Best Blues Amp Reviews to Save You More Cash 2017

Our Top Pick
In our humble opinion, the best blues amp around right now is the Marshall MG15CF. This remarkable amp delivers great blues tones, at a price that won’t break the bank. Whether you are new to blues guitar, or an old hand, once you hear the rich sound produced by this amp we are confident you will be a convert. If you are looking for a flexible amp that will provide many years of reliable service, you’ve just found it.

When it comes to playing the blues, guitar players need to make sure that their amp is ready to withstand the unique tonal demands.

The best blues amps should be able to stand on their own, supporting riffs, solos, and impressive bends with ease. No matter what, a blues amp needs to be able to live up to all the demands that your guitar is placing on it.

Whether you want crisp, clean tones, or distorted notes for heavy sections, the best blues amp will help you get the job done with minimal requirements.


What Sets a Blues Amp Apart?

One of the most popular amp configurations for jazz musicians is a 12-inch speaker, 50-watt power capability, and a head that has minimal distortion or overdrive. Blues musicians who are looking for a blues amp are typically looking for a similar profile, but with a few small changes.

Instead of focusing on special effects, most blues players want to highlight the natural tonal quality of the guitar almost like an acoustic amp

A blues amp is focused on providing a warm, full sound, often with tubes and a tiny bit of overdrive. The amp doesn’t need to be extremely powerful to get that signature “bluesy” sound, which certainly sets these amps apart.

Each guitarist is different, but there are some common characteristics that accompany a blues amp:

Smaller Size

Playing the blues with an oversized amp means keeping the amp at a lower volume, which detracts from the tone. Most blues guitarists find that purchasing a smaller amp allows them to utilize the power of the amp better and produce a fuller tone.

For blues amps, the best wattage is typically under 50. Depending upon performance needs, the best recommendation is to shoot for amps between 10-30 watts.

Tubes Amps

When it comes to choosing the technology behind the amp, most blues guitarists are passionate about only using tube amps. This is because tones from tube amps tend to sound warmer, richer, and fuller, making these amps ideal for the blues.

For more tube amps check:

Solid-State Amps

Although tube amps may be preferred for the blues, a solid-state amp can provide similar tonal benefits, and usually at a lower price. They don’t require the upkeep and eventual repair that tube amps do and tend to be much more resilient.

Ultimately, the decision between tube or solid-state amps will come down to budget and personal preference.

Buying Guide for Blues Amps

The manufacturing of amps has changed greatly over the past few decades, particularly as the popularity of blues and rock genres increases.

When it comes to buying a blues amp, there are plenty of factors to consider, ranging from the technology used inside the amp itself to the size of the speaker cabinet.

When looking to purchase a blues amp, there are a few terms that will help in determining what type of amp you will need.

Types of Amplifier Technology

There are four different kinds of technology that are used to manufacture amps:

Valve (Tube) Amps

This is the oldest amp design, and it uses vacuum tubes to amplify sound. Tube amps have a crisp, warm tone, but because they are a classic design, they are often the most expensive. This is the most common type of blues amp.

Solid-state Amps

Rather than using vacuum tubes, solid-state amps employ transistors for the power and pre-amp portions. This makes a clean sound more affordable and therefore more accessible to a greater range of musicians.

Digital Amps

Just as the name suggests, these amps operate solely through digital technology. Rather than relying on vacuum tubes or transistors, the same classic tonality can be achieved through digital programming to match a variety of different tones.

Hybrid Amps

For the best of both worlds, these are the most versatile amps to invest in. They use a combination of valves, vacuum tubes, and digital programming to create an amp that can work with multiple instruments and be used in multiple roles.

Types of Amp Cabinets

Aside from technological differences, there are important constructional differences to consider when looking for blues amps:

Head (Preamp)

These types of amps do not have a speaker cabinet, called head-only amps. Some of the most popular amps are head-only, mostly because these are the most powerful and are best suited for large venues. That said, a head-only amp is most efficient when used in combination with a cabinet that has an equal amount of power.

Cabinet

A cabinet houses the speaker, and amps can either come with a speaker cabinet attached, or it can be purchased separately. For performances in larger venues, purchasing multiple cabinets is an ideal method of amplifying sound.  

Combo

Just as the name implies, a combo amplifier combines the head and the cabinet together in one package. The downfall is that the power is limited since musicians cannot add extra cabinets. The plus side, however, is that combo amps are much more convenient and more affordable.


The Best Blues Amps

With such a wide spread of blues amps available on the market, it’s difficult to narrow down a series of “best” blues amps. This review will focus on the best-selling blues amps that are currently on the market to highlight the amps with the highest purchase rates and the most positive customer reviews.

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned professional, using the top-rated blues amps as a reference is a great starting point for your next blues amp.


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1. Marshall MG15CF MG Series 15-Watt Guitar Combo Amp

Key Features: picture of Marshall MG15CF MG Series 15-Watt amplifier

  • 15 watts of power
  • 2 channels to choose from
  • MP3 input
  • 8-inch speaker

The Marshall MG series is one of the most coveted amp series for its reliability, tone quality, and performance. For those who are looking to purchase a high-quality blues amp—without breaking the bank—the 15-watt combo amp is one of the best amps to consider.

Beginning blues guitarists will appreciate the headphone and MP3 inputs, making it much easier to attach additional devices for playing along with a track. Two channels come standard for rhythm and solo performances.

Although the speaker is small, the sound quality is solid and features three-band EQ to enhance tonal control. Made of carbon-fiber, this amp packs a ton of power in a lightweight package. At only 16 pounds, this is one of the most portable—and efficient—amps for aspiring blues musicians to begin using.

Marshall MG15CF MG Series 15-Watt Guitar Combo Amp

Although the speaker is small, the sound quality is solid and features three-band EQ to enhance tonal control. Made of carbon-fiber, this amp packs a ton of power in a lightweight package.


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2. Fender Blues Reissue 40-Watt Guitar Combo Amp

Key Features: picture of Fender Blues Reissue 40-Watt amplifier

  • Two 6L6 output tubes & three 12Ax7 preamp tubes
  • Vintage and Drive channels
  • Independent Gain & Master Controls
  • Fender spring reverb

This vintage-style tube amp packs enough power for professional blues guitarists to use without sacrificing quality of tone. Even better, it comes at an accessible price, making it possible to achieve professional quality in smaller venues.

The amp features a 12-inch Special Design Eminence speaker, 40 watts of power, and a total of five tubes for a warm, full tone. It also comes with the highly sought-after Fender spring reverb, a two-button channel footswitch, and an effects loop.

Tweed coverings and a chrome control panel make this blues amp just as visually appealing as it is efficient. With a classic, vintage style and a solid tone, the Fender Blues Reissue Combo amp will always be one of the best blues amps to invest in. Read more Fender Amp Reviews.

Fender Blues Reissue 40-Watt Guitar Combo Amp

This vintage-style tube amp packs enough power for professional blues guitarists to use without sacrificing quality of tone.


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Fender Hot Rod Deluxe III 40-Watt Guitar Combo Amp

Key Features: picture of Fender Hot Rod Deluxe III 40-Watt Guitar Combo Amp

  • 40 watts of power
  • 12-inch speaker
  • 6L6 tubes & 12Ax7 preamp tubes
  • Upgraded control panel

Fender Hot Rod amps are used by guitarists and musicians all over the world, boosting sound and tone across all kinds of genres. What makes the Hot Rod series stand apart from the competition is that these amps feature an unmistakable Fender tone quality, allowing musicians to create their own unique sound.

As an updated version of the classic Hot Rod Deluxe, the Deluxe III amp features a control panel that is easier to read, a new badge, a streamlined footswitch, fine-tuned overdrive, and graduated volume controls.

At 40 watts of power, this blues amp is best-suited for blues musicians playing in larger venues, though the amp will certainly perform well in smaller venues, too.

Keep in mind that blues guitarists will typically use a lower volume setting when compared to rock guitarists, so it may be rare for the entire 40 watts to be used outside of a large venue. Regardless, the Fender Hot Rod Deluxe series has made incredible strides in the manufacture of high-quality amps, making this amp a great option to pair with a blues guitar.

Fender Hot Rod Deluxe III 40-Watt Guitar Combo Amp

Fender Hot Rod amps are used by guitarists and musicians all over the world, boosting sound and tone across all kinds of genres.


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3. Orange Crush 20-Watt Guitar Combo Amplifier

Key Features: picture of Orange Crush Pix CR100BXT amplifier

  • Footswitch for Clean & Dirty channels
  • Compact & portable design
  • 8-inch speaker
  • 4-stage preamp design

The Orange Crush series is a classic amongst guitarists, and the 20-watt combo amp is perfect for playing the blues. A smaller wattage allows for the full capability of the amp to be utilized while allowing for controlled volume during practice hours.

Orange speakers are custom designed to create the ideal balance between vintage highs and low-end punch, focused on maintaining tonal clarity throughout.

This model features a new high-gain, four-stage preamp design to deliver a large range of distorted and overdriven sounds. For blues guitarists, a solid overdrive is incredibly beneficial when creating those “bluesy” tones.

Orange Crush 20-Watt Guitar Combo Amplifier

A smaller wattage allows for the full capability of the amp to be utilized while allowing for controlled volume during practice hours.

As far as tonal quality goes, the Orange Crush 20-Watt model provides optimum versatility and saturation. Customer reviews are overwhelmingly positive for this blues amp, though it’s important to note that many report using this solely for practice and not performance.

Still, with an updated design and enhanced tonal range, the Orange Crush 20-watt combo amp is an affordable and advanced choice for a practice blues amp.  


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4. Fender Blues Junior III 15-Watt Guitar Combo Amp

Key Features: picture of Fender Blues Junior III 15-Watt Guitar Amplifier

  • Fender Special Design “lightning bolt” speaker
  • Touch-sensitive tube tone
  • EL-84 output tubes & 12Ax7 preamp tube overdrive
  • Perfect for the studio or smaller venues

The Blues Junior series has been a long-time favorite of blues musicians, and Fender continues to improve their design and functionality.

The Blues Junior III features a wide range of upgrades, including an easy-to-read control panel, vintage “dog bone” handle, high-sensitivity speaker design, and shock absorbers for the EL-84 output tubes.

Part of why this series is so popular is that these blues amps provide high value in terms of affordability and performance. They are known for their reliability, their volume, and warm tones, making them ideal additions for any blues guitarist.

At 31 pounds, this blues amp has maximum portability, making it easy to transfer to the studio or to a venue. Customer reviews consistently rave over the clean tone and the impressive overdrive, making the Fender Blues Junior III one of the best blues amps to consider purchasing.

Fender Blues Junior III 15-Watt Guitar Combo Amp

The Blues Junior III features a wide range of upgrades, including an easy-to-read control panel, vintage “dog bone” handle, high-sensitivity speaker design, and shock absorbers for the EL-84 output tubes.


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Editor’s Choice: Fender Blues Junior III 15-Watt Guitar Combo Amp

There’s no doubt that each of these blues amps comes with their own unique benefits, providing valuable support for blues guitarists. Still, in terms of overall performance, affordability, and value, our pick for the Editor’s Choice is the Fender Blues Junior III combo amp.

Where it truly shines is in maintaining its lightweight, portable nature without sacrificing a second of tone quality. It is a basic, no-frills amp—which is exactly what a good blues amp should be. Clean tones come with outstanding clarity, while dirty tones maintain a warm, natural quality.

At 15 watts of power, the volume on this blues amp can be cranked up high, allowing for the amp to be fully utilized. Whether practicing at home or playing in small venues, the Fender Blues Junior III is a reliable, powerful, and valuable blues amp.

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Our Thoughts on the Best Blues Amps for the Money

For many blues musicians, the quality of the sound needs to match the quality of the guitar, meaning that special effects and modeling features are less important.

Instead, a strong overdrive and tube or solid-state configuration end up taking center stage. These elements add body, color, and sustainability to the sound of a blues guitar. Volume and power also come into play, as it’s difficult to achieve a true “bluesy” sound when a high-power amp is restricted.

Keep in mind that these characteristics will all become important factors when looking for a blues amp. Whether you’re looking for the perfect practice amp or a more versatile option to include on gigs, looking at the top-rated blues amps is a fantastic place to start.

For more related amps, please check out:

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