Last Updated on September, 25th 2020
There are at least a dozen Peavey guitar amps that are great for playing skull-crushing metal, but they are all a ... Created in Black Country, England, The 30 watt Laney Ironheart IRT30 is packed full of features, amazing tone and a
... Last but certainly not least, the Diezel VH4. This is an incredibly versatile amp, used by players in every genre, but ... A beast of an amp. The Orange Crush Pro CR120 is a 120 watt solid-state amp head that offers the tonal clarity and
... Rookies in the industry when compared to the other brands on our list, Blackstar has only been around since 2004, and
Product Description Users Score Editor choice
Peavey 6505+112 Guitar Combo Amp
Laney Ironheart IRT30-112
Orange Crush Pro CR120
Blackstar S1046L6 Series One
There are at least a dozen Peavey guitar amps that are great for playing skull-crushing metal, but they are all a ...
Created in Black Country, England, The 30 watt Laney Ironheart IRT30 is packed full of features, amazing tone and a ...
Last but certainly not least, the Diezel VH4. This is an incredibly versatile amp, used by players in every genre, but ...
A beast of an amp. The Orange Crush Pro CR120 is a 120 watt solid-state amp head that offers the tonal clarity and ...
Rookies in the industry when compared to the other brands on our list, Blackstar has only been around since 2004, and ...
Best Guitar Amps for Metal 2019
There’s no way you could possibly play every heavy metal amp ever made, so we’ve compiled this list of the top 5 best amps for metal to help narrow down your search. Use our review to get you started in the right direction on your hunt for the best skull-crushing sound to compliment your hair-raising guitar shredding.
1. Editor’s Pick: Peavey 6505+112 Guitar Combo Amp
There are at least a dozen Peavey guitar amps that are great for playing skull-crushing metal, but they are all a distant second after our top choice for the best amp for metal, the Peavey 6505+112 Combo. It was designed for heavy skull splitting riffs.
The Peavey 6505+ is a powerful, high-gain guitar combo amp, whose pedigree we can trace back to when it was known as the Peavey 5150 in the early 90’s. The Peavey 5150 was created in collaboration with guitar legend Eddie Van Halen. It was an insanely popular, best selling amplifier among metal guitarist, and known for its outstanding face-melting, hard tones.
The 5150 amplifier was a staple in the metal community until the dissolution of their relationship in 2004. Van Halen maintained power over the 5150 name, but Peavey kept the most important thing, the amp itself, along with all of its gloriously aggressive distortion. It was renamed the Peavey 6505 in honor of their 40th anniversary (1965-2005). Changed name aside, this powerhouse of an amplifier remains a go-to for many heavy musicians. Now enough with the history lesson, let’s get to why exactly we think this amplifier is the bees knees.
The Peavey 6505 60-watt combo packs plenty of soul-crushing distortion into a compact package, putting you in total control of its tonal capabilities. Five select 12AX7 preamp tubes and a pair of 6L6GC power amp tubes provide the tonal foundation for the 6505 combo, while the patented circuitry of Peavey’s Resonance control tweak its legendary tone. Both the Lead and Rhythm channels feature independent three-band EQ, pre/post gain controls and Presence and Resonance adjustment. The Rhythm channel also includes a footswitchable Crunch boost.
The 6505 Plus 112 combo guitar amp also features the Peavey MSDI microphone-simulated direct interface, which allows you to route the amp directly to a recording device or mixing console. Additional features include: three-spring reverb, effects loop and external speaker outputs, plus a 12 in Sheffield loudspeaker in a sealed-back cabinet, maximal resonance and sound projection.
This amp was built for thrashing, there is no Clean channel, both options are high-gain and gritty. Plug your axe into the all-tube Peavey 6505 combo, and you’ll immediately understand what made its predecessor, the revered 5150, such a favorite among hard rockers and metal players. The delightfully meaty tones this amp produces when driven to its apex is one of the main reasons we feel its the best metal amp. Get down to your local shop and give it a spin, we’re sure this amp will be at the top of your list too.
- 60 watts (RMS) output
- Tube amplification
- Footswitchable lead/rhythm channel select
- Effects loop
- Separate 3-band EQ on each channel
- Separate Resonance and Presence controls for each channel
- Two 6L6GC power amp tubes
- Lead channel: pre-/post-gain controls
- Genuine 3-spring reverb
- Top handle
- Five 12ax7 preamp tubes
- External speaker outputs16, 8, or 4 ohms (switchable)
- Rhythm channel: pre-/post-gain, footswitchable Crunch boost
- Integrated MSDI™ microphone-simulated XLR direct interface
- This guitar amplifier has more than enough power to deliver the best metal sound, even when pushed to the limit. At 60 watts, the sound of the Peavey 6505 is equally suited for clubs, rehearsal rooms and studios.
- The all tube amplification projects a delightfully warm tone. Nothing beats the tones produced by valves, and the two-channel design of this amp provides excellent frequency response across an impressive range.
- The Peavey 6505 guitar amp is a favorite of gigging musicians due to its rugged design. Given Peavey’s resume, you can guarantee that it will survive the many years of the skull-crushing metal riffs you’ll be passing through it at gigs and rehearsal. It’s durable construction allows it to take a beating as you toss it in the back of your van and drag it from gig to gig.
- The tube-buffered FX loop really makes this guitar amp stand out. If you have some crazy effects pedals, just plug them in, this amp can handle the strangest, most aggressive, dark, metal tones. This is especially important if you are the type of heavy metal guitarist who has a huge bank of pedals– setting them up with this amp is super easy, and so you can rock out within minutes of getting it!
- At over 60 pounds, this large combo is a bit heavy, so we’d recommend using a dolly when transporting it.
2. Laney Ironheart IRT30-112
Created in Black Country, England, The 30 watt Laney Ironheart IRT30 is packed full of features, amazing tone and a thoroughly modern and aggressive look. The versatility of this amp is one of the many reasons it is one of the best metal amps, and has become such a favorite among heavy metal musicians.
At 30 watts, this three-channel guitar amplifier pumps out an impressive sound, but it’s not equipped to handle large venues. It does however deliver more than enough power for the practice room, or perhaps even a small venue. The vast range of effects and features is really impressive for an amp of this size, and no matter how bizarre of a sound you want, this amp is up to the task.
The Laney IRT30-112 also features watts control, which allows you to get the tone you are after at any wattage level, from 30 watts all the way down to 1 watt, without destroying your tone. Channel-wise, there’s the option of Clean or Rhythm, a gained-up lead channel, plus a switchable pre-boost, and the distortion on the Ironheart is truly monstrous. An included footswitch allows you to switch sounds, activate the boost, and turn the amp’s digital reverb on or off.
The all-tube Laney IRT30-112 delivers amazingly rich and organic crunch sounds, giving you the chugging sounds all metal guitarists crave. The rhythm tones are chunky and the leads are fat and juicy. No matter how high you crank this amp, the sounds stay distinct and clear.
- 30 watts RMS output
- Inputs 1 x Jack
- MP3 Input
- Channels 3
- Equalisation Bass, Middle & Treble with Pull-Push EQ shift on each
- Master Presence Control Overall TONE
- Boost Switch Footswitchable pre-boost
- Preamp Valves 4 x ECC83
- Output Valves 2 x 6L6
- Reverb Laney designed Digital reverb
- Footswitch FS4-IRT supplied as standard – switches Channel, Clean, Reverb & Pre Boost
- Variable level FX loop
- The Laney IRT30-112 is an versatile, aggressive sounding combo delivering plenty of low-end growl and punch. It’s multi-channel capabilities, reverb, and a bevy of other features, make the Laney IRT30-112 guitar amp a sensible solution for players requiring the convenience of a smaller amp but with big-rig functionality.
- Varied watts control, allows you to get the tone you are after at any wattage level without compromising your tone. It’s the perfect amp for small gigs or the studio. It’s also great for home practice, as it serves up just the right amount of bone-crushing sound to not blow out your windows or annoy your neighbors.
- The hi-gain on this metal amp is awesome. Laney is known for offering clear, yet aggressive distortion, and this amp is no exception. The added levels of distortion come in handy when you want to push this amp to take on heavy chugging riffs.
- An amp for metal first and foremost, but it’s also great for practicing any genre of hard rock music from dark metal, to hard rock and everything in between.
- None, that we could find. The value represented in this guitar amp is exceptional. It’s one of the best metal amps around.
3. Diezel VH4
This is the amp that launched the Diezel legend. The iconic VH4 is the first amp ever produced by Diezel in 1992, This amp revolutionized the industry with its four distinctly-voiced preamp channels, each with separate gain, EQ and master controls.
This beefy 100 watt powerhouse also features series and parallel loops, on top of four channel inserts to add pedals or rack effects to any single channel. Diezel perfected this amp way back in ’92, and it has continued to be made in the exact same way since it first hit the scene.
With a highly-versatile four-channel preamp section (Clean, Crunch, Mega and Lead), virtually any sound you can think of is on tap. The included Midi footswitch allows the VH4 to easily adapt to any rig configuration, and at lower gain settings, the Clean channel produces the now-classic Diezel sparkle & chime, but crank up the gain a bit and there is a robust tone added to the crispness.
The Crunch channel begins where Clean leaves off, delivering hearty vintage cleans to glorious AC/DC-style rhythm and lead sounds. The Mega channel delivers Diezel’ trademark, highly defined, heavy-metal rhythm to soaring solo sounds. The lead channel carries over from Mega, offering more gain and more compression.
With its multiple effects loop and MIDI-based switching, the VH4 easily earns its iconic reputation. The balance of tight lows, articulate gain, and touch sensitivity has made it the go-to metal amp for countless players around the world.
- 100 watt output
- 4 KT77 power amp tubes
- Inputs:1 x 1/4″ (instrument), 1 x 1/4″ (thru)
- Outputs:2 x 1/4″ (8 ohm), 3 x 1/4″ (16 ohm)
- Impedance: 4, 8, 16 ohms
- MIDI Footswitch
- Single input
- 4 channels: 3-band EQ; Volume; Gain
- Master volume
- Effects loop
Last but certainly not least, the Diezel VH4. This is an incredibly versatile amp, used by players in every genre, but has also become a favorite of Metal guitarists.
In addition, this amp comes with a load of extra features:
- At the heart of the VH4 is a 100 watt output section coupled with four distinct preamp channels that provide everything from ultra crisp tones to massively distorted madness, all packed with unparalleled tonality, definition and superb clarity.
- The amplification on this guitar amp is all-tube. Nothing beats the gorgeous vintage sounds of valve amplification, and when combined with the effects offered by this amp, it delivers a truly outstanding sound no matter how hard you push its limit.
- The overall versatility really is impressive; each channel has its own individual insert, while the effects loop is available in serial or assignable parallel flavors.
- The parallel loop can also function as an additional master volume when the send and return are connected with a patch lead.
- None that we found. If you are looking for a rugged Metal amp that offers plenty of versatility and delivers more than enough power, then this is one of the best metal amps for you!
4. Orange Crush Pro CR120
A beast of an amp. The Orange Crush Pro CR120 is a 120 watt solid-state amp head that offers the tonal clarity and definition players adore in an Orange amplifier. This solid-state amp head possess the lively feel and responsiveness that Orange is famous for, inspiring guitarists to play their instruments, not the technology.
The Crush Pro Series marks Orange’s first foray into the realm of high powered, stage-ready solid state amplifiers. Taking its inspiration from the twin channel circuit in their prestigious Rockerverb series, the Crush Pro CR120H range was developed using high grade solid state components.
Crush amps deliver more authentic Orange tone than ever with both amp channels designed after the Rockerverb. The Clean channel sports two gain stages that start to break up when it’s cranked, and the dirty channel uses four gain stages to deliver classic Orange overdrive tones.
Orange keeps these amps simple. The dirty channel uses a circuit based on four stages of gain and a three-band EQ, which provides the player with a wide pallet of over-driven and distorted sounds. The Clean channel is based on a two-stage, two-band EQ design that gives the player a crisp but warm sound, which, when cranked, begins to break up.
The high-gain preamp design puts a truly inspiring range of complex tones in your hands. High quality, low noise components provide four stages of gain with exceptional richness and clarity. Resulting in an amp that can deliver everything from blissful cleans, to classic Bluesy Orange crunch all the way through to full-bodied, ultra high gain Metal distortion.
- Power: 120 output
- Solid state
- Two channels
- Digital reverb
- Clean channel: Volume, Bass and Treble
- Dirty channel: Volume, Bass, Middle, Treble and Gain
- Global controls: Volume and Reverb
- Impedance: 2×16 ohms
- Dimensions: 21.65″ x 22.5″ x 9.84″
- Weight: 31.75 lbs.
- The high-gain power sections of this stage-ready amp really deliver the goods. It’s and powerful enough to engulf a club in deafening metal-madness.
- We like the trouble-free, no-maintenance operation of this solid state design.
- This amp has a transparent effects loop, allowing you to plug in your favorite pedals. It also contains a digital reverb that provides a natural-sounding spring, hall or plate reverb.
- The analogue technology of this amp has been honed to perfection, and it has extraordinary levels of versatility and road worthy sound quality to match.
- Clean and Dirty channels can be switched on the amp’s top panel or remotely using the optional footswitch.
- It would be awesome if the footswitch were included, but over all a great value for the price.
5. Blackstar S1046L6 Series One
Rookies in the industry when compared to the other brands on our list, Blackstar has only been around since 2004, and they are already known for producing some of the best metal amps around. In that short time they have also revolutionized heavy metal amps, and are one of the best in the biz.
The Blackstar tube amp head has quickly become a favorite of metal players world wide, and it’s not hard to see why. The innovative design of this amp features two-channel amplification, and each channel is divided into two modes, Clean: warm/bright, and Crunch: crunch/super crunch. Swapping between modes is really easy, so if you are a lone guitarist, you can quickly swap from a crunchy rhythm sound to a crisp solo with no hassle. When switched to the “bright” channel, the amp is incredibly responsive, so even if your solo is fiendishly complicated, you can rest assured that this is one of the best metal amps you can use to magnify it to perfection.
The crunch and super crunch modes cover a huge gain range, taking over from the Clean channel’s subtle dynamic overdrive and extending to a huge modern crunch tone to satisfy any metal head. The two different overdrive modes serve up huge distortion effects, with practically endless sustain at higher settings. OD1 is a little more aggressive and is at home with metal and thrash, OD2 is fatter and rounder, making it better suited for a Satch or Vai-style warbling.
The Blackstar Series One 1046L6 100 watt tube head has four 6L6 head valves that are the cold black heart of this high gain metal power house. It also boasts unbelievable dynamics and head-room. The DPR control allows the power to be reduced down to 10W for beautiful power amp distortion at a much lower volume level. This Blackstar amp head sets new standards in tonal flexibility.
- 100 watt head with built-in DPR power reduction
- 4 x ECC83, 1 x ECC82, 4 x 6L6 valves
- 4 switchable channels
- Clean channel with Warm (Plexi) and Bright (Class A) type modes
- Crunch channel with Crunch and Super Crunch modes
- Two overdrive channels with high and low output damping
- Two ISF equipped tone control sections
- Presence and Resonance controls
- Master Volume
- Series effects loop
- MIDI switching
- Speaker emulated output
Swapping between modes is really easy, also, so if you are a lone guitarist, you can quickly swap from a crunchy rhythm sound to a clean solo with no hassle.
- This is one of the best tube head amps for metal in terms of distortion, it’s hard to beat. It offers two modes, Crunch and Super Crunch, which should tell you all you need to know about its tonal capabilities. For most metal guitarists, the crunch mode alone gives them all of the hard rock distortion they require, but it’s nice to have the option to go heavier if you so desire.
- On top of the flexible channels, the Blackstar Series One 1046L6 tube amp head sports two more overdrive channels to cover maximum tonal territory. These channels feature high and low output damping, giving you the power to dial in two distinct flavors of overdrive that you can easily switch between.
- Blackstar has built a reputation among musicians for having some of the best solid mechanical integrity, and rugged design. These cabinets are built to last a lifetime.
- The amp features an effects loop for connecting effects pedals or other professional equipment using the return and send connections.
- At nearly 60 pounds, this amp may be a bit hefty. But If you are looking for an amp with more than enough power to shred in moderately sized venues, this is the amp for you.
Guitar Amps for Metal Specs
|Peavey 6505+112 Guitar Combo Amp||22.3 x 25.5 x 11.2 inches||64.2 pounds||60W|
|Blackstar S1046L6 Series One||33.2 x 15.8 x 15.7 inches||62.2 pounds||100W|
|Laney Ironheart IRT30-112||21.1 x 25 x 13.6||45.1 pounds||30W|
|Diezel VH4 100W||34.3 x 19.2 x 12.8 inches||53 pounds||100W|
|Orange Crush Pro CR120||9.8 x 9.8 x 23.6 inches||32.6 pounds||120W|
Finding The Best Metal Amps
If you’re looking to play some serious face-melting metal, it’s worth investing in a guitar amp specifically designed for it. No mater which sub genre of metal you play, Dark, Hair, Nu, Power, Thrash or any of the other hundred sub-categories that are out there today, choosing the correct amplifier is key. It plays a vital role in cranking out those heart-pounding leads, and projecting a kick-ass sound.
Using an amp that can’t deliver the boosted gain structures, over-driven tones, and sharp articulation that metal guitar requires would be a sin. You need an amplifier you can push to the limit, one that can give you the power you demand, and the massive distortion sounds you crave.
Metal guitarists crave high gain tones, compression and distortion, whether shredding away on stage, at home or in the studio. Finding the best guitar amp to give you that heavy skull crushing sound isn’t easy, but the journey to finding it can be a hell of a lot of fun. There are heaps of guitar amps that sound incredible for metal music, you just have to take the time find the one that works best for style, sound and needs.
What Style Of Amp Should I Use For Metal?
When deciding which style of heavy metal guitar amp best suits your needs of style there are 3 major choices:
Valve or Tube Amps: Tube amps are run on tube which may have to be replaced at some point, usually years later if cared for properly. Every tube amp needs a rectifier to convert the AC current coming from its power transformer into the DC current that makes its tubes do their thing, resulting in nice warm sounds, think AC/DC and Zeppelin. They are less versatile than solid-state amps. Tubes can usually produce only a clean or distorted sound, so if you’re looking for a particular signature sound, you’d have to choose a guitar amp whose tubes produce the distinct sound you were looking for.
Solid State Amps: These amps run on transistors and are sometimes called faux valves or tubes. These amps don’t require any maintenance and they are versatile. They generally have lots of cool effects built in, and can replicate the sound of a valve amp so well that only a highly trained ear can tell the difference.
Solid state amps are louder in a smaller package, lighter, more portable and can be significantly cheaper than tube amps, making them a favorite for many heavy metal guitar players in any genre. These amps are fairly easy to master, they generally include an overdraft channel, clean channel, and a bit of reverb and delay. Solid-state amps can definitely give you the best rock star tones on a roadie budget.
Modeling Amps: This amp is a little box o’ everything. Modeling amps emulate the sounds of tube and solid-state amplifiers. It can reproduce anything from the clean British sound of a Marshall or Vox, to the distorted sounds of a big over-driven Orange amplifier. This amp can make anything good. hard rock, classic, jazz, blues any style you can think of. It also comes with a seemingly endless amount of effects, reverb, delays and modulations. It’s essentially an all-in-one.
Things To Consider When Choosing Any Amp
Power. A lot of people talk a lot about power, as though it was a measure of how good an amp is. Certainly, if you are playing huge venues, or outside, you will need a powerful amp. However, for most places and people, a 100 watt amplifier will easily deal with the task. It will still go incredibly loud, so don’t worry about not being heard!
Speakers. A common set-up for guitar amps is a 12” woofer coupled with a smaller tweeter, typically 1”. Some amps come with an additional mid-range horn as well, which can potentially improve frequency response and definition.
Inputs and outputs. It might sound obvious, but make sure the amp you are looking at has the correct type of inputs, and enough of them, to accommodate all the gear you want to plug in.
Our Final Thoughts On The Best Metal Amps
When on the hunt for the best metal amplifiers, guitarists crave high gain tones, compression and fat boosted distortion when shredding. You want to hit the stage with an amp you can push past its limits while still giving you the power you need, the articulation you want and the big distortion sounds you crave.
Any of the five amps we reviewed today are viable options when on the hunt for a kick-ass, face melting metal amp. Whether you need an amp for practice at home, in the studio or to take with you on gigs, there a little something on our list to meet your needs, or to at least give you a starting point to a more in depth search before making your final decision.
For more great reviews check out:
- 1 Peavey 6505+112 Guitar Combo Amp
- 2 Laney Ironheart IRT30-112
- 3 Diezel VH4
- 4 Orange Crush Pro CR120
- 5 Blackstar S1046L6 Series One
- 6 Best Guitar Amps for Metal 2019
- 7 Guitar Amps for Metal Specs
- 8 Finding The Best Metal Amps
- 9 Our Final Thoughts On The Best Metal Amps