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An amplifier may just be the most important piece of gear in your guitar rig. However, buying a guitar amp is a process that requires extensive research and firsthand experience to determine how certain amps sound.
An informed decision is critical with this purchase. In this article, we will cover some of the most versatile guitar amps currently on the market to help with your research.
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The Marshall JCM800 is one of the most definitive amplifiers in the history of rock and metal music. The amp is responsible for delivering the classic tones that helped to define those music genres and became a mainstay for arena rockers in years past.
For those who tend to play smaller rooms but are still looking to retain those classic Marshall tones, the Marshall SC20H is a compact amplifier head that packs the JCM800 tones into a 20-watt head which can be attenuated to 5-watt performance power. This makes it the perfect Marshall amplifier for performances in nearly any small-to-medium-size room.
While it may not have the number of extra features seen on the other amplifiers on this list, the Marshall SC20H provides sparkly cleans and raw distorted power in a simple, straightforward manner. Pedals also perform well with this amp.
Onboard features include a 3-band EQ, as well as separate knobs for master volume and preamp volumes. The amp can be easily routed to a PA with its D/I output.
The Marshall SC20H features 2 x EL34 power tubes and 3 x 12AX7 preamp tubes. The head itself is outfitted in the iconic black Tolex design and adorned with the recognizable Marshall logo.
Item Weight: 25 pounds
Package Dimensions: 20 x 12 x 12 inches
There are few amps as iconic as the Fender ‘68 Twin Reverb. Chances are highly likely that if you have ever attended a concert, you have seen and heard this amp being used. This version of the classic has been updated to provide more flexibility for the modern guitarist.
This 85-watt all-tube amp is equipped with 4 x 6L6 power tubes, with 4 x 12AX7 and 2 x 12AT7 preamp tubes. There are also 2 x 12” Celestion G12V-70 speakers that help provide the crisp tones this amp is known for.
There are two different input channels with the Fender ‘68 Twin Reverb. One is designed to replicate the classic sound and functions that the original silver face 1968 model offered. The other channel features circuitry taken from the famous Fender Bassman amplifier line for better pedal response.
The amp also comes equipped with reverb and tremolo, which have been highly acclaimed by musicians since the amp was originally introduced to the market in 1952.
Overall, this amplifier is best known for providing an iconic clean tone at high volumes, while also being a great effects pedal platform. There is a reason this amplifier is considered the “dream amp” of many guitarists, and its utility ensures that it will maintain its relevance in the future.
Item Weight: 64 pounds
Package Dimensions: 10.38 x 19.88 x 26.16 inches
Since its first appearance in 2019, the Boss Katana 100 MKII has been making waves amongst many guitarists in the musical community. The amp has been building a reputation as a versatile modeler amp that can handle almost any style of music you may desire to play.
The Boss Katana 100 MKII is a 100-watt combo amp with 2 x 12” speakers. The amp is completely solid-state.
Overall, this guitar amp is packed full of features, including 5 different amplifier voicings and 60 customizable Boss effects built into the amp. A mobile application allows for further customization of both effects and amp settings.
A power attenuator is another built-in feature, allowing the amplifier to be suitable for any performance setting ranging from a small bedroom to club gigs.
The Boss Katana 100 MKII is an innovative amplifier, offering top-of-the-line digital amplifier modeling without the need to break the bank. Whether you play acoustic guitar or metal, this amplifier will be able to accommodate you.
Item Weight: 43.6 pounds
Package Dimensions: 19.1 x 26.4 x 9.8 inches
One of the most iconic recording amps of all time is the Fender ‘68 Custom Princeton Reverb, known for its exquisite tube amplifier sound. This version of the amplifier is modeled after the classic 1968 silver face amp but has been reworked to suffice modern-day players.
The amp is a 12-watt tube amplifier, with 3 x 12AX7 and 1 x 12AT7 tubes in the preamp section, as well as 2 x 6v6 and 1 x 5AR4 tubes in the power section. A 10” Celestion Ten 30 speaker is also equipped in the amplifier.
The Fender ‘68 Custom Princeton Reverb features pristine reverb and tremolo effects built into the unit. The amp is also a viable platform for use with effects pedals.
If you’re looking for a combo amp that has a dynamic sensitivity to playing styles, as well as the capability to provide overdriven tones at a lower volume, the Fender ‘68 Custom Princeton Reverb is a viable choice.
Item Weight: 37 pounds
Package Dimensions: 20 x 24 x 12 inches
Since 1958, the Vox AC15C1 has earned a reputation as an iconic versatile amp. For those of you who are looking for classic tones in a combo amp package, the AC15C1 will likely be able to deliver.
While it may not be ideal for those who play with high gain, the Vox AC15C1 is especially versatile for clean and overdriven tones. Historically, many guitarists have sought out this amplifier for this specific reason.
The Vox AC15C1 is a 2-channel 15-watt all-tube amp, powered by 2 x EL84 and 3 x 12AX7 tubes. A 12” Celestion Greenback speaker is also featured, which provides more emphasis on the mid-range levels of the guitar signal’s EQ.
For added versatility, the AC15C1 also includes built-in spring reverb and tremolo. The amp also has a reputation for accommodating guitar pedals exceptionally well.
There is a reason why the Vox AC15C1 has been a staple guitar amplifier for over 60 years. The amp has had an influential role in the careers and recordings of many famous musicians, and will likely continue to be just as important for years to come.
Item Weight: 56.06 pounds
Package Dimensions: 28.1 x 15.2 x 21.9 inches
There are several key aspects that factor into a versatile amplifier. Much of the requirements that are needed from an amp will be completely dependent upon your tastes and the styles of music you play.
However, when looking for a versatile amplifier, these are some of the things you need to keep in mind.
A versatile amplifier will be able to provide a wide range of tonal possibilities and be able to accommodate a large number of musical styles. In this way, “versatile” could be thought of as flexible, or well-rounded.
If you incorporate clean tones and high distorted tones in your playing, you will need to ensure that the amplifier is able to provide both in an ideal manner. Much of this comes down to your ear, as many amplifiers will cater to certain sides of the clean/distortion spectrum, often leaving the other side of the spectrum with a lack of response.
The rooms that you typically play will also determine what kind of amplifier you will need. Typically, an amp with too much power will often be overkill in a small room.
This makes it nearly impossible to play the amp at a proper volume level to achieve optimum tone and amplifier performance. Many amplifiers feature an attenuator to run the amp at a lower power while still being able to achieve the desired tones you may be looking for.
It goes without saying that if you use effects pedals, you need to make sure that your amp responds well as a platform for pedals. The same applies if you are looking for extra features, such as built-in effects and amp modelers.
You may not need extra built-in features, which can help lower the cost and influence your buying decision.
There are many companies producing high-quality guitar amplifiers. Some companies produce amplifiers that are custom-tailored to certain music genres, while others tend to produce well-rounded amplifiers suitable for most genres and playing styles.
Let’s take a look at some of the top amplifier manufacturers that produce the most versatile amplifiers available on the market today.
There are few name brands that are as iconic and widely-known as Fender. The company has built a trusted reputation, with its guitars and amplifiers often becoming the industry standard due to the sounds they reliably produce. Their products have been timelessly influential in many recordings and musical careers.
Vox amplifiers gained notoriety in the 1960s due to the signature guitar tones that came with the wave of British music that invaded the United States. Vox amps are highly sought after for their distinct sparkle tone and are instantly recognizable by their unique look.
Marshall amplifiers were very influential in the spurning of arena rock in the late 1960s and these classic amplifiers are still used prominently today. Constructed with a distinct look and adorned with an easily recognizable logo, these amps can provide a range of sonic possibilities ranging from crisp cleans to heavy distortion.
A versatile amp is a crucial factor in achieving a wide range of different guitar tones. The right amp for you will likely depend on what style of music you play, as certain types of music demand specific sound characteristics.
Be sure to take some time to try these amplifiers firsthand to see which one sounds the best for your style of playing and the pedals you may use.