I'm looking to buy my first gig-worthy amp after playing for 8 years. My budget is $800 bucks (although, I can go higher if the said amp is exactly what I'm looking for.) I know for $800, I'm not going to get a perfect amp, but I need something to start off on. I should note, I intend on using pedals for distortion/overdrive instead of on-board gain. After about a month of research (without testing anything,) I have narrowed down my search into 3 different amplifiers: Fender Hot Rod Deluxe III, Marshall DSL40C, and Orange CR120. All 3 seem to be what I'm looking for. I think either of these amps would compliment my Strat loaded with Lace Sensor Hot Golds very well. The Orange obviously sticks out as the only solid state amp, but at this point, I don't care as long as it's loud and sounds good.

I play strictly Hard Rock/Heavy Metal (by which, I mean AC/DC: Hard Rock and Black Sabbath: Heavy Metal) type music; stuff that needs a good, moderately-distorted amp that can maintain some clarity. I try not to go overboard with the gain. However, I do take my clean sound into consideration as well. I'm leaning towards the HRD, because I'm planning on using pedals to get my distorted tones. It seems to have everything I want: relatively high wattage for the price, great headroom, and great clean tone. If it takes pedals well, I'd have absolutely no use for the drive channel, which I have heard numerous times that it's awful. Fender amps are the platform most pedal manufacturers base their pedals on, so I think it's a safe bet.

The DSL40C definitely has a great-sounding on-baord distortion (from what I've heard, the crunch channel sounds awesome,) but it seems like more of a high-gain amp, so I'm not sure if I'll get the exact tone I'm looking for. If you're on the "Clean" channel, you can't switch between clean and crunch with the footswitch because the clean and crunch share the same channel. Also, everything shares the same EQ, which would definitely be a problem.

The CR120C is tempting because of its 2x12 speakers and high wattage, but the lack of a middle control on the clean channel really worries me. Also, I'm not a fan of the Orange gain. Orange gain sounds a little "modern" for my taste. I'd definitely use the clean channel with a pedal for a distorted sound, and probably use the entire gain channel as a boost. Other than that, it seems like a great solid state amp.

On a side note, I've heard about the Jet City JCA5012C as well, but I've heard some bad reviews about them. Also I can't find a place that has any in stock.

Which amp would you suggest? Are there other amps around $800 bucks (new or used) that might be better choices?
Last edited by INURAH at Jul 23, 2015,
Of those, the DSL is a clear winner.
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Quote by Cathbard
Of those, the DSL is a clear winner.

+1 DSL is what i would go for.

the HRD has a terrible gain channel/mode. unusable IMO.

the Orange SS amps are nothing to write home about. i tried one for a few minutes and i happily unplugged it. also if you don't like the orange flavor, the SS Crush is just going to make it worse (IMO). they are a mess.
Hard Rock and Heavy Metal? Marshall, Mesa, Orange, Peavey.

I am a pretty big fan of the HRD but not for those styles of guitar. Vintage, Classic Rock, and Surf, the HRD will work great.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

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Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
I own a HRD. I love it.

It is NOT a good amp for metal.

Orange makes good amps for metal, but the tube ones are better than the SS ones.
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Last edited by dannyalcatraz at Jul 23, 2015,
dsl obviously
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