The 10 Best Amp Heads
This wiki has been updated 11 times since it was first published in December of 2017. If you're serious about the tone of your instrument, and you intend to play in large venues without having to rely on a sound engineer to get your levels right, you would do well to invest in one of these guitar amp heads. They connect with speaker cabinets to provide powerful, versatile outputs, and we've ranked them here by their volume, expressiveness, and flexibility. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.
October 02, 2019:
Availability issues with the Joe Satriani signature version of Marshall's JVM-410H caused us to replace it with the standard version of that model, ultimately only sacrificing a mid-shift function in the overdrive channels and going back to reverb pots in place of Satriani's preferred noise gates. While that mid-shift and the overall smoothing of the ODs will be missed, many players will likely be relieved to get their hands on Marshall's excellent reverb capabilities by contrast.
Elsewhere, we removed the Quieter Labs Mach 2 for problems it suffered in durability, and replaced it with Randall's 667, which skyrocketed to number three on our list due to its tremendous flexibility. It's a little overwhelming at first, but it offers six total channels, each with seven midi-controllable settings for use in a wide variety of genres.
In our special honors section, we've included a few models that are particularly hard to find online outside their manufacturer's direct sites, including the Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier, which holds a particularly special place in my heart. This was my grail amp from the time I was 12, and I worked my tail off (and, as a teen, had no real bills to pay), saving up till I was 17 and I finally got one. I can't say enough about its flexibility, and the clarity that manages to shine through even when overdriven to oblivion.
Victory Amps Dutchess V40 As long as you aren't trying to emulate arena rock or thrash metal, this little amplifier will serve just about every other sound. It excels at recreating rock and blues tones from the 1950s and 60s, however, and a useful mid-kick function can add a boost to the middle frequencies, thickening up the tone of stock strat pickups. victoryamps.com
Devilcat Jimmy One of the most interesting features of this model is its dirt channel, which makes it sound almost like someone took a razor blade to the speakers in your cabinet, giving you a sense of overdrive while preserving a tremendous amount of warmth. It comes in a variety of fun finishes, including a creamcicle orange. devilcatamps.com
Mesa Engineering Dual Rectifier If you're looking for an amplifier that might not require a single pedal to take you to your preferred sound, this might be it. Its flexibility and clarity are top notch, and its tube-driven distortion is about as articulate as you could imagine, making it ideal for stage and studio alike. A Mesa cabinet with Celestion speakers is recommended to fully appreciate it, however. mesaboogie.com