Best Guitar Amps In 2021: All Types & Budgets

Buying a guitar amp is no easy feat.

It can literally enhance your music or destroy it!

So if you’re ready to plug in and see what jams you can manipulate into something cool, you might just be ready for amplification!

Different Guitar Amplifiers on Display

We’ve reviewed the best guitar amps of all types and in range of price categories to make this process easier for you.

But, if amps are sort of an anomaly to you, then you need to be sure to pick our informational articles apart. They will help you get up with the lingo, figure out what size you need, and even help you determine what type of amp you want to shop for!

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Types of Amps

By now, you would’ve noticed the various features of amps and why some have recording abilities, presets, and amp models and others don’t. The availability of these features depend on the type of amp you have and its ability to control tones, sounds, and customization.

1. Solid-State Amps

These are by far the most common and most affordable types of amps on the market. They lack digital technology and use analog technology to control volume and tone. They’re reliable, durable, and they’re the most common type of amp bought for everyday use. However, they’re prone to distortion.

2. Tube Amps

Old school guitarists will opt for a tube amp that uses vacuum tube technology to control the decibel level. They provide loud, warm, and full sound that many clean and traditional guitarists prefer. However, they’re prone to having a short life and can’t stand much abuse.

3. Hybrid Amps

These combine variations of solid-state and tube amps. The preamp uses tube technology but the loudness comes from the solid-state engineering. This is great for players who like and prefer the tube sounds but don’t want to have to deal with the high maintenance of a true tube amp.

4. Modeling Amps

The new and modern version of amps ditch the old, analog technology and come strutting in with the digital age. Because they use digital technology, they’re programmable and can mimic any sound and effect you could want! While they’re often more expensive than solid-state amps, they provide ultimate customization for the beginner or the pro.

Does Speaker Size Matter?

While it might seem like the only factors that matter is the power of the wattage and the volume, speaker size does matter! No matter how good or customizable an amp is, it’s only going to be as good as its speaker size allows it to be.

So here’s the low-down on amp power (wattage) and size.

A low watt amp is somewhere between the 20-40 watt range. These low power amps will usually have a speaker size of 8-10 inches. This is absolutely appropriate for bedroom, garage, and small venue playing. Trying to play one of these amps in a larger room filled with people will diminish sound projection and produce unwanted distortion.

However, higher power amps generally have 12 inch speakers. This is ideal for larger rooms. Now, you don’t have to have high power to maximize a 12 inch speaker. It could be great for small to medium venue playing in a larger room. But, if you’re looking for good amps that are performance-ready, you’ll want to look for a 12 inch speaker with 100 watts or more.

Guitarist Adjusting $500 Amplifier

Amp Terminology for Beginners

There’s so much lingo when it comes to cruising the amp world. For the sake of the beginners, we’ll cover the most common terms to help you get on board faster and up to date!

Channels – Channels are the various levels of distortion control. The more channels an amp has, the better your ability to achieve an undistorted, clean sound.

Combo – Combo amps include both the speaker unit and the amplifier in one box. Historically, they weren’t good enough for on-stage gigs and performance playing. But, they’re getting better and better in the modern age.

Effects  – The best guitar amps provide a range of effects you can use. Do you want a tremolo effect without actually having a tremolo on your guitar? Use your effects setting! Generally, the rule is, the more expensive the amp, the more range of preset effects you have at your disposal. Modeling amps are the reigning champions of providing the most effects you can have.

Foot Switch – These are an external component that allows you to switch between presets hands-free.

Head amps – Unlike combo amps, this is just the head amp and lacks the speaker unit. For powerful on-stage performances, it’s advised to invest in a head amp and then purchase the speaker unit separately. This provides more power and sonic projection especially in large, outdoor venues.

Reverb – This is a setting that can regulate the amount the echo your guitar makes. This is controlled digitally (modeling) or by spring (solid-state).

Stack – This is the number or combination of various head amps and speaker units that you can attach your amp to.

The Down-Low on Volume

Does a 60 watt amp sound louder than a 30 watt amp? You might be nobbish enough to nod your head fanatically right now. But, truthfully, it’s minimal – oh, that’s blasphemy you say!

While a 60 watt amp does have twice as much power as a 30 watt amp, volume is determined by decibel levels, not by watts! Without getting into the math, if you wanted a twice as loud amp of a 30 watt amp, then add a zero onto the end. To get twice as much volume with a speaker that can handle it, you’ll need a 300 watt amp!

So, how do you know if there’s really a sound difference? Test it out! Put a 30 watt and 60 watt amp side by side and set them on the same volume setting. First, you’ll notice that the 30 watt amp has a 8-10 inch speaker and the 60 watt amp has a 12 inch speaker.

To the common ear, the sound volume will be identical. To a more trained ear, the 60 watt amp will only be a tad louder and fuller because of the extra wattage and the extra 2 inches it has in speaker size.

So, if you’re trying to justify the extra 50 bucks on a 60 watt amp because of volume, it’s rubbish! If you want ear-bleeding volume, then you’re looking in the wrong market!

So put your teenage rock band foolishness away and don’t let anyone tell you that your amp isn’t loud enough to piss off your roommates!

Amplify Your Tunes!

So you wanna be a guitar pro? An amplifier can not only amplify your tunes, but it can also amplify your skills!

You can opt for a simple and trustworthy amp or you can brave the customization of what digital amps have to offer and get one of the best guitar amps on the market. But, what it really comes down to is if you have the skills worth amplifying?

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