Best Guitar Amps for Playing Rock

If you are looking for the Best Rock Guitar Amps you can take a look at brands like Fender, Marshall, Orange –
names any guitar enthusiast would know. 

Looking to rock it out loud? A guitar isn’t enough. To get that loud guitar distortion everyone loves, you need to tread into the world of amplifiers. Shape the tone. Make your listeners feel the electric sound. 
So, what’s right for you? How big of an amp do you need?
We will help you out. For a quick-fire selection procedure, note down the required criteria. Find out the desired tonal characters you need from your amplifier. It all boils down to your requirements. Professional musicians require big, expensive amps for live gigs or studio purposes. On the other hand, a small affordable amp is enough for home practice.

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We liked the Fender Hot Rod Deluxe in particular. It is a versatile choice for any rocker – from novices to session pros. A well-built workhorse amp with superb tone, it offers excellent value for money. While it’s not the best for everybody, it certainly is our choice, and we will take a look at it below.

Best Rock Guitar Amps – comparing table

ImageGuitar Amp 
Versatile amp for home practice, rehearsals and gigs
Fender Hot Rod Deluxe 40
  • 40 W tube amp
  • 12 inch Celestion Speakers
  • Fender Spring Reverb

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Portable, wide tonal palette
Orange Crush 35 RT
  • 35 W solid state amp
  • Chromatic Tuner
  • Digital reverb

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Classic rock and 80s metal
Marshall DSL 40
  • 40 W tube amp
  • Ideal for rehearsals and home practice
  • 4 voicings in 2 channels

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The legendary choice for blues & classic rock
Vox AC30C2
  • 30 W tube amp
  • 2 Channel- with one Top Boost
  • Celestion Speakers

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The best choice among mini amps
Blackstar Fly 3
  • 3 W mini amp
  • Powered by both 4x1.5 V batteries or 6V DC Adaptor
  • Mp3 Line-in for jamming along with music

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Authentic valve-like tones
Boss Katana MK II
  • 100 W solid state amp (50 W is also available)
  • 58 customizable effects
  • 5 amp models with variants

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Top-end choice among rock amplifiers
Marshall JCM 800
  • 100 W tube amp
  • Classic Marshall distortion
  • Single Channel tube drive

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Fender Hot Rod DeluxeLegendary Fender Versatility with Affordable Pricing

Fender released the Hot Rod Deluxe in 1996. It was an affordable alternative to guitar players for whom the price of the legendary Fender tube amps was too much. With an excellent sturdy design, ease of use, and a large palette of tonal options, it quickly cemented its position as one of the best-selling tube amplifiers in the history of guitar amplifiers.

Appearance

The Hot Rod Deluxe is based on the classic Fender amp designs of the 50s and the 60s. You will find the same aged Silver Grille Clothing, Black Tolex exteriors – reminiscent of the foregone era. In terms of functionality, the amps do pack a serious punch. The lightweight but sturdy pine cabinets enhance the durability of the Hot Rods.

Features

The Hot Rod Deluxe delivers 40 Watts of Pure Tube amplification. Its circuitry drives a 12” Celestion Speaker. The amp’s top-mounted control deck has dual input channels – a clean channel and an overdrive/dirty channel. The classic Fender ivory knob control features include the usual options you would see on any amp, with the addition of Reverb and Presence.

Performance

The Hot Rod amps shine in the “Clean” Channel Section. They are capable of sparkly clean tones as well as meaty tones packing a low-end punch. The pine-wood cabinet is lightweight and offers better sound resonance. The Spring Reverb sounds smooth and functions without much fuss. And how can anyone forget Fender’s fabled association with blues and rock alike?

Issues

The amp isn’t made for high-gain sounds popular in hard-rock/metal genres.  We suggest checking our recommended list of metal amps should you want one. Another possible issue is the weight. While the amp is lighter than a full-sized stack, it is still very heavy.

Pros

  • Reliable and versatile
  • Loaded with a lot of features, including the legendary Fender Spring Reverb
  • Lightweight, affordable and economical
  • Effects pedal-friendly
  • Innovative Preamp Circuit technology

Cons

  • Headphones can not be plugged in
  • For tube sound, the amp needs to run hot. Expect a choked sound at low volumes.

Recommended?

Yes, this one’s a complete all-round choice for you.

To check the current price of Fender Hot Rod Deluxe, click here

 


Orange Crush 35 RTDon’t Compromise on Sound for Portability

Orange Amplification is a British Amplifier Manufacturing company active since the 60s. The Crush 35 RT is the first Solid-State amplifier in our list and is ideal for both beginner and intermediate guitarists.

Appearance

The attractive orange exterior packs a ton of super cool added features, in addition to the classic Orange Sound that we all have come to love. It is well-built, with plaid white grille clothing.

Features

A solid-state amplifier, the Crush has a lower weight and greater longevity compared to tube amps. The 35 Watt combo amp has the usual 2-channel design (with independent volume control). The control boasts of a 3-band EQ, plus the Overdrive gain Control. The CABsim circuitry can be used to match the power of a whole 4×12” Orange Cabinet using the headphone/line-out option. It features digital reverb, a chromatic tuner, a 3.5 mm aux input jack, and many more.

Performance

The Gain levels allow a palette of distinct orange sounds that fit over a large variety of rock sub-genres. The Overdrive is tailor-made for the 60s-70s rock or Britpop. It is also an ideal choice for Punk Rock. Max out the gain levels for a wall of distortion suited for modern metal. The built-in Digital Reverb is a nice touch.

Issues

The amp is not suited for live gigs though effective for home practice and band rehearsals.

Pros:

  • Extremely lightweight and portable
  • Loaded with features like Digital Reverb, Built-in Tuner, 3.5 mm aux input
  • Solid-state CabSim circuitry can be used to power up more cabinets using the line-out
  • Cheap and ideal for guitarists in a beginner to intermediate level
  • Very good construction quality

Cons:

  • Not meant for large concert gigs.

Recommended?

Yes, if you are looking for a good portable amp for practice and rehearsal purposes.

To check the current price of Orange Crush 35 RT, click here

 


Marshall DSL 40CRRock Royalty with Modern Features

Playing guitars as a beginner can be tough. Marshall is synonymous with rock music – revered and endorsed by countless rock superstars. The 40 Watt combo variant of the DSL (short for Dual Super Lead) is a good budget option if you are looking for the classic rock distortion. The amp is also great for old school metal tones.

Appearance

The DSL 40 has a knob configuration similar to the traditional guitar amps. Control options include the usual Presence, EQ options(Bass, Mid, Treble). The amp also features a Resonance control option along with the Tone Shift Switch for instant mid-scoop.

Features DSL40

The DSL40 is a 40 W Tube amplifier with two input channels, the Classic Gain and the Ultra Gain (each has multiple voicings for tweaking around). You can mess around with the gain and volume for each channel.

Performance

The Classic Gain channel is ideal for both clean tones or the crunchy overdrive “Plexi” tone used in classic rock. You will prefer the Ultra Gain Channel if you crave for soaring 80s heavy metal lead tones. The second stage cranks up further gain for playing monstrous riffs. Overall, the DSL 40 is suitable for both home practice and in a band situation.

Issues

The amp weight may be an issue for some – it is heavy. It is also not the perfect amp if you are looking for modern high-gain metal tones.

Pros:

  • An effective design loaded with classic Marshall Distortion
  • Different options in Dual Input Channels – Clean, Crunch, High-gain leads, and Classic Rock Distortion
  • Celestion V type speaker
  • Reverb for different power settings

Cons:

  • Not super-portable with a weight exceeding 50 lbs.
  • The footswitch is effective only for channel switch and reverb control.

You can have a look on full review of Marshall DSL 40

Recommended?

Yes, if you play classic rock or heavy metal. Portability is not an issue.

To check the current price of Marshall DSL 40CR, click here


Vox AC 30A Classic Staple for Rock and Country

One of the best models in the entire guitar amplifier history, the Vox AC 30 is still treated as a gold standard by many. Rather than having several features, it excels in its job of providing a distinct “jangly” tone. The sound had made it a hot favorite among British guitarists.

Appearance

Vox has kept the original design more or less intact. The cabinet speakers are covered with the familiar brown-diamond grille cloth, with gold linings. The controls are placed on the top section of the amp head.

Features

You will be surprised at the loudness of the 30 Watt Amplifier. A Tube amplifier, AC30 features the legendary 12-inch Celestion Speakers. The Master Control Section is simple and effective – with Master Volume, Reverb Control, Tremolo Options. The amp has 2 input channels, the Normal and the Top Boost. Tone shaping options are available only for the Top Boost section. You can adjust the volume for both.

Performance

The amp is an excellent choice for classic rock, blues, country music, and other subgenres. AC 30 excels in providing a slightly gritty clean sound. The tonal quality can be described as clear-ringing notes with a subtle layer of Overdrive. Its Top Boost Channel is excellent for the Overdrive. The Tone-Cut option at the Master Control is handy for further sound control. The Reverb and Tremolo are great for ambient sounds.

Issues

It is a heavy amp- weighing over 70 lbs.a

Pros:

  • The amps are great value for money – for both practice and gig purposes.
  • Wide tonal palette and an aesthetic appearance
  • Superb Spring Reverb and Tremolo Options for Ambient Sounds
  • 10” Celestion Speakers
  • Bypassable Effects Loop

Cons:

  • Only the reverb can be controlled by the Footswitch
  • Footswitch not included.

To check the current price of VOX AC30, click here


Blackstar Fly 3 – Revolutionary Sound, Revolutionary Portability

The Fly 3 is a best micro amp that can be operated by 6V Battery or a DC tip. The compact size makes it an ideal choice for home practice. The 3 Watt amp is based on the ISF(Infinite Shape feature) technology patented by Blackstar Amplification. To double up on the fun, the amp also features a digital tape delay.

Overview/Appearance

The solid-state mini-amp (or micro-amp) sector has been a game-changer in the world of guitar amps. You can now take your amp and play anywhere, without having to worry about power supply or transportation.

Features

Fly 3 has 2 combined channels – clean and Overdrive. The ISF technology allows you to shape your tone in any way you want. There are 4 main control knobs, featuring the Gain, Volume EQ, and Delay. You can combine the Fly 3 with another to make a total 6W extension cabinet. In addition, a dedicated MP3 Line-in jack allows you to connect your MP3 player or smartphone and play along with the tracks.

Performance

Clarity has always been a highlight of Blackstar Amps, and Fly 3 is no exception. It packs a lot of punch in its small compact shape. In line with the bigger ID: Core amplifiers, the Fly3 can deliver high gain overdriven and distorted sounds. You can adjust the Tape Delay effect, so that’s a plus too.

Issues

Don’t use the amp with an adaptor exceeding 6V.

Pros:

  • 3 Watt- can be extended to form a 6W stereo chain.
  • Infinite Shape Feature(ISF)
  • MP3/Line-in jack for playing along or listening to music
  • Adjustable delay effect

Cons:

  • Suitable only for self-practice or playing music.

To check the current price of BlackStar Fly 3, click here


Boss Katana MK II The Next Step in Amp Evolution

Boss is primarily renowned as an Effects-manufacturing giant. They shocked the world while releasing the Katana series of amplifiers. Solid-state amplifiers with digital circuitry, the second-gen models were even more portable and affordable.

Appearance

The amp is a solid choice if you are opting for solid-state amplifiers. In addition to the simple but effective fibreboard design, the Katana offers concentric knobs for multiple functions. The Katana Mark II allows you to choose from 5 different amp styles – Acoustic, Clean, Crunch, Lead, and Brown. There are also several effects options, in case you were wondering.

Features

The amp boasts of a power control option, USB connectivity for choosing and selecting from 58 effects. The amp also has options for footswitch, power amp input, stereo aux in. Players can use a combination of 5 different effects at once instead of 3. There are variations among the 5 amp models, and you can choose between 10 at a time. The amp ticks all the boxes, and if you are looking for lesser power- there is a 50W variant too.

Performance

The Boss Katana is a total beast, with countless tone-shaping possibilities. Audiophiles can play and tweak around at the BOSS Tone Studio Editor Software. The default settings aren’t enough for most guitarists. Combined with valve-like tones, the Boss Katana is a remarkable choice for all guitarists.

Issues:

Some of the amps have poor quality construction. For best results, connect your guitar directly to the amp and play. Extra pedals/single-units can make the sound congested.

Pros:

  • Loaded with 58 effects- 5 of which can be used at once
  • Multiple amp models, adjustable power output
  • Tone settings can be saved for later use
  • Available in different variants- 50W and 100W
  • Both effects and their configurations can be edited at the Boss Tone Studio

Cons:

  • Reported construction issues in some of the amps.

Recommended?

Yes. Buy the 50W variant for home practice. For gigging, the 100W variant packs all your needs.

To check the current price of Boss Katana MK II, click here


Marshall JCM800The End-Stop for Rock and Roll Distortion

Nothing screams rock and roll better than a cranked-up Marshall JCM 800. The 100 Watt Tube Head amp is iconic, and the choice of several legendary blues and rock guitarists. The configuration is easy – a single-channel all-valve amp. It does not even boast of any reverb or effects.

Appearance

The JCM 800 is a Head amp, meaning you can bring it to any gig without worrying about the cabinets speakers. The head design retains all the features of the original JCM 800. It still includes the gold front panel, solid steel chassis, and perforated steel valve protector.

Features

The JCM 800 is known for its unique overdriven roar. The distinct larger than life distortion is achieved thanks to its unique combination of valves in both the Power Stage and the Preamp Stage. The controls knobs are simple: a 3-Band EQ, Master Volume, Pre Amp Volume, and Presence Control. Current reissues have a True-Bypass FX Loop.

Performance

The head is ideal for large venues. The real distinct sound comes when the amp is cranked above 6. It is unapologetically loud. But, the sound is also what defined the golden era of rock and metal during the 80s.

Issues

It is not really meant for home use or small venues. Use a good OD pedal if needed.

Pros:

  • Signature Classic Marshall Tone
  • Easy to use 100 W Tube Power
  • 2 inputs for high sensitivity and low sensitivity

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • No Onboard Effects.

Recommended?

Yes, if you are constantly rocking out big venues and require only the best gear.

To check the current price of Marshall JCM 800, click here

 


Buyers Guide for Best Rock Guitar Amps

What are the things you should consider when buying a new amp for rock?

Set the constraints of requirements, budget, portability. You would be needing the super expensive JCM 800 only if you are regularly playing in huge live shows. The VOX AC 30, is not suited for modern metal.

Which Are Better: Tube State Amps or Solid State Amps?

The Tube Amps offer warmer sounds. These amps have vacuum tubes that allow unidirectional current flow. However, they require handling care and maintenance. They are also heavier and more difficult to carry around.

The solid-state amps use circuits to convert electronic signals into an audio wave. They are great for loud, clear signals. They are also lighter and can function without any maintenance for decades.

We suggest tube amps if you prefer distortion or overdriven guitar tones. You can check out some good blue amps here too if you are looking for one.

Conclusion

We hope the above article was helpful for you to decide the Best Rock Guitar Amps for your purpose. The choice is subjective and varies from person to person. The best advice – play an amplifier and decide for yourself.

The Fender Hot Rod Deluxe is an overall great sounding amp suited for home practices, rehearsals, and even small gigs. The Fender Hot Rod Deluxe is a great option among portable battery-operated micro-amps.

The Orange Crush is a good choice for beginners and intermediate guitarists. If money is not a factor and you want the best equipment, the Marshall JCM 800 is your ideal Rock amplification system.

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