Top 10 Greatest Combo Amps

Which combo guitar amps are the best ever? That's what UG readers voted on this week - see if your favorite made the top 10 here.

Top 10 Greatest Combo Amps
37
On Wednesday we asked UG readers to nominate and vote for their favorite guitar amp combo. Hundreds of nominations and thousands of votes later, the results are in. Which combo amps made it past the finish line and into our ultimate top 10? First of all, let's be clear for the newbies. What is a combo amp? Simple: it's an all-in-one amp which combines the head and the speaker cabinet in one unit. You can pick it up by a single handle, and in some cases they're small enough to strap over your shoulder and run off battery power. While some guitarists are lucky enough to afford a range of cabinets and heads to mix-and-match their guitar sound to different songs, the combo amp is a rite of passage for any guitarist who wants one killer amp to squeeze into bedroom and rock out. Here's the results for our top 10 combo amps. Do you agree with the results? Let us know in the comments.

10) Bugera 333XL 212

We've got a niche entry in tenth place, but where better to introduce this beautiful boutique combo amp? Bugera like to show off the analog gate which is smart enough not to cut you off during dynamic clean passages, but it's the chunky distortion that guitarists really love about the 333XL.

9) Peavey 5150

Eddie Van Halen inspired the creation of the Peavey 5150 in 1992, with a roaring high gain overdrive channel. You'll often hear it in heavy genres like rock, metal and hardcore. The most influential example could be Machine Head's "Burn My Eyes" from 1994, which pretty much defines the mid-90s metal guitar sound.

8) Roland Jazz Chorus

Roland started making their Jazz Chorus combo amp in 1975, which mades its name with a popular built-in analog chorus. It arrived at the right time for post-punk acts to adopt it as their signature guitar sound, and not just because it was cheap - the clean sound was solid, and often appeared on Metallica records. Fun fact: Jeff Buckley's first amp was a JC120 when he first started strumming.

7) Orange Rockerverb 50 MKII

Orange guitar amps are the most distinctive in the business, by both sight and sound. The glaring orange covers stands out almost as much as the rich clean tone on this model, which sounds like thick cream when you drive in those soft overtones. If you care to smash the signal harder, there's still a good range of proper distortion settings in there too.

6) Fender Bassman

Born in 1952 as a bass amp, this legendary Fender model also won the favor of regular guitarists who found its tweed tone to work with everything from steel guitar to harmonica. While it's true that Fender marketed it as a bass amp upon its original launch, the designer Freddie Tavares always intended it to be a multi-purpose amp. Fender couldn't stop guitarists from experimenting and finding the truth in the end.

5) Fender Blues Junior

A relatively recent addition to the canon of amp culture; the Fender Blues Junior was a mid-90s attempt to recreate the warm tube-tones of the 1950s, and it worked. A deluxe edition adds a drive channel with alternate tubes and an extra effects unit, but they both sound wonderful.

4) Roland Cube

The Roland Cube comes in dozens of flavours (some small enough to carry over your shoulder with a strap, which have been the go-to amp for troubadours and buskers since their inception). Whichever version you prefer, the Cube always comes in its trademark industrial casing with a solid range of digital amp simulations which sound much better than comparable digital amps.

3) Fender Twin Reverb

Fender were on a roll in the 1950s with their amp design; we've already seen the Bassman in the top 10, but now their Twin series is about to make two entries in our top 10 combo amp list. There are plenty of Twin variants out there, and everyone from the Beatles and Eric Clapton to the Rolling Stones' Keith Richards have declared themselves as fans. Amps in this series rarely share the same circuitry or design, but their penchant for crystal clear tones that make a guitar really sing is what earns the Twin Reverb a place in history.

2) Fender Deluxe Reverb

The second Fender Reverb to appear in our combo amp top 10. This model upgrades the circuits for some extra-tasty tubes at every major point of the circuit - there's no skimping here.

1) VOX AC30

What do Brian May, Dave Grohl, Johnny Greenwood, Robert Smith, Noel Gallagher and Status Quo all have in common? They all love the sound of the Vox AC130. It doesn't suit every song, but the shimmering high-end to this amp makes it one of the most in-demand British amps of all time. Even the smallest versions of this amp boast a premium sound, and unless you're planning to play heavy metal for ever, the Vox AC30 is a safe bet as your own combo guitar amp.
That's the end of our top 10, as voted by UG readers. How would you tweak the results? Did a better amp miss out on the final list? Let us know what you think in the comments.

132 comments sorted by best / new / date

comments policy
    Schizoidman!
    Damn fine list
    Charlie4
    They called Bugera a boutique amplifier which is a total joke imo. Even if it were, Big Bob would not approve of it.
    mjones1992
    LOL. Wanted to smack him in the face for half that video, and then when he started talking about that mod, wanted to cut his lips off. If it's the "finest modification ever" made to a marshall amp...why change it? I'm confused. Good post though. made me laugh inbetween cringes.
    clevelandcavs22
    They missed the line 6 spider 2. the best of the spiders
    SHartsell
    this article refers to non-modelers lol
    william.lawson.
    The Roland Cube is at number four, lol. Don't get me wrong, I own one that I use mostly as a practice amp, but really can't believe it even made the list.
    j-mac71
    line 6 gtfo this should pertain to those who care about tone not their tone library
    KerNeL_KLuTcH
    best metal combo and the best clean combo 5150/6505 (they are the same amp) & AC30
    darkwolf291
    I'll respectfully disagree. Best metal combo is a JCM800 and best clean is the JC120 But,that's my opinion.
    guitar/bass95
    If you read the AC30 paragraph carefully you'll notice that someone has been playing too much Call of Duty...
    sroze478
    Haha yep! I was a little confused reading about Jonny Greenwood and company calling in an AC-130... (Yes, UG, it's "Jonny", not "Johnny")
    dark.abada
    where is mesa boogie?
    duzit89
    i would have to say... not a lot of people can afford to get the best amps of Mesa.. they are great amps... but for the price ... you couldn't beat this list.. they are all great amps....
    sydjoe
    Mesa not even on the list?? it didn't say affordable cheap amps...it said best!!! I had a 5150, i couldn't get rid of it fast enough...
    duzit89
    conveniently ... most of the amps here are affordable.... how many amp companies didn't make this list that should be? ... you don't think the Price of most of these amps had some impact on the voting here?...
    rhjames
    This has nothing to do with affordable. It's all to do with amp quality. I can't believe the Mesa 5:25 or 5:50 aren't on the list.
    rockstar256
    Now top 10 worst amps 1.Line 6 2.line 6 3. line 6 etc.
    DexterF
    I never played one, can someone tell me what's wrong with the Line 6 Amps?
    RickyThomson
    They really aren't that bad... i've owned a spider IV 30 for the past 2-3 years now and i'm pretty happy with it. IT does what i need it to do, and it really didn't cost alot of money compared to other models. Also. Rule of thumb, if you put a crap tone and a crap guitar player alongside a good amp, it will inevitably sound like crap. Otherwise it's like saying nike trainers make you run faster.
    MaggaraMarine
    Change that Fender Bassman picture! It's not the right Bassman from the 50s-60s. That's the new version that is a completely different amp (it just has the same name). Also fix the AC130 thing... lol I was actually expecting Line 6 Spider to be on the list, but thank God - it wasn't.
    Denjario
    "They all love the sound of the Vox AC130." I love the sound of a Spectre's close support fire too, but it's really not suitable for every song.
    sideslick
    5150 head in my combo-amp list? Aw, hells naw!
    UGtom
    Looks like the image editor mistook the combo version of this for a snap of the head. I'll let them know right away.
    edbert
    How the HELL is the 333XL on this list when it's a copy of the Peavey JSX?
    theScapegoat
    considering the bluesbreaker didnt make it, we cant take this list too serious . BUT:though the 333xl is INSPIRED by the XXX and looks a bit like the JSX, it certainly doesnt sound like those two. the XXX is meant to be peaveys version of mesas dual rec. funny how the bugera sounds closer to the recto than the xxx does. However, it DOES NOT deserve a spot on this list because it only sounds good with new tubes, and the combo needs new speakers. But than its a surprise! (for metalheads)
    Vinson
    Roland Cube ?!?!?!?!?!
    kill it
    Dude my Cube 40XL only cost 250.00 and is an ideal practice amp. It's light, compact, loaded with effects and you can dial acceptable jazz to Metal sounds with it. I have even used it at band rehearsals and it wasn't great but ok. For the price and what you get it does deserve to be on this list.
    Vinson
    Not saying it's a crap amp or not a great value....but one of the 10 BEST amps of all time!?!?!?!
    Van Guff
    You've gotta remember that this wasn't decided by UG, this was decided by us. It's also kinda subjective on what's the best. I had a Roland Cube 30x as my first proper amp and it kicked ass. Inc comparison to my Blackstar head now, it's not the best, but in comparison to my 'gear4music' combo amp, it was AMAZING!
    DvanG
    I've got the Cube 30 and to be honest, it really is well worth the money. It has very descent delay and reverb and has a nice variety of different distortions (to practice or for beginners). I sometimes use the chorus effect or the flanger but only on low value though, because else it dominates the sound too much.