What makes for good blues amps? It’s a question with many answers, but sustain, crunchy overdrive, good clean tone and a certain look are all part of the formula. It’s true that the blues can be played on just about any amp, but here are 7 amps that have what it takes to make for great blues amps – and each is under $1,000.
7 Great Guitar Amps for Blues.
The most famous Vox amps, the AC15 and AC30, don’t look the part of classic blues amps, but they play the part just fine.
Sure, the Vox AC 30 is renowned for it’s jangly, Beatles vibe and searing treble tone of Brian May, but Brian Jones got plenty of dirty bluesy tone when he used his on Rolling Stones records. And Rory Gallagher paired his with a Dallas Rangemaster treble booster to craft his signature sound.
In short, the Vox AC30 delivers the blues goods, especially when you crank it. But that could be a problem at times because a cranked AC30 (or even AC15) can be LOUD.
Also, the AC30 is expensive, at around $1,200. The AC15 is more affordable, in the $600 range.
But if you’re on a budget or have to keep an eye on volume from time to time, then you should check out the Vox Valvetronix series.
I recommend either the Vox Valvetronix VT20 or Vox Valvetronix VT60. They are essentially the same amp, but the Vox Valvetronix VT20 is a 20w 1×8 combo amp and the Vox Valvetronix VT40 is the 60w, 1×10 version.
Both are solid state, modeling amps based on Vox Valve Reactor technology for true tube modeling realism.
Both come with 99 presets (33 song presets, 33 basic presets and 33 presets with effects.), and a ton of useful features like mp3/AUX in, headphone out, and each is foot-switchable and programmable.
Vox Valvetronix VT20 sells for about $179 and the Vox Valvetronix VT40 sells for $250 and have a timeless black motif to their appearance.
The Fender Excelsior is a 13w, 1×15 all-tube combo amp with a unique 1950’s vibe, sound and style all its own.
The Excelsior is powered by dual 12ZX7 tubes in the preamp and dual 6V6 tubes in the power output section and houses a 15″ Eminence Legend speaker.
The Excelsior also has onboard tremelo and a bright/dark tone switch for treble or bass emphasis. It’s one of the great and simple blues amps that takes pedals well and it’s also great for harmonica too.
The Excelsior can also drive an external speaker cabinet, if the 15″ Legend isn’t enough for you.
Oh, and they’re part of Fender’s Pawn Shop series, which means not were made, so they will be collectible.
Here’s the Excelsior amp in a blues style demo
Comes in four colors and sells for about $299-350 (depending on visual style/color)
Fender Blues Deluxe Reissue 40-Watt 1×12-Inch Guitar Combo Amp – Tweed
To many players, nothing says blues amp quite like a Fender Blues Deluxe, in Tweed.
Tweed is just a classic, vintage blues look – and tone.
Fender is renowned for their clean tones, and the Fender Blues Deluxe is no exception. It delivers 40 watts of tube driven tone with plenty of headroom for clean tone and great bluesy breakup when it’s driven. It also has on-board spring reverb, an essential blues effect.
The 12″ Eminence special-design speaker gives plenty of punch and offers enhanced midrange to help you break through any mix.
The Fender Blues Deluxe is powered by two 6L6 Groove Tubes output tubes and three 12AX7 preamp tubes. In addition to the spring reverb, the Fender Blues Deluxe also features an effects loop, two-button channel footswitch, classic tweed covering and chicken head knobs on a chrome control panel.
The Fender Blues Deluxe makes a great blues, rock and country amp.
Fender Hot Rod Series Blues Junior NOS 15W 1×12 Tube Guitar Combo Amp
The Fender Blues Junior NOS is a modern blues machine built to vintage specs and using new, old stock parts.
The Fender Hot Rod Series Blues Junior NOS 15W 1×12 Tube Guitar Combo Amp is an all tube (2 EL84 Groove Tube output tubes and 3 – 12AX7 preamp tubes), 15w combo featuring a single 12″ Jensen C12 speaker. It has a single channel with “Fat” Switch, reverb, and a footswitch jack so you can toggle the Fat switch on/off more easily. It’s got vintage knobs for reverb, master, middle, bass and treble control.
Tweed finish with pinstripe grille cloth complete the vintage blues look.
The Fender Hot Rod Series Blues Junior NOS 15W 1×12 Tube Guitar Combo Amp is a great blues amp for the price, but it’s also good for jazz and classic rock.
Peavey has a reputation for metal amps, but they also make some of the best blues amps around. Just check these out..
Peavey Delta Blues 210 guitar Amplifier with Tremolo
The Peavey Delta Blues 210 is a guitar combo amp with tremolo and reverb.
This is a great amp for those who dig the Fender sound, but want something a bit different in style or a bit less money. While the Peavey Delta Blues 210 is inspired by Fender, it is its own beast. It handles clean jazz and country tones all the way up to classic rock overdrive.
Packed with 2 10″ Blue Marvel speakers, three 12AX7 and four EL84 tubes and on board tremelo and reverb, the Peavey Delta Blues 210 definitely makes the killer blues amps list.
Peavey Delta Blue 115 (II) 1×15″ 30-Watt Tube Combo Amp
Next in the Peavey blues amps lineup is the Delta Blue 115. It’s a 30w combo amp with a single 15″ speaker. With 3 12AX7 and 4 EL84 tubes, it’s powerful enough for gigging and built for blues with onboard spring reverb and tremolo.
The Peavey Delta Blue 115 also features an effects loop, optional footswitch, and an output for an extension cabinet.
Marshall Class5 – 1×10 Combo
One of my all time dream amps is the Marshall 1962 Bluesbreaker. This kind of sucks though, because at $2,499 it is well outside my budget. (That’s why it’s a still a dream)
But luckily, Marshall has a similar blues amp that fits the budget player much better, coming in at around the $400 mark.
The Marshall Class 5 – 1×10 Combo is, as the name suggests, a 5w, 1×10 all tube combo amp that’s perfect for home, studio and small gigs. It’s got a headphone output jack, and Volume, Treble, Middle, and Bass controls.
What you get with the Marshall Class 5 is pure Marshall tone – from bluesy cleans to plexi style crunch, and everything in between. All of that without being a 200lb behemoth, stacked to blow the roof off.
With 2 ECC83 pre-amp tubes, and 1 EL84 power tube, it’s light but powerful enough to get you great tone where ever you are.