When it comes to the best metal amps, deciding which guitar amps are right for you can be a difficult task. Sure, a superb distortion pedal can convert any fine amp into a metal amp, but for those who take their tones seriously, it’s all about making your amp sound as nice as possible. Metal guitar players will appreciate a more direct signal route, and amps constructed for lower tunings and master volume settings will naturally require less pedals to add thrust and shape EQ.
Metal players will appreciate a more direct signal route, and amps constructed for lower tunings and severe volume settings will naturally require less pedals to add thrust and shape EQ. There are plenty of metal amp alternatives out there, whether you’re searching for a trusty, inexpensive workhorse from PRS, Orange, or Marshall, or are attracted by uncompromising, higher-end standouts from EVH, Peavey, and Mesa/Boogie.
Metal music necessitates crushing tones, which are sometimes played at excessively high volumes. Getting all of those sounds into an amp necessitates investing in a high-quality device. The best metal amp needs to be able to push the gain tones high, provide intense compression, and allow for plenty of distortion and boosting in order for your sounds to rise above the audience.
PRS MT15 Mark Tremonti Signature Guitar Amplifier Head
- 15/7 Watts (Switchable)
- 2 Channels
- 6L6 Power Tubes
The PRS Mark Tremonti MT15 15/7-watt tube amplifier head has the high-gain detail, crystal cleans, and flexibility that Tremonti is known for in his Tremonti and Alter Bridge bands. And, best of all, he does so in a small amplifier that can switch between a roaring 15-watt output and a more manageable 7-watt output. The MT15’s two channels provide adequate tone shaping for any style of playing. It’s also simple to broaden this small monster’s tonal boundaries thanks to the effects loop around back.
Mark Tremonti immediately established himself as an heir to the guitar-hero throne after breaking into the rock world with Creed. Tremonti’s legend has only grown with his usage of top metal techniques and ground-rattling riffs, as well as his more delicate clean tones and acoustic guitar work in the internationally renowned Alter Bridge. He went to Paul Smith to assist construct his first signature amplifier because he is a long-time PRS user. The tube combo amp result is the Mark Tremonti MT15, a tiny powerhouse that lives up to the Paul Reed Smith name in terms of craftsmanship and tone like a tube amp build quality.
The Mark Tremonti MT 15 is a two-channel “lunchbox” amp with six 12AX7 preamp tubes and a pair of 6L6 output tubes. The Lead channel has Gain, Master, Treble, Middle, and Bass controls, whilst the Clean channel is bright and chimey with Volume, Treble, Middle, and Bass knobs, as well as a push/pull boost on the Treble knob for a little of old-school crunch this is the best guitar amp for metal under $200.
An effects loop and bias adjusters are accessible from the back panel for easy maintenance, as well as a half-power switch that reduces the amp’s output from 15 to 7 watts. The MT 15 is made of all-steel and has a perforated top and a black-matte finish. The MT 15’s valves are also illuminated by LEDs, which shine red for the Lead channel and blue for the Clean channel when powered up. A very cool and striking aesthetic touch for the sound quality and price point com. This is one of the Best Amps for Metal in 2023.
Marshall JCM800 2203X 100W Tube Head
- 100-watt 1-channel Tube Guitar Amplifier Head with 3-b EQ
- Series Effects Loop with True Bypass Switching
Nothing more than the JCM800 2203 guitar amplifier head captures the spirit of Marshall’s renowned tone. You get everything you need to pound out classic tones, from crunching blues to screaming leads and beyond of hard rock and metal, with just one channel, a 3-band EQ for tone sculpting, and 100 watts of power. For gigging guitarists who use numerous pedals, Marshall included a series effects loop with real bypass functionality to this version of the classic amplifier. So take a step up to the JCM800 2203 guitar amplifier head, the pro’s pick for insane Marshall tone.
The JCM800 family of heads literally controlled the developing metal scene on both sides of the Atlantic in the 1980s, therefore there is no way this iconic British-born beast could not be listed in this list. And the head of the JCM tribe was the 100-watt 2203, with its recognizable “punch in the chest” roar. The simplicity of this head’s one channel of uncomplicated, all-tube (3 x 12AX7, 4 × EL34) harshness, in addition to its beautifully violent sound, is what makes it so beautiful.
Connect your preferred guitar to the 100-watt, all-tube JCM800 2203, strike a chord, and hold on — you’ve just tapped into the tone that helped to define modern rock. At stadiums all around the world in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the JCM800 truly established its renown. It’s likely that when people discuss the Marshall tone, they’re referring to a JCM800 2203 plugged into a full stack and turned all the way up. It’s 100% rock ‘n’ roll, yet it’s wild, disorderly, and most definitely not suitable for late-night band sessions.
Who is a fan of the Marshall JCM800 2203 then? There are more guitarists than we could possibly include, and many of the greatest guitarists in history would be included. Hard rock legends like Angus Young of AC/DC, Kerry King of Slayer, and Zakk Wylde all opted for the JCM800 2203 due to its tonal tenacity. If you want maximum tonal intensity, connect to the JCM800 2203 instead of another amp if you prefer clean tones.
Peavey Invective .120 Amp Head
Until now, Peavey’s 6505 (formerly designated the 5150 before Eddie Van Halen left the company) has been regarded as the modern metal head to beat. Misha Mansoor of Periphery, genius and prominent djent maverick, teamed up with Peavey to update the format for today’s players, and they (pardon us) hit it out of the park. The Invective 120 has a trio of channels, including a surprisingly capable clean, each with pre- and post-level settings and independent boosts, and offers a more polished, multi-layered distortion than its predecessor.
There’s a built-in noise gate, half-power switching, and two assignable series effects loops in this modeling amp, so it’s pretty much everything you could want like a solid state amp. This is the epitome of the modern metalhead. The 120 amp head is designed to meet the needs of today’s progressive metal guitarist. Four JJ 6L6 tubes deliver 120 watts of power, and the 6L6s can be replaced with EL34, 6CA7, 6550, KT66, or KT88 tubes for a variety of tonal qualities and performance. Six 12AX7A tubes provide gain for the clean and crunch/lead channels, as well as phase inverter and loop driver duties (with six gain stages for crunch/lead). Individual channels and functions can be controlled with the supplied footswitch, which also gives rapid access to nine user-programmable presets or control of an external MIDI device for guitar amplifiers.
The tones in the 120’s span from the cleanest cleans to densely layered high-gain harmonic overtones with percussive attack and crisp decay, and they’re all familiar but polished in exquisite detail. The amp can achieve tremendous amounts of high-gain distortion while keeping the sound from becoming mushy. Peavey Invective .120 is the best metal amps under $1000, thanks to its numerous functionalities and performance qualities.
Hughes & Kettner Black Spirit 200
- 4-channel Analog Guitar Amplifier
- With Spirit Tone Generator
- Emulated DI Output
With the Hughes & Kettner Black Spirit 200 amp head, you can get the vitality of authentic tube tone with more sonic variety than ever before. The Black Spirit 200’s Spirit Tone Generator was designed to give all of the legendary guitar tones of the last 60 years. Its circuit allows the amp head to replace components and circuit layouts on the fly, allowing it to recreate the tone, feel, and response of the world’s most famous amplifiers. The Hughes & Kettner Black Spirit 200 is great for any player looking for all the tones, with more connectivity and setting possibilities than virtually any other best amp for metal available.
Solid-state amplifiers have a terrible reputation, but recent advancements have resulted in some of the most reliable, tonesome amps available, and Hughes & Kettner’s Black Spirit 200 is one of the best metal amps available.
This insanely little 200W head has four channels: clean, crunch, lead, and ultra, each with fully programmable gain, volume level, and EQ knobs, as well as a boost, a slew of digital effects, a programmed effects loop, and a Red Box DI cabinet emulation. The tones, on the other hand, stand out, with touch sensitivity comparable to H&K’s all-tube models, and the Ultra channel alone is worth the price of admission, with plenty of detail for seven- and eight-string players. This is one of the Best Metal Amps for Beginners in 2023.
Boss Katana 100 MKII
- 100/50/0.5W 1x12" Guitar Combo Amplifier with 5 Amp Voicings
- Cab-emulated Line Headphone/Recd Outputs
- 8 Tone Slots
The Katana is a versatile weapon that can perform a variety of tasks. Jazz-funk? Sure. Is this a squeaky clean country? Yippee. The Katana has five different amp types onboard, thereby making it a five-channel amp, including Clean, Crunch, Lead, Acoustic, and Brown amp models. When you add in all of the Boss effects, you can see why we call it a tone Swiss Army Knife.
The BOSS Katana-100 MkII is the most recent addition to BOSS’s prestigious Katana series of amplifiers. Whether you want to use the BOSS Katana-100 MkII’s punishing 100-watt output section and platform-perfect 12-inch speaker to amplify your existing modelers and preamps, or build your dream tones from the ground up to create the ultimate all-in-one gig and practice solution, the BOSS Katana-100 MkII is a powerful tool in any electric or acoustic player’s hands. The BOSS Katana-100 MkII is a totally silent stage and studio guitar solution, with cab-emulated outputs and monitoring, as well as multichannel footswitch compatibility for hands-free remote access to every sound in your arsenal.
The 100 MkII is a tone tweaker’s dream, featuring new amp variations and access to 60 classic BOSS effects via the BOSS Tone Studio editor. There’s even a single-cable stereo mode for running multiple Katanas from the stage, which is ideal for filling space in a single-guitar band. But, since this is the finest metal amplifier buyer’s guide, let’s get right to it. The spandex-clad among you might want to park yourself in the Brown channel, which is taken straight from the Boss Waza amplifier and puts the E into the VH of your rock tones. Meanwhile, the Lead amp provides all the boost you’ll need to transform your signal into something that can cut through steel.
It’s simple to dial in tones. There’s a variable power control, so you can turn it down to half-power or even 0.5 watts for super-cranked tones in your bedroom. The amp also has stereo expansion capabilities and an effects loop, but you might not need them with Boss’ Tone Studio software’s 60 effects. This is the best combo amp for metal.
Orange Micro Dark
- Power: 20Watt (hybrid)
- Tube: one 12AX7 (preamp)
- Controls: Gain, shape, volume
The Orange Micro Dark may be small, but it’s more than capable generating tones that will scorch the ground beneath your feet, and it’s perfectly voiced for any kind of high-gain, heavy metal shenanigans with the best guitar amps for metal.
The setup is straightforward. It’s a single-channel hybrid amp with a solid-state power component fed by a preamp with a single 12AX7 tube for a beautiful and juicy dynamic response to its crunch. Volume, shape, and gain knobs are on the control panel, with the shape control ranging from a largely mids-scooped tone to a more mids-heavy, punchy tone at the opposite end.
The Micro Dark is more than powerful enough for band practice or small shows — taxi allowed – and it’s great for late-night silent practice with an emulated headphones output. Run it clean or hard; the gain control has lots of range, and there’s a buffered effects loop on the rear for connecting your pedalboard.
The Dark amplifiers make no apologies for being designed for high-gain heavy metal. Even with the few knobs on the front panel, you’ll be able to tune in a wide range of tones, from metal grind to spanky cleans, in a matter of seconds. If the wide variety of tones isn’t enough, the Micro Dark is compatible with most guitar speaker cabinets, allowing you to fine-tune your tone.
There aren’t many other compact amplifier heads that can match the Micro Dark’s 12AX7-driven tones and 20 watts of power. The Micro Dark amplifier head weighs in at about three pounds, making it easy to travel to any recording session, rehearsal, or gig. And, thanks to its small size, it can easily fit into any room, no matter how small as the best practice amp for metal.
The three-knob control panel makes it simple to get outstanding sounds from your Orange Micro Dark. Volume, gain, and form are all controlled by pots. The shape control is the same as on the other Dark series amplifiers, allowing you to switch between a scooped grind on one side of the dial and a more conventional mid-focused tone on the other. Do you want more tonal options? A buffered effects loop on the back of the Micro Dark allows you to patch in your favorite time-based effects. Furthermore, the single input and single speaker out simplify your setup, allowing you to obtain outstanding tone in no time.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I prefer an amp head or a combo amp to play metal?
Most metal guitarists choose amp heads over combo amps because they provide more power or a wider range of power settings. This provides you more control over your sound’s distortion and volume, which is crucial while playing metal. Combo amplifiers, on the other hand, can save you the trouble of purchasing a speaker stack. For practice, I’ll need an amplifier.
How much volume does a metal amp need?
Many metal-focused heads, such as the Diezel VH4, Mesa/Boogie JP-2C, and EVH 5150III 50W EL34, are built to be played loud. If you’ve already established yourself on the local gigging scene, that’s no problem, but if you’re just getting started or performing in your bedroom, you’ll definitely want something a bit more controllable.
Solid-state and digital technologies strike a fine balance between live and home use in this application. This includes budget-friendly mixers like the Boss Katana-100, solid-state mixers like Hughes & Kettner’s Black Spirit 200, and high-end processors like the Kemper Profiler Head and Fractal Audio’s Axe-Fx III. Each of these metal amplifiers can produce powerful high-gain sounds at any volume, making them ideal for both the studio and the stage.