Best Guitar Amp Review – Top Rated Models in 2020 with Buying Guide
If you can’t commit hours of your time to tracking down the right electric guitar amp, we listed here a number of the top guitar amps that are varied enough to fulfill most requirements. Among these, we found the Vox Pathfinder 10 Denim to make a great choice for those that are just getting into playing guitar or who just need a good, inexpensive practice amp. It’s solid-state, so you won’t have to blow your money on replacing lamps and this will also make it easier to tweak its voice to whatever tune you want to try out. Folks who use it appreciate that resembles the overdrive on a lamp amp pretty well and at 10 W of power it can be used from a garage without any complaints from the neighbors. If this isn’t available, The Blackstar IDCORE10 will offer similar quality and even more of a possibility to play around with sound effects.
Our Top Choice
If what you usually play is British rock and roll, this VOX alternative might be right up your alley. Its clear and natural sound is what made so many guitar players have only good things to say about it. The affordable cost makes it perfect for beginners and eager learners. Besides, its compact design is a net advantage as it’s easy to carry.
The unit does not feature a reverb function, which means that you will have to use a pedal for that.
The VOX is a budget-friendly and compact amplifier that seems to be truly worth its weight in gold.
The neatest thing about this Blackstar model is that it is entirely programmable, which means that the guitar player can achieve any effect as desired. The unit does come with a series of presets ranging from clean warm to super crunch, though, so feel free to use those if you aren’t particularly accustomed to setting amps.
The amp comes with a variety of features that beginners might find to be a bit complicated, at least, at first.
This particular Blackstar amp is modern, easy to use, and completely customizable.
The Champion 40 is light, affordable, and easy to use. Besides, the brand should give you a clue as to whether or not it’s a good idea to invest your hard-earned money into this model. The 12” speaker that it comes with is perfectly capable of rendering both bass and treble, and most guitarists who’ve reviewed it say it works great for blues and country.
This amplifier model does not offer too much versatility as it comes with a limited number of effects controls.
This 40-watt amplifier is great if you’re looking for a light and affordable choice. It works best for blues and country music.
12 Best Guitar Amps (Reviews) in 2020
Since all the variety of options out there can make it pretty tough to find good amps and amp accessories, we’ve looked through the best guitar amp reviews the internet has to offer and made a selection of some of the better ones available for sale.
- 1. Vox Pathfinder 10 10W 1×6.5 Denim
- 2. Blackstar ID: Core Stereo 10 V2 Combo
- 3. Fender Champion 40 Combo Amplifier
- 4. Line 6 Spider V 30 Modeling Amplifier
- 5. Black Star 211055 HT-1R Guitar Combo Amplifier
- 6. Fender Limited Edition Champion 100 Electric Guitar Amplifier
- 7. ZT Amplification Lunchbox Guitar Amplifier
- 8. ZT Amplifiers Lunchbox – Best electric guitar amp
- 9. Peavey Classic 30 112 Tweed
- 10. Peavey Bandit 112 TransTube Amplifier
- Yearly Guide & Report
- Frequently asked questions about guitar amps
- What brands make great guitar amps?
1. Vox Pathfinder 10 10W 1×6.5 Denim
As the name suggests, this little amp is covered in Denim material to give it a classic look, which should go well with the style of sound it’s best at producing. People who used it report that it works particularly well in mid range, with a tonality reminiscent of early British rock and roll.
The similarity is further extended by the fact that the clean channel gives out a clear, natural sound that is surprisingly close to what a tube model can produce. It also has an overdrive, to which there’s a possibility to switch at will, for a “creamy, warm” distortion.
The affordable cost seems to be more of a result of its small size rather than some compromise in regards to quality, since it gained quite a deal of appreciation as a practice amp, good to keep in your workroom and light enough to carry to a friend’s house on foot.
The single, 6.5 inch, 10 W speaker will put out a surprising amount of volume in the mid and high ranges, while the overdrive is slightly more subdued.
This amp gives out a natural sound that is clear and this is very similar to what a classic tube model would sound like.
It also comes with an overdrive option that you can switch on and off at will, and it will give you the warm distortion you expect.
This model is one of the nicest practice amps due to how light it is, so you can carry it in any studio or you can take it in any friend’s house.
For the price that it costs, it’s surprisingly good and the manufacturers didn’t compromise on quality but rather on size.
It will bring you the classic style you’re looking for and that’s also because it’s covered in Denim material.
British rock lovers will enjoy this amp because it does great in the mid-range.
It doesn’t come with a reverb function, so you’ll need to get a pedal for that.Click to see the price on Amazon!
2. Blackstar ID: Core Stereo 10 V2 Combo
We jump from tradition to the latest technology from Blackstar. The IDCORE 10 is a modeling amp that comes with its own presets a clean warm; clean bright; crunch; super crunch; etc, tunes but it’s also fully programmable to achieve the precise effect desired by the user.
It can be plugged into a computer using a mini USB to allow for precise tuning and recording with a digital equalizer and a sizeable ‘effects’ section allowing you to modify a wide set of parameters.
This might keep an enthusiast busy for hours, without bothering others with the noise, since the IDCORE 10 can accept headphones.
If you want to go old school, then the Blackstar will offer you that possibility as it has a full set of intuitive controls, the same as on a traditional amp.
The sound comes in full stereo with two speakers totaling 10 W of output at a remarkably good quality for an entry-level model.
People looking for something packed up with technology will enjoy this amp as it comes with many features and effects.
It’s got a clean tone but it can also be set to a crunch, a super crunch, or similar tunes, being fully programmable to offer you the best sounds.
If you’re looking for something that can also be plugged into a computer, this amp comes with a USB port that lets you do that, and through that port you can perfectly tune every instrument, as well as customize the effects on your computer, modifying their parameters.
Furthermore, you can also connect headphones to it, so you won’t have to bother your neighbors late at night.
The controls are intuitive, easy to understand, and they’re also reminiscent of older models if you like that.
With all these options, the amp may be too complicated for some people to use.Click to see the price on Amazon!
3. Fender Champion 40 Combo Amplifier
More than one Fender Champion 40 review recommended it as the best 40-Watt amplifier for beginners. Truth be told, this light and relatively affordable combo does have a few things working for it.
Besides the recognizable brand, there’s the sound quality, that earned it good appreciation even from experienced guitarists who are used to more expensive units. It has a standard 12” speaker that allows it to render treble and bass equally well, for a good range of sound which should make it suitable for country, blues, and jazz, as well as softer rock.
While not a modeling amplifier (which should be a plus for the purists out there), it does come with pre-set effects, like reverb or delay and an MP3 player can be plugged in the auxiliary jack to provide tracks to jam along to.
As a combo, it will prove very easy to carry and it contains additional storage space in the cabinet for cables, plugs and other miscellanea.
This can be considered one of the most useful amplifiers for a beginner, due to how light and versatile it is, while still offering you good power.
But even experienced guitarists may enjoy the amp, because of its high-quality sound.
The speaker is 12 inches wide and that allows it to get out the bass and treble equally well, offering you a good range of sound.
For that reason, it is a good amp in any situation, no matter if you’re playing blues, soft rock, jazz, or country.
It has the basic effects needed in any amp, like reverb and delay, and you can even plug an MP3 player into it and play some music like that if you want to jam on them.
You can really feel the quality of the tone of this Fender product.
Your sound combinations are limited by the small number of effect controls, and that makes it lack in diversity.Buy from Amazon.com for ($199.99)
4. Line 6 Spider V 30 Modeling Amplifier
It’s hard to find a place to start listing the features offered by this modeling amplifier. It has over 200 preloaded amps, effects models, and cabs, with up to 8 of them being able to run at the same time, so it will give you quite a lot to experiment with before feeling the need to introduce your own custom effects.
Among its presets are a high number of setups mimicking the sound of both classic and contemporary rock tunes, which should make this product very attractive for cover bands and people that need to switch between different styles on the fly.
The spider V is also equipped with a full range speaker system, which will allow you to run an acoustic guitar through it, as well as let songs from your playlist provide accompaniment while you jam.
This item also comes with a number of aids for rookie players, like a metronome to keep their riffs in time and a collection of drummer loops they can play along to.
With the many presets that you can choose from, you can find a setup that can give you the sound of nowadays rock, or you can choose the classic tunes of rock.
When playing in a cover band you often need to change the style and effects fast, and this amp will let you do that.
This amplifier also comes with an incorporated speaker system and that means you can plug in an MP3, and you can play songs through it, or you could just plug in your acoustic guitar and it will sound clean.
The number of effects on this amp is impressive and that’s because it can offer you more than 200 preloaded functions, effects, or cabs.
Furthermore, you can use up to 8 of these effects at the same time, and this allows for huge variability in your sound.
The presets are dull and it will take a while for you to adjust them.Click to see the price on Amazon!
5. Black Star 211055 HT-1R Guitar Combo Amplifier
Most guitarists agree that nothing can beat vacuum tube amplifiers when it comes to sound quality, especially the great overdrive they produce. The HT1R from Blackstar uses two vacuum tubes to give both crystal clarity and a crunchy overdrive, between which you can change at the flip of a switch.
To achieve this, it uses just two lamps, one for the pre-amp and the other one working the power-amp, processing sound for a remarkably low output 1 Watt speaker. Given the electronics involved, it would be pretty hard to judge the maximum volume from the power alone, but people who used it consider it sufficient for casual jamming.
Somewhat unusual for this design, it also has an MP3 and headphones jack, and it’s said to offer an exceptionally good simulated headphones output.
The product also has an original feature, called ISF, advertised to “give you infinite sound possibilities, from the USA to the UK” by using pre-set bass, mid, and treble setting that the user can select between. Some customers remarked that the feature doesn’t seem to make much of a difference, but praise the tone quality and good functionality of the product nevertheless.
This is an old school amplifier that will be great for those looking to get a good vacuum tube system capable of delivering quality and smooth overdrive.
With this amp, you get two vacuum tubes capable of giving a very clear tone and a crunchy overdrive when you need it, and you can change between the two immediately.
The volume offered by the two tubes is powerful enough for casual jamming and people like this amp for that.
Although it is an old design, it still features a headphone jack where you can plug in an MP3 player and you can also plug a pair of headphones into it and see how they sound.
The amplifier also comes with something called ISF which should bring you infinite sound possibilities, meaning that it offers pre-set treble, bass, and mid settings to select between.
When you switch the overdrive on, the sound volume will change drastically.Buy from Amazon.com for ($540)
6. Fender Limited Edition Champion 100 Electric Guitar Amplifier
If you want something relatively affordable for both practice and stage use, then the Champion 100 is sure to provide. It has the basic standard configuration for playing in clubs, with a couple of 12” speakers placed in a combo, which you can potentially double by stacking.
Regardless, at 100 W it provides enough volume to cover most venues, and the size of the speakers should render all frequency ranges equally well.
Of course, for its affordable price you shouldn’t be expecting anything else than solid state, which combined with the combo construction should make this Fender easy enough to carry around, without giving you chills whenever your car stumbles into a pothole.
Since the manufacturer has a name to live up to, you can expect it to do a good job at rendering rhythmic tones as you find in country music or slow rock. It also features a number of effects, like reverb, delay/echo, tremolo, chorus, and vibrato, so you might need to invest in a pedal to use it fully.
This is the amp to choose if you’re looking to play in small venues, because it can deliver some good volume, having two speakers each measuring 12 inches.
It offers 100 W of power and that can cover most venues, and the size of the speakers means that all frequency ranges will be covered accordingly.
The amp has a solid construction and it’s still light enough to be transported nearly anywhere you want to go.
The manufacturer is known for delivering quality amps capable of playing nice country or other types of slow music.
You also get some interesting effects like the classic reverb and delay, but you get tremolo, vibrato, and chorus effects as well.
The amp offers you the possibility to plug a footswitch to it to quickly change between two effects.
The design is pretty dull and the number of buttons makes it seem like an overwhelming amp at first.Click to see the price on Amazon!
7. ZT Amplification Lunchbox Guitar Amplifier
As one user put it, this is one of “Amazon’s hidden little gems”, with a good set of tube electronics that gives out a natural sounding overdrive and some crystal-clear rhythmic sounds. If you want to make your guitar sound clear enough to accompany Porcupine Tree while also having the option for a natural grainy sound that might work well for jazz and blues, then this item is definitely something to look into.
With only 5 W of output, the speakers on this unit might not be powerful enough for a large hall, especially when accompanied by drums, but it should do a great job in allowing a solo guitar and the skill of its player to shine in front of a discerning audience.
The price on this unit has been cut down by eschewing additional features like pre-set effects or an output jack that would make it compatible with MP3 players or headphones, but definitely, no corners were cut when it comes to sound quality.
The set of vacuum tubes and the electronics give this amp a natural crystal-clear sound and an overdrive that sounds really well.
You can choose this amp for different purposes, whether you want to have a natural guitar sound for a soft song, or if you want something a bit more grainy for some jazz or blues.
The speaker is 8 inches wide and it’s of high quality, delivering sound with precision.
This is one of those amps that you can take anywhere due to its compact shape and the fact that it’s so sturdy.
With this amp, you will be able to stay in control of the treble and bass at all times.
Even at high volumes, you will hear no humming and the sound will be clear.
The amplifier only gives 5 W of power, and that isn’t enough for most rooms, that’s why you can only use it as a practice amp for yourself.Buy from Amazon.com for ($119)
8. ZT Amplifiers Lunchbox – Best electric guitar amp
The (perhaps miss-appropriately) named “Lunchbox” is as small as an electric heater, as light as one, and it also kind of looks like one. If some might not appreciate the aesthetics, then they will definitely be impressed by the level of performance ZT Amplifiers managed to squeeze into such a small package.
It comes with two 6.5-inch speakers, delving out 100 W each for a total of 200. Now, the small woofer diameter might make these units work less-than-perfect for rendering stomach-churning bass noise, but ZT Amplifiers never intended for them to be used as such. Instead, they are supposed to deliver loud and clear enough sounds in the treble and mid ranges to make the guitarist hold its own even when a loud drummer is present.
Like any good product meant to be used on stage, the Lunchbox can be effectively paired with 12” speakers but it also features a headphones jack for individual rehearsals.
This thing only weighs 5 pounds and it’s the smaller amplifier from the company, so if you’re looking for something compact, you can’t get something better.
For those that enjoy the vintage tube amp sound, this small device delivers the response and warmth of that style.
The amp comes with very few controls, but each button does a lot and you can even get gain and EQ once you turn the buttons in the right way.
You can detach the power chord from this amp, so that also helps with making it more easy to transport.
Furthermore, it has a jack where you can plug a pair of headphones in, for those nights where you want to practice without disturbing your neighbors.
The build quality of this device is incredible, also taking into account that it’s pretty stylish too.
Because of the 5-inch speaker, this amp can’t be helpful on stage, but only when practicing alone.Click to see the price on Amazon!
9. Peavey Classic 30 112 Tweed
The Peavy Classic 30 should give your guitar plenty of volume and a clear enough tone to cover any tune in a country singer’s discography and then some. It comes with a reverb tank and an overdrive channel, so it should be workable enough to play hard rock and metal music in your local club.
Albeit this model should hold its own when being used for what Peavy amps are famous for, that is playing metal or hardcore, most people who’ve tried it find that it performs best for slower, more rhythmic music. If the sound of your guitar goes “ting-ting” or “clang-clang” instead of “rifff”, then this piece should definitely deliver.
Otherwise, while the manufacturer is considerably shy when releasing specs regarding this product, customer reviews can give us a good idea of how well it performs under real-life circumstances. In brief, it performs well, particularly so for country music and slow rock, especially when paired with a couple more 12” speakers on top of the ones that are already integrated into its chassis.
This amp has an impressive number of seven tubes all working together to offer a great sound with the help of the steel cage protecting them.
The amplifier comes with two channels that you can choose between at all times and a foot pedal that allows you to do that at ease.
You will see that this device has a rugged build and it can be adaptable to most situations.
It is also loud enough for almost all purposes and easy to use, so when you’re in a hurry you can always switch to what you want fast.
It does really well on the mid-tones and it also packs a punch when it comes to bass lines.
You will find many practical features incorporated in the amp and all of them are intuitive.
It doesn’t have the clear voice of a more expensive amp when there are no effects involved and some people may not like that.Buy from Amazon.com for ($699.94)
10. Peavey Bandit 112 TransTube Amplifier
Among other things, Peavy is somewhat famous in the guitar amps world for being one of the first manufacturers to produce a close-to-tubes type of sound from their transistors amps. While this achievement might not have seemed perfect for the most discerning of ears, their solid state guitar amplifiers are good enough for the general public not to tell the difference.
The Peavy Bandit 112 will make a great amp for rock club venues since it works with enough power (100 Watts) to fill up a small hall and it will be easy to carry around from place to place due to its combo construction, with the two 12” speakers inhabiting the same frame as the guitar amplifier.
The close-to-nature overdrive you would expect from a model particularly engineered to imitate tube-amps should make for a nice and grainy tone once the appropriate dial is switched, perfect for playing blues in front of an attentive audience.
The construction of this amplifier is interesting, and although it is quite large, it’s not that heavy and it can be transported anywhere on a car seat.
It also has an open back, meaning that you can store some different things there including some pedals, and they will be well-protected by the rugged design.
With this amp you get multiple channels, ones purposed for clean sounds others for lead, and each of them has independent EQ sections, meaning that you can adjust the sound more freely.
The amp is great for those small and medium rooms, or for rock venues because it will fill out the room with sound due to its powerful 100 W system.
The overdrive will sound so good because it’s made to reproduce the sound of tube models.
It could have more effects because that is something limiting its versatility and style.Buy from Amazon.com for ($442.99)
11. Fishman Loudbox Mini
If you want to keep the laments of your banjo or guitar as clean as possible yet still hearable to the folks sitting way at the back, then the Fishman Loudbox Mini should do the trick, since the 60 Watt speakers will provide enough volume for a steel string guitar to be heard over slow drums or bass.
While it can (naturally) be used with electric guitars, many of its customer reviewers best appreciate the way it renders acoustic, steel-stringed instrument noise. It gained a particularly good reception with self-proclaimed audiophiles, whose assumingly refined tastes in regards to sound quality were definitely piqued by this item.
On top of that, this item does offer some additional basic features, like a reverb effect, dual-function chorus and an instrument+microphone channel, so it will allow you sink in with the vocals while making the guitar tune a little more haunting without having to employ any additional tools.
At just under 20 lb, this combo will be easy enough to carry from venue to venue.
With this amp, you get the feeling that you can just throw it in the back seat or through rain and it will still work, that’s how sturdy it is.
Its design is an elegant one too and the brown and tan colors give it a vintage style, and also helps with seeing all the controls better, because of the high contrast.
The amp is very light and also takes little space so it’s always to have it with you no matter the case.
Getting a natural tone is easy with this amp and that’s also due to the easy-to-use controls.
It usually gets played by electric guitarists but many people also like to play an electro-acoustic guitar through this amp.
You also get another channel where you can plug in a microphone if you want to also sing.
The amp has the tendency to compress high frequencies so it won’t sound great there.Buy from Amazon.com for ($329.99)
12. Marshall Acoustics Soloist AS50D
The Soloist AS50D shines as an acoustic guitar amp because of its sound quality, maximum volume, and portability. It’s been said that it plays magnetic acoustic piezo and mic blend pickups substantially well, so there’s no need to worry that this amp will somehow take away from a guitarist’s talent during a show.
With 50 Watt of power, this Marshall piece lends itself best for small venues, where drowning a room in guitar riffs won’t be required, but you still need to keep yourself audible to everyone present, preferably without any sound distortions due to excessive volume.
This one seems to be a favorite for gospel groups or people who usually play in churches, but it should provide more than adequate service for indie bands that prefer a calm, laid down sound, reminiscent to the mid 90’s acts you used to hear on college radio stations.
Otherwise, it offers a digital chorus and a reverb function, and enough jacks for a footswitch and extra speakers to be plugged in, so all the basics are there.
It’s a great acoustic guitar amp and the controls are intuitive, similar to what you find on classic amplifiers.
The amp comes with two channels and each of them has different controls that you can modify.
Due to its 8-inch drivers and the 50 W of power that it can put out, this device is more than capable of filling a small room with sound, and you can take it for every kind of gig, or even some stage performances.
The second channel is made for a microphone, just in case your vocalist needs some volume as well.
You will be glad to see that this amp is lightweight, compact, and that will help you when transporting it for your gigs.
The tone is a clear one, although it has a unique style to it.
You won’t get many effects with this amp, but that’s not really needed when you’re playing an acoustic guitar.Buy from Amazon.com for ($349.99)
Best guitar preamps
Kemper Profiler Power Head
For the low low price of a second-hand Ford Focus this Kemper Profiler will act as an all-around amp for concerts, a pre-amp when paired with the appropriate gear, and thanks to the high number of effects it can provide — a head unit for a guitar studio.
As opposed to the modeling amps and amp profilers already on the market, the Power Head doesn’t just offer a number of pre-set amp settings that would allow you to imitate the styles of famous guitarists (among many other things), but it can also copy the settings of other amps it is connected to, or let you load your own so that any particular style you’ve stumbled upon during a recording session can be re-rendered with crystal-clear accuracy when performing live.
So this is basically an amplifier clone-machine that can pick up and accurately imitate what other amps are doing without any sweat from the operator. If you ever wanted to get as close as possible to the tone used at the beginning of John Carpenter’s The Thing, this would be the piece of equipment to use!
If you’re looking for a relatively inexpensive piece of equipment that can serve you in many situations, this preamp is great for concerts.
When you give it the right tools to work with, it’s a great unit for a guitar that can do wonders in a studio.
It doesn’t just offer a number of amp settings that are pre-set, like other preamps on the market, but it also lets you change them how you want and it can also copy the settings of other amps that it’s connected with.
You can also take your own effects and settings and load them in this preamp, making it a more powerful tool.
It can be a great tool for those looking to get as many effects as possible from many different sources.
You will find yourself in the situation of having too many tones to choose from and too little time to do so.Click to see the price on Amazon!
Kemper Profiler White Guitar
From the stylish 1950s look that seems to belong in an operations room of the US Strategic Air Command to the high level of function it provides, this Kemper profiler just screams quality.
While it can’t be used to guide early versions of the B52 to their targets (despite looking the part) it does, however, answer all the guitar tuning and guitar amplifying needs of the modern musician. It acts like an amp during concerts, one that allows you to pre-load the exact settings the band used during studio recordings, so the fans won’t get disappointed at a live performance sounding like a bootleg version of the tunes they came to hear.
With the same function that records and re-renders pre-existing mods, it also promises to revolutionize studio works, or at least make it a lot more convenient since it allows for pre-existing settings to be brought back at the push of a button, thus sparing you all the hustle and bustle of re-tuning the instrument from where you left off.
You don’t get a preamp looking more stylish than this one inspired by the ‘50s.
It’s one of those tools that helps the guitarist in many ways, including when tuning and amplifying, of course.
During a concert, you can pre-load whatever settings you have from home, what you and your band used for rehearsals, so everything sounds the same.
The device has a function that records pre-existing mods and also re-renders them, so that’s great in the studio.
You can always save a setting and bring it back with only a push of a button. You will never have to redo the settings again.
This device can profile your studio sound while recording. This will make your studio sound available for live performances.
You also get 200 profiles right from the start, if you lack ideas.
It’s a very complex piece of equipment and working with it is very difficult.Click to see the price on Amazon!
Best guitar amp microphones
AKG Pro Audio C214
If you want to get an accurate recording of your studio work, then it will be hard to find a better mic for that then the Pro Audio C214. Some professional guitarists consider it to be the best mic in its price range on the market, and it shouldn’t be absent from a recording session if you care about the clarity of your tones.
It has a wide dynamic range and a 20dB attenuator, which alongside a bass-cut filter should clear out any noise that’s not supposed to get over your guitar track. Add to this an integrated suspension to reduce any vibrations when playing on stage and you get a highly functional condenser microphone that won’t capture anything else than what’s supposed to.
It can do its job for noises up to 156dB SPL, but several users comment that it doesn’t work as well for the highest values, describing it as a “silent studio” mic, and praising its effectiveness under such conditions.
This mic comes with all the little details needed for a good recording, including a cradle, a pop filter, and even a carrying case to keep it safe when not in use.
It’s a great tool for recording Rap and R&B and that’s why it can be great for a guitar too because it can catch those snappy sounds.
You will be surprised how clear the sound is, and comparing to other models in the same category, it’s one impressive microphone.
The mic is also good for capturing guitar because the sound it produces is bright but not exaggerated. It’s a crisp clear tone that sounds natural and full.
It’s one of the most durable mics and that’s why it can be used nearly anywhere.
Some people complain it doesn’t do that well in picking up low bass lines, so it’s best suited for acoustic guitars mostly.Buy from Amazon.com for ($327.99)
AKG Pro Audio C414 XLS
The bigger brother of the C214 above, the 414 has been designed to provide the highest linearity and neutral sound to capture any detail of your recording, either vocal or instrumental.
It has three attenuation levels set at -6; -12; and -18 decibels, and three different bass-cut filters for reducing wind noise, the proximity effect, and subsonic noise. This should prevent any clutter from getting over the recording, leaving your tunes nice and crisp.
It also features an overload warning with an LED that lets you know when the audio pick is reached, and you can also hold to that peak tone guided by this visual signal. Since it’s easy enough to see, you’ll get a clear notice of the shortest audio peaks and adjust accordingly.
It can be used to effectively record sounds of up to 158 dB and works equally well in all ranges. The unit is made in Austria, so no need to worry that any workers were put under sweatshop conditions for its manufacture.
This is one of the most versatile microphones out there and you can use it to record almost anything from voice to stringed instruments.
It also has 9 polar patterns, and that means you can place it in any kind of awkward spot and it will still be able to pick up sounds how you want from there.
The mic also has a lock function which means its settings can’t be switched accidentally destroying your recording in the process.
The sound reproduction is really precise and you rarely hear a mic that can capture something that clear.
Everything about the mic is sturdy, and to make it better in recordings it also comes with a shock mount, a pop filter, and a windscreen.
It needs phantom power to work and if you choose a polar pattern before activating it you will lose the pattern set.Click to see the price on Amazon!
Best guitar amps headphones
Due to the good critical response received, the ATH-M50x can be considered the flagship of Audio-Technica headphones, and it definitely doesn’t disappoint. It’s clearly a professional product, so much so in fact that philistines who dare compare it to models directed at casual entertainment get verbal beat downs in comment sections from its many fans.
The above might sound like a trivial thing to mention, but achieving a loyal following of knowledgeable fans is not something that any brand can boast with. Judging by the rave reviews this product received it’s easy to understand why, and the 45 mm aperture drivers it operates with are proprietary to Audio-Technica, so you won’t get them anywhere else. Most headphones struggle with bass given their law diameter aperture, but the ATH-M50x renders sound accurately throughout the range.
They are said to provide good sound isolation, and the padded surfaces on its cups closely follow the contours of the human ear, so you probably won’t get any fatigue through extended use.
Due to how powerful the bass level on these headphones can be, it’s a great pair to listen to bass lines or guitar riffs that are heavier on the bass side.
The headphones offer great stereo imaging and separation, so if you’re looking for that in your composition, placing an instrument on one side and another instrument on the other side, you will certainly hear that in these headphones.
Comparing to other models purposed for the same applications, these headphones offer great value.
They are good headphones for the studio because they are over-the-years, and that means they provide good sound isolation.
For the same reason, they are also great for recording vocals and instruments because they don’t leak any noise that could go into the mic.
The material these headphones are made of is plastic and that means they aren’t as sturdy as you wish.Buy from Amazon.com for ($149)
A more affordable but still high-quality pair from Audio-Technica would be the M20x, which still shares some features with the premium products offered by this manufacturer. The drivers — in this case at 40 mm in size — feature the same rare earth magnets, and the voice coils are made of copper clad aluminum wire to provide for the clearest possible tones.
It has a sensitivity of 96 dB, just two units short of the M50x’s 98, but the maximum input power is less than half of that model’s, at 700 mW. The impedance is somewhat higher at 47 W vs. the M50’s 38 W. Besides the price, another identifiable upside would be the lower weight, of 6.7 oz, a feature that won’t be easy to discard after spending the whole day with the headphones on.
Cups are similar to those on other Audio-Technica models, with the mention that they only swivel to 15 degrees, while the other product we’ve featured allows for an impressive 90 degrees movement range.
When using these headphones for many hours and many days you will feel how comfortable they are and they won’t put too much pressure on your head.
The earpads and the ear cups are also comfortable so you won’t sweat and they will also stay strong.
The headband is highly durable, yet flexible enough to keep your head comfortable.
These headphones offer a more bassy experience and they are thus good for bass lines or for heavier guitar riffs, however, they don’t emphasize the bass too much.
They offer decent sound isolation and that makes them pretty good in the recording studio, but they’re ideal for listening while playing.
Their sound is a clear one and they will enhance your listening experience.
This pair of headphones don’t come with an interchangeable cable, so you will be limited in how you can use them.Buy from Amazon.com for ($49)
Best guitar amp speaker cable
Mogami GOLD SPEAKER-10
A lot of care went to in the construction of this 10-foot Mogami cable, so that it will transmit the sound signal as cleanly as possible, with little in the way of distortion and virtually no background noise.
First, the actual cable and isolation are entirely oxygen-free, which means there will be less interference and will also keep the copper wire from oxidizing. While the cable itself is made of highly conductive copper, the plugs are plated in gold, to ensure superior resilience and transfer.
To provide better isolation, a patented Ultra High-Density spiral shield was used, which also increases transparency and minimizes noise.
It is specifically intended for speaker to amp connections, and it works on ¼” TS speaker jacks. We note that given the high precision involved in its manufacturing, it will be a shame to use this cable with anything else than a top shelf jack adapter if your own set wouldn’t fit its plug.
When using these cables you will see how smooth and silent they are when you jump around with your guitar and it’s almost like you can’t feel them, while the sound of your guitar stays clear.
The neutral balance of this cable means that whatever the output of the guitar, the cable will carry that with maximum efficiency.
It will transmit the signal as clear as possible over a distance of 10 feet.
The entire cable and the isolation are oxygen-free which means the noises and anything similar will be reduced, and it also means the copper wire will not oxidize.
The ends of the cable, the plugs, are covered in gold and that’s what gives them superior conductive power.
Being only 10 feet long this cable could be too small for those looking to roam around a lot while on the stage or when practicing.Buy from Amazon.com for ($59.95)
Planet Waves Custom
This Planet Waves product uses some innovative in+out technology, which translates to a low capacitance for better signal transparency. This is further improved by the use of 24 karate gold for its standard-sized 1.4-inch plugs.
It also has two layers of shielding, to prevent outside interference that might clutter the signal, resulting in unwanted “noise.” Like any professional, top of the range sound cable should, it doesn’t provide any additional background to the signal passing through its copper wire, which is an ultra-fine, stranded piece of the 14 AWG variety.
With 5 meters (16.4 feet) in length, it does allow for some leeway in placing speakers further away from an amp, although in 99% of cases these should be held close together. The length could prove more important for off-label applications of the product, like connecting studio monitors to a computer.
Besides the good, accurate transmission, reviewers of this product also saw fit to mention its heavy construction, which is a deceptively important factor, since an unfortunately placed chair leg can often effectively cut down the sound by thrashing the isolation on the cable.
The plugs are covered in 24 karate gold, making them highly-conductive.
Their conductivity is also enhanced by the “in+out” technology they use, which gives a low capacitance for improved signal transparency.
It’s also one of those cables that produces no noise and that’s due to the two layers of shielding protecting it from outside interference.
The signal passing through it will reach the other side in the same clear form that it was initially created by the instrument.
It’s pretty long, measuring 16.4 feet and that means it will let you express yourself on the stage or during your rehearsals with more style and freedom of movement.
It’s also a cable with a durable construction, so if you step on it or place something on it don’t worry.
Some amps have a problem with accepting this cable and they start hissing if the cable isn’t connected in the perfect position.Buy from Amazon.com for ($14.39)
Best stands for guitar amps
On Stage RS7705
Sizable, easy to set up, resistant, and reliable, this On Stage unit should provide your amp with all the support it needs during concerts and rehearsals. The lower arms are 308 mm long, and the back supports measure 280 mm in height, which makes it usable with all but the largest amps.
It also offers you the possibility of inverting the arms to accommodate taller cabinets, and it can be precisely adjusted thanks to three double clutch disks, two of them acting as a pair. The knobs used to operate the disks are reported to be grippy and easy to turn even with sweaty hands.
It, of course, features rubber cushions, that provide enough grip so that the amplifier doesn’t slip, or more importantly, the unit itself won’t be easy to drag on a well polished wooden stage by accident.
The total weight of the item is 14.9 pounds, which is indicative of its solid, steel construction that is sure to keep it functional for years.
Due to the long lower arms and back support, you could put nearly any kind of guitar amp on this thing and it will stay put, with the exception of the biggest amps.
You can also switch the arms around and this will let you hold cabinets that are taller.
The stand is highly adjustable thanks to its double-clutch disks and this will help you secure any amp in a fixed spot.
Also, the knobs used to move the arms and adjust them have a good grip, so you can always use them.
Any amp will also stand on some rubber cushions that ensure it won’t get scratched, but most important, that it won’t move.
The construction is a solid one and it’s easy to set up, making placing your amp a quick process.
Being so strong it’s also a bit too heavy and big and you’ll have to work a bit to get it on stage.Buy from Amazon.com for ($77.95)
A little lighter than the On-stage but equally sturdy is the Gator GFW, at only 8 lb of weight. This doesn’t mean it won’t be able to offer proper support to the heftiest amplifiers, however, since it is rated to hold as much as 176 lb before showing any signs of stress. At this capacity, most people would be able to use it as a chair without any worries.
The dimensions should fit most combo amps out there, with 19” back and bottom support rails, 13” in total height and between 6 to 8” of total extension for the bottom arms.
One important thing to note, though, is that on open-backed amplifiers the back rails might not have anything to rest on, making it pretty unstable.
This can be easily solved by using something like a piece of plywood for support while taking care to provide for adequate ventilation. Both the rests and the “feet” are rubber, so they should offer sufficient grip.
Weighing only 8 pounds this stand is great for those looking to get their amp in place fast and with no hassle.
Despite being so light it can still hold weights of up to 176 pounds, so it can hold almost anything.
The stand is large enough to accommodate most combo amps and it has support rails on both back and bottom measuring 19 inches, and a height of 13 inches.
The contact points with the amplifier are made of rubber to keep it more stable.
The feet are also covered in rubber to prevent the stand from sliding around.
To make it easier for you to transport it the stand will lock in the closed position.
It can be adjusted and the feet let you adjust their height too.
You won’t be able to place open-back amplifiers on this, as their rails won’t be able to rest on anything, making the whole thing unstable.Buy from Amazon.com for ($43.99)
Before reading our comprehensive buying guide, we recommend 2 cool articles for aspiring musicians:
Yearly Guide & Report
When you’re starting to become serious about playing the guitar, the question of “what amp should I get” is bound to pop up. There’s quite a deal of variety out there, with many brands and models, and constant innovation adding new features to choose between with each passing year. It’s enough to baffle even an intermediate player, let alone a rookie who’s just getting started. To ensure that you get the right amplifier for your needs, you’ll first need to know a bit about how the amp’s specifications translate to real life.
Clean channel and overdrive
Guitar amplifiers commonly have two channels, a clean one (sometimes referred to as a “primary”) and overdrive. The way they are called is indicative of their function, as the clean channel renders clear, crisp and mellow tones, while the overdrive puts out a grainier but much more powerful noise, good for amplifying heavy guitar riffs.
There are few amps that work equally well in both channels, with the majority of them better suited to rendering either the primary or the overdrive. A choice between them falls to what style of music you like to play most since country or soft rock will sound better on a clean channel while most metal genres need a powerful overdrive.
Tube amps vs. solid state
Tube amps use the height of the 1940s electronic technology to give out what is widely considered the best sound quality to date. Since some people tend to be confused by this, it’s important to note that only their sound rendering circuitry is based on vacuum tubes (or lamps) while the equalizers and assorted bits employ transistors like any other piece of modern electronics, with no bearing whatsoever on how the sound will come out.
Tube amps are appreciated for their high fidelity, which allows for the player’s ability and the quality of the guitar to be put to full fruition, and for their equally natural overdrive, which is achieved easier than with most solid state amps. However, besides being more expensive as an initial purchase, tube amps will also prove harder to maintain since lamps have a tendency of blowing up and are themselves quite expensive.
The solid state amp isn’t really new either, but it only came into its own following William Shockley’s world-changing invention, the transistor. Its use for the audio circuitry allows the amp to be more adaptable and easier to tune, but despite innovations in recent years, the overdrive of solid state amps isn’t yet on par with what a tube can offer, and only a few manufacturers can boast of products that come close to sounding as clean as a tube amp.
Their primary advantages lie in low price, superior durability, and convenience, as they are easier to carry around without the constant worry of a vacuum lamp breaking in all the hustle.
Configuration and portability
Besides overall size, how easy the amplifier will be to carry around falls down to the way the speakers are positioned in or around its chassis.
In a cabinet configuration, the speakers are placed outside the main body housing the amplifier, so an additional frame is required to keep them near one another during concerts. The most common configuration is called a half-stack and will have the amplifier on top of the cabinet holding the speakers.
A full stack doubles on the speakers to give extra volume, and what is considered to be the best sound projection and resonance available, since all the units will be acting in concert to put out a veritable wall of sound that hits heavier than the sum of its parts.
The combo amps won’t really allow for this kind of freedom in setting them up because their distribution is one-piece, rather than modular. The speakers and amp occupying the same case gives you a clear advantage, however, in that they would be far easier to move around.
Even when featuring 12-inch speakers, most combos will fit neatly into the trunk of a car, with no need to worry about where to place an additional cabinet. Some newer models are also powerful enough to fill out a small hall, so they’ll allow the budding musician plenty of possibility when choosing a venue.
Speaker size and power output
The size of the speaker determines the range of sound it’s be best suited for. Smaller ones will do a better job at producing high frequencies and will be able to reach higher top ends than big speakers. Large models, with a sizeable woofer, are best at producing low, rumbling noises, but higher pitches will come off faded.
You can choose between them depending on what genre of music you’ll be playing, noting that large units tend to be more expensive and are best suited for bigger venues. A good average size if you’re thinking about playing in a band is around 10”-12”, while practicing in your garage can very well be done with 5” speakers.
The maximum volume a speaker will be able to put out depends on the electrical power fed into it, which is measured in Watts. The correlation is not the same between tube amps and solid state, as the former requires significantly less energy to achieve the same volume due to the natural overdrive.
For practice work or casual jamming, a solid state amp can go as low as 10 W and still let the guitar be heard loud enough, while a tube model will require even less, sometimes even half a Watt.
When playing in a band, the primary guiding factor for determining the volume needed is the presence of a drummer. Drums tend to drown all other instruments in their noise and a solid state amp that gives out less than 70 W might not provide enough power for a well-balanced sound in a rock band.
In the case of country music or blues, you could get away with half of that, but don’t expect to be filling out anything larger than your local bar.
Other characteristics to consider
There are two parts in an amp that receive and process the signal coming from your guitar. The pre-amp picks up the input and boosts it enough so that the second stage, the power amp, will process it and send it to the speaker.
In the case of tube amps, a distinction between these stages can be significant, since they sometimes use different lamps. There are also hybrid models out there that employ both transistors and tubes for either of the stages.
Most modern guitar amplifiers feature a built-in equalizer between the preamp and power amp. In the vast majority of cases, this will only allow you to adjust the volume of sound on three bands, delimited roughly in the same manner as in a common stereo: treble for high frequencies; mids in the middle; and bass for low, rumbling sounds.
The so-called modeling amps can be said to differ from both tubes and solid state ones as they employ modern processing technology to apply preloaded characteristics to the sound. This can alter the output in a variety of ways, from imitating certain classic styles to rendering something entirely new. Needless to say, they are favored by cover bands and electronic music fans, but many guitarists don’t appreciate their “artificial” sound, although they can serve as good practice amps.
Frequently asked questions about guitar amps
Q: What guitar amp should I have?
Among other factors, this depends on the style of music you most often play. For slower genres like country, blues, and soft rock, you should look for an amp that offers good clean channel tunes, while for something loud and fast like heavy metal or hardcore, an amp with a competent overdrive channel will serve you better.
For “heavier” genres you’ll need powerful speakers with a lot of wattage, and often times during gigs an additional set of loudspeakers will be required, so always buy an amp that has an adequate jack to allow for this (fortunately, most good amp brands do nowadays).
There’s also portability to consider. If you’re a one-person country act a small unit that also features a convenient handle should do, while a metal band might be forced to settle for a voluminous cabinet layout to offer the acoustics they need.
Q: How to record a guitar amp?
By using one or multiple appropriate mics, of course, while paying close mind to a few useful tips to ensure the best possible results.
To get an in-your-face sound try to jam the mic as close to the cabinet as possible, just a little off of the cone’s center. This should get you a little extra bass response for a grungy sound.
You can change the angle of the mic head in relation to the cone by tilting it to get slightly different tunes. This is called “off-axis” use and requires trial and error to get just right.
Always use more than one mic, and when possible, double down on the amp as well. This will give you additional options in the mixing phase. You can split the signal to the amp by employing a stereo FX pedal or a DI. The second mic doesn’t necessarily have to be close to the cabinet and can be placed as far as 3 ft away to give you more tonal range.
Q: What are guitar amp heads?
This is the name given to the amplifier, separate from the speakers. It’s the pre-amp and amp in one box, which is usually placed on top of a cabinet or a stack of speakers. This is a common configuration for large venues, and it might be useful to have a separate amp head if you play a lot of festivals or “battle of the bands” events, where the speakers are generally provided by the organizer.
It allows you to use an amp without forcing having to lob a set of speakers around as you would with a combo (the most common construction system right now.) The combo has the speakers and the amp occupying the same cabinet, which gives it a pretty convenient frame for carrying all these items around if using the stage speakers is not an option.
Q: Can guitar amps be used for bass?
The short answer is yes, although it might not give you the best results since the bass noise needs more energy behind it to propagate properly. In other words, the sound will come at a lower volume than what you will experience a guitar.
If you want to do this effectively, you should consider pairing up the amp with a set of powerful speakers, in the 200 W – 300 W ranges, with an appropriately sized woofer. The 12” standard might do the trick at lower volumes but 15” should sound a lot better for the full force of the bass.
You can also play around with the equalizer to minimize treble and mids and have all the energy directed to the bass band to improve results further. It won’t be a good idea to do this for any considerable amount of time, as bass guitars can damage regular speakers at higher volumes, but the head itself should be okay.
Q: Can guitar amps be used as speakers?
Technically yes, but they generally won’t deliver the best results. Most electric models available can only effectively reproduce the guitar’s sound range, which is between 50 Hz and 5000 Hz, so the highs and lows that a high fidelity speaker can reach won’t be accessible.
Even compared with the cheap set of speakers a desktop computer comes with, your run of the mill electric guitar amp will be lacking, so there’s really no reason to risk blowing it up due to current differences in order to try this out.
A lot of modeling amps are paired with high fidelity, full range speakers, which should deliver the same performance as specialized products. If you’re really adamant in connecting the amp to a stereo or computer, these are the models you should look into.
Q: How are guitar amps made?
They usually have two amplifying circuit stages, and additional tone-shaping circuits, like the ubiquitous equalizer which works with up to two bands. Most models allow you to adjust the bass, mid and treble, with more advanced ones featuring two midrange controls and an additional presence control for treble (high) ranges.
The two stages are the pre-amp, which is used to amplify the weak signal coming from the guitar so that it can be further processed and the power amp, which does the effective translating so that it’s picked up by the speakers.
Besides an equalizer, most newer models have built-in circuitry between the two amp stages to offer a wide range of effects, which often times require pedal controls to be implemented during play. Reverb effects, compression, distortion, and chorus, are usually sought after by guitarists, regardless of the style of music they prefer.
What brands make great guitar amps?
Few people aren’t already familiar with the legendary Fender brand, which has been around since the mid-1940s. In 1965, one of their engineers had the bright idea of adding a spring reverb to their flagship tube amp, greatly improving its tune.
This attracted all the well-known rock and roll names to the brand, but also gained a significant level of appreciation from country western and blues performers.
Another company first was the introduction of the guitar-shaped bass, or the precision bass, as it was patented, an instrument without which rock and roll would look a lot different than it does today.
Throughout the decades, Fender kept its level of quality and innovation high, constantly a market leader in guitars and guitar amps. Their products are all-around good performing, but the trademark Fender reverb is still a prime selling point.
In the guitar world, Vox is probably only second in fame to Marshall or Fender, its long-standing rivals. What the two can’t brag about, however, is that their products were the go-to for all the illustrious names of the 1960s British rock scene, starting with the Beatles.
You can say that Vox helped build the specific sound of these bands with their early AC15 and AC30 amplifiers, which were later adopted by US artists looking to get closer stylistically to their UK counterparts.
The British tones Vox did so much to popularize are still well appreciated today, and the company is recognized as producing the best models for recreating it. Their newer AC30CC and AC30C2 models can be viewed as contemporary re-editions of the highly successful amp of the 60s, with some faults ironed out by the use of modern technology.
Following their acquisition by Korg in 1992, the name Vox can also be found on a series of modeling amps.
In one form or another, this Japanese firm has been around since the 1960s and continuously expanded into producing a wide and wider array of music electronics, including a highly eclectic line of guitar amplifiers.
It attracted quite a deal of fame for constant innovation and the good overall reliability of their products, with the JC-120 Jazz Chorus being especially appreciated for its remarkable true chorus capabilities, impeccably clean sound and a wide palette of effects.
The Cube series is widely regarded as one of the best portable battery-powered amps on the market. The Micro-Cube is the most diminutive member of the family and small enough to be carried in a large-ish backpack, which makes it perfect for bedroom jammers and for hopping from bar to bar in search of a gig.
The best Roland products are built in their facilities in Italy and Japan, with Japanese levels of quality control, so they should be tough enough to maintain a good reselling value.
Peavy amps are especially well appreciated by the metal community, thanks to their good overall reliability and the high volume of sound some models produce. The 6505 Series is a favorite of metal guitarists due to its power and versatility. This is most often used as a head for double stacks of speakers, but it can also be purchased as a 2×12” and 1×12” combo for convenience.
The XXX and the Butcher series are usually the second best choice for hard rockers with fewer monetary means, and they can put out a lot of volume and some terrifying high-gain sounds.
But Peavey isn’t a one-trick-pony, as their Classic 30 line can address the needs of blues and slow rock players with its smoother tones and the VIP Series offers digital modeling options thanks to a highly reliable computer chip.
Peavey is an all-around solid brand that manages to constantly keep the quality level of their products up to standard.
The company name might open it to be confused with aircraft and small arms manufacturers by the general public, but any guitarist who’s been around should know exactly what you’re talking about when mentioning Hughes & Kettner.
While a little on the pricey side, their products are seen as particularly powerful and reliable overall. The H&K Trilogy is well appreciated for its versatility, allowed by the high level of German technology and engineering involved in its construction. It has easy MIDI control and three channels, a clean, crutch, and lead, all with boost options that give a lot of freedom to musicians who are into experimenting.
Some don’t find the unique voicing of H&K models to be to their liking, but fans of the firm simply fall in love with it and prefer it over anything else. Their tube models are frequently praised for the good cleans they can provide, as well as a natural sounding reverb.
Since its inception, Line 6 specialized in modeling amps, applying advanced digital technology to the decades-old task of generating guitar sounds. It’s recognized as one of the prime innovators in the field, delivering both affordable and convenient products like the Spider IV series and complex modeling amps like the AMPLiFi.
The last one features a unique stereo system and can offer a full range of sound at the speaker, alongside the remarkably vast array of effects and programmable options that Line 6 products are already famous for.
They are also responsible for one of the top digital floor processors on the market, the POD HD500 X, as well as a well-appreciated series of tube amps, the DT, considered to be among the most flexible of its kind.
Although it’s only been in the business for a little more than a decade, Line 6 is definitely here to stay.
Mesa Boogie usually dabbles in high-quality tube amps which deliver great acoustics for quite a deal of a price. Since its inception in the 1970s, the Californian company proved to be a constant competitor to its Corona-based neighbor, Fender.
While arguably not as famous as the latter, Mesa Boogie took the lead on the metal scene during the 90s with the Triple Rectifier series, appreciated for achieving the desired heavy sound without sacrificing tone and nuance.
Of course, they aren’t ignoring the requirements of country and blues musicians, for which the Lone Star series will offer a deep tonal palette and a good clean sound. A versatile amplifier that can be effectively used for a wide range of styles is the Mark V.
For bedroom and small stage use, the Mini Rectifier should do the trick, since it’s very small and highly portable, with a sufficiently potent clean channel.
Founded by the veteran sound engineer Dave Friedman, Friedman Amplifications can be said to incorporated decades of experience in sound tweaking and tone setting, combined with a lot of care and attention to details during the manufacturing stage.
Rumor is that the company’s owner checks the tone of each amp himself before letting it leave the shop, to ensure that the company’s good name isn’t sullied by a sub-par product. Expectedly, Friedman amps aren’t exactly cheap, but they offer quite a deal of variety for guitarists of more modest means to choose from.
Their compact line, the PT-20 is well appreciated by some rockers for its classic British sound. The BE-100 is a good all-around workhorse that offers quite a deal of range and variety while the JJ-100 can be used to put out some terrifying metal riffs.
Paul Rivera is widely considered to be one of the engineers responsible for Fender’s great successes during the 60s and 70s, and he employed all that talent and expertise in developing his own line of products. Needless to say, you should expect some very competent reverb from the amps bearing this name.
The brand’s a favorite among metal connoisseurs and an eternal competitor to the slightly more famous Mesa Boogie. While the Boogie Triple Rec offers plenty of power for plenty of sounds, Rivera’s flagship Knucklehead uses the electricity running through it more effectively and allows for a good deal more versatility.
The pre-amp on the Knucklehead features five tubes for plenty of gain, which can be further powered to offer what is considered the loudest sound from a 100 W head. It’s equally competent in both clean and overdrive channels, to offer a full range of musical possibilities.
Engl is not particularly famous among US guitarists, and even veterans in the field might be unfamiliar with this hard-to-pronounce name. A good shorthand to give you an idea of what they’re about is to make a mental list of the features most readily associated with German products: good manufacturing quality, reliability, an adequate level of innovation (but only when needed) and higher than average performance.
Engl offers all these characteristics in a full range of amps that cover all functions. Great portability and clean sound that’s perfect for soft rock from the Screamer E330 combo and sophisticated modeling possibilities from the top of the range E670 Special Edition that can store 128 MIDI presets and adapt to any tone you might require.
The E670EL34 is the most appreciated tube model offered by Engl and can be used for a wide variety of styles.
Another somewhat obscure manufacturer, Orange has a surprisingly long history behind it, having experienced its first glory days during the 1960s, when this amp was a favorite with hard rock bands.
The British manufacturer knew its fair share of setbacks throughout the years, but it’s currently undergoing a revival that might assure Orange guitar amps a spot on the map for a new generation of musicians.
Its most appreciated product is the Orange Crush, the latest in a long series that’s has been sung about by the likes of REM. This is a solid state amp, reminiscent of the specific tone which made the company famous decades ago.
The ironically named Terror series features some small, portable and affordable amps, that give out a good clean sound. At the opposite side of the spectrum, the company produces top of the line amp heads, like the OR, TH and TV series which are great for studio work and big-name bands to use on stage.
Together with Marshall and Vox, Hiwatt is considered to be one of the main contributors to what we commonly refer to as the “British sound.” The company’s history is older than the name, with owner Dave Reeves building his first custom unit in 1963. This earned a great deal of praise on the local scene for its reliability and virtually established the company’s character.
Durability, more precisely “roadworthiness,” is a quality that Hiwatt pays close attention to, and their products are recognized as some of the most reliable on the market today. They are hand built in England and soak tested before leaving the factory floor.
The MkIII tube amp series offers a good mix of portability, durability and good sound quality, with the smallest model only weighing in at 6.25 kg but providing plenty of volume for 10 W thanks to the use of a 12AX7 in the preamp and an EL84 for the output stage.