Finding the best Blues amps for stage and studio
As a blues player, you’ll understandably be looking for the best tone at all times. You’ve nailed your set up as far as guitars go and you’ve got your drive pedals ready so you can bust out Stevie Ray Vaughan style licks. You’ve even gone so far as to polish off your old Crybaby Wah pedal ready for those awesome riffs and Hendrix style freakouts. So what’s next? You need an amp. But not just any amplifier, you need the best amps for blues!
There are thousands of amplifiers out there that profess to be the best blues amps, but few actually rise to the challenge. You want an amp that can stand out on its own and really cut through the mix whether you’re riffing away, busting out harmonic solos or holding those huge bends, your amp has to be able to cope whilst you push your guitar to the limit. You also want something that doesn’t require too many extras to get the sound you want. Whether it’s crisp, clear and clean you need, sustained notes that break up at just the right time or all out distorted tones for when the blues gets heavy, you want an amp that can do the job on its own. So with this in mind, we’ve put together our top 5 list of amps perfect for blues. Show me the best blues amps!
Roland Blues Cube Hot Guitar Combo Amplifier
The first amp on our list has to be the newest addition to the Roland family, the Roland Blues Cube Hot Guitar Combo. It’s very rare you’d see a stage, especially one where blues musicians hang out, without a Roland amp somewhere. Whether solid state or valve, Roland have consistently created amplifiers that just work, without colouring your tone. The Blues Cube Hot delivers perfect tone every time whether clean or distorted. Yes, it’s a solid state amp, but the Tube Logic technology inside helps recreate classic valve amp tones and also responds extremely well to the subtle nuances of your playing – something which is so important to blues guitarists especially. From rhythm to lead, this thing has you covered and the addition of the four-way power control in stages of 0.5W, 5W, 15W and Max on the 30 watt version means you’re set for stages of all sizes as well as home practice. A footswitch jack for switching of Boost and Tone functions adds that little extra without colouring the amp’s inherent tones. A great blues amp for all levels of guitar playing.
Fender Blues Junior III
Well we couldn’t have a “best blues amps” blog without the Fender Blues Junior III. As far as blues amps go, it’s a no brainer, especially given the price tag. It’s portable, lightweight and the perfect combination of power meets functionality. For such a small amp, it really packs a punch making it ideal for home use, studio recording or as a grab and go option for gigging. The highly sensitive Fender Special Design 12” “lightning bolt” speaker by Eminence really brings out those subtle nuances when playing, whilst the spring reverb and footswitchable FAT boost can thicken up your sound when you want to get your guitar wailing. Don’t be fooled by this small package, it’s a blues monster in a small enclosure just waiting to be let out.
Vox AV30 Analog Valve Guitar Amplifier
For those blues musicians who want a seriously reliable guitar amp with a dynamic range of tube sounds, without having to worry about tubes coming loose in transport, the AV series from Vox is a great choice. The Vox AV30 is essentially a hybrid amp, that throws out 30 watts of power via 2 12AX7 tubes located in the pre amp and power amp. On top of that you get eight analog preamp circuits which means you get a variety of different amplifier sounds to play with, all with the reliability of a solid state amp and the tones and nuances associated with a valve amplifier. For blues musicians this is perfect as you don’t have to risk setting off a sound limiter when you’re trying to get the best out of your valves – you get a gorgeous valve tone at lower volumes. There are a variety of extras installed too, such as the Bias and Reactor buttons, Modulation, Reverb, Delay as well as an effects loop. All in all, it’s 8 amps in one, a pretty great amp to take on tour and great value from a trusted name in amplifiers – a great choice for the blues guitarists.
Fender Bassbreaker 15 Combo Guitar Amplifier
New for 2016, the Fender Bassbreaker has turned heads in the music world due to its versatility and impressive sound garnering acclaim from some of the biggest bands in the world. Yes, it’s perfect for a wide range of music but the Bassbreaker is ideal for blues musicians who want that extra grunt, tone and sensitivity. 3 pre-amp and 2 power-amp tubes give you that awesome valve sound, but it’s the 3-level structure settings that help this amp stand out from the crowd. You have the ability to tweak overdrive levels and dial in your perfect sound. It’s wrapped in a cool grey tweed too, so it looks the part. The Bassbreaker is a portable solution that’s perfect for stage, home and studio.
Marshall CODE50 50 Watt 1×12 Guitar Amplifier Combo
The Marshall CODE series of amps were designed for the modern player who not only wants a hard working, solid, gigging amp, but a variety to choose from. The highlight of the series comes in the form of the Marshall CODE50 50 Watt 1×12 Guitar Amplifier Combo. It’s packed to the brim with a huge selection of preamps and changeable power amps offering the discerning guitarist a modelling amp with real versatility. Loaded with preamps such as the JTM45 2245; 1962 Bluesbreaker; 1959SLP Plexi; JCM800 2203; JCM2555 Silver Jubilee; JCM2000 DSL100; JVM410H you can go to wailing blues to super heavy at the flick of a switch making it a must have for stage and studio. You can even choose from a variety of speaker cabinet models too. Flit between 1960; 1960V; 1960AX; 1960HW; 1936; 1936V; 1912 and 1974X cabinets and sculpt your ideal sounds. On top of that you get 24 pro quality FX as well as Bluetooth connectivity so you can even change your sound via your iOS or Android device and share presets with your band mates. For the blues guitarist who wants to be able to play a variety of different genres, this is really the amp for you.
View the full range of amplifiers for blues over at the Dawsons Website.