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 freak-outs. 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!
1. Marshall Studio Vintage SV20C
The first amp on our list has to be the Marshall Studio Vintage SV20C. Though this may be a relatively new offering from Marshall, it is based on the legendary Super Lead 1959 ‘Plexi’, an iconic amp that helped steer the course of rock history.
The Studio Vintage combo boasts a pair an all-valve setup with tone for days. In keeping with the old school channel setup, you can use patch cables for ‘jumper-ing’ the channel inputs, giving you power and then some! From sultry blues tones to searing hot licks, everything that you need to set the stage alight is ready and waiting.
Complete with series FX loop for running time-based effects effortlessly, the SV20C also boasts a power reduction feature, taking the output from 20-Watts to a more manageable 5-Watss for home and studio recording use. A single 10-inch Celestion V-Type speaker delivers the roaring power of your guitar and amp partnership with aplomb. If you wish there is even a cabinet output that allows you tone to stretch its legs with ease.
Housed in a beautifully finished enclosure with embellished Marshall logo across the front, live the dream and rock out until your pass out with the Marshall Studio Vintage SV20C.
2. Blackstar Studio 10 EL34
When they were announced earlier this year at NAMM, the Studio 10 amps caused a bit of a stir. Offering boutique sound and style without the hefty price tag, Blackstar have gone all out to craft a magnificent combo that excels across the board. Whether you’re jamming at home, hitting the studio or taking to the stage, it is a tour de force that is begging to be let loose.
Classic ‘British’ tone sings thanks to the all-valve complement with an EL34 in the power amp and ECC83 in the preamp stage. The sophisticated creamy blues’ sounds project sweetly via the Celestion Seventy-80 12-inch speaker. Built-in boost ramps things up into overdrive heaven with an optional footswitch for hands-free control. On top of all that there’s studio-quality reverb at your disposal, enriching your tonal presence in any performance environment.
If you want a solid performer that punches well above its price tag, then you can’t go wrong with the Blackstar Studio 10 EL34.
3. Vox AC15C1 Analog Valve Guitar Amplifier
If it’s class you want, it’s class you’ll get.
The Vox AC15C1 is a pretty great amp to take on tour and great value from a trusted name in amplifiers – a great choice for the blues guitarists. You’ll get 15 watts of pure valve tone, with chiming cleans making way for gritty overdrive as you begin to push the EL84 power amp valves. While Vox is known for powering some of the best-known music in modern history, its prowess as a blues machine par excellence has often gone under the radar.
It’s also the ideal blank canvas for pedals, adding in that extra versatility where it’s needed. If you want to add some depth and flavour to crisp cleans, then the VOX AC15C1 dutifully obliges and plays very well with others.
4. Fender Mustang GT40
The Fender Mustang GT40 may seem an odd choice considering the line-up of all-valve behemoths on this list (as well as the fact that the Hot Rod Deluxe IV is currently on the Dawsons’ website) but hear me out.
The Mustang GT40 is ludicrously versatile thanks to a plethora of built-in amp models and effects to play with. For those who like a bit of variety in their life you’ll be pleased to know amongst the presets there’s are raft of Fender amp models from the Princeton to the Bassman, a host of “British invasion”-style sounds, and so much more. Whether you’re going for a laid-back and low-key response or something with far more bite, then you’ve got everything at the touch of a button. Thanks to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, you can use the Fender Tone app to make adjustments on your smart device.
Whether you’re at home or on the road you can pop in a pair of headphones and practise in silence. The built-in heavy-duty handle makes it easy to get from A to B. If you want to lay down some tracks, all that you need to do is connect via USB to your computer and DAW of choice, and you’re good to go.
Grab the optional MGT-4 four-button footswitch and you can make hands-free adjustments without any effort, making the Mustang GT40 perfect for gigging with.
5. Marshall CODE50
The Marshall CODE series of amps were designed for the modern player who not only wants a hardworking, 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.
Get in touch
View the full range of amplifiers for blues over at the Dawsons Website. If you need any advice, then don’t hesitate to contact our Customer Service team via telephone on 01925 582420. Alternatively, if you’d prefer to try out some amps for yourself, then head to your nearest Dawsons Store where our in-store specialists will be more than happy to help you out.
If you liked that, then you might like this
If you’re after the perfect guitar to capture your bluesy licks in style, then check out our “Best Guitars for Blues“.
In case you were wondering what it is, then check out our article, “What is a Blues Scale?” and go on the way to become a master of the craft.
Finally, if you want to get out of ever having to fork out for a pint again, you’ll want to know these “5 Essential Blues Licks“.
Lee Glynn is a guitarist and multi-instrumentalist who lives in Liverpool, England. After moving to the UK from Perth, Australia, Lee enjoyed a successful career as guitarist in Liverpool based rock band Sound of Guns.
After releasing two albums, a myriad of EPs / singles and touring extensively around the world for 6 years including stops at Glastonbury, Latitude Festival, as well as the coveted Reading & Leeds Festivals, Lee decided it was a time for a change of scenery.
Utilising his experience in music journalism, Lee now works within the web team at Dawsons Music, where he can still relay his passion for music by producing great content for the Dawsons blog and social media. Lee is still an avid guitar player and writer.