The Best Modeling Amps for Guitar - Up To $1000

The Highest Rated Modeling Amps

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More and more guitarists are swapping their tube amps for the reliability and practicality of amp modelers. It also helps that digital sound processing technology is constantly improving, making it harder to hear the difference between actual tube amps and their digitally modeled counterparts.

Here we feature the best modeling amps in the sub $1000 price range, based on analysis of the most recent review and rating data, up to June of 2021. These are highly rated amps that offer versatility and functionality that you can't get from regular tube amps, well worth their weight be it for practice, recording and even stage performance.

For this 2021 edition, we retained the same two main categories: combo amps and amp heads. Included in this guide are overviews of each of the highest rated amps, including their standout features, specifications, and summaries of market sentiment.

The Best Modeling Amps for Guitar

Author & Contributors

Alexander BrionesAlexander Briones

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 Modeling Combo Amplifiers Under $1000

Fender Mustang LT 25

96
GEARANK

96 out of 100. Incorporating 2300+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$150
Fender Mustang LT 25 1x8" 25-watt Guitar Combo Modeling Amp

At publication time this was the Highest Rated Combo Modeling Amp Under $1000.

While they are well known for their tube amps, Fender does not shy away from technology, developing and releasing DSP-powered amps that represent them in the entry-level market.

The Mustang LT is one such amp, with 20 amp models that include emulations of iconic tube amps from Fender, along with 25 digital effects.

This 25-Watt amplifier is paired with an 8" speaker and packed inside a wooden cabinet.

Other features include color display, headphone out, aux input and USB connectivity.

Specifications:

  • Power Rating: 25 Watts
  • Speaker: 1 x 8"
  • Amp Models: 20
  • Effects: 25
  • Controls: Gain, Volume, Treble, Bass, Master, Preset Control Switches
  • Input: 1 x 1/4", 1 x 1/8" (Aux)
  • Output: 1 x 1/8" (Headphones
  • Weight: 14.9 lbs.

Pros
Great for practice is a good summary of how most users feel about this amp. It is also well received for being easy to use, and carry around. While it doesn't have as many presets and amp models, it does get a lot of praise for tone quality, especially for clean tones. It is also considered as a good value amp given its features and big brand backing.

Cons
There are a few who aren't too happy with its high gain tones. There are some reports of tone degrading early as you crank up the amp's volume.

Overall
If you're looking for a practice amp with good balance of tone quality and sonic versatility, then check out the Fender Mustang LT 25.

Roland Micro Cube GX

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 1150+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$165
Roland Micro Cube GX Portable Guitar Modeling Amplifier 3W

The Roland Micro Cube GX is a portable 6-pound combo amplifier with the sound of 8 different amplifiers, 8 digital effects, and powers all these with 6 x AA batteries.

This means that you can conjure different amp and effect tones virtually anywhere, as long as you have enough batteries.

This includes familiar clean, crunch and rectifier tones, and it also includes a dedicated acoustic amplifier model for those who prefer to use their acoustic-electric guitar.

Since it is designed to be portable, it doesn't have much power with its 3W rating and 5" speaker, but it is loud enough for personal use be it in your room or outdoors.

Other practice-friendly features include Roland's i-Cube Link port for connecting with iOS devices, and headphones out for quiet practice.

Specifications:

  • Power Rating: 3 Watts
  • Speaker: 1 x 5"
  • Amp Models: 8
  • Effects: 8
  • Controls: Amp Type, EFX, Delay Reverb, Gain, Volume, Tone, Master, Memory and Tuner Buttons
  • Input: 1 x 1/4", 1 x 1/8" Aux
  • Output: 1 x 1/8" Headphones
  • Extra Features: Runs on 6 x AA batteries or AC adapter
  • Weight: 6 lbs.

Pros
Many describe the Roland Micro Cube GX as a great portable modeling amplifier, thanks to its battery power option and lightweight design. Ease of use and amp modeling sound quality are often commended, even impressing experienced players. Paul White from Sound On Sound said, "For busking, garden jams or open mic nights, the MicroCube GX delivers the goods in style".

Cons
On the flipside, the effects section received a few thumbs down, with some saying that the quality is not up to par given that Roland is the mother company of the renowned guitar effects company Boss. There are a few users who expected a bit more power from the amp, but given its portability, it is a necessary compromise.

Overall
The Roland Micro Cube GX is a portable modeling amplifier especially designed for guitarists who are always on the go.

Yamaha THR5

93
GEARANK

93 out of 100. Incorporating 550+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$200
Yamaha THR5

While everyone wants to crank an amp with a big wall of cabinets, playing at home means we have to deal with real world volume and space limitations .

This is where the Yamaha THR5 steps in, providing guitarists with a desktop friendly amp that can meet the demand of today's home recording and streaming musical landscape.

Fitted into its compact housing is a 10 watt solidstate amplifier that drives two 3.5" speakers. And it comes with Yamaha's Virtual Circuitry Modeling (VCM) technology that allows for amp and effects modeling right on the amp.

Finally it lets you play virtually anywhere with its ability to run on 8 x AA batteries.

Specifications:

  • Power Rating: 10 Watts
  • Speaker: 2 x 3.5"
  • Amp Models: 4 Virtual Circuitry Modeling
  • Effects: 8
  • Controls: Amp, Gain, Master, Tone, Effect, DLY/REV, Volume, Tap Tempo Button
  • Input: 1 x 1/4", 1 x 1/8" Aux
  • Output: 1 x 1/4" Headphones
  • Extra Features: Runs on 8 AA Batteries for up to 6 hours, 2-Channel USB recording
  • Weight: 4.4 lbs.

Pros
This amp is well received for its usability, be it in your home studio, around the house, or as a portable battery powered amp that you can bring outside. The sound quality of its amp voicing selection gets a lot of praise, from its clean sound to its high gain tones. Many also consider this as a great buy, which even those who already own premium amplifiers will find use for.

Cons
This is far from a traditional combo amp, and is not advisable for use in live performance or band settings. Some comment that features are a bit limited, but there are other more expensive THR models that may fit their needs.

Overall
The Yamaha THR5 is a very useful and convenient amp to have for every serious guitarist who want to practice or record at home, or while on the go.

Positive Grid Spark 40

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 3400+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$269
Positive Grid Spark 40-Watt 2x4" Modeling Combo Guitar Amp

Known for their popular BIAS amp modeling and digital effects app, PositiveGrid has expanded into building physical amplifiers that house the same technology found in their apps.

While there are plenty of amp modelers on the market, what sets this amp apart is its Smart jam and auto chord features.

Smart jam listens in on what you're playing and generates appropriate bass and drums to accompany your playing.

Auto chord uses the amp's digital processor to listen in and learn the chords of the music tracks that you're playing. It can detect the chord and give you feedback in realtime.

The amp lets you choose from over 10,000+ amp and effects presets that you can download from their ToneCloud system.

At its core is a 40 watt solidstate Class D amplifier, paired with two 4" speakers.

Other features include tap tempo, built-in tuner, and USB audio recording.

Specifications:

  • Power Rating: 40 Watt Class D
  • Speaker: 2 x 4"
  • Amp Models: 30 Amp Models
  • Effects: 40 Effects (Noise Gate, Compressor, Distortion, Modulation, Delay, Reverb)
  • Controls: Amp Type, Gain, Bass, Mid, Treble, Master, Mod, Delay, Reverb, Output Volume, Music Volume, Four Programmable Preset Buttons, Tap/Tuner Button
  • Input: 1 x 1/4", 1 x 1/8" Aux
  • Output: 1/8" Headphones
  • Extra Features: Bluetooth Streaming, USB Audio Recording, Smart Jam (Auto-Accompaniment), Auto Chords
  • Weight: 11.46 lbs.

Pros
Amazing and game changing are just two of the many commendations that this amp is receiving. Many are impressed with the auto chord feature which makes it easier to learn songs. They are also pleased with the smart jam feature, which makes practice more fun and bearable. Sonic flexibility is also another important factor why people rate this amp highly.

Cons
With its many presets, it's only natural that some will find presets that do not sound good to their ears. There are also a few who feel that the amp is lacking bottom end, but this is more of a design limitation given its compact profile and small speaker size.

Overall
If you're looking for a beginner friendly modeling amp that can sit comfortable on your desk, then definitely check out the Positive Grid Spark.

Line 6 Spider V 60 MkII

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 175+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$320
Line 6 Spider V Mk II Guitar Modeling Combo Amplifier 60W

The Line 6 Spider amp line continues to appeal to beginners, with their affordable price tag and feature packed design.

The Spider V MkII 60 Watt combo is just what you'd expect from the line, packed with tons of amp modeling and effects at a very accessible price point.

It lets you choose from 78 amp models, and pair them with a wide selection of virtual speaker cabinets and mics.

On top of all that, it also houses over 100 different effect types, which further expands the tones that you can get from the amp.

This model is rated at 60-Watts, and comes with a 2-way full range speaker system that includes a 10" woofer and a tweeter that can be turned off as you please.

If that's not enough, the amp also comes with nifty features that include a built-in looper, drum loops, metronome and tuner.

Specifications:

  • Power Rating: 60 Watts
  • Speaker: 1 x 10" Woofer, 1 x Tweeter
  • Amp Models: 78 x Amps, 24 x Cabs, 4 x Mics
  • Effects: 100+ Digital Effects
  • Controls: Drive, 3-Band EQ, Volume, Comp, Fx1, Fx2, Fx3, Reverb, Master, Preset
  • Input: 1 x 1/4", 1 x 1/8" (Aux in)
  • Output: 1 x 1/8"
  • Extra Features: Classic Speaker Mode (Turns off Cab modeling and Tweeter), Built-in Tuner, Metronome, Looper, and Drum Loops
  • Weight: 20.5 lbs.

Pros
The Line 6 Spider V 60 MkII is often described as a great starter guitar amp, with features that can help orient young players with different amp tones and effect types, all done on the amp. There are plenty of users who are satisfied with many of the presets, including those who were former critics of the amp but changed their mind after trying it out. Given its many features, it's also common to see users rating this amp highly for its great value.

Cons
As expected, there are some who aren't happy with particular presets, but this is mostly a preference issue. Some users report getting better results after updating the amp's firmware.

Overall
Don't let the naysayers get to you, with its highly positive market response, the Line 6 Spider V 60 Mkii is well worth considering.

Yamaha THR10II Wireless

93
GEARANK

93 out of 100. Incorporating 175+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$450
Yamaha THR10II WL Wireless 2x3" 20-Watt Modeling Combo Guitar Amp

The THR10II Wireless takes the THR line up another notch with more amp modeling options, effects, software app control, Bluetooth audio streaming support.

And it can do all this for up to 6 hours of continuous playing while running on a rechargeable battery.

This is a 20-Watt single channel amp with dual 3" speakers, housed in a portable desk friendly form factor that's nice to look at.

It lets you choose between 15 VCM (Virtual Circuitry Modeling) tube amp emulations that covers many of the needs of different musical genres, plus it has 3 bass amp models, 3 mic models for acoustic-electric guitars, and a flat mode for when you want no coloration.

For a truly wireless experience, this amp comes with built-in wireless receiver that's compatible with the Line 6 G10T. This means that you can carry it around, and play your electric guitar without the need for any cable, as long as you have a compatible wireless transmitter.

Specifications:

  • Power Rating: 20W (2 x 10W stereo), 15W (battery)
  • Speaker: 2 x 3"
  • Amp Models: 5 Tube Amp Models (+10 via App), 3 Bass Amps, 2 Acoustic Mic Models, Flat Voicing
  • Effects: Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, Tremolo, Echo, (THR Remote) Compressor, Noise Gate
  • Controls: Amp, Gain, Master, Bass, Middle, Treble, Effect, Echo/Rev, Output (Guitar, Audio), Tap Tempo, 5 x User Presets
  • Input: 1 x 1/4", 1 x 1/8" (Aux)
  • Output: 1 x 1/8" (Headphones)
  • Extra Features: Built-in Rechargeable Battery, Wireless Receiver, Bluetooth Compatibility
  • Weight: 7.06 lbs.

Pros
The Yamaha THR10II Wireless is described as a great all-around personal amp. Many appreciate how easy it is to get great sounds for quick practice sessions, while others appreciate its wireless features and portability. It also helps that it looks at home with any kind of home furniture, which combined with its Bluetooth streaming makes for a good sounding home media player.

Cons
With its small speakers and low power rating, expect its projection and low end to be limited.

Overall
With its visual and sonic aesthetics, compact form factor and wireless capabilities, the Yamaha THR10II Wireless is a great home amp to get, regardless of your skill level.

Fender Mustang GTX 100

97
GEARANK

97 out of 100. Incorporating 300+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$500
Fender Mustang GTX 100

Fender is a company that can produce great quality vintage style gear on one hand, and go crazy with modern technology on the other.

The Mustang GTX 100 is an example of the latter, packed with digital sound processing features, while still retaining elements of the former with its classic visual appeal.

Like most amps with built-in DSP, the GTX 100 allows for a wide range of sounds, you can mix and match over 40 amp models, different multi-effects, and store your settings in its preset system.

And with its 100W rating and 12" Celestion G12P-80 speaker, this amp is more than capable of filling stages and most venues.

It houses both USB and Bluetooth connectivity for audio streaming and software control.

There's also a looper function built into the amp.

Specifications:

  • Power: 100W
  • Speaker: 1 x 12" Celestion G12P-80
  • Amp Models: 40 amp models
  • Effects: Variations of Overdrive, Fuzz, Delay, Modulation, Pitch Shift
  • Input: 1 x 1/4" (Instrument), 1 x 1/8" (Aux in)
  • Outputs: 2 x XLR (Line Out)
  • Weight: 22 lbs.

Pros:
Who better to give us Fender clean tones than Fender themselves, and that's a big reason why many love the sound of this amp. Versatility is another positive trait, with its built-in DSP and Bluetooth convenience. Many also feel that they got a great deal, given the amp's 100W power rating and Celestion branded speaker. The inclusion of a multi-switch pedal controller is also a major source of positive ratings.

Cons:
As expected, some amp models are better received than others. There are a few who report having issues with the software editor, but they find the amp's interface to be sufficient.

Overall:
For the price, the Fender Mustang GTX 100 is a definitely a great buy, especially when considering the bundled foot controller. This is a good reasonably priced stage ready amp for those who want to get most of their tone shaping right on the amp.

Yamaha THR30II Wireless

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 375+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$500
Yamaha THR30II Wireless

Everything is being integrated into computer systems, and guitar amps are no exception. The THR30II is part of Yamaha's line of desktop friendly guitar amplifiers, meant to easily integrate into home studios that record using desktop computers.

And since this is the setup that most home recording enthusiasts use, the Yamaha THR series continues to enjoy popularity and strong success in the market.

This solid state amp is rated at 30-Watts, and comes with stereo 3.5" speakers, and as a modeler it packs 15 guitar amp models along with bass, acoustic and flat amp models.

Reverb, delay and Bluetooth connectivity wraps up its other home studio friendly features.

Finally, its rectangular profile allows it to conveniently sit on top of a table, which is a big contrast to traditional combo amps that usually sit on the floor. Its compact profile and built-in rechargeable battery also make it ideal for those who want a compact and portable amplifier.

Specifications:

  • 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.

Pros:
Computer integration is no longer optional, especially in home recording, and the THR30II takes advantage of this niche nicely. Users appreciate its practicality and functionality, especially its compatibility with bass, acoustics and mics - allowing them to save a lot of space while still being musically productive. Many also appreciate its tone quality, including its high gain settings. And as expected from Yamaha, owners report that it looks and feels well built.

Cons:
While its smaller dual 3.5" speakers are more than enough for most home recording setups, there are some who wish for a bit more volume coming from the amp.

Overall:
If you're looking for a guitar amp that'll compliment your desktop workspace, then this is for you.

Line 6 Spider V 240 MkII

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 60+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$550
Line 6 Spider V 240 MkII 2x12" 240-Watt Guitar Combo Modeling Amp

With its 240 Watts of power and dual 12" speakers, the Line 6 Spider V 240 MkII is a combo amp that's meant to be loud.

It has more than enough volume to fill most stages and venues, while retaining the versatile DSP functionality of the Spider V line.

It comes with the same amp modeling selection that's found in other Spider V amps, letting you choose from a total of 78 amp models, 24 cabinet simulations and 4 mics.

These in itself allow for a wide range of tones, but you also have to consider its built-in effects, which allow for over 100 options, expanding your tone palette even further.

This amp also houses two tweeters for fuller higher frequencies, ideal for modeled amp sounds.

But you can also turn off the tweeter when you switch to Classic Speaker mode, which also turns off cabinet and mic emulation, resulting in a feel and sound that's closer to conventional amps.

Specifications:

  • Power Rating: 240 Watts
  • Speaker: 2 x 12" Woofer, 2 x Tweeter
  • Amp Models: 78 x Amps, 24 x Cabs, 4 x Mics
  • Effects: 100+ Digital Effects
  • Controls: Drive, 3-Band EQ, Volume, Comp, Fx1, Fx2, Fx3, Reverb, Master, Preset
  • Input: 1 x 1/4", 1 x 1/8" (Aux in)
  • Output: 1 x 1/4" (Headphones), 1 x XLR (Right, L/Mono)
  • Extra Features: Classic Speaker Mode (Turns off Cab modeling and Tweeter), Built-in Tuner, Metronome, Looper, and Drum Loops
  • Weight: 42.9 lbs.

Pros
The Spider V 240 MkII is described as a road worthy and gig ready amp, impressing users with its awesome specs which translates well in real world conditions. The versatility provided by the amp also gets a lot of thumbs up, some even complaining that there are too many options. Value for money is also often mentioned, with owners favorably comparing the power, speaker and DSP features of this amp over others of the same price point.

Cons
Some owners caution that learning curve can be steep, but familiarizing yourself with the features of the amp is well worth the effort. Some also wish for built-in power attenuation, for taming its loud projection.

Overall
If you're looking for a reliable and loud amp that stays within reasonable budget, then check out the Line 6 Spider V 240 MkII.

The Best Modeling Amplifier Heads Under $1000

Boss Katana Head MkII - 100 Watt Amp Head

96
GEARANK

96 out of 100. Incorporating 150+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$350
Boss Katana Head MkII

At publication time this was the Highest Rated Modeling Amp Head Under $1000.

The updated Boss Katana MkII series has been making waves in terms of high ratings, thanks to their tone and power rating flexibility. The Katana Head MkII showcases this with its expanded amp model selection, effects, and power attenuator, which lets you lower the power rating to 50W, and all the way down to 0.5W.

The ability to lower the power rating down to 0.5W works well with its internal 5" speaker, which essentially transforms the amp as a compact practice combo amp.

With the addition of a variation button, you now have 2 versions of each of the original amp voicings, which include Clean, Crunch, Lead, Brown and Acoustic. This expands the total number of amp voicings to 10, which may not be much compared to other amp modelers in terms of quantity - but are rated highly in terms of sound quality.

And since this amp is made by Boss, you can also expect good quality effects built into the amp, which again expands your sonic palette without compromising tone.

Other features to note include having a power amp input, and an effects loop, making this a truly stage ready and pedalboard friendly amplifier.

Specifications:

  • Power: 100W (Power Attenuator: 50W, 0.5W)
  • Amp Models: 10
  • Effects: 60 Boss Effects
  • Controls: Amp Type, Gain, Volume, 3-Band EQ, Booster/Mod, FX/Delay, Reverb, Presence, Master, Power Control, Variation, Cab Resonance, User Preset
  • Input: 1 x 1/4, 1 x 1/4" (Power Amp), 1 x 1/8" (Aux)
  • Outputs: 2 x 1/4" (Line/Speaker), 1 x 1/4" (Headphones/Rec)
  • Weight: 19.4 lbs.

Pros
Versatility is a common thread among reviewers who give this amp perfect ratings. Thanks to its internal speaker, owners are able to use the Katana Head MkII 100 as both their stage and practice amp, allowing for simpler gear setup and better transition from practice to actual performance. Given the stay at home situation that many of us are in now, there are some who use this amp head solely with its 5" speaker, and they are pleased with how it performs. There is also plenty of positive feedback regarding its tone and effects, which reviewers say are substantially better than what they were using before.

Cons
Some users find the software editor to be confusing at times, but they are happy with it once they get familiar with the interface.

Overall
If you're looking for a true all-in-one amp head that you can use in your bedroom and on stage, then get the Boss Katana Head MkII.

Marshall Code 100H Modeling Amp Head 100W

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 275+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$400
Marshall Code 100H Modeling Amp Head

It may seem odd to see Marshall's name in a list of top modeling amps, but this is no mistake, Marshall is getting good reviews for their DSP capable Code series amps.

The 100-Watt amp head CODE 100H is one of their top rated offerings, it carries over the same amp modeling and digital effects found on other CODE series amps, only this one is in a head form factor so you can match it with a speaker that you prefer.

Instead of modeling specific classic amps, the CODE series lets you mix and match preamp and poweramp models, allowing for even more flexibility in tone shaping.

This can also be coupled with speaker cabinet models which further expands your tone options.

On the effects side, this amp lets you choose between 24 effects, including compressors, distortions, modulation, pitch shifters and even auto wah.

Finally, this amp head comes with modern connectivity including Bluetooth and USB.

Specifications:

  • Power Rating: 100 Watts
  • Amp Models: 14 Preamps, 4 Poweramps, 8 Speaker Cabs
  • Effects: 24
  • Controls: 3-Band EQ, Gain, Volume, Pre FX, Amp, Mod, Delay, Reverb, Power, Cab
  • Input: 1 x 1/4", 1 x 1/8" (Aux)
  • Output: 1 x 1/8" (Headphones), 2 x 1/4" (FX Loop), 1 x 1/4" (Speaker Out)
  • Weight: 24.25 lbs.

Pros
More and more users are being won over by the versatility of this amp, not by the sheer number of models, but by the ability to mix and match preamp and poweramp models. This simple separation of the preamp and poweramp allows users to be more creative with their tones, and reviews reflect this simple yet practical advantage over conventional amp modelers. Most positive comments point to the quality of its mid to high-gain tones. Finally, it also helps that for a 100-Watt amp with Marshall's logo, it retains a very accessible price tag.

Cons
Speaking of gain, there are a few who aren't as happy with its clean and low-gain sounds. There are also a few who feel that it does not have the volume and punch as expected from a 100W amp.

Overall
This is a no brainer for fans of Marshall, but you don't have to be a fan to appreciate the sonic customization that it affords.

Yamaha THR100H

89
GEARANK

89 out of 100. Incorporating 100+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$800
Yamaha THR100H Dual Modeling Amplifier Head

The THR100H is a 100W amp head that comes with the same amp modeling technology as their popular THR series of amps.

There's not really much to choose from in terms of amp models, but by tweaking parameters, the five voicings that it offers can cover most tones, from classic cleans to modern high gain.

There's also the ability to select between five power tube models, which include 6V6, EL84, KT88, 6L6GC and EL34 - this opens up your tonal palette tremendously, especially when you have experience with tube amps.

Another killer feature of the THR100H is its variable power output, which lets you set the power rating to 25W, 50W and 100W.

Specifications:

  • Power Rating: Switchable 25W/50W/100W
  • Amp Models: 5 Amp Models, 5 Output Tube Models
  • Effects: Reverb, Boost, Noise Gate and IR Speaker Emulation
  • Controls: Amp Model, Booster, Gain, Master, Bass, Middle, Treble, Presence, Reverb, Volume
  • Input: 1 x 1/4"
  • Output: 1 x 1/4" TS, 1 x 1/8" (headphone), 1 x XLR (Line out)
  • Extra Features: Built-in Power Attenuator
  • USB: Type B
  • Weight: 8 lbs.

Pros
The top two reasons why users love the Yamaha THR100H include sound quality and portability. Many are blown away by how they can tweak the tone of the amp to whatever they want it to be, especially when used in conjunction with the editor software. Most of the comments point to its clean and slightly overdriven tones, but there are also plenty of comments who prefer the other side o the amp. Build quality is also noteworthy, with many describing it as top notch and roadworthy. Speaking of roadworthiness, there are plenty of users who are now gigging with this amp with great results.

Cons
While its sonic complexity enamors many users, there are still a few who wish for a more intuitive control setup, like having special buttons for each slot.

Overall
Those who are looking for a versatile, compact and roadworthy amp will find the THR100H appealing.

Things to Consider When Buying a Modeling Amp

  • Solidstate vs Tube

    Most modeling amplifiers have solid state components, they are generally regarded to be more affordable, reliable and since they have fewer moving parts, they also requires less maintenance. Some modeling amps feature tube components, and they are often called hybrid amps - since they combine digital processing with genuine tube components. While tube can be fragile, they are still preferred by many for their improved tone, feel and sonic detail. Some manufacturers have found a way to vary amp voicing without the use of digital processing, allowing the proliferation of tube amps with analog-based modeling capabilities, however they will not have the same convenience and variety as their digital counterparts.

  • Amp Models

    Most modeling amps offer straightforward digital operation, where switching between models are done via buttons or switches. These days, some manufacturers have gone the analog route, opting for a more fluid way of changing the voicing via analog knobs and controls. Some manufacturers have stepped up their technology by doing component modeling, which lets you mix and match virtual components like preamp/poweramp to your preference. While it can be tempting to get one with the most number of amp models, more is not always better, especially since you won't normally be using more than 5 amp models in one performance.

  • Power Rating and Speaker Size

    Not all manufacturers follow a specific power rating standard, but the power rating of an amplifier gives you a good idea of how loud it can go. The speaker size also helps in the loudness department, but more than that, it dictates bass definition and clarity. Wider speakers are usually preferred for their extra bass response, but there are many circumstances where smaller speakers and lower power ratings are preferred, specifically for room practice and when portability is your priority.

  • Built-in Effects

    Those who want to get the most out of their money will prefer amps with built-in effects. They allow you to practice and jam without the need to setup effect pedals separately. Don't expect much in terms of quality and control over these built-in effects though, but they can get the job done. Essential effects to look out for include reverb and delay.

  • Learning Curve

    Generally speaking, the more complex and versatile an amplifier is, the steeper the learning curve. This is especially true of analog modeling amps where you have to tweak knobs to get the different amp voicings. If you are patient and want a more personalized tone, you'll appreciate deep controls better, but if you just want a plug-and-play amp with some versatility then you're better off with regular digital amp modeling.

  • Software Editor

    Because of limited space on the amp for controls, some manufacturers opt to add extra control options in software editors. And for this reason, familiarizing yourself with software editor becomes essential if you want to make full use of your modeling amp. This can be good or bad, depending on how much control over the sound you want and how you prefer to control your amp settings. Generally speaking, the more features there are, the more complex the software editor will be. So if you're looking for a more plug-and-play amp, then you might want to consider those that have the sound you prefer but with fewer options.

  • Connectivity

    Having the ability to connect to a PA system via DI out is a nice plus, especially if you're looking to use your amp on stage. USB connectivity is another important feature, as it allows for easy recording and removes the need for amp miking or for an audio-interface. Those who want to practice quietly with their favorite tracks should look for headphones out and aux in ports. Interestingly, there are now Bluetooth compatible amps on the market, which allows for convenient wireless playback of your favorite tracks, and some even allow for software editors to work without needing to be tethered to your amp.

  • Portability

    There's no point in buying a full featured modeling amplifier that ends up gathering dust in your room because you're tired of hauling it around. So you'll have to balance features over portability, get one that is reasonably light considering your needs, while having enough volume and the features that you really need. For this reason, we've included the weight of all the amplifiers in the list.

Best Modeling Amp Selection Methodology

The first edition was published in 2017 and the current edition was published on June 17, 2021.

We started off by short-listing 38 popular modeling combo amps and heads that you can readily buy from major US retailers. We then collected and analyzed over 20,800 relevant reviews, ratings and expert recommendations, including the most recent ones up to June of 2021. The resulting data were then processed using the Gearank Algorithm which gave us the rating scores our of 100 that represent market sentiment for each amp. Finally, for this update, we decided to divide our ranking into two categories: Combo and Head, which we hope will make it easier to compare and examine our recommendations based on what you actually need. For more information about our methods see 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

Alexander BrionesAlexander Briones

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.

Contributors

Alden Acosta: Product research.
Jason Horton: Editing and Illustrating.

Media

Main/Top Image: Produced by Gearank.com using photographs of the Fender Mustang LT 25, Boss Katana Head MkII and Line 6 Spider V 60 MkII.

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.

Comments

They should put the Line 6

They should put the Line 6 Spider V 240HC back on the recommended list as it was replaced by the Line 6 Spider V 240HC MKII which is the same amp that was updated with new firmware features that also improved the sound. It is the best Head amp of the bunch.

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