There’s probably not a better feeling in the world than cranking your amp way up high and playing a juicy riff with that perfect tone dialled in.
That’s basically been a dream for anyone who ever started playing electric guitar. Whatever your genre of preference might be, blasting your electric guitar as loud as you can (possibly even on a high gain setting), brings such a joy that barely anything in your life would be able to compete with.
And isn’t that just the whole point of starting electric guitar – playing so loud that your neighbours end up calling the cops? But all the joking aside, in this brief rundown, we would like to take a closer look at some of the meanest and most powerful electric guitar amps.
In fact, some of these are so powerful that they can easily cause hearing loss, if you’re not careful. You will probably want to put in some earplugs so you don’t develop tinnitus.
Whether it’s for guitar or a bass, neither of these amps we’ll mention will have power under 200 watts. Pretty scary when you think of it, right? So let’s get into it.
Note: In case you do get one of these, you’re playing at your own risk. We warned you.
Table of Contents:
- Orange Amplification Thunderverb 200
- Marshall EL34 100/100 Dual Monobloc
- Blackstar Series One 200
- Hiwatt DR401
- Fender 400 PS
Let’s get into it!
Orange Amplification Thunderverb 200
Orange have built their reputation over the years for making some of the heaviest-sounding guitar amps. Back in the band’s early days, Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath rocked on one of their guitar amps, eventually paving the way for some other metal guitarists to get more into the brand.
Although not produced anymore, the company’s Thunderverb is a monster featuring 200 watts of output power. Sure, it can deliver solid cleans as well, but the skull-crushing distortion at the higher volumes setting is what makes it stand out. The fuzzy and slightly “grainy” tones typical of Orange amps get even more extreme at this power.
It has an abundance of controls, at least compared to some of the classic straightforward Orange amps. There are two channels with the clean one featuring a standard 3-band EQ and the distortion channel with the good old “Shape” control that became so popular among the Orange amp models over the years. However, despite all this, the biggest Thunderverb’s strength is its sheer power. (And the really cool name.)
It packs four 12AX7 tubes in the preamp, one 12AT7 in the FX loop, one 12AT7 for the reverb effect, and four 6550 tubes in the power amp section.
Here’s a demo of the Thunderverb 50/200 by Orange Amplifiers.
Up next, the Marshall EL34 100/100 Dual Monobloc…
Marshall EL34 100/100 Dual Monobloc
And there would be no way to avoid Marshall on the list of deafening guitar amps. However, this time we’ll include the EL34 which is a power amp featuring 200 watts. This means that you’ll need an additional preamp unit to properly play on it.
This rack-mounted piece is one of Marshall’s Dual MonoBloc products, which means that there are two channels that work separately. Each of the channels on the EL34 100/100 has a total power of 100 watts, summing up to the incredible 200 watts. Of course, both channels have their own gain and presence controls, allowing some tone-shaping within the power amp itself. However, a huge portion of your tone will still depend on what preamp you’re using. As for the EL34, it’s here mainly to provide guitar players with brutal power.
This rack-mounted power amp utilizes eight EL34 tubes, four for each of the channels. Just like its name would suggest.
Here’s a demo of the Marshall EL34 100/100 Dual Monobloc by Jacksonke1t.
Up next, the Blackstar Series One 200…
Blackstar Series One 200
Making some of the best and most powerful guitar amps out there, we should definitely mention at least one piece by Blackstar. For this purpose, we’re choosing the Series One 200, one very versatile and extremely strong tube amp.
Although mostly popular among metal players, there’s so much stuff that you can do with it. There are four channels on it, with a total of six modes. Whichever it is that you implement in your music – Clean, Crunch, OD1, or OD2 ñ they all can utilize the full 200 watts.
However, in case you want to get solid tones and use the full potential of its ECC83, ECC82, and KT88 tubes without blowing everyone’s heads off, there’s a separate control on the front panel which allows you to reduce the power gradually as low as 20 watts. So if you really happen to like its tone, you can also use it for smaller gigs as well.
Here’s a demo of the Blackstar Series One 200 by Premier Guitar.
Up next, the Hiwatt DR401…
Of course, there’s some love to give to bass players as well. Bass amps usually have a stronger output than guitar amps as the bass guitar’s tonal spectrum is not as ear-piercing.
However, having 400 watts of power even for a bass guitar is something to be afraid of. And that’s exactly the amount of power that Hiwatt’s DR401 is armed with, all backed with the warm and full tone of three ECC83, one ECC81, and eight KT88 valves.
Sure, it might be a bit expensive to maintain an amp with so many valves in it, but that’s definitely worth it if you want to have a great and powerful tone.
Here’s a demo of the Hiwatt DR401 by Aussie Floyd.
Up next, the Fender 400 PS…
Fender 400 PS
But for the ultimate king of ridiculously powerful guitar amps, we’ll have to go back to the late 1960s.
As these were the times of innovation and strong competition within the guitar industry, Fender decided to go all-out and release their 400 PS. Impressively enough, this absolute beast had 435 watts of power and could be used for both guitars and basses.
But to fully exploit the power of this amp, one would need to connect it to no less than three cabinets. Of course, this ridiculous amount of power saw no significant commercial success and the guitar players were still focused more on some other of Fender’s products.
Either way, it’s pretty fun to see what some guitar lovers were ready to play on, and a 435-watt amp is definitely worthy of praise.
Here’s a video demo of the Fender 400 PS by Retro Sound Works.
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