These amps will probably outlive you…
When you buy a top quality guitar, whether it be an electric, acoustic or bass you’re making an investment; buying in to the craftsmanship and experience that goes along with that instrument. You want it to last a lifetime, so that 20 years down the line it looks, feels and sounds even better (or at the very least the same) than it did when you first opened the box. The same goes for guitar amps. You want something that’s going to stand up to years of playing with minimal maintenance costs. So where do you start? Well, it’s not as difficult as you think.
The mainstays on the world stage such as VOX, Marshall, Fender and more recently, Blackstar have all crafted amplifiers that will only get better with age.
We’ve compiled a list of the best higher end amplifiers money can buy, perfect for recording at home, touring the world or hooking up in your living room for that midnight jam session – either way they’ll all probably outlive you with the proper care and give you years of great sounds.
The first on our list has to be the VOX AC30 combo amp. It was at the forefront of the “British Invasion” and is used by guitarists of all genres from blues to metal. Thousands of amps try their best to replicate the sound of the AC30, and some come close, but there really is no substitute for the real thing. As far as amps go, the AC30 is a great amp to have in your rig, for a number of reasons…
The VOX AC30C2 custom amp is based on the classic AC30C2 design yet provides a few updated features (and enhanced reliability too). You have two channels to choose from, the Normal and Top-Boost as well as a Tone Cut for extra control over your sound. The Master volume control coupled with individual volume controls allow you to really get that classic VOX sound without blowing your windows out – so Brian May solos are achievable at home.
You’ve got two 12″ Celestion G12M Greenback speakers loaded which only sound better with age and 4 tubes of pure warmth that deliver that 30 watts of power you need. Aside from updating the tubes every few years, the AC30 will need minimal maintenance and will serve you well for many, many, many years.
Fender Hot Rod Deville
You can’t really have a blog about amps that will last a lifetime without including the Fender Hot Rod Deville. It’s actually the world’s most popular tube amp and can be found on all stages as the go to amp for reliability and sound quality. The Fender Hot Rod DeVille 212 III is a 60-watt combo packed with 2×12 speakers for superior clean tones and that unmistakable Fender tone. Whether you want to sound like Valensi from The Strokes or Hendrix, you’ll be fine with this one. It also features the Fender spring reverb that the world has come to love, an extension speaker output for when those jam sessions at home need an extra boost as well as a footswitch to toggle the drive and reverb.
The Fender Hot Rod Deville is another amp that will last a lifetime, and is constantly recommended and used worldwide by the biggest artists. Trust in Fender.
Blackstar Artist 15
Slightly newer to the circuit, but by no means any less important, Blackstar have been creating gorgeous amps that do exactly what you need them to. Whether it’s rock, metal or chicken picking country style riffs – Blackstar have got it covered. New for 2015, the Artist series includes a 15 Watt and 30 Watt option that just works. It’s compact, looks great and sounds brilliant.
The two foot-switchable channels offer great versatility whilst the pair of 6L6 valves, and a pair of ECC83 valves give you a hearty, warm sound when warmed up. When driven, you get some nice broken up distortion that at no point becomes overbearing. It’s got built in reverb as well as effects loops too, so the demands of the professional are more than met.
Since 2004 Blackstar have made a real name for themselves in the industry, and we think the Artist series proves yet again just how important they are to music. Plus, it looks so damn cool!
Fender 65 Deluxe Reverb Guitar Combo Amplifier
From the classic Abbey Road sessions (you know which ones we mean) to the studios of Memphis, the Fender 65 Deluxe reverb combo is another amp that has stood the test of time, appearing on thousands of recordings over the years. Chances are if you like music, whether live or recorded you’ve heard this amplifier at some point. This amp appeals more to the likes of rock, country or blues players rather than metal partly due to the reverb and vibrato features, but also due to the overall look of the amp.
It’s favoured by post rock players as well as blues aficionados to surf rock to country – it’s as versatile as you need it to be without taking the distortion too far. That being said, it’s got some serious growl to it generating 22 watts of pure punch that is then powered out via the 12″ Jensen C12K speaker with Ceramic Magnet – a winning combination.
Marshall 1962 Bluesbreaker Vintage Reissue
Made famous by legendary guitarist Eric Clapton, the ‘Bluesbreaker’ is a highly coveted amplifier for collectors and audiophiles alike, let alone guitarists! Marshall reissued this gorgeous amp that was used by Clapton during his tenure with British blues band, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, in 1966 and the results are astoundingly good.
The 1962 Bluesbreaker reissue is equipped with 6 valves, including three ECC83 valves in the preamp, and an ECC83 along with two 5881 valves in the power amp stage so you’re sound will ring true to the sounds of the 60’s, flowing from bright to warm to a growl depending on how you decide to dial it in.
It’s also got a tremolo built in to channel 2 which sounds amazing whether you’re using it as a small addition or a pulsating feature. You’ll also find two T1221 Greenback speakers placed inside the 30watt combo offering superior projection and clarity that just gets better with age. If you want an authentic 60s sound, the 1962 Bluesbreaker from Marshall is the amp you’re looking for.
Visit the Dawsons website to view more great guitar amplifiers, and let us know in the comment which are your favourite or dream amplifiers.