People love to play the guitar, and if by any chance they don’t, they do certainly like listening to it. There is just something captivating about the instrument that draws the crowds in. If you are relatively young, you would be lying if you said you have not envisioned yourself with a guitar strumming along in front of a large audience.
Talking of crowds and audiences though, you can’t really make an impact on an audience like that, unless you use the guitar with one of the best guitar amps, which is exactly what we are going to be talking about today.
1. What Are They?
When you play the guitar all by itself, the problem that arises is that the electrical signals produced by the guitar are too weak for the sound to be dispersed at larger distances. What this basically means in simple terms, is that the music you produce will not be strong or loud enough to be heard by large crowds.
Due to this you will only be able to reach small groups of people at a time, which isn’t something that performing artists usually do, or want.
In order to combat this problem, what they needed was an accessory which could amplify or strengthen the signals produced by your guitar, so that it could be heard by everyone even in large crowds. That is how the amp was born.
2. Stages Of An Amp
The amplifier, or the amp in short is a device which does exactly what has been described above. You can think of it as something which works in stages. In the first stage the amp will pick up the weak signals produced by a guitar, which are then processed and worked upon. The processed signals are then handed over to the second stage where they are further boosted and extracted through speakers.
If you are someone who enjoys the technical side of things, you would be interested to know that the first stage is also called the pre-amp stage. The pre-amp stage does not just add strength to the sounds produced by your guitar, as most people would have you believe.
In fact, it also adds a slight distortion to it, so that the texture of the sound is enhanced. A lot of amps that are commonly available in the market these days come with multiple pre-amp stages to further refine the sound that comes out of it.
Further, there is a tone stage. Here, the frequency content of the signal is altered. This alteration is made on this basis of the controls that you will be setting for this stage.
Finally, there is the output stage, where the processed signal is ramped up even further and made ready to blast out through speakers or whichever output device you have plugged in. Before going to the speaker though, the sound must pass through an output transformer.
Safe to say, that once all of this has been accomplished and successfully completed, the sound reaches the speaker, where it is poured out for all to hear. You need to note though, that depending on the speaker you have, it will most probably add a sonic character of its own.
3. Types Of Guitar Amps
There is not one, but many kinds of guitar amps available, each with their own set of features and specifications. They are mostly defined and classified by the kind of technology that is used in order to produce sound. This technology further has an effect on the way your music will sound.
1. Tube Amps
It would be wise on our part to mention, that we are only including this category in the list for the sake of accuracy. In reality, these amps are no longer relevant or even much in use, due to a number of issues that people have identified with them over the years.
This is why, while you may not see tube amps being much in use anymore, if you are a musician, it can’t hurt to know a little about this piece of technology that has certainly left its mark in the business.
First up, you need to understand what tube amps are. To put it simply, they are large glass cylinders which are vacuumed and progressively turn more orange and hotter the longer they are left in use. They are also heavy, which is why people didnâ€™t like to carry them around so much.
Speaking of, it would be really helpful if you knew some of the basic factors which contributed to these amplifiers being not so popular these days.
First off, tube amps are relatively more expensive than the other variations of this product. This becomes a major contributing factor in why they could not stay in business for long. Also, as already stated, they are quite heavy.
Also, if the tube damages itself in some way or stops working altogether, it is just really difficult to find a replacement tube and you would have to simply buy the entire thing all over again.
Taking into consideration the lack of availability of replacement tubes, it is very surprising to note that the tubes burn out pretty often and quite easily. They are also high maintenance and require constant care or effort.
Now in spite of all these flaws, tube amps are responsible for producing some really loud and responsive tones, which are still heard and enjoyed today.
2. Solid State Amps
Perhaps the greatest feature of solid-state amps is that they come relatively cheaper. They wonâ€™t cost you bundles of money, and are effective enough to be deemed a great purchase. While tube amps obviously rely on vacuum tubes to get the job done, these ones rely on printed circuit boards and transistors.
Now a major highlight of solid-state amps, apart from the fact that they are cheap, is that they offer sound distortion – which is a major sound quality that most performing artists, such as guitarists often look for.
Now contrary to tube amps, solid state amps are pretty lightweight and even reliable in terms of their functionality. They are also inexpensive as said earlier, and can give you really good value for your money. Another major selling point for them is that they offer not one or two, but in fact many different tonal alterations and effects.
If all of this is not enough, you would be pleased to know that they are also great at lasting long, which means that they are sturdy and donâ€™t break down easily. You would not have to get them repaired every now and then, which is certainly a problem with some other kinds of guitar amps, but not this one.
Due to all of the reasons described above, when it comes to practice amps, solid state amps are perhaps the most popular ones amongst all, especially when it comes to electric guitar players.
3. Digital Modelling Amps
You can think of digital modelling amps as an advanced and upgraded version of tube amps. They manage to emulate or mimic the sound created by a tube amp, but also do somehow let go of the physical weight that tube amps come with. They are great in sound quality but also lightweight, which is easily a win-win situation.
Now the reason why they are lightweight, is because instead of an actual physical tube inside which is responsible for producing the sound, digital modelling amps have a computer inside which does this work.
Also, acting as an upgrade from the usual tubes, the computer can actually produce a whole symphony of sounds which can prove to be a major plus point for musicians.
If you are looking for more benefits in these kinds of amps then you are in luck, because digital modelling amps have a lot of them. First up, they are programmable, which means they are highly customizable and will work exactly as per your needs and requirements.
Also, unlike other categories of amps, these ones come with the ability to add built in effects such as delay and chorus. You get to produce everything – from clean rhythm tones to even all out overdrives.
You even get to add effects, which as the industry dictates, are must haves for your music such as reverb, chorus, phase, delay and flange. Finally, some of them have digital or analog outputs with speaker simulation, which can go directly into either a PA system or a recording interface.
4. Hybrid Amps
Now last but certainly not the least are the hybrid amps. It canâ€™t be very hard to guess what hybrid amps are, going by the name. These devices are a combination of your usual tube amps and solid-state amps. As the name implies, they are hybrid in nature and manage to mix the best properties of the kinds of amps that we have discussed so far.
They simply combine the best of the rest and put it all into one package. With a combination of solid state and tube electronics, hybrid amps use a tube to create the initial sound, whereas the solid-state technology is then used to drive and channel the sound to the speakers.
As far as the structure is concerned, they make use of an actual tube, along with the solid-state power section. In other words, hybrid amps use a tube for their preamp section and solid-state circuitry for the power section.
Size does matter when it comes to guitar amps. Basically, it all comes down to the kind of use you are going to have for the amp. Consider the venue where you will be playing most of the time and choose accordingly.
For example, if you are going to just play in your own apartment for personal leisure or a few friends, investing in a 100-watt stack would be pretty much wasteful and an overkill.
You want to think hard about the capacity of the room you are playing in, and how far you want the sound to travel. If you are playing in an apartment or a flat, obviously you need to be mindful of your neighbors and those living around you, which is why you need to get an amp, which does not make as much noise.
On the other hand, if you are someone who plays professionally, and are often playing in concerts or concert halls for large crowds, or are simply a part of a band trying their hardest to make it big, we suggest you go for a bigger amp.
A 10-watt combo is not going to get you anywhere in this situation. Think about your primary application and choose an amp accordingly. For playing live, and especially with rock bands, the least you would need is a 30-watt rig. In the studio however, smaller amps can perform surprisingly well and satisfactorily.
Now there are three major sources of distortion and which definitely need to be looked at. They are the power amp, the pre-amp and the speakers.
While most of us are aware of the speakers and they are looked at extensively before making a decision, a surprisingly smaller number of people actually care to check on the pre-amp stage. And an even fewer number will go through the effort to make sure and check the distortion coming from the power amp stage.
However, this stage is the source for some of the most common and sought-after distortions encountered by musicians and especially guitarists. If you have the luxury of actually physically inspecting the guitar amp before you purchase it, make sure that you take some time to turn the master volume way up and dial down the gain.
If you hear a sound which is lively and crisp and mostly free from any stray tunes or noises, then chances are that you are looking at the right product.
Top 15 Best Guitar Amps 2020
1. Fender Frontman 10G
The Fender Frontman guitar amp is a popular product when it comes to the best guitar amp, and one that is used quite extensively by guitar players and musicians all over the country. It comes with a 10-watt capacity and a 6 inches Fender special design speaker that not just looks good, but also gives amazing sound output with great clarity.
It has a single channel with a varied list of controls such as gain, volume, bass, treble and over drive select switch. Some other notable features include a 1/4″ instrument input, so that you can plug your guitar in with ease and 2-Band EQ.
There is also a 1/8″ Auxiliary Input Jack so that you could play along with a media player or a CD and a 1/8″ Headphone Output Jack, in case you want to practice silently and not disturb others who may not appreciate loud music around them. Finally, you get a closed-back design which facilitates a heavier bass response.
2. Fender Champion 20
Perhaps the best thing about the Fender Champion 20 is that it lets you shape and mold your music with the EQ section, including bass and treble, as well as mix in some really cool effects such as digital reverbs, vibratome, chorus and delay.
With this product, you get to play and sing along with your favorite and self-chosen tracks, simply by plugging your MP3 player or any other music device into the auxiliary or aux input and thatâ€™s it. That is all it takes for you to immediately become a part of the band.
If you are into playing solo, you can simply practice privately, with the 1/8th headphone output jack that mutes the speaker output and diverts the sound to your headset.
If you are feeling bored and wish to experiment, you can always turn that knob around and actually choose from clean tones to whatever kind of music you are in the mood for – from the 17 different amp models that can easily accommodate almost any genre of music.
If you are worried about where you are going to store all these extra cables because you tend to forget where you put your stuff, now you donâ€™t have to be.
You can simply store all the extra cables or any other small accessories within the open back cabinet. It runs on a voltage of 230 volts, and perhaps the most reassuring aspect of the product is that it comes with a warranty that lasts for as long as 5 years. As far as the look of the amp is concerned, you would be pleased to know that it comes with the classic blackface styling ,which adds the inimitable Fender touch.
3. Fender Mustang
With this one too, getting access to different kinds of music is as simple as turning that knob. Once you do that, you get to choose your tunes from as many as 17 different amp models that will be able to accommodate almost any genre of music.
You can select and actually shape the on-board amp models at the same time as when you are playing, or choose to go the long route and actually edit them well in advance on your computer, using the included Fender FUSE software. If you do this, you will be able to further edit and experiment with the included effects such as reverb, delay/echo, phaser, tremolo and so many more.
With this product, you get to play and sing along with your favorite and self-chosen tracks simply by plugging your MP3 player, or any other music device into the auxiliary or aux input and thatâ€™s it. That is all it takes for you to immediately become a part of the band.
If you are into playing solo, you can simply practice privately with the 1/8th headphone output jack that mutes the speaker output and diverts the sound to your headset. Finally, the product comes with a limited warranty and as far as the design is concerned, it has a black textured vinyl covering with silver grille cloth.
4. Blackstar FLY3
The Blackstar Electric Guitar Mini Amplifier is a quality device which works great in order to produce music fit for playing in crowds and halls. It has a crisp tone and perfect clarity to it and does not add any noise to the sound being played. It is used quite commonly by a lot of artists and is actually very popular everywhere in the country.
Also, since Blackstar is a great and dependable brand, people are not hesitant in buying their products and investing money into them. This one actually comes with the digital ‘tape’ delay effect, which is a patented ISF, or Infinite Shape Feature. It also has the MP3/Line In for playing along or listening to the music while you play.
5. Peavey Vypyr VIP 3 Guitar Modeling Amp
The Peavey Vypyr VIP 3 Guitar Modeling Amp is a strong device when it comes to the best guitar amplifier, which caters specifically to guitar players and makes their music much more enhanced and nuanced.
It comes with a capacity of 100 watts and a 12 custom voiced modelling speaker. With the patented TransTube technology, you can be sure that your music is going to sound much cooler and reverb through the entire play area.
The PowerSponge technology gives it 100 watts to 1-watt variable power. It is also quite sturdy, meaning that it wonâ€™t break or crack easily. Finally, there is an acoustically ported semi-closed back, which not just makes it look good but also facilitates the sound well.
6. Fender Acoustasonic 15
Since Fender is a highly dependable and trustworthy brand, it only makes sense to include another one of their products. This one is the Acoustasonic 15, which has a convenient user interface in the form of dual front-panel inputs, which include a standard quarter inch jack for an instrument and an XLR input for a microphone.
That way, you get to sing and play along, and further develop your music skills. You also get as much as 15 watts of volume, which is output through a Fender speaker, which is 6â€ in size.
The speaker features amazing sound quality and great clarity, in addition to being specially designed for enhanced high-frequency responses. Another major highlight of this one which is seldom found in other amps is that it is very lightweight and portable.
While other amps are generally heavier and more difficult to move, making them inconvenient – especially if you are a travelling artist, the Acoustasonic 15 is not like that and has been designed as exceedingly lightweight and highly portable.
You can easily transport it to anywhere you will be performing or playing, making it easier for you and your band. It also very conveniently has a headphone output for silent practice.
If you are someone who plays simply for their own pleasure and does not participate in a band, or often like to practice all by yourself, then this feature has certainly got you covered. Finally, in case you are worried that you might break or damage the amp, you can rest easy as it comes with Fenderâ€™s 5 Year Transferable Warranty.
7. Fender Mustang LT-25
The Fender Mustang LT-25 is a digital guitar amp which gets the job done pretty well for aspiring musicians and artists. It is a great device which does not compromise on sound quality and gives back best quality output under any circumstances. It has a capacity of 25 watts, and has a single 8â€ Fender specially designed guitar speaker. It comes with a wooden cabinet and even a simple user interface.
The interface consists of a 1.8â€ color display, where you can accurately see certain parameters and customization options as well. Above all this, the amp is also quite rustic and tough, which makes it difficult to break or experience damage.
8. Boss KTN-Mini
The BOSS Katana Compact 7-Watt Guitar Amplifier comes with some unique tones and sounds that make it stand out from the crowd when it comes to guitar amps. It has great quality and durability, along with also being portable enough to be transported anywhere with ease.
This portability, however, does not come at the cost of sound quality, as the amp also features some great Katana tones. The sound produced is much fuller and richer than what you would get from sub-standard amps, and thus this one is simply a class apart from the others.
There is also a multi-stage analog gain circuit involved, which is not just authentic, but also gives the amp a certain enhancement that makes the sound produced much louder and clearer.
It also comes with a three-band analog tone stack and is available in three primary categories which are Brown, Crunch and Clean. Finally, there is built-in tape-style delay for a warm ambience for when you are playing in front of small crowds or need a certain kind of atmosphere.
9. Marshall M-MG30GFX-U
The Marshall Amps Guitar Combo Amplifier is a device that works perfectly for musicians and young guitarists. It comes with a custom 10-inch speaker that outputs the finest sound. There is also the option and flexibility to add in modern digital effects, which will further enhance your music and make it more appealing to different crowds.
There is emulated headphone output for when you want to practice silently. This feature works especially well, in case you live at a place where you cannot afford to play loud music and yet canâ€™t miss or compromise on practice. There are manual as well as preset channel modes for you to switch through and a line in for jamming along with tracks.
10. Peavey Solo
The Peavey Solo Guitar Amp checks in all of the boxes that are needed for a perfect guitar amp, with features that make it the best fit for young musicians and guitarists. It is sturdy which makes it very less prone to breakage and also high on quality, since it produces high grade sound as well.
The capacity of the amp is 12 watts and it comes with an 8 Blue Marvel speaker. This speaker is distinguished in the sense that it will produce clear sound and high-grade audio.
There is also TransTube tube emulation circuitry involved, which further enhances the output as well as Clean and Lead channels to alternate between. Finally, it also has 3 band passive EQ which lets you adjust specific frequencies to reach optimum equalization levels.
11. Blackstar FLY3
The Blackstar FLY3 3-Watt Battery Powered Guitar Amp has many features which distinguish it from the usual guitar amps that you will find in the markets. Some of these features are unique only to Blackstar FLY3 and easily make this product one of the best ones to spend your money on, in case you are planning to buy a guitar amp.
It combines two channels along with the very useful tape delay and the innovative yet powerful Infinite Shape feature. With a combination of all of these, this guitar amp is able to give you more customization than you would get with any other product.
Also, the Blackstar Fly 3 is not just great sounding but also a portable and battery-powered guitar combo amplifier. What this means for you, is that you will be able to not just use it for producing great music, but also carry it around.
If you are someone who travels a lot and often need to take your music along with you, be it for personal or professional reasons, then this product is the perfect fit for you.
The portability aspect makes it very easy to transport and since it is battery powered, you never have to worry about carrying around long wires or cords. Evidently, it makes for a great traveling companion for you.
Now another noteworthy feature about the product is that it is very tiny and thus easy to carry around. But what this also means is that you can keep it anywhere and it will most likely fit – no matter how small the space is.
Storage will never get more convenient than this. However, we advise you not to go by the size of it, since even though it is small, it packs a solid punch through its huge tone and that too at low volumes.
As explained before, it comes with the Infinite Shape feature, which makes it possible for you to actually infinitely change the sound of the device, and its onboard tape delay effect gives your music a distinctive resonance. Other notable features include an MP3/line-in jack and an emulated headphone output.
With the headphone output, you actually get to practice in silence without disturbing the rest of the world. In case you live with family or in a crowded complex, this feature is no less than a life saver. If you do buy it, the bundle will include the guitar amp along with KIRLIN 10-Feet Straight to Right Angle Instrument Cable.
12. Ibanez T15II
While it does not come from a famous brand, or one of the best guitar amp brands, it is certainly a product worth your attention and time. It does have some noteworthy features along with the fact that it comes with a warranty, that ensures you will be able to use it for a long time. This one comes with a 15 watts capacity at 6 ohms.
There is a 6.5â€ full range speaker all-ready to blast your tunes and give you the perfect amount of clarity. As far as instrument channels are concerned, you will get Bass, Treble, Volume and Chorus On/Off. There is also a microphone channel for volume and various kinds of inputs such as 1/4″ Instrument Input, XLR Microphone Input and Aux Input.
13. Blackstar HT
While Blackstar is a great brand in itself, the product that we are going to talk about now is certainly worthy of your consideration. The Blackstar HT Venue Series Stage 60 MKII 60W 2×12 Tube Guitar Combo is amazing in the sense that it has been crafted and designed exclusively for passionate young musicians and guitarists.
It comes with features that are hardwired to match the requirements of performers and solo artists, and is certainly one of the best guitar amps ever.
In fact, just as a testimony to the usefulness and popularity of the product, it would be interesting to note that since its launch in 2010, HT Venue has actually become one of the worldâ€™s best-selling valve amp lines. The name itself is as good as synonymous with top of the line tone and flexibility.
However, after more than 3 years of intensive research and development and even huge amounts of market research, Blackstar is all set to introduce the stunning and completely revolutionary next generation of HT Venue valve amplifiers.
The MK II takes this award-winning super successful line of guitar amps to the next level, and actually manages to elevate and facilitate it to the point, where it leads the industry in professional performance. It has also added each and every major enhancement that the market and customers had requested for.
What this has done, is that it has resulted in a massively flexible and most importantly, user acclaimed powerful feature set, since it was after all crafted after their suggestions and feedback were taken into account. In spite of all this, the MK II still remains very intuitive and even susceptible to the musicianâ€™s needs.
When it comes to improving the tonal quality of the device, the Blackstar engineering team in fact started out by benchmarking and analyzing the finest and most successful vintage and new valve amps in the market. Even though some of these models cost five times the actual price of the HT Venue, Blackstar was able to incorporate all of these essential features – even at this reduced price tag.
14. Peavey Backstage II
This one comes with an 8â€ speaker and two switchable channels. There is also 100% copper made 1/4” TS to 1/4” TS instrument cable, black in color. The TransTube preamp comes with volume and overdrive controls, while they have also included a 2-band EQ.
You get an aux input which you can use for practice sessions and a headphone jack with a capacity of 10 watts. In order to facilitate signal clarity, there are 24 AWG 100% copper conductors and nickel plated 1/4″ Straight-to-Same connectors. Also, for superior EMI and RFI rejection, you would get a high density 90% coverage OFC braid shield.
Another noteworthy feature which must be mentioned here is the shielding. While most good brands on the market have about 85% shielding coverage, Peavey Backstage 10w Combo Guitar Amplifier actually comes with something a step further, that is, their cables are shielded with a tight copper mesh, covering as much as 90% of the cable. That is easily an industry level best performance when it comes to this aspect.
Also, the high percentage of coverage actually increases the ability of the amp to absorb the Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) and Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) that suppresses signal, and in fact degrades the performance of the equipment.
Rockville Cableâ€™s copper shielding provides great flexibility, maintaining a durable structural integrity, while at the same time decreasing the signalâ€™s interference, ensuring enhanced signal clarity with each and every use.
15. Blackstar Kentucky Special
The Blackstar HT Club 40 MkII Kentucky Special Guitar Amp comes with features that enable it to capture all of the essential tones and sounds from the Deep South. Being one of the best guitar amps 2019 and powered by a pair of 6L6 valves, this amp is built to last and deliver powerful performances.
You would never be disappointed by the power output of the device, since it has been designed to output the maximum. Also, the 1×12″ Eminence Screamin’ Eagle loudspeaker is carefully crafted to perfectly capture and enhance your powerful solos and maintain your tight rhythm.
Best Guitar Amplifiers – What’s Your Pick?
Buying a guitar amp does not have to be a daunting task. All it takes is a little bit of market research and knowing what you want. Once you have both of these things going for you, you would be able to make the perfect purchase in virtually no time. However, if you are still facing problems, you can always come back to this guide and check out our recommendations and tips for acing this transaction.
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