This year the guitar amp market has some interesting and well-designed guitar amp models across the board, in every conceivable category. There was something for all budgets and scenarios, so here’s my pick of the best guitar amps of the year 2019.
Boss Katana MKII
Right off the bat, I think the Boss Katana MKII was top of the heap in 2019. No, it isn’t valve, no it isn’t boutique, but it is cheap and has some great tones onboard. And it is a well-thought out concept presented in several variations. There is something for everyone here and it is possibly the best all-round amp for the money. Top marks, Boss!
Mesa/Boogie California Tweed
Announced all the way back in January during Winter NAMM, the new Mesa/Boogie California Tweed is at the other end of the scale from the Boss Katana MKII. This is a high-end, boutique-style amp with a very specific tone and style.
The California Tweed has four 6V6 power tubes in the main output section, while the preamp side contains five 12AX7 and a single 12AT7 preamp tube. It is a single-channel amp and you can run it at various output powers:
- 40 Watts – 4x6V6 Class A/B Pentode
- 30 Watts – 2x6V6 Class A/B Triode + 2x6V6 Class A/B Pentode
- 20 Watts – 2x6V6 Class A/B Pentode
- 10 Watts – 2x6V6 Class A/B Triode
- 2 Watts – 1x6V6 Triode + 1x6V6 Pentode, Single-Ended Class A Parallel
This is all about classic American amp tones. And I love that you can dial it down to a low 2-Watt output or blast away at a full 40 Watts of tube power when required! It’s available in both combo and head versions, the latter offered with matching cabs.
Friedman BE 100 Deluxe
Let’s make one thing clear right now: the Friedman BE 100 Deluxe takes no prisoners! This is a boutique 100-Watt Plexi-style amp with more power than most of us will ever need. This behemoth of a tube amp now has an added third clean channel, making it even more versatile than before.
Sure, it isn’t for everyone and it costs a packet. But… What the hell! This is one amazing-sounding Plexi amp that has to go on my list this year.
Yamaha THR-II Series
Dialling back down from the heavyweights of hand-wired boutique amps, let’s look at the more practical end of the guitar amp market. And here it would be wrong to pass over the new Yamaha THR-II Series.
I love the way Yamaha has managed to incorporate just about everything you could desire in a small desktop amp and still make it sound great.
Like the Boss Katana MK II range, there are a few variations on the theme. In amongst these you should find something that suits you. All models in the THR-II series use Yamaha’s VCM amp-modelling tech and each amp have three modes: Classic, Boutique and Modern. There are eight different amp styles: Clean, Crunch, Lead, Hi Gain, Special, Bass, Aco (acoustic), as well as the option of no modelling at all (Flat).
Victory The Copper VC35
Last up is the Victory The Copper VC35, a lunch box style amp head with a very British flavour.
This 35-watt Vox/Matchless style amp has plenty of features and can be dialled down to around 12-watts if needed. Although it is a single-channel amp, I think it has such a great tone that it is all you really need.
As sometimes ‘less is more’, unless you are Yngwie Malmsteen of course. just take a listen to the demo video below to hear it in action.
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