Best Guitar Amp Brands: Famous Manufacturers And Their Classic Amps

What are the best guitar amp brands? On this page we list the world’s best-known guitar amplifier manufacturers, and highlight classic and affordable models from each company.

Many of the guitar amp brands listed on this page have been making high-quality guitar amplifiers for decades, their products helping to shape the sound of guitar music just as much as the guitars themselves.

Guitar Amps

fender guitar amp
Vintage Fender guitar amp

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Different brands of guitar amps, generally speaking, cater to different markets. Towering Marshall stacks are unlikely to be the choice of amplification for a smoky jazz trio, but they’re almost the go-to amplifiers for established metal bands.

A guitar amp brand’s image can (almost) be as important as sound. Would the Beatles’ legendary stage setup have had the same effect (either sonically or visually) were they playing anything but their iconic Vox combos?

Your choice of amplifier is a major consideration, and it will have a huge impact on your tone and playing.

An amp’s power, number of channels, method of tone production, size, and effects are just a few of the factors you need to consider when choosing an amplifier, whether you’re a beginner looking for a practice amp, or a superstar looking for an amp to take on a world tour.

Here, we’ve listed a selection of the best guitar amp brands, outlining what they’re known for and what you can expect from their products. We’ve also included a “classic” and an “affordable” amplifier by each company for you to check out.


Marshall

Marshall Guitar Amp
Marshall Guitar Amp

Hendrix. AC/DC. The Who. Iron Maiden. Just a few of the names associated with Marshall, perhaps the world’s most famous amplifier brand.

The Marshall stack is a hard rock and heavy metal icon. (A “stack” is a combination of an amplifier head “stacked” on top of one or more separate speaker cabinets.)

Guitarists first picked up on the “special something” in Jim Marshall’s easily-overdriven amplifiers back in the 1960s, and headbangers have kept Marshall in business ever since.

Classic Marshall Amp: Marshall Plexi Range

Marshall Amps 1987X 50 WATT PLEXI HEAD Amplifier Part (M-1987X-01-U)
  • Output: 50-Watt
  • Preamp Valves: 3 x ECC83
  • Power Amp Valves: 2 x EL34
  • 3-band EQ

Amps from Marshall’s classic “Plexi” range (named for the Plexiglas used on the front panels) have graced countless classic rock and metal albums. If you want devastating volume, paired with Marshall’s classic overdriven sound, then there isn’t really any other choice.

The brand’s modern take on the classic Plexi amps is the Marshall 1987X.

50 watts. Three ECC83 valves in the preamp, two EL34 amps in the power amp, and a no-fuss three-band EQ. No master volume and a retail price of $2999.99.

True, the Marshall Plexi 1987X isn’t a cheap amplifier, but if you want to capture the white-hot lead tones of your heavy metal heroes, there is no substitute.

This heavy-duty amp is aimed squarely at regularly gigging players who need a lot of volume and know the exact, bone-crunching tone they want to produce. Think “Back in Black”, or the white-hot lead tone on “The Trooper”.

This is just the amplifier head, mind, so you’ll also need to purchase a separate cabinet or cabinets – typically the Marshall 1960AX and 1960BX for the classic 4 x 12” look and tone.

Best Affordable Marshall Amp

Marshall SV20C Studio Vintage 20/5-Watt 1x10 Inches Tube Combo Amp
  • 1x10" 1-channel Tube Guitar Combo Amplifier with Celestion Speaker
  • High/Low Sensitivity Loudness Controls
  • Power Reduction Circuit
  • Effects Loop
  • 20/5-watt

The thing with these all-tube amplifiers is that there’s no real entry-level model that truly captures the power and sound of the real deal.

If, however, you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, then Marshall’s Studio Vintage 20C is worthy of consideration. It’s a combo amp with switchable 20 or 5 watts of power, making it suitable for gigs as well as bedroom practice. (A combo amp houses both the amp and the speakers in the same unit.) The Studio Vintage 20C produces the classic Marshall tones with impressive accuracy.


Fender

America’s leading amplifier brand has, for decades now, been Fender.

Leo Fender, responsible for the solid-bodied electric guitar revolution with his groundbreaking Telecaster, was a visionary. A great guitar needed a great amp, so his company set about building the cleanest, most powerful amplifiers they could.

Fender’s amp range is best known for its chiming, ultra-high-fidelity clean tones. That’s not to say that they don’t overdrive well; Neil Young’s dirty, distorted tone comes thanks to a Fender amp driven well past the point of saturation.

A Fender tube amp will typically provide a clear, powerful clean tone, and take guitar pedals very well. If you use pedals to form the basis of your tone, or you’re fond of amp-in-a-box style pedals like those made by Catalinbread, then you may well find a Fender amp to be right choice for you.

Classic Fender Amps: Twin Reverb, Bassman, Princeton

Fender '64 Princeton Reverb 1x10" 12-watt Tube Combo Amp
  • 12-watt 1-channel All-tube 1x10" Guitar Combo Amplifier with Reverb Tremolo

Classic Fender amps include the Fender Twin Reverb, the Bassman, and the Princeton.

The Fender twin is a twin-speaker combo amp capable of delivering devastatingly powerful clean tones.

The brand’s Bassman amp, originally aimed at bassists, is known for its simplicity, mighty power, and the characteristic tone of its four 10” speakers.

The Fender Princeton is an iconic amp used by countless country, rock, and pop players over the decades. Don’t let its twelve watts of power fool you; this is a loud amplifier, capable of producing gigging, as well as practice, volumes. The amp also includes built-in reverb and tremolo effects, and – of course – that classic pure, clean Fender tone.

With its lower wattage, the Princeton’s sound will break up nicely if you’re interested in a John Mayer-esque lead tone.

Best Affordable Fender Amp

Sale
Fender Champion 20 Guitar Amplifier
  • Shape your sound with the EQ section (Bass plus Treble) as well as dial in lush effects such as digital reverbs, chorus, vibratone and delay.
  • Jam along with your favorite tracks by simply plugging your MP3 player into the Auxiliary input and you instantly become part of the band and /or practice privately with the 1/8th headphone output jack that also mutes the speaker output.
  • With a turn of a knob, choose from clean to mean tones from the 17 various amp models that will to accommodate almost any genre of music.
  • Store extra cables or other small accessories with the open back cabinet. Voltage: 230 Volts EUR
  • Enjoy the peace of mind that this amp is backed by Fender’s 5 Year Transferable Warranty.

The Fender Champion is a perfectly usable lower-end option. It comes in a variety of wattages, the lowest being 20, and uses a small 8” speaker so it won’t bug your neighbors when you’re jamming at home. It includes a variety of classic Fender effects, including reverb, delay/echo, chorus, and tremolo.


Vox

Vox is another iconic British amp manufacturer known for their combo amplifiers. The Vox AC series was a core sound of the British Invasion, wielded by no less a band than the Beatles.

Once the 1970s came around, Queen’s legendary lead guitarist Brian May brandished his homemade Red Special guitar, achieving his signature dense, saturated, otherworldly guitar sound with an AC30.

Vox amps tend to have a jangly, treble-heavy sound, well-suited to the raucous rock n’ roll of the 1960s.

Classic Vox Amp: Vox AC30

Vox AC30C2X Amplifier
  • 10 Watt tube combo offering the classic VOX Top Boost tone
  • EL84 power tubes; 12AX7 preamp tubes
  • Custom 10" VX10 speaker made by Celestion
  • Simple but effective Gain, Bass, Treble, Reverb, and Master Volume controls
  • Extension and External speaker outputs; By-passable Effect Loop, Distinctive VOX Styling.Output Power:10W RMS

The AC30 is a combo amplifier boasting EL84 tubes and a Celestion speaker. It is a phenomenally loud amplifier, and it’s also extremely heavy, although the convenient handles on the top are a welcome concession to those of us who don’t have roadies to carry our gear. The amp has the Vox signature “Top Boost” circuit for extra jangle and sparkle.

Best Affordable Vox Amp

Sale
Vox V9106 Pathfinder Guitar Combo Amplifier, 10W
  • 10 Watt Practice Amplifier - The Pathfinder 10 pumps 10 watts out into a solid 6.5" speaker. Use the Clean/Overdrive switch to instantly go from a clean, chime-y tone to the creamy warm VOX signature distortion
  • All Analog - Fully analog signal path for warm and organic guitar tones. Use the Clean/Overdrive switch to instantly go from a clean, chime-y tone to the creamy warm VOX signature distortion
  • Distinctive VOX Looks - With its classic diamond grille cloth and unmistakable tone, the Pathfinder 10 is pure VOX with the iconic VOX tone to match
  • Headphone Output - Headphone/line output with built-in cabinet simulator allows you to practice or record silently with realistic guitar amp tones
  • Versatile Controls - Gain, Volume, Treble and Bass controls allow you to craft your signature sound

Vox also offers the Pathfinder, a smaller combo amp with the classic Vox look and tone. It only offers ten watts of power, but has plenty of clean power for Beatles enthusiasts looking to play along at home.


Orange

Orange has long been something of a Marmite brand for guitarists. You either love the distinctive orange tolex and signature wall-of-sound distortion… or you can’t stand it!

Orange amps are widely used in heavier music genres, with the likes of Slipknot’s Jim Root and Mastodon’s Brent Hinds often seen plugging in to the company’s distinctive amps. It’s not only metalheads that use these surprisingly versatile amps; guitarists such as Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top use Orange amps, too.

Classic Orange Amp: AD 30

Orange AD30HTC 30-Watt Twin-Channel Guitar Amp Head
  • Channel 1 and 2 controls: gain/volume/bass/middle/treble.

The Orange AD30 offers all the chime and crunch you’d expect from a classic British amplifier.  Four EL84 tubes, a GZ34 (5AR4) valve rectifier and a pair of 2-stage channels give this amp plenty of diversity, from chiming cleans to fire-breathing saturation. It’s enough amp for Led Zeppelin’s legendary axeman Jimmy Page!

Best Affordable Orange Amp

Orange Micro Terrror 20W Mini Hybrid Guitar Head
  • Power: 20 watt (hybrid)
  • Tube: 1 12AX7 tube preamp with solid state power amp
  • Controls: Volume, tone and gain
  • Headphone output & Aux input for MP3

For players looking for something smaller and more affordable, the Orange Micro Terror amp is a lunchbox-sized amplifier with three simple controls and astonishingly versatile tone. It has twenty watts of power and a solitary 12AX7 tube preamp with a solid state power amp.

Like all Orange products, this tiny amplifier is absolutely dripping with old-school cool.


Boss

Boss are best known for their effects pedals, but we’d be remiss not to mention the brand’s fantastic Katana amplifier range here.

You’re probably familiar with many of the classic Boss effects, like the Space Echo, overdrive, distortion, or chorus, all of which have helped shaped guitar sounds for several decades of popular music.

Boss are relative newcomers to the amplifier game, but if you’re looking for a well-made amp capable of producing a huge variety of tones, then you really can’t beat the Katana range.

Classic Boss Amp: Boss Katana

BOSS KTN-HEAD Portable Katana 100W Guitar Amplifier
  • 100W Amplifier - Owner's Manual - Power Cord - GA-FC Sticker
  • Light and portable 100-watt amplifier head with powerful, gig-ready sound
  • Five unique amp characters: Clean, Crunch, Lead, Brown (derived from the Waza amp), and Acoustic (for acoustic-electric guitars)
  • Choose from 55 customizable effects with BOSS Tone Studio editor software
  • Store 15 different effects on board, with three effects available at once

The fully-fledged Boss Katana head provides 100 watts of power and the ability to produce just about every tone under the sun in one handy package. You’ll need to buy a speaker cabinet too (unless you purchase the equally impressive Katana combo) as the model is an amplifier head, rather than a combo.

The Katana is basically five amps in one, with discrete Clean, Crunch, Lead, Brown (think ultra-saturated metal tone), and Acoustic (for acoustic-electric guitars) channels. It also has 55 Boss effects built in.

Best Affordable Boss Amp

Sale
Boss Katana Mini - 7-Watt Combo Amp
  • 1x4" Guitar Combo Amplifier with 3 Amp Voicings
  • Line/Headphone Output
  • Delay Effect
  • 7-watt
  • 3-b EQ

The Katana Compact is a significantly cheaper option, with only three channels, an onboard tape-style delay, and battery power. It’s aimed at travelling guitarists or those who only need a practice amp at home.


Blackstar

Blackstar Amplification was founded by a group of ex-Marshall employees in the 2000s. You could be forgiven for thinking that Blackstar were yet another Marshall imitator, but in reality, the brand has carved out its own niche, with many modern players being drawn to the brand’s classic British tone.

Journey’s Neal Schon, Iron Maiden, and blues-rock guitarist Jared James Nichols all use Blackstar amps for their distinctive British crunch and even volume response.

If you like the Marshall-type sound, but you found the relatively narrow tonal spectrum of a classic Marshall limiting, or dislike the overly gain-heavy modern Marshall iterations, you might want to consider a Blackstar amp.

Classic Blackstar Amp: JJN-20R

Blackstar Jared James Nichols Limited Edition JJN-20R MkII 1x12 Combo Amp
  • Enhanced Cleans: The JJN-20RH MkII has two footswitchable Clean Voices, one with an American character and the other with a Class A British sound. Voice 1 clean gives a bright and tight tone with a solid bass response, the tone shaping is positioned early in the gain structure for a refined American tone and response
  • Enhanced Overdrives: The two footswitchable Overdrive Voices are characterised by a tone which is high in gain, but avoids any of the detached top-end fizz often found in other designs. This is the Classic “British” Blackstar overdrive. Rich and natural it goes all the way to Super Crunch gain but cleans up beautifully
  • Patented ISF Tone Shaping: The conventional three way guitar EQ network, or tone stack (a.k.a. Bass, Middle and Treble), is a key to the characteristic voice of traditional guitar amplifiers. Classic amplifier designs have their own versions of this network which leads to their own tonal voicings. The ISF control allows you to infinitely adjust the response of the tone control network between any of the traditional voicings in a way that has never before been possible
  • Professional Recording Connectivity: USB output have been added for the simplest way to get valve tone into your recordings. Also added is a pro balanced XLR D.I. output, which allows the speaker emulated signals to be connected to external devices for practicing, recording or live use
  • Power Reduction: Inspired by the patented Dynamic Power Reduction circuit, simply switch down to 2 Watts at the push of a button without any loss of tone. Perfect for driving the EL84 power stage hard at lower volumes

Blackstar hasn’t been around long enough to have a “classic” amp, per se, but Jared James Nichols’ signature model offers a great insight into everything Blackstar does well.

This combo amp, with a sole Celestion speaker and EL84 tubes, offers both “British” and “American” style tube amp tones. It’s a sweet spot between the classic Marshall grit and the luxurious, refined American sound of Fender-style amps.

The amp also has two overdrive options, again following the bright, chiming British route or the more punishing, saturated American-style tone of a Mesa Boogie amplifier. Handily, it features a power switching option, allowing you to drop from 20 watts of power to 2 for practice.

Best Affordable Blackstar Amp

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Blackstar Electric Guitar Mini Amplifier, Black (FLY3)
  • Refer the user manual below for troubleshooting
  • Digital 'tape' delay effect; Patented ISF (Infinite Shape Feature)
  • MP3/Line In for jamming along or listening to music

The Blackstar Fly 3 is the little – and we do mean little – brother to their top of the line combo amps. With both clean and overdrive options, a sole tube, and 3 watts of British power, this amp also includes a convenient “trans-Atlantic” tone control that allows you to switch between “British” and “American” voicings. There’s also headphone output, aux input, and the option to play it with batteries.


Mesa/Boogie

Mesa/Boogie is an American amp brand famed for its ultra-high quality, boutique guitar amplifiers. Founded in 1969, the company first specialized in “hot-rodding” amps made by other manufacturers. The company began to develop its own amps, which became highly-regarded throughout the world, in particular the “Mark” series of amps produced in the 70s and 80s.

Classic Mesa/Boogie Amp: Mark IIC+

The Mark IIC+ is considered by many to be the pinnacle of the company’s “Mark” series. This tweaked version of the Mark IIC is highly-sought after; you can check if the amp is a “+” version by looking for a hand-drawn + mark above where the power lead enters the amp.


Best Guitar Amp Brands

We hope that you have enjoyed our list of the best guitar amp brands. Of course, a list such as this is subjective, and by no means definitive; there are plenty of other amp manufacturers out there.

Have we missed out your favorite amp brand? Do you agree or disagree on our choice of classic models from each company? Let us know in the comments section!

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