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Top 10 Blues Guitar Amplifiers

by Big Al on January 28, 2011

As I was pondering this question, I stumbled across a great article by Chris and Vinnnicombe over at the Music Radar website. Since he’d already done a great research job, I thought I would pass on these recommendations to you.

10. The Dumble Overdrive Special

It would be difficult to source a genuine Dumble as there are fewer than 300 in existence. There are lots of effects pedals an amplifiers that claim to come close to this sound, but it’s the author’s opinion that the Fuchs Overdrive Supreme is just about the best out there. It may be a little pricey, but it’s far less than the $30,000 (or more) you shell out to get one of the real ones.

Fender Champ Blues Guitar Amplifier

Fender Champ Blues Guitar Amplifier

9. The Fender Champ

You may already be familiar with the sound of this amp and not even know it. It’s used extensively in recordings of the Rolling Stones and ZZ Top hits. It’s also the sound of the classic Eric Clapton hit Layla. It may be small, but it’s a great little amp and is perhaps the most recorded type of amplifier in rock ‘n roll and electric blues history.

8. Mesa/Boogie Mark series

Randall Smith, the man who started this company, lived in the San Francisco area and originally specialized in hot-rodding Fender guitar amplifiers. One of his premier customers, Carlos Santana once exclaimed, “Man that little thing really boogies!” and you know the rest. :-)

Though the Mark Series Amplifiers are known for their use in heavy metal, have a look at the Mark Five Combo, which is awesome for blues.

7. The Matchless DC-30

This 1990s classic amp takes four EL84 tubes and pushes 30 watts out of two twelve-inch speakers in the cabinet. This is very similar to the way Vox amps are set up, if you’re familiar with them. The price on this amplifier puts it out of the reach of most hobbyists and weekend warriors, but you do get what you pay for and it’s a great item to have on your wish list.

6. Fender Twin

Loved by the likes of Keith Richards and many, many others, this amp is considered the choice of connoisseurs of guitar tone. It’s often described as sophisticated, loud, and creamy.

If you’re looking for more headroom and volume, as well as reverb, have a look at the Blackface ’65 Twin Reverb reissue, or the more contemporary Twin-Amp. However, the lower power of the original Twin is usually recommended for the blues.

Vox AC30 Guitar Amplifier

Vox AC30 Guitar Amplifier

5. Vox AC 30

Boy, talk about an iconic guitar amplifier! If you’re looking for an amp with attitude and out-of-this-world blues tone, look no further. There’s also a lower power version available, the AC 15, which might be a better fit for your style if you’re not yet playing the big stadiums. :-)

4. Fender Bassman

While this amp was intended as a companion to the Fender Precision bass, it was soon discovered by regular guitar players. It’s a deep and robust sounding amplifier, as you might imagine.

Jim Marshall later copied the Bassman circuitry using British components and released the JTM45 guitar amp, which defined the sound of Eric Clapton and his brand of British electric blues starting in 1966.

If an original amp of this model is out of reach, have a look at the ’59 Bassman reissue as an alternative.

Marshall Bluesbreaker Guitar Amplifier

Marshall Bluesbreaker Guitar Amplifier

3. Marshall 1962 “Bluesbreaker”

One day, Eric Clapton dreamed of a guitar amplifier that would have tremolo and would fit in the trunk of his car. At the time he was touring with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. Apparently it occurred to him that he could make this request to Jim Marshall of Marshall amplifiers. No surprise, this amp was born!

When paired with Clapton’s Les Paul guitar, this new amp created such an awesome sound some refer to it as “the sound of God himself”. In fact, Clapton’s sound on the “Beano” album in 1966 is still considered one of the pinnacles of electric blues.

2. Fender Super Reverb

Is there an amp more suited for you Stratocaster players? I submit there is not! :-)

This amp has been found on the stages of blues greats like Stevie Ray Vaughn, all three of the Kings, and modern legend Robben Ford.

When speaking of this amp it’s often said that all you have to add is a Stratocaster and a Tube Screamer pedal and you’ve got the ultimate Texas blues setup.

While snagging an original version of this amp may be considered the holy Grail, their condition can be dicey and require lots of costly maintenance. A good alternative is the Fender ’65 Super Reverb reissue.

1. Fender Deluxe Reverb

This amplifier is considered a 22-watt giant of blues guitar tone. It’s also among the world’s most recorded studio amps in history. It runs the gamut from superb clean tones to killer distortion for blues, and just about anything else you can think of. I love the sound of raw tube saturation in the morning… or the afternoon… or the night for that matter. :-)

Once again, if the original is out of reach there is a reissue model available. For a similar sounding amp check out the ’65 Princeton Reverb reissue as well.

Fender Deluxe Reverb Guitar Amplifier

Fender Deluxe Reverb Guitar Amplifier

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