10 Best Guitar Amps | April 2017

We spent 27 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. Although none of them go up to 11, we're pretty sure that one of the guitar amps on our list will deliver the perfect amount of sound for a wide variety of venues. We've ranked them here by overall tonal quality and flexibility, as well as durability and control features. Skip to the best guitar amp on Amazon.
10 Best Guitar Amps | April 2017
Overall Rank: 7
Best Mid-Range
★★★
Overall Rank: 1
Best High-End
★★★★★
Overall Rank: 9
Best Inexpensive
★★★
10
The Marshall MG30CFX MG Series comes at a decent price for a unit that can crank out 30 watts of juice. It features four programmable channels, and has a 3.5mm MP3 input jack on the front for jamming along with your favorite tunes.
  • solid-state tonal circuitry
  • foot-switchable memory
  • overdrive is thin and buzzy
Brand Marshall Amps
Model MG30CFX
Weight 31.3 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0
9
The Orange Crush CR60C is a solid-state model that creates an unbelievably soft, clean tone on one channel and also what may be one of the dirtiest, most aggressive guitar sounds on the market when it's switched over to the drive setting.
  • fluorescent orange exterior
  • 3-band overdrive equalizer
  • lacks the warmth of tubes
Brand Orange
Model PPC108
Weight 9.1 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0
8
The most useful aspect of the Roland Blues Cube Stage is its power selector, a switch that allows you to set the output at .5, 15, 45, or 60 watts, depending on the venue. You can enjoy the full spectrum of tones when playing quietly at home or rocking out in public.
  • tube logic design
  • clean and crunch channels
  • minimal external speaker support
Brand Roland
Model BC-STAGE
Weight 38.2 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0
7
The Fender Mustang IV V.2 hosts a pair of 12-inch speakers in its sturdy housing, each pushing out 75 watts for a total of 150. Its digital interface allows you to select from 17 amp models and syncs easily with Ableton software.
  • 100 onboard presets
  • 5-year warranty
  • limited instructions
Brand Fender
Model 2300400000
Weight 51.6 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0
6
The Peavey 6505+ 112 is specifically tuned to create the tones and atmospheres most appropriate for metal and hardcore guitarists. A set of five 12AX7 preamp tubes delivers a tremendous amount of articulated gain with resonance and presence controls on each channel.
  • 3-band equalization
  • switchable ohm settings
  • limited application across genres
Brand Peavey
Model 3608060
Weight 19.4 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0
5
Made by a company perhaps better known for its amplifier modeling capabilities, the Line 6 DT25 shows how the brand has taken their nuanced knowledge of tone potential and translated it into a single, powerful tube amp with an identity all its own.
  • custom celestion g12h90 speaker
  • easy channel switching
  • some grounding issues
Brand Line 6
Model 99-011-0906
Weight 58 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0
4
Weighing in at over 60 lbs., the Marshall DSL Series DSL40C may be a little heavy to carry around, but the versatility in its tone might justify your hitting the gym a bit more often. It has two channels for classic and ultra gain, and a pair of modes dedicated to each.
  • digital reverb capabilities
  • shared 5-band eq
  • not responsive to strum intensity
Brand Marshall Amps
Model DSL40C
Weight 69.2 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0
3
Among all tube combinations there is perhaps nothing out there more iconic than the Vox AC15C1, a reissue of the original AC15 the company put out in the late '50s. Its warmth is unmistakable, and its reverb and tremolo effects are natural and soothing.
  • speaker options with purchase
  • master tonal controls
  • classic diamond-stitch grille
Brand Vox
Model AC15C1
Weight 56.2 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0
2
The Vox Valvetronix VT40X utilizes the subtle drive from a vacuum tube multi-stage preamp circuit as the foundation for its impressive modeling capabilities. It can recreate a slew of specific sounds from vintage British rockers, or easily store user presets.
  • proprietary app and usb interface
  • 40-watts out from a 10-inch speaker
  • classic chicken head knobs
Brand Vox
Model VT40X
Weight 24.3 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0
1
The Fender '65 Deluxe Reverb pumps out 22 watts of classic tone with natural, all-tube reverb and vibrato effects that'll reproduce the sounds of your favorite records from the '60s. It comes with a two-button foot switch controller.
  • 12-inch 8-ohm jensen speaker
  • silver grille cloth
  • gradual responsive overdrive
Brand Fender
Model 217400000
Weight 48.4 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

Buyer's Guide

A Boy's First Amp

Most guitarists begin their studies on an acoustic guitar, usually a Spanish-style guitar with nylon strings and a small, lightweight body. The nylon strings are a little more traditional and a bit easier to depress with small fingers for most young guitarists, or for any guitarist who hasn't yet built up the hand strength to handle steel.

He or she might even graduate to an acoustic guitar with steel strings long before ever obtaining an amplifier for the acoustics in question, let alone an electric guitar to plug into it. And who are the heroes of the guitar? For the last 50 years it's been Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Tom Morello, to name just a few innovative names. All of these players made their reputations on electric guitars pumping through amplifiers, and at least one of them–or one like them–is likely the reason you picked up a guitar in the first place.

When I started playing, all I wanted was an electric guitar. I got the starter kit with the nylon acoustic and all its trappings, and I hated it. It had no edge, no danger. Then, after a year or so of saving, I bought some Frankenstein's monster of a guitar with parts from a dozen different breeds and a tiny little nameless amp to go with it.

It worked like all amps: the guitar in my hands translated the vibrations from its strings through magnetic pickups into a voltage that traveled through the guitar's wiring and out the main 1/4" cable, then the amp picked up the signal and sent it through a coil of wire around a much larger magnet than those in the pickups, and the vibrations of that magnet shook the cone of the speaker, producing sound. The specific vibrations corresponding to those voltages created specific frequencies of vibration through the air, and my 10-year-old ears were hooked.

No Amp Too Small

If you're getting your amp for the purposes of playing out with a band, it's very tempting to invest in a large amplifier, whether that means a big combo or a half-stack (don't even mention a full stack). I get it; it's what the pros use when they're rocking out at festivals. The reality there is that the vast majority of the time, whenever you see a guitarist with a wall of sound, it's comprised mainly of dummy cabs with no actual speakers. It's for the look.

In reality, arenas and festival grounds are the only places where anything bigger than a half stack would make sense. In smaller venues, the problem is always the same: amps can't be louder then the drums or the vocals. Listen to any good recording of your favorite bands and you'll notice that the kick drum, snare drum, and vocals are the highest in the mix. If you don't replicate this live the songs sound lost and washed out.

Wherever you play you're going to run into one of three sound setups: a full PA, a partial PA, or no PA capacity beyond vocal mics. The PA (Public Address system) is the primary sound system in any venue. A full PA has the board space and amplification capabilities to allow a sound engineer to apply a dedicated microphone to every instrument, amplifier, and drum head, as well as the cymbal spaces.

A partial PA is harder to define, but it's essentially any PA system that doesn't have the capacity to mic your whole band. More often than not, in these situations, mics end up on the kick drum and snare drum for the reasons outlined above. In this case, it does help to have a little extra juice in your amplifier, but try to keep it tamed, nonetheless.

Then, there are the venues where all you get is a vocal mic or two, where you're left to curate your sound all by yourselves. This category accounts for the vast majority of places a young band will play, and if you can hone your tone here you can hone it anywhere. What's most important is that you keep your amps low enough to allow the drummer to play at about 80% intensity. That way, the audience can actually hear all those important vocals, and when your drummer kicks it up to 100%, and you stomp on your distortion pedal, the audience will actually feel a shift.

All this is to say that you don't need to worry about getting your hands on a large amp. Small amps perform better for the overall sound of your band in most venues, and any venue big enough for you to need more volume is going to mic your amp anyway, giving you all the juice you'd need. So, as you look at the amps on our list, you can evaluate them based on their EQ options, their effects, and, frankly, their look.

All Amped Up

Early guitar amplifiers didn't come around until the 1930s, spurred on by developments in electrolytic capacitors and rectifier tubes, as well as by an explosive interest in Hawaiian music and its metal lap steel guitars, which sounded best when miked or amplified.

By the 1950s, guitarists and audio engineers set about altering the sounds of these amplifiers, employing effects, intentionally overdriving the amps to create a natural distortion, and more. In the mid 1960's The Kinks famously took razor blades to the grilles of their amps to create a unique distortion effect.

Solid state systems grew in popularity in the 80s and 90s, as the digitization of audio signals posed a more reliable and less expensive alternative to tube amplification. In recent years, however, many guitarists have been willing to fork over a little extra scratch to get their hands and their ears on the sounds of the past, on the warm tones that the computers can't seem to capture.



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Last updated on April 24 2017 by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel is a writer, actor, and director living in Los Angeles, CA. He spent a large portion of his 20s roaming the country in search of new experiences, taking on odd jobs in the strangest places, studying at incredible schools, and making art with empathy and curiosity.