What many people fail to understand is that the “best guitar amp” isn’t a product in itself. You can’t go down to the music store and ask for the best guitar amp. It’s all about personal taste and purpose.
As you might know, there are amplifiers for acoustic guitars and electric ones; they don’t differ that much in terms of construction, but they offer different tonalities and controls. No matter what guitar you have, we’ve got an amp for you.
First, we’ll show you 5 of the highest rated guitar amps; afterward, we’ll delve a little deeper into the factors that make them so. In the end, you’ll be able to provide an answer to the question: “What is the best guitar amplifier?”
We know that shopping for a good amp is similar to searching the needle in the haystack. There are so many brands that they make your head spin.
Fortunately, we’ve done some research and found 3 amps for acoustic guitars and 2 for electric guitars that you should take a look at.
Best Acoustic Guitar Amp
Best Electric Guitar Amp
Even people that have nothing to do with guitars know about Fender and the quality that goes into their products. It is undoubtedly the best acoustic guitar amp you can get for approximately $100.
It doesn’t crank out too much volume
The bass can sound a little dirty because the 6” speaker can’t handle much
Small and lightweight
Brown vinyl cover
Its 15 watts are just enough for jamming with some friends and even for playing live in a bar. The Acoustasonic allows you to play around with bass, treble, middle and chorus, which is nothing short of great considering the price it sells for.
It also has a patch for a microphone. One of the greatest things about this Fender guitar amp it is its weight: just a little over 10 pounds; this means you can carry it around with the utmost of ease.
Unlike other small acoustic amps, this doesn’t make the sound horrible, even if you turn the volume all the way up. It stays clear and nice. Add some minimal chorus and you’ll get a quite fantastic tone. By the way, the chorus isn’t muddy like it is on other amps.
While its wattage is low, people have reported using it with a distortion pedal with surprisingly good results. The microphone input is certainly something you’ll find handy when you’re playing live. By the way, it won’t affect the overall sound in any way.
The mic input can be used to plug a second guitar, although the sound would lose some of its quality. The Acoustasonic is a fantastic piece of equipment and has enough features to allow you to step up your game.
Hands down, this is the best guitar amp for the money. We’re sure you can find other amps for this price but at this point – and trust us on this – nothing beats a Fender.
Fishman is one of the lesser known manufacturers of musical equipment, but it certainly has some products that are worthy of your attention. The Loudbox is a 60-watt beast that comes with a list of features we think are amazing.
A lot of power
A tad too heavy (19.7 pounds)
Very clean sound
Some people found it to be overpriced
In-built effects (handy when you don’t have a mixer)
It’s equipped with a preamp and a knob that allows you to control the tone (low, mid and high), as well as chorus and reverb - the essential effects for acoustic guitars. Like Fender’s Acoustasonic, the Loudbox also offers a patch for the microphone.
This channel has its own reverb control, which is pleasing, considering this feature won’t mush the voice and the guitar together. The same channel offers a 2-band equalizer for low and high controls.
The greatest problem with acoustic amplifiers is that they alter the natural sound of the strings. When you play live and set the volume higher, it gets even more altered. Fishman’s amp, though, does not do this rather annoying thing.
It keeps the clean, natural tone of the guitar even at full volume. If you want, you can play a banjo or a classic guitar on this, provided they’re electro-acoustic. The main reason why people aren’t that keen on this model is its price.
It’s very expensive for an acoustic amp, but then again, it returns unprecedented quality for each dollar. Its construction is durable and its features are nothing short of amazing.
Keep in mind that you can pay the same sum for amps that are not that qualitative. The Loudbox is indubitably the best guitar amplifier you can get for somewhere around $300.
I’ll admit that sometimes I purchase instruments and equipment just because they look cool (Harley Benton’s Big Tone was my last acquisition). If you’re in the least bit like me, you’ll buy the Ultracoustic on impulse.
No effects whatsoever. This is a MAJOR downside
Powerful enough for a gig in a coffee shop
It supports a lot of stringed instruments
It comes with a stylish, brown leather design and black inserts that make it breath-taking. In terms of features, this Behringer guitar amp leaves something to be desired.
Its power is okay (15 watts, which is more than enough for practice and even for a gig), but it lacks effects that would make the tone a little richer. Like the previous two amps, it has a microphone channel, too.
Some people have reported that they’ve played electric guitars and violins on the Ultracoustic and did not feel like it was efficient in rendering their sound clearly. A semi-hollow electric guitar or a resonator would indeed sound nice on this.
Behringer claims it sounds like a tube amplifier and we stand 100% behind that claim. It has a rich, colorful sound that could not be reproduced by circuitry (it is, anyway). How did Behringer pull this off? It’s simple: the circuitry in it is called “VTC”.
This stands for Virtual Tube Circuitry. Therefore, this is a solid-state amp that sounds like a tube amp. Given that tube amps are generally better for clean sounds, this is a great buy.
If you don’t want to spend much money on an amp and you don’t need effects, then this is the best guitar amp for beginners. It’s true that it could use some re-thinking and re-tweaking, but it’s everything you need for room practice.
What many people will tell you is that guitar amps have to be expensive in order to make the best out of your instrument. What we will tell you is that this is not, by any means, realistic.
Huge variety of effects
Storage for cables in the back
Can be purchased as either 20 or 40 watts
The best electric guitar amp for you can cost somewhere around $100, like the Champion which, honestly, lives up to its name. Equipped with 20 watts of power and a wide variety of effects, this is perfect for both practice and jamming.
Does that make it the best guitar amplifier? We think it does. It’s enough to look at the specs to realize that.
Apart from its power, its greatest advantage is that you can get a ton of sound combinations by playing around with the effects. You’ve got delay, chorus, vibratone, reverb and even wah.
These effects work well with any genre of music you might play. The different types of distortion make it perfect for the most aggressive subgenres of metal out there.
One thing we have to mention it that it emulates other amps, so you’ll get a wide variety of tones. The 2-control channels allow you to set your volume, gain, treble, FX level and bass. There’s also an effects loop.
In terms of sound, it’s one of the clearest amps you’ll ever find. Even when the volume is maxed out, the sound keeps its crystal-clear quality. It’s difficult to believe this is so cheap, we know, but we’re definitely happy it is.
The speaker is 8”, so it can get pretty loud. All things considered, this small amplifier right here is the complete solution for a player, regardless of the genre he plays. It’s an absolute treasure for an unbelievable price.
This is the first Marshall guitar amp in our buying guide, and it’s a good one, even though it isn’t the winner.
4 channels with a lot of effects
The power plug isn’t detachable
Not suitable for beginners
It might develop a hiss after a while
Extremely high gain
If you want to play at a high volume and impress everybody with how ruthless your guitar can be on a good combo, then this is the best choice you can make. Its speaker is 10”, so it can get louder than a mother in law.
You might think that “Oh well, it looks like a good deal, but it’s only got 4 channels. What’s that about?” First of all, those channels accommodate a wide variety of effects, from flanger, chorus and phaser to delay and reverb.
Second of all, the 4 channels in themselves are for clean, crunch and two types of overdrive. Show us a rocker that doesn’t use overdrive and we’ll tell him about it.
Another advantage that comes with the MG30CFX is the fact that you can make your own settings and save them. When you turn it on, you’ll have them there, so you won’t need to do it all over again.
This amp is an absolute beast when you play metal. It has enough distortion, gain and sustain for solos and shredding like crazy. Some people had claimed it’s not that good for metal, but we beg to differ.
Marshall doesn’t make any compromises when it comes to its amplifiers and the thousands of musicians endorsed by this company are proof for that. You simply cannot go wrong with a Marshall amplifier.
However, if you use your guitar mostly on clean, this might not be a very good idea. This has been designed for musicians that shred that solo all the time and in general play more aggressive music that packs a few punches.
The correct question is “Why SHOULDN’T you?” First of all, the amps for acoustic guitars and electric ones differ. You don’t want to end up with the wrong type because then you won’t be able to play your guitar properly.
Second of all, there are many manufacturers out there. Some are reliable and have been so since they manufactured their first amp, while others are no better than Chinese bootleggers.
As specified in our first guide, not all amplifiers have the same wattage. Power has a direct impact on the maximum volume you will be able to get from your amp. If you want to tear venues down, you cannot get a 15-watt, obviously.
Instead of touching the surface of what’s important when you are about to buy your first amplifier, maybe it would make more sense to tell you precisely what you need to keep an eye on when doing so.
This way, you’ll understand why you should choose your amplifier carefully.
There are 5 main aspects you have to keep in mind when you’re shopping for amps, and we’ll tell you what you need to know about them:
Solid-state, tube, hybrid, and modeling – these are the types of amps you can choose from. Solid-state means they amplify the sound through circuitry; the tube ones amplify it through vacuum cylinders made of glass.
The hybrid ones are a combination of both tubes and circuits and the modeling ones are digital ones that can be “tweaked”, so to speak, through the computer.
They can also get effects downloaded from the Internet and you can maneuver the controls from your phone. As you might expect, all these 4 types give off different results, so don’t purchase the first one you see.
If possible, go to a store and experiment with them, in order to see which one satisfies you the most.
There are amplifiers for a wide variety of instruments. If you have an electric guitar, you shouldn’t purchase a bass amplifier. That goes both ways. If you’re playing a bass, you shouldn’t play it through a keyboards amplifier, because you can burn it out.
If one amplifier could be used for all instruments in the world, we wouldn’t have so many types to look at today. Don’t buy the wrong type of amplifier just because it looks better and it’s cheaper.
You’ll use it for a week or so and then you’ll burn it. If you haven’t learned your lesson, you’ll buy another one and it will have the very same destiny.
Hands down, power is the trickiest aspect of an amplifier. There’s a direct relation between power and maximum volume, of course, but there’s no rule set in stone as to what wattage is the best.
Some say 10 watts is more than enough for an amplifier that will be used for practice in your room and that one you’ll use on stage must have a power of 50 watts or more.
While we agree with the first claim, we’re not that sure about the second one. First of all, it depends on what genre you play, what venue you play in and how many instruments there are in your band.
For instance, if you play in coffee shops and other small venues, you could make do with a 15-watt amplifier, or even with a 10-watt one. Amplifiers for acoustic guitars usually have less power than those for electric ones.
But then again, the former don’t need distortion, like electric guitars do. If you’re friends with experienced musicians, they’ll be able to tell you what power your amplifier needs to have. They won’t know for sure, either, but they’re more versed in this issue.
Some of them don’t even need more than 30 watts of power to thrash a small club.
Evidently, the bigger the speaker, the more volume you’ll get out of your amplifier. Small amplifiers usually have 8” speakers that are quite powerful. In fact, it’s less likely you’ll be able to max the volume out without rattling the walls.
The size of the speaker depends on the size of the amplifier itself, as well as on its power. If you’re looking for an amplifier you’ll use only in your room, a 6” speaker will do.
Amplifiers can either have a back or be backless. You should opt for one that has a back because this ensures it won’t accumulate dust and debris and its components won’t be on display.
The material they’re made of is really important, too. If an amp is made out of cheap plastic, refrain from buying it because it won’t last that much. If you have enough money, get one made out of wood or carbon fiber.
These are extremely resistant to shocks and you’ll come to appreciate that. You wouldn’t believe how many bumps amplifiers take, especially when you’re on the road in a van riding towards fame.
Guitar playing would be really boring if there were no effects. 90% of the music you hear today would not have been composed if it weren’t for guitar effects. Accordingly, you should get an amp that has at least a minimal number of them.
If you’re using your guitar mostly with a clean sound, you will want your amp to have at least some chorus, delay, and reverb. If you’re into metal, you need a harsher tone, so make sure your amp has distortion and overdrive, among others.
Rookie guitarists think they need 100 effects to make their guitars sound amazing, but there’s nothing worse than doing that. When you’ll get a processor or some pedals, you’ll discover that it’s not humanly possible to shift through more than 4 or 5.
If an amp has distortion, overdrive, some modulating effects (phaser, flanger, chorus, tremolo and others), you’ve got yourself a good deal and you won’t need to spend your money on pedals which, by the way, are wildly expensive these days.
So, what is the best guitar amp? You have all the info you need to decide.
You could have the most expensive Les Paul in the entire world, but if you don’t have a proper amplifier, it will sound like a $50 guitar. Apart from the guitar itself, the amp is the musician’s most indispensable weapon.
You’ve seen that there are many types of amps and they differ a great deal from one another. This requires your attention and some responsible research. Don’t purchase an amplifier just because it looks good.
They all do – it’s pure marketing. You’ll find out that a good-looking amp is not necessarily a decent-sounding one. Hopefully, you’ll go with one of the models we’ve presented you in this guide.
If not, it’s no big deal, you are free to get one you find more tempting. For your own sake, though, make sure you’ll end up with a good product you won’t need to change in a couple of months.
We know we haven’t reviewed the amps in too much detail in this guide, but we’ll make it up to you by writing individual reviews for each of them, so stay tuned to our frequency!