Congratulations! If you’re reading this article, you’ve reached the stage in your guitar playing career where you’re ready to invest some serious cash in a top-of-the-range guitar amp.
If you want an amp that still gives you the scope to practice at home, but also provides you with the power and features that you’ll need for gigging in bigger venues or with a full band, you’ve now reached the point where a $300 or even a $500 amp just doesn’t cut it anymore!
In this article, we’ll look at what under $1,000 buys you and why you really do need to spend that much on a guitar amp. And we’ve taken the legwork out of searching for the best amp for your needs too, with our overview of the best units the market has to offer.
Why spend under $1,000 on a guitar amp?
So, just what does circa $1,000 of your hard-earned cash buy you in the world of guitar amps, and why spend that much?
Well, in a nutshell, once you reach the $1,000 mark, you’ve reached the perfect performance-to-price ratio where guitar amps are concerned.
At this price point, most of the very best units will be tube or valve based, mostly in a head format. Amp heads generally offer you the best bang for your buck as regards performance, especially if you are planning on gigging frequently and in larger venues.
Not only will a guitar head that costs around $1,000 provide you with much more raw power than those in the lower price bracket, the sound quality you get will be much better too.
The main downside to heads is that you’ll also need to buy a decent speaker cabinet. However, many seasoned musos prefer the flexibility of choice that this option gives, rather than having to live with the manufacturer’s cab set-up that you’ll get with a combo.
That said, some pro guitarists do like the convenience of a combo amp, and the top brands certainly do deliver in terms of sound quality and power. It’s really just a matter of personal preference.
The best guitar amps for under $1,000
We’ve hunted down 6 of the very best amps that $1,000 or less will buy!
You’ll find all these amps on Amazon.com via the handy one-click “Check Price” link that we’ve helpfully included for you! Click the link to check out each amp’s full spec, read other purchasers’ opinions of the unit, and then make a purchase once you’ve found what you’re looking for.
So, let’s get to it!
EVH 5150 III 50-Watt Guitar Amplifier Head - Black
The EVH 5150 III pumps out 50 watts of raw power - impressive for such a little package! This unit has no fewer than 7 12AX7s and 2 6L6s, putting out its 50 watts through 4, 8, or 16 Ohm loads.
The EVH gives you 3 channels, together with major tone-sculpting facilities. You’ve got cleans for rhythm work that you can dial-up, an included footswitch to create face-melting lead tones or gritty crunch.
In addition, there’s an awesome effects loop, mono jack, stereo jack, and a line out jack, as well as 2 parallel speaker output jacks.
The reviewers’ verdict
The EVH 5150 III receives a full five stars from every Amazon purchaser who reviewed it!
The clean channel is praised for its defined, warm dynamic response. The blue channel really puts the amp in front of your ears with a great vintage vibe, and the red channel gives you all those fat, raw metal tones that are chock full of gain, without losing definition and clarity.
There’s just one small negative. You can’t use channels 1 and 2 in the same song, because they share a volume knob. However, this doesn’t seem to cause a problem among those who use it.
Marshall DSL Series DSL100H 100-Watt All-Tube Guitar Amplifier Head - Black
Every amp review article worth its salt must contain at least one offering from iconic brand, Marshall!
The DSL100H all-tube guitar amp head kicks out a rafter-rattling 100 watts of valve power. Whether you’re rehearsing or playing a large venue, the Marshall will take you from high-gain shred to brilliant cleans, and everywhere in-between.
This amp is based on the hugely popular JCM2000 DSL100H, and enjoys the same complement of valves; 4 x ECC83 in the preamp and 4 x EL4 in the power stage, as well as the same feature set. Not only this, you get some major upgrades too!
The deep switch is replaced by resonance control, to provide you with more control over the lower-end, studio-quality digital reverb replaces spring, and the triode/pentode switch lets you reduce power from 100 watts to 50 watts for power saving. Finally, there’s a rear panel series FX loop.
In addition to the super-flexible 5-way EQ section, you can increase the amp’s versatility by using the mid-shift button to scoop the mid frequencies - perfect for metalheads!
The reviewers’ verdict
Over 80% of Amazon reviewers gave the DLS100H over 4 stars.
Fans of the unit love the awesome tone and flexibility the amp gives and consider it to be excellent value for money.
Some small gripes include complaints that the volume is LOUD, even at level 2. This amp is therefore not suitable for use in an apartment or home where you have neighbors in close proximity. The other main whine is that the amp is much larger and less portable than many other amp heads.
Fender George Benson Hot Rod Deluxe 40-Watt 1x12-Inch Combo Guitar Amplifier
The legendary Fender brand is synonymous with all kinds of guitarists from country fans to rockers and pop bands. Everyone who owns a Fender amp agrees that the unique tone is perfect for crafting your own unique sound, and all the amps are ultra-responsive to your favorite stomp box effects.
The GB Hot Rod Deluxe 1 x 12” combo amp is especially fine-tuned for megastar pop artist and jazz guitar virtuoso, George Benson so if you choose this amp, you’re in exalted company!
Enjoy 40 watts of power pumping through the characteristic full bottom end of 6L6 tubes and a versatile all-tube preamp, which includes a 12AT7 upfront for a cleaner tone. This amp features a 100 watt Jenson C12K speaker, specially designed to deliver Benson’s singing style with range and clarity, and the solid pine cab housing increases tonal resonance, as well as keeping weight to a minimum.
Standard features of the GB Hot Rod Deluxe include clean and “drive/more drive” channels, an effects loop, resounding Fender spring reverb and more!
The quality of this amp is reflected in the personalized exterior touches, as specified by Mr. Benson personally – silver-strand grille cloth, “GB” logo badge, and gray/black vinyl covering. A deluxe padded protective cover and 2-button footswitch are included as bonus extras. A separate matching 1 x 12” extension enclosure adds, fullness, output, and stage coverage.
The reviewers’ verdict
This amp gets a full 5 stars from 100% of Amazon reviewers!
Awesome piece of kit! – ‘nuff said.
Line 6 99-021-0716 DT25 25W/10W Guitar Amplifier Head
The Line 6 DT25 25W/10W amp head is designed by renowned tube-amp guru, Reinhold Bogner.
Prepare to be astounded by the powerful combo of HD modeling and reconfigurable analog components as you enjoy British crunch, stunning American cleans, modern high-gain, and amazing class “A” chime!
The amp has a selectable operating class, power Pentode or Triode tube mode, and four amp voicings, which give you wonderful combinations of HD preamp, negative feedback loop topology, and tone stack modeling. Dial in classic vintage tones or create your own customized original sound.
There are effects galore to play around with in what amounts to a boutique tube amp factory!
The amp has a 1 x 12” DT25 extension cab with a Custom Celestion G12H90 speaker (available separately), series effects loop, cab simulated direct output, footswitch control of reverb and channel switching, and low volume mode. (Note that you must provide your own footswitch).
The reviewers’ verdict
The Line 6 receives a resounding thumbs-up and a full 5 star reviewer rating from 100% of all those who purchased the amp through Amazon!
Players love the deep, bluesy sound, retention of tone at low volume, and the direct-out that allows computer recording. The rich, full sound and tube tones from break-up to clean and high-gain are unanimously rated as “incredible”.
This amp is easy to use, yet it acts and sounds just like those in the much more expensive price range!
You really must have one of these guys!
Laney Amps IRT30-112 Guitar Combo Amplifier
The British-made IRT30-112 is a full-featured, versatile, 3-channel, all-tube 1 x 12” combo amp.
This amp gives you metal, crunch, and clean tones with a bone-shakingly loud 60 watts of Ironheart tube tones through the 12” HH custom-designed driver, giving all the low-end punch and growl you need.
There’s a watts control feature so that you can find the sound you want at any volume, without totally trashing your tone. The 3-channel preamp has clean, lead, and rhythm channels, and a footswitchable pre-boost, all of which are accessed via the included FS4 footswitch. An independent push-pull 3-band EQ on each channel shapes the tone.
On the IRT30-112’s master section there’s an overall dynamics control that allows you to vary the interaction of the cab and your amp, depending on the volume you’ve chosen, and a high-quality digital reverb.
A variable FX loop is included, together with aux-in and extension speaker sockets, and Laney’s unique post-power selection, speaker-emulated, switchable DI gives you absolutely everything you need for a total performance package.
The reviewers’ verdict
This superb quality amp receives 100% over 4.5 star reviews from happy Amazon purchasers!
Although they can be hard to come by, because Laney don’t make that many, these amps are brilliant value for money and are packed full of features. Ruggedly built, this amp will happily tolerate traveling from gig to gig without damage.
The Laney is primarily recognized as a metal amp, but the clean channel really does sparkle and the lead channel is just dark enough without going OTT.
Overall, the Laney was praised as a “high-end amp at a working man’s price.”
Peavey Classic 50 / 410 Guitar Combo Amplifier
Our final offering is the Peavey Classic 50/410 guitar combo amp. Typically of Peavey’s renowned quality, this amp is built like a tank!
Classic tone and style are combined with modern versatility in this 50 watt monster. Pump out jazz, blues, rock, or metal via 16 or 8 Ohms 3 12AX7 preamp tubes. The amp has 4 EL 84 power amp tubes. Normal and bright inputs, 3-band passive EQ presence control, reverb control, effects loop, and normal and lead volume give you perfect control over your tone and sound.
Unlike many other amps in this class, the Peavey’s tubes are secured and fan-cooled for extra reliability. This amp won’t let you down!
The reviewers’ verdict
Peavey’s 50 watt amp gets the full five stars from 100% of Amazon reviewers!
Purchasers love the loudness (when required) and the ability to enjoy great tone at lower volumes. There’s loads of versatility with the normal and lead channels and a complete presence and BMT control EQ.
The only complaints are that the amp is heavy at 62 pounds so not the most portable option in this price range. However, investing in casters easily sorts this problem. Also, the fixed bias is not adjustable.
Every one of the 6 amps we’ve reviewed here will give you superior power and additional features that you won’t get with a cheaper unit.
Once you’ve saved, begged, borrowed, (but preferably not stolen!) around $1,000, you’ll be able to get yourself an awesome performance amp that should last you a lifetime.
Once you’ve read our reviews and checked-out what each unit has to offer, pick out the amp that most suits your requirements, click “Check Price”, and step up to the big time!