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Best guitar amps under $1,000 2021: 10 top combo amps and heads

The 9 best guitar amps under $1,000 2021: our pick of top combo amps and heads
(Image credit: Boss/Orange/PRS/Vox)

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

Best guitar amps under $1,000: PRS MT 15 Mark Tremonti

(Image credit: PRS)

1. PRS MT 15 Mark Tremonti

A great all-rounder – the best guitar amp under $1,000 right now

Price: $659/£519 | Type: Lunchbox tube head | Output: 15W, switchable down to 7W | Number of channels: 2, with clean pull-boost | Tubes: 2x 6L6, 6x EC83S | Weight: 17.9 pounds

Great cleans and overdrives
Blue/red light depending on channel
No cons at this price

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  

Best guitar amps under $1,000: Blackstar HT-20RH MkII

(Image credit: Blackstar)

2. Blackstar HT-20RH MkII

Classic British and American overdrives with modern features

Price: $599/£515 | Type: Tube head | Output: 20W, switchable down to 2W | Number of channels: 2, with two voicings | Tubes: 2x EL84 | Weight: 21.1 pounds

ISF control to dial between UK and US voicing
Power attenuator
Nothing at this price

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. 

Best guitar amps under $1,000: Boss Katana Artist MkII - 100-watt 1x12" Combo Amp

(Image credit: Boss)

3. Boss Katana Artist MkII

A great all-in-one amp modeller with effects

Price: $599/£518 | Type: Solid State | Output: 100W, switchable down to 50 or 0.5 | Number of channels: 5 | Tubes: n/a | Weight: 41.15 pounds

High quality Boss effects
A lot of power
No valves

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. 

Best guitar amps under $1,000: Vox AC15C2 15-watt 2x12" Tube Combo

(Image credit: Vox)

4. Vox AC15C2 Tube Combo

Old-school charm in a small and affordable package

Price: $899/£666 | Type: Tube combo | Output: 15W | Number of channels: 2 | Tubes: EL84 | Weight: 66.58 pounds

Those classic Vox looks
World-renowned blues tones
No low-powered mode

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. 

Best guitar amps under $1,000: Peavey Invective MH

(Image credit: Guitar Center)

5. Peavey Invective MH Head

The pedalboard-friendly high-gain amp

Price: $799/£553 | Type: Tube | Output: 20/5/1 Watts | Number of channels: 2 x Channels + Boost | Tubes: 2 x EL84 | Weight: 9.3 kg

Built-in attenuator
Gate, Tight and Boost switches
Excellent price point   
No reverb  

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 

Best guitar amps under $1,000: Fender Blues Junior IV

(Image credit: Fender)

6. Fender Blues Junior IV

The most popular small valve amp of all time - reborn

Price: $599/£469 | Type: Tube | Output: 15 Watts | Number of channels: One | Tubes: 2 x EL84 | Weight: 14.3 kg

Lightweight 
Great spring reverb
Re-voiced design  
Some players may need more headroom  

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

Best guitar amps under $1,000: Orange OR15H 15-watt Tube Head

(Image credit: Orange)

7. Orange OR15H 15-watt Tube Head

One of the best guitar amps under $1,000 if low-end is your thing

Price: $699/£502 | Type: Tube head | Output: 15W | Number of channels: 1 | Tubes: EL84 | Weight: 17.77 pounds

More low-end rumble than you could ever need
Great for crunches and overdrives
The payoff is that the cleans lack sparkle

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. 

Best guitar amps under $1,000: Blackstar Silverline Deluxe head

(Image credit: Blackstar)

8. Blackstar Silverline Deluxe head

The digital amp with the boutique vibe

Price: $529/£424 | Watts: 100 | Type: Digital Modeling amp head | Preamp tubes: N/A | Power amp tubes: N/A | Speakers: N/A | Key features: 4 Channels, SHARC DSP, True Valve Power (TVP) power tube-modelling tech, 3-band EQ, ISF Control, Resonance, Presence, digital reverb, modulation and delay, MIDI I/O, MP3 input, USB, Blackstar INSIDER software

A lot of amp for the money
TVP modeling tech is very convincing
Uncanny tube-like response
With 6 preamp voicings, it’s versatile
The onboard effects aren’t the most exciting out there

The Silverline Deluxe is the sort of amp that could quite possibly convert old-school tube die-hards to a digital future. It offers the choice of six different power tube responses available at the turn of a rotary dial.

Choose from EL84s, 6V6s, EL34s, KT66s, 6L6s, or KT88s, choose from six preamp voices, then dial in Blackstar’s patented ISF function to choose whereabouts you want to park yourself on the Transatlantic tone spectrum, and then you’re off. An intuitive control panel with 3-band EQ belies the digital voodoo going on under the hood. 

You can save your favorite tones to a preset and access them via a footswitch, and go deeper with Blackstar’s free INSIDER software. The Silverline is super-versatile, ideal for the gigging guitarist, with all the necessary connectivity to make recording a breeze. Sure, it could be the amp of the future, but with an uncanny tube feel and response, the Silverline Deluxe has one foot firmly in the past, too, and that’s a good thing.

Read the full Blackstar Silverline Deluxe head review

Best guitar amps under $1,000: Marshall DSL40CR 40-watt 1x12" Tube Combo

(Image credit: Marshall)

9. Marshall DSL40CR 40-watt 1x12" Tube Combo

A 40-watt powerhouse packing plenty of tone options

Price: $799/£539 | Type: Tube combo | Output: 40W | Number of channels: 2 | Tubes: EL84 | Weight: 17.77 pounds

The most legendary name in amplification
Enough power for just about any kind of venue
Might not sound as big as a 2x12

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. 

Best guitar amps under $1,000: Egnater Rebel-30 112 MKII 30-watt 1x12" Tube Combo Amp

(Image credit: Egnater)

10. Egnater Rebel-30 112 MKII 30-watt 1x12" Tube Combo Amp

A small but mighty tube combo amp

Price: $979/£733 | Type: Tube combo | Output: 30W | Number of channels: 2 | Tubes: 2 x 6V6, 2 x EL84 | Weight: 50 pounds

Covers all kinds of tones
Independent reverb for each channel
Looks might not be to everyone’s taste

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

Control panel of Peavey Invective MH

(Image credit: Future)

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. 

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.

Many amps these days come with a range of features that were once only available on the highest end, professional gear. USB recording, built-in attenuators, foot-switchable FX loops all come in handy, so it’s worth thinking about exactly what you need your amp to do, and if you need these features, or if you’d prefer a straightforward vintage style amp.