Well, wasn’t 2020 just a peach. But we did see some fantastic new amps! Here’s our list of the The Best Guitar Amps of the year, covering a wide range of amps, including heads and combos, desktop practise and compact recording amps and all the way up to full rigs raring to be let loose on a stadium-full of rock fans!
Bad Cat The Paw
Bad Cat’s The Paw was definitely a highlight of the last 12 months. There’s a cool mix going on here of boutique amp tone with the convenience of modern day desktop amplifiers, all in one very good looking package. With 16 IRs built-in, and a USB C connector to load and save more IRs, this little desktop amp looks ideal for players seeking great tone at volume suitable for playing at home.
I’ve always liked Bad Cat amps and own one myself, so when I saw this new mini home-friendly version it really turned my head. Stereo speakers, 60 Watts of power, two XLR Direct Outputs for recording and PA use, plus a stereo FX Loop… This little cub has a lot of growl.
Supro Blues King 10
This little little amp has 5 Watts of power, but although the Supro Blues King 10 is small, don’t be fooled. There are a lot of nice vintage tones on tap here. The Blue King 10 has a handy built-in spring reverb, a switchable FET boost and an onboard Fat Drive circuit, giving you plenty of versatility.
This Supro Blues King 10 combo is loaded with a single custom Supro BK10 speaker. Judging by the demos, I think it sounds rather sweet, with a nice, tight tone that should stand you in good stead for many applications.
EVH 5150III 15W LBX-S
A monster high-gain, lunchbox amp! This amp has the kind of insane gain that will make it enticing for modern playing styles. But it’s still nice and compact. Coming in a Stealth Black finish, the EVH 5150III 15W LBX-S has variable wattage from 15 Watts down to 3.75.
Two channels are available: Red (full on filth) and Green (clean). This little amp head has plenty of modern, tight, aggressive gain tones lots of players lust after. It could be a great solution if you’re looking for modern high-gain tones but don’t want to lug around an overly weighty amp head.
Here’s another amp in the compact high-gain category, the REVV G20. On balance, this might be the best all-round high-gain, lunchbox style amp of 2020. That’s because it includes some clever tech that makes it more flexible than other amps. It combines Two Notes’ Torpedo modelling and onboard virtual cabinets, virtual mics, speakers, two channels and an EQ to give you an incredibly versatile amp head for recording and live work.
Listening to the demos, I’m struclk by the great sound. And if you need to knock down the power, you can dial it back from 20 down to a meagre 4 Watts, ideal for players that great tones with blowing their heads off.
Dr Z – Z Wreck Jr
The new Dr Z mini amp, is their Z Wreck Jr model, rated at 15 watts, this all tube amp is all about tone and is a no frills amp circuit that concentrates on great tone instead. They are also making it available as either an amp head or as a combo, so you have options with the format of this one which is nice.
I have never played a Dr Z amp and so the new lower wattage amp was a winner for me, as it has great tone and a lovely simple user interface which even I can understand! A lovely sounding chimes amp with some greta clean tones available too.
Soldano SLO 30 Classic Head
Another boutique USA built amp, but this time based on a classic head from the ’90s, the Soldano SLO 30 Classic Head offers all those great tones, just at a reduced power output, making it a great choice for modern day players. This hand wired, 30-watt all tune head is full of great tones and it will make you anatto play all day long.
I think if you get your hands on one, this amp will put a huge smile on your face with its full on boutique amp tones. Plus, as it isn’t a 100 watt head like the model it is based on, it won’t destroy your ear drums.
A hand-wired Dumble clone for under a grand? Yes, the VHT D-Fifty is offering just this and out sounds pretty sweet, so perfect fro all you tone chasers that want some sweet overdrive and singing sustain.
This single input all tune amp has three different voicings, including Bright, Mid Boost and Jazz/Rock, which should give you those classic Dumble amp tones, just without the insane price tag of an original.
This 20 watt all tube combo has a distinct ‘Brownface’ look and tone, in fact the Suhr Hombre is one very good looking and sweet sounding boutique amp and should certainly be on your radar this year.
With two inputs labelled Normal and a Bright, plus simple layout consisting of a Volume and Tone knob to dial in your sound, this little amp is all about tone and you also have vintage-style, tube-driven tremolo too. This amp is all about tone and it sounds great.
Victory VC35 The Copper Deluxe
This new VC35 The Copper Deluxe from UK amp builder Victory Amplification had to be on the list this year, as it is damn fine and looks pretty good too. With 35 watts of power plus a valve-driven spring reverb and an onboard tremolo, it has some great British tones on offer.
Victory’s Chief Designer Martin Kidd knows how to design and build great amp circuits and this one really should be on your list of amps to check out, as it has bags of great tone.
Friedman Twin Sister
What sounds better than a Dirty Shirley? How about two Dirty Shirley amps in one amp, as that is exactly exhaust the new Friedman Twin Sister is all about and I think its great. Available as a head or combo, this 40 watt British voiced amp is a great sounding model, based around a JTM45 style Marshall voicing.
Each of the Twin Sister’s channels has separate Master and Gain control, plus the three-band EQ, which means you get double the pleasure of a Dirty Shirley and can set each channel up too taste. I love Dave Friedman’s work and this new Twin Sister is yet another great example of his work.
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- Bad Cat Amplifiers The Paw: Bad Cat Amplifiers
- Supro Blues King 10: Supro
- EVH 5150III 15W LBX-S: EVH
- Revv G20 Lunchbox Amp head: Revv Amplification
- Dr Z Z Wreck Jr with a great simple control panel, perfect for dialling in tones: Dr Z
- Soldano SLO 30 Classic Head: YouTube/Ola Englund
- VHT D-Fifty is a 50-watt is a hand-wired Dumble amp clone: VHT
- Suhr Hombre: Instagram/Suhr
- Victory VC35 The Copper Deluxe: Victory
- Friedman Twin Sister, two Dirty Shirleys in one: Friedman