6 Best Guitar Amp Brands of 2024

In the world of electric guitars, one essential piece of gear stands out as the sonic backbone of any guitarist's arsenal: the amplifier.

Whether you're a seasoned rock virtuoso, a blues aficionado, or a budding bedroom guitarist, the right amplifier can make all the difference in the world to your tone and playing experience.

In this article, we'll explore some of the best guitar amplifier brands that have consistently delivered top-notch amplifiers over the years.

Our top pick is Marshall, one of the most iconic brands in the music world, because of their legendary sound and premium build quality.

But just because it's our top pick doesn't mean it's the best amp brand for everyone. Read on to learn more about these iconic amp brands and find out which one best suits your needs.

Quick Summary of the Best Guitar Amp Brands

  1. Marshall (Best Overall)
  2. Fender (Best Clean Tones)
  3. Vox (Best British Invasion Tones)
  4. Orange (Most Iconic Aesthetic)
  5. Blackstar (Best for Versatility)
  6. Mesa/Boogie (Best for High Gain Tones)

Best Guitar Amp Brands

1. Best Overall – Marshall

A Brief History of Marshall Amps

In 1960, after a successful career as a drummer, Jim Marshall opened a family-run music store called Jim Marshall and Son in Hanwell, London.

The store quickly got a reputation as the place to be for young rock musicians since more established music stores at the time were focused on providing Jazz instruments. Jim saw this as an opportunity to supply the alternative crowd, and he soon became one of the leading amplifier stores in the region.

Eventually, Jim and his son Terry decided to build their own amps to cater to the demands of their young crowd, and the first Marshall amp—now known as “Number One”—was born.

Due to great interest, "Number One" went into production as the JTM45, which stands for Jim & Terry Marshall. It attracted 23 orders on its first day in store in September 1962 and would go on to become the first of many JTM45 amps.

What Makes Marshall Amplifiers Great?

There’s no doubt that Marshall has achieved an iconic status in the world of guitar amplification, counting among its users some of the world’s greatest bands and musicians, including Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Slash, Oasis, Muse, Gorillaz, and Bring Me The Horizon.

Marshall guitar amps are renowned for their distinctive and powerful sound, particularly for their high-gain and crunchy overdrive tones that have become synonymous with classic rock and hard rock music. The "Marshall roar" is instantly recognizable and highly sought after by guitarists.

Marshall's sturdy construction and reliability are also a huge part of what makes them such great amps. They are built to withstand the rigors of touring and live performances, making them a top choice for professional musicians.

While Marshall is celebrated for its classic tube amplifiers, the brand has also embraced modern technology and now offers digital modeling amps that provide a wide range of amp tones and effects, making their brand an incredibly versatile one.

2. Best Clean Tones – Fender

A Brief History of Fender Amps

The first guitar amps attributed to Leo Fender were manufactured by the K&F Manufacturing Corporation—the short-lived company co-owned by Fender and Doc Kauffman—between 1945 and 1946.

Later, after the dissolution of K&F, Fender began making amps under his own brand. It can be said that all Fender amps trace their lineage to the three so-called “woodie” amp models of 1946—the original Princeton, Deluxe (also called “Model 26”), and Professional.

In the modern era, Fender has occasionally paid tribute to these original woodie amps by issuing replica models that completely or partially mirror the basic design and stylish vibe of the originals, and updated iterations of the Princeton and Deluxe models are staples of the Fender amplification line to this day.

What Makes Fender Great?

Fender is an iconic brand in the music industry that creates some of the best guitar amps money can buy.

Fender offers a wide variety of amps that cater to all kinds of genres and playing styles. From clean and sparkling tones to gritty blues or high-gain rock, Fender has an amp model for everyone.

Fender guitar amps are celebrated for their pristine and articulate clean tones—the "Fender clean" sound is renowned for its clarity, warmth, and responsiveness. Many guitarists, including legends like Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton, have used Fender amps for their clean tones.

Fender's tube amps, such as the Twin Reverb and Deluxe Reverb, are considered classics in the industry. They are revered for their warm and organic sound, making them the preferred choice for vintage and blues enthusiasts.

3. Best British Invasion Tones – Vox

A Brief History of Vox Amps

The legendary sound of VOX Amplification began with Dick Denney, a young amplifier designer who began working for England’s JMI Corporation in 1957. Dick, a guitarist himself, worked tirelessly with the JMI staff to design an amplifier that could offer the volume and sustain that guitarists of the time were craving.

The result of their work was introduced to the world in January 1958. This amplifier dubbed the AC1/15, marked the very first appearance of the VOX name on a guitar amplifier and thus began an institution that has thrived for nearly 60 years. 

What Makes Vox Great? 

Vox was responsible for creating some of the most iconic and overall best guitar amps of the British Invasion era. Vox amps, like the AC30, played a pivotal role in shaping the sound of bands like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.

The iconic Vox tone is unique and distinctive and can be instantly recognized. The Vox AC30, in particular, is celebrated for its chimey, jangly, clean tones and sweet, harmonically rich overdrive when pushed.

Not content to stick to the status quo, Vox has a history of innovation in amplifier design. The introduction of the Top Boost circuit in the AC30, for example, allowed for more gain and tonal flexibility, further establishing Vox's reputation for sonic innovation.

Vox guitar amps are recognized for their stylish and retro aesthetics. The distinctive diamond grille cloth and vintage-inspired control panels are unmistakable.

4. Most Iconic Aesthetic – Orange

A Brief History of Orange Amps

Orange was founded in 1968 by Cliff Cooper, a musician and electronics enthusiast. The company was originally called "Orange Music Electronic Company" and began as a recording studio and music shop in London.

In 1972, Orange introduced their first amp: the OR120. This amp quickly gained attention for its distinctive appearance, featuring an orange amplifier head and black speaker cabinet. The bold design and unique sound helped Orange stand out in a crowded guitar amplifier market.

Over time, Orange expanded its product line to include a wide range of amplifiers and speaker cabinets. They also introduced smaller, more portable amplifiers like the Tiny Terror, which gained popularity for its versatility and compact size.

What Makes Orange Great? 

Orange amplifiers offer a warm, saturated sound characterized by a rich midrange and signature "Orange crunch." This tonal character has made Orange amps a favorite among guitarists seeking a distinctive and iconic sound.

Orange has been known for its innovative approach to amplifier design. In 1974, they introduced the first ever twin-channel amplifier, the Orange OR80/120 Twin Channel. This was a significant innovation, as it allowed guitarists to switch between clean and overdriven tones within the same amp.

From small, portable amps to high-powered heads and cabinets, Orange has options for guitarists at every skill level and playing style. No matter the size, Orange amps stand out for their robust construction and durability.

The bold and unmistakable appearance of Orange amplifiers, featuring bright orange amplifier heads and black speaker cabinets, makes them completely unique and instantly recognizable.

5. Best for Versatility – Blackstar

A Brief History of Blackstar Amps

Despite being a fairly new company, Blackstar Amplification has quickly risen to prominence in the music industry since its founding in 2007.

Blackstar was founded by former Marshall Amplification employees Ian Robinson and Bruce Keir in Northampton, England. The company was established with the goal of designing and producing high-quality guitar amplifiers with modern features and versatility.

Blackstar made a significant impact with its debut amplifier series, the Series One. These amps featured a versatile two-channel design, with both clean and overdrive channels, and were known for their impressive range and flexibility.

What Makes Blackstar Great? 

In a relatively short period, Blackstar has earned a reputation for producing high-quality amps that offer versatility, innovation, and great tone.

Blackstar is perhaps best known for its innovative spirit. They have created a range of amplifiers that combine classic analog warmth with modern digital technology, providing guitarists with a wide palette of tones and effects.

Blackstar's ID series showcases their proficiency in digital modeling. These amps provide an extensive range of tones and effects, allowing guitarists to explore various sonic possibilities. The intuitive interface and customization options make them user-friendly and versatile.

Blackstar amps are highly versatile and can fit many musical genres and playing styles. Whether you're into classic rock, heavy metal, blues, or jazz, you’re sure to find a Blackstar amp for you.

Blackstar amplifiers are renowned for their mind-blowing tonal options. They are capable of delivering rich, warm, and dynamic sounds, from pristine cleans to gritty overdrive and high-gain distortion. Their amps are designed to be responsive to a guitarist's touch and playing dynamics.

The Series One and Artisan series have received high praise for their premium-quality craftsmanship and boutique-level components. These amps offer the traditional tube tone in a modern package, appealing to both vintage enthusiasts and contemporary players.

6. Best for High Gain Tones – Mesa/Boogie

A Brief History of Mesa/Boogie Amps

Mesa/Boogie was founded by Randall Smith in 1969 in Petaluma, California. In the early 1970s, Smith began modifying amplifiers, particularly Fender Princeton and Deluxe models, to increase their performance and gain. These modifications laid the foundation for the company's future innovations.

In 1972, Mesa/Boogie introduced the iconic Mark I amplifier. As one of the first commercially successful high-gain amps, it's safe to say it revolutionized the amplifier game. Featuring a cascading preamp design, it allowed for higher gain and more distortion than many other amplifiers of the time. This innovation was especially popular among rock and metal guitarists.

Over the years, Mesa/Boogie expanded its product lineup to cater to various musical styles and has come to be recognized and used by professional musicians and guitarists worldwide.

What Makes Mesa/Boogie Great? 

Mesa/Boogie were pioneers in creating high-gain amps with cascading preamp stages, producing a distinctive, saturated, and responsive tone. This innovation changed the game in the amp industry and has influenced many other manufacturers.

Mesa amps are celebrated for their sound and provide rich, harmonically complex, and dynamic sounds that respond well to a guitarist's touch and playing dynamics. They also offer a wide range of tones, from a pristine, clean tone to searing high-gain distortion.

The Mesa/Boogie Rectifier series, including the Dual Rectifier and Triple Rectifier, has become iconic in the world of hard rock and metal. These amplifiers are known for their high-gain capabilities and have played a pivotal role in shaping the sound of heavy metal.

Mesa/Boogie's Simul-Class power amp design, which allows players to switch between Class A and Class AB operation, adds to their tonal versatility and flexibility.

Mesa/Boogie amps have consistently pushed the boundaries of amplifier technology and continue to be a go-to choice for guitarists seeking premium amplification.

Best Guitar Amp Brands Buyer's Guide

If you're researching amplifiers because you're considering making a purchase of your own, you're in the right place. In this section, we'll explore some factors you should consider before making your final selection.

Playing Style and Genre

Your playing style and the musical genres you prefer to play will heavily influence your choice of amplifier.

Different amp companies are known for specific characteristics that may align better with certain styles. For example, Fender is often associated with clean tones suitable for blues, country, and classic rock, while Marshall is renowned for its high-gain capabilities suited for rock and metal.

Sound

Consider the specific sound you're looking to achieve. Do you prefer bright, clean tones, warm and bluesy sounds, or heavy, distorted tones? Different amp brands have distinct tonal signatures, so research and listen to sound samples to find the one that resonates with your preferences.

Whenever possible, try out amplifiers from different brands in person. Playing through the amps will give you a firsthand experience of their tone, feel, and user-friendliness, helping you make an informed decision.

Budget

Your budget will play a significant role in your choice of amp brand. Some brands offer a wide range of price points, from budget-friendly options to high-end boutique amplifiers. Determine your budget and explore brands that align with it.

Amplifier Type

Decide whether you want a tube amplifier, a solid-state amplifier, or a hybrid model. Each type has its own characteristics and maintenance requirements. Some brands are known for their tube amps, while others specialize in solid-state or digital modeling amps.

Size and Portability

Consider your practical needs. Will you be gigging frequently and need a portable combo amp, or do you have a dedicated practice space where a larger stack might be suitable? Different brands offer various sizes and configurations, so choose one that fits your intended usage.

Features and Versatility

Consider the features you need. Do you require multiple channels, built-in effects, or specific tone-shaping options? Different brands offer a variety of features, so choose one that aligns with your requirements.

Artist Endorsements

Some brands collaborate with renowned artists to create signature amp models. If you admire a particular guitarist's tone, you may want to explore the brand they endorse to capture a similar sound.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do top guitar amp brands offer affordable beginner amplifiers for new players?

Many of the best guitar amp brands we’ve covered on this list—like Fender, Marshall, Blackstar, Vox, and Orange—offer affordable beginner amps designed to provide new players with a good starting point for their musical journey.

These amps typically balance cost-effectiveness with essential features and sound quality to provide a great amp for beginners.

Marshall

Fender

Vox

Orange

Blackstar

Mesa/Boogie

Tube vs. solid-state vs. digital: Which one is best for me?

The choice between a tube amp, a solid-state amp, or a digital amp depends on your specific needs, preferences, and playing style. Be sure to check out our article "What is an Amplifier" if you'd like to learn even more about different amplifier technologies!

Tube Amps

Tube amps are known for their warm, organic, and harmonically rich tones. They excel at producing classic, vintage, and responsive guitar sounds. Tube distortion is often preferred for its natural and musical qualities.

These amps are favored in genres like blues, classic rock, jazz, and many forms of rock music. They are also popular for studio recording due to their pleasing sound.

Tubes require periodic replacement, and tube amps may need more maintenance than solid-state or digital counterparts. However, some players appreciate the hands-on aspect of tube maintenance.

A tube amp tends to be heavier and bulkier, making it less portable for gigging musicians.

Solid-State Amps

Solid-state amps are known for their reliability and durability. They are less susceptible to damage from bumps and jolts during transport.

They often produce very clean tones and can remain pristine even at high volumes and are suitable for genres that require a clean and transparent sound.

Solid-state amplifiers are often more budget-friendly than their tube and digital counterparts.

They are typically lighter and more compact than tube amps, making them great practice amps and ideal for small gigs.

Digital Amps

Digital amps offer a wide range of tones and effects. They can replicate the sounds of various classic amplifiers, making them versatile for different styles of music.

Many digital amps are lightweight and portable, making them ideal for gigging musicians who need to move their gear frequently.

They often come with built-in effects like delay, reverb, modulation, and more, reducing the need for additional pedals.

Digital amps also often come with a headphone output and direct recording capabilities, making them great for silent practice and home recording.

They are less affected by temperature changes and have consistent performance, unlike tube amps, which may sound different as tubes heat up.

Conclusion

The world of guitar amplifiers is enriched by a variety of top-tier brands, each with its unique strengths and qualities. The best guitar amp brand for you ultimately depends on your playing style, preferences in sound, budget, and other specific needs.

Fender and Marshall stand out as iconic names with a rich history in rock and blues, offering classic tones that have shaped music for decades.

Vox and Orange bring distinctive British-inspired sounds, while Blackstar and Mesa/Boogie provide diverse options for different playing styles and genres.

Explore, experiment, and, most importantly, have fun!

While you're exploring, make sure to browse through our selection of the best guitar speakers.

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