There are a few factors to consider what will make the for you. The clean channel is obviously more important for most subgenres of . Crystal clear tones that shimmer no matter the settings are perfect for . You really want to be able to hear the nuances in your playing while picking away at some .
That is not to say that many of these amps aren't also capable of getting down and dirty too. They can be perfect for some overdriven blues or even pop. You may want a separate if you plan to play some very heavy stuff though.
Quality musicians. Analog is the preferred style for many but that does not mean solid-state digital amps don't have a lot to offer too. on the clean channel is synonymous with and very sought after for
is a manufacturer that comes to mind for and blues amps. They also build other amps for metal so you must be careful with your choice. There are also a lot of different brands that offer amps with amazing clean channels. Roland is another that we really like for this.
Let's take a peek!
The Princeton is one of the most recognizable amps in the world and with good reason. Many of the world's most famous guitarists have played a Princeton at some point in their career. As such, it has become one of the gold standards for a small .
Original Princeton amps in good condition are extremely hard to find. If you are lucky enough to find one, you will have to prepare yourself to fork out a very hefty sum. This is where the 64' Custom , especially for its size. However, it is a heck of a lot cheaper than an original and much easier to get your hands on. comes into the picture. You will find it is still a pretty expensive
This shares a lot of what makes the original Princeton great. It has hand-wired hardware and 12 watts of manageable power from the tubes.
It differs from the original by having a 10" Jenson Alnico speaker. This is different from the ceramic speakers in the initial '64 run of these amps. We think that the newer speaker actually sounds better than the original. The Janson speaker sounds a little warmer and not as harsh. It may not please someone who is looking for the exact tone they had in the '60s, but it really is an incredibly clear and lovely sounding end product.
Getting a look under the hood of this will get hardcore gear heads very excited. The wiring, capacitors, and tubes really hit old school hardware standards. The fact that builds these amps with such care in the 2020s is amazing.
The clear tones you get are only improved by the tremolo and . You will find yourself adding layers upon layers of depth and texture to your . All without the help of any pedals. However, this actually pairs very well with pedals too. If you've got a huge pedalboard to play around with this is a fantastic starting point to create a unique tone.
These amps have a surprising amount of headroom for a smaller mid-sized gigs. For big gigs, you're more than likely going to use a mic with your so this could easily be your main gigging . At a tiny weight of 32lb, it will make load in a breeze.. It makes them great for studio work or playing
This is a bit more versatile than some others on our top picks. This is due to it having a quality dirty channel. You have to really drive the tubes hard to get the perfect tone though. Be prepared to be loud if you want to get down and dirty.
This is arguably better than an original Princeton and a fraction of the cost. It is still an expensive though. If you have the budget it is definitely our favorite premium .
Is it worth almost $1000 more than the '68 though? If you have the disposable income, for sure. But, our other picks will not disappoint you if you don't have the budget for this premium .
Another vintage in our top picks. Who would have guessed it? Well, anyone who has played one of these amps might have. We should mention that this isn't completely a . It is more of a jack of all trades. However, Its sweet-sounding clean channel and give it all the chops it needs to deserve its place in our top picks.
This looks the part of a true '68 model . It has a classic Silverface appearance. This includes design features that were otherwise abandoned in the late '60s.
There are a few features that separate these recreations from the classic amplifiers.
The internals of these amps has a typical modern printed circuit board construction. It is because of this type of construction that this costs significantly less than our top pick.
A second variation is the inclusion of a custom channel. This channel is in lieu of a naked channel. It allows the tremolo and to be global across both channels of the . This means these amplifiers are more pedal-friendly than their older counterparts.
Instead of the 'vibrato' channel you now have a vintage channel that sounds more like the old-school amplifiers.
This offering from is another all-time favorite amongst working musicians both in the studio and on the stage. You may already be familiar with the signature tone of these amps.
Having the new channel setup that we mentioned earlier arguably makes this an even more versatile . The spread of effect across 2 channels means more variety for each. The effects can also be completely turned off which was not possible in the older version.
The vintage channel is a little less bright but has an awesome clarity at low volumes. If you push it a little harder you can also get a warm crunch out of it. This is great for rock music but for your jazzy vibes, you'll need to keep the gain lower.
The custom channel has similar characteristics to a tweed . It can also go balls to the wall loud and dirty if you want it to. It's good to keep this in mind if you want to use this for other genres too.
A modern take on an absolute classic. For the purists out there, you may want to try to find a second-hand old school '68 but this offers some upgrades.
The slight changes in tone account for better compatibility with pedals and a much lower overall cost. This is up there as one of the best amps. Its ability to play dirty and hard also means It is fantastic for other genres. A nice buy if you need something versatile.
The two more expensive amps in our top picks have vintage styling reminiscent of the '60s. The -120 is more like something out of the late '80s or early '90s, at least in appearance. This is solid-state and one of the few non-tube amps to ever make it to legendary status in the world. This is due to the amazing clarity of its clean channel. It is the perfect place to start off with if you plan to use a lot of pedals.
This uses a separate power stage for each speaker. Such a setup allows for true stereo imaging. With each of these amps cranking out 60w you will have a total of 120w at your disposal. This is plenty for most gigs and rehearsals. It is definitely enough to get enough volume in the studio.
Being solid-state means you don't need to push this hard to get a warm . This means that these amps are among the best amps to practice with at home too.
The included effects are chorus, , and vibrato. These effects come with Roland's trusted silver cone speakers. These speakers deliver a sparkling yet neutral and clear . The effects work with the included footswitch.
As mentioned, this is famous for its clean channel. It delivers unrivaled clarity within the world of solid-state amplifiers. The crystal clear tone is a perfect blank canvas for you to create your own signature . You can do this with the built-in effects or by adding effects of your own.
There is also a dirty channel on this . However, it does not receive the same accolades and respect as its clean channel. We would even go as far as to say, it may not even be worth using this channel. A few stompboxes paired with its clean channel would likely do a better job of providing an overdriven .
With its less than great dirty channel, this is less versatile than some others. However, we are reviewing amps! This is an absolute beast when it comes to . The from this is one of the best in the industry, especially for a solid-state.
This is a really strong option for anyone that just needs a fantastic clean channel. It may also be perfect for someone that has a lot of pedals already for adapting their.
If you don't need such a powerful and would like to save a little money there is also a smaller version of this . The JC-40 comes in under $600 and still has the signature clean tones of its bigger brother.
Another !? Sorry, but they make good stuff for clean tones.
The Hot Rod series by is a staple bit of gear across many genres. They are well regarded as being reliable and versatile. However, modified this particular model to be a monster.
If you are looking for a you are likely familiar with the work of George Benson. If you haven't guessed by the name of this it is his signature model. You can recreate his trademark resonant clean tones with this . It also has plenty of power for anything you can throw at it.
George is not only known as a great but also a . You should feel fairly safe in the knowledge this is capable of creating some superb tones for both of these genres and beyond.
These amps are much more modern looking than our other picks. They have a black and grey design that almost looks like it would fit in with a metal band. The pine construction is great for the resonant tones you would be aiming for with this . It also has the benefit of being relatively lightweight. The 40w of power should provide enough headroom for pretty much anything. It will also maintain its extremely clean signal.
You can probably guess by now that we are going to say this has amazing clarity. It does. Any that is going to make our best top picks must be fantastic on the clean channel. For this , it's easier to say if you like George Benson's tones you will love this 's .
It has built-in just like any respectable should have. There is also a second channel that is for overdrive. You can still get the reputable Hot Rod distortion sounds from this too.
Another great for by . It may be an option for you if you have a budget of under $1000 and you would prefer a .
The Roland JC-100 has just as good of a clean channel but this also has the versatility of a quality dirty channel too. As they are direct competition, you should keep this in mind when picking between the two.
This is more of a bonus to our list. If you want bright clean tones akin to the classic move. In this situation, you may need your to compete with louder instruments. You may even need to compete with a whole street band. Your probably isn't going to cut it. greats you will need an ac powered . This just doesn't have the headroom. However, playing in the street is a
This little guy does a decent job at emulating the JC-100 with the right settings so that also makes it great for . It is also loud enough to be confident within a band situation.
A tough little box that can run on 6 AA batteries. It is feather-light at under 12lb and gets surprisingly loud for its low watt rating. It's a versatile unit too. It has an XLR input as well in case you wanted to sing or to have accompaniment from another musician. It's also good for practice as it has a headphone jack and an aux port.
Don't expect this to exactly like the JC-100 but for its power and cost, it does a decent job. The signal sounds pretty clean and is definitely good enough for playing on the street. It also models 7 other amps for a huge variety of tones. It includes a ton of built-in effects. You can really experiment with a lot of sounds to find something perfect for any setting.
A cool little that is capable of pumping out some awesome clean tones for its size. It's also very versatile. Yet, this is far from the best . I wouldn't get this as my main but it is great for the street.
Musicians could argue until the cows come home about this one. The general consensus is that a is better. This applies to pretty much any genre. However, they also require more care, are heavier, and need professional servicing.
The JC-100 is well known for its fantastic tones and it is a solid-state. If you do decide to shop outside of our recommendations and go for a solid-state , do your research first. Make sure it is perfect for your needs. If not, a could be a safer bet.
Yes! Of course you can. Just be aware that the overdriven channel of many amps is less than desirable. Yet, many of our top picks are super versatile amps. They are happy to play anything from hard rock, to blues, and of course .
I'm not saying effects pedals later though. The amazingly clean and neutral from many amps is a perfect place to build a tone library. amplifiers are going to be the best amps for heavy metal, djent, or hardcore punk. You could add some
You should be looking at close to $1000. There are of course cheaper options but they don't really hold a candle to the big boys. We will write an article in the future for cheaper options for those with a smaller budget. However, if you can swing the extra spend it is definitely worth it.
The fact that they build so many retro amps makes them one of the top manufacturers for a classic . I try not to suckle at the teet of any one manufacturer when I am writing my reviews but I stand by my genuine beliefs while reviewing. My lists are not exhaustive, there are of course other great amps and I will add more over time. The Fenders are just my favorites from personal experience.
Hi, I'm Chris, the owner, creator, and head writer for InciteMusic.com
I have been a touring cover musician and a teacher for the last 10 years and take helping people to achieve their musical goals very seriously.
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