When deciding the best amp brand out there, you’ll find guitarists struggling to pick a particular one, especially with so many iconic names.
Choosing the best amp brand is challenging. However, the best brands will have a variety of models that produce good tones, allow sounds to be manipulated, and are backed by iconic musicians.
Many guitarists will often strive to use specific brands. Some of these are iconic names, with Marshall, Fender, and Vox all dominating the sector for decades. However, newer names such as Blackstar & Line 6 have sprung up to challenge the status quo with innovative new designs and products.
All this leads to guitarists worldwide squabbling over just what is the best amp brand out there today. Well, it’s time to stop the arguments and figure out the choice once and for all as we decide what is the best amp brand today.
What is the best amp brand: The candidates
The Iconic Pick: Marshall Amps
Anyone who dreams of being a rockstar wants to use a Marshall amp. You take a quick look at any iconic rock video or performance and see the giant Marshall stacks sitting on stage in the background. It’s not just their place on iconic stages that make them famous. That accolade comes thanks to the tones they generate.
You will struggle to find amps that give cleaner tones at any volume level. Whether you play rock or metal, you can produce epic sounds using a Marshall amp. It’s something that all levels of guitarists can enjoy too. Marshall has various models that can be used anywhere by any level of guitarist. That includes the small MS lines that are great for jamming at home to the DSL brands perfect for blasting power chords to packed audiences on stage.
Our pick: Marshall MS4 Mini-Stack
- Battery Operated (Best with Polaroid 9V Batteries)
- Smokin’ stack design
- Screamin’ stack sound
- Functional gain, volume, and tone controls
The Guitarist’s Choice: Fender
Fender is more than just a guitar company. They specialize in all sorts of guitar equipment, and their amps are some of their best accessories. Not only do they sync perfectly with iconic models like a Jaguar or a Stratocaster, but they also make you sound like a rock god. This comes thanks to their excellent volume and dynamic sounds. By projecting sounds through a unique tube design, you will be hard-pressed to find an amp that out blasts a Fender amp.
Their products are designed to sync perfectly with other devices to be a hub for a musician’s performance. You can use amps for live recording, linking with effect pedals, and syncing directly with headphones. Fender Amps are also designed for particular purposes too. For example, the Mustang is designed for use on-stage, while the Rumble series is produced especially for bass guitars. It’s a lineup that suits any guitarist of any level.
Our Pick: Fender Mustang LT50
- The Fender Mustang LT50 Guitar Amplifier features 50 watts, 20Dx19.5Wx11.5H inches
- This 50-watt combo amplifier offers strong quality with an integrated USB audio interface for recording
- Unique sounds abound with 25 onboard effects—including multiple distortion, overdrive, compression, modulation, reverb, delay and octave effects
- Bring out the eclectic in you with 30 preloaded presets covering a wide range of music
- 2 Year Limited Warranty: Fender amplifiers are designed for players and built with unmatched quality, down to the last screw—Fender warrants this amplifier to be free from defects in materials and workmanship for two (2) years from original purchase
The Pretender: Blackstar
If any brand is ready to challenge the big stars, it is Blackstar. Formed by a group of ex-Marshall workers, Blackstar aimed to shake the industry to its core. The British company certainly has done this since being formed in 2007. This comes in all areas, from their sound to their look. What you get from any Blackstar amp is clear and crisp tones that sound great no matter what type of speakers they have inside.
They also have one of the best designs out of any amp system. With sleek bodies and a more compact shape, Blackstar amps are much easier to set up and transport when traveling on tour. Their revolution has caught some of rock’s most prominent icons, along with Bon Jovi’s Richie Sambora and Ozzy Osbourne joining their cause. It’s seen products such as its hi-tech ID: Core line fill stages worldwide just as much as the Fly series does for those jamming at home. A sign that a revolution is just around the corner.
Our Pick: Blackstar IDCore V3
- Incredible tones from pristine clean to high gain
- 12 built in effects in immersive Super Wide Stereo
- Free Architect software for deep editing & patch sharing online
- EQ Patented ISF (Infinite Shape Feature)
- Patented ISF control for unlimited tonal flexibility
The Colourful Choice: Orange Amps
With their striking appearance, you will undoubtedly notice anyone using an Orange amp. Orange is no stranger to the industry. The company has been around since 1965. Yet, the British amp makers have carved a reputation for making gear that looks and sounds great. Any Orange device is easy to spot. This is thanks to their trademark orange casing and stylish throwback logo.
They also pack a big punch in a small package. Normally found in a more compact size, Orange amps deliver big volumes without sacrificing sound quality. This makes them excellent to use as a practice amp at home or on the road. Different models also have different quirks, with the Crush Mini’s battery power source or the Super Crush amp head that operates on analog and digital outputs. Orange offers a real collector’s brand that is stylish and practical.
Our Pick: Orange Crush Mini 3W
- Simple Controls: The simple controls give you access to all kinds of classic…
- Small and Lightweight: The Orange Crush Mini is designed to give you classic…
- Speaker Output: Another exciting feature of the Crush Mini is the Speaker Output…
- Built-In Tuner and Headphone Output: The Crush Mini features a built-in tuner,…
- Power Source: Powered by a 9V battery (included) or an external 9V DC adapter…
The Vintage Brand: Vox
Few companies have a history quite like Vox. Since its founding in the 1950s, Vox equipment has been used by legendary cult icons such as The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix. Their current amp lineup brings that vintage expertise to the modern era. The highlight of most Vox amps is the warm, rich tones produced by all their models, letting you sound like a proper rockstar.
The British brand uses a unique tube setup within their amps to produce iconic sounds, making them excellent for playing power chords or melodic solos. They also maintain a vintage design throughout all their products too. Encompassing a look from classic wireless radios, it’s a design that won’t be found anywhere else. It means that the unique technology in jumbo stacks like the Superbeetle is just as clear as in the mini Vox AmPlug series. It’s why these legends are still relevant in the modern day.
Our Pick: Vox AmPlug 2
- Power supply: AAA batteries x 2 (Best with Polaroid AAA batteries)
- Connections: headphone out, aux in
- Dimensions: W x D x H) 3.39 x 3.15 x 1.22″ 86 x 80 x 31mm)
The Technical Pick: Peavey Amps
Few amp makers provide quality devices quite like Peavey. Having been around since the 1960s, the Mississippi music masters have never stopped pushing to break new barriers. This comes in amps designed for a wealth of different instruments. Indeed, you will find Peavey amps intended for everything from guitars and basses to other instruments such as a keyboard. It means that any musician can fine-tune their sound through a high-end device.
Of course, much of Peavey’s success comes through their regular advances in engineering and design. The brand continues to minimize feedback and distortion to give great sounds and find a balance between treble, mid, and bass levels. Combine this with a funky design, and it’s a recipe for success. It’s why amps such as the MiniMega Bass are as good as the VYPYR Guitar series. A brand that never stops innovating.
Our Pick: Peavey Rage 258 Combo Amp
- 8 inch super-duty Blue Marvel speaker
- Two switchable channels: clean and lead
- 3-band EQ
- 1/4 Aux input
- Modern/vintage voicing switch
The Bass Specialists: Ampeg
For any bassist, getting hold of an Ampeg bass is always a must at some point in their lifetime. The New Jersey audio specialists have focused explicitly on bass amps and have nailed that market sector for the past 80 years. What makes Ampeg amps so iconic is their ability to bring bass sounds to new heights. This comes by offering no less than 3-way equalizers to level out sound levels and additional overdrives to boost the overall sound output. This combines to create a sound that lets basses outshine any electric axe.
Moving away from the inner workings, all Ampeg devices look similar. This generally comes with their jet-black casing featuring the classic white logo. This means that no matter if you opt for the Rocket practice amp series or even the Micro-CL stacks, you will always get the same look and sounds you hope to hear—a great way to bring bass sounds to life.
Our Pick: Ampeg Rocket Bass RB-108
- 30W 1 x 8″ Bass Combo Amplifier with 3-b EQ
- 0dB -15dB 1/4″ Inputs
- 1/8″ Headphone Output
- 1/8″ Aux Input
The Gear Gods: Line 6
When it comes to syncing everything through one port, Line 6 is your best port of call. Where Line 6 stands out from their rivals is the ability to sync up amps with entire gear setouts. Most of Line 6’s amps can link up with other peripherals, such as pedals, effect boards, and instruments, to let everything run through the one amp. This gives you an array of choices to create a genuinely iconic sound.
And the customization options don’t stop there, either. Line 6 amps can sync up with companion apps to help further manipulate your sound. It comes while delivering crisp, clear tones with natural ease. That’s why choosing any option from the iconic Spider series to the subtler Catalyst lineup never leaves you short of options—an excellent pick for anyone that wants to create a perfect sound.
Our Pick: Line 6 Spider V 20 MkII
- New classic speaker Mode for Enhanced sound and feel
- 16 presets with 3 simultaneous effects and independent reverb
- Easy-to-use tone and effects controls
- Built-in Tuner and tap-tempo function
- 200+ Amps and effects available via free spider V remote app
The Thrasher’s Choice: Randall
Randall might not be a household name as some other brands, but they aren’t short of legendary support. Used by guitar gods such as Extreme’s Nuno Bettencourt and Metallica’s Kirk Hammett, you would’ve heard a Randall amp somewhere along the way. What makes Randall Amps is their ability to master any sound types. For a punchy breakdown, you can activate “Power Mode” to give extra grunt and distortion to your music. Otherwise, you can start dedicated clean channels to accentuate a melodic solo and wow audiences.
They are also one of the more durable amp brands out there too. Reinforced casings protect the inner electronics. Meanwhile, you will find that the speaker fronts are protected by finely woven vents to minimize dust build-ups. These amps are models that can last tour after tour without drama—an excellent selection for those playing hard day or night.
Our Pick: Randall NB15 Nuno Bettencourt Signature Combo
- Stunning looks
- 2 channels
The Live Stalwart: Boss
When playing live, you need a sturdy amp to get your band through a set, and that is what Boss can provide. The Japanese brand is known for producing amps that work in any setting. Whether you want monstrous sounds or soulful acoustic vibes, Boss has specialist devices up their sleeve. The ability to draw on their effects backgrounds means that their amps are designed with unique tools to fit their purpose.
For example, the Boss Acoustic series uses acoustic resonance technology to filter out background sounds and highlight whatever is playing through the amp. Yet the Katana series has boosted gain levels to deliver explosive sounds from a seemingly small platform. All this shows that Boss have used their knowledge and expertise to create purposeful amps no matter where you play.
Our Pick: Boss Acoustic Singer Pro
- Professional acoustic amplifier with premium sound and features
- Harmony function automatically creates smooth and accurate vocal harmonies via real-time key/chord analysis of the guitar input
- Dual channels with discrete analog input electronics and three-band EQ
- Dedicated guitar channel with Acoustic Resonance to restore natural tone to stage guitars with piezo pickups
The European Experts: Hughes & Kettner
When it comes to representing Europe in the amp battle, few do it better than Hughes & Kettner. Since the German brand was founded in 1985, they have made excellent amps that Alex Lifeson now backs from Rush and Kiss axeman Tommy Thayer. They don’t miss anything either – in terms of tech or look. You will find that many of their amps are loaded with tech, such as alternating speaker output or playing directly with a studio setup.
Furthermore, they are some of the flashiest-looking amps around. Many of their flagship models come with futuristic UV or neon designs that immediately catch the eye. If that isn’t enough, they are great for use anywhere, making them a perfect choice for any DIY guitarist—an excellent boutique amp brand for those looking for something different.
Our Pick: Hughes & Kettner TubeMeister Deluxe Head
- 2-channel Guitar Head with Selectable 20/5/1 Watts
- Built-in Red Box DI
- Effects Loop
- Power Soak
The Peripheral Player: Fishman
Fishman is known for making all sorts of guitar accessories, and they are no strangers to the world of amps either. What Fishman amps do well is they can be refined to suit whatever style of music you play. Many Fishman amps come with separate 3-Way Equalizers and feedback controls, giving you perfect control of refining sounds.
Furthermore, they are extremely powerful, with many amp models sporting 100W speakers allowing your sounds to fill any room they are used in. Their flagship Loudbox series delivers all of these features with ease. It’s also loaded with tech such as Bluetooth to sync directly with smart devices and support live recording. A brand that has plenty of hidden surprises waiting to be discovered.
Our Pick: Fishman Loudbox Artist BT-120
- 2-channel Acoustic Guitar/Vocal Amplifier with Bluetooth Connectivity
- Feedback Suppression
- Built-in Effects
- Phantom Power
- Effects Loop
The Portable Bassline: Ashdown
There are few choices better than Ashdown for bassists looking for portable amps to use on the road. The British company has gained a reputation for making bass amps that are easy to transport but still deliver sturdy sounds. Much of Ashdown’s excellent sounds come down to the tech packed within. Sporting dedicated overdrive modes and 5-way Equalizer controls, you can get great sounds with minimum fuss when jamming with these.
They are also highly well-suited to life on the road. With a compact design and made from lightweight materials, even the beefiest Ashdown speaker is easy to load from your van to the stage. As the model names suggest, there are devices for every mode, from the Studio line devised for recording to the Engineering series for those playing live. Ashdown amps give bassists a way to make their sounds genuinely come alive.
Our Pick: Ashdown Studio Bass Combo
- Solid-state 1×10″ Bass Combo Amplifier with Passive/Active Switch
- Headphone Output
- 5-b EQ – Black
Frequently Asked Questions About Amps
Tube amps vs. Solid-state amps: What’s the difference?
- Tube Amps: Utilize vacuum tubes in their circuitry, which offer a warm, rich, and dynamic sound, often described as “organic.” However, they tend to be heavier, more fragile, and require more maintenance.
- Solid-State Amps: Use transistors to amplify the signal. They are generally more reliable and affordable compared to tube amps and offer a clean, accurate sound. They might lack the warmth and character that tube amps provide.
What are the most reputable amp brands?
While the “best” can be subjective, some of the most reputable amp brands include Marshall, Fender, Vox, Orange, and Mesa/Boogie. These brands have a long history of providing quality products and have garnered a loyal following over the years.
What should I look for when choosing an amp?
When choosing an amp, consider factors such as the type of music you play, the instruments you will be connecting to the amp, and the settings where you will use it (live performances, studio recordings, etc.). Other considerations include the amp’s power output, input and output connections, and whether it offers features like built-in effects or EQ settings.
How do I maintain my amp?
Maintaining your amp involves regular cleaning to remove dust and debris, ensuring proper ventilation to avoid overheating, and periodically checking cables and connections for any signs of wear and tear. For tube amps, it would also involve replacing the tubes as they wear out over time.
Why are Marshall amps so popular?
Marshall amps have been synonymous with rock and roll for decades, renowned for their powerful sound and durability. Musicians like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Slash have favored them, cementing their status in the music industry. Their signature sound, characterized by a warm tone and excellent high-gain capabilities, combined with consistent innovation to meet the needs of modern musicians, have contributed to their enduring popularity.
Can I use a guitar amp for bass or vice versa?
While it is possible to use a guitar amp for a bass or a bass amp for a guitar, it is generally not recommended as the frequency ranges and the speaker designs for both are optimized for their respective instruments. Doing so may result in a compromised sound and, in some cases, could potentially damage the amp or speakers.
Do more expensive amps guarantee better sound quality?
Not necessarily. While high-end amps often offer superior build quality and sound clarity, the best amp for you depends on your specific needs, preferences, and budget. Moreover, technology has advanced to the point where even many budget amps can offer great sound quality. It is recommended to test various amps within your budget to find the one that meets your requirements.
As you can see, plenty of candidates are worthy of being named the best amp brand out there today. Indeed, knowing just what is the best amp brand around depends on your overall needs. Using specialist manufacturers like Ampeg or Ashdown would hold more gravitas than a generic bassist range. Furthermore, the likes of Randall or Fishman may gain more support from those picking a particular sound.
Of course, those providing the option to link with other devices like Line 6 or Boss give musicians more to work with no matter where they play. Others like Peavey or Vox draw on decades of technical knowledge to impress musicians. Even Blackstar and Fender are worthwhile candidates to take the crown. However, we still reckon Marshall is the one to beat. With amps for any purpose and delivering a wide variety of sounds, they are still hard to beat. And their endless list of endorsements by rock royalty backs that up. It’s why Marshall is always mentioned in any discussion as the best amp brand to use by guitarists worldwide.