Buying a guitar amp will be as tough a decision as any other; in fact it will be as tough as buying a guitar, if not more! There’s tons of amps and brands to choose from, and many different configurations and specs to consider – all of which can understandably be a bit overwhelming for someone looking to buy their first amp, or looking for an upgrade.
Buying a good guitar amp is crucial, simply because the sound and the tone of your electric guitar will only be as good as the amp that it’s hooked up with. In addition, a good amp that produces a great tone and sound will make you look good!
To get you started, here are some of the best and the greatest guitar amplifiers out there – amps for all guitar players, all genres and all budgets – that will help you get the most out of your electric guitar setup:
1. Peavey Classic 50
Peavey, along with Marshall and perhaps a couple of other brands, produces some of the best electric guitar brands in the world! Peavey makes some outstanding guitar amps – extensively used and endorsed by the likes of Eddie van Halen and Joe Satriani to name only two, and perhaps their greatest achievement is the Peavey Classic 50. It boasts 50 watts of power from an open-back 4×10 cab housing, and a great set of speakers as well. A great little amp for blues and rock guitar players that costs around $600, give or take, depending on where you get it from.
2. Marshall MG100HCFX
Marshall’s MG-series amp, MG100CFX packs a punch; 100W to be exact! Featuring a 4×12 guitar speaker cabinet, a large range of digital effects, and that sweet signature Marshall analogue tone with a realistic tube-amp feel, a carbon fiber exterior that gives you a great stage presence – and all that at a great price of around $360 makes this an excellent amplifier for any electric guitar player.
3. Fender 65 Deluxe Reverb Vintage Reissue Guitar Combo
Like all Fender amps, this particular model too makes for a brilliant amplifier for rock, country and blues. Ideal for small as well as medium-large spaces, as well as being a studio amp, the reissue ’65 Deluxe was used to record many of the well-known tunes from yesteryear. It packs 22W of power under its hood, along with a 12” speaker, 2 channels (normal and an analog-vibrato), all-tube circuitry, tube vibrato, tube-driven reverb just like the Fender amps from the 60s, and a two button foot0switch to control the effects.
4. Peavey 6505+
Peavey’s 6505 Plus is a monster! Packing a huge 120W under the hood, the 6505 – named in commemoration of Peavey’s 40 years in the biz (from 1965 to 2005) makes for a great amp for hard rock and heavy metal guitar players. Used by the likes of Machine Head, Bullet for my Valentine, and Trivium, to name just a few, this Peavey amp features six 12AX7 preamp tubes and four 6L6GC power amp tubes, presence and resonance controls and a three-band EQ as well. It is an upgrade to Peavey’s renowned 5150 – an amp which was designed in partnership with none other than Van Halen! However all this power costs a fair bit of money – around $1200 to be exact!
5. VOX AC30
Vox is another winner in the guitar amplifiers segment, and their AC30 is perhaps their flagship amp – one of the most popular amplifiers in the world! The Chinese-made AC30CC – short for Custom Classic – is an amp that ‘is a culmination of the 45 years of quality, design and fabrication’ and makes for a great all-round amp. What Vox essentially did with the AC30CC is take all the mods and options for all other variants of the amplifier, and put them into one single amp. This particular tube amp features a 2×12 combo, 30W of power, an unbelievable amount of control, and is a representative of the ‘60s British invasion’ – having been used by the likes of legendary George Harrison and Brian May, to name just a few. Amps such as this usually don’t come cheap; the AC30CC costs well over a $1000 but if you’ve got deep pockets, it will be money well spent that’s for sure!
6. Roland Cube 20XL
Roland is another big name in the music industry, producing some of the best musical instruments out there and their Cube-20XL amplifier is certainly no exception. Packing 20W of horsepower, a high-end performance 8” speaker, and a size that makes it ideal for room practice or band rehearsals, it boasts some excellent features like dual channels (JC Clean and Lead – the latter of which provides 6 COSM-powered choices itself!); 6 BOSS lead types; 9 effects including Heavy Octave COSM vintage Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, Tremolo and Spring Reverb, and a Power Squeezer that allows you to get a full gain at low volume. The price for all this goodness is a measly $150-$200. A great amp for beginners!
7. Mesa Boogie Mark Series
Mesa Boogie has a huge loyal and dedicated fanbase of musicians and guitar players, and anyone who’s played on their Mark-series amps would attest to this! The Mesa Boogie Mark V (or Mark Five) is one of their flagship amps, and this wonder-amp is one of the most versatile amplifier out there today – capable of playing styles such as blues, alternative, classic rock, modern rock, old-school metal, modern metal, and a whole lot more. You’ll find many detailed and in-depth reviews of the Mark V on the internet, however as far as specs are concerned, the Mark V houses 90W under its exterior, and it’s been used by the likes of Santana, Dream Theater and Metallica so it’s certainly a winner. As for price, it’s steep – above $2000.
8. VOX Pathfinder 15R
A great amp for beginners, and generally a solid value-for-money amplifier, the VOX 15R provides all the good features of VOX amps, such as the legendary AC30, at a much more reasonable price. And even though it’s a solid-state amp (in order to keep the costs low) VOX did a great job to make it sound like a much more expensive tube-amplifiers – something that might take you by surprise when you listen to it. As for the specs, 15W of power, 8” speaker, spring reverb, 2 band equalizer, tremolo (with speed and depth controls), and gain boost control. The amp has a very warm tone and is versatile and reasonably priced at under $150 – making it ideal for beginners.