There are many guitar amps to choose from these days, you can buy something old school and used for an original sound, or you can take advantage of all the great modern tech amps have to offer.
In this article we will look at different guitar amps in various price ranges that will suit your budget and playing needs.
A Little Guitar Amp Background
Before the invention of electricity we had to rely on the acoustic body, the strings, and the plucking technique to insure maximum volume for instruments.
As technology grew we created public speakers and ways to amplify the sound waves.
While initially these were DC, heavy, cumbersome, and even deadly, eventually by WWII the tech was more portable, and slightly safer!
Before the amplifier the guitar had a hard time competing with jazz and big band instruments unless it had an archtop.
A pickup and amplifier would allow those sounds to be made louder and then spread across a speaker system. Music like the jump blues and R&B were also big on a distorted and overdriven sound so they would turn the vacuum tubes up as high as possible.
This gave these early blues songs a rich and warm tone from these valve amplifiers.
But the tubes were not always reliable and would overheat and soon transistor and digital technology would overtake the analog world of vacuum tubes.
Solid state technology was easier and lighter, but some guitarists felt it lacked the vibe of proper tubes.
In modern times most companies use a mix of specific tubes and analog modeling which is just digital replication of these older sounds.
While some people have strong feelings on analog or digital, there really is no right or wrong answer.
If you want a classic guitar sound with the real use of tubes then you will want tubes and valves.
However if you are looking more for effects, portability, and lots of power for a lower budget, solid state amps may be the way to go.
There is no best amp, just the guitar amp that suits you and your budget.
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The Best Guitar Amp for $1000 or More
This Marshall amp is perfect for players who may not want the extreme sound of the traditional Marshall stack.
This amp is a 40-watt tube combo that will give you a classic Marshall overdrive, but with a more British tone. It also can model different cabs and sound qualities from clean to crunch.
This amp is great for practice or playing on stage.
This Peavey is modeled off the original 90’s amp that was so popular and is a 120-watt tube head.
If you want a lot of incredible distortion and high gain Peavey has you covered. It has 5 12AX7 tubes that give it the tone-shaping power it is known for in heavy metal and rock.
Fender 65 Princeton Reverb
This is a reissue of the legendary Fender amp and perfectly models the rich tube tone that Fender is known for.
It is only a 1 X 10-inch 12-watt tube combo amp, but it packs an awful lot of power in there.
It also comes with the classic Fender vibrato and reverb effects that are straightforward and easy to use.
For a compact yet great sounding amp this Fender is perfect for many players.
Fender 64 Custom Deluxe Reverb
If you have three times the budget you may want this Fender reissue as it sounds incredible.
It is only 20 watts but it is filled with tubes in every part of the build, the preamp, output, rectifier, and even the reverb and tremolo are tube driven.
If you have a massive budget this Fender will give you some of the best tones ever!
The Vox amps are staples for guitarists that are looking for that classic British tone.
This model has 2 X 12-inch speakers and is a tube combo.
Of course it can be used for more than just clean British rock vibes and can route the signal to different external speakers or another cab.
For the players that aren’t fans of the Marshall or Fender, perhaps Vox is more your style.
Orange Rocker 32
This amp has 30 watts of tube combo power with 2 X 10-inch speakers which allows for incredible distortion and gain if needed.
It has 10 tubes throughout the preamp and power amp sections and provides that warm all valve sound many guitarists seek out.
It also pairs perfectly with pedalboards and effects.
Soldano is known for some of the best high gain amplifiers out there!
This SLO-30 is simply a 30-watt tube head with a metal grill, it will still need a cab to be connected to.
Not only is the amp run with tubes, but the effects also use valve buffering and there are many ways to dial in just the right sound.
If you have the budget and want that classic high gain Soldano sound, this tube head may be a great entry point.
The Best Guitar Amps in the $700-1000 Price Range
Fender Blues Junior IV
This older looking Fender copies the well-known blues overdriven amps of the early electric guitar styles.
It has 15 watts of power backed by three 12AX7 tubes and two El84’s.
It has a few controls for EQ and reverb but otherwise it keeps it simple with that classic Fender blues tube tone.
This amp is only a tube head so you will still need to buy a cab or speakers to go with it, but it is one of the closest ways to emulate the sound of Jimi Hendrix.
PRS literally used his old 1960’s amps to create the best emulations.
Add some proper fuzz and vibra chorus to this amp and you will be able to get a similar tone as Jimi did!
Orange Rocker 15
This tube combo amp has a 1 X 10-inch speaker and 15 watts of power thanks to its 5 different tubes in both the preamp and power amp.
Orange is known for its heavy and rocking sound and this amp may be small but it is powerful enough for practice and stage.
Not only is this amp perfect for heavy metal, hard rock, and other high gain genres, its color and name are well respected in the guitar world.
Line 6 PowerCab 112
Line 6 has many amps to fit a lot of budgets, this one happens to have many features.
It has a 12-inch speaker with a 1-inch-high frequency compression driver.
It is solid state technology and uses digital modeling to replicate the effects of many other amps.
This model is not only great for practice but is easy to move around when performing.
If you want that classic Marshall tube tone this amp head is a great way to start the stack.
It uses 3 ECC83 preamp tubes and El34 power tubes as opposed to the 12AX7 seen in many other models.
If you have the budget and want this classic tone of many bands, this is the best amp head to get your started.
This is another digital modeling amp, so it has no tubes, but it does a great job of emulating many other amps and styles.
It has 120 watts and isn’t just for guitars, other instruments can be plugged in along with microphones.
It also provides backing tracks, lessons, jams, and more.
If you want more sound sculpting and song making possibilities this is a great amp to pick.
The Best Guitar Amps Between $300-700
Boss Katana 100 MkII
This Katana model is solid state, but it has 100 watts of power behind it!
These models are quite popular as they are versatile in sound and reasonable in budget.
Because it is solid state and digital based it also comes with 60 different Boss effects built into the amp.
It may not have any fancy tubes but the modern tech it uses makes it so it is not that noticeable, solid state technology is so advanced it’s hard to tell the difference anymore!
This is a smaller amp with a 1-watt 1X8 inch speaker, and it is a combo tube amp.
It may only have one 12AX7 preamp tube but it is enough to give it the right amount of gain and overdrive.
It also has reverb, but it is digital, however this provides a variety of sound options for a lower budget and it is still quite powerful.
Supro Delta King
This is another amp that emulates the 1960’s British tone and look.
It is a 15-watt tube combo amp with a 1 X 12-inch speaker.
Besides using a tube for that valve warmth it also has an analog spring reverb.
If you aren’t sold on the regular models of Fender, Marshall, or Orange, perhaps this brand will give you a more unique tone and for a reasonable budget.
This is modeled after the classic JC-120 chorus however it is better priced and a lot lighter!
One reason it is a lower price is that it uses solid state technology, but it still has that famous chorus effect of the original Roland.
And the 2 X 10-inch speakers still provide powerful and clean tones. Just like the Roland JC-120 this amp is also great for other instruments besides guitars.
Yamaha THR10 II
This is a great digital amp that models tube effects, is wireless, and can run off batteries!
Some players want authentic tones from amps while others are looking for modern tech, many effects, and great sound.
If you want more features in your amp this may be more suitable.
This is another classic tube combo amp that uses both 12AX7 and EL84 tubes in their build.
It has a custom 10-inch speaker and 10 watts of power, some of the custom models have more effects, but mostly they are simple Vox amps that sound incredible for the price.
The Best Guitar Amps Under $300
Orange Crush 35RT
Not all Orange amps are super expensive, here we have a 35-watt solid state for just under $300.
Of course it doesn’t have any tubes for that rich warmth, but it still packs a punch like other models of the brand.
It also has 3 band EQ and digital reverb, it’s a great little practice amp for first time guitarists who like the Orange brand.
This simple 25-watt solid state guitar combo amp comes with 30 common guitar tones, 25 effects, and 50 presets.
It may not be powerful enough for shows and playing in public, but it is a perfect and budget friendly amp for a beginner guitarist looking for something to practice on.
Soldano SLO Mini 30 Watt
If you really want to get that Soldano sound but have a lower budget you can get this mini 30-watt amp head for under $300.
Of course it is solid state but it is packed with great features and is simply a portable version of the larger amps.
If you have decent speakers to plug this into it is a great way to get the Soldano sound.
Positive Grid Spark
This is a simple and portable digital modeling amp that goes with the various apps from Bias and Positive Grid.
It may only be 40 watts but this connectivity to a phone or tablet gives you 10,000’s of effects and sound sculpting capabilities. It works great for beginners as the apps include lessons.
This Fender is a popular model for beginners with its 8-inch speaker and 20 watts of solid-state power.
And even though it is a small amp combo it comes with effects like delay, chorus, tremolo, and more.
It’s very budget friendly for a guitar player that needs a simple practice amp.
This is a tiny little modeling amp that has a 6.5-inch speaker and 10 watts of power, nothing special, but it can work great for practice.
It doesn’t allow too much shaping of tone but it provides a simple Vox vibe for a very low cost.
How to Pick the Best Guitar Amp For Your Needs
Speaker size does matter as per the high and low frequencies.
However there are also other factors that can cause changes so speaker size is not always the best way to judge an amp.
If you do not plan on investing in pedals, stomp boxes, or other effects make sure your amp has a variety programmed in it to choose from.
Solid state and digital modeling amps will usually have the most effects to pick.
Amp wattage is important but also can vary, as you have seen tube combos have lower watts, but sound way more powerful.
Like the speaker sizes there are different factors to take into effect.
Digital may not be as sought after as analog but in the end digital will always give you more options.
If you go the route of just an amp head you will need to get some form of speaker cabinet.
The best is usually the models built for the amp heads, but people do experiment.
Just remember electricity and loud noises can be dangerous.
As far as noise goes make sure to wear ear protection and not to buy an amp that will cause you trouble.
A powerful amp head and stack mean nothing if they can’t be played loudly, get a realistic amp for your living and performing situation.
There are numerous guitar amps out there that fit many budgets, if you have one in mind, go for it.
If you happen to want to play a specific genre of an artist you like, then look at what they play for inspiration.
Otherwise decide whether you need tube, solid state, or modeling technology and get the amp that works for you! For the most part modern guitar amps are quite versatile so they can all provide a variety of tones!
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