An amplifier is an essential part of many musicians’ equipment arsenal. If you play an electric instrument that can’t be played acoustically, for example an electric bass or guitar, or even a keyboard, you will need to have an amplifier that you can plug your instrument in to. You will also need an amplifier for microphones when you’re singing too. Choosing the best guitar amplifier is important as you will need to be heard above the sound of the percussion or you may need to amplify the sound of an acoustic instrument. Amplifiers also come with plenty of sound effects and other features to further enhance your performance.
These guitar amplifier reviews feature some top guitar amps are sure to give you some good ideas of what is out there. Amongst our selection, you can find a good guitar amp for home use or even find examples of some great high-end guitar amps for improving your performance.
Fender Champion 100 Guitar Amplifier
Let’s face it – drummers are loud. Not just when they’re out having a drink with their friends, but especially when they’re sitting behind the rest of your band playing the drum kit. If you want to ensure that you can be heard over the noise of your drummer, you need a high power amplifier. The Fender Champion 100 amplifier offers a 100-watt output, along with 2 12” Fender quality speakers. You’ll never have to worry about being too quiet again thanks to this amplifier.
This amplifier comes with an auxiliary input port. You will be able to plug your phone or MP3 player directly into the amplifier so that you can play along or sing along to any backing tracks or pre-recorded music that you want to use. A 1/8-headphone jack is also integrated in the design of this amplifier so that you could mute the speaker output and listen to your music in quiet. This allows you to practice in peace.
This amplifier has a 100-watt output and you can choose between clean or mean sounds. A footswitch can be used if you wish so that you can change between the 2 channels seamlessly whilst you are performing.
This amplifier features plenty of great voicing styles for you to choose from. If you’d like a classic amp sound, then you can choose the standard voicing, but you can also add special effects such as modern amp voicing, digital reverb, chorus, delay and even vibration.
To give you complete peace of mind when you purchase this amplifier, it will come with Fender’s 5-year warranty. This warranty is transferable too, so if your band isn’t working, or if you want to upgrade your equipment at a later stage, you will be able to sell this amplifier along with the remainder of the warranty.
Fender Mustang II V2 40-Watt Guitar Amp
If you want to find the best amplifier for guitars, then you should consider the Fender Mustang II V2 40-Watt amplifier. This allows you to change the tones of the amplifier with ease. A simple knob controller allows you to select the tone that you require from the 17 amp tones that are available. This allows you to play any kind of genre of music and adjust the amplifier to accommodate this.
For editing the sounds on the amplifier, this model comes with Fender’s FUSE software. This allows you to make changes to the effects that are included with the amplifier when you buy it. You can change the settings for reverb, delay, echo, tremolo and many others. This gives you complete control over your sound.
This amplifier comes with an integrated auxiliary in port. This allows you to quickly connect your MP3 player. If you have a backing track to practice with or some music that you wish to sing along to for example, you’ll be able to plug that into the amp and play it through the speaker. This gives you more control and allows you to mix the sound of the pre-recorded track with the music that you’re playing. This is suitable for both practicing and performance. In addition, a headphone jack is included and this allows you to practice your music without disturbing others around you. This can be ideal if there are children in your household and you want to practice after they have gone to bed or if you live in a complex where you may otherwise disturb your neighbors.
When you’re creating your latest masterpiece, it is a good idea to record your music. This is a great amp for recording your compositions as well as being the best guitar practice amp as you will be able to record your music so that you can play it back. The amplifier comes with the Ableton Live Lite 8 Fender Edition recording software that provides you with studio quality editing abilities. You can also use it on a Windows or Mac computer.
Marshall MG30CFX MG Series Amplifier for Guitar
When you need the best sounding guitar amp, you should check out this Marshall MG30CFX MG Series amplifier. It has a single 10-inch speaker that provides you with great sound output. Not only can your experience Marshall’s high quality tonal circuitry, but it also combines some great digital effects.
4 different channels give you great flexibility with this amplifier. You can choose from Clean, crunch and overdrive. You can also choose from great effects including reverb, chorus and phaser. The delay option offers you a tap-tempo feature and it also comes with a fixed octave option.
The range of sounds offered by this amplifier allows you to customize the sound that it outputs so that you can elect the sound effect that is best for your music whilst the memory module allows you to operate it using a foot switch for hands-free functionality.
The 3-band equalizer allows you to have full control of the volume output. You could use the presets that come with it or you could create your own. There is onboard memory so that you can save your own presets if you wish. This will save you time when you are at a gig and need to switch your settings with ease.
If you want to connect your phone to the amplifier you can do so with ease. The line in port allows you to connect any device that has your music loaded on it. You could plug in your phone or your MP3 player for example. You can also connect this amplifier to a computer or other recording device so that you can record your performances or record music for editing.
All these great features make the Marshall MG30CFX MG Series amplifier a great choice for your band or for personal use.
Line 6 Spider IV Amp for Guitar
When you want to produce the best rock star sound, you should look to the Line 6 Spider IV amplifier, as it is possibly the best guitar amplifier around. This is one of the top rated guitar amps and you can enjoy great performance and durability when you purchase it.
This amplifier features a 12-inch custom speaker that has a ¾ closed back. This ensures that the speaker can offer you the best possible sound. 30-watt power delivers high quality sound and great performance so that you can ensure that you will be heard.
You can choose from 12 different tones from clean to blues and metal and there are also vintage classic tones too. In addition, there are 4 memory slots so that you can save your own customized tones. The tones can be selected with ease thanks to a simple dial.
There are 7 separate smart effects that you can choose from. These include the stomp box sound, chorus, tremolo, delay and even echoes. You can set up to 3 different effects at the same time too so that you can create the perfect sound.
If you’re looking for an amplifier that comes with an EQ function, this amplifier can provide you with that. You can control the Bass, mid and treble volume levels using three independent knobs. There is also a drive knob, volume for channels as well as a master volume.
As well as all the sound features that come with this great amplifier unit, it also has some integrated ports so that you can enjoy maximum functionality. There is a quarter inch port for sound input and a quarter inch port for your headphones too. You can also make use of the eighth inch CD/MP3 player input port too. There is an integrated chromatic tuner and foot controller jack so that whatever you want to do with this amplifier, you’ll be able to do it.
Fender Frontman 10G Guitar Amp
For one of the most popular guitar amps for practicing, you can’t go wrong with the Fender Frontman 10G Electric Guitar Amplifier. This is a low cost and affordable amp that will fit into many people’s price range. With a recent reduction in the retail price of this amplifier, you’re sure to be able to grab a bargain. Whilst this is a simplistic amplifier in comparison to some of the others on the market, if you can do without all the special effects and tone choices, this amp will be a great match for you.
You can be sure that you’ll be getting the best possible quality when you choose this Fender amplifier. As with all Fender equipment, you can be sure of only the highest possible quality when you choose this amplifier. It produces the exceptional tonal quality that you’d expect from a Fender amp. The great tone is produced by the custom-voiced in-built overdrive. The design of this amp features the classic blackface that Fender is so well known for. This amp produces a better bass response thanks to the fully closed back.
If you wish to practice in private, you will be able to plug a set of headphones into this amplifier unit. There is an integrated 1/8” headphone port to enable you to do this. You can also plug most MP3 players or other music players into this amplifier thanks to the 1/8” output port.
This is a solid-state amplifier that is lightweight and compact, making it perfect for traveling. As it is solid state, you can be sure that you won’t need to have any regular maintenance work carried out on it in order to keep it in good condition. It also comes with controls so that you can easily alter the gain, overdrive, volume and the treble and bass levels.
Blackstar FLY3 Guitar Amplifier
Whether you want a basic guitar for busking or something small and compact that you can use for your electric guitar practice, the Blackstar FLY3 amplifier may be just what you’re looking for. This is a low-output 3-watt amp that offers you a basic and affordable solution. When you don’t need the kind of volume that you’d need if you were performing in a larger venue, this is a great alternative that will save you money in comparison to larger amps.
Blackstar’s patented ISF or Infinite shape feature is integrated into the design of this amplifier to ensure that even when you use this amp at the quietest of volumes, you’ll still get great tone and clarity. You will be able to alter the sound of the amp too so that you can completely customize the sound that comes from it. Tape delay effects are included so that you can add some great sound effects if you wish. This allows the sound from the amp to resonate as it comes from the speaker.
You can play along to your favorite backing tracks or music when you choose this amplifier as it comes with an integrated line in port. You can play music directly through the speaker using any music device including your mobile phone, MP3 player or a laptop computer. An output jack is also integrated into the body of this amplifier so that you can plug in a set of headphones.
This amplifier is perfect if you need complete portability. When you don’t want the added expense of purchasing a generator just to power your amplifier, you can simply switch to using batteries in this amp. If you want continuous performance without wasting batteries however, you can also plug this amplifier into a DC socket if you can position yourself near one.
What Is a Guitar Amplifier?
A guitar amplifier is a device that comprises of a speaker that is built into a wooden box that is connected to electronic circuit boards and controllers. Various ports allow you to plug a guitar into the amp, and the weak resonating signals from a guitar can be amplified and played through the speaker. Amplifiers are suitable for electric guitars, bass guitars and even acoustic guitars that have the modification to include a line out port.
The guitar amplifier is sometimes a standalone unit, but it can also be a combo style amplifier cabinet that comes with more than one speaker and multiple controls.
You can purchase various different sizes of guitar amplifiers, ranging from small, low-output amps that are designed to be portable to the more impressive and heavier concert amplifiers.
Various controls are included with most guitar amplifiers so that you cannot only alter the volume, but you can also add special effects to your sounds. You can often change the tone, the reverb, echo and distortion of the guitar amplifier amongst other settings.
Some amplifiers, especially new guitar amps also have the option for you to plug other devices into them such as multi effects pedals, headphones and auxiliary cables for music players such as mobile phones and MP3 players.
Guide to Choosing the Best Guitar Amplifier for Your Style of Music
- Know the Difference: Head vs. ComboThere are two main types of guitar amplifier. Let’s take a look at the difference between head and combo amplifier units so that you can choose the best guitar amp for the money you have to spend.Head – The first kind of amplifier that we’ll take a look at is a head and speaker cabinet configuration. This comprises of two different wooden boxes that house the amplifier chassis and the speaker. Often, professionals and other performers prefer this kind of amplifier style because it means that the amplifier is easier to transport. By having a split amplifier, you will be able to carry it in two parts. Another benefit is that you can mix and match this kind of amplifier. If you want a more complex head, or if you want a more powerful speaker, you only need to change half of your amplifier rather than going and purchasing an entirely new unit.Combo – A combo, or ‘combination’ amplifier is one that has the head and the speaker integrated into one amplifier cabinet. Although this does mean that they are a little larger and bulkier than head and cab units, it can be preferable to choose this type if you want a single unit so that you only have one item to take up a flight of stairs or into an elevator for example. You can also find that combo amplifiers are cheaper than head and cab amplifiers.
- Which to Choose: Solid State vs. Tube vs. Modeling vs. Hybrid
- Solid State – A solid-state amp is one that does not have any valves. Instead, these types of amplifiers use a number of transistors in order to produce audio. Because the units that are used in solid-state amps don’t need replacement in the same way that valve units do, these are more reliable and “solid” state machines. One of the most noticeable things about solid-state amplifiers is that they create a snappy type of distortion when you turn the volume up too loudly. Valve amps on the other hand produce more of an even and warmer distortion.
- Modeling Amp – A modeling amp uses Digital Sound Processing to recreate the sound that you’d expect from different types of amplifier cabinets. Rather than having just one sound from your amplifier, you will be able to choose from a range of digitally emulated sounds, usually giving you far more options than with a solid state amplifier and as a result, this is usually better value for money. Amps can be modeled using plug-ins on your computer or guitar pedals. You will have complete control of the modeling amp and they are convenient, reliable, flexible in their use and can be highly cost effective as you only need one amp for all your sound requirements.
- Hybrid Amp – A hybrid amp is one that combines valve and solid-state technology to produce an optimized sound. A tube is used in the pre-amp section of the amplifier, whilst the power amp is driven using solid-state technology. The reason why this is often preferred is because the solid-state power is reliable and requires no maintenance, whilst the pre-amp tube ensures that you can get as much clarity as possible. These are usually lighter in weight as well as offering great sound quality, which is why they are often the more popular choice amongst performers.
- Volume/Output PowerThe power rating of any amplifier is indicated in Watts. This is the amount of current and voltage that passes through the amplifier in order to produce the sound. The higher the power of the amp is, the louder the potential for the speaker volume.It is important to note that not all amplifiers that have a high power output have a loud volume. Some amplifiers are less energy efficient than others and as a result, a lot of their energy is turned into heat rather than sound.When you are trying to decide on the best amplifier to get, you should ask yourself a few questions including: How loud do you want your amplifier to be? How efficient is the amplifier that you are considering? How large is the room going to be where you will be using it and how far away will your audience be from the amplifier?
- VoicingWhen you choose an amp, the voicing is quite an important option to consider. You need to think about how you want your resulting sound to be. Whilst some guitar amps come with just one voice, others allow you to alter the tone and distortion so that you can create different amp sounds. Vintage amps have more distortion in their voicing, and this is the kind of sound you may be looking for if you play blues or jazz. If you want a rock or metal sound, you may want maximum distortion. For pop and more modern music, you will need an amp that offers a clearer voicing tone with very little distortion.
- Size if You Need PortabilityIf you want to transport your amplifier, then you will need to ensure that it will be portable. Whilst it is possible to get smaller amplifiers that run on battery power, you should be aware that these are very basic units and usually only have a very quiet sound output. Features to look out for when it comes to portability include
- Cab and head amplifiers – these are split units so that you can carry them in two parts
- Handles and wheels – ensure that the amplifier has a handle or wheels to make transporting it easier
- Battery power – amplifiers that have the option of running on battery power ensure that you will be able to have complete portability as long as you are happy with a lower volume of sound output.
- Build QualityMany people choose to seek out vintage amplifiers because they believe that the older sounds are the best for recreating a classical sound, but in actual fact, it may be more beneficial to purchase a new model that creates the sound of a vintage amp. This is simply because the build quality of a vintage amp is nothing like the quality you’d expect of a newer piece of equipment. Back in the day, vintage amps were made using older technologies, not just with regards to sound processing, but also in the consistency of the build quality. In a time where the majority of work was done by hand, it was difficult to ensure that all amplifiers were made to the same quality consistently. Whilst one day an employee may have been alert and building the amps to a high standard, the same employee may have turned up to work the next day suffering from a hangover and subsequently may have made the amplifiers to a lower quality.In addition, amplifiers that are made today are designed with more durable and lightweight materials. They are also made to perform better using more advanced technologies and speakers with more efficient operation and better sound clarity.
- EQ and Tone ShapingWhen you use a guitar amplifier, you will be able to set up the equalizer settings and shape the tone using the controllers that are integrated into the body of the amp. When you purchase an amp, you should ensure that there are enough controllers to enable you to get the sound just right every time.Usually, an amp will come with treble, bass and volume level controllers at a minimum. You may be able to purchase amps however, that have a more complex equalizer so that you can really get the best sound. Whether the guitar is cutting through too much or if the kick drum isn’t punchy enough, you should be able to rectify those sound issues with ease.
- Other Features
- Reverb Units – Amplifiers that come with a reverb unit or the option to add one are great for creating perceived space for the audience in any venue. You can usually alter the amount of reverb to suit the music that you are playing.
- Effects Loops – When you want to add loops and amp effects to your sound, you can use a looping effect pedal. The pedal is plugged directly into your amplifier and can add special effects and loops to your performances. This is to accommodate any sounds that the performer may wish to add that the amp does not offer.
- Channel Switching – Amps with multiple channels offer selectable power choices, effects loops, voicing options and even in-built effects. Check out the build quality of the amp before you start to look at the channels that are offered to make sure that the sound will be clear enough first. Once you’re happy that the unit is robust, you can choose the options that you’d expect from a multi-channel amp.
- Built-in effects – Great amps come with built in effects and if you choose the right one, you may be able to get away with using fewer pedals. Amps with built in effects can offer you reverb, gain, and sustain, delay and equalizer effects amongst many others.
Guitar Amp Brands
- Fender – Fender has been a world favorite for decades when it comes to great sounding amps. When you hear a guitar being played through good guitar amps such as a Fender amp, you just know that you’re listening to a Fender. With great dual reverb and a luxurious vintage sound, it’s no wonder why Fender has been a benchmark for other amplifiers to follow through the years. With flexibility and great functionality, the Fender amplifier is one that sounds great alone with no added effects. You can trust Fender to provide you with high quality and durable amps that will stand the test of time.
- Blackstar – Blackstar is a brand that is relatively new to the amplifier market, having only been in operation since 2004 and it was 4 friends who had a band together who set up the company. After all having a background in designing amplifiers and using them too, they decided to join together to try to create some of the most innovative and advanced amps around. Blackstar also designs pedals that work really well with their amps. What performers like the most about Blackstar amps is the way that they provide unique and experimental sounds along with great tones. Blackstar amps offer some of the best modern amplifiers and special effects.
- Marshall – Marshall guitar amps are world-renowned and one of their most memorable features is the Marshall “crunch”. Musicians such as Pete Townsend were known to complain that there wasn’t enough volume or expression from any of the amplifiers on the market at the time. Marshall decided to create amplifiers that had improved sound levels and a new sound that became known as the “crunch”. What musicians love about Marshall amps is the way that they continue to be manufactured using similar techniques today so that they have never lost their unique sounds.
A guitar amp is one of the most important pieces of hardware for any musician, whether you’re professional or if you’re just starting out. If you have an electric guitar, you’ll have to use an amp in order to get any sound at all from your guitar, and if you have a hybrid acoustic guitar, you’ll be able to plug your guitar into an amp so that you can amplify your sound and record it if you wish.
These are just some reviews of some great guitar amps, but of course there are plenty more out there too. Look out for the best amplifier brands so that you can be sure that you’ll be getting the best amp for your money and choose something that offers you the best possible features too. This will ensure that you will be able to use your amp for a long time before you need to upgrade to a more advanced model.