Best Clean Guitar Amps: Reviews, Buying Guide, and FAQs 2022

by Dave Fox

The 'clean' channel or part of a guitar amplifier has become very popular in recent years for it's simplicity and pure expression. It doesn't suffer from the 'tone coloring' added to other preset-type amps so you can get an accurate idea of how your guitar and effects sound. This makes it a great practice tool to quickly try different sounds and find what works for you (or the song at hand).

As a musician, you know that having a clean guitar amplifier is important. It's one of the most important pieces of gear in your arsenal, and it can make or break your sound. That's why we've put together this list of the best clean guitar amps on the market today. So whether you're a beginner just starting out, or a seasoned pro looking for a new amp, you'll want to check out our picks!

Top 6 Best Clean Guitar Amp Reviews 2022

Top 6 Best Clean Guitar Amps
Top 6 Best Clean Guitar Amps

Fender '65 Deluxe - Link

Fender '65 Deluxe Reverb 22-Watt 1x12-Inch Guitar Combo Amp
Fender '65 Deluxe Reverb 22-Watt 1x12-Inch Guitar Combo Amp

Only a few amplifiers can match the tone of the '65 Deluxe Reverb. The clean, vintage tone of this amplifier, which is powered by a 12-inch Jensen speaker, transports you back in time to Fender's formative years.

The '65 Deluxe Reverb produces a sound that is identical to what you would expect from a high-end tube amplifier. In this Blackface Fender model, the tone is beautiful, and the highs are accentuated even more. This guitar's bottom is incredibly clear, and the mids have been toned down to give you that classic Fender sound.

This amplifier has two channels, each of which is driven by a different kind of tube. Despite the fact that they may be used concurrently, it is not recommended. A clean channel, where you may also plug in your effects pedals, and a reverb channel are both available on the same unit.

The tube-powered reverb produces no noise and has a large enough dynamic range to provide you with either a delicate tremolo effect or a frenetic pulse-like sound depending on your needs. It is not possible to utilize pedals with this channel, which is a drawback. Alternatively, you may disable the brightness limit, but this will significantly reduce your tonal performance.

An overdrive or distortion switch is not provided on this amplifier. If you want to add any fuzz to your sound, you'll need to utilize a pedal. This is an amplifier designed specifically for aficionados of pure sound, and it shows.

Product description

The '65 Deluxe Reverb has two channels, each of which is driven by a different kind of tube. An overdrive or distortion switch is not provided on this amplifier. This is an amplifier designed for aficionados of pure sound, and it shows.

Features

  • Classic Fender tone
  • 2 channels (reverb and clean)
  • Sounds very good

VOX AC30C2 Guitar Combo Amplifier - Link

VOX, 2 Electric Guitar Amplifier Footswitch, Black (AC30C2)
VOX, 2 Electric Guitar Amplifier Footswitch, Black (AC30C2)

For those who seek more power, the AC30 improves on the compelling sound of its younger brother by doubling the watts. Employing a quartet of EL84 power tubes, the AC30 Custom pushes 30 watts of exceptional tone through a pair of 12-inch Celestion Greenback speakers.

Capable of both beguiling clean and rowdy overdriven tones, the trademark chime of the AC30 Custom combines perfectly the complexities of your playing style, creating in a sound that is totally your own.

Perhaps the most famous amplifier in VOX's legacy, the AC30 won its place in history as the amplifier that fueled the British Invasion. Since then, the AC30 is remained the choice of the world's most successful performers who have learned to depend on its distinctive voice to augment theirs.

The VOX AC30 combo amp has been a legendary instrument for decades, best recognized as the source of the "British Invasion" sound of the 1960s. Based on the iconic AC30 design, the all-new Custom Series AC30C2 and AC30C2X provide various up-to date upgrades, giving the most adaptable AC30 design in VOX history. VOX Custom Series amps feature two channels: Normal and Top-Boost. Each channel is equipped with its own Volume control, while the Top Boost channel enables highly interactive Treble and Bass tone settings. This strong channel combination offers a plethora of tone-sculpting options, allowing you to create a classic sound that is uniquely yours.

Product description

The VOX AC30 is perhaps the most famous amplifier in VOX's legacy. The AC30 was the source of the "British Invasion" sound of the 1960s. For those who seek more power, the AC30 Custom amplifiers double the watts.

Features

  • Amazing British tone
  • Tremolo and Reverb effects

VOX AC15C1 Guitar Combo Amplifier - Link

VOX, 2 Electric-Guitar-Amplifier-Combos, Vintage (AC15C1)
VOX, 2 Electric-Guitar-Amplifier-Combos, Vintage (AC15C1)

After being released to the public in 1958, the AC15 combination has been the amplifier of choice for innumerable guitarists across the globe. The AC15C1 Custom Series, which draws on more than 50 years of amplifier-building experience, provides the greatest possible tonal flexibility. Normal and Top-Boost channels are available on VOX Custom Series amplifiers. Volume controls are provided for each individual channel; in addition, the Top Boost channel has highly interactive Treble and Bass tone settings.

This strong channel combination offers a plethora of tone-sculpting options, allowing you to create a classic sound that is uniquely yours. Both channels depend on the Tone Cut and Volume settings found in the Master section to achieve their desired results. Instead of operating at the preamp stage, the Tone Cut control functions in the power stage, which provides an extra level of tone shaping flexibility. The Master Volume control, in combination with the specific levels of each channel, allows you to dial in the perfect amount of gain staging for your recording. The Custom Series can produce a variety of tones ranging from a clean VOX "chimey" sound to a strong overdriven tone by carefully balancing the individual and Master levels.

By using the VOX Classic Tremolo effect, you may enhance the overall sound of your Custom Series amplifier. Both the speed and the depth of the sound may be adjusted, enabling you to create the exact sound you desire every time. On all Custom Series amplifiers, a warm Spring Reverb is also incorporated, which adds a sense of space to the sound. All Custom Series amplifiers are compatible with the VOX VFS2 footswitch, which allows you to toggle the Reverb and Tremolo effects on and off while you're still playing. The AC15C1 combination makes use of three 12AX7 preamp tubes as well as a pair of EL84 tubes to drive a single Celestion G12M Greenback cabinet measuring 12 inches in diameter.

All models in the Custom Series are equipped with a switchable 8/16 ohm output port, which may be used to power an external speaker cabinet when you need to talk with a little more authority. When this jack is used, the internal speakers will be muted. Furthermore, a second extension speaker port enables you to connect an additional 16 ohm cabinet in addition to the internal speakers for a more complete sound.

Product description

VOX AC15C1 Custom Series amplifiers are built with decades of amplifier experience in mind. Normal and Top-Boost channels are available, each with unique tone-sculpting options. Spring Reverb and Classic Tremolo effects enhance the overall sound of these amplifiers.

Features

  • Excellent sound reproduction
  • Tremolo, reverb
  • Transparent and Assertive sound

Fender '65 Twin Reverb - Link

Fender '65 Twin Reverb 85-Watt 2x12-Inch Guitar Combo Amp
Fender '65 Twin Reverb 85-Watt 2x12-Inch Guitar Combo Amp

Since there are so many similarities between the '65 Twin Reverb and the '65 Deluxe Reverb, it's probably best if we concentrate on the differences between the two amps instead of the similarities. When it comes to sound, it is almost comparable to the Deluxe Reverb in terms of tone and quality of sound.

The Twin Reverb, as the name implies, is equipped with two speakers. When you combine two speakers with the 85 watts, you get a significantly louder experience than you would get from the Deluxe Reverb alone. While both amplifiers are excellent for studio recording and live performance, the Twin Reverb's high volume makes it difficult to recommend it as a bedroom amplifier.

The circuitry of the two amplifiers is identical to one another. There is no discernible difference in the reverb and tremolo effects of the two amplifiers. The controls on the amplifiers are the most significant change. The Twin Reverb is equipped with a brightness control switch as well as a mind-control knob.

Finally, the Twin Reverb may be thought of as an upgraded version of the Deluxe Reverb in terms of sound quality. If you want to make advantage of the enhanced volume, you should probably just purchase this item. Except if you really want a mind-control knob, there isn't a compelling reason to pay the premium.

Product description

The Twin Reverb may be an upgraded version of the Deluxe Reverb in terms of sound quality. The circuitry of the two amplifiers is identical to one another. There is no discernible difference in the reverb and tremolo effects between the amplifiers.

Features

  • Very loud
  • 2 channels
  • Twin speakers

Marshall Amps Guitar Combo Amplifier (M-DSL40CR-U) - Link

Marshall Amps Guitar Combo Amplifier (M-DSL40CR-U)
Marshall Amps Guitar Combo Amplifier (M-DSL40CR-U)

Despite the fact that it just has a single input connection, this Marshall amplifier has the illusion of having four channels. In addition to having a traditional Marshall tone that is always outstanding, this amp is also quite adaptable in its application.

The clean channel has a warm and lively tone to it. Some could argue that it isn't quite as excellent as Fender's, but it is entirely a question of personal choice. The fact of the matter is that the clean channel just sounds fantastic.

The ultra-gain channel, as the name suggests, has the gain turned up to the maximum setting possible. Despite the fact that I don't actually utilize it, fans of high-gain sounds will undoubtedly like having the choice. When you press the crush button, you will be able to crunch channels one and two, for a total of four channels.

There's crunch, and there's reverb in terms of effects. The reverb of this Marshall amp is quite decent, despite the fact that it is not spectacular. Regardless of the fact that it only has 40 watts of power, this amplifier is more than capable of making its presence known. It's a terrific bedroom amp that you can also be used for gigging. Just be aware of the weight, since this Marshall amp is rather hefty.

Product description

Despite the fact that it only has 40 watts of power, this amplifier is more than capable of making its presence known. It's a terrific bedroom amp that you can also be used for gigging, just be aware of the weight, since this Marshall amp is rather hefty.

Features

  • Good reverb
  • Great bedroom amp

AC15C2 'Twin' with dual speakers - Link

VOX AC15C2 Guitar Combo Amplifier
VOX AC15C2 Guitar Combo Amplifier

Accompanying the addition of a second Celestion Greenback speaker and the adoption of the bigger spring reverb tank featured in the renowned AC30C2, the popular AC15 has been further upgraded. The AC15C2 'Twin' amplifier, which draws on more than 50 years of amplifier-building experience, provides the greatest possible tonal flexibility.

Both the Normal and Top-Boost channels have their own volume controls, which can be found on the channel selector. In the power stage, the Tone Cut control functions, providing for an extra degree of tone shaping flexibility.

The Master Volume control, in combination with the specific levels of each channel, allows you to dial in the perfect amount of gain staging for your recording. Since the Custom Series balances the individual and Master levels, it is capable of producing the traditional VOX "chime" or a strong overdriven tone.

The popular AC15 has been improved by the addition of a second Celestion Greenback speaker and the adoption of the bigger spring reverb tank seen in the AC30C2 to create the AC15C2 'Twin,' which is also available in black. The AC15C2 'Twin', which draws on more than 50 years of amplifier-building experience, provides maximum tonal agility while delivering a breathtaking spectrum of real tones.

Normal and Top-Boost channels are available on VOX Custom Series amplifiers. In addition to individual Volume controls, the Top Boost channel also has highly interactive Treble and Bass tone controls on the top of the channel. Instead of operating at the preamp stage, the Tone Cut control functions in the power stage, which provides an extra level of tone shaping flexibility. The Master Volume control, in combination with the specific levels of each channel, allows you to dial in the perfect amount of gain staging for your recording. Through careful control of the individual and Master volumes, the Custom Series may provide the sought-after "chimey" sound of VOX or a strong overdriven tone or anything in between.

Product description

The AC15C2 'Twin' amplifier provides maximum tonal agility while delivering a breathtaking spectrum of real tones. Both the Normal and Top-Boost channels have their own volume controls, which can be found on the channel selector. The Tone Cut control functions in the power stage provide for an extra degree of tone shaping flexibility.

Features

  • Good sound reproduction
  • Dynamics

Buying Guide for Choosing a Clean Guitar Amp

First of all, let's figure out some of the basics. What kind of music do you want to play and what do you see yourself playing in the future? Also, we will take into account your budget because often times we overspend on equipment while ignoring more important things like guitar picks and strings.

What genres can I expect to play?

On a side note, I recommend you to check out my article on guitar playing genres where I cover the basics of every genre so you will have an idea of what is the theory behind each sound.

Now some people are satisfied with just one genre, while others are looking for versatility in their amps. Generally speaking, most popular amps are designed for rock/blues/country/metal players. This means that when choosing an amp you will most likely have to choose between a Marshall, a Fender or a Mesa Boogie.

Why do people go for these amps?

Marshall: "classic rock/hard rock"

Fender: "blues and country"

Mesa Boogie: "modern rock/metal"

I will only list the most popular amps of these brands. Just type "Marshall JTM45" on YouTube and you'll see what made this amp one of the most sought after amps for 70's metalheads.

What else do we need to consider?

For those who want a versatile amp, there are many great amps for you to choose from. These will give you the best of both worlds, so here are some recommendations:

Jet City Amplification JCA100C : This is a 100-Watt Class A/B amp that has two channels with four modes on each channel, lending itself to 8 different ways to play. It's an excellent amplifier that sounds great and will work with a broad range of playing styles.

Fender Champ 600 : This little gem, despite its small size, delivers a great sound. It's perfect for bedroom practice and is also good for studio recording.

Don't forget your budget!

It would be nice to have all the amps mentioned above in our music room, but let's be honest here. I'm sure your guitar skills are not at the level where you can spend $1,000 on an amp! So for this reason you must set up a budget that suits your needs and preferences.

This will allow you to buy something that sounds great within your price range. Also, try not to buy an amp that has more power than you need. It's the rule of thumb to buy an amplifier with half the power you think you might need, but keep in mind that if your budget is limited then this rule does not apply.

What Is a Guitar Amp and What Does It Do

The first thing you need to understand is that amps don't actually generate any sound. The signal your guitar generates needs to be "shaped" and "amplified" before it can produce a noise loud enough for others to hear. There are 3 components that together form an amp: the preamp, the power section, and the output stage.

The preamp is responsible for shaping the tone of your guitar into something the power section will be able to amplify (more on that in a minute). It can add or remove certain frequencies and filter out unwanted noise, basically anything you'd want to change about the sound before it hits the power section. It does this by turning the volume knob up and down, which in turn changes how much of your actual guitar signal is allowed to pass through.

The power section is where things get really interesting; it's basically a black box that can make or break an amp's tone depending on how it's built. Most modern amps use tubes (also called valves) for the power section, but there are still some solid state amps around. Varying amounts of tubes can make drastic changes to your tone, so it's important you try out as many different amps as possible if you're looking for a specific sound.

The output stage takes the signal that has been modified by the preamp and amplifies it so that it's actually loud enough to produce sound. It does this by using a really high voltage on one of its terminals, which creates an electrical current that is strong enough to vibrate your speakers (this part requires no explanation).

What Kind of Amp Do You Want ?

For beginners

If you're just starting out playing guitar - or bass - an amp is something you probably don't need to worry about right away. In most cases, your first amp will be a practice amp - one that's small and relatively inexpensive. Even if you're playing in a band, it's unlikely that the loud volumes needed for stage work will be necessary for this point, so don't go out and buy big expensive amp until you know if you'll need it. If so, you should only be looking at ones designed for live performance.

For home use

This is where things get more complicated, depending on what your goals are. To start with the simplest scenario, if all you want to do is play guitar in your bedroom or basement, there are a number of amps designed to do just that. In this case, you should probably look at a combo amp - one with a small speaker built-in. To get the most out of it, you'll want to try and find one with a headphone jack - this will allow you to play as loud as you want without bothering anyone else in your house.

For live use

If you're looking to play gigs with your amp, you'll need something with a bit more power and versatility than what is possible with a standard bedroom model. This is where the different types of amps come in. The first and most common type for this application is an all-in-one combo amp - one that has the amp, speaker and (in some cases) even reverb built-in. These amps are great for small gigs - say 50-100 people - but won't be loud enough to cut it as a main stage amp in many cases. For that, you'll need something bigger and louder - what's known as a head and cabinet setup, where the amplification part of the amp is separate from the speaker(s).

For heavy metal

For extreme metal players, there are amps designed to help them get their sound. The most common type now is the all-in-one high gain heads and combos, like those made by Randall (the RH series), Mesa Boogie (the Lone Star and Express series) and Peavey (the 6505+ and JSX models). These amps are designed to emulate the "high gain" sound of modern metal bands such as Slipknot, Machine Head, Lamb Of God and so on. Whether this sound is your ultimate goal or not, these amps can be fun to play with once you've mastered your normal rig.

The Different Types of Guitar Amps on the Market

This is the meat and potatoes of the article, where we show you what type of amp would best suit your needs. Here's a list describing each one, with links to their respective pages for more information.

The combo amp

These are designed to do everything in one box, making them great for bedroom practice and small gigs. On the downside, they're usually not loud enough for anything beyond a small bar or club.

The Reverb-Equipped Combo

A reverb-equipped combo is similar to a standard combo amp but with built in reverb. Not all combos come with reverb, so this may be something you'll want to look for if you decide you want it later.

The Head and Cabinet

A head and cabinet is the most common setup for a live amp. The head contains the amplifier, while the cabinet houses one or more speakers to push air and create sound. These are often used in conjunction with external effects pedals as well - an example of this would be Slash's rig, which is shown in the picture to the right.

The Half-Stack

A half-stack is an amp stack consisting of a head on top of one cabinet, or two cabinets forming a complete stack. These are great for small and mid-size gigs, but will need to be miked if you're playing anything larger than that. Guitarist Mark Tremonti is one of the most well known users of half stacks.

The Full Stack

A full stack contains a head on top of two cabinets to create a complete amp stack. These are used mostly by guitarists who like to be loud, like Zakk Wylde (Ozzy Osbourne) and Dimebag Darrell (Pantera). A full stack is probably overkill for most players.

The All-In-One Head

An all-in-one head is a self contained amp that houses the preamp, power amp and speaker(s) in one unit. These are good for bedroom practice as they're usually smaller than combos with equivalent power ratings, and also come with built in reverb. They also tend to be a bit more expensive than the standard combos.

Buy them at Etsy, eBay, Walmart (subject to availability)

Fender '65 Deluxe Reverb 22-Watt 1x12-Inch Guitar Combo Amp - Walmart, Etsy, eBay

VOX, 2 Electric Guitar Amplifier Footswitch, Black (AC30C2) - Walmart, Etsy, eBay

Fender '65 Twin Reverb 85-Watt 2x12-Inch Guitar Combo Amp - Walmart, Etsy, eBay

Roland JC-120 Jazz Chorus 120-Watt Guitar Amplifier with Two 12-Inch Speakers - Walmart, Etsy, Ebay

Marshall Amps Guitar Combo Amplifier (M-DSL40CR-U) - Walmart, Etsy, eBay

VOX AC15C2 Guitar Combo Amplifier - Walmart, Etsy, eBay

Conclusion for Clean Guitar Amp Buyers

Think about what kind of music you want to play and which genres/sounds you want to get out of the amp. Set a reasonable budget and make sure it will include some money for guitar picks and strings. Do your research, YouTube is your friend! All in all, there are many great amps out there that can help you create a unique sound on your own. Just remember about the three steps listed above and you should have no problem finding your perfect amp. Good luck! Keep practicing and remember to work on your right hand technique.

Clean guitar amps are the foundation of your sound. If you want to be heard, and not just play quietly in a corner, then we hope this list helps you find one that suits your needs. We've got options for every budget and musical style so it doesn't matter if you prefer classic rock or indie folk - there will be something on our list for everyone! Which is why we say: don't go playing around with dirty amplifiers when clean ones can take care of all your needs; trust us, they'll sound better too.

About Dave Fox

Recorder of many songs, haver of many albums. Dave (AKA Young Coconut) has been making music for the past twenty years or so, of varying genres and degrees of quality, to the dismay of listeners and algorithms everywhere. He’s also in the Suburban Bicycle Gang with Jerry Grey.

Dave has a keen interest in studying all aspects of music history, especially experimental / genres like jazz, krautrock, drum n’ bass, and no wave.

Here’s his Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/1v3iPVEXzurahTI2Tm4Tpm

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