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Crank the Volume: The Best Guitar Amps

  1. Randall RG1003H 100-Watt Guitar Amp
  2. Mesa/Boogie Mark Five Guitar Amplifier
  3. Marshall Haze MHZ15
  4. Fender Vintage Reissue Black Reverb Guitar Combo Amplifier
  5. Roland Cube Lite Guitar Amplifier
  6. Marshall AS50D Acoustic Guitar Amplifier
  7. Marshall MA50C Guitar Combo Amp
  8. Mesa/Boogie Express 5:50 Plus 50-Watt 1x12" Combo Amp
  9. Lazy J Model 80 Guitar Combo Amp
  10. Matchless Nighthawk Reverb 1x12 Guitar Combo Amp
  11. Hughes & Kettner TubeMeister 36 Guitar Amp Head
  12. Marshall DSL Series DSL100H Guitar Amplifier Head
  13. Fender 65 Deluxe Reverb Head Guitar Amplifier Head
  14. Fender Hot Rod Deluxe 112 Guitar Speaker Cabinet
  15. Buyer's Guide

When it’s time to crank up the volume, guitarists need to look no further than a good guitar amp. Since the invention of rock and roll, the amplifier has played a major role in not just projecting the sound of the electric guitar, but also in shaping the tone, style, and attitude, allowing players to carve out their own voice in the world of guitar playing. Although the amplifier may be most commonly associated with the Spinal Tap-esque imagery of loud, deafening metal bands, nearly every style of music that utilizes electric guitar (or any electric instruments, for that matter) counts the amplifier as an important part of the sound chain. And as technology continues to advance, there are more options than ever for guitarists looking to buy their own amp, so we created a list of the best guitar amps in 2022. There’s a lot to consider, but luckily we’ve compiled some important things to keep in mind in our guitar amp buyer’s guide below.

Detailing the Best Guitar Amps of 2022

Randall RG1003H 100-Watt Guitar Amp - Best Guitar Amp Overall

The look and design of the Randall RG1003H guitar amp head should give you a clue as to what type of sound it is capable of creating; this thing looks like it was sent here from an alternate future where the only way to survive is to rock peoples’ faces off. True to form, that’s exactly what this unit is built for, with three channels in place to drive a signal up to 100W. The solid-state technology in this unit can be further tempered by the on-board EQ, while the channels can be easily accessed during a performance using the included footswitch. Looking to make the RG1003H’s sound even more grand and room-filling? Try the onboard Spring Reverb to spread your sound even wider.

Mesa/Boogie Mark Five Guitar Amplifier

Mesa/Boogie Mark Five Guitar Amplifier - Runner Up

Mesa/Boogie based their Mark Five: 25 guitar amp head on the same model that drove their original Mark 5 three-channel amplifier, a collection of the company’s most-beloved amps in one single package. Now you can get all of that in a much smaller and easy-to-transport package, along with a variety of tone-controlling features that really allow players to cherry pick their sound. Two channels offer a wide range of tonal options. Channel 1 is able to switch between clean, fat, and crunch modes, while channel 2 offers specific Mesa/Boogie amp settings in the Mark II C+, Mark IV, and Xtreme modes.

An on-board 5-Band Graphic EQ wrangles it all together, implemented at the end of the signal chain so that you can carefully apply it as the last tone-shaping factor after you’ve made your channel decisions. The Mark Five also comes equipped with an all-tube spring reverb that can individually sent out to each channel, giving you the option to provide subtle sounds or a full-on wet effect. And the CABCLONE is a D.I. and Cabinet Simulator that gives you the ability to capture the sound directly from the Mark Five’s speaker output and route it out for a clear and accurate signal that’s great for recording or sending the signal to a console/converter. Switches for the speaker status, cabinet style, ground, and XLR balanced output give you the full range of options to get the tone you desire.

Marshall Haze MHZ15

Marshall Haze MHZ15 - Honorable Mention

The Marshall name doesn’t necessarily invoke the concept of low wattage. After all, the company has built its brand on the enormous stacks that have become synonymous with arena-shaking rock gods. But the company has managed to transfer its industry-approved tone and control into a smaller package with the Haze MHZ15 amp head. This compact mini-tube unit offers razor-sharp control and killer tone without running the risk of notifying everyone on your block when you plug your axe in.

A normal channel offers clean and crunch-like tones, while the overdrive channel can run the gamut between classic rock drive to thick and mighty distortion. Each channel is also able to be boosted via a four button footswitch option. The Haze MHZ15 also includes an array of digital effects that bring this piece of gear squarely into modern times. Choose between vibrato, delay, and chorus, along with a spring reverb that is perfect for conjuring that vintage vibe. If you find a favored setting, you can save the previously used FX parameters and recall them when you return to that channel.

Fender Vintage Reissue Black Reverb Guitar Combo Amplifier - Consider

Fender certainly got it right when they created their Princeton Reverb amp back in the 1960s, and since then that tube-powered tone has become a standard for guitarists across the board. With their ’65 Princeton Reverb 15 watt amplifier, guitarists can capture that legendary sound in an easily transportable, low wattage unit. When played at lower volumes, this amp produces the trademark clean, fat sound that guitarists associate with Fender. When turned up more, you can introduce a degree of grit that really dirties things up to generate more snarl and attitude.

The ’65 Princeton Reverb amp also comes with built-in reverb and vibrato effects that can be used to further color your sound, all inside one piece of gear. Those effects can easily be triggered on and off using the included 2-button footswitch. Control your tone using the treble, bass, volume, reverb, speed, and intensity controls. And because you may find yourself taking this amplifier with you wherever you go, it’s great that this model also comes with a black textured vinyl covering, great not just for travel, but also to keep your amp clean and dust-free should it sit in a contained space for an extended period.

Roland Cube Lite Guitar Amplifier - Best Budget Digital Modeling Guitar Combo Amp

At first glance, the Roland Cube Lite doesn’t even truly look like your standard guitar combo amp, and truthfully, it isn’t. In terms of look and design, this unit much more closely resembles something along the lines of a Bose radio speaker; however, looks can be deceiving. The Cube Lite offers three different tone settings (JC CLEAN, CRUNCH, and EXTREME COSM), stereo chorus, and reverb effects. An I-CUBE LINK allows players to connect the amp to their iPhone, iPad, and iPhone touch, making for a quick and easy way to jam along to your favorite tunes and even to record your signal into said devices. While many amplifiers look like, well, amplifiers, the Cube Lite is designed to stylishly fit into your living room setting, with its sleek look and unobtrusive size and shape. It can also be used to simply play back music from your digital library, which certainly carves this amp out as being distinctive from the rest of its digital modeling brethren.

Marshall AS50D Acoustic Guitar Amplifier - Best Acoustic Guitar Combo Amplifier

The Marshall Acoustic Soloist AS50D combo amplifier is an ideal rig for acoustic guitarists looking to crank up their signal for gigs and rehearsals. The line out and XLR DI included in this unit also enable you to bring the AS50D into larger venues as well, giving this amp a versatility that is useful for guitarists of all types. Two channels are available in this unit, and the sounds from both can be further tweaked via onboard effects. Add reverb or chorus to widen your sound and expand your sonic palette. You can also add external pedals and effects processors via the amplifier’s effects loop. The AS50D also comes with an anti-feedback control to nip any unwanted sounds in the bud and ensure your signal is clear and tamed, even when things might go a bit awry.

best Marshall MA50C Guitar Combo Amp

Marshall MA50C Guitar Combo Amp - Best Medium Range Guitar Combo Amp

The Marshall tone lives on in the MA50C guitar combo amp. The tubes are in full effect in this piece of gear, in this case utilizing a pair of ECC83 double triodes in the preamp, and EL34 pentodes in the power amp. Choose between Clean and Overdrive channels, but know that in either case you’ll be able to further shape your tone using separate EQ stages. The latter channel also features a boost feature, which is perfect for when you want your guitar signal to cut through for solos or particularly prominent parts. There's also a spring reverb available for use on both channels. You can switch between clean, overdrive, and the boosted overdrive using the included footswitch. A serial effects loop also enables you to bring your stompboxes and other pedals into the mix seamlessly and with instant results.

best Mesa/Boogie Express 5:50 Plus 50-Watt 1x12" Combo Amp

Mesa/Boogie Express 5:50 Plus 50-Watt 1x12" Combo Amp - Best High-End Guitar Combo Amp

With their Express 5:50 Plus guitar combo amplifier, Mesa/Boogie clearly is offering a product to guitarists who want to be able to do it all with a single amplifier. Driven by its all-tube setup, this amplifier can be used in small and intimate clubs or stadium-sized venues. Two channels offer a total of four tone modes. Channel 1 is the home of the pristine-sounding CLEAN and the mid-gain snarl of CRUNCH, which makes it perfect for playing more percussive rhythmic parts. Channel 2 cranks it up a bit, with the singing howl of BLUES and the the overdriven growl of BURN. These tones can be further sculpted using the 5-band graphic EQ; not only can you get very specific in how you make these settings sound, but they can also be programmed via footswitch, and the sliders can be auto-assigned to each preset control. This is an incredibly dynamic piece of gear, but that’s not where the impressive nature of this amp stops as it’s also covered by Mesa/Boogie’s transferrable warranty. It covers five years on the electronics, three for the speakers, and six months for the tubes, so rest assured your investment is protected should any unexpected issues crop up.

Lazy J Model 80 Guitar Combo Amp

Lazy J Model 80 Guitar Combo Amp - Best High-End Guitar Combo Amp

The Lazy J Model 80’s name is something of a misnomer, as this high-end guitar combo amp is far from shiftless. Modeled after the impeccable sounds that came from Fender Tweed-era Twin amplifiers, this unit produces a pristine sound which can get exceptionally loud, offering up to 80 watts through its 2x12 cabinet. Powered by 3 12AX7s tubes along with 4 6L6s and a GZ34 rectifier, this amplifier has earned some notably high-profile fans, including Noel Gallagher, Pete Townshend, Joe Walsh, and Jeff Beck.

Part of what makes this amp so exceptional is the fine-tuned craft that has been put into its design by Lazy J owner Jesse Hoff. The Model 80 is wired “point to point,” which means every internal component and wire has been soldered. This is a manufacturing process which was implemented in the 60’s for the rigs of some of the greatest guitarists of all time, and has since been abandoned in favor of cheaper labor and less-intensive manufacturing procedures. This amp also has an optional modules for tremolo and reverb, and a push/pull switch that can be used to dial in additional gain. To top it all off, the cabinet itself is built from finger-joined pine and covered with a lacquered, hand-aged tweed to provide a vintage-looking experience that perfectly complements the classic sound the amp produces.

Matchless Nighthawk Reverb 1x12 Guitar Combo Amp

Matchless Nighthawk Reverb 1x12 Guitar Combo Amp - Best High-End Guitar Combo Amp

The Matchless Nighthawk Reverb 1x12 is a high-end guitar combo amp that seamlessly blends British and American overdriven sounds to create a stunning tone which can make nearly any guitar sound like a winner. The tube setup for the Nighthawk at first appears standard as you’ve got a 12AX7 that drives a pair of EL84s, working alongside a 5AR4 rectifier and two additional 12AX7s to power the optional all-valve reverb circuit.

What gives this amp its unique character is its EF86 valve, a small high-gain component prominently used in the normal channel of vintage Vox AC15 and AC30 amplifiers. This produces an exceptional amount of gain. Depending on the pickups in your guitar, this feature can really make this an ideal tool for those who seek a heavier rock sound.

Cleaner sounds may lose some headroom with this model, so if possible, it’s best to explore the sound with your exact guitar before purchasing this item. The Nighthawk’s six position rotary switch will allow players to incrementally decrease the bass and mid frequencies of their tone. However, operating in this capacity allows an easy and precise way to find the sounds that you want rather than loosely twisting knobs.

Hughes & Kettner TubeMeister 36 Guitar Amp Head

Hughes & Kettner TubeMeister 36 Guitar Amp Head - Best Medium Range Guitar Amp Head

The fact that Hughes & Kettner’s TubeMeister 36 is classified as a guitar amp head is something of a technicality. Yes, it’s the size of a head but it offers versatility and performance options that truly make a strong argument it should be included amongst its bigger brothers for consideration. The head comes with three channels which can remarkably be accessed via a built-in MIDI system. That feature also grants players the ability to trigger the head’s switchable serial FX loop and onboard reverb effect. Additionally, the MIDI function can also switch through power output modes, allowing players to choose between 36 watts, 18 watts, 5 watts, 1 watt, and speaker off mode.

As if that weren’t enough, the TubeMeister also includes a  tube safety control, which monitors the head’s power tubes and adjusts the bias in an effort to provide the best possible sound from the unit. The other features in this amp head seem basic in comparison to the aforementioned capabilities, but they are still worth noting for their excellence including 3-band EQ, built-in Redbox DI to ensure your tone is great no matter where or what you’re working with, and an effects loop to bring in your pedalboard and processors.

Marshall DSL Series DSL100H Guitar Amplifier Head - Best Medium Range Guitar Amp Head

The Marshall DSL 100H guitar amp head is made for those who want to summon the almighty rocking sounds of some of the biggest rock stars in recent musical history. Featuring two channels (classic and ultra gain) this is an ideal tool for playing sparkling clean tones or over-driven riffs and leads that make it an obvious choice for metal and rock genres. An all-valve configuration inside this head promises reliably awesome-sounding tone. A five-way EQ allows you to alter the frequency ranges of your axe, while a tone shift button scoops out the mids and gives you the sound necessary to shred metal riffs to your heart’s desire. The DSL 100H also comes with a digital reverb to further make your tone sound big and sweeping, while a rear panel Pentode/Triode switch gives you the option to decrease the head’s output from 100 watts to 50 watts, which can significantly influence this piece of gears performance and feel.

Fender 65 Deluxe Reverb Head Guitar Amplifier Head - Best Medium Range Guitar Amp Head

Fender’s ’65 Deluxe Reverb amp head practically oozes the vintage-sounding, immaculate tone that can only be associated with tube-powered amplifiers, so it should come as no surprise that this unit is comprised of nine (!) different tubes. Offering 22 watts of power, this is an ideal tool for those playing rock, blues, country, or any other genre requiring an almost human-like scream and distinct dynamic range.

The head features a normal channel as well as a vibrato channel, giving you some sonic options in terms of what you want your guitar to sound like. A tube-driven spring reverb and tremolo effect further provide choices in how your tone can be colored. Use the 2-button footswitch to effortlessly switch said effects on and off. The black textured vinyl covering and silver grille cloth epitomizes the classic Fender brand, so you’ll be getting the sound and look of a classic in one compact unit.

Fender Hot Rod Deluxe 112 Guitar Speaker Cabinet - Best Guitar Amp Cabinet Overall

Fender’s Hot Rod Deluxe 112 guitar amp cabinet offers that stable Fender sound for guitarists who want to turn up their tone. Although this cab works perfectly with other amp heads in the Fender Hot Rod line, it is compatible with most other amps. And while the sight of a big cabinet is typically associated with blazing, loud rock music, this piece of gear has found a special place in the hearts of players across the board, from jazz to country to pop, as well. Its closed-back construction provides a tighter sound that offers true punch and more low-end while a single Celestion speaker pumps out the signal with ease.

Buyer's Guide

Determining the desired sound and application of the music you’ll be playing can help narrow down your search for the perfect guitar amplifier. There are models that are ideal for quick and easy transportation and set-up, whereas others are a bit more intricate, employing several components to result in the final configuration. Some amplifiers are set up to excel in certain genres or playing styles, whereas others are ideal for general use all across the board. Many amps come with built-in effects, while others can be customized based on the type of tubes or pre-amps are included in the chain. There are some key components you’ll want to be aware of before you make your purchase, but in most cases, you will want to try out a guitar amp yourself before making your final decision. To help you out in the meantime, here are some basics you need to know.

Combo vs. Head and Cabinet Amps

Combo amp

A combo amp is a single unit that contains both the speakers and the amplifier itself. It’s extremely easy to travel with and set up; in most cases, guitarists simply plug it into the wall, plug their guitar into the input jack, switch it on, and they’re ready to rock.

Combo amps come in a variety of sizes that are designed for different types of use. If you’re going to be using the amplifier primarily at home or in smaller venues, a small combo with one 8-inch, 10-inch, or 12-inch speaker is a more than adequate option. For larger rooms and louder situations, 2x12 combo amps (which combine two 12-inch speakers, hence the name) kick things up a necessary notch.

Head and cabinet

The head and cabinet setup takes the combo amplifier and breaks it into separate pieces. In this case, the amp head is used to process and shape the tone of the guitar that plugs into it, and then this signal is routed to the speaker cabinet to make the sound louder.

This type of setup is primarily designed for guitarists who consistently play in large venues where they need to get extra loud; there’s also an aesthetic appeal, as this creates the iconic rock and roll “wall of sound” backdrop for when you’re blowing people’s faces off in, say, Wembley Stadium.

Although the head and cabinet setup also gives players the ability to customize their sound by mixing and matching different components to create their ideal sound, for most novices (and truthfully, even up to musicians who rely on guides like this one), a combo amp is probably the most convenient and appropriate bet.

Types of Guitar Amps

Tube amp

In the beginning, there were tube amps. Using actual tubes inside the body of the amp, guitarists could overdrive their signal to create a slightly “hot” tone that continues to be favored by musicians today; while there have been many advances in some of the competitors to tube amps, there is still an overall “feel” that many believe has not yet been surpassed.

Tube amps generally have separate channels that allow players to switch between clean and overdriven tones. The glass tubes that define this type of amp are fragile, and also need routine maintenance and replacing.


Solid-state amps came later. By replicating the sound of tube amps via the use of transistors, the solid-state amp offers a cheaper alternative to tubes and is also far less prone to any of the aforementioned maintenance issues. They too offer clean and distorted channels, and over time have become better and better at approximating the classic tube sound. Because they are so much more affordable, solid-state amps tend to be the amplifier of choice for beginners starting out with limited budgets.

Digital/modeling amps

Digital amps (also known as modeling amps) approximate the tube tone using digital processors. As they essentially are using a computer program to replicate sounds, these amplifiers often offer several different “sounds” or “boxes” in one compact package. They also offer a slew of processed effects built into the package.

Hybrid amps

Hybrid amplifiers combine the best elements of both tube and solid-state amps into one contained unit. These setups typically utilize tubes in the pre-amp, while relying on the solid-state digital processing to power the signal, effectively eliminating the need for power tubes. Many players prefer having a hybrid set-up, while some feel that the warmth and overall tube tone gets compromised in the process. 

Effects to Look Out for in the Ideal Guitar Amp

Although there are a variety of guitar effects pedals that are available to help guitarists shape and transform their signal into many different types of sounds, many amplifiers also come equipped with their share of effects that can be just as useful.

Built-in reverb

Most amplifiers commonly come with built-in reverb, which creates an echo-like reverberated sound around the guitar signal similar to what you might hear if you were in a large hall. Although the parameters to control the reverb are not quite as advanced as what you might find in a pedal or processor solely dedicated to reverb effects, it’s still a great option to give your guitar an airy, grand sound.

Separate channels

Many amplifiers provide separate channels for clean and distorted sounds. This feature was originally introduced exclusively via tube amps, through which the tubes would overdrive the signal so far that it would come through as “hot” or overdriven – what we would call distorted. Today, this feature isn’t limited to tube amps; solid-state amplifiers and digital modelers can also give guitarists the grit they are looking for through their amplifier alone.


Tremolo is another common built-in effect that one can find most often in vintage amplifiers. Often mislabeled as a vibrato effect, tremolo approximates what it would sound like if you were to hit a note on your guitar and then rapidly turn the volume knob up and down. Speed can be adjusted to create alternating volume fluctuation rates, while the depth controls affect the range at which that signal is altered. This effect is most popular in genres such as rockabilly and surf rock.


Chorus is a built-in effect that is frequently seen in amplifiers. By duplicating the original guitar signal and altering that duplication slightly enough, the result sounds as though the tone is being voiced by multiple sources – a chorus, if you will. It’s a great way to thicken up the sound, and – when used with other effects like distortion – expand multiple layers of tones within a signal. 

Amp Construction

Although the actual construction of an amplifier may not be the first thing that players think of when considering purchasing a guitar amp, the physical attributes of a unit can make an impact on the resulting sound. Amplifiers that have closed backs typically do a better job at processing bass sound. Because of the vibrations that occur when sound is emitted from a speaker, amplifiers require wood that is at least ½-inch thick in order to prevent the interior from shaking loose. This configuration will also ensure a clearer and stronger signal.

If you’re planning on moving your amplifier around a lot (whether you’re touring, playing the occasional gig, or just moving the amp to different parts of your home), there are additional features that can improve your experience. Corner protectors can help protect your amp from regular wear and tear, while rolling wheels can make the transportation process much easier. For smaller units, a handle is also a great accessory that will make a world of a difference when you’re trying to quickly reposition an amp on or off-stage.

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