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 roughly $300 amp or even a $500 amp just doesn’t cut it anymore!
In this article, we’ll look at what $1,000 or more 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.
Table of Contents
EVH 5150 III 50-Watt Guitar Amplifier Head
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.
I like the clean channel 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 in most cases.
- 3-channel Tube Guitar Amplifier Head with Selectable Impedance
- Footswitch - Black
- Effects Loop
Fender George Benson Hot Rod Deluxe 40-Watt 1×12-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.
- 40 Watt All Tube Amplifier
- A Jensen C12K 100-Watt Speaker
- Controls:Presence, Reverb, Master Volume, Middle, Bass, Treble, Drive Select Switch, Drive Volume,...
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.
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.
Why buy a premium 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.
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!
Last update on 2024-03-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API