- by Kevin Deal
Guitar amplifiers determine the tone of your guitar. There are a lot of choices out there that come in different shapes and sizes. Many of them may sound buzzy, but there are those that stand out. So, we decided to research what people prefer and what they want to buy. We also looked at those guitar amplifiers that receiv ed high rating in their reviews and we compiled a list of 5 greatest amps you need to check out in 2017. Read on to find the best guitar amp that will give you value for your money.
Things to Look for When Buying a Guitar Amp
Now that you have identified a guitar of your choice, we need to know what to look for when buying an amp to go with it. Here are some tips to steer you through the process.
The type of amplifiers
As indicated above, there are four types of guitar amps: tube, solid state (analog), modelling, and hybrids. Before making your purchase, determine which type will work best for your needs.
Tube Vs. Solid State Amps
Tube amps are the most sought amplifiers. They have a smooth tone and a high vocal range. But they are a bit pricey and high maintenance. They are good if you are looking for a soft and personal sound. On the other hand, solid state amps are affordable and consistent but not comparable to that of the tube amps. They are preferred by guitarists who want clean, overdriven and clear tones.
Head Vs. Combo
Combo amplifiers come with speakers built into the unit which portrays its simplicity. You can choose your speakers and have control over the tone you want. Amp heads, on the other hand, have no speakers built into them. Therefore they are more portable than Combo amps.
When buying your guitar amplifier, you need one that can fill the area you are playing in. The more powerful an amp is, the more area it will cover. However, too much power produced by an amp may not sound good at lower volumes, so you can either get a smaller amp or use a guitar amp attenuator to handle the sound at lower levels.
Power and size of the speakers
The power and size of the speakers you choose for your guitar amp will depend on the price and the purpose it is meant to fulfill. For smaller venues, consider using tube and digital combo amps with a power of about 50 watts and 12-inch speakers for maximum sound. For larger events, go for amps with a power of about 100 watts and more than 12-inch speakers. This way, the sound is distributed well.
The different types of amps have different voicing abilities. To find out the best amp that matches your guitar, you’ll have to evaluate different guitarist that uses the same amps or something close to them.
Portability is an important factor when purchasing an amp. Not all of us are lucky to have a team that can carry our amps and speakers throughout. You should look for a smaller and more portable amp to fit the area you play in. Most of the manufacturers have a large variety of amp lineups that fits everything from small to big.
Reviews Of Our Best Guitar Amp
1. Marshall DSL Series DSL40C 40 Watt Valve 2 Channel
For 50 years now, Marshall DSL series has earned a top spot as the best amp for most guitarist. It features a 40-watt real panel pentode/triode switch, switchable channels, a real panel FX loop, a foot switch digital reverb, two modes per channel, and a 5-way shared EQ that includes Treble, Bass, Middle, Presence and Resonance. It is also loaded with a 40 watt 12” Celestine Seventy 80 speaker.
The DSL Series DSL40C type is known for its versatility, capability, its value for money and its simplicity.
- Ultra loud
- High-quality tone
- Very loud if you tune above the normal level
2. Peavey 6505+
The Peavey 6505+ is considered a number one metallic guitar sound that comes in an affordable 60 watts combo. It features six 12AX7 preamp tubes, 3-band EQ on every channel, a separate presence and resonance controls, Accutronics 3-spring reverb, external speaker outputs and foot switchable lead/rhythm channels.
It is well known for its overdrive channel that has upgraded from rock to metal lic genre. The tone shaping features in this amp allow the guitarist to replicate the tone using the pre gain and post gain controls.
- The amp is reliable
- The Peavey's sound is diverse
- This amp features in incredible amount of gain
- Most footswitches don't work
3. Fender Mustang IV (V.2) 150-Watt 2x12
Perhaps the world best selling amp, Fender Mustang IV is a 150 watts combo that comes with a variety of improved features including five new effects, XLR stereo outputs, five new amp models, intelligent pitch shift, a Fender FUSE software and USB connectivity for high-quality sound. These features show high level of creativity that brings out a powerful sound.
The major effects include tremolo, reverb, phaser and delay/echo. It also contains two stereo XLR outputs (auxiliary input and headphone output) and expression pedal capabilities. The Fender FUSE community is made up of preset trading, chat forums, and other content from Fender.
- It has a headphone jack
- This Fender is affordable
- Has lacklustre software and programming
4. Fender Hot Rod Deluxe III 40-Watt 1x12-Inch
Hot Rod Deluxe comes with a 40 watt of Fender tone and a 12” combo. It features 6L6 tubes, a 12Ax7 tube preamp, an effects loop, Fender spring reverb and more. It also contains upgradable features such as a new badge, graduated volume, easier to use control panel, streamlined footswitch, front-reading text and a Celestion G12P-80 speaker. They offer great rock tones and they are portable.
Hot Rod series amps are the most popular tube amps used by guitarists from all over the world. In fact, they are said to be the perfect tone maker for any guitarist who wants to make a signature sound . For additional performance and durability, the Fender amp spots a black vinyl covering a black grille cloth. Once you purchase the Hot Rod Deluxe amp, it comes with an amp cover and a three-function footswitch.
- Small and light weight
- It is reliable
- Perfect match with stomp boxes
- It is quite pricey
5. Orange Crush Pro CR120C with Bundle
The Orange Crush Pro CR120C is a solid-state combo that comes with 120 watts 12”, 60 Watt, 8 Ohm speakers. These speakers are considered to be the Voice of the World speakers with the highest quality sound. Combine this with an analog solid-state circulatory; you get the best tone clarity and an adorable sound that fits your need.
Some of the main features include two-channel digital reverb that includes a clean and dirty channel, high output power of 120 watts, unboxed dimensions (H (in) 20.08 x W (in) 25.98 x D (in), and a 20” instrument cable upon purchasing the amp. Also, you will receive an Orange cover, an FS-2 footswitch, and two high-quality ca bles once you buy the amp.
The dirty channel features a four staged circuit and a three band EQ which offers a wide variety of overdriven sounds. The amplifiers have a transparent loop that allows the user to plug in their favorite pedals to open up to a wide variety of playing styles. The digital reverb provides the user with a good sounding spring during performance.
- It is lightweight
- Cool design
- High-quality sound
- The Orange's tone doesn't have range
How to Choose A Guitar Amp?
How do you choose the best guitar amp for your needs?
- The kind of music you play: Most guitar amps have two channels: clean and overdrive. The kind of amp that works best for you depends on the kind of music you play. If you are into soft rock, blues, or country music, you can go for amps that produce a clean sound with a soft overdrive. For metallic rock or extreme music, you need an amp with a high overdrive.
- Your budget: How much do you want to spend on an amplifier? There are so many decent amps that cost under $100, but others are a bit price and often, they come with premium features. A good amp is a good investment that will last for long. Therefore, it is good to go for the best amp, and to realize that cost is not the ultimate purchase driver, it’s just one of the consideration factors.
- How much power do you need? The amount of power you need in an amp depends on what you want to do with it. Guitars have a range of between 5 watts to as high as 80 watts or even more. If you want to play in your basement or bedroom, you can go for a low-wattage amp. But if you want to perform in a stadium, or perhaps you want to annoy the neighbors, a high-wattage amp might be the best choice.
There are four types of amplifiers and each one of them can handle sounds differently. The main types include:
- Solid state amps: They use solid state (analog) technology to increase their decibel level. They are very reliable since they require no digital technology.
- Tube amps: They use old-fashioned vacuum tube technology to increase their decibel level. They produce louder sounds than solid state amps.
- Hybrid amps: They combine both analog technology and old-fashioned vacuum tube technology to produce sound. Most of the hybrid amps use a tube and a solid state circuit to create a tube tone without using power tubes.
- Modeling amps: Being the latest type, they use digital technology which means they are programmable. You can mimic a sound or add external effects depending on what you want.
Benefits of A Guitar Amp
Amps have a common role, to amplify sound. They also have several benefits as described below.
- Simplicity: Amplifiers have fewer components and features with a simple design that is preferred by many people. With few components, there is a little chance of failing, making them more reliable than alternatives.
- Linearity: Amplifiers are made with a straightforward technology that requires less negative feedback to correct them. Hence, they produce better audio quality than other types of amplifiers.
- Ability to withstand high voltage: Amps are able to withstand high voltages. As a result, a guitar with a good amp can handle high peak flows and convert high voltage into pleasing sounds.
- Modern technology components: Most amplifiers contain modern features such as electrolytic capacitors that improve the performance and supply ability of the guitar.
- Expressive nature that yields good sound: The expressive nature of the amps is preferred by most vocalists and musicians. They have a subtle distortion that creates warm and expressive sounds. This is one of the attract features of guitar amps.
So, how do you make the perfect choice of one from the amps mentioned above? Well, each amplifier has unique features, but it's up to you to decide which one is the best.
The Peavey is a good candidate thanks to its versatility and solid-state distortion. The Fender has really upgraded when it comes to a unique digital modeling amp and its sound is excellent. The Orange have not been left behind with its groovy design and high amplification features. The Marshall is perhaps the least complex amplifier and the best you will find. It is perfect for any guitarist who wants to plug in and play. There are quite a lot of positive reviews here compared to the rest of the amps. You are treated to a legendary Marshall tone with this amp.
In a nutshell, we have provided you with what we know, and the rest is up to you. Do your research, read all the available reviews and take your stand. Whichever you choose, you can’t go wrong with this guide.
All the best in finding the best guitar amp that fits your needs.