April 4, 2019

The Best Guitar Amplifier for Clean Tones

Buying a guitar is a complex process where you need to keep in mind the body type of the guitar, pickup style, neck, and fretboard along with size and the price. More often than not, while buying an electric guitar, people fail to check and test the tone of the guitar. In an electric guitar, the sound or tone is amplified using an amplifier. If the amplifier is not good and muffles the tone of the strumming, then no matter how good the guitar’s looks and body are, you won't enjoy playing it.

It's very important that a guitar’s tone is clear and each string, every strum, brings out the natural sound of the guitar. This is possible only if the guitar’s amp supports clean tones without any additional noise and effects. To help you choose the best amp for your electric guitar, we bring the best guitar amps for clean tone.

The saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” holds true for the Fender Champion 20. By the looks of it, the Fender Champion 20 amp looks like a regular old school amp but wait till you hear it play. This solid-state amp belts out clean and strong tones showcasing the guitar’s natural sound along with some built-in effects. The Fender Champion amp includes all the basic features like gain, volume, treble, bass etc. and is best suited for home playing or jamming with friends. This amp has all the classic Fender features and is available for a very affordable price.

               Pros

  • The amplifier provides clean Fender-style tones
  • Affordable
  • The amp boasts of built-in effects.

                 Cons

  • The amplifier gives out some static noise at higher volume levels.

Orange is famous for manufacturing amps which stress the guitar’s natural sound and give out clean tones. Micro Terror by Orange holds true to its brand and is one of the best amps available in the market. This amp comes only with a head and you would need to buy a cabinet separately if you decide to buy the Micro Terror. This amp is of the hybrid variety and is a mix of tube pre-amp and the solid state power amp. The amp runs with 20 W of power and is ideal for home guitar playing as well as for small gigs. Along with belting out a great clean tone, the amp also boasts of a durable metal body and is built to last. The Micro Terror amp comes with all the usual controls and features which are simple to use like the tone, volume, and gain knobs. The Micro Terror by Orange is a good buy if you are looking for some strong yet clean tones and a long-lasting amp. The amp also offers a range of tones to play around with.

                Pros

  • The amp is built of good metal and is durable
  • The control knobs on the amp are simple to understand and play
  • The amp comes with an additional feature of headphones and Aux I/O point.
  • Great sounding clean and natural tones

                Cons

  • The amp comes only as a head and a cabinet is required to be bought additionally.

The Peavey Vypyr is a modeling amp and not the usual solid state or tube amps. This amp gives out quite a natural tone even though it’s a modeling amp with 20 W power. The Peavey Vypyr is very versatile as it can be used with acoustic guitars, electric guitars and even bass guitars. Modeling amps usually have different varieties of preset and simulation options. The VIP1 series offers 36 amp models, 16 presets and around 25 simulations. They also have specific amp models for bass and acoustic guitars. Another great feature in the VIP1 series amp is the option of recording as well as playing it with supporting MIDI devices. The amp gives out a clean and sharp tone although the solid state amp fans might not be too kind to it. The Peavey Vypyr VIP1 amp is good for musicians open to experimentation. This amp does not sound like a solid state or tube amp but is high on versatility and can be used for multiple music genres.

                Pros

  • A wide range of presets, models and simulations available to choose from
  • Very clean sounding tone
  • Easy to use.

              Cons

  • Fans of solid state and tube amps may not like the “artificial” sound to the tone.

Marshall is a brand which needs no introduction as it has been manufacturing high-quality products for several years. The Marshall MG50CFX is another great amp from the Marshall stable. It is heavy duty and can be carried around without worrying about dents and scratches. Not only is it durable, but it also has an easy interface and a great design. This Marshall amp comes with 2 channels having 2 different voice options. One channel offers clean strong tones while the other offers a more crunchy tone. The amp also includes some additional effects and all the usual control options. This great Marshall amp with its clean tones are good for metal and rock. The Marshall MG50CFX is a great amp for small gigs and its durability along with top-notch quality make it a good investment.

              Pros

  • Durable and long-lasting with a neat design
  • 2 different voice options
  • Great clean tone

               Cons

  • There are other models in the same price range offering more advanced features and specifications

The Blackstar’s HT1R is the perfect amp for home guitar playing sessions as it comes with 1 W power and the volume can be increased to the maximum without breaking the glass windows. But the low power should not color your judgment as this tube style amp packs in a strong clean tone with built-in reverb. The controls on the amp are basic and easy to use allowing even a beginner to be comfortable around it. The HT1R also consists of Infinite Shape Feature using which the musician can blend the perfect sound between UK and USA tone. Additional features in the HT1R include headphone and aux I/O along with an 8-ohm output speaker. The Blackstar HT1R is perfect if you are looking for a tube amp with clean tones and good specs.

               Pros

  • ISF features allow for versatility
  • Easy to carry and use
  • Great clean tones

                Cons

  • The 8 Ohm speaker could have been better
  • The amp is missing a tone brightening knob.

It's true that a good musician can play on any guitar and make it sound great but for a beginner, it's difficult to play well if the guitar refuses to strum out clean tones. One way to ensure that the guitar’s natural sound is enhanced is by using an amplifier which supports clean tones.

The above 5 are the best guitar amps for clean tone. There are other amps also available in the market. However, your choice should depend on the following three main criteria:
a. The kind of amp- Tube, Solid state or Modeling
b. Quality of tone
c. Budget
Once you find the amp which fits your requirement in all the above three criteria, then Voila! You have your perfect clean tone amplifier.

Kinds of Amplifier

It is also important to understand the various amplifiers available in the market and what kind of tone you can expect from them. This will help you make an informed and wise decision. three types of amplifiers are used for guitars, each with their own unique selling point.

a) Solid state amplifier

The Solid state amplifier, as the name suggests, uses solid circuits like semiconductors or transistors to amplify the guitar’s sound. They produce one of the cleanest tones and are cheaper than the other type of amplifiers. The solid state amps are known for their durability and can be repaired if damaged. They are very versatile and can be used for all music genres. Different variations of the solid state amp are available and are based on their Watt power, price, size, and quality of sound. Solid state amps are favored by the Jazz musicians for their clean and strong tones. The solid state amps, based on their Watt power can be used for home playing as well as for small gigs and even for live recording.

b) Tube amplifier

The tube amplifiers were the most common amplifiers used in guitars till the 1970s, post which the solid-state amplifiers gained popularity. The tube amplifiers use vacuum tubes for the amplification but are prone to breakage and damage. It's more expensive to manufacture a tube amp as compared to a solid state amp. But keeping aside tube amp’s lack of durability, the tone they produce is warm and clean. They also produce a strong overdrive sound when the volume is increased which is difficult to stimulate in other amps. They are best suited for Country music, Jazz, Blues etc., where the clean tone is of primary importance. Even though the tube amplifier technology is obsolete, it is still being manufactured and used by millions of musicians for their much loved warm and clean tones.

c) Modeling amplifier

With technology in music, we see innovations in the way they manufacture amplifiers. The modeling amplifier uses digital technology to amplify the sounds and in the process provide innumerable options for tone and sound. The versatility of the modeling amp is unmatched. Even though you can experiment with the various tone options of the modeling amp, the sound of the tone sounds a tad bit artificial or digital. This might not be an issue with beginners and novice musicians but for the clean tone fans, the artificial tone of the modeling amp is a big letdown. With new modeling amps being manufactured each day, the tone of the amp is being refined as well and there are many modeling amps available in the market which bring out the natural tone of the guitar along with some great effects.

There is yet another kind of amp they manufacture which and is called the “Hybrid” amp. This amp is a combination of the solid state and tube amps and tries to bring out the best of both. The hybrid amps are high on power and are a great option for gigs. Few guitars use the hybrid amp- the most common amps being the tube and solid state amps.

Thus, you can conclude that it all depends on the clean tone you are looking for in your guitar and the music genres you would be playing. Based on these we can easily make the right choice of the amp. Though, as often repeated, a good musician does not bother with the amp being used, as they can make any music sound beautiful. It’s true that the magic lies in the fingers and not the instrument. But till this is scientifically proved, you can refer to our list of the best guitar amp for clean tone before you head to the market!

Mario

Mario@rockoutzone.com