of the channels, which you can easily flip between thanks to the mini-toggle switch – less fiddling, more fun with your guitar. The Mark Five’s 5-band graphic EQ and tone controls really help you take your sound-shaping to the next level; you’ll find yourself fascinated by all of the audio diversity you can unlock and the sounds that you can create and recreate. You can also make the EQ footswitchable (again, less fiddling for the win!)
This amp also lets you vary the watts and the configuration of power that the channel is coupled with, which means it’s easier to lower the watts to get into overdrive without being too loud; it also helps you to control your sounds in an even deeper way. In terms of configuration, the Mark V can switch between Class A and Class AB, which will emphasize even-order and odd-order harmonics respectively. (Sounds overly complex and technical, right? No problem! We’ve explained the whole Class A & AB thing in detail in another of our articles, on the best low-watt tube amps). Just flick between Class A mode at 10 watts for a harmonic, sweet tone or Class AB mode at 45 watts for a sound that’s rougher around the edges. Lastly, you can run the amp in both Class A and Class AB modes at the same time at 90 watts for a whole different sound.
Key Specs and Features: This 90W tube amp (variable to 45W & 10W) comes with seven 12AX7 preamp tubes, four 6L6 or EL34 power tubes, and a 5U4 rectifier tube. It has 3-band EQ and 5-band graphic EQ, and long spring tank reverb. There’s one ¼ inch instrument input, and six outputs in total: four ¼ inch speaker out, one ¼ inch slave, and one ¼ inch tuner. There’s a buffered effects loop (send level), and an impressive 8-button footswitch (four footswitch I/Os (channel, solo, EQ) and one 8-pin DIN); that’s not a feature you’ll see often, and it’s pretty darn handy. It also comes with a fan on/off switch, a bias select switch that lets you switch between power tubes (6L6/EL34), and a loop hard bypass switch. It’s made from a good-looking birch with black leatherette.
Hardware: The Mark Five weighs in at a rather hefty 44 lbs, measuring 10 H x 22.75” W x 11.75” D, so get ready for a bit of a heavy load – you might want to think about getting a trolley. Who
Will Use the Most?
If you like that fast and angry headbanging 80s heavy metal sound, this is a sweet choice. With 90w of power, you can gig at large venues. If you don’t carry around a lot of pedals and enjoy playing with the natural sounds of amps (especially up at high volume where you can really appreciate them the most), then the Mark Five’s ease of use will appeal; and if you love a bit of tone-tweaking, you’re in luck with this one.
The Bottom Line: 3 channels with 3 voicings each, a 5-band Graphic EQ, simul-class power, and a bias select switch – so much opportunity for sound-shaping, so little time. This is a premium amp with plenty of power, up to 90w, and tone-tweaking opportunities, making it perfect for large gigs. It’s legendary among metal players who really want to play loud, dirty and heavy.
4. Fender 64 Custom Deluxe Reverb (Best Overall Combo)
|Speakers||1 x 12″ Jensen C12Q speaker|
My Review: This hand-wired tube combo amp is an even-better vintage reissue of the beloved Fender ’64 Deluxe Reverb, complete with that iconic Deluxe tone that’s made the original amp a legendary part of music history among pro players for 50+ years and counting, used by Elvis Costello, The Beatles, Rolling Stones and many more (and of course, a prized collectible today).
This new and improved reissue doesn’t disappoint, with its stunning vintage-looking aged silver grille cloth, hand-wired AB763 circuitry, clean headroom, tube-driven reverb and tremolo, and a lighter-weight and resonant pine cabinet. With bright and normal channels, it’s great for sparkling cleans and chimes; it’s particularly known for its back-alley grunt, but it’s also a great genre-bender for rock, country, blues and more. In fact, many guitarists consider it their “desert island” amp!
Key Specs and Features: The ’64 Deluxe Reverb has 20 watts of power, two channels (bright and normal), four 12AX7 and two 12AT7 preamp tubes, two 6V6 power tubes, and one 5AR4 (rectifier). There are tube-driven reverb and tremolo on each channel, and 2-band EQ (treble and bass). There’s one Jensen C12Q speaker on board. The amp comes with four ¼ inch inputs (two normal, two bright) and two ¼ inch outputs (internal speaker and external speaker). The amp comes with a two-button footswitch and one ¼ inch footswitch I/O (reverb and tremolo). It’s constructed from solid-pine cabinet with black Tolex.
Hardware: At 38.2 lbs, the ’64 Deluxe Reverb reissue is lighter than its predecessor; it’s still somewhat hefty, but overall, it’s a portable choice. It measures 16.88 “ H x 24.25 “ W x 12.9 “ D.
Who Will Use the Most?
With 20 watts of power, this reissue is a great choice for big tube tone in small to medium sized venues and for studio sessions. It’s also a great choice for players who’ve been craving that natural, iconic vintage Fender tone, people who want to be able to switch between high-quality clean tones and grit.
The Bottom Line: Thanks to this reissue, this rare and coveted amp that shaped rock history is much more accessible and budget-friendly. It’s back better than ever with a solid-pine cabinet that’s lighter and more resonant. The weight and dimensions are pretty doable, and the controls are easy to use for great tone with less fiddling: the huge selling point here is awesome natural tones, and the Deluxe Reverb delivers.
5. Blackstar HT Venue Series Club 40 (Best Clean)
My Review: The Blackstar HT Venue Series Club 40 40W 1×12 Combo MK11 introduces cutting-edge developments into the world of valve amp lines. With a perfect combination of professional-grade equipment and user-friendly controls, this tube combo will elevate your performance as a guitar player. Its clean tones are sublime, but even better because of its simplistic controlling of bass, treble, and a foot switchable Voice switch. As a result of years of research and development, this state-of-the-art guitar amp ranks highly among the clean valve amps. For a reasonable price, you’ll have professional-grade technology without cutting far into your wallet.
Key Specs and Features: With 40W and a 1×12 Celestion speaker, you’ll have enough power practicing in your room, performing at restaurants and coffee shops, and everything in between. Its tubes come with two 12AX7 in the preamp and two EL34 in the power amp. Included as well is attenuation for up to 4 watts, allowing you to keep your desired distortion without needing to crank the volume way up high. This versatile amp also delivers with its array of options including controls for 3-band EQ, ISF, clean voice switch, overdrive voice switch, master volume, and reverb dark/bright switch. With its built-in reverb and FX loop, you receive even more options with two foot switchable channels. Known for its reputation in making unique, high-quality amplifiers, this top-notch all-valve surely belongs with the rest of Blackstar’s collection.
Who will Use the Most?
Because much of the prestige of this amp comes from its use of tubes, more experienced guitar players may consider investing. You’ll be able to fill up any small to midsize space with your sound and customize it in the way you see the best fit.
The Bottom Line: The bottom line is that you are paying for top quality for this Blackstar. It’s a little more pricey than some other amps, but there’s no comparison for its sound and attenuation for distortion. This is easily one of the best guitar amps under $1000 right now.
6. Hughes and Kettner Black Spirit 200
|Type||Solid State signal path, Digital switching/control|
|Power||200W (2W, 20W settings)|
My Review: There’s so much tone-tweaking potential with this feature-rich solid state amp head, designed to put six decades of iconic tones at your fingertips courtesy of the unique Spirit Tone Generator. You can switch components and circuit layouts as you go, delivering the tone and response of classic amps throughout music history. Extraordinarily, it’s doing all this without digital modeling – the amp literally switches between analog components.
The amp comes with an impressive four independent channels – clean, crunch, lead and ultra – making it an awesome choice for the diverse player wanting all the tones from chimney cleans to high-gain heavy metal. You can also save a grand total of 128 presets – endless hours of tone-shaping fun. You can also save your fave presets right to the Black Spirit iPad app to really maximize your tweaking game. The amp also comes with a still-hard-to-find sag control feature, letting you fine-tune how your amp sags and compresses in response to a sudden large voltage drop.
Key Specs and Features: This small, light amp is astonishingly powerful, delivering 200W (switchable to 20W and 2W). It comes with four channels, digital reverb, 3-band EQ & presence, and out-of-this-world amp modeling thanks to the Spirit Tone Generator & DI out cab emulation. There’s two inputs (one ¼ inch instrument, one 1/8 inch aux) and two outputs (one ¼ inch (8 or 16 ohms) and one XLR (Redbox AE + DI out). There’s a ¼ inch headphones/line jack, an effects loop, MIDI I/O (7 pin in, 5 pin out/thru), and a footswitch I/O (one 7-pin MIDI, FSM-432 pedalboard (not included)). It also comes with Bluetooth for streaming and remote control.
Hardware: Light and easy at 7.9 lbs, and measuring a teensy 6.1” H x 16.1 W x 5.9 “ D, this little amp packs a serious punch.
Who Will Use the Most?
If you love versatility and tone-tweaking, need to replicate diverse tones quickly on the go, or you’re looking for a super-powerful amp head that can bend genres fast, this is an awesome choice.
The Bottom Line: This feature and power-packed 200w tone beast comes with six decades of fave amp tones in a small but mighty package. It comes with in-build sag control so you can tweak the compression to make it more tube-like, and with four channels from squeaky clean to ultra, you can go full-on gain or chimey and light depending on the sound you’re looking for. It’s ready-to-go for any cab, and the tones are awesome at any volume level, making this amp perfect for stadiums and bedrooms alike. Add in an optional MIDI board for footswitchable preset recall and even more control. All in all, a portable, versatile amp for a diverse range of settings, giving you exceptional access to a whole world of amp tones.
7. Blackstar ID150H (Best Under $400)
|Speakers||6 different channels|
My Review: The Blackstar ID150H 150W Digital Guitar Amplifier Head gives you the tools to produce a customizable sound, appropriate for the big stage. Its 150 watts will give it a bold, resonant sound for live performances. With Voice control, ISF, and Blackstar’s signature True Valve Power, prepare for a versatile and resourceful sound. Six unique power valve responses provide a wide variety of distortion levels and resonances heard in both American and British styles. The Blackstar GUI software allows players to share their patches to online communities which serves as the cherry on top of an already delightful sound.
Key Specs and Features: With an already heightened wattage of 150, the Blackstar ID150H 150W Digital Guitar Amplifier Head also delivers versatility with its interesting channel voices. The six channels include EL84, 6V6, EL34, KT66, 6L6, and KT88. You will also enjoy the number of options available with controls such as 3-band EQ, ISF, volume, gain, effects select, effects level as well as FX options like 4 modulations, 4 delays and 4 reverbs. Not to mention that on top of 128 patches ready to store, a MIDI input allows you to recall patches and modify patch values via MIDI Control Change. A USB connectivity also gives you control over editing and recording that you like.
Who Will Use the Most?
For those considering performing regularly at midsize to large venues, this amp head may be for you. It delivers power while simultaneously giving you a ridiculous amount of control over your sound, both on the hardware, but also through its software.
The Bottom Line: The bottom line is that for its versatility, power, and quality of sound, this is one of the best values you will get for your money.
Related Article: Our Favorite Guitar Pedals (All Types)
8. Marshall Studio Classic 20W Tube Guitar Amp Head
My Review: The Marshall Studio Classic 20W Tube Guitar Amp Head delivers a tube amp more portable, versatile, and cutting edge in terms of its design. This amp gives you a wide range of JCM800 2203 tonal options including everything from rich and full cleans to heavier driven aggressive sounds. Control your sound in the way you best see fit with options such as presence control, a preamp volume control, and added effects loop, and DI out. And of course, let’s not forget the master volume allowing you to adjust your sound appropriately at home or at small to midsize gigs. The Marshall Studio Classic 20W brings sophistication and power without the need to buy a 100W.
Key Specs and Features: This classic tube amp packs plenty of power with 20 watts and power switching from 20W to 5W. The tubes include two 12AX7 in the preamp, one 12AX7 that functions as a phase splitter, and two EL34 in the power amp. There is a single channel and two inputs with options to modify your sound using controls like the 3-band EQ, presence, volume, and master. Nestled between the preamp is the effects loop for more tonal combinations. Also included is a DI output. Speaker outputs include 4, 8, and 16 ohms.
Who Will Use the Most?
For any guitar player looking for an amplifier upgrade (or perhaps you haven’t been able to afford a 100W in the past), this one may be for you. With versatility for performance anywhere from home to mid-sized venues, this guitar amp will deliver quality sound and enough power to fill any room.
The Bottom Line: This luxury amp comes at a higher cost, but in return, you will receive extremely high quality sound while still maintaining simplicity. This is an excellent second guitar amp investment.
9. Fender Mustang 1 V.2 (Best Under $200)
My Review: The Fender Mustang 1 V.2 20W 1×8 Guitar Combo Amp brings cutting edge innovation with a wide variety of new features. With the same esteem as original Mustangs, this V.2 introduces five new amp models as well as five new effects. It’s also worth mentioning its unique and intelligent pitch shifting. For new guitar players, prepare to be spoiled with other features like USB connectivity, allowing you to make and share your artistry through your computer.
Key Specs and Features: This 20W amp supplies the power appropriately for your room, coffee shop, or the local performance stage. Its 8″ Fender Special Design speaker will carry your sound wherever you choose to perform. For deeper customization of your sound, the Fender Mustang 1 V.2 20W 1×8 Guitar Combo Amp gives you plenty of options, including 24 presets on one channel. In addition, feel free to toggle its series of dials that allow you to modify the volume, gain, treble, bass, among many others. Finally, plug your amp into your computer using its USB connectivity to use the AmpliTube Fender LE edition software. This technology gives you the tools to further modify your sound in the way you best see fit.
Hardware: With a combo design, this amp allows for easy portability to gigs. Its smooth black textured vinyl covering and silver grille cloth make transportation a breeze. Compact and ready to go, the Fender Mustang 1 V.2 20W 1×8 Guitar Combo Amp will serve you well traveling throughout the music scene of your town.
Who Will Use the Most?
For beginning guitar players, this amp may be for you. Its versatility and ability to work in multiple types of venues make it designed for someone just starting out.
The Bottom Line: The bottom line is that though there are cheaper options for a beginning guitar amp, the value exceeds expectations. It’s an excellent price for the versatility that it provides.
10. Marshall JCM800 2203X
My Review: The Marshall tone shaped rock in so many ways, and you’ll find it at its finest here. JCM800 amps rocked stadiums worldwide in the 70s and 80s – it’s a mainstay with many of the world’s most well-known hard rock guitarists like Angus Young from AC/DC and Kerry King from Slayer. This super aggressive 100w amp rocks seriously hard; it’s pricy, but if you’re a Marshall tone lover with cash to splash, you’re in luck.
Unlike the JCM800 amps of back-in-the-day, this JCM800 2203 reissue amp also comes with a series effects loop, which comes with a true bypass operation when you want to take the loop completely out of the circuit so you won’t impact that iconic Marshall tone. This is also one of the few reissues with a master volume, so you can roar during your solos.
This easy-to-use one-channel all-tube amp comes with versatile EQ settings, so you’re not just limited to the rock and metal that’s made it famous; the amp can technically play a variety of genres for when you feel like mixing things up a bit.
Key Specs and Features: All-tube, simple-is-best one-channel and a seriously impressive 100W of power. Three ECC83 preamp tubes and four EL34 power tubes, 3-band EQ & presence, and two inputs (both are ¼ inch, one is low sensitivity and the other is high sensitivity). Two outputs (1/4 inch, 4/8/6 ohms), and an effects loop. Made of black Tolex.
Hardware: Unsurprisingly from an amp this powerful, it weighs in at a heavy 45.19 lbs, and measures 12.2 “ H x 29.52 “ W x 8.27 “ deep. Bring a trolley or get a roadie.
Who Will Use the Most?
This amp ain’t for strumming Bob Dylan around a bonfire while someone’s toasting marshmallows. It’s not for when you want to practice at home and not wake the neighbors. It’s for waking the dead, basically. The 2203X is for large venues and gigging bands, and people who really love their angry hard rock and heavy metal. If you want to play loud and proud to a crowd, this is a great choice.
The Bottom Line: JCM800 amps are about as iconic as it gets in the world of hard rock, and the JCM800 2203X sure doesn’t disappoint. The natural Marshall tone that shaped this genre is what’s so special here, as well as the incredible 100 watts of power. Specs-wise, it’s pretty simple – single-channel operation, 3-band EQ – making it easy to dial in awesome sounds. It’s durable, strong, powerful and… pricy. But that said, this is a dream amp for hard rock and metal lovers; it’s perfect for a guitarist of a certain stage in their careers or Marshall lovers who are happy to spend a (fair bit) extra for amazing tones.
11. Roland JC-120 Jazz Chorus
|Power||2 x 60W|
|Speakers||2 x 12″|
My Review: The JC-120 is a 2 x 60w (120w total) solid state amp that has been considered the undisputed “King of Clean” for four decades and counting, and has been in continuous production without any change from its original specs since it first led a revolution in guitar amp technology way back in 1975. Roland amps are known for their lush, rich tone, as well as their built-in true-stereo swirling chorus effect emanating from two 12 inch speakers (each driven by its own 60W amp). It also comes with built-in reverb and vibrato, and easy-to-use front-panel controls and a dedicated bright switch making it just right for tone-tweaking to craft your fave sounds across genres. It’s also got an exceptionally durable build, ready to stand the test of time and go the distance.
Key Specs and Features: This 2-channel solid state amp comes with two 12 inch “silver cone” speakers (60W each), reverb, 3-band EQ, one ¼ inch input and two ¼ inch outputs, an effects loop, and three footswitch I/O jacks (chorus/vibrato, reverb and distortion; footswitch not included).
Hardware: This amp has some seriously heavy-duty construction, which also means it’s heavy. At 61.73 lbs weight, and measuring in at 24.49 “ H, 29.92 “ W and 11 “ D, you’ll want to get a roadie or a trolley for this tone monster.
Who Will Use the Most?
Love clean sounds? You’ll love the JC-120. Perfect if you love to play jazz, blues, new wave or post-punk, and even clean metal.
The Bottom Line: This classic amp has been the most popular of the iconic Jazz Chorus (JC) amps since its 1975 debut, essentially becoming the flagship of the Roland brand and standing the test of time. It’s gone on to define the clean guitar sound, with rich tone and swirling chorus effect and a whole lot of power, it’s no wonder that artists as diverse as The Cure, The Police, Metallica and Limp Bizkit have made this amp a legend in music history.
12. Vox Custom AC15CI
My Review: The Vox Custom AC15CI 15W 1×12 Tube Guitar Combo Amp gives you a unique, innovative way to control your sound. With a Normal and Top Boost channel, this combo amplifier lets you modify the treble and bass in ways that best fit your needs. With the ability to modify the Master and individual volumes, this amp allows players to choose everything from a booming, “bassier” sound, a classic “chimey” resonance, and everything in between. This amp equips more experienced players with the tools to show off their exquisite musical abilities.
Key Specs and Features: This versatile beauty has 15W into 16 ohms and accompanied by its 12″ Celestion G12M Greenback speaker. Many reviewers agree that the amp possesses enough power for anyone gigging at bars, restaurants, or any other mid-sized venues. Not to mention that this also will work perfectly practicing at home. As a thinner amp, it may not be as powerful as some other American brands, but in return provides an uncompromising distortion. The two channels, the Normal and Top Boost inputs, both utilize master Tone Cut and volume controls. The Tone Cut control comes from the power amp stage providing control over any further tone shaping. Master volume helps create appropriate gain staging and collaborates with the individual volumes of each channel giving balance to the overall sound. The amp also includes features such as a spring reverb and a classic tremolo effect bolstering guitar playing capabilities.
Hardware: With dimensions of 23-11/16″W x 10-7/16″D x 18″H and a weight of 48-1/2 lbs, carrying this amp to gigs will be a piece of cake. It provides a quality tone without the heavy investment of full, or even half-stack, speakers.
Who Will Use the Most?
This guitar amp is more expensive than most beginning amps, but for musicians looking to take their performances to the next level, this may be your amp. It’s lightweight and portable without sacrificing that quality British sound from the 60s we all love. For any musician regularly performing at small to midsize venues, consider this as a future investment.
The Bottom Line: The bottom line is that what you’re paying for is the quality. It’s a classic tube amp that many guitar players swear by and consider unreplicable by solid states that come with digital modeling. Perhaps even more than the quality, it’s the unique distortion you’re paying for.
13. Marshall Mini Silver Jubilee 2525C
My Review: The Marshall Mini Silver Jubilee 2525C 1×12 Tube Guitar Combo Amp was designed in celebration of Marshall’s 25 years of making amplifiers and 50 years since Jim Marshall had started the company. This luxury tube combo delivers top-notch, performance-ready sound others simply cannot compete with. Its compact size contains 20 watts of power and features an ECC83 and EL34 valve set. Though the cabinet is mini, the sound is mighty. This amplifier packs a punch with its single 12″ Celestion G12M Greenback speaker ready for any jam session or local gig. This Marshall Mini is aesthetically pleasing to the eye with its distinct silver vinyl and chrome-plated paneling completing the Jubilee look. For the professional looking to take their musical career to the next level, this may be the guitar for you.
Key Specs and Features: As mentioned above, this mini amplifier has a mighty sound. The Marshall Mini Jubilee has 20 watts as well as a switchable power output to 5W, giving you the tools to adjust the sound for the appropriate venue. Develop your sound with adjustable 3-band EQ, presence, gain, volume. Utilize the effects loop that is between the preamp for a wide variety of tonal combinations. Other features include a DI output that allows players to connect external recording devices to the amplifier itself, in addition to a versatile footswitch.
Hardware: As most amplifiers come in either black or brown, the Jubilee collection further bolsters its luxurious design with its color and shine. The amp features classic silver vinyl and chrome-plated paneling to give a look that makes a statement, separating it from all other amplifiers.
Who Will Use the Most?
Because of the price and high-quality of this amplifier, this should be considered for more experienced guitar players looking for an upgrade from their current amp. The top-notch tube amp sound has no comparison and its sleek design will make all your musician friends jealous.
The Bottom Line: The bottom line is that this is a state-of-the-art guitar amp that prides itself on quality. It’s going to cost a little more than most other guitar amps, but in return, you will receive the best that tube amplifiers on the market have to offer.
14 Peavey 6505+
My Review: The Peavey 6505+ 120W Guitar Amp Head delivers an impactful sound for metalheads and hardcore players. This amp head gives you options including everything from its foot-switchable lead/rhythm channel select to its resonance and presence controls on each channel. For anyone looking for a raw and powerful sound ready to take on the most intense, earth-shattering performances, this may be the perfect guitar for you.
Key Specs and Features: With 120W, this hardcore amp will work for any large or midsize venues, driven by its 6 – 12AX7s preamp and 4 – 6L6s power amp. Its versatility comes from options like the foot-switchable lead/rhythm channels, effects loop, and 3-band EQ. Not to mention that it has spectacular Resonance and Presence control.
Who Will Use the Most?
More seasoned guitar players will most benefit from this guitar amp. This is especially true for players that have experience playing and performing in hardcore and metal bands. The most important thing to know, however, is that this is not a beginner amplifier. It’s definitely on the higher end of guitar amp prices but delivers a driving, forceful sound that other amp heads will simply not be able to replicate.
The Bottom Line: The bottom line is the quality of this amp head is unparalleled by its competitors. Buying this amp will be worth the price and then some.
15. Peavey Bandit 112
My Review: The Peavey Bandit 112 Guitar Amplifier with TransTube Technology delivers a high-quality, high-value guitar amp for its price. With 80W and a 12″ Blue Marvel speaker, you’ll be able to rock anywhere you perform. Its state of the art technology gives you so many options to elevate your sound, including vintage/classic/warm switch on the clean channel and a classic/modern high gain switch on the lead channel. Get ready to become the professional guitar player you always wanted to be with this exquisite solid-state combo amp.
Key Specs and Features: This versatile amp gives you the tools to customize your sound in the way you best see fit. Some options include an effects loop, master reverb and boost, and high gain and low gain inputs. The Bandit allows these switches through two foot-switchable channels. You also have 25%, 50%, 100% power level selector switch and a loose, tight, and medium damping switch to prevent any unwanted buzzing sounds.
Hardware: For the power the Peavey Bandit brings, it’s very portable and meant to be used for gigging around town. For a 12” speaker and 80W, it only weighs 45 lbs and has the following dimensions: 23-3/4″W x 20-1/4″H x 11-3/4″D.
Who Will Use the Most?
As many reviewers have suggested, this amp works great for players looking to practice at home as well as gig around town. 80W is plenty of power for small to midsize venues and its TransTube technology harkens back to that vintage tube amp sound you desire.
The Bottom Line: Its versatility, portability, and customization make it stand out from the crowd. This is hands down one of the best guitar amps for the money currently on the market.
16. Vox MSB25 Mini Superbeetle
My Review: The Vox MSB25 Mini Superbeetle 25W 1×10” Mini Guitar Amplifier Stack Black takes us back to a simpler time, providing the classic 60s aesthetic and sound. This compact, miniature amplifier packs a punch with its Nutube-equipped analog preamp circuit and onboard reverb and tremolo, harkening back to the familiar sound of the British Invasion. With a versatile ability to pair with most extension cabinets (including 1×12”, 2×12”, or even 4×12”), and accompanied by a custom 10” Celestion speaker, this unique amp will get you ready to rock anywhere!
Key Specs and Features: For guitar players looking to perform either at home or small venues, this amp may be for you. With 25 watts and a 1×10” Celestion speaker, this stack amp will deliver the desired sound. Its open-back cabinet design also allows you as the musician to move around the microphones for more directional sound. Effects of the Vox MSB25 Mini Superbeetle 25W 1×10” Mini Guitar Amplifier Stack Black include its built-in digital reverb and its NuTube-driven tremolo. This marvelous guitar amp also comes with a speaker output and headphone/line out.
Who Will Use the Most?
Certainly, beginners looking for that nostalgic British sound will love the Vox MSB25 Mini Superbeetle 25W 1×10” Mini Guitar Amplifier Stack Black. Though the speaker and amplifier come in separate cabinets, its small size easily transports from gig to gig.
The Bottom Line: The bottom line is that while there are cheaper options available for a beginning guitar amp, the quality you receive does not compare to others in this price range. It’s a great value and offers superb sound.
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17. Fender Champion 20
My Review: Any beginner will love the Fender Champion 20 Guitar Combo Amp for its exquisite versatility for a reasonable price. The combination of its 20 watts mixed with its ability to be easily transported, this amp will serve best those looking for high performance at a quality value. This amp gives you a wide variety of options when it comes to effects including reverb, delay/echo, chorus, tremolo, vibratone, among many others. Its single channel allows for a number of voicings such as Blackface, British, Metal, Jazz, and Tweed. The Fender Champion 20 Guitar Combo Amp should be considered the highest quality valued guitar amp.
Key Specs and Features: This amp has a 20 watts partnered with an 8″ Fender Special Design Speaker. It has a single channel and input, which plugging into grants you the ability to toggle different effects on the sound. In addition to reverb, delay/echo, chorus, tremolo, and vibratone, this amp comes with many different amp voicings and distortion types.
Electronics: This 20W and 120V-powered amp has a myriad of controls to further adjust your sound including the following: Channel 1: Volume, Channel 2: Gain, Volume, Voice. Master: Treble, Bass, FX Level, FX Select, and TAP. Only one channel allows you to change the Selectable Amp Voice.
Hardware: The cabinet is built from a 7-ply 3/4″ medium-density fibreboard coated with a lovely black textured vinyl. Its vibrant amplifier jewel comes in LED red which sits above the silvery grille cloth. You’ll be able to comfortably bring the amp to gigs by holding its molded plastic strap with nickel-plated caps.
Who Will Use the Most?
The Fender Champion 20 Guitar Combo Amp functions as a wonderful first guitar amp. Anyone invested in pursuing a music career, professionally or not, will reap the benefits of this amp for a very long time. Its practical design allows for many different types of performances and occasions. Whether practicing in your room or playing at a local restaurant, this amp makes everyone happy.
The Bottom Line: The bottom line is that for the price, this amp has extraordinary value. It is a worthy musical investment for what you will receive. Overall, I would say this is the best guitar amp under 200 dollars.
18. Fender Frontman 10G
My Review: The Fender Frontman 10G 10W Guitar Combo Amp brings quality and efficiency to a relatively small “practice” amp. With 10 watts and additional overdrive installed, this guitar amp will let you rock out in the comfort of your own home. Supplied by its 6” Special Design Speaker, its versatility and compact nature also make it reasonably priced for anyone on a budget. The Fender Frontman 10G 10W Guitar Combo Amp produces an exquisite tone for any beginning guitar player.
Key Specs and Features: There are many ways in which the Fender Frontman 10G 10W Guitar Combo Amp supplies versatility. One way includes its ¼” instrument input, ⅛” Aux input, and a ⅛” headphone output. It brings more power through its Selectable Overdrive switch with Gain knob. With a classic Blackface control panel, this amp gives you many options over things like volume, gain, treble, bass, and of course, the Overdrive Select Button.
Hardware: This compact little amp is praised by its users for the portability of its size. This is comfortably done as a result of its smooth black textured vinyl accompanied by a silver grille cloth. Other components of its hardware include the Blackface control panel as well as surround chrome hardware.
Who Will Use the Most?
Because this amp is smaller and has a smaller amount of power it can supply, this suits a beginning player the best. This is especially the case if most of your time practicing will be indoors as it will not disturb others around you while you play. Though it’s great for practicing, this amp still provides enough wattage for performances at smaller venues.
The Bottom Line: The bottom line is that the Fender Frontman 10G 10W Guitar Combo Amp will be one of the cheapest amps you can find. You’ll still get a quality sound, but this is certainly an excellent choice for those on a tight budget.
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19. Fender Acoustatonic 40
|Channels||2 channels, 2 inputs|
My Review: The Fender Acoustatonic 40 40W 2×6.5 Acoustic Guitar Amplifier Brown functions as a wonderful amp for anyone doing gigs on the regular. Its compact build makes it extremely portable and makes for easy set-up at smaller venues. With 40W, this mini amp brings the punch in bringing power to space. This amp also includes two channels, two inputs, a headphone output, and an auxiliary input for use with external audio devices.
Key Specs and Features: This amp’s design is fairly light coming in at 16.5 pound and having dimensions of 15 in. x 11 in. x 7 in. This comes at a surprise after knowing it has 40W and supplements more power with its 2×6.5 special design, full-range with high-frequency whizzer cones. The whizzer cones help radiate the high-frequency content more than that of a larger speaker cone. You also have options to modify the controls like the 3-band EQ, reverb, reverb level, and volume. It also has an FX feature allowing you to distort the sound between the preamp stage and power amp stage. This includes digital hall reverb with level control for each channel. An XRL line output can also be used with a PA system or other recording gear.
Hardware: The Fender Acoustatonic 40 40W 2×6.5 Acoustic Guitar Amplifier has easy portability and comfortability when carrying it to other places. Though many builds come with a textured vinyl covering, most of them come in black. This amp comes in the stylish and sophisticated “vintage brown.” It will certainly stand out in a sea of traditional black amps.
Who Will Use the Most?
This amp is versatile in that almost any type of guitar player desires this one. Though there’s disagreement in the guitar community, this amp seems the best fit for a singer/songwriter that performs in smaller venues. It has enough power to carry throughout the room and supplies enough gadgets for the musician to explore.
The Bottom Line: The bottom line is that this is a high-value, high-impact guitar amp. There may be cheaper options available, but for the quality, it’s one of a kind.
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20. Vox Pathfinder 10
My Review: The Vox Pathfinder 10 Guitar Combo Amp is a miniature solid-state that works best for a small jam session or practicing at home. This combo amp uses 10 watts and is accompanied by a solid 6.5” speaker. Customize your playing with the Clean/Overdrive switch which allows you to morph your distortion from “chime-y” to rich and warm. Other options include adjusting your Gain, Volume, and Treble and Bass EQ. For night-owl musicians, consider the line/headphone jack which allows you to practice really late without disturbing your neighbors.
Key Specs and Features: Key specs and features include its 10 watts accompanied by its 1×6.5 Vox Bulldog speaker. Plenty of power for those just getting introduced to playing the guitar. You will also have control over your sound by toggling dials such as the 2-band EQ, volume, gain. It’s also extremely lightweight, thus making the travel from gig to gig a breeze. This 10-pound amp works perfectly for smaller venues or at-home practice.
Who Will Use the Most?
This amp will serve any beginning guitar player very well! It’s compact, simple, and affordable for anyone considering playing a 6-string. If you will be practicing at home most of the time, then this is a worthy investment.
The Bottom Line: The bottom line is that this is on the cheaper end of amp prices. It’s extremely affordable and appropriate for anyone on a budget.
21. Blackstar Special Edition Studio 10 KT88
My Review: The Blackstar Special Edition Studio 10 KT88 10W 1×12 Tube Guitar Amp Combo Emerald is compact, yet spacious for its size. Driven by the KT88, this combo amp results in dynamic modern cleans and tight high-gain overdrive; something you wouldn’t expect based on its lightweight build and lower-powered wattage. Its 10 watts packs a punch and delivers a surprising amount of gain. Get ready to be surprised after you purchase this one-of-a-kind.
Key Specs and Features: This single-channel, single-input model delivers a unique distortion from its tube amp design. It has a 12AX7 (preamp) and a KT-88 (power amp). The amp also provides immense versatility with the ability to play Christian rock to heavy metal. The options are endless with dials to control the gain, overdrive, ISF, reverb, and master. It’s worth mentioning that it also comes with a footswitch allowing you to modify reverb, boost, and overdrive. Other features include a Series FX loop and an Emulated mono output.
Who Will Use the Most?
For beginning guitar players, this guitar amp may become a worthy investment. The classic tube amp sound harkens back to the sound of the 1960s and considered by many seasoned guitarists as “unreplicable”. With versatile options to modify reverb, boost, and overdrive, you can’t go wrong with this American guitar amp.
The Bottom Line: The bottom line is that you will get a high-quality, high-impact guitar amp when purchasing the Blackstar Special Edition Studio 10. Though there are cheaper options available, this model provides a unique sound that less expensive solid-states simply cannot produce.
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22. Blackstar Fly
My Review: The Blackstar Fly 3W Guitar Combo Amp is a mini amplifier that will not disappoint. Tiny, portable, and versatile are all words that emblematize this product. Its 3 watts make it incredibly easy to practice in your room at home, without disturbing nearby neighbors. This battery-powered guitar amp allows you to transport it anywhere and in anything (like a backpack or handbag!). With a built-in digital delay, the signature Blackstar Infinite Shape Feature allows players to oscillate between the American and British-style tones. Not to mention that the Blackstar Fly 3W also provides an Aux. line giving you the ability to rock out to your favorite songs. At a reasonable price, you’ll understand the rage over mini amplifiers.
Key Specs and Features: This amplifier provides 3 watts and two channels for playing. The speaker with a 1×3″ Blackstar design accompanies this sound, which has a unique ability to flip between the U.S. and U.K.-style tones with varying distortion levels. This amp also comes with an Aux. input and a headphone output, allowing you to play along with your favorite songs as well as tune in to your own sound while playing.
Who Will Use the Most?
This is quite different from most other amps seen in these reviews. Its miniature size fosters an innovative and relatively new design to guitar amps. Because of its reasonable price and low maintenance, this serves beginning guitar players on a budget the best.
The Bottom Line: The bottom line is that for thrifty shoppers, this mini guitar amp will be great for novices. If you want a larger sound, you can always invest in a Blackstar Fly 103 1×3″ extension cab that will bolster your power to 6 watts. But for guitar players simply planning on practicing in their rooms, this may be an excellent choice!
23. Blackstar ID:Core 10 V2
|Channels||6 different channels|
My Review: The Blackstar ID:Core 10 V2 10W Digital Stereo Guitar Combo Amp delivers for any beginning guitar player. Both in terms of tone and intuitive design. This combo amp is set in super wide stereo allowing you to be absorbed with your sound. With six different channels and a wide variety of controls, be prepared to customize your guitar playing in the way you see fit. Once you’ve made a mix you enjoy, take advantage of Blackstar’s state-of-the-art INSIDER software for additional editing. Using a new USB connectivity, play directly into your computer, which then allows you to share and upload your works with the online community (not to mention that other members can download them).
Key Specs and Features: This 10W combo amp serves as an excellent amp for practicing. Its six distinct channels provide immense customization of sound and include the following settings: Clean Warm, Clean Bright, Crunch, Super Crunch, OD 1, OD 2. With Blackstar’s patented ISF, you’ll be able to combine these into any sound you prefer. You also have the ability to modify controls such as EQ knob, volume, gain, channel/voice select, effects select, effects level, and tap tempo. With 12 stereo FX, add additional effects like delay, reverb, and mod. Finally, don’t forget about the USB port for uses like tone editing and recording.
Who Will Use the Most?
Beginners will love the simple design and sophisticated sound that the Blackstar ID: Core 10 V2 10W Digital Stereo Guitar Combo Amp delivers. For anyone looking to purchase their first amp, this may be the one for you.
Bottom Line: The bottom line is that this amp will be great for anyone on a budget. For the number of control, software, and FX options, this amp provides unparalleled value.
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24. Peavey Envoy 110
My Review: The Peavey Envoy 110 Guitar Amplifier with TransTube Technology delivers an incredible, quality sound while remaining compact and lightweight. This combo amp contains two channels, each of which comes with three remarkable tonal variations. Backed by 40W and a 10″ super-duty Blue Marvel speaker, this gives players a quality tone while practicing or performing at a local gig. This amp serves as a wonderful first amplifier for beginning guitarists.
Key Specs and Features: This marvelous Peavy Envoy has 40W of output power and includes and a 10″ super-duty Blue Marvel speaker, accompanied by a wide variety of features that will customize your sound to a tee. There is a clean channel and a lead channel that allow you to decide what the function of your playing will be. On the clean channel, use the switch to play with a more vintage/classic/warm sound. On the lead channel, use the switch responsible for classic/modern/high gain. Additionally, use the master reverb and boost for a more powerful sound. Not to mention that you also have two foot switchable channels at your disposal as well.
Hardware: At its lightweight size, portability makes this amp easily transported from home to live performances. It has the dimensions of 18″W x 16-1/4″H x 9-1/2″D and a weight of 21 lbs.
Who Will Use the Most?
This amp is great for anyone beginning to play the guitar. It’s affordable, functional, and provides a flexible, quality sound.
The Bottom Line: The bottom line is that though there are cheaper options for beginning guitars, this Peavy gives you so much wattage in its relatively small cabinet. For beginners on a budget and looking to perform at small to midsize venues, this may be the best amp for you.
25. Peavey Rage 258
My Review: The Peavey Rage 258 Guitar Amplifier with TransTube Technology packs a punch for its compact size. Great for practicing, this amp delivers an exquisite sound that provides a wide variety of tones. Surprisingly, the amp has two channels supplying three different voicings: Stack, Modern, and Vintage. For any beginning guitar player, you may want to consider investing in this one.
Key Specs and Features: With 25W and an 8” super-duty Blue Marvel speaker, this solid-state combo amp works well for practicing at home or playing at smaller venues. It has two channels and includes 3-band EQ and pre and post gain knobs, making it easy to rock out while playing your favorite riffs. Do your neighbors need a little quiet? No problem! The Peavey Rage supplies its own headphone jack and tape/CD input that allows you to keep playing even in complete silence. You also will have the ability to switch from three voicings giving you a unique sound even on a practice amp. These include Stack, Modern, and Vintage, you’ll impress your friends with the amp’s versatility.
Hardware: Because of its lightweight nature, this practice amp only weighs 16 pounds making it very accessible for transporting to other gigs. Its smaller dimensions are 19-1/4″W x 15-1/2″H x 9-1/2″D.
Who Will Use the Most?
For beginning guitar players, investing in a good practice amp is important. This amp provides the portability, versatility, and affordability that every novice is looking for. It’s simple and will work well for anyone just getting introduced to the world of guitar playing.
The Bottom Line: The bottom line is that this amp is affordable for anyone on a budget. It’s a high-value amplifier that brings simplicity to the forefront.
26. Peavey 6505
My Review: With Peavey’s 40-year history of providing powerful, versatile guitar amps, the Peavey 6505 120W Guitar Amp Head does the same. This amp head delivers a booming sound with 120 watts ready for small to large-sized venues. Provided is its preamp- 5 – 12AX7s and power amp- 4 – 6L6s giving you a classic tube amp sound. For any musician prepared to take their performance to the next level, elevate it with this one.
Key Specs and Features: This powerful amp comes with 120W as well as a 5 – 12AX7s preamp and a 4 – 6L6s power amp. Its versatility is manifested through its footswitchable channels for both lead and rhythm. Provided with this tube amp head also includes an effects loop, 3-band EQ, and resonance and presence controls. You will not be disappointed with its extreme versatility and obvious power.
Who Will Use the Most?
Because its power is most suited for midsize and larger venues, the Peavey 6505 will work best as a second or third guitar amp. Anyone wanting to upgrade to something bigger and better than their practice amp should seriously consider buying this one.
The Bottom Line: The bottom line is that you will receive an extremely high-quality amp and then some for the price. Its power and versatility has no match for others on the market and will prove to be an excellent investment down the road.
27. Marshall Code 50
|Channels||Multi, Foot controller optional|
My Review: The Marshall Code 50 1×12” 50-watt Digital Combo Amp delivers a quality sound at a quality bargain. First of all, this solid-state beauty gives you hundreds of opportunities to customize your tone with state-of-the-art digital modeling. Take a trip to the past and reimagine classic Marshall preamp/power amp/speaker cab combinations. Additionally, take advantage of Bluetooth and USB connectivity, allowing you to learn and listen to new music quickly. Don’t forget about auxiliary input with a headphone output for silent jamming and recording. For any aspiring guitar player looking for their first amp, you may want to choose this one because of its affordability and versatility.
Key Specs and Features: This amp delivers a significant amount of power, delivering 50 watts and a 1×12″ sized speaker. This will sufficiently fill any room for practice and most anywhere for mid-sized venues. You will see this amp’s versatility through its preamp and power amp models. There are 14 pre-amp models that include classics like the JCM800, Bluesbreaker Plexi, Silver Jubilee, and 4 power amp models for vintage and modern British and American tones. This doesn’t even mention its 8 different speaker emulations which include a tight 1 x 12″ to a beefy 4 x 12″ and the 24 unique digital effects further making your tone different from other players. There are also options like the auxiliary input for listening to your own music as well as the headphone output for silent practice and direct recording. With so many choices it may feel overwhelming, but there’s no need to fret (no pun intended). Learning the basics of this amp will take time, but soon enough you’ll be modifying your sound like a pro and sounding like one too.
Hardware: This is an extremely lightweight and portable amp. Weighing only 28.6 lbs and having dimensions of H17.3″ x W20.8″ x D11″, carrying it to local gigs will be a walk in the park. Additionally, this amp has a smooth black Tolex construction material, standard for many brand-name amplifiers.
Who Will Use the Most?
For those beginning guitar players looking to purchase their first guitar amp, this is definitely a good choice. It’s a practical solid-state with digital modeling allowing you to have a wide range of tone options. Its power of 50 watts further makes an argument for buying this model at an extremely affordable price.
The Bottom Line: For the price, this is a very good deal. The many options for a quality tone will help players develop their own.
Choosing the Right Guitar Amp (Buying Guide)
The first thing you should know about amps is the different types of models.
Combo vs. Stack Amps
Amplifiers come in either one-piece or two. With one-piece models, the smaller rectangular amp head is separated from the speaker. Further divided, half stacks generally have up to four speakers inside of the cabinet. A full stack adds an additional cabinet for even more speakers. As you can probably tell, half stacks and full stacks can get very loud compared to a combo. However, this does make them more appropriate for larger venues and performances. Thus, if you are considering the professional musician route, these models may be worth considering.
The other type of model combines the speaker and the amplifier into a singular cabinet. This is known as a combo. Though half and full stacks generally have higher volume capacities, many combos can still get fairly loud. For people who will be spending most of their time playing in their house or smaller venues, a combo may better fit your needs. For example, a combo’s portability demonstrates one benefit for a beginning guitar player. While transporting half and full stacks will require some more heavy lifting, the combo’s compartmentalized nature eases the stress of a player going to their first couple of gigs.
The next thing to consider in purchasing an amp is the differences between a solid-state and a tube amp. A tube amplifier is an amplifier that uses vacuum tubes to amplify the electrical signaling from the guitar. Plugging into this vintage model creates a unique distortion of the sound. With a rich, warm tone, a tube amp also vastly overpowers a solid-state amp with its sound. As you play, a tube amp will generally pick up on your dynamic contrast and allow you to create a variety of interesting tone colors.
The other type of amp is a solid-state amplifier, which provides a cleaner and “colder” sound. Unfortunately, the model alone will not produce a distortion nearly as a salient as a tube amplifier. However, this amp is newer than tube amplifiers and often comes with modeling that artificially imitates tube amp distortion. Also, as a result of it being more modern, these amps are more durable and portable. Bringing one to a gig will be a walk in the park considering its lightweight build.
Though models exist in this binary, many brands now sell hybrids of these two models. This allows players to reap the benefits of the tube amp (such as getting that trademark distortion), while still getting the best qualities of the newer solid-state amp; this includes its cost, durability, and portability. It’s common to see models that contain vacuum tubes used in the preamp, and a solid-state circuitry in the power amp.
Amp Power and Volume Considerations
Without getting too technical, the way we measure the volume of an amp is through decibels. It’s basically just a logarithmic measurement that involves the ratio between two numbers. Though it seems logical to assume that an amp that produces 50dB will be half as loud as one with 100dB, unfortunately, it is not the way it works. As a general rule of thumb, consider the following example that outlines how much louder something gets per decibel. If an amp produces 90dB but then increases to 100dB, the sound will double in perceived “loudness” (or Sound Pressure Level). This confuses many people at first, but it’s worth knowing when considering the amp model and its overall wattage.
Wattage: is the electrical unit that measures an amp’s overall power. Luckily, the wattage of amps is exactly proportional, in that a 100W amp will be double the power of a 50W amp. This being said, as described in the previous paragraph, wattage is not the same thing as volume. Having 100W will not equate to doubling the perceived loudness of a 50W amp. Only a 3 dB SPL increase will occur as a result of increasing the wattage by 50 watts (this also assumes that there is no change in the speakers). Guitar amps vary widely in their wattage, and thus knowing these differences becomes essential in deciding where you will be performing. For those invested in performing at larger venues, 50W and over may be the most appropriate choice. For most beginners, however, getting something under 40W will absolutely suffice. Choosing under 40W will serve players the best in environments such as practicing on your own, playing in a studio, or performing at smaller to mid-sized concerts. If you are considering tube amps, models with lower wattage benefit from that unique distortion without the need to crank up the volume too high. The most important thing to know is where you’d like to perform. For most beginners, 20W and 30W will optimize playing locations.
Another way in which volume can be affected is through an amp’s speaker size. With diameters reaching anywhere from 2” to 15”, the most common speaker sizes include the following: 8″, 10″, and 12.” As a general rule, there are numbers that correlate to specific sizes such as 1, 2, and 4. As you might expect, as the diameter increases, so does the loudness of the speaker. Though this is one proper consideration, loudness also influences the tone. For example, though they don’t produce as much sound for smaller speakers, they are definitely more efficient at delivering high frequencies. The opposite is true for larger speakers and lower frequencies. So, how do you decide which option to choose?
To answer this question, you must again consider where you are going to be playing. If playing at home, an 8″ diameter will prevent complaints from neighbors across the street or others in the house. For performing at small to mid-sized venues, the 10″ and 12″ will obviously give you more sound, but also a rich bass that carries throughout the room. For much larger venues, separate cabinets may become necessary. For most beginners, an 8″ diameter will work perfectly.
As a guitar player, living in the 21st century comes with its perks. One of which is the luxury of digital modeling with certain amps. Digital modeling will modify the sound of the amplifier to emulate that of a more classic one. Depending on the model and brand, there are tons of settings that allow you to truly personalize the sound you are going for. On many low-mid priced solid-state amps today, there are two distinct methods that can modify the sound in this way. The first is digital effects processing that replaces the need for other accessories such as pedalboards or a rackmount. The other method is classic amp modeling, which uses digital processing to recreate the sound of vintage tube amps.
As seen before, the solid-state amps will cost less even with some of the digital modeling additions. Though this process attempts to recreate the unique distortion of a tube amp, many professional musicians will still choose tube amps. Often, seasoned guitar players hear a notable difference in the digital tube amp sound and one that actually comes from a tube amp. For beginners, unless you are heavily invested in purchasing a tube amp, a solid-state with digital modeling will serve as an excellent first amplifier. This decision matters most relative to how much time you will be recording in a studio, so most novices need not worry. Also, should you decide to buy a solid-state without digital modeling, recording software now has the ability to emulate that classic tube amp sound as well.
When it comes to the cabinet construction combo amp or speaker, there are many factors to consider, though one distinction matters the most, and that is getting an open back vs. a closed back. An open-back employs a non-directional sound that puts more emphasis on its higher frequencies while ignoring the lower ones. In addition to this, depending on how open the model designs, the back influences the overall focus of the sound. Think of a more closed amp as also producing a more focused sound.
As you can see, the opposite of an open-back surely is a closed-back cabinet. A closed-back closes the entirety of the back of the cabinet and favors the frequencies on the lower end of the spectrum. Because this type of cabinet has a more directional sound as well, it can be easily captured with one or two microphones.
As the person playing the guitar, you may appreciate an open-back more than a closed-back both in the studio and while performing on stage. In the studio, open-back gives you more autonomy over microphone placement and where the sound comes from in the room. For performance, an open-back generally allows you to hear yourself better and will create a more comforting experience for your first couple of gigs. A closed-stack cabinet operates virtually the same as an open-back, but it may benefit sound guys the most as they will have the most control during a performance.
If you have read through the information this far, congratulations! You now have some basic knowledge about selecting the perfect amplifier for your guitar. Let’s briefly go over these qualities one more time to neatly differentiate what a professional may want vs. what a beginner may need. As a novice, you cannot go wrong with a combo. Though independent speakers may give you a very powerful sound, for the most part, a combo model will provide plenty in smaller venues. A solid-state is also probably the best fit for a beginner both because of cost-effectiveness and digital modeling options, not to mention its portability makes for easy transport to gigs. Also, many guitar amps these days are built as hybrids that give you the best of both models. As a reminder, 8″ speakers will be the least bothersome to those for close proximity practice. That being said, this diameter size will also provide enough volume for smaller performances. Finally, the open-back amp model will give you more control over the direction of your sound (which will also accentuate the higher frequencies). The only time where closed-back may work better is when playing in a dead room where you want to give the sound guys and gals more autonomy. After making these decisions, you are ready to buy your first guitar amp!
With a little research and learning, you’ll quickly be on your way to finding the amp that’s perfect for your playing needs and budget. The last thing you want is to purchase an amp blindly and find yourself returning it just hours after you’ve tried it out. To mitigate the chances of this happening, learning the basics about amplifiers and the differences between different models will help you save money, time, and energy. Not to mention, when you learn about amps, you will no doubt discover some other wicked cool equipment along the way.
Yes, there are many things to consider with your first look guitar amps. However, while choosing the right amp is definitely important, don’t let it take the fun out of your playing experience. Playing the guitar should be fun, and amp shopping was most likely not the reason you wanted to play in the first place. And remember, although some amps can definitely make you sound great on a guitar, the best guitarists can sound great on any amp. Let us know if you have any comments or questions about this article below.
My name is Chris and I’ve had a passion for music and guitars for as long as I can remember. I started this website with some of my friends who are musicians, music teachers, gear heads, and music enthusiasts so we could provide high-quality guitar and music-related content.
I’ve been playing guitar since I was 13 years old and am an avid collector. Amps, pedals, guitars, bass, drums, microphones, studio, and recording gear, I love it all.
I was born and raised in Western Pennsylvania. My background is in Electrical Engineering earning a Bachelor’s degree from Youngstown State University. With my engineering experience, I’ve developed as a designer of guitar amplifiers and effects. A true passion of mine, I’ve designed, built, and repaired a wide range of guitar amps and electronics. Here at the Guitar Lobby, our aim is to share our passion for Music and gear with the rest of the music community.