Top 10 Best Amplifiers Under $1000 – The Major League

The-Best-Amps-Under-1000

Last Updated: Apr-26-2019
We added four new models to this higher-end chart, after removing others such as the Bugera Trirec. The new additions were the gorgeous VOX AC4HW1 and the Blackstar HT Stage 60 Mark II. We also reviewed the ominous Randall EOD88 Head and the Fender Hot Rod Deluxe IV.

If you are reading this, chances are you’re a serious guitarist – and one who needs a serious guitar amplifier. Whether you’re a regularly gigging performer, a recording artist, or just a living room virtuoso, you have mastered your craft to the point that you require a top-of-the-line amp on which to practice and perform. One that delivers the tone, power and versatility that a $300 amp just couldn’t deliver.

The good news is that some of the best amps on the market come in at under $1,000, which – while still a considerable sum of money – isn’t a life changing amount. However, with your cash, you can indeed end up with a life changing amp!

On this page we have compiled a list of the top amplifiers under a grand, including both tube and solid-state amps; heads and combos; units designed for metal and traditional tube amps that pack a classic, vintage sound. Let’s jump right in.

Top 10 Best Guitar Amplifiers Under $1000:

Image Guitar Amplifier / Rating Summary Check Price
+ - Vox AC4HW1 Vox AC4HW1

Total of 4.83/5   4.8 out of 5 stars

Impeccable British tube tones in a compact form.

+ - Peavey 6505 Peavey 6505

Total of 4.85/5   4.9 out of 5 stars

An all tube-amp that is a synonym of reliability and consistency.

+ - EVH 5150III 50W EVH 5150III 50W

Total of 4.88/5   4.9 out of 5 stars

Eddie Van Halen’s miracle head that packs a whole lot of heat.

+ - Marshall DSL100H Marshall DSL100H

Total of 4.80/5   4.8 out of 5 stars

Proven recipe that is perfect for those who need reliable, rich tone.

+ - Blackstar HT Stage 60 MKII Blackstar HT Stage 60 MKII

Total of 4.83/5   4.8 out of 5 stars

A high-end combo with stunning tones and flexibility across the range.

+ - Vox Custom AC15C2 Vox Custom AC15C2

Total of 4.70/5   4.7 out of 5 stars

Legendary Vox tube sound packed in a more flexible and versatile package.

+ - Randall EOD88 Tube Amp Head Randall EOD88 Tube Amp Head

Total of 4.53/5   4.5 out of 5 stars

A premium tube amp that screams heavy metal.

+ - Fender Hot Rod Deluxe IV Fender Hot Rod Deluxe IV

Total of 4.67/5   4.7 out of 5 stars

A versatile all-tube Hot Rod Deluxe fit for any stage.

+ - Line 6 DT25 112 Line 6 DT25 112

Total of 4.75/5   4.8 out of 5 stars

An awesome collaboration between Line 6 and Reinhold Bogner.

+ - Orange Amplifiers Dual Terror DT30H Orange Amplifiers Dual Terror DT30H

Total of 4.73/5   4.7 out of 5 stars

This is essentially a scaled up and beefed up Tiny Terror head.

Vox AC4HW1

Vox AC4HW1

Controls:4.8 out of 5 stars
Features:5 out of 5 stars
Performance:5 out of 5 stars
Value:4.5 out of 5 stars

Vox is one of the most iconic names in amplifiers. Their classic British sound has defined rock for decades. Their AC4HW1 – part of their premium hand-wired series – captures those tones in a portable package that’s perfect for recording, practice, and jam sessions.

While it may only pack four watts, this AC4 gets plenty loud, thanks to the extended cabinet and Celestion 12” G12M Greenback speaker. The straightforward control layout offers vintage top-boost tone with just the flick of a switch.

Tonally, this delivers the sparkling cleans and velvety, saturated overdrives that have become the hallmarks of classic Vox sound. Be sure to check out our full review for a more complete look at this versatile combo.

Peavey 6505

Peavey 6505

Controls:4.8 out of 5 stars
Features:4.7 out of 5 stars
Performance:5 out of 5 stars
Value:4.9 out of 5 stars

For over 20 years, Peavey 6505 has been the go-to choice for many metal bands and producers looking for a quality heavy tone. Fairly simple in design, Peavey 6505 offers 120 Watts of pure power that is being delivered by four 6L6 tubes in the power stage.

The type of performance you can expect needs no introduction. Just put on any Machine Head album and you will hear it for yourself. On top its legendary tone, 6505 has been known as one of the most reliable and durable tube amps ever made.

Whether you are touring the world or just playing gigs in your area, this amp will offer the kind of consistency that is becoming more and rarer.

EVH 5150III 50W

EVH 5150III 50W

Controls:4.9 out of 5 stars
Features:4.8 out of 5 stars
Performance:5 out of 5 stars
Value:4.8 out of 5 stars

EVH’s 5150III shares the same roots as Peavey’s 6505. Compared to that amp, you’re looking at an extended range that brings a trademark Van Halen signature with it.

This head is the smaller brother to the original 5150III and offers 50 Watts of power delivered by a full suite of JJ’s tubes in both preamp and power stage. It’s capable of pushing both the 2x12 and 4x12 speaker cabs, making it a great choice for studio work as well as stage use.

Easy to use, aesthetically impressive, and simply awesome in terms of tone, EVH 5150III 50 Watt head is among the better amps in its category. If you’re a fan of heavy tone, this is the amp for you.

Marshall DSL100H

Marshall DSL100H

Controls:4.8 out of 5 stars
Features:4.6 out of 5 stars
Performance:4.9 out of 5 stars
Value:4.9 out of 5 stars

In a world where most brands are racing to produce boutique tube heads, Marshall has decided to stick with their guns. Their DSL100H is the epitome of a workhorse tube head that packs just the right kind of power and performance.

This thing features two channels, each with two modes of operation, essentially giving you four different flavors of tone. Its extensive EQ section allows for elaborate tone shaping while it also comes with a digital reverb. Offering 100 Watts, this Marshall is suitable for both studio and stage use.

If you're trying to extract a heavier tone, cutting the output down to 50 Watts will get you a more saturated distortion. In simple words, this is a proven formula.

Blackstar HT Stage 60 MKII

Blackstar HT Stage 60 MKII

Controls:4.5 out of 5 stars
Features:5 out of 5 stars
Performance:5 out of 5 stars
Value:4.8 out of 5 stars

With their incredible tones and versatility, Blackstar’s combos have become a mainstay in the high-end amp market. Part of their flagship HT Venue series, the HT Stage 60 Mark II offers gig-worthy size and sound with plenty of flexibility.

The voice channels and wide EQ settings mean it’s easy to find just the right tone. The amp offers both warm American and brighter British voices on the clean channel, with two overdrive channels offering another pair of voicings each. For pristine tones without the ear-splitting volume, a handy attenuator reduces the power down to 6 watts.

The included USB output allows you to plug directly into a computer for easy and painless recording. For a closer look at this amp, check out our full review.

Vox Custom AC15C2

Vox Custom AC15C2

Controls:4.6 out of 5 stars
Features:4.7 out of 5 stars
Performance:4.8 out of 5 stars
Value:4.7 out of 5 stars

Vox AC15C2 represents a continuation of what AC30 has begun a long time ago. This combo brings the same type of sound, the same aesthetic, and enough power to those who are looking for a proper vintage tube amp.

The main difference between the C2 and C1 is the addition of an extra 12 Inch Celestion Greenback speaker. Having one more of these legendary transducers allows you to experience the full extent of Vox’s vintage cleans.

On top of that, this amp also comes with a great reverb as well as the tremolo effect. In terms of vintage style tube amps, it doesn’t really get better than this. For a 15 Watt unit, AC15C2 offers plenty of volume to work with.

Randall EOD88 Tube Amp Head

Randall EOD88 Tube Amp Head

Controls:4.4 out of 5 stars
Features:4.4 out of 5 stars
Performance:4.7 out of 5 stars
Value:4.6 out of 5 stars

The more you develop as a guitarist, the more you understand exactly what your sound is. If it’s playing warm and fuzzy bluesy tunes, then step away from this amp – it’s not for you!

In the case of the EOD88 ‘Element of Doom’, Randall has developed an amp that is suitable for one thing: the heaviest of metal. At just under one thousand bucks, we find out if it delivers enough in our complete Randall EOD88 review.

In short, the EOD88 is a single-channel, 88-watt tube amp powered by two KT88 tubes. It has a built-in fuzz circuit and three stages of gain which increase in severity, delivering some truly ominous tones! Not for everybody, but those who like metal will love it.

Fender Hot Rod Deluxe IV

Fender Hot Rod Deluxe IV

Controls:4.6 out of 5 stars
Features:4.6 out of 5 stars
Performance:4.8 out of 5 stars
Value:4.7 out of 5 stars

Sometimes there’s nothing better than having a great tube amp behind you at a live gig. The Fender Hot Rod Deluxe IV is a solid choice for a hard-working versatile tube amp that’s sturdy enough for the needs of any working musician.

Featuring all-tube preamp and power amp sections, the 40-watt HRD IV features some impressive circuitry upgrades to give you tone for days. Three channels plus a 3-band EQ section (with a presence control) provide an excellent level of flexibility for just about any style of music.

Whether you are looking for country snap or classic rock overdrive, the HRD IV may just be the perfect addition to your backline. Check out our full Hot Rod Deluxe IV review for more details.

Line 6 DT25 112

Line 6 DT25 112

Controls:4.7 out of 5 stars
Features:4.8 out of 5 stars
Performance:4.8 out of 5 stars
Value:4.7 out of 5 stars

The DT25 112 is an outstanding tube combo amp made by Line 6 in partnership with the legendary German boutique amp builder Reinhold Bogner. With a maximum output of 25 watts, it’s not the most powerful by itself, but it certainly has the tone and versatility to win diehard admirers.

It features a sophisticated black and gold design, with simple controls and a voicing switch to select between four unique amp models. Tones range from smooth American cleans to fierce modern high-gain.

As highlighted in the full review of the DT25 112, other features include easy connection to a cabinet, simple linking to a POD HD multi-effect system, and a built-in Low Volume Mode for quieter practice.

Orange Amplifiers Dual Terror DT30H

Orange Amplifiers Dual Terror DT30H

Controls:4.6 out of 5 stars
Features:4.7 out of 5 stars
Performance:4.8 out of 5 stars
Value:4.8 out of 5 stars

Orange Amplifiers Dual Terror is one of the most compact and most potent tube heads you can find on the market. They have taken the core of their legendary Tiny Terror series and scaled it up into a model that has more power.

The amp is very simple in nature, which can be seen in its rudimentary controls. However, it brings you that trademark Brit tone which not many amps are capable of doing these days.

With twangy cleans and gritty overdrive, you are looking at a very potent little box. Its 30 Watts of power make it a great choice both for a half stack setup to be used on a stage, or a capable studio recording tube configuration.

What are the Benefits of Owning a $1,000 Amplifier?

Aside from the bragging rights, the benefits of owning a $1,000 amp are instantly apparent as soon as you plug it in – the power and the tone!

On the subject of power, you will find that 100 watts or more is the norm in this region, which is enough for most gigging professionals. Performances with a 15-watt tube amp (as you may find in the sub-$500 region) are possible to some extent, but definitely not as professional or flexible as working with 100 watts of pure power.

On top of this raw power, amps in this price range deliver an amazing tone. Most models will be tube amps, which deliver the full-bodied, organic, liquid tone that guitarists crave. You will find some solid-state amps too, which still deliver an excellent sound and are incredibly versatile when it comes to on-board effects, amp modelling and controls.

While high-end premium amps can come in at a much more expensive price, this $1,000 range is where the perfect performance to price ratio is found.

Factoring in Additional Equipment

One thing you may notice is that this price range is dominated by amp heads as opposed to combo amps. Amp heads offer huge power when paired with a decent cab, as well as provide gigging guitarists with a more convenient way to transport their amp.

The deal with amp heads is that they are just heads. Without a cabinet or another external speaker, they are pretty useless for performing. That means you will also have to factor the price of a speaker cab into your total budget.

Of course, some amp heads come with features that allow you to plug them directly into your computer or a mixer, but you’ll still need a speaker if you are gigging.

Many venues will have their own cab or PA system you can plug into, but, if not, you’ll have to buy, store and transport your own speaker cabinet. The other option is opting for a ‘grab and go’ combo amp – which is why we have included several options in our chart. These are ideal if your amp spends more time at home than on the road.

The beauty of most amp manufacturers is that they often tend to release the same amp model as both a combo and as a head, allowing you to buy the version that best suits you.

The Final Word

The models we have featured in this chart are some of the best amplifiers you can find for less than $1,000. Whatever your intended use, there’s more than enough choice in this price range.

However, be extra careful in taking your time to find the right amp for you – a grand is a considerable chunk of cash to spend. Good luck with your hunt for the perfect premium amp!


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Comments

  1. Seifer Kanai says

    I gotta say, I feel like it’s a bit criminal to forget about the Laney Ironheart 120 and a bit wrong to mention the Bugera Trirec but not the Bugera 333xl.

    The Laney Ironheart is VERY well made and sounds great. It’s similar to the Iommi signature series but not quite as hot. (This is easily fixable with a Maxon OD 808.) I’ve loved mine for the last 3 or so years.

    In my opinion, the 333XL is a much more versatile amp than the Trirec with much better cleans. Just remember that the earlier models (identified by the blue jewel lights in the front) had a lot of problems. The newer models (identified by the red jewels) have been much much better in that area. I’ve had mine for quite a while and have kicked the snot out of it on the road and I’ve had no problems.

    I continue to use both the Ironheart and the 333XL despite also owning a Revv Generator 120 (Maybe the best amp on the market right now! Yes, I know that’s a big statement to make.), a Mesa Boogie Mark V (Also one of the finest amps ever made.) and a Fender Twin GB. (Damn sure one of the best blues and jazz amps to ever exist.)

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