One of the most challenging decisions a guitar player can make is picking the best guitar amp for them. It's a hotly contested question between many players - just how much of your tone comes from your amplifier, and how much is the electric guitar? While it’s true, your choice of six-string certainly influences your guitar tone greatly - as do your hands and overall technique - we would argue that your amp selection plays an equal-sized role in your quest for tone as your guitar.
With that being said, many players don't put as much thought - or even budget - into the perfect guitar amp for their needs. As a result, a lot of focus tends to go on what guitar we play and not on what we are plugging into. Well, let us up your tone game with this guide to the best guitar amps. From high-powered tube amps perfect for the stage to solid-state practice amps that won't annoy the neighbors - and everything in between - we break down our favorite amps out there right now.
Best guitar amps: Guitar Player picks
We certainly have a soft spot for the Vox AC30 and would highly recommend it for the gigging musician looking for a fierce mid-range bark and a clean tone that will transport you back to the swinging sixties.
For the bedroom players, it's hard not to recommend the Boss Katana. This clever little amp is versatile, robust, and sounds fantastic - all for an extremely affordable price. If you would rather your home amp was tube-driven, then the Orange Rocker 15 would be a worthy addition to any practice room.
Best guitar amps: Product guide
1. Fender '68 Custom Deluxe Reverb
A Fender classic re-visited
Price: $1,299/£1,299 | Type: Tube | Speakers: 12” Celestion G12V-70 | Output: 22W | Channels: Two | Tubes: 2 x 6V6 | Weight: 19.5kg
No matter the decade, you'll be sure to find a Fender amp sitting pride of place on any stage - from smokey jazz and blues clubs to lively country bars and sticky rock stomping-grounds - they are an enduring presence in every music scene. The big reason Fender amps have been so loved for so long is that they offer a clean, harmonically rich, and mid-scooped tone that always seems to bring out the best in your playing.
The Fender '68 Custom Deluxe Reverb is the ultimate throwback to the silver face era of amps, delivering vintage twang and the touch-sensitive dynamics the original was famous for - all while looking the part as well. For the traditionalist, the aptly named "vintage channel" belts out all the silver panel tone you could ask for, while the "custom channel" is loaded with the iconic Bassman tone circuit for more sonic possibilities.
The 22-watts of power is right in the sweet spot for gigging, allowing you to really push the amp and get the best out of it - although it may be a little much for the house! So if you are looking for the ultimate Fender tone, this might be one of the best guitar amps for you.
2. Vox AC30 C2
The sound of the British invasion
Price: $1,399/£870 | Type: Tube | Speakers: 2 x 12″ Celestion G12M Greenback | Output: 30W | Channels: Two | Tubes: 4 x EL84 | Weight: 32kg
The Vox AC-30 is a cultural icon and favored by the likes of Tom Petty, Brian May, The Edge, and even Dave Grohl - oh, and the Beatles, you might have heard of them? This 30-watt diamond-clad-combo is responsible for some of the most remarkable guitar tones in history and has a sound that is purely its own - and not many amps can say that.
The AC-30 uses three 12AX7 preamp valves, as well as a quartet of EL84s to deliver its fabulously mid-focused sound. There's a power to an AC30 that hits you right in the gut - especially when it's cranked! Dial it back, and you can achieve those sparkly clean sounds that can cut glass if you're not careful.
The reverb and tube-driven tremolo are welcome additions, bringing the ability to soften the sometimes harsh nature of all that mid-range. At the same time, the master "tone-cut" provides even more tone-shaping capabilities. So if you are looking for an amp that will bring those classic British tones, take pedals incredibly well, and look impeccably stylish while doing it, then look no further than the Vox AC-30 C2.
3. Victory V40 The Duchess Head
A small victory for your guitar tone
Price: $1,399/£1,099 | Type: Tube | Speakers: N/A | Output: 42W | Channels: Two | Tubes: 2 x EL34 | Weight: 8.2kg
This relatively small English company has really made a name for itself since launching in 2013. Offering competitively priced, hand-made amplifiers that are durable, roadworthy, and most importantly, sound fantastic!
The V40 is a single-channel, all-valve head that offers both American clean tones and British overdrive sounds. Through a series of clever switches, you can shape the tone to exactly how you like it, without any fuss. For example, the "voice" control shapes the upper mids. Voice I mode allows less of these frequencies through to the subsequent gain stage, whereas Voice II allows more through. This may seem like a simple feature, but it really does allow you to dial in your perfect tone - it works particularly well when playing with a band.
It's not just glorious high power on offer though, as the front panel switch allows you to lower the overall power to around 7 watts. In case that wasn't quite enough, you also have the option to use single-ended mode, which selects to just one or other of the power valves in Class A operation, resulting in a minuscule 1 watt RMS.
4. Tone King Imperial MKII
The king of boutique tone?
Price: $2,595/$2,379 | Type: Tube | Speakers: 12” Custom Eminence | Output: 20W | Channels: Two | Tubes: 6V6 | Weight: 17kg
The name Tone King is synonymous with extremely high-quality, hand-built boutique amplifiers that look like they have just jumped out of the '50s. The Imperial is one of the first amps produced by the Maryland amp gurus way back in 1993 and has been a firm favorite ever since.
The Imperial MKII clearly has its roots in the sound of the Fender Tweed and Deluxe amps of yesteryear, but with a few modern twists that make it desirable to the contemporary player. This 6V6 loaded dual-channel amp offers two distinct tones - rhythm and lead. The rhythm channel is voiced to deliver those classic '60s clean tones, but - thanks to a few clever tweaks in the new MKII - it also boasts a smooth overdrive sound as well as shimmering cleans. The lead circuit still has its hand firmly in the tweed tone world, but the addition of the "mid-bite" control means it can deliver scorching classic rock tones.
The 20W all valve power could be considered overkill for most home practice sessions, so Tone King has included the Ironman II Attenuator, which gives you the ability to drop the volume to a manageable level without sacrificing tone.
5. Fender Tone Master Twin Reverb
All the Fender tone, none of the weight
Price: $999/£1,071 | Type: Solid-State | Speakers: 2 x 12" Jensen N-12K Neo | Output: 200W | Channels: Two | Tubes: N/A | Weight: 15kg
While the enormous, deep tone of the Twin Reverb brings a smile to the face of most guitar players, the back-crushing weight certainly does not. The clever folks over at Fender have been tirelessly working away on solving this age-old grievance - enter the Fender Tone Master Twin Reverb.
Most of the other modelling amplifiers on the market are more concerned with simulating as many different amps as possible, giving the player a digital-smorgasbord of different tones. This can result in a few great sounds, but usually a few unusable ones with it. Where the Tone Master differs is in its intent. This hi-tech Twin's sole purpose is to perfectly recreate one amp, down to every last detail.
So if this amp looks like a Fender Twin and sounds like a Fender Twin, what's the main difference? Well - apart from the lack of tubes - it weighs in at only 33 lbs! Meaning you can comfortably carry this to and from gigs with no hassle.
6. Boss Katana 100 MKII
The ultimate practice amp with a tone that cuts
Price: $479/£290 | Type: Solid-State | Speakers: 1x 12” Katana Speaker | Output: 100W | Channels: Five - with three variations | Tubes: N/A | Weight: 14.8kg
The Boss Katana may not be the most expensive amp on this list - I mean, there isn’t even a tube in sight - but there's a reason it's one of the most popular practice amps to be released in recent years - it sounds fantastic.
These days whether an amp is solid-state or tube doesn't really matter all that much. With advancements in technology, digital modeling amps sound better now than they ever have done before, and Boss proves this with the Katana.
Offering users access to five channels - Clean, Crunch, Lead, Brown, and Acoustic, as well as 15 in-built effects, this is a highly versatile little amp. As you would expect from Boss, the effects are of superb quality. Whether it's delay, chorus, or tremolo, all sounds are taken from Bosses famous stomp-boxes. Hookup the Katana 100 to your PC, and you'll be able to gain access to 60 different additional effects via the Boss Tone Lab.
7. Orange Rocker 15
One for the rocker at heart
Price: $799/£611 | Type: Tube | Speakers: 1 x 10” Voice of the World Gold Label | Output: 15W | Channels: Two | Tubes: 2 x EL84 | Weight: 13.6kg
Orange may seem like the sometimes forgotten British amp brand behind the juggernaut that is Marshall and the provenance of Vox. Still, they offer a tone that sits right in between the two offering the best of both worlds. The punchy and not too fizzy tone is perfect for rock 'n' roll.
The Orange Rocker 15 is designed to easily switch between the bedroom and the stage - something Orange has perfected with the Terror series - going from 15 watts down to the super neighbor-friendly 0.5 watts. In addition, the "natural" channel features a solitary volume control - not unlike the AC30 - and is designed to let the natural tone of your guitar shine through.
The "dirty" channel, on the other hand, is a little more of a standard affair, with a three-band EQ, gain control, and master volume. Crank this channel to unlock those face-melting rock tones.
8. Marshall Origin 20C
A throwback to the origin of epic guitar tones
Price: $549/£466 | Type: Tube | Speakers: 1 x 10” Celestion V type | Output: 20W | Channels: One | Tubes: 2 x EL34 | Weight: 13.9 kg
You can't have a list of the best guitar amps and not include Marshall - arguably the most recognizable amplifiers in the world. Of course, we could have chosen a myriad of models to be featured in this guide, but the one that stands out is the Marshall Origin 20C.
Marshall fans breathed a collective sigh of relief when the iconic amp manufacturer dropped the Origin series back in 2018. Finally, Marshall was going back to their roots and releasing a no-nonsense single-channel tube amp that was a perfect throwback to their past yet included modern features that players demanded. This is easily one of the best Marshall amps in recent years.
The Origin 20C is capable of producing rich, warm cleans, on the edge of break-up blues-tones and righteous rock tones, all by playing with the gain control in conjunction with the power attenuator. This mighty amp also features an in-built gain boost if you find yourself needing more juice and also a footswitch controllable FX loop. So if you have an itch only Marshall could scratch, then the Origin 20C might be the best option out there for you.
9. Hughes and Kettner TubeMeister Deluxe 20 Head
When tone meets technology
Price: $759/£797 | Type: Tube | Speakers: N/A | Output: 20 | Channels: Two + Boost | Tubes: 2 x EL84 | Weight: 5kg
Hughes and Kettner - when outstanding German engineering meets high-fidelity guitar tones. The TubeMeister Deluxe was released back in 2016 and is still one of the most popular Hughes and Kettner models to date, perfectly combining glassy clean tones and super articulate gain sounds.
There is plenty of gain on tap here for most applications, while the addition of a "lead boost" allows you to push the overdrive to a whole other level - but don't worry, there may be an abundance of gain, but the tone never gets fizzy or harsh.
Where the TubeMeister really comes into its own is actually the technology hidden on the back of the amp. Concealed on the back panel is the incredibly clever RedBox AE DI. This smart feature turns your already great amp into the ultimate studio partner. This is a switchable DI output, which gives you the ability to emulate either a 4x12 or 1x12 cabinet, as well as choose between vintage and modern modes. Of course, you can also turn this feature off, but it sounds so good, we're not sure why you would.
10. Supro 64 Reverb
A small blast from the past
Price: $999/£899 | Type: Tube | Speakers: Jensen C8R | Output: 5W | Channels: One | Tubes: 6V6 | Weight: 10.5kg
This may be the smallest amp on this list, but don't let its small stature fool you. The Supro 64 Reverb sounds enormous! Like many entries in this guide, this amp takes inspiration from what has gone before but adds a few modern twists to make it work for today's player.
This fierce 5-watt combo is oozing with vintage style and has the tone to match. The 6V6 tubes and 1x8 Jensen speaker deliver a powerful retro bark that is dynamic and a delight to play. This is the sort of amp that just begs to be played - especially when you set it right on the edge of break up.
The Supro also has a few clever features hidden behind its old-fashioned facade. Located at the rear of the amp is a set of line outputs that offer the ultimate flexibility, whether you want to use them to drive another amp or even for home recording. The "Dry" signal output - as you'd expect - provides the dry signal only, with no reverb. This also stops the dry signal from being sent to the power amp. The "Reverb" output does the same but with only the reverb signal, while the "Mix" output combines the two and doesn't affect what is sent to the power tubes.
Best guitar amps: Buying advice
There is something so effortless about buying an electric or acoustic guitar. Usually, within five minutes, you know if it's right for you. The guitar just clicks with you, and you know right then and there that you need to make it yours - so you pay the person in the shop, put it in the case, and carry on your merry way.
For some reason, many players have more of a problem choosing the best amp for them. I suppose they aren't as tactile as, say, a guitar or bass, but that doesn't mean it should be more challenging to choose the right one. There are few things to keep in mind that should make things a little easier.
Combo or head?
The first consideration is whether to go for a head and cab or combo. Of course, both have their benefits and pitfalls. Still, we have definitely seen a resurgence in the demand for high-quality stage-ready combos in recent years. Gone are the days of multiple 4x12 stacks crowding stages around the world. Instead, today's players are typically looking for small easy to carry solutions that are not only giggable but can be used just as easily at home.
Obviously, a combo may not necessarily be the best option for you. Perhaps you already own a great-sounding cab, and you want to just change your head for something new, or you like the idea of being able to mix and match cabs and experiment. Whatever the reason is, go with the solution that suits your needs.
Tube or solid-state?
Next up is tube vs. solid-state. Now, this argument will still be raging long after we are all gone - and the only thing left is Keith Richards and the cockroaches - but the truth of the matter is, it doesn't really matter all that much anymore.
Technology has come on leaps and bounds over the last decade, and both valve and solid-state amps sound better than they have ever done before. So our advice would be not to get too bogged down with whether it's transistor or tube. Play it, does it sound good? Well, it is good. It's that simple.
Choosing the right wattage
Now, this is one of the most essential elements you need to keep in mind when choosing the best guitar amp for you. Really it boils down to intent. Suppose it's a home practice amp you are looking for. In that case, the 100-watt mega stack is going to be overkill and likely result in a knock at the door from the fuzz - not to mention that you'll never be able to get the full sound out of your amp. Instead, look at the low wattage options available to you, such as the Supro or the Orange Rocker featured in this guide.
This advice changes somewhat when we are looking at a live situation. Now it's all about headroom. While it's true that you could gig the 5-watt Supro, you'll struggle to get them clean headroom out of it at those volumes. Now, this might be precisely what you want, if not, it's worth looking at something larger. The Vox AC30 offers the best of both worlds, enough headroom for bright cleans, and can also be driven to natural overdrive.
What tone are you looking for?
Lastly, we need to talk about tone. Like guitars, all amp brands have their own unique voices, and it's essential to keep that in mind. If you are looking for enough mid-range to scrape the paint off the walls, you're not going to get it with the Fender Twin Reverb. Similarly, you don't turn to Marshall for pristine clean sounds. This might sound obvious, but seriously think about the tone you are looking for and seek out a brand that delivers on that brief.
It's all about frequency and, more importantly, mid-range, that's where a lot of the characteristics are in a brand's sound. Even narrowing down whether you want a mid-pushed or mid-scooped amp is an excellent place to start.
Having a clear idea of the sound you are searching for is half the battle. Unfortunately, so many players walk into the guitar store with no clear plan and expect the perfect guitar amp to jump out at them. While this approach may work for some - and let’s be honest, it’s probably just luck - it will be way more efficient to have an idea of the overall sound you are looking for before you even enter the store or buy online.
So there you have it, that's our guide to the best guitar amps on the market right now. No matter which one you choose, just make sure you plug in, turn up and make some noise!
First and foremost, I'm a guitar enthusiast – a fanatic, some might say. I'm a firm believer that most of the world's problems can be solved with a Gibson SG and a catastrophically loud amp. Before writing about guitars for a living as a Junior Deals Writer on Guitar Player, I worked in music retail for 7 years, giving advice on guitars, basses, drums, pianos, and PA systems. I also have a passion for live sound; I'm a fully qualified sound engineer with experience working in various venues in Scotland.
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