Best Guitar Amplifiers

Best Guitar Amplifiers

A guitar amplifier or simply “guitar amp” is a device that picks up weak electrical signals from a bass, electric, or acoustic guitar and sends through one or more loudspeakers after amplifying them.

An amp can be a standalone cabinet (also known as a head) that accommodates only the power amplifier (and preamplifier) circuits. Such an amp needs a separate speaker cabinet (also known as a cab) to function. On the other hand, it can be a “combo” amplifier that accommodates both the power amplifier and one or more speakers within a single cabinet.

Buying an amp is a tough job because of the plethora of options regarding brands, models, and features. This brief but all-inclusive guide will give you an insight into the fundamental differences between head and combo, types of amplifiers, frequently asked questions about buying an amp, the important features that you should not ignore before making a purchase, and short reviews of 10 of the best guitar amplifiers in the market.

The Key Differences in Guitar Amplifiers: Head vs. Combo

Do you want a combo amp or a head + cab option? It’s a conundrum that confounds many players. However, at the end of the day, picking up an option is mainly a personal choice.

If you consider sound-wise, a head and cab setup is the perfect choice for rock and metal shows. You can easily crank up a sizable head + cab setup to create more low-end thump in distinct tones. Such a combination is ideal for bigger venues such as stadiums because its power will be too loud for indoor and smaller venues.

On the contrary, if you are playing at your local bar or any other small indoor venues, a combo amp should be your pick. Besides, they are the ideal choice for playing pop and blues music. They produce nicely matched and rounded tone because of their open back, which facilitates the production of more airy sound.

Combos can be called basic guitar amps that are easier to set up and are just perfect for guitarists who have just started their musical journey. On the other hand, experienced guitarists will like a head + cab combination because it’s possible to use a variety of amp and speaker combinations for different performance situations.

Amps tend to be heavy. Sometimes, combo amps weigh more than 100lbs, which are inconvenient to carry around. However, moving a head + cab setup might be easier as you can transport both parts separately.

Types of Guitar Amplifiers

Let’s take a look at the four types of guitar amplifiers that are available in the market:

Solid-State Amps

These amps, which have transistors for preamp and power sections, use analog technology for increasing the decibel level. They are inexpensive, extremely reliable, and produce a clean tone. However, many of them are prone to distortion.

Tube Amps

These amps produce fuller, warmer, and louder sound with organic distortion in comparison to solid-state amps. They are called “tube’ amps because they use old-time vacuum tube technology for enhancing the decibel level. They tend to deteriorate quite fast, so you need to change the tubes occasionally.

Modeling or Digital Amps

These amps use digital processors to increase the decibel of old tube technology. They are programmable so they can add in external effects and imitate the sound of tube amps. They are expensive but offer lots of customization options.

Hybrid Amps

These amps feature a crossover of a tube preamp section with a solid-state power circuitry. They will provide you the combination of the louder, fuller sound of tube amps with the reliability of solid-state amps.

Frequently Asked Questions about Guitar Amplifiers

Check out some FAQs that people often ask about guitar amplifiers:

Which one is better? Solid-state or tube amp?

A solid-state amp can produce high-quality clean sound at an affordable price. However, a majority of experienced players like to play with a tube amp despite their pricey tags. Eventually, the choice depends on the type of tones you want to produce and your budget.

Shall I go for a combo amp or a head + cabinet combination?

It depends on the size of the venue you are going to play in. Combo amps are excellent for filling up clubs, bars, or even small halls. However, you’ll need a head and cab setup for a giant auditorium or a stadium.

What is a half-stack amp?

A half stack amp is a combination of a head and one 4X12 inches cabinet. A full stack refers to a head and two cabs.

Does design matter?

Yes, of course! Amps come with either open-back or close-back cabinet design. Closed cabinets are better for producing thumping low-end sound while the open-back ones are ideal for playing softer music such as country, pop, blues, etc.

Key Features of a Quality Guitar Amplifier

Audio Performance

The tone and volume are the two metrics that determine the sound performance of a guitar amp. And, these two factors depend on the size and power rating of the device.

In most cases, an amp with a 12-inch speaker and 100 watts power rating are more than enough. Such an amp can fill up even huge outdoor concerts, and most guitarists don’t need anything higher than 50 watts and bigger than a 12-inch speaker for playing in small venues or a closed auditorium. However, a low-power amp (usually between 10 and 30 watts) and a small speaker (something between 8 and 10 inches) will be just fine for practicing and playing in a studio.

Many people think that power rating is directly proportional to the volume level. However, the truth is if you want to double up the volume of your 10-watt amp, you have to go for 100 watts. That means, upgrading from 50 watts to 100 watts will sound only slightly louder.

Design

The design of the amp also determines their sound quality. Most of the amps are made of wood. The thickness of wooden material and the cabinet design are two more factors that influence the audio performance. The wooden case has to be at least ½-inch thick to produce a vibration-free, strong sound and to keep the speaker in place. On the other hand, a closed cabinet amp delivers a better bass response while an open-back design is ideal for playing softer music.

Durability

The durability of amplifiers depends on the quality of the materials they are made of and the construction. High-quality, thick wooden material ensures long-time performance and good audio performance.

Many well-known brands have backed their amplifiers with a 5-year warranty. However, the warranty period actually depends on the company policies.

Additional Features

Tone and volume of the amplifier are the two features on which you should mostly focus on. However, many amps come with some extra features that greatly enhance your performance.

Some amps have built-in effects while some have external effects pedals and processors for customizing effects. There might be effect loops too that allow you to add stomp boxes, which areuseful in avoiding the amplification of any effect noise.

Some amps feature a channel switching option for easy and quick switching between different preamp channels. Line outputs are useful for home recording while the outputs for additional speakers will expand your live rig.

TOP 10 BEST GUITAR AMPLIFIERS – COMPLETE LIST

Picture

NameFeaturePrice

Rating

Picture

NameFeaturePrice

Rating

 1. Fender Mustang III Guitar Combo Amplifier Ableton Live Lite 8 Fender Edition$$$ 4.6
 2. Marshall MG30CFX Guitar Combo Amp 4 Programmable Channels$$$4.5 
 3. Fender Mustang I V2 Combo Electric Guitar Amplifier Fender FUSE software to further alter the included effects$$$4.5 
 4. Peavey Vypyr VIP Modeling Instrument Amplifier Great amp for recording, practice, or live use$$$4.4 
 5. Fender Champion 20 Electric Guitar Amplifier EQ section (Bass + Treble)$$4.4 
 6. Behringer Ultracoustic At108 Instrument Amplifier 8″ dual-cone speaker for wide frequency response$$ 4.4
 7. Pyle-Pro PVAMP60 Amplifier Two Channels: Clean and Overdrive For a Crunchy, Powerful Sound$$4.1 
 8. BEHRINGER ULTRATONE KT108 Extremely versatile 2-channel keyboard amplifier$$3.8 
 9. VOX V9106 Pathfinder Combo Amplifier Volume, Gain, Bass and Treble controls$$ 3.8
 10. Blackstar FLY3 Guitar Amplifier Digital ‘tape’ delay effect; Patented ISF$$3.8 
  1. Fender Mustang III Guitar Combo Amplifier

Best Guitar AmplifiersThe Mustang III tops this list not only because it’s an original Fender but also its single powerful 12-inch speaker and healthy 100-watt lungs. It’s a combo amp that’s crazy value for money because Fender packs it with enough power and features to become a multitasking player! And here’s a list of the best guitar pedals if you need it too.

What do you want an amplifier for? Practicing and occasional gigging? Or digital recording? The Mustang III is perfect for everything as it comes with a vast array of usable tones and features. It’s an incredible budget-friendly choice for serious working players!

Besides, the amp is surprisingly portable. Despite having a 12-inch speaker, its decent size and 36lbs/16kg weight make it convenient to carry with hands and stash in the boot of any typical car.

Audio Performance

The Mustang III sounds highly satisfying to the ears if you play it in a room. It’s partially open-backed cabinet keeps both ends of the bargain – producing low-end thump as well as giving the sense of spread and space, exactly what you would expect from a Fender combo!

Its 12-inch speaker imitates a modeling amp’s guitar tone rather than a valve amp speaker’s pumping tone that sound more ‘real.’ Besides, 100-watt power section cannot quite create a loud band scenario just like a Fender Blues Deluxe.

It’s true that the Mustang III won’t make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. However, considering the price, which is less than half of a Fender Blues Deluxe, it’s an excellent amp that can create the real experience for guitarists jamming at home, rehearsals, and occasional pub or bar performance.

Design

The Mustang III sports an eclectic style combined with a carbon tweed featuring a silver grille cloth. There’s a big data wheel, and a push-button panel with LCD screen sit just beside the black knobs, which exude a classic feel.

Durability

The Mustang III is durable with its compact size and reliable construction. The material used in its making feels like plastic, but it is rugged enough to tolerate everyday wear and tear. The switches and jacks are made of plastic while speaker cabinet is particleboard. However, they don’t feel cheap and are perfectly fine for everyday use.

Another upside of this amp is that Fender backs this product with a 5-year transferable warranty.

Additional Features

Fender packs this amplifier with so many features! It comes with 100 presets that draw on an array of amp and effects models. The two-button footswitch helps to toggle up and down through presets. There’s also an extensive selection of delays and reverbs, ranging from classic to modern tones.

The Mustang III also offers both recording and editing software so that you can manage your sounds to a deeper level. Just connect the amp to your computer via USB and use the Ableton Live Lite 8 recording software and the Fender Fuse or the AmpliTube Fender LE editing software.

Pros

  • Suitable for practicing, recording, and gigging
  • Can imitate almost real sound in real environments
  • Impressive selection of sounds and features
  • Editing software for better sound management
  • Great value for money

Cons

  • Lacks feel of a decent valve amp

 

  1. Marshall MG30CFX Guitar Combo Amp

The MG30CFX comes second to this list only because of its smaller speaker size and lower power rating than the Fender Mustang III. However, its 10-inch speaker and 30 watts lungs are still powerful enough for professional players who play in intimate settings.

The MG Series’ critically acclaimed analog tonal circuitry with digital FX has made the amp a great bargain. After all, it delivers authentic Marshall tones at less than $200!

The MG30CFX is perfect for beginners who can’t afford to spend four figures for a high-end amp and professionals as well who are not expecting to fill a big auditorium with it!

Audio Performance

The MG30CFX produces a great sound that keeps you interested and wanting to hear more. It has digital effects, foot-switching technology, and four programmable channels – Clean, Crunch, OD1, and OD2.

The sound quality of MG30CFX is one of the best that you can find within this price range. It produces remarkably clean sound for a solid-state circuitry. Besides, you can you can get a broad variety of sounds ranging from clean and bright to warm and bluesy tones by fine tuning the equalization option.

The Clean channel will produce a crystal clear sound while the Crunch channel gives you that grinding crunch that only a Marshall amp can deliver. The OD1 makes the crunch sound a bit harder and aggressive while the OD2 produces a high gain tone suitable for lead sounds.

Design

With a carbon fiber-clad look and a black meshed cloth, the MG30CFX boasts a bold look. The metal plates on all the corners give it durability and a charming, masculine look. Its silver knobs on a silver panel look pretty bright against the black grille backdrop.

The amp is pretty compact and weighs only 23lbs/10.5kg. So, you can easily carry it around.

Durability

The MG30CFX seems well built and reliable. The knobs are plastic, but they are not made of any cheap stuff. It would be better if the channel switching buttons were a bit more heavy-duty. However, the LED style push-system Tap and Store buttons work just fine.

Marshall offers a 5-year warranty on parts and 3-year warranty on labor. You have to purchase the amp from a Marshall-authorized dealer to avail the warranty service.

Additional Features

The MG30CFX offers both Preset and Manual modes, allowing you to have more controls on how you want the sound to be. Besides, it has two Reverb effects and four digital effects. You can also add a stompware footswitch for convenient switching between channels and having more control over the tap tempo.

The line and headphone output allow you to record and practice through headphones while you can connect the amp to an external audio source such as CD or MP3 player through the line input.

Pros

  • Produces authentic Marshall tones
  • Four programmable channels
  • Suitable for indoor professional use
  • Affordable price

Cons

  • It’s a solid-state amp unlike other tube-amp from Marshall
  • Fewer features than the Mustang III

 

  1. Fender Mustang I V2 Combo Electric Guitar Amplifier

The Mustang I is a budget-friendly combo amp from Fender. It comes with a 20-watt head packing an 8-inch speaker. The amp, with its limited power and capacity, is just perfect whether you want it for home noodling, casual gigging, or some old-fashioned serious practicing.

The Mustang I, considering its low price and the decent range of specifications features, is an impressive amp that is fully capable of recreating the iconic Fender musical moments.

Audio Performance

When compared to other modeling amps available today, the Mustang I can look a tad backward, but it’s a steal when you consider the great tones it can produce. It won’t disappoint either you want modern metal or the classic tube tones.

The amp has a 20-watt 8-inch speaker that produces really good sound! The tonal quality is full, complex, and almost sound like their counterparts featuring tube circuitry. Another great thing about the amp is that it can mimic the real sound. It means that if your guitar is a Les Paul it will sound like a Les Paul and a Gibson will sound like just a Gibson.

Design

The Mustang I looks like other Mustang amps with its rugged black plastic body and silver grille cloth. The control panel on the upper side features knobs for various functions. Overall, the look is more traditional.

The amp weighs only 17lbs, and the dimensions are only 15.5 x 7.6 x 14.5 inches. So, you can carry it wherever you go as it won’t take much space in a car’s boot.

Durability

The casing is made of plastic, but it is sturdy and durable with its rugged, masculine look. All the control knobs are plastic too. However, feel stable when you turn them right and left.

A big plus of Fender amps is that they will give you peace of mind with a 5-year transferable warranty.

Additional Features

The Mustang I has 24 presets and 12 reverb and delay effects, which are pretty useful when you want to experiment with your music. The presets have a pretty wide range of tones that will appeal to any player.

The amp comes with Fuse software and Ableton Live Lite 8. Just connect the amp to your computer through a USB and enjoy a broad range of options for recording and editing.

Pros

  • Ideal amp for beginners
  • Professional guitarists can use it for practice purposes
  • Imitates real guitar sounds
  • Doesn’t require much tuning like a tube amp
  • Great price

Cons

  • Capacity is limited as the speaker is small
  • The quality of metal tones is lower than the clean ones

 

  1. Peavey Vypyr VIP Modeling Instrument Amplifier

With a score of features including built-in metronome, looper, and tuner, Peavey Electronics has brought the Vypyr VIP Modeling Amplifier targeting a particular consumer group in mind – guitar players who what to have total control over their sound.

The Vypyr VIP is one of the most versatile amps at a price range under $150. If you can get along with the overwhelming functions of the control panel and not worrying about doing a Jimi Hendrix-like performance, this small amp is perfect for you!

Audio Performance

The 20-watt Vypyr VIP comes with an 8-inch speaker, a patented TransTube analog circuitry, and a semi-closed cabinet design. It produces beautiful, clean sound with the ability to play the tones from an extended low-end range nicely.

It is packed with the Variable Instrument Performance technology, which makes it easier to use it with most guitar types. Besides, it has a built-in tuner, digital modeling, 25 different effects, 36 amp models, and the option of adding a foot controller so that you can have the full control over your sound and voicing.

The amp models are suitable for bass, electric, and acoustic guitars. Just select an input for your guitar, and you are off! Although most of the models are for electric guitars, there are some pretty good models for both the electric and bass guitars. In fact, the bass channels will strike you with awe by creating a surprising thump.

Design

The Vypyr VIP sports a more contemporary design than other amps included in this list. Its grainy body with black grille cloth and metal clamps on the edges gives it a stylish look. The control panel is white, which visually highlights the black knobs affixed to it.

The amp has a slim, compact body and weighs slightly more than 9lbs.

Durability

The Vypyr VIP amp looks and feels pretty solid. Its knobs are solid plastic and firmly attached to the control panel, which is rare to find in budget amps.

Peavey has backed up this product with a 5-year warranty.

Additional Features

The Vypyr VIP comes with the WYSIWYG interface that allows you to monitor the exact position of the encoders. It also has a bi-directional USB input and audio port so that you can connect it to a computer and use the Vypyr EDIT software. The USB input lets you use the amp as an audio interface or control it from a computer.

You can bring an additional Sanpera II foot controller to the setup and use it to control the amp remotely. It offers a range of options for controlling various features including the volume and pitch.

Pros

  • Light and compact
  • Amp models for electric, bass, and acoustic guitars
  • A wide variety of features
  • Low price

Cons

  • Tones and effects are no matches to high-end modeling amps
  • Feedback is not up to the mark at high gain or volume

 

  1. Fender Champion 20 Electric Guitar Amplifier

The primary difference between Fender’s Mustang Series and Champion Series is that the former offers more options and deeper control over your sound while the latter is for those players who love to have a traditional amp experience.

The Fender Champion 20 is a single-channel amp that has 20W of power and a considerable amount of built-in effects, which are suitable for not only beginners but for players with some serious guitar skill. Simply speaking, it’s one of the best practice amps under $100.

Audio Performance

Playing with a smaller amp does not mean that you have to sacrifice on sound quality or features. With a single channel and twelve amp voices, the amp delivers surprisingly well-balanced and crisp, clean tones and punchy metal sounds. In fact, some of the tones sound better than its expensive counterparts.

The amp’s open back cabinet keeps the sound clear and airy though it may seem that something is missing on the low-end bass notes. The amp voices simulate the tone and style of modern amps. Besides, the built-in effects and control options for sound levels have made Champion 20 a versatile amp.

Design

The Champion 20 is a well-designed amp that imitates a classic design. Its black plastic body and silver grille cloth look stylish while the slim black knobs with silver tips add to the beauty. It has silver metal plates on the edges that enhance the look and gives it durability and strength.

It’s highly portable as the body is compact and the weight is just around 12lbs.

Durability

Just like all the Fender amps, the Champion 20 is also highly durable with a rugged, robust construction. Its body and knobs are plastic but without having a cheap feel to them. Besides, Fender offers a 5-year transferable warranty on the product which is rare to find in other brands.

Additional Features

The Champion 20 features various types of digital effects and an EQ section (Bass + Treble). There are twelve amp voices, and you can select between the voicing just by turning a knob.

There’s a headphone output jack for recording and practicing in private through headphones. Besides, the Auxiliary input allows you to plug it to an external audio source such as an MP3 player.

Pros

  • Compact size and portable
  • Clean tones sound better than some expensive models
  • Affordable price

Cons

  • Fewer features compared to other models in the same price range
  • Does not come with any editing or recording software

 

  1. Behringer Ultracoustic At108 Instrument Amplifier

The Behringer AT108 is a budget amp that can produce a beautiful sound. Its 20-watt, 8-inch dual-cone speaker gives the freedom to be loud if the guitarists love to crank up the tones! Complete your music studio with this amp and some of the best studio subwoofers.

The amp is a pretty good choice for those guitarists who are just starting to learn. Its decent range of features will allow them learning lots of guitar tricks without being worried about the budget. As the price is pretty low (less than $100), professional guitarists can also exploit it for rough use and private practice sessions.

Audio Performance

The AT108 is small (dimensions of only 15.4 x 7.6 x 14 inches), but its 20-watt, original 8-inch Bugera speaker can belt out sounds with enough power!

It comes with a VTC Virtual Tube Circuitry that produces such a smooth tube-like goodness that will impress anyone. The tones generated by the amp are very rich and have a certain harmonic character.

You can exercise more control over the tones with a three-band EQ and 2-channel with multiple amp models. Although the amp voices are suitable for only acoustic guitars, you have the options to have a better tonal balance with hi/mid/low adjustments.

Design

The AT108 is a looker with its warm, wood-colored casing and black-and-light brown grille cloth. The black clamps on the edges and the black knobs on the black control panel with hints of silver look coordinating with the rest of the design.

The amp is small, and it’s just 11.7lbs so you can easily carry it around.

Durability

The AT108 assures long-lasting service with its high-quality components and extremely rugged construction. Its metal enclosure ensures maximum protection while the cabinet utilizes high-grade wooden material and sturdy vinyl.

Behringer offers one-year of limited warranty on this product, but you will be eligible for another two-year extension given that you’ve registered the product within three months of the retail purchase.

Additional Features

The AT108 is not loaded with features. However, it still offers plug-and-play mic and instrument inputs with separate volume control options. Just plug your guitar and a microphone into the ports, and you’re all set to rock a small pub or café. If you want to use the amp for private jamming, use the 1/4″ input. You can connect it to an external audio source and play along with your favorite songs.

Pros

  • Good sound for the size
  • Robust construction
  • Budget-friendly

Cons

  • Limited number of features
  • Not ideal for professional use

 

  1. Pyle-Pro PVAMP60 Amplifier

The Pyle-Pro PVAMP60 is not a big-game player, but it’s a pretty solid option as a backup or practice amp. Besides, you have to appreciate when a small amplifier priced less than $100 has a 60-watt power rating.

The amp delivers great, clear sound that is powerful enough to reach to far distance even when you are playing outdoors. In a word, it’s a fantastic amp for beginner and intermediate players as well as suitable for home jamming.

Audio Performance

The PVAMP60 produces exceptionally clear sound without the help of any other secondary device. It works nicely as a vocal amp, but the three-band EQ offers options for controlling treble, midrange, and bass tones.

The two channels, namely Overdrive and Clean, offer powerful, crunchy sound when you plug it into a guitar. It has a basic reverb, and the digital delay and ‘depth’ adjustments also work fine.

The 8-inch speaker with 60-watt power rating is capable of producing a loud sound before the amp clips. However, you can’t expect it to perform in wider stage environments because it’s just an average linear amp, not a class D design.

Design

Design-wise, the small amp (dimensions of 15.8 x 10.8 x 18 inches) looks more traditional. The black, grainy finished casing and the silver grille cloth exude a classic style. The silver knobs on the white panel add to the style while the silver clamps on the edges give the amp more stability.

Although a bit heavier than its budget counterparts, the PVAMP60 is still convenient to transport with its 17.9lbs weight.

Durability

Despite the low price, the amplifier does not look cheap. It’s made of sturdy materials, and the construction is pretty solid. It looks like it can easily take some bumps and drops.

The amp comes with a one-year warranty.

Additional Features

A huge downside of the PVAMP60 is its limited features. It offers only a couple of features compared to other amps in the same price range.

However, the headphone input gives you’re the freedom of using it for practicing without waking up your neighbors. There’s a built-in delay feature, and you can exercise control over the Overdrive channel by adjusting the gain control.

Pros

  • Sturdy construction
  • Two channels offer powerful, crunchy sound
  • 60-watt power rating
  • Excellent for beginners
  • Low price

Cons

  • Limited features
  • Doesn’t have a footswitch
  • May produce a humming sound if played from a high impedance source
  • May produce screeching sound sometimes

 

  1. BEHRINGER ULTRATONE KT108

Are you looking for a lightweight amplifier for home practice or do small gigs? The KT108 from Behringer is a compact two-channel amp that is perfect for anywhere where a small sound system is needed. It’s basically a keyboard amp, but you can easily plug a guitar into it and play.

With a less that $100 price tag and a decent amount of features, the 20-watt, 8-inch speaker amp is quite a steal of a deal.

Audio Performance

With Behringer’s signature VTC Virtual Tube Circuitry, the KT108 imitates the warm, harmonic tones of tube amps. The 8-inch, dual-cone speaker ensures that the audio output is nice and clear while the two-channel feature and three-band EQ let you have more control over the tonal variations. Besides, the channels have their separate volume dials and inputs.

It can’t get thunderous with the 20-watt power rating, but you can still fill up a small venue. The amp is ideal for keyboard players who are looking for something better than their piano keyboard’s built-in speakers.

The EQ option lets you tweak the treble, midrange, and bass note while the original Bugera speaker provides amazingly rich and deep bass that doesn’t get distorted even when you crank up the volume or gain level.

The amp does not have any effect loop or built-in effects, which you can overlook considering the low price.

Design

The KT108 looks like a typical Behringer amp with a somewhat traditional design. It features black casing with a silver-and-black grille cloth. The black knobs and silver ports on the black control panel look coordinating while black clamps on the edges add stability.

The small amp is easy to carry around with a weight of just 13.9lbs.

Durability

Behringer produces budget products, but they never compromise with the quality of the materials. The robust construction of KT108 will never let you down as its cabinet is made of high-grade wood and the exterior casing is made of metal.

In fact, the company is so confident about the quality of their products that they back them up with a 3-year warranty program.

Additional Features

It’s not the forte of the AT108 as it has limited features. However, one unique feature of the amp is two instrument inputs that allow playing a guitar and singing at the same time. Besides, it has a headphone output for quiet practicing and a ¼-inch input for connecting to an MP3 or CD player.

Pros

  • VTC Virtual Tube Circuitry
  • Two instrument inputs
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Cheap

Cons

  • Limited Functions
  • Less power
  • Suitable for small gigs only

 

  1. VOX V9106 Pathfinder Combo Amplifier

The V9106 Pathfinder is a practice-friendly combo amp that packs the classic look and tone of VOX. It’s a small amp with limited power and capacity, just 10 watts and a 6.5-inch speaker. However, it will surely amaze you if you can keep your expectation in check and utilizes it limited capacity properly.

The amp is cheap so it can be a perfect choice for an amateur guitarist or a beginner player who is still learning.

Audio Performance

The combo amp has built-in pre-amp, solid-state electronic circuitry, speaker, and special effects. So, it can easily deliver crystal clear sound. However, the Clean/Overdrive switch makes it possible to change between clean and dirty sounds, and between crisp and creamy, warm distorted sounds with just a flick of a switch.

So, whether you love to play a bluesy tone or roar like a rock star, this amp has you covered.

It’s simply amazing how many different tones you can get from this amp. The Bass and Treble EQ knobs let you have a range of tones while you can hone them with gain and volume controls.

Design

The V9106 Pathfinderlooks truly interesting in the design department. The casing sports a leather finish, which is not only pleasing to look at but comfortable to touch. It imitates the classic VOX style with basket weaving and diamond grille cloth.

It has a power on/off switch and controls for volume, gain, bass, treble, and Clean/Overdrive on the upper control panel. However, unlike any other amp in this list, the knobs have a triangle shape with a pointed head. Such little details have given the amp a unique look.

Durability

The construction quality of the V9106 Pathfinder is very impressive. It’s well-built, and you can tell it just by looking at the casing, grille cloth, and the knobs on the control panel.

It’s literally built like a brick. So, you can expect it up and running even after suffering a few falls, bumps, and being stashed in a corner.

You’ll get a one-year warranty on labor and parts, given that you’ve bought the products in the United States.

Additional Features

The V9106 Pathfinder does not have many features, which is understandable if you consider its capacity and price range.

It has separate in/out jacks. The output jack can be doubled up as a headphone jack, which comes in handy if you want direct recording or practicing quietly without disturbing anyone else.

Pros

  • Clean/Overdrive channel for easy switch between crisp and warm sounds
  • An attractive design imitating a classic VOX
  • Excellent for practicing
  • Highly portable
  • Cheap

Cons

  • Doesn’t have any mid control option
  • No reverb
  • The Overdrive tones can be fuzzy sometimes

 

  1. Blackstar FLY3 Guitar Amplifier

The Blackstar Fly3 is a super-compact and cheap amplifier with a limited capacity. It’s only a 3-watt amp, so it’s understandable why it makes to the bottom of this last. However, if you keep the price, size, and features in mind, you’ll find it setting new standards for micro-class of amps. After buying this amp, pump up your studio by adding one of the best studio monitor speakers.

It’s a battery-powered amp. So, place it on the desk, take outdoors, or throw into the backpack for practicing and jamming wherever you want!

Audio Performance

The 3-watt amp packs a 3-inch driver, two channels, and inbuilt digital delay. Its meaty bass response can compete with any practice amp higher in price and four times the size. Besides, it comes with the company’s signature Infinite Shape Feature where you’ll get American-style cleans and fat, distorted British sounds. You can further enhance the sound volume and depth by tuning up the tape delay function.

The Fly 3 has separate switches for preamp gain and master volume controls. A little button is there for switching into the Overdrive circuit and turning the small amp into a 2-channel device.

There’s no digital reverb, but you’ll get two switches for controlling the delay level and delay time.

Design

The amp is tiny with 5.59 x 7.59 x 4.29 inches dimensions. It sports a classic design where a black casing encloses black metal grilles. There are only four full-size knobs, one small knob, two buttons, and three in/out ports on the top panel.

Durability

The price of the Fly 3 is low, but it has a pretty decent construction. In fact, its casing is sturdy enough to withstand rough handling and the outdoor wear and tear.

Blackstar backs this product with a one-year warranty along with a 3-year extension. However, it’s only application in the UK. You have to contact your local distributor for information about warranty if you purchase the product outside the UK.

Additional Features

The Fly 3 has an impressive range of features. It has two mini-jack sockets. One is line input for connecting to an external device like a smartphone, laptop, or audio player, and the other is a headphone output for a quiet jamming time. The headphone out also works as an emulated line out for recording and practicing. It also features an Auxiliary input.

The amp is only 3 watts, but you can connect it to an extension cab for belching out more power.

It runs on batteries, which provide 50 hours of backup if you play at low volumes. However, playing at full power will give almost four hours of backup.

Pros

  • Highly transportable because of the micro size and battery-powered option
  • Decent range of features
  • Excellent tones for the price and size

Cons

  • Playing at full power dries out battery quickly
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