The 5 Best Amps for Blues Guitar To Keep Your Tone Emotive & Dynamic 2023

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Editor's Choice
Mesa/Boogie Fillmore
  • Quickly achieve expressive, dynamic, and classic blues tones
  • The Fillmore has a midrange voice that cuts through a mix without being harsh
  • Two identical yet independent channels allow you to dial in multiple tones to switch between
For American Tone
Fender Blues Jr.
  • The Blues Junior is affordable, flexible, and has an effortless tone, making it the perfect amp for any blues musician
  • It gives you that blues sound without pedals
  • The fat switch pushes your tone for big lead tones, making this single-channel amp feel like a dual
For British Tone
Vox AC15HW1
  • Get the combination of British grit and American chime in one amp
  • Produces that vintage and complex Vox tone you've heard on all your favorite records
  • It's loud enough for band practice but also has an attenuator for at-home playing

Are you a blues guitar player looking for new and exciting ways to take your sound to the next level? Finding an amp that can bring out the most dynamic and expressive performance is essential. Still, with so many options on the market, it can be challenging to narrow down.

Whether you’re in search of something full of vintage character or with modern features, we’ve got you covered! I’ve researched countless hours and compiled a list of the 5 best amps for blues guitar players who want their playing to stand out and their tones to hit right in the heart.

Also, this list isn’t exhaustive, and plenty of great guitar amps and brands are not represented. For this reason, I’ve also put together a short buyer’s guide to help you research more if non of these amps mentioned feel right for you.

Let’s get started!

The Best Blues Guitar Amps at a Glance

  1. Mesa/Boogie Fillmore (Editor’s Choice)
  2. Fender Blues Jr. (Best for American Blues Tones)
  3. Vox AC15HW1 (Best for British Blues Tones)
  4. Boss Katana (Best Solid-State Amp)
  5. Bugera Infinium (Best Budget Pick)
Editor's Choice
Mesa/Boogie Fillmore

Are you looking for an amp that will give you the perfect sound for your blues music? Look no further than the Mesa/Boogie Fillmore. This two-channel tube amp is jam-packed with features to help you get your desired sound. 

The clean, drive and hi-gain circuits provide a controlled range of tones to craft each performance however you want. The 6V6 tubes in the power amp section offer a great clean tone with a bit of grit, creating a pleasing balance between clarity and warmth. Plus, the built-in tube-powered spring reverb lets you experience sound as if from a big stage - giving every moment extra ambiance and energy.

No matter where your playing takes you, the Mesa/Boogie Fillmore will always be by your side, providing precisely what you need to make your music stand out. Check it out today!

Blues music is all about feeling. When looking for the best blues guitar amp, you’re going to something responsive that maintains dynamics while still staying punchy and retains note articulate even when played at higher gain.

The Mesa/Boogie Fillmore amps check off all these boxes.

The Fillmore is a two-channel tube amp. Each channel is identical with the choice of either a clean, drive or hi gain circuit. You can independently dial in whatever tones you desire on each channel and flip between the two with a dedicated footswitch.

There are a few options to choose from in the Fillmore Series of amps, and each has slightly different internal design features. For the sake of finding the best blues amp, the Fillmore 25 is the way to go.

The Fillmore 25 features 6V6 tubes in the power amp section instead of the 6L6s that are found in the Fillmore 50. The 6V6s tend to break apart at lower volumes and add a certain “squishyness” and midrange presence to the tone. This is a huge benefit for players who want their sound to cut through a busy mix without the tone getting overly harsh and pointy.

Choose the clean gain channel if you want to dial in a great clean tone with a little bit of grit. You will be greeted with a springy, lively, and round tone without being harsh.

Push the gain circuit to Drive, and you’ll find yourself getting tones made famous by players like Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Clapton.

Add in a built-in tube-powered spring reverb, and you have everything you need to bring your playing to the big leagues. While you won’t find getting great blues tones straight from the amplifier challenging, the Fillmore series of amps also feature a buffered fx loop. This allows you to incorporate some of your favorite guitar pedals without degrading their sound from the tube amp’s natural distortion.

If you’re looking for a blues amp that will give you the tones you hear from your favorite players without having to fiddle with settings or incorporating boutique gain pedals, then the Mesa/Boogie Fillmore is an amp that will not let you down.

Pros
  • Mesa/Boogie amps are high-quality workhorse amps
  • Midrange voice cuts through a mix without being pointy or harsh
  • Dual channels give you increased flexibility over your guitar's tone

 

Cons
  • There isn't a reverb on/off switch on the channel controller footswitch
  • It's expensive
Best American Amp for Blues & Rock
Fender Blues Jr.

Are you a bluesman searching for an affordable tube amp with classic Fender dirty clean tones? Look no further than the Fender Blues Jr.! 

The Blue Junior offers a powerful sound without leaving your wallet empty. You get an articulate and dynamic range of tones, but solos significantly benefit from its special ‘fat switch’ - giving you an extra boost of gain during explosive performances.

But don’t take our word for it; the Blues Jr. has been used by guitarists like John Mayer, Noel Gallager, and The Edge. So why wait? Check out the Fender Blues Jr. today!

Some of the top players in blues have been seen rocking a Fender Amp. Whether it’s B.B. King, who could be spotted playing his Fender Twin Reverb and Super Reverb amps, or John Mayer, who has been known to use most Fender Amps under the sun, including our top Fender Pick, the Blues Junior.

The Blues Junior is one of the most popular Fender tube amplifiers for rock and country musicians. This is because it’s affordable and flexible as an at-home practice, recording, and gigging amp for medium-sized venues.

The heart and soul of the Blues Junior is the classic Fender dirty clean tone that is articulate and doesn’t get muddy. Just try pushing the master volume control to the max and experience the beautiful saturation and breakup that sounds like your favorite blues record.

The fat switch pushes a bit more gain to give you an extra boost during your solos and ensure that you stand out in a dense mix.

The Blue Junior gives its best blues tones when using a single-coil guitar, like a Stratocaster, over a humbucker guitar. Humbuckers work well, but the Blues Junior has a sense of openness and vibrancy when you pair it with single coils.

While the Blues Junior is a great bang-for-your-buck tube guitar amp, it isn’t without quirks. The amp’s tone can feel boxy compared to other amps on this list. Also, some guitar players will swear that to get this amp to open up, you should consider getting modifications to the circuitry and consider replacing the speaker. This should be done by a professional and can push the price of this guitar amp into expensive territory.

Also, this is a small guitar amp, so if you’re looking for an amplifier that will blow your hair back like a Maxwell commercial, you may be disappointed.

At the end of the day, if you are looking for a plug-and-play amplifier that will get you a great blues tone without breaking the bank, the Fender Blues Jr. is a modern classic worth checking out!

Pros
  • The 15-watt Blue Jr. is a fantastic at-home practice amp
  • Produces a tremendous blues tone without the need for external pedals
  • Fat switch gives you the added tonal flexibility that you would find in a dual-channel amp

 

Cons
  • The tone can be considered too "boxy" by some players
  • Costly mods are often recommended to get the most out of this amp
Best British Amp For Blues & Rock
Vox AC15HW1

The Vox AC15HW1 Best British Voiced Amp for Blues combines a Fender-style chimey top-end with the grit and texture of a Marshall. This excellent amp has enough midrange punch to sweep through any blues song like an arrow flying through the night sky.

Featuring an incredible range of tones from smooth vintage to crisp modern response, you can quickly crank up this amp for a thick layer of distortion without sacrificing clarity or definition. Thanks to its natural mid-focused voicing, the Vox AC15 guitar amplifier is well-suited for blues players seeking to fuse classic flavor with greater edge and warmth.

So if you're looking for an amplifier that will give your blues playing unique sonic textures, look no further than the Vox AC15HW1!

While American amp makers like Fender are renowned for their rich and vibey clean amp tones, British amps added a bit more hair, girth, and grit to their tones. While Marshall is the king of the British Amp tone, their sound pushes more easily into overdriven sounds that suit rock more than blues.

However, Vox Amps (also prominent in classic rock) splits the difference between the Fender and Marshall sounds. There is a sparkle in the top end that but still enough midrange punch that you often miss in a Fender amplifier.

While Vox isn’t necessarily a go-to amp for blues, it’s made more of a name in pop and rock. Suppose you’re looking for an amplifier that can push your tones into a grittier and rock n’ roll territory. In that case, you should consider a Vox.

The most famous Vox is the AC30 model. While you can get an AC30 Vox today, for most players, this amp will be too heavy and loud for most practical applications. Thankfully there is also the AC15 which reduces the wattage from 30 to 15 and uses a 1×12 speaker instead of a 2×12.

Another challenge with buying a new Vox Amp is that most of the reissue models are made in China, not England. Many vintage Vox amp enthusiasts will say that these newer Chinese manufactured Vox’s don’t capture the essence of the Vox sound.

For this reason, I’d recommend looking at the Vox AC15HW1 with the Celestion Greenback speaker. This amp is entirely hand-wired and built to the original spec of the vintage models. While still not made in England, you will get closer to the Vox tone. While it does cost more than the standard reissues, the extra price is worth it.

It’s worth noting that Vox isn’t for everyone. While you can get some epic and classic tones from the amp, it does take some dialing in to find it. From my experience, Vox amps don’t have that instant “wow factor” when first plugging in. It takes some work, but it is worth it if you are patient and know what you’re looking for.

If you’re looking for something that goes outside the norms of blues tones, a Vox might be the sound to inspire and push you into new creative zones. It worked for Rory Cochrane…

Pros
  • The AC15HW1 gets you that vintage tone you've heard on all your favorite records
  • Completely hand-wired and built from the original bill of materials
  • The fawn-covered vinyl looks awesome

 

Cons
  • For the price, you could get a USA-made, hand-wired amp that is similarly voiced
  • It's heavy
Best Solid-State Blues Amp
Boss Katana

Are you looking for an amp that brings the feel and expression of the blues but with high-tech features and modern reliability? Look no further than the Boss Katana!

This top-of-the-line solid-state technology is excellent for blues guitarists. It delivers a big, juicy range of sound from its multiple amp models, effects on board, and variable wattage control. Each model has been painstakingly modeled to get the most authentic sounds possible—from the warmest American twang to the punchiest British tone. Add in over 60 of Boss’s most popular effects to complete your setup, and you have one powerful combo!

Whether you’re playing a small club gig or recording in your home studio– don’t miss out on the latest innovations in amps today – check out the Boss Katana today!

While most players looking for the best blues guitar amps often seek a valve-based circuit, you must recognize the solid-state amps in the market. The technology mixed with amp modeling technology has made the solid-state amp one of the most practical options for many guitarists today.

The most popular amp in this category is the Boss Katana. While the Boss Katana series aren’t blues amps per se, the multiple amp models, effects, expandability, and portability make this a great amp no matter what genre you play.

However, the Boss Katana has everything you need to play blues like a pro when it comes to the best blues amps. You can choose between American and British amp models and get access to over 60 of Boss’s infamous effects.

Want to add some spring reverb, delay, and chorus to your tone, no problem! The Katana can give you classic rock flavor or help you push your sound into new territories.

Another benefit of modern amps vs. vintage guitar amps is the expanded features that are included. The Boss Katana features a vast amount of features that make this a great blues amp for various applications.

There’s a variable wattage control that allows you to change the headroom and volume of the guitar amp’s output. This helps you get a nice crunch tone at low volumes or increase the dynamics and clean tone for more openness and responsiveness.

You can also use a direct TRS out to connect to your audio interface for recording applications if you are a home studio musician whose primary use case is recording.

If you’re looking for a forward-thinking blues amp that is budget-friendly, lightweight, and versatile, you owe it to yourself to check out the Boss Katana!

Pros
  • It's durable, affordable, and portable
  • It's a great practice, recording, and gigging amp
  • The amp modeling gives you multiple amp tones in one box
Cons
  • Some users don't feel the solid-state technology has the same "squishyness" and smooth breakup characteristics that you get from real tube amps
  • All the extra features and amp models can distract you from making music
Best Tube Amp on a Budget
Bugera Infinium

Taking your blues jams to the next level doesn't have to break the bank. The Bugera Infinium series of tube amps offer excellent audio quality at incredibly low prices. They are undoubtedly one of the best budget buys for blues musicians out there.

But don't be fooled - while you may be paying less than the market price on these gems, they deliver on tone. However, remember that some components may wear a bit quicker than pricier amps - so keep an eye out for repairs or replacements!

All in all, if it's killer blues with a side of value you're after, then Bugera Infinium is exactly what you need!

You don’t need to spend a fortune on guitar amps to get a great blues tone—the Bugera Infinium product series of tube amps punch well above their weight.

The Infinium lineup comes in different sizes, power tubes, heads, and combo versions, and will vary the cost of the amp.

For the sake of finding the best blues amps for the budget-minded guitar player, I’d recommend checking out the Bugera V5 Infinium. This is a 5-watt, 8-inch speaker with a 12AX7 preamp tube and EL84 tube in the power amp. This tube combination gives the similar iconic British voicing of Vox amps.

While the sound of this amp isn’t going to blow your hair back, it will give you a crisp and vintage blues tone that works well at lower volumes. It has a built-in attenuator that can knock this mini guitar amp down to .1-watt, so if you’re looking for a practice amp or a home recording amplifier, this one will do the trick.

If the V5 doesn’t have enough juice and openness to the sound you’re after, you can upgrade to the V22, which comes with a Bugera-built 12-inch speaker and comes in at 22 watts. This version will also have a normal and bright input with expanded drive, EQ, and presence controls.

While you are getting a fantastic bargain with these guitar amps, some users have mentioned that some components, like tubes, fail quicker than on other amps.

If you’re looking for a tube amp for blues that won’t break the bank, you owe it to yourself to check out the Bugera Infinium lineup of amplifiers!

Pros
  • Enjoy crisp and vintage blues tones at volumes that won't annoy your family or neighbors thanks to variable wattage
  • Get an iconic British blues-voiced tube amp for a fraction of the price
  • It comes with built-in reverb that adds extra depth and dimension to your tone
Cons
  • Some users report quality issues with the amp, like tubes going bad quickly
  • The smaller wattage amps may not be loud enough for practice sessions with drummers and other loud instruments

The Best Amp for Blues Buyer’s Guide

I know this list is incomplete, and tons of great guitar amplifiers and brands weren’t represented in this roundup. To list all the great blues amplifiers out there would require an encyclopedia. 

While the amps on this list are great jumping-off points if you want my opinion, I understand that most of you may wish to continue your search.

The following buyer’s guide will help you evaluate other amp options to continue your research.

Solid State vs. Tube Amps for Blues Amps

The solid-state vs. tube amp debate is hotly contested among guitar players. However, most amplifiers these days use a mixture of both to bring retro-tone and modern functionality and design to amplifiers.

Solid-state amplifiers get their sound by using transistors over tubes. A tube amp, on the other hand, amplifies the guitar signal using vacuum power tubes. 

This gives tube amplifiers those non-linearities and analog vibe that is musical to people’s ears. However, tube amps are more delicate than solid-state amps due to vacuum tubes. They also tend to be more expensive than solid-state amps.

But with modeling technology being so sophisticated these days, solid-state amps have lots to offer. They generally come with tons of features and are lightweight and durable.

American vs. British

American guitar amps like Fender take the win to classic blues sounds. There’s something about the clean American tone that retains good headroom, clarity, and dirt as it’s pushed.

British amps tend to have more mid-range and crunch in the tone that can often be overkill for the traditional blues guitarist. However, you can still use a British amp to get great blues tones. Look at Peter Green or Rory Cochrane if you need any convincing.

Amp Sensitivity & Headroom

Blues music is expressive and dynamic. You will want to ensure that your blues amplifier works with your playing and not against it.

Often the best blues amps have a great clean tone that gradually breaks up the further you push the volume. Suppose you have an amplifier that needs more headroom. In that case, you may distort your tone too soon and lose articulation, dynamics, and body.

However, if you have an amplifier with too much headroom, you will struggle to get that cry and wail as you dig in harder into the amplifier.

If you are playing a solid-state amplifier, you will likely have lots of clean headroom. So you will need to incorporate a drive pedal, or the onboard distortion, to give you the grit you’re looking for.

For tube guitar amps, the power tubes, wattage, and speaker size/type will play a big part in the sensitivity and headroom of the amp.

While going over the options of all of these variables would be separate articles in themselves, there are a few things to look for in amps that can help gauge the sound the amp will produce.

American amps (like Fender) usually use 6L6 or 6V6 tubes in the power amp section. 6V6 tubes have more clean headroom, won’t break up as soon as 6V6s, and are used in higher wattage amps. 6V6 tubes have a bit more squishyness to them and can make an excellent tube for playing blues music.

British amps (Like Vox) usually use EL84 or EL34 tubes in the power amp section. EL34 tubes have more clean headroom, won’t break up as soon as EL84s, and are used in higher wattage amps. EL34s can be considered more high-fidelity than EL84s. In British Amps, consider the 34s to avoid too much crunchiness and fizziness of tone.

The speaker in the amplifier will also affect the tubes and can help mitigate some of the challenges with certain types of tubes. This leads me to my next point in choosing the best guitar amps for blues…

Combo Guitar Amps vs. Stacks

With most of the recommendations on this list, you will see that the amp series includes either a combo or amp head version.

When it comes to sound quality, you will find little difference. However, the main difference will be in the output power and speaker configuration. Amp heads will need you to purchase an external speaker cabinet to power them. This gives you flexibility in shaping your overall tone. However, finding the best pairing can be tricky (and costly) if you aren’t sure what to go with.

On the other hand, a combo amp is paired with a speaker that the manufacturer believes will bring the best tone out of the amp.

Amp heads also are slower to need repairing and parts replacement. This is because the amplifier isn’t in the same encasement as the speaker. The speaker creates lots of vibration, which will affect combo amplifier components.

This will come down to personal preference and budget. Still, a combo amp is often a better value for most guitar players.

Your Pickups

You can’t ignore how the pickups will influence the sound of guitar amps. The classic electric blues guitar is the Fender Stratocaster with single-coil & p90 equipped guitars. This is the Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton, and John Mayer sound.

That classic jangly and midrange tone is synonymous with a great blues sound.

On the other hand, Humbuckers have a more midrange, creamy sound to them, and they shouldn’t be ignored when it comes to blues. Just look at B.B. King and his famous use of the Gibson ES-335 equipped with humbucking pickups.

Humbuckers may be more appropriate for blues players who err more on the side of ballads that utilize more jazzy amp tones. Or if you have a Les Paul that you want push your amp into more crunchy terrirtories.

Either way, if you are struggling to get blues sounds out of your guitar amps, then your guitar’s pickups are the first thing to modify.

FAQ

Why Didn’t You Include Marshall?

Marshalls are the quintessential British-voiced amplifier. While they have a solid mid-range presence, they tend to break up quickly and push beyond the articulate and expressive sound I’d look for in blues guitar amps.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t use a Marshall amp successfully to get righteous blues sounds. The Bluesbreaker is an iconic amplifier from Marshall that the greats like Eric Clapton have used. You can purchase a recreation of that amplifier, but it will cost you a pretty penny…but highly worth it 🙂

Why Didn’t You Include Orange?

Orange amps are extremely popular. However, they are a bit more high-gain, representing more of that classic metal tone than a traditional blues tone.

This doesn’t mean you can’t use certain Orange amps for blues. Blues is all about feeling and emotion; if an Orange amp helps you express yourself, it is the right option!

Suppose you want an acoustic guitar that will compliment your electric guitar rig. In that case, you have to check out my article, “7 Best Acoustic Guitar For Blues Music For Every Budget 2023.”

The Bottom Line

If you’re looking for an amp that will take your blues playing to the next level, any of the five options on our list would be a great choice.

Research each one further by following the links to the vendor of your choice and find the one that’s right for you and your playing style.

Hopefully, this article has helped point you in the right direction, and I wish you the best on your guitar journey!

Editor's Choice
Mesa/Boogie Fillmore
  • Quickly achieve expressive, dynamic, and classic blues tones
  • The Fillmore has a midrange voice that cuts through a mix without being harsh
  • Two identical yet independent channels allow you to dial in multiple tones to switch between
For American Tone
Fender Blues Jr.
  • The Blues Junior is affordable, flexible, and has an effortless tone, making it the perfect amp for any blues musician
  • It gives you that blues sound without pedals
  • The fat switch pushes your tone for big lead tones, making this single-channel amp feel like a dual
For British Tone
Vox AC15HW1
  • Get the combination of British grit and American chime in one amp
  • Produces that vintage and complex Vox tone you've heard on all your favorite records
  • It's loud enough for band practice but also has an attenuator for at-home playing
Photo of author
AUTHOR
Brad Johnson
Brad is the creator of Song Production Pros. He writes songs and surfs on the weekends when he's not too busy with family or this website. He writes music under the moniker FJ Isles, and can be heard on all streaming services.