He's written about and researched music gear for many years, while also serving as a music director at his local church, in addition to teaching guitar, bass and mentoring young musicians.
The Best Guitar Amp Brands with their respective Top Amps
From a fledgling studio that sold second hand music equipment back in the late 60s, Orange grabs the top spot in this list with their highly rated guitar amplifiers. Orange amps are easy to spot with their picturesque design, but what's interesting is how successful they continue to be, while veering away from amp modeling technology. By limiting the features of their amps, they make it easier for users to appreciate their brand of quality and tone, which translates to high ratings. Obviously, the influence of popular artists helps their cause, this includes Jimmy Page, Noel and Liam Gallagher, Billy Gibbons, Chino Moreno and many more. In addition to their distinct combo amplifiers, Orange Amps is well known for their lunchbox size tube amps.
Orange Micro Dark
Other Top Orange Amps
Orange Amps is no stranger in our amp guides, the Orange Crush 20RT made it to our Best Practice Amps guide, while the Orange OR15H secured a spot for the company as one of the best low watt tube amps.
Orange is one of the forerunners of lunchbox style amp heads, and they continue to be the go to brand for those who want a compact amp head for rock and metal tones. With the Orange Terror series, you can have premium high-gain tube tone without having to lug around heavy equipment.
The Orange Micro is among the smallest in the Terror series of amps, following the same streamlined design of its siblings, but with a different "dark" tonality.
This lunchbox amp combines a 12AX7 preamp tube with a solid-state power amp, all packed in a compact and lightweight profile.
- Power: 20W
- Preamp Tubes: 1 x 12AX7
- Effects: None
- Input: 1 x 1/4"
- Outputs: 1 x 1/4" 8 Ohm Output, 1 x 1/4" Headphones
- Weight: 1.72 lbs.
Awesome and amazing are just two of the many favorable adjectives that are used to describe the Orange Micro Dark. Most users find its tone to be convincingly tube like, while others are very impressed with its volume, considering its portable profile. A lot of users also appreciate its ease of use, and it also helps that it looks really good. Bobby Cannon of Guitar Player Magazine described it as "more than capable of delivering all the vicious tones you can dial in, and there’s no shame in going for a super-light amp that does the job..."
There's little negative commentary on the amp, but there are a few who gave it a lower score because of personal tone preference.
If you're looking for a high-gain amp head that's easy to use and carry around, then the Orange Micro Dark is your best bet.
Boss is well known for producing reliable and good sounding guitar effects, many of which continue to serve popular guitarists like Eric Johnson, Steve Vai, Marty Friedman and many more. Being a big player in one market doesn't always translate to success in another, but Boss' foray into the guitar amplifier market is proving to be quite successful, as evidenced by the consistently favorable ratings that most of their amplifiers are getting. To be specific, we are talking about the Boss Katana range of amplifiers, which combine Roland's (Boss' parent company) experience in amp building with Boss reputation for quality and reliability.
Boss Katana-100 MkII
Other Top Boss Amps
Similar to the Boss Katana Head MkII is the Boss Katana-100/212 MkII combo amp with its bigger 2 x 12" woofers which we featured in our guide to guitar amps under $500. The smaller combo Boss Katana-50 MkII is one of the top rated amps under $300 and the Boss Katana Head MkII is perfect for those with their own cabinets.
Boss' penchant for quality and reliability is in full display in this amp, combining good sound, sensible flexibility, practical controls, and dependability, resulting in a truly gig worthy combo amplifier.
The Katana-100 MkII utilizes Tube Logic technology, which simulates the components of tube amps instead of merely reproducing its tone, resulting in improved realism. Amp models include Clean, Crunch, Lead, Brown and Acoustic, with a variation button that provides a different flavor for each model, essentially giving you a total of 10 voicings to play with.
In addition to amp modeling, it also lets you run up to 5 digital effects from a selection of 60 that are directly taken from Boss' popular guitar processors.
Another important feature of this amp is its Variable Power Control, which lets you crank your amp at lower volumes by attenuating the power to 50W or down to 0.5W.
Finally, it addresses home recording connectivity needs with its USB recording output that comes with speaker emulation.
- Power: 100W with Power Attenuation (50W, 0.5W)
- Speaker: 1 x 12"
- Amp Modeling: Clean, Crunch, Lead, Brown, Acoustic
- Effects: 60 Boss Effects
- Input: 1 x 1/4" (Guitar), 1 x 1/4" (Power Amp), 1 x 1/8" (Aux)
- Outputs: 1 x 1/4" (Line), 1 x 1/4" (Headphones/Rec)
- Weight: 32.6 lbs.
With its amp modeling, effects, USB output and power attenuation, the Boss Katana-100 MkII is a true all-in-one amplifier that you can use for practice, recording and for stage performance. And this incredible versatility is the main reason why it continues to rake high ratings. While other amps offer substantially more amp models, experienced musicians are more impressed at the realism of what this amp comes with, describing it as tube like. There are also plenty of positive comments regarding its built-in effects, while others love its solid build and reliability - which makes this a true to form Boss product.
Those who are used to traditional amps find some of the control settings to be a bit too complex, especially when utilizing the software editor. Given that this is a 100W amp with a 12" speaker, this is not ideal for those who are looking for something portable.
The Boss Katana-100 MkII is a versatile all-around guitar amp that deserves a closer look, especially if you're looking for a gig worthy amplifier.
This company was founded by Bruce Egnater, one of the pioneers of utilizing two amps to cascade gain. At first he was modding multi-amp setups for himself, but word got out quickly, so he started working with other musicians, and eventually established his own amp brand. Fast forward to today, stacking/cascading gain is now quite common in amps and even guitar pedals, and Egnater continues to utilize this simple yet effective design change in their amps to good effect. Being a smaller company compared to other more established amp brands, Egnater does not have as many different amp models, but the few that they are offering are getting very high ratings from guitarists.
Other Top Egnater Amps
The following contains advertising links that will take you to Sweetwater.com: The Egnater Tweaker 40 112 combo amp is a well regarded 40-watt option with no need to get a separate speaker cabinet, and then there's the very highly rated Egnater Rebel-30 MKII which is a more powerful tube amp head with 2-channels a lot more in the way of tone control options.
The Egnater Tweaker is a 15-W tube amp head with tone shaping controls that you won't normally find in tube amps.
What makes this amp special is that it conjures multiple voices via tone stacking analog circuits, instead of going the DSP route.
One switch lets you pick between Marshall, Fender or Vox type tones, and this is accompanied by a "vintage / modern" switch which allows the Egnater Tweaker to go from vintage grit to modern high gain - without having to resort to digital technology.
Further tone shaping switches include "normal / bright" and a "tight / deep".
- Power Rating: 15-Watts
- Preamp Tube(s): 3 x 12AX7
- Poweramp Tube(s): 2 x 6V6
- Effects: None
- Input: 1 x 1/4"
- Outputs: Main Speaker Out, Extension Speaker Out (for a second cabinet)
- Weight: 19.6 lbs
The overall versatility of the amp, while retaining its analog tube design, is the primary reason why a lot of the users rate this amp highly. Users love the amount of control they have over the tone as well as the customizability of the gain response in addition to its excellent tube tones.
There are a few who aren't as impressed with some of the tones. While others caution that the amp's single channel design and the lack of preset tweaking limits the flexibility especially when tone switching is needed while performing.
Even with its realtime control limitations, the Egnater Tweaker is still rated very highly for its tone. It is a great investment for those who want versatile yet genuine tube tones for use in recordings.
Established over a century ago as a piano and reed organ builder, Yamaha has since expanded into building other musical equipment. While they are not primarily known as a guitar amp manufacturer, Yamaha's extensive reach and resources give them an almost unfair advantage over the competition, as exemplified by the success of their THR I and II lines of desktop guitar amplifiers. This line of portable amps combines Yamaha's penchant for student friendly features and modern studio functions that many guitarists appreciate, ultimately securing Yamaha a spot on this list.
Yamaha THR30II Wireless
Other Top Yamaha Amps
The Yamaha THR10II WL is a lower power and cheaper version featured in our battery powered amp guide. And although it didn't contribute to Yamaha's ranking in this list, another highly rated option is their desktop acoustic amp, THR5A, which can be powered by batteries.
Yamaha looked at the changing market and developed an amp that addresses the needs of modern day musicians - that is to have a guitar amp that will fit nicely into their computer based home recording setup.
And that is exactly what the THR30II Wireless is all about, a desktop friendly amp with digital sound processing, direct recording and wireless compatibility.
Since it is not set on the floor, the THR30II lets you easily make parameter changes right on your desk, and more importantly, the speakers are more in-line to your listening position. This is in no way meant to be a stage amp with its 2 x 3.5", but it does have quite the power with its 30 Watt rating.
Other noteworthy features of this amp are 3 bass amp models, 3 mic models and a flat mode, in addition to its 15 guitar amp models and multiple effects, to cater to multi-instrumentalists.
- Power: 30W
- Speaker: 2x3.5"
- Amp Modeling: 15 x Amp Models
- Effects: Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, Tremolo, Echo, Compressor, Noise Gate, Reverb
- Input: 1 x 1/4", 1 x 1/8" (Aux in)
- Outputs: 2 x 1/4" (Line Out)
- Weight: 9.48 lbs.
Functionality and practicality are the two main things that endear the THR30II to its users. While it can't compete with stage amps when it comes to "moving air", it has created its own market niche and continues to be successful at it - it really showcases Yamaha's creativity and innovation. Guitarists love many of the tone options it provides, and many are pleased that they can also plug-in their bass or mic their other instruments right on the THR30II. Many also appreciate the built-in effects and its wireless streaming capability.
With its small speakers, and compact profile, this is not advisable for those who want a stage guitar amp. Interestingly, there are some who wish for a traditional combo amp version of the THR series that they can take on stage.
The Yamaha THR30II is the one to get if you're looking for a practical amp for home recording and practice use.
Vox's history goes back to the late '40s, where they originally built electronic keyboards. Their presence in the guitar market started in the late '50s when they launched the 15-Watt AC15 amplifier which ultimately caught the attention of many iconic artists - including The Beatles, Queen, Dire Straits, The Yardbirds, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks and many more. These artists helped spread the brand's popularity around the world, but ironically, they were not enough to make the company profitable. This resulted in the Vox brand being owned by many different companies, thankfully Korg took over in 1990 and continues to take good care of the brand up to this day. These days, Vox is still the go-to amp for chimey and jangly clean tones with an extensive line up of amplifiers, interestingly, their line up still includes modern reproductions of their popular AC15 and AC30 combos.
Other Top Vox Amps
At publication time the 30-Watt AC30S1 was the equal highest rated tube combo from $500 to $1000, the AC15C1X was the equal highest rated combo tube amp up to 15-watts, and the AC4HW1 wasn't far behind in the same category. The Vox Pathfinder 10 is a highly rated small practice amp.
There's no denying the legacy of the AC15, which helped define the sound of the "British Invasion" artists back in the '60s.
The Vox A15C1 is one of its current iterations, retaining the same voicing that made the original popular while utilizing more modern production methods.
To reproduce the original Vox sound, this amp comes equipped with the same 15-Watt Class A circuit with an EL-84 tube at its core. And it comes with the iconic Top Boost channel which further emphasizes the highs for that genuine vintage Brit tone.
Vox also equipped this amp with spring reverb for adding ambience to your sound, and it has a built-in tremolo effect.
Finally, it comes with a Celestion 25-watt Greenback speaker that complements the amp's vintage style tone.
- Power Rating: 15-Watts
- Preamp Tube(s): 3 x12AX7
- Poweramp Tube(s): 2 x EL84
- Speaker: 12” Celestion G12M Greenback
- Cabinet: Open
- Channels: Normal, Top Boost
- Effects: Spring Reverb, Tremolo
- Input(s): 2 x 1/4" (Normal/Top Boost)
- Output(s): 2 x 1/4' (Speaker)
- Weight: 48.5 lbs
Phenomenal, awesome and unbelievable are just a few of the many positive ways owners describe this amp. And the main reason why guitarists love the AC15C1 is its genuine chimey Vox tone, some even go so far as to say that this is the best sounding amp that they ever had. While it doesn't have much in terms of features and controls, most users are pleased with how easy it is to get the amp to sound good with its simplistic control. For a 15W amp, many find this amp to be loud for its size.
Speaking of loud, there are a few who wish for a bit more headroom and volume. Those who aren't into the sound of vintage Vox may find this amp sounding too trebly.
The Vox AC15C1 is the quintessential vintage tube Brit amp, highly recommended if you're into the guitar sounds of bands like the Beatles, Queen, The Rolling Stones and more.
Founded by former Marshall employees, Blackstar has grown to be a reputable amp manufacturer with its own identity. These days, it is able to go toe to toe with the biggest brands in the industry, thanks to the innovations they introduced into their designs. Their most popular innovation is called ISF or Infinite Shape Feature, a single knob that lets you shift the voicing of your amp from American to British amp flavor, and covering everything in between. Blackstar is well received for their amps' high gain tone, which works well with modern rock and metal styles. Richie Sambora, Neil Schon, Jon Gomm, Sammy Haggar and Ozzy Osbourne are just a few of the many popular artists that use their amps.
Blackstar ID:Core 40 V3
Other Top Blackstar Amps
Blackstar's ID:Core series exemplifies what the company is all about, great sounding modern tones that can be personalized.
This is accomplished via Blackstar's Infinite Shape Feature (ISF), a one knob control that lets you shape your tone to emulate the responses of different tube amps, from American (tight bottom end with emphasized mids) to British flavors (woodier with more highs) and everything in between.
The ID:Core 40 V3 lets you choose from 6 amp voicings that go from clean to modern high-gain distortion, which together with the ISF knob, allow for a wide variety of tone flavors.
If that's not enough, it also comes with 12 built-in effects that include different types of modulation, reverb and delay effects.
This combo combines a 40W amp with stereo speakers (two 6.5" woofers), and it comes with modern connectivity options that include TRRS Line in / Streamin input and USB for direct recording.
- Power: 40W (2 x 20W)
- Speaker: 2x6.5"
- Amp Modeling: 6 x Amp Models
- Effects: 12 Different Modulation, Delay, Reverb Effects
- Input: 1 x 1/4", 1 x 1/8" (Aux in)
- Outputs: 1 x 1/8" (Line Out / Headphones)
- Weight: 13.6 lbs.
The Blackstar ID:Core 40 V3 is lauded by most of its users as a great amp for use at home, be it for practice, for recording, and even for streaming. Owners are also pleased at how good the amp sounds, especially when tweaked for modern high-gain tones. Speaking of tweaking, many are impressed at how easy it is to get different tone flavors to sound good, regardless of the guitar being used. Even reviewers at Music Radar have nothing but good words for this amp, stating: "A generous set of features, easily accessed and complemented by some incredible tones, the ID:Core V3 Stereo 40 is a top-quality practice amp for the 21st-century guitar player. Great fun, serious sounds."
Be cautioned that it may not be loud enough for use in a full band setting.
If you're looking for an affordable, versatile and great sounding amp for use at home then this is for you.
Roland has come a long way from its humble beginnings back in the early '70s as a rhythm machine manufacturer. The company grew to produce various other instruments and amplifiers, and is now one of the biggest music gear manufacturers in the world. One of their most popular amplifier lines is the Roland Jazz Chorus, as used by artists like Albert King, Andy Summers, Metallica's James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett, Robert Smith of The Cure, Jeff Buckley and many more. These days they have a variety of amplifiers in the entry to mid-tier market, most of which continue to garner great reviews.
Other Top Roland Amps
Although it didn't contribute to Roland's ranking in this guide due to it being priced over $1000, their flagship amp is the JC-120 Jazz Chorus, a highly sought after solid state amp. They also have a highly rated battery powered practice amp with the Roland Cube Street and they also make the highest rated acoustic guitar amp from $500 to $1000 with the Roland AC-60.
Roland Jazz Chorus amps are considered standard issue when it comes to clean tone, used by many big name artists, including Jeff Buckley, Albert King, Andy Summers and more.
You've probably heard them in songs of different genre, from pop to blues and even rock.
The JC-22 takes the iconic clean tone and stereo chorus effect of its namesake, and packs it into a compact 30W amp that's ideal for home use. Like its bigger siblings, it comes with two speakers to achieve Roland's famous Dimensional Space Chorus sound, albeit using smaller 6.5" woofers.
Complementing its dual speaker configuration is the amps stereo reverb. It also comes with stereo input and stereo effects loop so you can better utilize the stereo speakers, this makes the JC-22 compatible with complex stereo guitar rigs.
- Power: 30W
- Speaker: 2x6.5"
- Effects: Stereo Chorus, Stereo Reverb
- Input: 2 x 1/4" (Stereo Input)
- Outputs: 2 x 1/4" (Stereo Line out)
- Weight: 26.5 lbs.
With many musicians stuck at home lately, it's no surprise that the demand for smaller amps has gone up. This also means that these smaller amplifiers get to be appreciated more, as is the case with the JC-22, which gets high enough ratings to be the representative of Roland over its bigger siblings. Given its label as a Jazz Chorus amp, users expect to get the iconic JC clean tone, and as evidenced by its high ratings, the JC-22 was able to meet if not exceed market expectations. Aside from getting the sound right, the amp is also lauded for being reliable and solid. It also has high enough headroom to maintain clean songs at loud volumes, relative to its power rating.
Given the amp's low power rating and limited sonic flexibility, some users feel that it should be priced a bit lower. This is not for you if you're want to play with different voicings right on the amp.
Get the Roland JC-22 if you're looking for a small home friendly amp with great sounding clean tones.
#8. Positive Grid
Compared to other brands in this list, Positive Grid is a different company altogether, one that develops technology that musicians can use. They first made waves in 2013 with JamUp, a mobile app for practicing guitar. But what really put them on the map was BIAS, a line of software guitar processors that address the needs of home recording setups. They have since expanded into physical hardware with their BIAS technology at the core, releasing Bias Head, Bias rack and Spark guitar amplifiers. Spark in particular is very popular because of its combination of portability and affordability, while retaining high-end guitar processing and auto accompaniment features.
Positive Grid Spark
Other Positive Grid Amps
The following contains advertising links that will take you to Amazon: The Spark also comes in a Pearl colored version that comes bundled with a travel bag. They also make the BIAS 600 watt amp head that uses similar technology to the Spark.
Drawing from their software based amp modeling expertise, Positive Grid have successfully expanded into the physical amp realm, with amps like the Spark that cater to the needs of home recording enthusiasts.
It comes with built-in DSP that lets you use amp modeling and digital effects, all of which are derived from their popular BIAS app.
This 40-Watt amp has a compact rectangular profile that makes it look more like a multi-media speaker than a traditional amp. This makes the amp easy to incorporate into computer desks, removing the need to move or reach down for traditional amps.
The use of dual 4" speakers together with its compact profile also makes it sound more like guitars in actual song tracks, instead of the usual live stage guitar sound you get from regular amps. This can be good or bad depending on your preference, but it certainly is efficient and practical for home recording use.
Other features include Smart Jam (auto accompaniment), built-in tuner and tap tempo functionality.
- Power: 40W Class D
- Speaker: 2x4"
- Effects: 30 Amp models, 40 Effects
- Input: 1 x 1/4" (Instrument), 1 x 1/8" (Aux)
- Outputs: 1 x 1/8" (Headphones)
- Weight: 11.46 lbs.
Those who are familiar with BIAS app know what to expect, and this expectation was successfully met by the Spark amp. Users are happy with the presets that it comes with out of the box, while others have amp model favorites that work well with their guitar. For a versatile DSP equipped amp, many consider the Spark to be much easier to use than guitar processors, while providing equally good if not better tones. And with its impressive set of features including Smart Jam and direct recording, owners report that they got more than what they paid for. Experts at Guitar World are just as pleased, concluding their review by saying: "The Positive Grid Spark 40 might just be the ultimate at-home amp. The tones are great, and the smart tech is indeed smart. Auto Chord and Smart Jam are incredible practice and learning tools, and a lot of fun, too."
Some of the amp models and effects are not as appreciated as others. If you're looking for a traditional amp that moves plenty of air as you play, then this is not for you.
The Positive Grid Spark is an all technology rich amp that can meet the needs of guitarists who are into home recording. Well worth looking into especially if you don't have a table top amp yet.
Fender has a long history of building amplifiers, so much so that many of the amps we see today still mimic the look and aesthetics of the amps that they built many decades ago. You could also say that many of the amps we have today can trace their roots to the classic Fender amp design. Also impressive is the long list of Fender amp users which include Eric Clapton, Jerry Garcia, Brian Setzer, Neil Young, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Eddie Van Halen and many more. For a company with a long legacy and a massive line up of amplifiers, maintaining high ratings across the board is quite the feat, but then again, this is to be expected from the company that helped shape the electric guitar sound that we know today. These days, Fender is well represented in the entire amplifier market, from entry level models with amp modeling, to premium modern reproductions of their iconic tube amps.
Fender Tone Master Deluxe Reverb
Other Top Fender Amps
At publication time the Tone Master Twin Reverb was one of the top rated solid state amps, the ’57 Custom Champ was a top rated tube amp, the Mustang GTX 100 was the highest rated combo modeling amp under $1000 and the Fender Mustang LT 50 was the second highest rated combo amp under $300.
Instead of utilizing digital sound processing to have multiple amp models like their Mustang line of amps, the Fender Tone Master Deluxe Reverb focus all its DSP to replicate the tone of its name sake.
Given the iconic status of the original Deluxe Reverb amp, this modern solid state recreation has big shoes to fill, yet based on its very high reviews - it is doing its name sake justice.
This modern recreation of a classic tube amp replicates the vibe and feel of the original, from its aesthetics, to its tone and even its controls. Even the original's sound pressure level is replicated with its 100W amp and 12" Jensen N12K speaker.
Going beyond being a straightforward replica, this amp comes with a variable power attenuator that can lower the rating down to 0.2 Watts, a feature that makes this viable for both stage and practice use.
More importantly, it does all this without the maintenance requirements and extra weight that are associated with vintage tube amps.
- Power: 100W (Variable down to 0.2W)
- Speaker: 1 x 12" Jensen N-12K Neo
- Amp Models: Vintage Deluxe Reverb
- Effects: Reverb and Tremolo
- Input: 2 x 1/4", 2 x 1/4" (Vibrato Channel)
- Outputs: 1 x XLR (DI out)
- Weight: 23 lbs.
In the past, amp modeling was usually hailed as being great for versatility, but these days, more and more guitarists are appreciating streamlined amp modelers like the Fender Tone Master Deluxe Reverb, which continues to rake in very high reviews. Reviewers are impressed with the realism of its tone and response, so much so that it has taken the place of their main amp. More importantly, owners of the amp are happy with how it provides great tone while being light enough for actual gigging. And experts like Charles Saufley of Premier Guitar agree, giving this verdict in his review: "The Tone Master Deluxe reverb is a brilliant, if not revolutionary, concept. It effectively makes what’s arguably the greatest-ever gigging amp into a lighter, more flexible, and convenient version of itself."
For an amp modeler, the Fender Tone Master Deluxe Reverb has quite a hefty price tag, to the point that some recommend getting a second hand tube amp equivalent instead. This is also not advisable for those who are looking for multiple amp models and effects.
If you want nothing less than the highest rated solid state combo amp under $1000, then the Fender Tone Master Deluxe Reverb is for you.
NUX is a brand that releases a wide array of musical instruments, amplifiers and other related accessories. Their main edge is value for money, producing products that offer features that are well beyond their entry-level price range. And this is exactly how they made a name for themselves in the amplifier market, by producing good value feature packed amps that you can buy for cheap. The popularity of their Mighty Lite series of amps continue to skyrocket, thanks to the increasing demand for affordable and good quality amps for home use.
NUX Mighty Lite BT
Other Top NUX Amps
The following contains advertising links that will take you to Amazon: They also make a highly rated stereo version called the Mighty Air Wireless Stereo and a highly rated modeling amp with bluetooth called Mighty 20 BT.
When it comes to value for money, this amp is hard to beat. The Nux Mighty Lite BT is a portable and affordable guitar combo amp with amp modeling and built-in effects.
It can also double as a Bluetooth multi-media speaker for listening or playing along with your favorite tracks.
It lets you choose between 3 channels that include clean, overdrive, and distortion, ensuring that you have access to the most commonly used guitar tones. In addition, you can add staple guitar effects that include delay and reverb, so you can add ambience to your playing.
Other features include having a built-in metronome and drum patterns that can help in improving your sense of timing and tempo. Speaking of tempo, it also comes with a tap tempo button for syncing the timing of the included effects.
Finally, you can power up this amp in three different ways, via a 9V power rupply, via USB or for true untethered use, this amp can run on six AA batteries.
- Power Rating: 3-Watts
- Speaker Size: 3”
- Effects: Overdrive, Delay
- Controls: Knobs: Gain, Volume, Tone, Delay/Reverb | OD/DIST, Drums, Play/Pause, Tap
- Input: 1 x 1/4", 1 x 1/8" (Aux-In)
- Output: 1 x 1/8" (Headphone)
- Weight: 2.25 lbs
Owners are surprised at the mileage they are getting from this amp, with its combination of good sound and flexibility. Users describe it as a fun amp to play with, especially when utilizing its overdrive channel, which many commend in reviews. It also gets a lot of thumbs up for its multiple power options, which also makes this a nice portable amp that you can jam with anywhere.
Not everyone is happy with its clean and distortion channel. There are a few reports of unwanted humming, while some encounter software related problems.
If you're looking for a budget portable amplifier, then this should be high up on your list.
Things to Consider When Buying a Guitar Amplifier
Tube technology is very much alive in today's digital age, even with amp modeling inching closer and closer, there's just no replacing the warmth and organic response of tube amps, especially when recording. Still, there are practical drawbacks with this old technology, like requiring more maintenance work and handling care, mostly due to the fragile nature of tubes. Weight and cost of tubes also make them somewhat impractical, unless of course you have a team of roadies that can carry and maintain your tube amps for you.
Solid-state amps on the other hand have fewer parts to worry about, and are generally considered to be more sturdy and reliable. They are also usually paired with either digital or analog based amp modeling, which allows for a wider selection of tones, albeit without the x-factor that tube adds to amps. Because of this, there are some manufacturers who combine both tube and solid state circuitry in one amp, but at the end of the day, these hybrid amps will require the same handling care and maintenance as a regular tube amp. For this reason, some have chosen to get the best of both worlds by having one of each - utilizing tube amps for recording, and solid state amps for live performances.
Amp modeling is a polarizing topic for some guitarists, but it shouldn't be because the alternative is still widely available. If you feel that amp modeling will just be a distraction then go for a straightforward amplifier. For those who do appreciate the versatility that they offer, there are now many options on the market, from the usual digital recreations of popular amps, to those with analog based amp voicing approximations, some even feature digital emulations of actual amp components, which allow you to further customize your digital amp.
Combo amps come with a speaker built into the amplifier cabinet, making them heavier but more convenient. On the other hand, amp heads are lighter because they don't come with a speaker built-in. The amp head configuration allows you to freely choose the type of speaker and speaker cabinet that you prefer, with the complication of ensuring amp and speaker compatibility. Interestingly, there are now some amplifier heads that come with built-in speakers that are only good for practice, making them technically a combo amp, but that's another story in itself.
Without going into technical details, the amp's power rating is directly correlated to its loudness. This means that the higher the power rating is, the louder the amp can go. But loud is not always better, especially when considering space and noise level restrictions, this is why even those guitarists with big wall of amps usually also have a humble practice amp to play quietly with. Low power amps also let you crank the gain at lower volumes, so you can get to your amp's sweet spot without being a noise nuisance. Thankfully, some big amps now come with built-in power attenuators, which give you the option to lower the power rating when needed. Also note that many tube amps are louder than similarly rated solid-state amplifiers.
Another important factor to consider is speaker size, which impacts overall loudness and tonality. Bigger speakers can push more air and have more low end, while smaller speakers have limited pushing power, while emphasizing the mid frequencies. In addition to size, different speaker models and cabinet types also introduce subtle differences to the overall sound. To better fit into home studio setups, some manufacturers have been offering compact tabletop style amplifiers, and these continue to be popular to this day.
Reverb is still the most commonly installed effect in amps, but there are some amplifiers that go overboard, to the point that they outdo even multi-effects units. Unfortunately, even those with the most number of effects allow for limited simultaneous use, so no, you can't put 10 virtual pedals together in your practice amp. Also don't expect the quality of built-in effects to match that of boutique pedals, but they can be a great addition to an amp if used sparingly and for appropriate songs.
In addition to the 1/4" input for your guitar, you may want to consider amps with better connectivity features like those with built-in USB output for direct recording, footswitch input, aux input for jamming with tracks, headphone output for quiet practice, and a DI output for getting your sound straight to a PA system. Speaking of headphone out, there are some amps that come with built-in speaker cabinet simulated outputs, this subtly changes the resulting sound much like the amp cabinet would without having to actually use the speaker. There are also a number of newer guitar amplifiers that come with Bluetooth connectivity for streaming audio and for software control.
Among the most common rookie amp buyer mistakes is buying a big amp that's too heavy to gig with, or going the opposite and buying one that's too small. If you're gigging at different places and you don't have a roadie, then consider going with a smaller amp that has DI output so you can go straight to PA with your tone intact. In big venues where big amps are a must, some opt for amp heads because the separated head and speaker cabinet are lighter on their own, although you'll have to move more pieces.
Tube vs Solid-State
Combo vs Amp Heads
Power rating & Speaker Size
Best Guitar Amp Brands Selection Methodology
The first edition was published in 2018 and the current edition was published on October 18, 2021.
We began the process by creating a 'short-list' of brands that have amps selling in the sub $1000 price range with amps that have strong enough ratings to be short-listed for any of our other electric guitar amp guides.
Regardless of the full range of amp types provided by the brands included, only electric guitar amps priced under $1000 were included in the data set used to calculate the 10 highest rated brands.
We chose this approach with the price limit to make this guide relevant for newer guitarists as opposed to more experienced players that already have a good idea of which brands they prefer. The effect was that great but expensive brands like Kemper and Mesa/Boogie were excluded while other brands like Marshall are ranked lower than they otherwise would have been if their more expensive models had been included in the data set.
Here are the 42 brands that we short-listed: Acoustic Amplification, Ashdown, Blackstar, Boss, Bugera, California Amps, Danelectro, Donner, DV Mark, Egnater, Electro-Harmonix, EVH, Fender, Fluid Audio, Friedman, Hotone, Hughes & Kettner, Ibanez, ISP Technologies, Joyo, Laney, Line 6, Marshall, Monoprice, NUX, Orange, Peavey, Pignose, Positive Grid, PRS, Quilter Labs, Randall, Rogue, Roland, Sawtooth, Seymour Duncan, Supro, Valeton, VHT, Vox, Yamaha, ZT Amplifiers.
We then updated our ratings for all qualifying amps and used those data to produce an average rating for each brand. We then selected the 10 highest rated brands to present above. Just over 90,900 review and rating sources were analyzed during this process.
For more information about our methods and how we produce our ratings, please read How Gearank Works.
About the Author and Contributors
Here are the key people and sources involved in this guide's production - click on linked names for information about their music industry backgrounds.
Lead Author & Researcher
He's written about and researched music gear for many years, while also serving as a music director at his local church, in addition to teaching guitar, bass and mentoring young musicians.
Drawing from his experience in performing and recording, he teaches guitar and bass and mentors young artists to be better musicians. And when he is not busy playing or tinkering with musical gear, he puts on his entrepreneurial hat, which helps fund his passion for collecting guitars, mecha figures and Gunpla kits.
Main/Top Image: By Gearank.com compiled using logos of guitar amplifier brands that appear in the Top 10 list above.
The videos have been embedded in accordance with YouTube's Terms of Service.
The individual product images were sourced from websites, promotional materials or supporting documentation provided by their respective manufacturers.