There are two primary parts to any electric guitar rig: The guitar and the amplifier.
I would be hard pressed to decide which affects your tone more, but what I can say is that choosing the right amplifier for you is an important decision.
$1000 is a more than ample price point to pick out an amplifier that will sound amazing and do the job you need it to. It really just comes down to what you need from your amp.
Are you wanting to sound like your guitar hero?
Are you wanting to take your amplifier out to play shows?
Are you wanting to get an electric guitar tone that sound pleasing to ear?
Maybe you want all of this but you’re having a hard time making your mind up?
Then you have come to the right place. If this budget is a bit out of your range you might want to read our post on the best amps under $200.
All of the amplifiers on this list are between $500-$1,000 and are sure to amplify your guitar playing to a higher level of quality.
Snapshot: Top 5 Amplifiers Under $1,000
The Benchmark Guitar Amplifiers
All of the amps on this list sport names of famous guitar amplifier builders. That doesn’t mean that you are paying for the name alone. Many of the amps I’ve chosen here have been the benchmark amplifiers for the guitar playing community for decades.
All of these amplifiers have a unique voice to them. It’s one of the benefits of spending just a little bit more money on an amplifier. As the price begins to drop the amplifiers start to sound more and more alike. I made it a priority in making this list to make sure that no one amp sounds exactly like another. This is your opportunity to pick an amplifier with character that reflects your own personality.
I also only picked amplifiers that I would be happy to play if I were to show up at a gig and this was the backline amp.
All of these are worthy of taking onto a stage with you, in terms of volume, tonal quality, reliability, and durability. It just so happens that all the amps here are combo amps, meaning that the amplifier and speaker are housed in the same enclosure, but some of these are available as heads only for a lower price point. As is, these are all ready to play out of the box.
$1,000 is certainly not the most you could spend on an amplifier, but it’s still a solid chunk of change. The fact of the matter is that if you are going to spend that kind of money on an amp, it should be of the quality that you could hold onto it for a lifetime and get endless joy out of playing through it.
All of the amplifiers on this list will give that experience to you and then some. Because each of these amplifiers are so different from one another but share a standard of quality I find befitting of the price point, this list is presented in no particular order.
Any amp on this list could be someone’s #1. Let’s find yours!
The 5 Best Guitar Amps Under $1000
1. Fender 68 Custom Deluxe Reverb Combo Review
- The addition of reverb and tremolo to both channels give this amplifier a vintage vibe with a modern twist
- The Bassman tone stack on the "custom" channel gives modern players greater tonal flexibility with pedals
- Greater touch sensitivity by way of quicker gain onset and reduced negative feedback
- A more distinctively rock 'n' roll flavor is delivered by a 12" Celestion G12V-70 speaker
I don’t think there ever has been or ever will be a more iconic or recognizable clean tone amplifier than the Fender Deluxe Reverb. Now re-released by Fender with 60’s Silverface aesthetics, this amplifier is perfect for anyone looking for a “pedal platform” amplifier.
Cosmetically speaking, this amp has been designed as it did in 1968, with the silver mesh screen and cool teal green script. It’s a two channel, 2X12 Combo amplifier at 22W which is more than enough volume for most bar or club gigs. Weighing in at 42 pounds, it’s going to hurt lugging this bad boy around, but the tone and reliability in construction are worth it.
Even though this model looks like the vintage amps, it is its own beast. One of the most noticeable differences from the original models is that the reverb and tremolo circuits apply to both channels, whereas the original only had these effects on one side. There are also two different tone stacks, to give you some extra versatility and compatibility with different guitars. Fender also designed this model to have reduced negative feedback, therefor making it a more touch sensitive amp with quicker gain onset.
The 68 Custom Deluxe Reverb has two channels: Custom and Vintage. Both channels have their own Volume, Treble, and Bass controls. As I mentioned before, the Reverb and Tremolo controls have been updated to apply to both channels, giving a vintage vibe with modern application. You’ll notice the two inputs for each channel, which is a design left over from the original when players wanted to avoid distortion. Essentially, input 1 has more headroom, whereas input 2 will break up at lower volumes.
The two channels offer different kinds of excellent clean tones. The Vintage side is well… vintage, closer to what the original amps sound like. It has scooped mids, with manageable bass and treble response, while maintaining the bell-like quality deluxe reverbs are known for. The Custom side introduces a Bassman tone stack, which adds further bass response and a thicker sound. These clean tones make for a great pedal platform and won’t get in the way of any overdrives or modulation effects.
This amp isn’t just for clean tones though. Turn it up past the halfway mark and you will start to get tube saturation reminiscent of the 60’s and 70’s. This is handled well by the pair of Celestion G12V-70 speakers, which are more aggressive and direct than previous iterations. Roll off your volume control on your guitar or play lighter to showcase the amp’s great touch sensitivity.
- Amp Type: Tube Powered (2 x 6V6)
- Power: 22W
- Channels: 2 (Vintage/Custom)
- Speakers: 2×12” Celestion G12V-70
- Special Features: Fender tube driven reverb/tremolo
Final Thoughts on the Fender 68 Custom Deluxe Reverb Combo
The sound of a Deluxe Reverb is classic and timeless. It is truly the benchmark of clean tone, and many boutique amplifiers have either emulated or built upon this circuit. If you are looking for beautiful clean tones, or an amp to take all your pedals, this is a classic choice that has earned its reputation.
2. Peavey Delta Blues 115 Combo Review
- Normal volume control on clean channel
- 3-band passive EQ (bass, middle, treble)
- One 15 inch Celestion Fullback speaker
- Master reverb
Did you think Peavey only made cheap solid-state amps and PA systems?
So did I. Until I saw this amp out at rock show after rock show. This is a tweed amp with modern design additions that make it an excellent choice for blues and rock.
This tweed combo amplifier is a bit different from the rest in that it has a 15” speaker. The amp and speaker are housed in a tweed material and fashioned into a “TV” style cabinet shape. It has an open back design, giving it an open and natural sound. It has 30W of all tube driven power, giving you ample volume to take this amp out gigging. Weighing in at 55 pounds, this is a big amplifier with a big sound.
The Delta Blues 115 has two channels, Clean and Dirty, which are switched by the Channel button. The clean channel’s volume/gain are controlled by the “Normal” switch, while the dirty channel has controls for Pre and Post gain. The reverb has a single control, followed by a three band EQ control for Bass, Middle, and Treble frequencies, with a press Boost button. On the far right is the Tremolo controls, which include one for Intensity, and one for Speed. The Send/Return controls for the Effects Loop are also present.
Compared to most Tweed style amps, which are pretty simple circuits, this amp is much more involved. I love my tweed amp, but I’ve always wished it had reverb and an effects loop. I think these are really practical and push the envelope for tweed circuits.
This amp can take you all the way from warm clean tones, to throaty, mean, gritty dirt tones. It’s a unique and versatile sounding amp. It’s nowhere near as transparent as a Fender Silverface amp like the Deluxe Reverb above. This amp is meant to have its own voice, which means it isn’t quite as pedal friendly. That being said, who needs distortion pedals when you have an amp that sounds like this?
- Amp Type: Tube (4 x EL84)
- Power: 30W
- Channels: 2 (Clean/Dirty)
- Speaker: 1 x 15 Celestion Fullback
- Special Features: Master Reverb, Tremolo, Effects Loop
Final Thoughts on the Peavey Delta Blues 115
This is perhaps the most versatile and huge sounding tweed amps out there for under $1,000. Whether you are looking to play country, delta blues, or garage rock, this amp has you covered. I’m thoroughly impressed with Peavey here.
3. Roland JC-40 Review
- Legendary Roland “JC clean” tone in a small, gig-ready combo amp
- Stereo 40-watt amp with two 10-inch speakers
- Stereo input enables players to get true stereo sound with modelers and stereo effects pedals
- Signature Dimensional Space Chorus effect for expansive stereo sound
Based off Roland’s classic JC-120, the JC-40 is a smaller amp with modifications that bring the JC amps into the 21st century. It’s the only transistor amp (solid state) on the list, but it delivers some truly wonderful clean and chorus tones.
That’s right. CHORUS.
The JC-40 takes the best features of the JC-120 and condenses it down into a smaller package. This combo amplifier has two 10” speakers in order to deliver stereo chorus effects while making it easier to carry around. It has 40W of transistor power, stereo inputs, as well as updated reverb and overdrive tones. It also has an onboard effects loop and DI, making this not only a great amp for gigging, but also to keep in the studio. It also has a headphone jack for silent practicing capability, which I am always a fan of.
Starting on the left, the JC-40 has a bright switch, in case you want to brighten up your signal. After that is the master volume and 3 Band EQ controls. These controls remain the same from the original JC-120, but after that comes some changes. The Distortion circuit has been updated to be a more pleasing sound. The Reverb knob controls a digital delay signal. The Yellow controls control your modulation effects, whether it be vibrato, or chorus.
The JC-40 sounds different from the other amps on this list for a few reasons. While it is primarily considered a “clean” amp, much like the Deluxe Reverb, it doesn’t have the squishy/sagging tone of a tube amp. It is a bit more compressed, and to some less organic feeling.
While this isn’t for everyone, solid state guitar amps have come a long way in their usability and the Roland JC amps remain a viable pedal platform amp. Keeping to 40W also makes this a much more usable amp for modern players, as the original 120W is way more headroom than most players need these days.
The updated overdrive effect is usable, but it sounds more like an overdrive pedal than tube driven overdrive. Most stick to the clean tones this amp provides and of course… the chorus. The chorus effect on this amp is the same found in the legendary Boss CE-1 effects pedal, which some consider to be the best chorus circuit ever made. It is a lush chorus that can be applied to thicken up your sound no matter what the genre is.
- Amp Type: Solid State
- Power: 40W
- Channels: One
- Speaker: 2 x 10” Roland Speakers
- Special Features: FX Loop, Stereo Input, Chorus, Reverb, Headphone jack, DI
Final Thoughts on the Roland JC-40
For long I was a tube amp purist, but amplifiers like the JC-40 and digital modelers have made me embrace the power and user friendliness solid state amps can provide. This is a beautiful sounding clean amp with special features that every guitarist can utilize. Even though it is solid state, it still feels classic because it is based off an old amp. The tones found in this amplifier have been on countless classic albums, and you can have those tones for well under $1,000.
4. Vox AC15C1X Combo Review
- Classic Series 15 Watt combo amp with Normal and Top-Boost channels
- Master Section features Master Volume and Tone Cut controls
- Tremolo (Speed/Depth); Spring Reverb (Level); Switchable via optional VFS2A pedal
- Tube complement: 12AX7 (x 3); EL84 (x 2); Single 12" Celestion Alnico Blue Speaker
Looking for a tube amplifier that gives you the tones of Queen’s Brian May, The Beatles, and even Jimi Hendrix? The new Vox AC15C1X delivers 15 watts of British tone that is truly identifiable and unique to the Vox sound. The AC15C1X is sure to give you a unique guitar sound that still manages to transcend multiple musical genres.
The Vox AC15C1X is a 15 watt, 1×12 combo amplifier that is powered by a set of EL84 power tubes. The single 12” speaker is a Celestion Alnico Blue that is historically paired with Vox amps. This amp has a sturdy build to it, with the instantly identifiable brown diamond speaker mesh, yet it only weighs 21 pounds. This is an easy grab-n-go amplifier for gigging. It has two channels (Normal and Top Boost), as well as built in reverb and tremolo effects.
First, you’ll either plug yourself into the Normal or the Top Boost channel (if you want the added top end tone). The Power control turns the amp on. Once you are ready to play switch the standby switch from “Standby” to “On” and you’re cookin’.
This amp has a wide array of tonal shaping capability. Each channel has its own volume control, with the top boost channel having its own dedicated bass and treble controls. Balance these controls with the Master Volume/Tone Cut controls to dial in classic “chimney” sound that Vox is so well known for. The Tremolo and Reverb controls are on top as well and can be switched on/off by a foot switch.
Vox has a tone that is instantly identifiable. It has less negative feedback built in, making it an amp that breaks up quicker and also making it much more touch sensitive. It has a certain nasally tone to it and an emphasis on the high end.
The Alnico Blue speaker is a perfect pair, as this provides a dampened attack, warm lows, and mellow upper mids to balance out the circuit. While other amplifiers try to be transparent or pedal friendly, this amp commands you to work with its own built in character, which is rewarding in and of itself.
- Amp Type: Tube (2 x EL84)
- Power: 15W
- Channels: 2 (Normal and Top Boost)
- Speaker: 1 x 12” Celestion Alnico Blue
- Special Features: Reverb, Tremolo, Tone Cut
Final Thoughts on the Vox AC15C1X
The AC15 is an amp model that has been present throughout all of Rock history and will give you the British Invasion sound if that is what you are after. Of all the amps on this list, I think this is the most identifiable sound. It’s a sound that you will have to work with, not against, so make sure it is the tone that you are looking for. The clean tones are beautiful, and the high gain tones are superb and biting. This is a fun amplifier.
5. Marshall Origin 50 Combo Amp Review
- 50 Watt all valve combo
- Switchable high, Medium, & low power output section
- Tilt control - blends bright & normal sounds
- 12 inch Celestion midnight 60 speaker
All of these amps sound great, but what if you are in need of an amp with more volume and more gain? A Marshall Origin 50 may just be the amplifier for you. Delivering between 5 and 50 watts of pure British power, the Marshall Origin 50 is ready to go out on the stage with you, or help you write in the bedroom.
The Marshall Origin 50 is an all valve (tube driven) combo amplifier with a switchable High (50W), Medium (10W), or Low (5W) power output section. It comes stock with a single 12” Celestion Midnight 60 speaker and is powered by a couple of EL34 power tubes. It also has a built in FX loop and boost circuit. The amp measures approximately 11”x20”x20” and weighs 36.5 pounds. This is probably my favorite amp aesthetically. I love the all silver mesh front, with gold trim and the classic “Marshall” logo.
The Origin 50 has a push/pull Boost circuit that doubles as a preamp gain control. The Equalization section of the amp has the typical 3 band EQ controls, as well as a Tilt control that blends the bright and normal sounds. The Output section features your master volume and presence controls. Finally, your output section selector allows you to choose how much power you want the amp to work at. The FX loop and boost are both foot switchable.
This is a BIG sounding amp that can work at just about any volume due to the selectable output section. With the right balance of boost, gain, and master output, you can get high gain tones at low volumes for composing at home or controlling your volume for the sound guy on stage.
This amp can give you warm, yet sparkly clean tones, or touch sensitive edge of breakup tones. But this amp is meant to sound gritty. Whereas the other amps on this list can get a bit harsh on the high end, Marshall always manage to sound pleasing at any EQ setting. This amp reminds me of the 80’s hair metal tones right off the bat, but that’s not its only use. This can be used for Punk, Funk, Rock, or any genre that requires high gain tones. The addition of an FX loop is also great because you can blend in delay/reverb pedals without the effect getting washed out by your high gain.
- Amp Type: Tube (2 x EL34)
- Power: Selectable 50W, 10W, or 5W
- Channels: One
- Speaker: 1 x 12” Celestion Midnight 60
- Special Features: Foot Switchable FX loop/Boost, DI out
Final Thoughts on the Marshall Origin 50 Combo Amplifier
If you want your amp to make you sound powerful, distorted, and HUGE, then this is the amplifier for you. It’s capable of getting warm, Fender-like clean tones, as well as a high gain tone that is the staple sound for Marshall. It’s a simple amp that gets you where you need to go fast, but don’t underestimate its sound. Not for the faint of heart!
Amplifiers are the Biggest Tone Shaper
Amplifiers have an enormous impact on your tone. You could take your favorite guitar, be it a Strat, a Les Paul, or a Rickenbacker 330, and plug it into 20 different amps. You will hear the DNA of your guitar in each of these amps, but the tones will vary drastically.
It was my goal to pick out 5 of the best amplifiers you can easily attain online for under $1,000, with each of the amplifiers offering different tones. At first, I thought it would be challenging, but it turned out to be quite easy. All of these amplifiers are unique in their own way. That’s why these companies have lasted for decades.
Whether you are a beginner or a gigging professional, it only behooves you to select an amplifier that compliments your playing style. Amps in this price range stand above the vast majority of other amps in terms of quality and the enjoyment you will get out of playing through them. Even with that advanced playability, I still consider these to be amps that are worth more than the price range they sit at.
A good amplifier is as important of a purchase as a good guitar, and I think that these five amps are a great place to start your search. If $1000 is out of your budget you can look at our post on the best guitar amps under $500 or even our top guitar amps under $300.
You may even want more than one of them!
- Marshall MG30-DFX Review – An All Purpose Amp
- How To Choose A Guitar Amp Like A Boss (Beginner to Pro)
- Flatsons FGA-3 Mini Amp Review (Hands On)
- Blackstar FLY 3 Mini Amp Review (Hands On)
- Behringer HA400 Review – My Experience With This Headphone Amplifier
Davis Wilton Bader is a professional guitarist/writer based out of St. Louis, MO. He plays in the bands Lumet and The Outskirts.