What is the Best Blues Amp in 2019? – Reviews

Our Top Pick
There’s no doubt that each of the below 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 combination amp.

There are thousands of amplifiers out there that proclaim to be the best blues amps around for producing the rich and and soulful sounds of the blues, but few actually deliver on that promise. Clearly the guitar you choose plays a huge role in tone, but in the quest for a deep, bluesy sound there is no more important component than your guitar amp.

You want a blues amp for that can stand out on its own, something that doesn’t require too many extras to get the tones you want. Whether you need a crisp and clean sounds, sustained notes that break up at just the right moment or all out distortion, you want an amp that can do the job on its own.

It does’t matter if you play in your bedroom as a hobby, in a local bar or large venue, it would be wise to invest in a decent guitar amp. Finding the perfect amp will bring your electric guitar to life. The best amps for blues should be able to stand on their own, supporting riffs, solos, and impressive bends with ease. You need an amp that will be able to withstand all of the tonal demands you place on it.

There are a different types of amps within each brand. Some are big, powerful and stage-worthy, while others are more suited for practice at home. They also come in a widely varied price range. You can find some amps for well under $100, while others may cost $1,500 and everything in between. But keep in mind that more expensive isn’t necessarily always better. Whether you choose the frugal or more high-end route, the goal is to find one that will give you the bluesy tones you want at a price you can afford.

As the title suggests, we’ve put together a list of the top 6 blues amps of 2019. But first, let’s learn a bit more about the ins and outs of a guitar amplifier shall we? After all, more knowledgeable you are, the easier it will be to know exactly what you’re looking for in a blues amp and the happier you will be with your choice. Now lets get in to it.


What Makes An Ideal Blues Amp?

The manufacturing of amps for blues 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 several factors to take in to account; how big should the amp be? Is it for practicing at home or playing a gig in a larger space? What technology is used? What features does it have? What type of cabinet should I buy?

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

Smaller amps ideal for playing the blues, if you played with a larger amp you’d have to keep the volume down, which would make it harder to push the amp into overdrive. A smaller amp is easier to push into overdrive with a boost or pedal, and can still be surprisingly loud. When playing the blues guitar, the best wattage is typically 50-watt and under. Depending upon performance needs, the best recommendation is to shoot for amps between 10-30 watts.

Although an effects pedal may be used in some instances, most blues players prefer to highlight the natural tonal quality of the guitar similar to the way the best acoustic guitar amp would.  A blues amp is focused on providing a warm, full sound often with tubes and a tiny bit of overdrive. Many blues guitarists find that a less powerful, smaller amp is more efficient in achieving that signature “bluesy” sound.

The Basics Of Guitar Amps

There are two types of guitar amps; valve amps (also known as ‘tube’ amps), and solid state amps. For rich blues tones, you need to buy a valve amp. There are several other types of guitar amps, but these are the only ones worth considering if you want to replicate vintage blues tones with any authenticity.

Valve or “tube” amps

When it comes to choosing the technology behind the amp, most blues guitarists are passionate about only tubes. Valve amps are powered by valves, also commonly referred to as tubes. These valves receive signals from your guitar and amplify them, but they perform this role imperfectly and inconsistently. When a signal becomes too powerful (which happens when the volume on the amp is increased) the valves alter the form of the sound wave. This distorts the tone of your guitar, changing it from a ‘clean’ tone to one that is crunchy and ‘dirty’. The distorted tones that valve amps produce is thick, heavy and warm sounding. It is the sound associated with some of the best blues tones of all time. Power tubes amps for blues.

For more tube amps check:

Solid State Amps

Unlike valve amps, solid state guitar amps are powered by transistors. These transistors don’t alter the form of the sound wave like valves do. Instead they ‘clip’ it – chopping off the frequencies at the top and bottom of the wave. This also creates a distorted sound, but this sounds more artificial and is harsher on the ear. This style of amp is favored by rock heavy metal guitarists, but they are less than ideal for playing the blues. They’ll never get you anywhere near a vintage blues tone. Although tube amps are preferred for the blues, a solid-state amp is usually cheaper than a tube amp. One benefit of solid state amps is that they don’t require the upkeep and eventual repair that tube amps do, they tend to be much more resilient.

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

Types of Amplifier Technology

There are four types of guitar amplifiers: solid state (analog), tube, modeling (digital), and hybrids.

Valve (Tube) Amps

Tube amps have been around longer than any of the other three types, and are preferred by many blues guitarists for their warm tone and natural distortion. Tube amps usually sound louder than solid-state amps of the same wattage and have separate channels that can switch from clear to distorted tones in an instant. These amps are often the priciest option and the tubes need to be changed occasionally.

Solid-state (Analog) Amps

Rather than using vacuum tubes, solid-state amps use transistors. This makes the amp more affordable and accessible to a greater range of musicians. They are very reliable and seldom need repairs. They often have a very clean tone and many come with a distortion option as well. These amps are popular with players looking for a dependable and affordable touring amp.

Digital (Modeling) 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. Modeling amps use digital processors to simulate the sound of old-fashioned tube technology. Modeling amps are programmable, and often have built-in digital effects.

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. Many hybrid amps use a tube in the preamp section and solid state circuitry in the power section to create a tube tone without requiring the use of power tubes. These amps are ideal for playing both modern blues and the classics.

Types of Amp Cabinets

Aside from technological differences, there are important constructional differences to consider when looking for blues amps. The wood thickness of the cabinet is a major factor in determining sound quality. The thinner the wood, the more likely the speaker will vibrate itself loose. A thickness of at least 1/2 inch will produce a solid sound and keep the speaker in place. Having an opened or closed-back is another determining factor in sound quality. A closed-back guitar amp produces more bass.

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, this 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.


Best Blues Amps 2019

B.B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Clapton are three very different examples of respected blues guitarists. They all use a different style of electric guitar and play a very different style of blues. Below are our reviews of very different styles of amps.

With a plethora of amps available on the market, it’s difficult to truly narrow down a list of the absolute “best” blues amps, because after all it really all comes down to personal choice.

This review focuses on the best-selling guitar amps for blues currently on the market. We’ve highlighted the amps with the highest purchase rates and the most positive gear reviews. We hope our list guides you to making the best choice for your style of blues as well as your budget.

Without further ado, I present to you our list of the top blues amps of 2019.


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 Carbon Fibre Serie 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. There is also an emulated headphone output for ‘silent’ practice. Two channels, Clean and Overdrive 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.

The MG Carbon Fibre Serie successfully combines digital and analogue FX with tried and tested solid-state tonal circuitry.

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.


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
  • Classic tweed with vintage-style knobs and controls

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 amps to invest in. Read more on what is the best Fender Amp.

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.


3. 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 those who play rock guitar, 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.


4. 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.

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.

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.


5. 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 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 crisp tone and the impressive overdrive, making the Fender Blues Junior III one of the best 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.


6. Vox AC30 C2

Key Features:Vox V9106 Pathfinder

  • 10 Watt tube combo offering the classic VOX Top Boost tone
  • EL84 tubes; 12AX7 preamp tubes
  • Custom 10″ VX10 speaker made by Celestion
  • Gain, Bass, Treble, Reverb, and Master Volume controls
  • Extension and External speaker outputs

The Vox AC30C2 is a 10Watt tube amp combination, with three 12AX7 preamp tubes with two 12-Inch 8Ohm Celestion G12M Greenback speakers. It has two channels, Normal and Top Boost. The Normal channel has a volume control knob, while the Top Boost has volume, bass, and treble control knobs. On the backside of the amp, you can find the Send and Return jacks for your pedals, the foot-switch port, and the external speaker outputs

In terms of performance, the Vox AC30C2 excels at replicating that classic Brit invasion sounds of the 1960s – if that’s what you are looking for, this is the amp that unequivocally delivers it. The cleans are sparkly, smooth and clear, while it’s simple to dial in a sweet vintage blues tone, with an easy to achieve natural overdrive that really sings.

The channels on the Vox AC30C2 amp offer you incredible versatility, with the normal channel providing a rich and fat tone, while the top boost channel offers an edgier, more aggressive sound. Even at 30 watts, it’s a loud amp and extremely responsive to your playing dynamics. The effects are equally as commendable, with a wide-ranging reverb and impressively atmospheric tremolo.

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.


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

There’s no doubt that each of these 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 combination 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.

Bottom Line

For many blues musicians, the quality of the sound needs to match the quality of the guitar, meaning 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.

You’ll want to choose a guitar amplifier with warm, light, natural distortion, plus a bit of crunch. You’ll also want to get something that is responsive to your playing, so when you dig into a note, you get a nice bite. For this, I’d recommend a small-watt tube amp, since blues really lends itself to the natural distortion of a tube amp.

Keep in mind that these characteristics will all become important factors when looking to purchase a top blues amp for you. Whether you’re looking for the perfect practice amp or a more versatile option to take with you on gigs, looking at the top-rated amps is a fantastic place to start your quest for creating the vintage, rich and soulful sounds of the blues.

For more related amps, please check out:

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