No matter your guitar playing skill level, you always need a good amp to pull those notes through.
However, finding the right one can be pretty hard. What exactly to look for? How much power do you need? What are the best guitar amps out there?
That’s exactly why we decided to write this article, and include not only guitar amp reviews, but also the most important features and specs you should consider when buying one.
So sit back and relax, as we dive into the world of the best guitar amps you can buy!
- Best Guitar Amp 2018 Buying Guide: What to Look For
- Best Electric Guitar Amps Under $100
- Best Electric Guitar Amps Under $200
- Best Electric Guitar Amps Under $300
- Best Electric Guitar Amps Under $500
- Best Electric Guitar Amps Under $1000
Best Guitar Amp 2018 Buying Guide: What to Look For
Unless you’re a more advanced musician and have some experience with guitars and related gear, there are a few important things to look for when buying an amp.
You may find some of these pieces of advice more or less useful in your exact case, but it’s good to have them in mind, as they can really help you in choosing the right amp for your needs!
What Kind of Music Do You Play the Most?
Though getting probably any guitar amp will do the job just fine, some amps perform better and provide a more specific kind of sound for different genres of music.
Whether it’s an amp that’s special for its clean tone or an amp known for having a good overdrive tone, think about the kind of music you’re the most into.
Sure, you can always hook up a chain of effects pedals and get the sound you need that way, but having a good amp for that particular genre can greatly improve your overall sound and presence.
Before we go any further into different types of amps, specs, and features, it’s important that you understand some of the basic amp terminology that gets thrown around when talking on this subject.
A guitar amplifier consists of two main parts. The head and the cabinet.
A combo amp, as you might have figured, combines these parts into one device.
A combo amp provides enough power for smaller venues as well as rehearsal sessions.
Head and Cabinet
This means that an amp head is connected to a speaker cabinet, but are bought as separate devices.
If you plan on doing gigs and concerts in large or open air venues, your best bet would be to get a head and cabinet amp.
This also allows you to combine different or multiple cabinets with your amp head.
This abbreviation stands for Equalizer.
It’s a device that’s built in the amp which allows you to shape and model the sound that’s coming out.
Most popular guitar amps offer 3-Band Equalizers which consist of bass, mid, and treble, meaning you can only control these 3 parameters separately.
Other, more advanced and professional amps give you control over the rest of the frequency range, such as low mids and high mids.
There are also graphic equalizers which grant you the control over exact frequencies, enabling you a higher level of sound control.
Preamp and Power Amp
A preamp is the part of the amp which picks up the signal your guitar is sending, and boosts it enough so the rest of the electronics can deal with it.
That is also when the EQ and other parameters alter the signal.
The power amp then comes in and alters and boosts the signal in a way the speakers can push it through.
The best guitar power amp solutions can really give the signal a good kick.
Knowing this is most important if you’re looking for tube amps, as they feature preamp and power amps which use different tubes.
To be completely honest, the first time I bought an amp for myself, I had absolutely no idea what this I/O was for.
Though you can use effects pedals through the front, chained after your instrument and before the amp, the FX loop input allows you to insert the effects into the signal in between the preamp and power amp.
While this may not sound very important, it gets pretty clear when you start using more than 2 pedals at the same time, or, for example, delay pedals, which work way better when connected via this input.
Having this feature means that you can switch between two different channels, usually a clean one and a distorted one.
Also, have in mind that you will need a footswitch to operate this feature while playing.
Some amps come with their own footswitch, while others require you to buy a separate one.
Build Quality and Durability
As with any piece of music equipment, your amp is going to get worn out.
Whether you tour regularly, use it in your recording/rehearsal studio, or simply play at home, you want to look for an amp that will do a good job for a reasonable amount of time.
Who makes the best guitar amps? What is the best guitar amp brand?
Well, pretty much every brand out there has their own unique choice of design and materials.
The best-rated guitar amps offer not only solid build quality but also an option of easily fixing anything that might get worn down or broken, and replacing any parts.
Tube amps need extra attention as they require good heat management to work properly.
It’s always better to wait, save up a bit more money, and get yourself a high-quality amp than just blindly going for one you can afford at that point in time.
Different Amp Types
Unlike some other pieces of music equipment, guitar amps have evolved greatly since they made their first appearance.
With higher levels of digital components being implemented more often, there are very different types of amps you can get nowadays.
Let’s see the main differences, pros, and cons of each type:
These amps feature the oldest type of technology.
Old school vacuum tubes are used to amplify the signal that’s coming from your guitar.
Around 60 years ago, this type of amps was the only option you had.
Though they can get pretty expensive, there are certain benefits that not even the most modern and digital amps can’t provide.
Most guitarists prefer tube amps because they sound very natural, and let your guitar shine through quite nicely.
Another thing tube amps are known for is the fact that they are able of producing natural overdrive.
If you crank up the volume and gain high enough, a very organic sounding overdrive lets you play around with your tone.
If you prefer a more old- school approach to guitar tone, and rely on having a nice, warm, yet powerful overdrive without using any additional equipment, going for a tube amp is a great option.
Do have in mind that you will have to change tubes from time to time, which can get a bit pricey.
On the long run, investing in a good tube amp is a good idea, especially if you are a more advanced guitar player.
Solid State Amps
Though these amps existed for quite some time, they only managed to shine through the moment that transistors were invented and reached the market.
As a way of avoiding vacuum tubes, which, as we just said, can get pretty expensive, and require maintenance and switching, transistors were less prone to breaking and were much easier and cheaper to replace.
As far as sound goes, it differs from one company to the other.
Unlike tube amps which all provide more or less the same sound, at least when it comes to the overdrive and basic features, getting a solid state amp from one manufacturer won’t guarantee you the same sound as another amp would.
Solid state amps also tend to be noticeably cheaper than vacuum tube ones, but there are still pretty expensive models on the market, which will provide you with a much better sound.
The latest innovation in the world of guitar amps are the modeling amps.
Totally different from vacuum tube or solid state ones, these amps feature a digital sound modeling technology via a processor which recreates different sounds which are preloaded.
Modeling amps still rely on the same technology as solid state ones when it comes to the power stage.
So, the main difference between different modeling amp models is in the processor used.
Most guitarists see modeling amps as a good option only when it comes to home practice and limited use.
They are a great choice for that as they tend to be pretty inexpensive, and often offer great features like different amplifier emulations, loads of cool effects etc.
The main downside of these amps is the easily recognizable “digital” tone.
Not that it makes them sound like a MIDI instrument or a keyboard, but there is definitely a slightly colder note to them, especially when compared to vacuum tube ones.
The best digital guitar amps can emulate the sound of tube amplifiers quite nicely, but still, you will have to spend a lot of money in that case.
As you might have guessed, these amps combine tubes and digital circuitry, and often offer a truly interesting sound and tone.
So, which one do you get?
There are a lot of cool guitar amps out there, but it really depends on what kind of sound you prefer.
Of course, budget is an important factor in most cases, but do consider the differences between the mentioned amp types when buying one.
You can easily achieve numerous effects in your tone by using different processors or pedals.
Look for an amp that has a good clean tone as well as a powerful overdrive or distortion.
Power and Speaker Size
When it comes to speaker size, there are a couple of different options.
Smaller speakers are better for producing higher frequencies, whereas bigger ones are used for that low-end rumble.
Most commonly, 8 and 12-inch speakers are used to give the amp a nice and broad coverage of the frequency range.
If you plan on getting an amp for home practice sessions, a smaller one is a better choice, as you won’t have to deal with a lack of space as well as too much power.
For larger venues as well as outdoor gigs and concerts, you will need a lot of power.
Depending on the circumstances and the rest of your gear, 100- 200W should do the job.
Vacuum tube amps are a bit tricky when talking about power, because of the before mentioned overdrive.
In order to get that overdrive, you will need to crank up the amp, which can be a problem if you can’t play at higher volume settings such as at home.
And finally, let’s talk about your budget.
As there are a lot of different options on the market, amps, like other pieces of music equipment come with very different price tags.
If you’re looking for an amp to use exclusively at home, and don’t really plan on doing gigs or rehearsals with a band, you really don’t have to spend a lot of money.
There are great mini amp solutions you can get, which you will see in our review.
If you’re not sure whether you may be playing with a band, it’s generally a good idea to get a slightly bigger and more powerful amp.
Don’t go too crazy though, as you will have to carry it around from time to time.
We tried to include amps that fall in various price ranges, so you have a clear image of the best amps out there.
On the other hand, if you are a professional musician, or simply tour around a lot with your band, it’s better to save up some more money, and get yourself an amp you’ll be pleased to use for a longer period of time.
Definitely give the models we’ve chosen as the best electric guitar amp for the money a good look!
With all that out of the way, let’s start with the electric guitar amp reviews!
Best Electric Guitar Amps Under $100
Best Electric Guitar Amps Under $200
Best Electric Guitar Amps Under $300
Best Electric Guitar Amps Under $500
Best Electric Guitar Amps Under $1000
You can certainly agree that there are truly different options on the market when it comes to the best guitar amps.
After looking at, in our opinion, the best models you can get, we hope that we’ve managed to answer your questions and maybe even helped you find the right amp for your needs.
Thank you for reading, and we will see you next time!