The 20 best guitar amplifiers in the world today
24th Nov 2011 | 12:10
Lazy J Model 80
It's impossible to overstate the impact of guitar amplification on the history of popular music. The amplified electric guitar gave early rock 'n' roll pioneers power to harness the crackle of electricity and set the world alight. Many decades may have passed, but that fire has never gone out.
Here in late 2011, regardless of genre, electric guitarists have more choice when it comes to amplification than ever before. On MusicRadar we've previously rounded up the best amps for heavy metal and blues players, but this time we cast the net wider still.
After compiling a shortlist from your nominations, nearly 8000 of you voted in our poll to crown the best electric guitar amplifier available in the world today. Kicking things off at number 20 is an amp that's got some high profile pulses racing of late...
Lazy J Model 80
Jesse Hoff's Tweed Fender-inspired creations are things of genuine beauty, and Joe Bonamassa, Paul Weller and Pete Townshend are just a few of the stars that have recently taken them out on the road.
The Model 80 is a enough amp for any stage, but you might find the smaller Model 20 better suited to pubs and club gigs.
Fuchs Overdrive Supreme
Sadly for fans of Robben Ford, Larry Carlton and 'that' sound, getting your hands on a real Dumble is pretty damn close to impossible. However, if you are prepared to spend big in pursuit of tone then the Fuchs Overdrive Supreme ought to be on your must-try list.
BUY: Fuchs Overdrive Supreme currently available from Thomann
Dr Z Carmen Ghia
Constructed meticulously in Cleveland, Ohio, Dr Z makes some of the best boutique tone machines on the planet. Deceptively simple, monster sounds lurk behind the Carmen Ghia's spartan front panel.
Don't be fooled into thinking that it won't hold its own onstage either. In our experience, Dr Z watts are louder than most!
BUY: Dr Z Carmen Ghia currently available from Coda Music
Blackstar S1-104 EL34/6L6
Blackstar's Series 1 amps have found favour with progressive metal titans Opeth, amongst many others. The 6L6 and EL34 incarnations of the top of the range S1-104 give players two different flavours of four-channel head from which to choose. Tone heaven for modern rockers.
Two-Rock Jet 22
Two-Rock's Jet 22 sees John Mayer's favourite amplifier company pack its stadium-sized sound into a 22-watt package small enough to sit on the passenger seat of your car on the way to a gig. Expensive but world class.
You previously voted the iconic, incredible Matchless DC-30 into seventh place in our rundown of the best blues amps of all time. As we said at the time, "...of the hundreds of AC30-inspired boutique circuits, the Matchless DC-30 is the über-sophisticated king."
One member of the MusicRadar team spent most of the last decade using an AD30TC head in various live venues and in studios around the country. Well-behaved, reliable and with a very British sound akin to a warmer AC30, this Orange also does dirt very well indeed and sounds wonderful with PAF-style humbuckers.
Orange Thunderverb 200
Make that two Oranges in a row, although the Thunderverb 200 is a very different beast indeed. If 200 massive watts, built-in attenuation and an amazing array of sounds isn't enough for you, then it also doubles as a killer bass amp! If 200 watts is too much for you then we'd recommend checking out the equally brilliant Thunderverb 50.
The 100-watt Super Lead Overdrive from Soldano is a high-gain modern classic. Over the years, it has found favour with such disparate players as Eric Clapton, Lou Reed and Warren DeMartini. Now that's versatility...
BUY: Soldano SLO-100 currently available from Thomann
Fender Hot Rod Deluxe III
If you've been to a gig or walked into a music store in the last decade or so, you've almost certainly heard a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe in action. The most popular gigging amps on the market, Fender's Hot Rod series recently underwent a makeover and as a result the third incarnation of the Hot Rod Deluxe is the best yet.
Although the 5150 is now being manufactured under the EVH brand, Peavey's 6505+ is the latest and greatest incarnation of the amp that has become the sound of modern metal. Trivium, Machine Head and Bullet For My Valentine are just a few of the bands who rely on its powerful wall of gain. It's also central to producer Colin Richardson's guitar recording setup.
Blackstar HT Club 40
In a time of financial turmoil, Blackstar Amplification is a real British success story. The company's creations are now popping up on pub, club, arena and festival stages across the globe, and the HT Club 40 is a great grab-and-go combo for real world players.
The Vox AC30 is more than just a guitar amplifier, it's a device that has shaped the very sound of pop music itself. If you want the best AC30 since the 1960s then the hand-wired series is where it's at. Sublime.
If the heights of the hand-wired range are beyond your budget then the latest production Top Boost AC30s from Vox should be your next port of call. Priced sensibly and easier to control than its forebears, it's hardly surprising that this design proved so popular with the voting public.
All too often overlooked in recent years, Laney is a British amp manufacturer with a considerable heritage and some high-profile admirers in the shape of Tony Iommi, Mikael Åkerfeldt and Glenn Hughes. The VH100R is a gigging amp with punch and versatility, from super clean to sledgehammer gain.
BUY: Laney VH100R currently available from WoodBrass
How many of you grew up with posters on your bedroom walls that featured your hard rockin' heroes shredding away in front of a wall of Marshalls? The Marshall stack is synonymous with heavy rock and metal and the UK-made JVM410 is the company's ultra-versatile answer to a modern player's gigging needs.
If it's good enough for Joe Satriani then it's fine by us...
Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier
Back in 2010, you crowned the mighty Dual Rectifier the best amp for heavy metal players, and it clearly still holds a special place in your hearts. If the real thing is too much amp for you, earlier this year Mesa announced the launch of a miniature version...
Mesa/Boogie Mark Five
Another Boogie, the latest incarnation of Mesa's Mark Series is, for our money, "the ultimate compact yet powerful do-it-all amp." Swiss Army Knives don't come sharper than this...
Fender '65 Deluxe Reverb
In 2010 you voted the legendary Fender Deluxe Reverb to be the best amplifier for blues players, but it's so much more than that. Short of heavy metal, there's nothing that the humble Deluxe can't do in combination with a couple of well-chosen stompboxes. It's easily loud enough for club stages and also one of the most recorded amplifiers in history too. Every guitarist should aspire to own one.
Hughes & Kettner Coreblade
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner. Your votes have crowned the Hughes & Kettner Coreblade 'the best guitar amplifier in the world today.' An unlikely champ? Perhaps, but there's no denying that Hughes & Kettner is a brand synonymous with quality and reliability. The Coreblade is a valve-powered beast of a flagship head with onboard digital effects, full MIDI control and everything that the modern touring heavy rock guitarist requires, including stadium-filling high-gain sounds.
BUY: Hughes & Kettner Coreblade currently available from WoodBrass