7 Best Guitar Amps Under $2,000 – Premium Models for Amplifier Heaven!
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Truth be told, to buy some of the best amps on the market, you don’t have to spend more than a grand. However, if you are a professional musician, play on the biggest stages, or are simply chasing your dream tone, spending up to $2,000 can be a worthwhile move.
Yet, it’s not a decision you should rush into – it’s a lot of cash! That’s why we have put together this article.
Table Of Contents
You may be looking for a sweet vintage sound or a searing-hot metal lead tone. Both of these – and everything in between – are catered for. Stick around after the chart for a look at what high-end amps can offer.
7 Best Guitar Amps Under $2,000
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EVH 5150III Combo
Total of 4.83/5 [usr 4.83 max='5' ]
EVH’s sensational stage-ready combo caters for all tastes.
Friedman Mini Dirty Shirley
Total of 4.68/5 [usr 4.68 max='5' ]
Deliciously dirty rock amp in a mini package.
Total of 4.75/5 [usr 4.75 max='5' ]
Huge power and surprising versatility from an epic 100-watt head.
Total of 4.65/5 [usr 4.65 max='5' ]
A classy hand-wired combo oozing vintage Vox tones.
Fender ’65 Deluxe Reverb
Total of 4.67/5 [usr 4.67 max='5' ]
An iconic vintage Fender amp brought back to life.
Total of 4.65/5 [usr 4.65 max='5' ]
Beastly Orange tone with simplicity at its core.
Marshall 2525C Mini Silver Jubilee
Total of 4.75/5 [usr 4.75 max='5' ]
An iconic ’80s beast reimagined in combo form.
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One of the best amps on this list is this stage-ready combo from EVH – a powerful, tone-packed, highly-versatile tube amp that delivers on all fronts, as the complete 5150III Combo review reveals.
Stuffed inside a very well-built amp (complete with solid handles and wheels for easier transportation) are two 6L6 power tubes and a pair of specially-designed 12” EVH Celestion speakers. This offers a huge 50 watts of power, which is switchable down to 1 watt.
The three channels on this combo are exceptional. Sounds range from sparkly, clear cleans that excel at jazz, right up to the most ominous distortion built for black metal. Oh, it copes with Van Halen stuff pretty well too…
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For huge rock tone in a tiny package, the Mini Dirty Shirley is a high-end amp worth adding to your shortlist. As the name suggests, this 20-watt amp head is a smaller version of the original full-sized Dirty Shirley from the excellent Friedman Amplification.
But in this case, small doesn’t mean deficient. A pair of EL84 power tubes power this hand-wired amp head, delivering the same brutal rock tones you’d expect from an amp that’s used by some of the world’s best.
It features minimal controls, although finding fat, juicy overdrive is a cinch. Everything is crammed into a compact, lightweight head that’s built in America to deal with daily life on the road. The full Mini Dirty Shirley review has all the details!
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Looking for huge power to match a huge tone? For crushing hard-rock performances, there are few more popular amps than the JVM210H from Marshall – be sure to read the full review to find out more!
In short, this British-made all-tube premium amp head is a legend – and it’s no surprise why. It features five ECC83 preamp tubes and four EL34 power amp tubes, resulting in 100 watts of power. But with this beastly sound comes surprising finesse.
Of course, this amp delivers ultra-high-gain modern metal tones without breaking a sweat. Yet it proves very versatile, with two three-mode channels offering enough for those who prefer their sound a little easier. The excellent footswitch completes a great package.
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While there is lots of vintage oozing from this chart, it’s hard to top the AC30HW2 from Vox. This is the epitome of British vintage tone in a package that prides itself on quality.
You only have to glance at the classy ’60s-inspired fawn vinyl for a hint of what this amp is all about. It’s a hand-wired all-tube combo, boasting 30-watts of power delivered through two high-end 12” Celestion speakers.
As we highlight in the full AC30HW2 review, it’s not the most versatile amp in this premium price range, but it’s up there in terms of tone. Other highlights include both a normal and Top Boost channel (the latter offering a hot/cool switch), a VFS1 footswitch, and a classic master volume bypass switch.
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With Fender’s ’65 Deluxe Reverb, you can now enjoy vintage Blackface performance at a price that won’t send you into sticker shock. It’s a well-crafted, American-made model that is a true representation of the original.
There are no bells and whistles here – simplicity is key, just as it was on the original ’65. This robust model features two channels (one with built-in spring reverb), a solid 12” Jensen C12-K speaker, and 22 watts of stage-ready power.
While it does break up nicely, it’s not an amp for those chasing gain – cleans are where this baby truly excels. Find out more about what the ’65 Deluxe Reverb can do for your setup by checking out our full review.
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Orange Amplifiers have produced a real winner with the TH30H all-tube amp head. It’s an insanely impressive model that will slot into either a studio or stage setting, with a level of portability that is hard to beat.
As the full TH30H review highlights, this amp follows the traditional Orange philosophy of ‘less can be SO much more’. The super simple controls are all you need to tame this monster – or, if you’re up to it, release the beast…
Prepare to be surprised at all you can do with what seems to be relatively little. We were! You may find yourself wondering why the competition needs all of those fancy knobs and gadgets, because the TH30H is proof that you don’t.
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A 1x12” combo amp on this high-end amp list? Are we crazy? Not when you consider the heritage of the 2525C from Marshall. This is a real gem, based on the reissue of the original ’87 Silver Jubilee amp head.
While small, this all-tube combo boasts two EL34 power amp tubes and a Celestion Greenback speaker with 20 watts of power. This means it sits in the sweet sport for smaller stage performances. And, ultimately, the stage is exactly where this amp should be (although it’s also excellent for both practice and recording).
Oozing quality, this British-made amp delivers thick, organic dirty tones for all kinds of rock and metal playing. As always, there’s more in the full review of the Marshall 2525C.
What to Expect from a $2,000 Amp?
Frankly, when you are dropping up to two grand on a single amplifier, you can demand near perfection.
What does perfection mean to you? Pure pristine cleans? Face-melting metal tone? Or incredible power that fills a stadium with sound? Whatever your definition of perfect, you should be able to find an amp that delivers in this price range.
The majority of amps in the premium market are tube amps, in both head and combo format. Heads are perfect for regularly gigging musicians seeking something that’s easy to transport, as well as something that will deliver a massive sound – providing you have a good external cab to plug into. Combos are excellent for gigs too and don’t need external speakers to be heard, although are considerably heavier.
Amps in this range will usually have a couple of selling points that set them apart from the amps we see in the sub-$1,000 range. This may be the epic power on offer, with some capable of delivering up to 120-watts, or it may be special hand-wiring that increases the quality of the tone. The fact that these amps are built in countries like America or the UK guarantees a quality that mass-produced models find difficult to match.
As for controls, these vary from amp to amp. Don’t assume that, just because you are spending a sizable amount of cash, you’ll instantly be bestowed hundreds of dials to shape every last frequency. Just look at amps from Freidman or Orange, whose high-end units resemble practice amps in terms of controls! But for many guitarists, this simplicity works.
It’s the same when it comes to effects. Some high-end amps are oozing with different effects, such as reverb or tremolo – although many aren’t. If they don’t include effects, it’s likely that the amp has a good dedicate effects loops and take pedals very well, so adding your favorite modulation is a cinch.
Where is Mesa/Boogie?
We’ve listed the best high-end amps and we have failed to mention Mesa/Boogie in our chart? What’s wrong with us?!
First things first – we love Mesa/Boogie amps. For decades they have been the choice for rock and metal players around the world, from casual guitarists and pro musicians to some of the biggest artists of all time. The Triple Rectifier, the Mark V and the Lone Star all deserve their time in the spotlight.
However, this iconic brand is often difficult to find on many marketplaces. For this reason, we have left them off the most recent chart as we like to provide guitarists with easily-accessible amps. Stay tuned because as they become more available on more marketplaces, we’ll feature them in our charts in a future refresh.
Used or New?
It’s safe to say that, when shopping in the budget amp market not many people will bother opt for a used amplifier. However, as you open your wallet to the tune of over a grand, the second-hand market becomes quite appealing.
Here, you can find amps of great quality that, when brand new, would have cost $2,000-plus. However, because they have already been loved, you can find hundreds of dollars have been shaved off the RRP. If this is the route you are going down, that’s great! Often these amps will be in great condition and you can grab a real bargain.
However, use caution. When spending this amount of money, be sure you can thoroughly test the model in question. Does it work? Is it missing tubes? Are the switches faulty? If you are buying from a private seller or a local guitar store, take your axe, plug it in and spend half an hour going to town on it.
If you are buying online, be sure to use a reputable seller – one that offers a clear returns policy if something goes wrong or you change your mind.
The Final Word
We hope this article and the chart above has given you a little food for thought when it comes to the world of premium amplifiers. Unless you are a rockstar or a millionaire, acquiring a high-end amp isn’t something you do more than once or twice in a guitar-playing career. It’s therefore important to make the right choice, before dropping the cash. Whether you are buying your dream amp or just browsing, we hope our selections have inspired you.