When it comes to choosing a guitar amplifier, there’s an abundance of excellent options available from the top manufacturers, making it difficult to decide between them.
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Solid-state amps provide unrivaled convenience, housing a range of digital sounds, making them a much more versatile option than their tube-driven counterparts.
In this article, we’ve carefully selected the best solid-state amps available. We’ve included options that are compatible with all genres and styles and suitable for all budgets.
Our top recommendation is the Fender Tone Master Deluxe Reverb, which combines the outstanding tones of Fender’s classic tube amps with the functionality of a solid-state device.
A great solid-state amplifier will provide you with an array of high-quality sounds, effects, and features, enhancing everything from your recordings to your practice sessions.
Quick Summary of the Best Solid State Amps
- Fender Tone Master Deluxe Reverb 1×12″ Combo Amp (Best Overall)
- Boss Katana Artist MkII Combo Amp (Best Modeling Amp)
- Roland JC-120 Jazz Chorus Combo Amp (Best Solid State Amp for Clean Tones)
- Orange Super Crush 100 Combo Amp (Best Vintage Style Amp)
- Boss Katana-50 MkII Combo Amp (Best Budget Solid State Amp)
Best Solid State Amps
1. Best Overall – Fender Tone Master Deluxe Reverb 1×12″ Combo Amp
- Total Power: 100W
- Speaker: 1 x 12″ Jensen N-12K Neo
- Effects: Digital Reverb, Tremolo
- Amp Modeling: Deluxe Tube Amp Emulation
Although Fender is best known for their iconic vintage tube amps, the legendary American brand also knows how to design amazing combo amps like the Tone Master Deluxe Reverb.
One of the things that stood out to me when I first saw this amp was how much its appearance resembles a Fender tube amp. However, when it comes to versatility, this amplifier is noticeably superior.
Rather than sticking to one musical style or genre, it’s becoming more common for modern guitarists to incorporate different aspects into their playing. This digital Deluxe Reverb is perfect for switching things up and experimenting.
I was highly impressed by the quality of the onboard digital modeling, which has come on in leaps and bounds from previous solid-state Fender amps. The tube-inspired presets sound incredibly authentic, so much so that it can be difficult to tell them apart from the real thing.
The Jensen N-12K speaker adds the finishing touches to this amp. It offers clarity in the treble frequencies while also producing strong mids and lows.
Furthermore, Fender has made the cabinet out of pine so that it’s significantly lighter than most combo amps – making it easy to transport from the practice room to the stage.
Overall, this amplifier offers a wide range of vintage and modern amp models that cater to all genres. It’s also very mobile – despite packing a considerable punch, the amp weighs only 23 lb, and you can use the power attenuation feature to reduce the wattage to suit the location you’re playing in.
The only slight weakness we found was that the onboard effects offered by this amplifier are limited compared to some other solid-state devices.
2. Best Modeling Amp – Boss Katana Artist MkII Combo Amp
- Total Power: 100W
- Speaker: 1 x 12″ Custom Waza Speaker
- Effects: Reverb, Delay, Tremolo, Flanger, Pitch Shift, Phaser, Wah
- Amp Modeling: Boss Waza Amp Models
It’s impossible to discuss the best solid-state amps without mentioning Boss’ legendary Katana amp. The Katana Artist MkII is the latest addition to the hugely popular series, retaining the signature features of previous models while adding many improvements.
I’ve been lucky enough to use several amps from the Katana range in the past, and one thing that always stands out to me is how good the onboard effects sound. With this model, Boss has tapped into all of its expertise and experience, installing stompbox-quality FX into the device.
In addition to the tone-bending effects, the Katana Artist MkII features a selection of the finest amp model presets you’ll come across. This makes it an excellent choice for guitarists who don’t want to be confined to a small number of tones when recording or playing live.
The power of this amp can be adjusted from a maximum of 100W to 50W and 0.5W settings, so it’s suitable for any environment. And to top it off, the Custom Waza speaker can produce everything from smooth, clean tones to gritty distortion, making this amp an excellent all-rounder.
With its high-quality amp models and cab simulations, I found the Katana Artist MkII to be an amazing tool for recording guitar parts. You can also record and perform silently using the cab-emulated outputs.
At 41 lbs, the Katana is pretty heavy for a solid-state amplifier, which could be a downside if you need your guitar rig to be as portable as possible.
3. Best Solid State Amp for Clean Tones – Roland JC-120 Jazz Chorus Combo Amp
- Total Power: 120W
- Speaker: 2 x 12” Roland Speakers
- Effects: Reverb, Vibrato, Chorus
- Amp Modeling: 1975 JC-120 Amp Emulation
The JC-120 is one of the best solid-state guitar amps we’ve ever used. Based on the iconic original that was released in 1975, this device has many strengths, but the standout quality is its impeccable clean tone.
A 120-watt powerhouse, the Jazz Chorus 2 is loaded with a pair of 12” speakers that deliver a sparkling tone. If you play funk, R&B, or any other style of guitar that requires a clear and rhythmic sound – this is the amp for you.
The pristine clean tone means that you no longer need to worry about whether your effects pedals will be compatible with your amp. It soaks up gain, modulation, and timing-based effects effortlessly and boasts one of the best clean tones we’ve ever heard from a solid-state or tube device!
And if you’re a fan of the good old ‘70s style chorus, Roland’s revered Dimensional Space effect is a must-have. This onboard effect is based on the iconic CE-1 that was released in the early 1980s and rivals even the finest VST plugins and pedals in terms of quality.
This amplifier is powerful enough to be used in the largest of live music venues, so investing in it will mean you never need to upgrade to a larger device if the scale of your performance increases.
With lots of power comes an increase in size. It’s worth noting that this is one of the heaviest and bulkiest solid-state amplifiers on the market and therefore isn’t easy to transport unless you use a case with wheels.
4. Best Vintage Style Amp – Orange Super Crush 100 Combo Amp
- Total Power: 100W
- Speaker: 1 x 12″ G12-K150
- Effects: Reverb, 3-Band EQ
- Amp Modeling: CabSim Speaker Emulation
British amp manufacturer Orange may be best known for their tube-driven classic amps, but the Super Crush 100 proves that they also know how to create excellent solid-state guitar amplifiers.
My first thought when testing this amp was whether Orange would be able to deliver its warm and full-bodied tube tone in a combo amplifier. Seconds after plugging a guitar into the device, I had my answer – a resounding yes!
When using the Super Crush 100, you can access authentic-sounding tube emulations in a more convenient and versatile format. It’s tailor-made for rock, blues, and metal guitarists who don’t want to stick to one specific sound.
The CabSim feature allows you to tap into a range of vintage and modern-inspired tones without needing to mess around with software or settings on a pedal. It simplifies finding the sound you want so that you can get straight back to the fun part – playing your guitar.
Overall, the Super Crush 100 produces realistic emulations of classic tones you’d expect to hear from a vintage Orange amp without the unpredictability of tubes. The dirty channel is versatile and ideal for heavy rock, blues, and metal guitarists.
The amplifier only includes reverb and EQ and is limited in terms of its onboard effects. Also, there is only one power setting at 100W, so this amp is probably not well suited to playing in quiet environments.
5. Best Budget Solid State Amp – Boss Katana-50 MkII Combo Amp
- Total Power: 50W
- Speaker: 1 x 12″ Custom Waza Speaker
- Effects: Reverb, Delay + 60 BOSS Effects via Tone Studio Software
- Amp Modeling: Boss Waza Amp Models
The portable and affordable Katana-50 MkII allows you to access all of the benefits of a Boss solid-state amp without worrying about where you’re going to store it. This amp is ideal for practicing at home, playing in small gig venues, and recording into your DAW.
Compatible with the Boss Tone Studio Editor software, this amp will remove the need for any effects pedals. It offers a fine selection of modulation, reverb, delays, and crunchy overdrive to suit all musical styles.
The variable power control feature means you will no longer need to worry about disturbing anyone nearby when you’re enjoying the many sounds this amp has to offer. It also includes a USB and line output for direct recording into your audio interface or computer.
This amp is practically sized but still offers considerable volume and power when required, and the connectivity it offers expands your options when recording, playing live, or practicing.
Although it is a decent addition, the onboard “acoustic mode,” preset doesn’t deliver the same level of quality as the other four amp settings and, therefore, shouldn’t be relied on for amplifying acoustic guitars.
Best Solid State Amps Buyer’s Guide
Although many guitarists prefer the classic sound of tube amps, it’s hard to deny the brilliance of solid-state amplifiers. Advances in digital technology have allowed manufacturers to produce modeling amps that can produce very similar tones as those that come from vacuum tubes – with more versatility.
Whether you’re looking for a simple combo guitar amplifier that offers a reliable, clean channel, or you need a huge range of speaker cab emulations and onboard effects, there are many options to choose from.
In our buyer’s guide, you’ll find all the important information you need to remember when navigating the best solid-state amps. We’ll cover the basic features that many solid-state amps offer, along with the more advanced aspects so that you can make the right choice.
Things to Look for When Buying a Solid-State Amp
- Power and Volume: Depending on what you intend to use your amp for, you’ll need to consider its power rating, which directly impacts the maximum volume. Smaller practice amps designed to be used at home are usually around 30-50 watts, while those used for live gigs need to be around 100 watts.
- Sound Quality and Tone: Solid-state amps each have different tonal characteristics, depending on the intention of the manufacturer. Some may be designed to produce pristine clean tones, while others may excel when producing overdrive and distortion. Think about the tones you need to achieve the sound you’re aiming for.
- Onboard Effects and Features: One of the main advantages of these amps is that they often house an array of effects and features like amp models or cab simulation. These features can be adjusted using the onboard controls of the amp, so be sure to look out for them.
- Speaker Size and Type: The size, quantity, and variety of the speakers that are installed in an amp play a vital role in determining the sound quality and dynamics it produces. If you need to play at high volume, an amp with two speakers may be a better option than one that has a single, smaller speaker.
Power Output & Variable Settings
Solid-state devices are designed to boost the signal of a guitar or other instrument while also shaping the tonal and dynamic characteristics. The amplification process requires power, and this is measured in watts.
The more powerful the amp is, the louder its maximum volume will be. 100-120w is the upper range for large amps designed to be used in big spaces, as these can reach very high volumes.
Other smaller models may have a power rating of 25-50w, which is perfect for developing your skills at home, recording in a D.I.Y studio, or playing in more intimate gig venues.
Another thing to look out for is variable power settings, which are becoming more and more common on solid-state amps. The manufacturer may install several settings so that you can tweak the power output to suit the purpose and environment.
For example, the Fender Tone Master Deluxe Reverb that we recommended in this article can be used at 100W, 22W, 12”, 5W, 1W, 0.3W, or 0.2W – making it incredibly versatile.
This makes it possible to enjoy the same tonal quality at much lower volumes – something that isn’t possible with traditional tube amps.
Compared to tube amps, which commonly include only spring reverb and vibrato, these amps can house a significantly larger number of onboard effects and processing tools. The Boss Katana amps featured in this guide illustrate the versatility of this type of amplifier.
Most solid-state amps come with a range of effects, including overdrive, modulation, reverb, and delays. The only exceptions are those designed mainly for clean tones, like the Roland Jc 120 jazz amp.
This can save you a significant amount of money that would have otherwise been spent on accumulating a selection of stompboxes to access effects. It lets you figure out which effects you like the most before investing in them in pedal form.
Having an effects loop makes it easier to integrate your pedals into the signal chain with an amplifier, and you can specifically choose to isolate certain effects or group them together for better results.
Modeling and Cab Simulation
Thanks to the advances in digital technology, those who love tube amps and other classic sounds can enjoy them alongside the benefits of solid-state technology. Cabinet and amp sims reproduce sounds very realistically, increasing the versatility of the device.
This is one of the main reasons that many guitarists are switching to digital amps from tube amps – they can save you a lot of money and effort by providing everything you need to shape your tone in one convenient enclosure.
You can use the classic speaker mode that many of these amps offer to access vintage tube tones, or you can explore the adjustable presets on the control panel to access more experimental amp voicings.
A modeling amplifier offers a considerable increase in adjustable features compared to a traditional amp. Consequently, it’s a great option for beginner guitarists who want to learn more about the various tones and sounds that an amp can produce.
Whether you’re looking specifically for a practice amp, a gigging amp, or a hybrid amp that can do everything, connectivity is a key area to consider.
Most modeling amps come with a variety of the following: USB connectivity for connecting to computers or laptops, effects loop inputs for isolating pedals, inputs for an amp head to be connected, and a headphone jack for silent practice or recording.
High-power amps like the Boss Katana Artist are likely to come with a wider range of connectivity options than the more compact, less powerful amps.
The more inputs and outputs that are installed on the amplifier, the more options you will have when performing and recording. You can expand your rig by outputting the signal from the amplifier to a separate head to increase the maximum volume.
Aux inputs are also often included on these amplifiers, making connecting external audio devices like smartphones or laptops easy. You can use these devices to play backing tracks through your amp or to play along to recordings or metronomes.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How does a solid-state guitar amp differ from a tube amp?
The main difference between these two amplifier types is the technology they use to amplify the signal of a guitar, bass, or other instrument.
A tube amp uses vacuum tubes for amplification, producing a distinctive analog sound that is popular due to its warmth and natural overdrive. Their tone changes depending on the dynamics and velocity of the playing.
On the other hand, solid-state amps rely on transistor-based technology for amplification. They’re more predictable and reliable than their tube amp counterparts, and their tone doesn’t change much due to the dynamics.
Are solid-state amps good for beginners?
Solid-state amps are a great choice for beginners for several reasons.
Firstly, they tend to be more affordable than tube amplifiers, especially when you consider all of the additional features and capabilities they boast. They allow a beginner to access effects, modeling, and cab simulations without needing to purchase additional gear.
Furthermore, because they produce and clear and consistent tone, beginner guitarists can focus primarily on their playing rather than worrying about the unpredictability that sometimes comes with a tube amp.
Another reason solid state amps are a good choice for beginners is that they can help the guitarist to learn about dynamic and tonal processing without the complication of tweaking many different pedals.
What’s the difference between a combo amplifier and an amp head with a separate speaker cabinet?
A combo amplifier is simply a device that includes the amplifier head and the speakers in one enclosure. This makes them more convenient and easy to transport from one place to another.
An amp head with a separate cab allows a musician to experiment with different combinations and create the sound they want. They’re also easier to scale up into larger rigs, which is why separate heads and cabs are commonly used by bands who play in arenas, stadiums, and other huge venues.
After exploring the options in our detailed guide, you should be well-equipped to choose the solid-state amp that best suits your requirements.
It’s important to think about the power of the amp to make sure that it suits the types of performances, recordings, and practice sessions you intend to use it for. Also, make sure you check the onboard effects if this interests you.
Our top pick is the excellent Tone Master Deluxe by Fender, which delivers all of the tonal qualities of a vintage tube amp with the outstanding functionality of digital technology. The Boss Katana Artist is another great option to consider.
Whichever amp you choose, we hope it results in improved creativity and many enjoyable hours playing your instrument.