Ultimately, the amp you plug into affects your tone more than any electric guitar or effects pedal. A great guitar amp has the ability to transform an average guitar into something that sounds truly remarkable - although that doesn’t necessarily work the other way around. While it’s true that the more you spend, the more you get, it’s definitely possible to find a fantastic-sounding guitar amplifier at the cheaper end of the scale, as this guide to the best guitar amps under $1,000 proves.
We’ve made sure only to include amplifiers that are loud enough to take the stage and be heard over a drummer. This guide features an array of tube and solid-state combos, as well as heads from the likes of Fender, Blackstar, Vox, PRS, and Orange. So, no matter the sound you have in your head, you’ll be sure to find an amp that will achieve it in this guide to the best guitar amps under $1,000.
Best guitar amps under $1,000: Our top picks
The PRS MT 15 Mark Tremonti is an absolute growler of an amp that can handle rich cleans to full-throttle metal intensity. Further proof, if it was ever needed, that Mr. Tremonti really knows his stuff when it comes to guitar tones.
With built-in studio quality reverb and lower volume mode bringing its 20-Watts down to just two, plus a series effects loop and an mp3/line in, the Blackstar HT-20R MkII is the kind of amp that will work just as well on stage as it does at home.
Best guitar amps under $1,000: Product guide
Alter Bridge guitarist Mark Tremonti is no stranger to giant guitar tones – his band has been conquering arenas for long enough for him to know what modern rock players need out of an amp. This signature head from PRS, who also makes the guitars that travel with him around the world, covers all kinds of tones with minimal ease.
This lunchbox-sized twin channel amp offers a crystal clear clean sound, with plenty of presence. There is also a hidden mid boost on the treble control, that once pulled, gives you an added mid-range bark to your clean tone. Now, it wouldn't be a Tremonti amp without a killer overdrive sound, and boy does this little amp deliver! The gain sounds on offer are thick and meaty, with plenty of low-end and piercing high-end.
So, if you are looking for a killer metal amp that can also do mellow cleans at the flick of a switch, then this has to be the amp for you.
Read our full PRS MT 15 Mark Tremonti review
Started by a couple of ex-Marshall employees back in 2007, Blackstar has become one of the most prominent names in the affordable to mid-tier end of the market. And with good reason – amps like this HT20 MkII pack plenty of power with also the flexibility for home recording and practicing.
This may be a two-channel amplifier, but with the inclusion of a voice control on each channel, it actually boasts four different tones. On the clean side, the voice control switches between an American-style sound and a British one. Similarly, you can switch between a classic Blackstar tone or a high-gain setting - based on the HT Venue MkII - on the overdrive channel.
This makes for a surprisingly versatile head that, with 20 watts of power, will comfortably handle most standard gigging situations.
The Katana series brought high-quality amp modeling and those classic effects Boss are famous for into one ingenious package. This update packs even more tones, features, and options to dial in exactly the sound in your head – such as a variable solo boost and three custom EQ curves.
The Boss Katana Artist is the professionals modelling amp, taking what players loved about the standard Katana, and elevating it to a premium gigging combo. Featuring a Custom Waza 12-inch speaker, the artist has a tighter more focussed low-end and an increased power-handling. The new solid cabinet construction, certainly gives this amp a more traditional look, while the semi-closed back construction helps reinforce the punchy sound.
It goes without saying, but all the effects are top-notch, and frankly sound incredible. It really is like having the world's largest Boss pedalboard built directly into your amp! So if you’re looking for an all-in-one solution, that gives you incredible amp tones, with world-class effects then the Katana Artist is the right choice for you.
Vox AC amps are not only known for their classic chimey 60s tone, but also their insane weight, and outlandish volume levels. Luckily, the AC15C2 delivers all the legendary Vox tone, without breaking the bank - or your back.
With a pair of EL84 housed in its engine room pushing your signal through two 12” Celestion Greenback speakers, this 15-Watt twin will easily nail those Brian May rock tones - albeit at a much more manageable volume. That said, it’s more than capable of pushing serious air from the stage, making it the perfect amp for small gigs.
On top of the classic blues and early rock tones, Vox is renowned for, there’s also lush tremolo and spring reverb onboard.
The Peavey Invective MH may be a pint-sized version of the Invective 120, but don’t let its small size fool you - it’s a monstrous amp loaded with evil metal tones and angelic cleans.
This 20-watt, two-channel amp is driven by a pair of EL84 power output tubes and three 12AX7 preamp tubes - a tried and tested combination that most of us are intimately familiar with. This results in a pristine clean sound that takes pedals incredibly well, while the lead channel offers the classic 6505 tones you’d expect - and hope for - from Peavey.
This alone would have granted the Invective MH a spot in this guide, but what cemented its inclusion is the wealth of extra features. You’ll find switches for a built-in noise gate, a tight control, and even a lead boost function on the front panel. But it doesn’t end there, on the rear of the amp, you’ll find an attenuator switch for 20-, 5- or 1-watt output power, as well as the sophisticated MSDI (Mic Simulated Direct Interface) XLR output and USB Type B that provides mic-simulated digital audio output. This amp really does offer a crazy amount of features for its rather low price point.
Read our full Peavey Invective MH review
It’s hard to deny the impact the Fender Blues Junior has had on the world of music. Whether it’s sitting pride of place on stages around the world or in the bedrooms of hobbyists, this plucky little amp has been a mainstay since it was released back in 1990.
We are now on iteration number 5, and Fender has clearly listened to the common complaints people had about the previous generation. Gone is the previously spongey, overdrive sound, in favor of a tighter, more natural drive - thanks to the newly modified preamp circuit. The new Celestion 12-inch A-type speaker is also a vast improvement over the previous model, as we no longer have boxiness issues in the low-mids.
So if you’re looking for a reliable, easy-to-use, and lightweight valve combo that won’t break the bank, then it’s worth joining the millions of other guitarists who have made the Fender Blues Junior their go-to amp.
Read our full Blues Junior IV review
Sometimes, simple is better - and it doesn’t get much simpler than the OR15H. This single-channel 15 watt valve amp, delivers bone-crushing overdrive tones, that aren’t a million miles away from the - much more expensive - Rockerverb Dirty Channel. This amp is a great pedal platform, so if you rely on an array of drive pedals, if worth checking this one out.
There’s just something about the low-end response you get from an Orange amp that makes other brands sound fizzy in comparison. Anyone looking to dial in darker blues tones or sludgy stoner rock will undoubtedly appreciate the sheer sonic depth of this OR15H – which, despite being only 15-Watts, is guaranteed to shake the earth under your feet.
With a flick of a switch, you have the ability to drop the power down to a more bedroom-friendly 7 watts. Meaning there is no idea to have a separate practice amp, for home use.
The Jazz Chorus really did define the clean sound of the late 70s and 80s, with everyone from Andy Summers to Robert Smith, James Hetfield and Johnny Marr turning to this humble solid-state amp to achieve some of the best guitar tones of all time.
Famed for its ultra-clean, high headroom sound, the Jazz Chorus really allows the tone of the guitar to shine through, while the iconic onboard chorus delivers the lush, wide modulation you'd expect from this 80s legend.
The JC-40 takes the original blueprint of the JC-120 and scales it down to a much more manageable size - and volume level. It also includes a handy line out, which can be used for recording or even taking the signal out to a PA system while playing live.
If you look at the list of Marshall endorsees over the years, you'll realise just how many legendary recordings have been made with their game-changing amps. While it may not be a 100W Super Lead or JCM800, this all-tube 40-Watt combo from the DSL series packs a lot of classic sounds into a small amount of space.
The DSL 40 may be Marshalls best solution for the players looking for a robust amp that delivers all the legendary rock tones of yesteryear while offering modern features that bring the amp into the modern-day - such as a spacey digital reverb, a bypassable series effects loop, and even a line output with Softube's accurate emulation of a Marshall 1960 cab.
It's hard to look past the DSL40 for its outstanding tone and incredible value for money. This really is one of the best guitar amps under $1,000 out there right now.
We all know that the tube in an amplifier helps define its characteristic tone. This is why many players find choosing a tube amp difficult, as they find it limiting to commit to a single valve sound. Well, that no longer needs to be a concern with the Egnater Rebel-30.
This combo might look more like a tiny practice amp or home speaker, but it actually packs 30-watts of valve power, offering users the flexibility of choosing a pair of EL84s or 6V6s for their tones - or even blending between the two!
Also on offer is a speaker-loaded direct out and a buffered effects loop, while the addition of an independent reverb control for each channel means you can ramp up the ambiance on the clean channel and back it off for a tight overdrive tone.
Best guitar amps under $1,000: Buying advice
Finding the right amp in this day and age isn’t easy. There’s so much out there, with each head or combo amp offering up its own unique set of features. Choosing an amplifier is a lot like picking a guitar. You have to weigh up exactly what you want out of your new piece of gear and features you simply can’t live without.
Should I buy a tube or solid state amp?
The tube and solid state debate is as old as time itself, and to be honest, it's not as big a deal as the internet would have you believe. Now, while there are certainly significant differences between the two options, one isn't better than the other. You need to think carefully about the practicality of each and decide which is right for you.
A tube - or valve - amp may give you the harmonically rich overdrive tone you long for, but if it doesn't come with an attenuator, you may find it impossible to push the tubes hard enough to get the desired sound. That said, if you are looking for a no-nonsense amp that evokes the tones of the past, then a valve amp is the only way to go - just find one with a low wattage for bedroom use.
These days solid state amps tend to come loaded full of hi-tech features and a slew of effects - perfect for those looking to experiment with lots of different sounds. In addition, these amps don't need to be driven like their valve counterparts, and there are far more bedroom friendly. It also has to be said that not all the famous amps of the past used valves. The iconic Roland Jazz Chorus is, in fact, a solid state amp and is just as legendary as an all-tube Marshall.
Does the wattage of the guitar amp matter?
Power should really be at the forefront of your considerations when considering one of the best guitar amps under $1,000 – there really is no point in owning a 100-Watt stack with no attenuation for bedroom playing. Likewise, the lower-powered mini heads that have become popular in recent years might not cut it if you find yourself performing at venues without being mic’d up or headlining bigger outdoor festivals.
Now, it’s not all about volume; most of the time, it comes down to headroom. By headroom, we mean how loud the amp goes while maintaining a clean sound. Take the Fender Blues Junior for example. This gorgeous little amp breaks up pretty quickly, so if you were to push it to gig volumes, you’ll have a distorted sound - a fantastic sound, but distorted nonetheless. Similarly, if we look at the Egnater Rebel-30, the 30-watts of power mean it has a pretty decent level of headroom at concert levels.
This goes hand in hand with how much gain you would like out of your new amp. Of course, there are some players who rely on clean amps and swear by their overdrive and distortion pedals for gain, but most rock/metal musicians will prefer an amp to do the bulk of the work before anything else gets added. And at the opposite end of the tonal spectrum, country and funk players will usually prefer an amp that thrives mainly on cleans, meaning they have little use for anything beyond that.
What features do I need?
Many amps these days come with a range of features that were once only available on the highest end, professional gear. While USB recording and built-in attenuators certainly come in handy for those using their new amp for recording or home practice, they may be a little redundant in a live situation.
Many players love the idea of having thousands of onboard effects, and for others, the idea of having access to every sound under the sun fills them with fear. So it’s worth thinking about exactly what you need your amp to do and if you are likely to take full advantage of these features.
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