Finding an awesome guitar amp can be tough if you are not sure where to start. You might have to do a little digging, especially if you are a beginner not looking to spend a lot of cash. Most Versatile Amp: If you want to play around with a lot of different sounds, but aren’t so keen on starting a collection of effect pedals, a modeling amp is in order. Most modeling amps are solid state, but Vox’s Valvetronix VT40+ combines the same built-in effects you’d expect from a modeling amp with genuine tube amp sounds. These effects include 11 pedal effects, 11 modulation/delay types and three types of reverb.
Best Amp for Budding Performers: It used to be that practice amps and gigging amps were two separate entities, but with decreasing costs and improvements in sound, many players are finding that one low-cost amp can do both. The Orange Crush 35RT fulfills the two roles, offering up 35W of power that, along with Orange’s bold looks, make for great stage presence at any small basement or bar gig. And, despite the solid-state construction, the 35RT also produces warm and full classic tones reminiscent of a tube amp.
Most Fully Loaded Amp: If you want to achieve a certain tone without all the fiddling, Line 6’s IV 150 comes loaded with over 300 preset tones put together by a litany of popular recording artists, and 200 presets modeled off of popular songs like “Whole Lotta Love”, “Purple Haze” and “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. Still not enough? It also features 16 tones meant to mimic history’s greatest amps, as well as 20 built-in effects.
Best Blues Amp: The majority of Fender’s tube amps are pretty no-frills, but the result is a very pure and warm sound that makes them ideal for jazz and blues. The Blues Junior III is no different, featuring one channel, three-band EQ, reverb and “fat boost” for creating rounder, fuller sounds. It ain’t much, but if you’re looking to play some blues you won’t get bogged down with unnecessary doodads.
Best Amp for High-Gain Players: A lot of tube amps on the market are great for achieving vintage sounds suited to blues and classic rock, but Laney’s Ironheart IRT30-112 was built to achieve massive amounts of gain for metal and hard rock. Though the Ironheart can pull off these sounds better than many tube amps in its price bracket, it’s still more than capable of less intense tones for other genres as well.
Best Value Amp: The Marshall name is virtually synonymous with good amps, due in part to the fact that just about every professional who has held a guitar has used one at one point or another. But, you don’t need to be Slash just to afford one. The DSL40C toes the line between Marshall’s budget range and their professional models while still providing great tube sound, tonal range and — let’s face it — badge snobbery.