There’s an overwhelming number of solid state amps on today’s market with just about every big manufacturer having an impressive product line-up, jam-packed with features that you essentially couldn’t find in a tube amp because the technology is, by its very nature, limited. Think about modeling amps that can quite convincingly model hundreds of classic amps, all under one hood, with onboard effects galore for virtually limitless tone tweaking versatility. Which leads to the question, what are the best solid state amps out there?
With so many great options, you’re spoiled with an abundance of choices, and you want want to make sure you get something that’s suited to your needs and budget. Over the years our team at Guitar Lobby has owned and tested dozens of solid state amps, and below we’ll share our favorites at each price point.
|Name of Product||Image of Product||Description||Price Range||Full Review|
|1. Boss Katana Head MkII 100 (Best Value)||Type: Solid State|
Effects: Modulation, Delay, 60 BOSS Effects
|$370||Read Full Review Below|
|2. Fender Mustang GT 100 (Editor's Choice)||Type: Solid State with Modeling|
Effects: Overdrive, Fuzz, Delay, 40 x Amp Models
|$675||Read Full Review Below|
|3. Positive Grid Spark (Best Solid State Practice Amp)||Type: Solid State with Modeling|
Effects: 10,000+ amp-and-effects presets
|$300||Read Full Review Below|
|4. Fender Tone Master Deluxe Reverb||Type: Solid State with DSP|
Effects: Tremolo, Deluxe Reverb Emulation
|$900||Read Full Review Below|
|5. Roland JC-120 Jazz Chorus||Type: Solid State|
|$1030||Read Full Review Below|
|6. Peavey Bandit 112||Type: Solid State|
|$450||Read Full Review Below|
|7. Marshall MG100HGFX||Type: Solid State|
Effects: Digital Effects: Chorus, Phaser, Flanger, Vibe etc
|$445||Read Full Review Below|
|8. Line 6 Spider V 240||Type: Solid State with Modeling|
Effects: Over 100 Effects Models, 78 x amps, 24 x cabs, 4 x Mics
|$550||Read Full Review Below|
|9. Orange Crush Pro 120||Type: Solid State|
|$450||Read Full Review Below|
|10. Hughes & Kettner Black Spirit 200||Type: Solid State signal path, Digital switching/control|
Effects: Delay, Modulation, Spirit Tone Generator, DI out Cabinet Emulation
|$1440||Read Full Review Below|
|11. Quilter Labs Tone Block 202||Type: Solid State|
|$575||Read Full Review Below|
|12. Roland Blues Cube Hot 30||Type: Solid State with Tube emulation|
|$515||Read Full Review Below|
|13. Fender Champion 40||Type: Solid State|
Effects: Reverb, delay/echo, chorus, tremolo, Vibratone, etc
|$220||Read Full Review Below|
|14. Yamaha THR10II||Type: Solid State Combo|
Effects: Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, Tremolo, Echo, etc
|$300||Read Full Review Below|
|15. Blackstar Silverline Stereo Deluxe||Type: Solid State|
Effects: Modulation, Delay, Variable Output Tube Modeling
|$850||Read Full Review Below|
|16. Randall RG3003H||Type: Solid State|
|$755||Read Full Review Below|
|17. Marshall Code 50||Type: Solid State with digital modeling|
Effects: 24 (5 simultaneously), 14 x Preamps, 4 x Power Amps, 8 x Speaker Cabs
|$320||Read Full Review Below|
Here Are The Best Solid State Amps
1. Boss Katana Head MkII 100 (Best Value)
|Effects||Modulation, Delay, 60 BOSS effects|
|Connectivity||1 x 1/4″ (instrument), 1 x 1/4″ (power amp), 1 x 1/8″ (aux in) Inputs, 2 x 1/4″ (line/speaker),1 x 1/4″ (phones/rec) Outputs|
|Power||100W (50W, 0.5W settings)|
My Review: The latest in BOSS’ beloved Katana Series of amps, the BOSS Katana Head MkII delivers serious versatility.
Whether you’re looking to access that powerful hundred-watt output section in order to amplify the modelers and preamps you already have, or you’re crafting your signature tones from scratch, this amp is an amazing all-in-one offering for gigs and home practice alike. With cab-emulated outputs and monitoring, it’s perfect for silent stage and studio guitar alike, and the multi-channel footswitch support means you can access a ton of different sounds with a whole lot less fiddling.
Tone tweakers will love all the amp variations, the five amp voicings (Clean, Crunch, Lead, Brown, and Acoustic), as well as the 60 timeless BOSS effects and customization options within the BOSS Tone Studio editor. And it gets better: you can use the Stereo Expand feature to run the signal from dual Katanas, for some epic stereo sound. The effects loop means you can add your fave effects pedals after the preamp section for even more tone-tweaking. This amp is available in both head amp and combo amp units. For testing purposes, I got my hands on a 100W compact head as well as both the 100W and 50W versions of the combo amp.
The 100W version is perfectly sized for gigging or jamming with a band. The 50W might do the trick as well but with a drummer in the room, you will likely need the 50W combo amp cranked just to keep up. The amps have a 0.5W setting which is perfect for practicing at home. It was perfect for lowering the overall volume without losing my tone by having to turn down the volume or gain controls.
It also comes with five amp voicings, and a great software package giving you access to 60 classic BOSS effects via the BOSS Tone Studio Editor, as well as virtually endless customization potential for the effects and amp settings; create your own setup, or download setups courtesy of pro guitarists from the BOSS Tone Studio website.
Target Customer: An outstanding example of affordable tone-tweaking technology that tube amps just can’t compete with; I loved the huge range of BOSS effects this amp had to offer, and I think just about everyone who tries this amp will love it too. An incredible amp and at a great price, making it my choice for the best solid state amp for the money.
Bottom Line: You can load a whole series of amp and effects profiles onto the amp for instant recall, giving you access on the fly to that tone tweaking goodness that solid state amp fans love. This multi-channel guitar amplifier head is surprisingly affordable for something so powerful and versatile. This amp head feels more like a tube amp head than a solid state amp head in terms of sound and response while delivering up the universe of sonic diversity that you can only get from a good solid state amp, from sparkling cleans to crunch and more. This is easily one of my favorite solid state amps that I’ve ever owned or tested, and for the price, it’s almost impossible to beat.
2. Fender Mustang GT 100 (Editor’s Choice)
|Type||Solid State with Modeling|
|Effects||Overdrive, Fuzz, Delay, 40 x Amp Models|
|Connectivity||1 x 1/4″ (instrument), 1 x 1/8″ (aux in) Inputs, 2 x XLR (line out) Outputs, 1 x Type Micro-B USB|
My Review: An easy-to-use, versatile modeling amp with an impressive 40 amp models and 200 presets onboard, and you can download even more courtesy of the Fender app, so finding models and presets that resonate with you should be easy (and fun!)
I found it useful to be able to group a few favorites into a setlist and then I could access them quickly using the 7-button pedal that comes with the amp. You’ll find an extraordinary range of presets available, ranging from a folky acoustic sound to searing leads and a whole lot in between. There’s also a 60-second looper, 1/4″ input, two XLR line outs, an effects loop (with stereo send/return), 3-band EQ, dedicated reverb and gain knobs, a headphone jack, and a 12″ Celestion Special Design speaker. Add in the optional MGT-4 footswitch to control presets, effects, the looper, and more on the fly.
This amp is feature-rich, with Bluetooth audio streaming and control of dozens of built-in effects and amp models. It was also the first amp available with built-in WiFi connectivity (quite an achievement at the time!) so updating firmware and downloading presets is super easy.
You can do most of your tweaking via the LCD color display, as well as the encoder dial and the three menu keys. I found the UI to be very straightforward, but everything goes next level once you’ve downloaded the (free) companion app, Fender Tone. Whatever you can do through the built-in UI can be done through the app, and plenty more too: downloading custom presets by pro guitarists, updating firmware on the amp, and much more.
Target Customer: Been dreaming of getting that just-perfect modeling amp? You’ve found it! The Fender Mustang GT 100 comes with basically everything you’re looking for, at a great price. If you’re looking for a versatile amp with a ton of amazing tones to play around with, you’re in luck; instead of paying thousands of dollars for the setup of your dreams, you can get a pretty good idea of what those amps, pedals, effects, and tones you’ve had on your wish list would sound like together. If you’re looking to play small to medium-sized gigs with an easy-to-use, plug-and-play package, the Fender Mustang is a very promising choice.
Bottom Line: Fender has definitely built this amp with quality in mind! I found it delivers some of the best you can find in the way of modern-day digital amplifiers, especially within this price range. Value in mind, the Fender Mustang might be the best solid state guitar amp money can buy
3. Positive Grid Spark (Best Solid State Practice Amp)
|Type||Solid state with digital modeling|
|Effects||10,000+ amp-and-effects presets|
|Connectivity||1 x 1/4″ (instrument), 1 x 1/8″ (aux in), Bluetooth Inputs, 1 x 1/8″ (Headphones) Output, 1 x USB|
My Review: There is so much to love about the Spark amp from Positive Grid. The first thing to note is the size which is desktop friendly. It’s perfectly compact for anyone with space constraints or needing something that is easily portable. The enclosure and control hardware feel rigid and everything feels and looks high quality. Turn it on and the features are overwhelming. I started with some of the presets and worked my way to customizing the presets but adding or adjusting pedals and then saving them as a new preset. I did this on an Ipad but you can also connect via the spark app on your smartphone. One feature I didn’t particularly love was the 5 LED tuning on the top of the amp. But I got around that easily by just using my clip-on tuner. All of the other features I found interesting and useful, especially those which are really revolutionary, for a guitar amp such, as the Auto Chords and Smart Jam features.
Auto Chords will listen in on a song you are listening to in the background, analyze it, and let you know what chords you need to play along. This is really a unique and groundbreaking feature yet to be duplicated in another amp, which makes the Positive Grid Spark not only a versatile and great sounding amp but also an incredibly powerful learning tool. Similarly powerful as a practice tool, The Smart Jam feature allows you to start playing your guitar while the amp will analyze the notes in your progression and begin to jam along with Bass and Drums. Groundbreaking, incredibly versatile, ultimately useful, and unapologetically fun, the Spark amp is everything it’s hyped up to be.
Target Customer: The perfect solid state practice amp for players of all skill levels.
Bottom Line: The Spark amp is loaded with virtually unlimited tone-shaping effects and features like Smart Jam and Auto Chord that are invaluable both as learning and practice tools. I highly doubt you will see anyone attempting to gig this amp, but in my experience, it is one of the very best practice amps available. I highly recommend to players of all skill level.
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4. Fender Tone Master Deluxe Reverb
|Type||Solid state with DSP|
|Effects||Tremolo, Deluxe Reverb Emulation|
|Connectivity||2 x 1/4″ (normal), 2 x 1/4″ (vibrato channel) Inputs, 1 x XLR (DI out) Output|
|Power||100W (variable down to 0.2W)|
My Review: An amazingly realistic model of the legendary all-tube Deluxe Reverb at about half the weight, complete with cutting-edge digital amplification and an onboard premium neodymium Jensen speaker. The adjustable power level is variable all the way from a loud and proud 100W to a whisper-quiet 0.2W that can still be cranked up. Enjoy that classic Deluxe Reverb sound and smooth Fender tone with scooped mids, with an amp that really does sound and respond convincingly like a tube Deluxe Reverb; and when you crank this amp up, it even sounds a little better than its tube equivalent. It’s less muddy and a bit more transparent when the volume’s up. The reverb and tremolo sound just like the tube equivalent, too! There’s also a direct out that’s great for recording and gigging in rooms of various sizes.
The faithful modeling of the original Deluxe Reverb’s tube architecture offers up all the headroom, output, and reactivity, at a much lighter weight — a mere 23 lbs, with the solid pine cabinet further also keeping the weight down. The onboard 12″ Jensen N12K speaker delivers Fender rock’n’roll voicing a massive, defined low end with a sweet top-end sparkle, and a 5-way power attenuator that lets you easily reduce wattage to get a just-right tube-like cluck and breakup that’s awesome for gigging and recording alike.
This amp comes with a 2-button footswitch for reverb and tremolo switching and cover; power attenuation all the way down to a tiny 0.2 watts; balanced XLR out including output control, selectable cab IRs (SM57 or MD421), and ground lift. Thanks to Fender’s ahead-of-the-curve modeling tech, the Tone Master’s really captured the tone and response of the legendary tube Deluxe Reverb, with tube sparkle, chewy breakup, and digital models of the spring reverb and tube tremolo that the Deluxe Reverb is known for – with all the convenience of a solid state amp.
Target Customer: Fender is another classic amp manufacturer with a huge following! This amp is perfect for players looking for that classic fender clean tone. The tone, response, and feel are bound to impress.
Bottom Line: This lightweight, portable solid state Deluxe Reverb amp is so, so close to tube tone that it could easily be mistaken for a tube Deluxe Reverb! This is my choice for the best solid state amp for blues and clean tones. The sound quality is amazing and would satisfy almost any tube snob.
5. Roland JC-120 Jazz Chorus
|Connectivity||1 x 1/4″ Input, 2 x 1/4″ outputs|
|Power||2 x 60W|
My Review: A total classic, this amp has been easily the most iconic amp for jazz players for almost five decades, with its super clean channel working just perfectly for soul, classic rock, funk, and jazz alike. Works great with pedals, and comes with a top-notch (and practically iconic) chorus circuit. Great for gigs, and delivers good bass for standalone performances. It handles loops well, without getting muddy like tube amps can be at times. If you’re looking for an amp that can go from clean and funky to jazzy, this is a great choice. And it doesn’t just have to be a jazz amp; with so much power, it’s great for a diverse range of playing styles. Built like a tank (it’s seriously heavy), but built to last, and has been a mainstay for the jazz genre since way back in ’75 for good reason!
Reverb and vibrato both come with dedicated front-panel controls, for that finishing touch to the JC-120’s tone-tweaking goodness. The Roland JC-120 amp comes with two 12” speakers, two input channels (normal/effect) with 3-band EQ for each channel. With twelve front-panel knobs and a bright switch, you can easily craft the sound you’re looking for on the fly. There’s also an impressive three-footswitch jacks (for chorus/vibrato, reverb, and distortion) – look mama, no hands!
Roland’s iconic JC-120 amp has become truly iconic for its sparkling cleans and famous stereo swirling chorus effect. The JC-120’s full-range output is vibrant, nuanced, and quite able to fill a venue with a sound that’s just as pleasing to the ear as it is powerful. This is the very best solid state guitar amp for Jazz and is an excellent choice for any player looking for a smooth clean tone.
Target Customer: Whatever musical style you play, the JC-120 offers the versatility and power to achieve that tone you’re looking for; but of course, if you’re a jazz player, this amp is the stuff dreams are made of.
Bottom Line: The JC series is absolutely iconic – it’s been part of music history for generations, and featured on countless recordings. Jazz lovers are in for an absolute treat, but don’t write this amp off if you play other styles – it’s powerful, gig-worthy, and with a unique tonal profile that fans adore.
6. Peavey Bandit 112
|Connectivity||2 x Instrument Input, 1 x Speaker, 1 x Speaker Simulated Direct Out (1/4″) Outputs|
My Review: This amp packs plenty of punch for a great price! It’s easy to use and dial in tone, and rather than being packed with features and priced accordingly, it’s got just the right amount of features, and I think you’ll really enjoy all of them. There’s a great clean channel with reverb and a lead channel that can take you from grungy to loud and proud leads, and when it’s plugged into the high gain input, it can get seriously loud, with gain and sustain galore. It’s great for a variety of usage scenarios too, thanks to its power switch (25, 50, 100%) meaning you can rock out in your music room just as easily as you can cut through the mix at gigs. There’s an awesome effects loop for your preferred pedals, and for another $30 you can grab a channel footswitch.
The Peavey Bandit 112 boasts a loud and proud, awesome sounding 12-inch Blue Marvel speaker, and high and low gain inputs; you can also use the speaker jack to plug into a bigger cab. It has two foot-switchable channels (each of which has its own 3-band passive EQ), a foot-switchable effects loop, independent EQ, TDynamics, presence, reverb with adjustable level, and resonance controls. The clean channel is perfect for modern or vintage voicing, while the lead channel can go from modern and vintage to high-gain with plenty of variation along the way. There’s also a 1/4″ stereo speaker simulated direct-out jack with level control.
Target Customer: Heavy metal and hard rock guitar players! Players of these genres will be looking for an amp that suits the sound profiles of those genres; think high-gain sound and loud tone. Heavy metal and hard rock lend themselves quite well to tube amps, but thanks to the proprietary Peavy TransTube circuitry, the Peavey Bandit 112 does a pretty great job of emulating tube tone and response, with a tonal profile you’ll love. This amp has my choice for the best solid state amp for metal, especially at this price point.
Bottom Line: The Peavey Bandit 112 has the power to stand out from the mix loud and proud at gigs, while also being quiet enough to practice at home. This amp isn’t big on bells and whistles, but it’s big on sound, with a price to match, and delivers the tone and response of a tube amp that really lends itself to heavy metal and hard rock.
7. Marshall MG100HGFX
|Effects||Digital Effects: Chorus, Phaser, Flanger, Vibe, Octave, Hi-Fi, Tape, Multi, Reverse, Spring, Studio|
|Connectivity||1 x 1/4″ jack instrument input and 1 x 3.5mm Aux in (on rear) Inputs, 1 x 1/4″ jack and 1 x 3.5mm jack headphone out Outputs|
My Review: The MG100HGFX is from Marshall’s MG Gold series and delivers that pure Marshall tone that guitarists have come to love for generations. The amp comes with four storable channels (Clean/Crunch/OD1/OD2) which can all be shaped to perfection via the 3-band EQ, and it also comes with built-in digital reverb, delay, and digital effects. MG100HGFX’s exceptional solid state design does a really convincing job of emulating the tone and response of a tube amp. People are saying that this is an even better amp for metal than some tube amps, and for good reason – all that iconic Marshall tone, in an affordable package!
The clean channel is amazing, and really lends itself to working well with pedals; the OD1 is perfect for classic rock, and the OD2 is awesome with high output or a boost pedal. There’s also a line-in so you can jam to backing tracks and headphone-out/line-out with speaker emulation. Each channel’s settings can be stored and recalled, too, so you can bring them back up on the fly. The MG100HGFX also comes with a 2-button footswitch included, switchable effects loop, built-in tuner, and line input, as well as emulated headphone and line outputs.
Target Customer: For many solid state amp fans, the joy is in the features and tone-tweaking potential that comes with digital technology, and this amp sure doesn’t disappoint. So if you get excited about tech and love playing with feature-rich gadgets, you’re going to have a lot of fun with what this amp can do – and affordably to boot.
Bottom Line: At 100 watts, there’s plenty of power to suit whatever venue you’re playing, from the studio to the stage. Lovers of Marshall tone will be delighted as always, and with an impressive range of features and tonal versatility, you’ll have endless fun crafting your sound. If you are looking for the best solid state amp head, both the Marshall MG100HGFX and the BOSS Katana 100W head are worth considering.
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8. Line 6 Spider V 240
|Type||Solid State with Modeling|
|Effects||Over 100 Effects Models, 78 x amps, 24 x cabs, 4 x Mics|
|Connectivity||1 x 1/4″, 1 x 1/8″ (aux in) Inputs, 1 x XLR (Right, L/Mono) Output, 1 x Type A, 1 x Type B USB|
My Review: In a word, wow. An amp with this sort of sound quality and this much versatility (100+ effects models and presets!!!) would have been pretty much unimaginable not so long ago. If you enjoy tweaking tones and crafting your own sound, you’re going to have a lot of fun here – it’s capable of so much! Despite packing a huge punch with 240W of power, this amp is lighter than most 20w tube combos, making it much easier to carry, and the features and tools are out of this world; you can pretty much dial in any tone you can think of. It’s easy to use from the front panel, and also comes with a feature-filled app, and it’s powerful enough to be a great option for gigs too. You can really take your performance to a whole new level and explore a universe of tone in the process.
This amp also has some advantages over the previous model, such as the new Classic Speaker mode (which automatically turns off the HF driver and the cab/mic modeling to deliver that vintage, natural feel of a traditional guitar amp), as well as Artist and Iconic Song presets, which offer the perfect starting points to create your signature tone. There’s also plenty of handy extras that you’ll really find useful, including a built-in wireless receiver so you can cut the cord, an onboard tuner to keep perfectly tuned, a built-in metronome to keep your timing on point, and a 60-second looper so you can deliver a layered sound. There are even pro-quality drum loops for your best jamming needs. At such a low price and with so much tonal variation, this is a real hit.
Target Customer: Thought the Marshall MG100HGFX was packing a punch in the features department? Well, yes, you thought right, but for an extra hundred or so, you can enjoy a whole lot more power and all the effects models and presets you could dream of. Of course, the tonal profile is quite different between the two amps, so it’s a bit like comparing apples and oranges; and it’s hard to put a dollar value on that Marshall tone if you’re an aficionado. But if tone-tweaking is the name of your game, and the idea of modeling amps excite you as much as they do us, you’re going to love this!
Bottom Line: Whether you just want to plug in and rock out, or tweak your tone until you’ve found that dream sound, the Line 6 Spider V 240 MkII is a seriously amazing amp. With all this tonal diversity, you can play metal and hard rock loud and proud, transform your tone to atmospheric ambiance on the fly, and pretty much any other sound you feel like dialing in!
9. Orange Crush Pro 120
|Connectivity||1 x 1/4″ Input, 2 x 1/4″ (16 ohm out) Output|
My Review: This powerful 120-watt amp delivers that classic Orange tone into a 2-channel amp head that’s ready to gig. The Crush Pro 120’s clean channel ranges from a vintage chime to a bluesy crunch, while the Dirty channel is ready for anything from classic hard rock to heavy metal; the clean channel comes with volume and 2-band EQ. The dirty channel on the other hand comes with volume, gain and 3-band EQ and the Global Master Volume lets you turn down your output without sacrificing gain. If you grab the footswitch (sold separately) you can also switch channels and reverb on the fly.
There are great tone-shaping controls for dialing in your signature sound, and a fully buffered, low-impedance effects loop so you can use your pedals, effects, and cables without sacrificing tone. There are also three built-in digital reverbs, Spring, Hall, and Plate, delivering anything from a bit of a shimmer to your sound, to lengthy, ambient trails. The Orange Crush Pro 120 two-channel amp head packs a lot of punch at 120W and is really responsive to how you pick. It’s also quite versatile in terms of tone tweaking since you can go sparkling clear and sweet on the clean channel or crank up the gain. It’s great for classic rock, blues, and even ultra-high-gain metal distortion. People are saying that the Orange gain can be a bit fuzzy but the natural tones, body, and clarity of this amp are a real selling point.
Target Customer: Love that Orange tone? You’ll love this amp head! The natural tone here is a real selling point; there’s a good reason why Orange attracts such avid fans. We love the warmth, dimensionality and of the three digital reverbs, too. Also with serious tonal diversity, the Crush Pro 120 is a great choice for anything from folk to metal – perfect if you like to mix things up a bit and explore a world of sound.
Bottom Line: The tonal quality of this amp makes it stand out from the pack, whether played at low volume or high; where some solid state amps can sound a bit bland, this one has a sense of warmth that will remind you of a tube amp. With tones that are warm, rich, and a bit dirty, this is a winner – just pair it with your favorite cab, and you’re ready to play.
10. Hughes & Kettner Black Spirit 200
|Type||Solid state signal path, Digital switching/control|
|Effects||Delay, Modulation, Spirit Tone Generator, DI out Cabinet Emulation|
|Connectivity||1 x 1/4″ (instrument), 1 x 1/8″ (aux) Inputs, 1 x 1/4″ (8/16 ohms), 1 x XLR (Redbox AE+ DI out), 1 x 1/4″ (headphones/line) Outputs|
|Power||200W (2W, 20W settings)|
My Review: This 200 watt 4-channel amp head is lightweight, powerful, and offers a very close and convincing match to tube tone, as well as a ton of tone tweaking potential with awesome quality effects, as well as an official app making it easy to manage unlimited presets.
It’s easy to set up and get your tone dialed in. There are so many options available on this amp, and it delivers up great sound and power that you’d usually expect from a heavier amp head – no more breaking your back! This amp was carefully designed to recreate the favorite guitar tones of the last six decades, using the Spirit Tone Generator. The amp delivers convincing recreations of the tone, feel, and the response of some of the world’s most famous and beloved amplifiers by switching up components and circuit layouts on the fly.
The Hughes & Kettner Black Spirit 200 is perfect for any guitarist who values tonal versatility, with connectivity and setup options galore; and being able to convincingly recreate the topologies of a plethora of iconic amplifiers via the Spirit Tone Generator (which switches around analog parts) is a truly exciting possibility. It’s also the first amplifier to offer sag control, letting you fine-tune tube-like compression to a tee. The Black Spirit 200 Amp Head comes with four channels to play with – clean, crunch, lead, and ultra – and thanks to the Bluetooth connectivity, you can connect to its iOS/Google amp, as well as stream your fave jamming tracks.
The Red Box AE+ DI output delivers realistic cabinet tone (8 models) directly to either a mixing board or audio interface. And with instant recall of 128 preset locations, you can play your signature sound on the fly. There’s a lot of tube snobs out there, but keep in mind, the final sound of a tube amp is down to the components, and the Black Spirit 200’s Spirit Tone Generator switches in whatever components are needed to achieve those classic amp sound in a very impressive way – it’s a serious game-changer. Combine that with all the massive tone-tweaking benefits and extra features that you just can’t get from a real tube amp, and this is a seriously compelling choice; and if you’re already planning for world travels, the fact that this amp is so lightweight and can be used with any voltage from 100V to 240V is pretty exciting too!
Target Customer: Looking for a very convincing emulation of tube tone, but don’t want to compromise on tone-tweaking potential? You’ve got it! The Black Spirit 200 delivers the best of both worlds, delivering the tone, feel, and response of tons of iconic amplifiers just in the one amp. This is an exciting choice for any guitar player who wants it all!
Bottom Line: It’s hard not to get excited about this amp, and I think you’ll be mighty impressed with what the Black Spirit 200 has to offer. And with so many features to play with, prepare for a whole lot of fun!
11. Quilter Labs Tone Block 202
|Connectivity||1 x 1/4″ Input, 1 x XLR (direct out), 2 x 1/4″ (4/8 ohm), 1 x 1/4″ (sig out, pre)1 x 1/4″ (Headphones) Outputs|
My Review: A versatile amp head with tone quality that competes with tube! Quilter Labs designed this amp to be used on any stage, delivering 200 watts of power in a tiny package with heaps of headroom. Don’t let that petite size or 3.3 lbs weight fool you; the Tone Block 202 has everything you’d expect, including a 3-band EQ, FX loop, and built-in reverb. What’s more, the balanced XLR line-level output makes it easy to plug directly into a PA. Impressive tone, in a tiny and portable package!
With the master volume dial, it’s easy to just dial down your wattage to suit the size of your venue, and the power supply will adjust to worldwide voltages. The Tone Block 202 comes with a ton of great features, including an onboard cab sim so that you don’t have to even plug it into a cab; select from vintage voice to create American tonal styles, FRFR voice, which works a treat with modelers, and from FullQ for incredible tone that’s just as home on stage and in your bedroom. This is a quality amp head that can fit the diverse needs of any player.
Target Customer: A 200 Watt amp head that’s light and small enough to carry around in a backpack and to easily fit on your pedalboard – who would have thought? If you’re looking for a powerful beast that won’t break your back, you found it – the tininess of this amp head is really exceptional. We love the tonal diversity, the price, and the fact that this can so easily be lugged around to gigs (and used anywhere in the world), so if small, portable, and powerful sounds like your jam, this is a great choice.
Bottom Line: The Quilter Labs Tone Block 202 amp head is amazingly compact and lightweight, yet jampacked with features. Quilter’s proprietary tube behavioral replication technology delivers the sort of powerful, clear notes you’d expect from a 200 Watt amp head, but without any of the usual bulk.
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12. Roland Blues Cube Hot 30
|Type||Solid state with Tube emulation (does not feature tone capsules)|
|Connectivity||1 x 1/4″ Input, 1 x 1/4″ (line out) 1 x 1/4″ (Headphones) Outputs,1 x Type B USB|
|Power||30W (0.5W/5W/15W settings)|
My Review: Roland as a brand is absolutely adored among jazz players for the Jazz Chorus (JC) series, which has been shaping that genre since the 70s (almost 50 years now!) but they also have a very solid reputation for playing the blues. If you’re looking for an amp that sounds great clean, with a touch of tweed, and works well with pedals, you’re in luck here; the gains offer quality sound too, and the reverb has a chimey, ringy quality that’s really appealing. Once you’ve done a bit of tinkering, you’ll find your own tonal sweet spot – overdrive, distortion, fuzz, wah, and modulation effects as well. This amp plays surprisingly loud at 30 watts, and there are also four different power attenuation settings, all the way down to 0.5W so you can practice at home without sacrificing tone quality.
The Roland Blues Cube Hot 30 is a combo guitar amplifier delivering up vintage-style tube tone and dynamic response, that’s suitable for gigging and home practice alike. Thanks to Roland’s Tube Logic circuitry, you can enjoy every stage of a tweed-era amplifier, all the way from preamp to power amp and to speaker output; there’s also a custom 12” speaker on-board. Thanks to the variable power output it’s ready for gigging, recording, and your music room at home; it can also record directly to your computer via USB.
Target Customer: As the name suggests, the Blues Cube was designed for blues players in mind, so if that’s your preferred style, you’re in luck: those tweed-era feels will absolutely delight you.
Bottom Line: Versatile, powerful, and with great vintage tube-like tone and touch response that pick players and fingerstyle players will both love; perfect for blues, but delivering up a surprisingly large tonal palette. And that reverb is something special!
13. Fender Champion 40
|Effects||Reverb, delay/echo, chorus, tremolo, Vibratone, and more|
|Connectivity||1 x 1/4″ (instrument), 1 x 1/8″ (aux) Inputs, 1 x 1/8″ Output|
|Power||40w (2x 20w stereo)|
My Review: The Fender Champion 40 is a 40w (2x 20w) two-channel guitar combo amp that delivers that iconic Fender tone in a good-lookin’ Blackface package that’s compact and affordable, with great tonal versatility to handle practically any style you can think of, via a 12” Fender Special Design speaker that sounds seriously awesome.
This amp also comes with 1 x 1/4″ instrument input, 1 x 1/8″ stereo aux input for use with a media player, 1 x 1/8″ stereo headphone jack; effects including reverb, delay/echo, chorus, tremolo and Vibratone, and more. This featherweight, compact 2-channel solid state amp offers incredible quality, tone, and value for money. Under the hood of this little beast is a large 12″ speaker delivering loud, articulate rhythm & lead capability. At only 20 lbs, it’s highly portable, and the volume is easily enough for small to near-medium venues.
It’s a perfect amp for home practice, but it’s much more than that; a really versatile little trooper that’s become quite a top seller. It comes with amp models arranged in groups of three, which ascend from lower to higher preset gain, essentially from the most powerful to the least powerful amp (in that you’d turn a smaller amp up higher to reach the equivalent volume).
Between the two channels and the selectable amp voicing, you can range between those famous Fender cleans and some seriously gritty high gain, and there’s plenty of built-in effects so you can polish your tone. You can also match the effects to your tempo easily, getting those rhythmic effects synced just right. It also comes with an aux input so you can plug in your media player and jam to your fave tunes, and a headphone output for when you want to practice silently at home; and you can grab the footswitch (sold separately) to switch between channels and effects on the fly.
Target Customer: Love that iconic Fender tone, but don’t want to break the bank? You’ll be super impressed with the tonal quality of this amp. It’s also a great choice for players looking to gig in small-to-medium venues that don’t need a heavy, super-powerful beast, and as a home practice amp (especially for beginners).
Bottom Line: The price is right – this amp is perfect for guitar players on a budget. It doesn’t have the incredible bells and whistles of some of the other amps on this list – which can be well worth paying for, of course! But if you’re on a budget, this awesome-sounding no-frills amp will have you grinning ear to ear.
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14. Yamaha THR10II
|Type||Solid state combo|
|Effects||Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, Tremolo, Echo; THR Remote: Compressor, Noise Gate, 5 x Amp Models (+10 via app), Acoustic Mic Models, Bass Amps, Flat Voicings|
|Connectivity||1 x 1/4″, 1 x 1/8″ (aux in) Inputs, 1 x 1/8″ (Headphones) Output|
|Power||20W (2 x 10W stereo)|
My Review: This 20-watt, single-channel 2×3″ portable solid state amp is just perfect for jazz lovers, and could easily rival a Roland Jazz Chorus! With stereo image and multiple reverbs and other effects, it’s a fun, tiny little amp that sounds rich and full and is just perfect for home practice; compact enough for your tabletop, and portable enough that you can play on the go and record wherever you can plug the amp in!
Thanks to its built-in USB recording interface, you can run it directly into your computer and start recording. Once you’ve set your recording interface up, it’s pretty much noise-free, delivering that rich, thick tone you’d be looking for in a tube amp. You can also play backing tracks and jam to your fave tunes using streaming services on your phone via Bluetooth; and since the amp offers separate volumes for Guitar and Aux, you won’t get lost in the mix. You can also use Yamaha’s THR Remote app to wirelessly explore the THR10 II’s various amp models, as well as creating your own customized presets, and access this amp’s compressor and a noise gate to maximize your adventures in tone tweaking.
Also thanks to the five recall buttons, you can install recall your five best user settings. Thanks to the dual 3” speakers, you’ve got less gear to lug around, too. This combo amp comes with a diverse range of amp emulations, with 15 high-quality guitar tube amp emulation settings that give you access to whatever popular amp style you’re looking for. And thanks to Yamaha’s Virtual Circuitry Modeling (VCM) technology, the convincing tube-like tone and response will impress even your tube snob friends. You won’t even need your pedalboard, thanks to all those awesome-sounding modulation effects, echoes, and reverbs. You’ll have plenty of fun using the onboard Bluetooth to streaming backing tracks in their full Hi-Fi splendor through the in-built stereo speakers, and to edit presets via Yamaha’s THR Remote app.
There’s also plug-and-play USB connectivity so you can seamlessly record and playback, which makes the Yamaha THR10 II a perfect companion both in the studio and on the go, and the amp comes with Steinberg’s Cubase AI recording software for when you’re ready to go on Soundcloud; and the headphone output includes adjustable aux input/amplifier output control to achieve that perfect playback balance.
Target Customer: Love amp emulations? Love paying less than $300? Love those smooth jazz sounds? You won’t be disappointed by the Yamaha THR10II! And if you like life fuss-free, the in-built speaker and the compactness and lightweight of this amp will really appeal too.
Bottom Line: Whether you’re playing in your living room, jamming at band practice, or bringing your amp with you on holiday, you can plug this compact, portable and versatile amp in anywhere to enjoy realistic tube tone at a very affordable price.
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15. Blackstar Silverline Stereo Deluxe
|Effects||Modulation, Delay, Variable Output Tube Modeling|
|Connectivity||1 x 1/4″ (instrument), 1 x 1/8″ (aux) Inputs, 2 x 1/4″ (speakers), 1 x 1/4″ (emulated output) Outputs, 1 x Type Mini-B USB|
|Power||2 x 100W (stereo)|
My Review: The perfect all-in-one guitar rig, the Silverline Stereo Deluxe delivers great value for money! It’s based on the 1×12 Deluxe but takes it to the next level thanks to the dual 12 Celestion V-Type speakers, as well as Blackstar’s proprietary Super Wide Stereo (SWS) tech. Combine this with a powerful 100 Watt power section, and you’ve got a gig-worthy immersive sound experience that no single amp can compete with! This gorgeous-looking cutting-edge solid state guitar amp comes with 6 proprietary preamp voicings, 6 virtual output tube types, 12 onboard effects, and realistic tube tones, as well as groundbreaking SHARC DSP power. The response control is based on Blackstar’s patented True Valve Power (TVP) technology, designed to accurately recreate the detailed nuances of classic power amp circuits (EL84, 6V6, EL34, KT66, 6L6, KT88).
Blackstar’s legendary Infinite Shape Feature (ISF) takes you from American to British tone, and there’s also a total of six proprietary Blackstar preamp voicings (Clean Warm, Clean Bright, Crunch, Super Crunch, OD 1, OD 2) offering incredible tone-tweaking potential. The USB port lets you direct record, manage presets, and re-amp easily; and the INSIDER software lets you get into deep editing and customisation, as well as sharing and downloading. This amp comes with MP3/Line In and Em, and Out/Phone jacks for studio and gig-ready tone as well as home and ‘silent’ practice. It comes with 12 customizable preset locations, or a whopping 128 preset locations when you use a footswitch.
As well as its seriously tonal diversity, this amp delivers up variable power tube emulation, expressive EQ and ISF section, as well as master resonance and presence controls, and tons of Super Wide Stereo effects. With its powerful SHARC DSP and proprietary TVP technology, you can dial in some very realistic models of six classic amps. Lastly, the speaker-emulated output, MP3 input, and USB connection mean that whether you’re gigging or recording, re-amping, or saving and sharing presets, this amp is an awesome choice.
Target Customer: If tonal versatility is your game, you’ll love Blackstar’s Infinite Shape Feature, and if you’re attached to tube amps but considering giving solid state a go, you’ll be amazed by the tube-like tone, response, and feel. And of course, gadget lovers are in for a treat here too.
Bottom Line: With the Blackstar Silverline, you’ll have a ton of fun! With its classic styling and controls, this combo amp is seriously fun to play— whether you’re strumming folk with reverb or playing high-gain metal, the tone and response really feels like a tube amp, but with a whole lot more tone-tweaking potential.
16. Randall RG3003H
|Connectivity||Switchable F/X loop, 1/8-inch Stereo Media input, headphone output, and speaker-emulated XLR direct output with ground lift.|
My Review: The seriously powerful 300 watt Randall RG3003H Guitar Amplifier Head comes with the OG high-performance FET circuits that Randall is synonymous with, as well as modern improvements for all the benefits of solid state design and seriously impressive response and dynamics.
The 3-channel design gives you a ton of versatility, letting you change between chimey clean and extreme high-gain on the fly as you play – less fiddling, more rocking. It also comes with a built-in intelligent noise gate, to eliminate superfluous sounds and improve your output quality.
Target Customer: Looking for some serious power, distortion, and gain, and got a bit of cash to flash? The Randall RG3003H is worth paying that little bit more for, and players of hard rock and heavy metal will be very happy with it.
Bottom Line: An awesome head amp at a sweet price! The Randall RG3003H lets you play loud and clear even on a budget, with thick distortion, tons of gain, and that tube-like saturation and warmth that’ll even impress tube amp aficionados. It’s versatile, too, with three channels in total; a sparkling clean channel, and two seriously powerful overdrive channels.
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17. Marshall Code 50
|Type||Solid state with digital modeling|
|Effects||24 (5 simultaneously), 14 x Preamps, 4 x Power Amps, 8 x Speaker Cabs|
|Connectivity||1 x 1/4″ (instrument), 1 x 1/8″ (aux in), Bluetooth Inputs, 1 x 1/8″ (Headphones) Output, 1 x USB Mini-B|
My Review: Decades of classic Marshall tone, in an affordable and portable 50-watt combo amp! Explore 100+ presets, 24 digital effects, 14 preamp models, and 4 power amp models for serious tonal versatility – just plug in and play! And thanks to the Marshall Gateway App, you can select from a huge list of patches and load them up quickly and easily on the fly – it practically makes pedalboards obsolete. The Code 50 can also be used as a computer, with the footswitch serving as its controller, letting you design tones by selecting from a total of 14 preamps, 4 power amps, 8 speaker cab models, and a whopping 24 different effects (using 5 at a time). Also, make sure you check out the MarshallCode.Tools website, where you can download, create and share patches, presets, and tools with other users.
You customize any tone setting in the Code 50 remotely making adjustments via USB using the included Marshall Gateway software, or use Bluetooth via the handy and easy-to-use mobile app. With this feature, a sound engineer can change your amp tones on the fly from offstage, or you can dial in that perfect pre-recorded tone when you’re playing live with your Code 50. This amp packs a powerful 50 watts and comes with a full-voiced 12″ speaker, making it a great choice for gigging; there’s aux input so you can jam to your fave tones; and if you’re playing at home, there’s a silent headphone output so you can record directly get that iconic Marshall crunch without disturbing the fam.
Target Customer: Looking for an amp that’s right for home practice and gigging alike, with a rich, full tone? The Marshall Code 50 is a great choice, with impressive amp/cabinet models and onboard effects delivering up endless tone tweaking that’s perfect for soulful blues, rock, and even heavy metal.
Bottom Line: For Marshall fans, that iconic Marshall crunch is truly priceless, so under $500 is a great value. You’ll have hours of fun playing around with digital models of Marshall preamps, power amps, and speaker cab emulations to craft your signature tones. We love how tech-friendly this amp is too, with an impressive range of models, presets, and effects to play with.
While solid state guitar amplification dates all the way back to the 1960s, most of those iconic electric guitar tones throughout modern music history have been generated by tube amps, rather than solid state amps.
For many decades, the warmth, compression, saturation, and response of tube amps seemed far out of reach of digital tech, and other than a few renowned exceptions like the Roland Jazz Chorus, even as late as the 90s solid state amps were seen as an inferior, cheap alternative just for beginners on a budget; even the ginormous digital racks of stadium guitarists still relied on tube preamps and power amps.
But since the turn of the millennium, digital modeling has really upped its game and has become so realistically tube-like that a whole genre of YouTube comparison videos challenges listeners to tell what’s a modeled amp and what’s the real thing (and it really can be tough, especially when it’s played in a band mix!)
While tube tone and response is still the golden standard, there are distinct benefits to solid state amps too, and with the technology miles ahead of where it used to be, more and more passionate and even pro musicians are making the change. After all, it’s lighter, cheaper, and saves you the hassle of changing tubes – that’s a pretty good sell!
It’s true that solid state isn’t for everyone; there are so many amps in the market for a good reason, because different people will prioritize different features and qualities, and for some people, tube amp vs solid state amp is still a dealbreaker.
But if you’re looking for an amp that’s versatile, feature-rich, and affordable, solid state may be right up your alley. And that’s hardly the only benefit! With solid state guitar amps, you really don’t have to spend so much time, effort, and money maintaining your amp to keep it running smoothly like you would with a tube amp.
Also since vacuum tubes (valves) are basically like light bulbs, they can die at any time; sometimes right before that big gig or band practice. With solid state amps, you just plug-and-play: you don’t even need to warm up!
The latest digital modeling amps deliver stunning sound quality, plus tonal diversity that tube just can’t compete with, as well as other tech benefits like being able to connect to apps, swap presets, and download amp profiles of your fave tube amps; you can enjoy convincing models of hundreds of tube amps all in the one box!
They’re also considered much better for home practice; after all, even when tube amps are played at low power, they’re still pretty loud. (That said, to stand out from the band mix you’ll need a higher wattage than the equivalent tube amp.)
All-in-all, if you enjoy bells and whistles, tone-tweaking on the fly, crafting your signature tone, playing with presets, and exploring a universe of sound, then there’s plenty of fun to be had with solid state amps.
You’ll hear people describe solid state amps as flat, boring, and artificial – but it’s really not that straightforward! Just because an amp is built with a tube design doesn’t mean it’s going to be a great amp, and there’s plenty of people who agree that a great solid state amp will beat a poor-quality tube amp any day of the week.
You’ll find plenty of solid state amp bashers out there, particularly in online guitar forums, but you’ll also find comparison videos where you try to guess whether the amps being played are tube, a hybrid amp, or a solid state amp; sometimes you’ll find yourself surprised by the quality that solid state can offer (and for a more affordable price)!
We know that tube amps are a firm favorite with many pro guitarists and “tube snobs”, for those warm, fat, thick tones created with handwriting and love, which many argue that solid state amps can’t quite replicate digitally.
solid state amps have been dissed since they first came out for providing poor sound quality compared to tube amps, but solid state amp technology has made huge strides in the interim, and they’ve really caught up in terms of replicating tube tone. So we figure that snap judgment re: solid state vs tube can be quite outdated.
For many guitarists, true tube tone isn’t negotiable; but if you’re willing to explore the world of solid state amps, you’re more than likely to find something you’ll love.
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.