The 5 Best Amps For Clean Tones & Guitar Pedals 2023

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Are you looking for a powerful amp that will give you clean tones and serve as a great platform to use pedals with? Well, look no further!

I’ve done the hard work of researching all the best amps on the market so that you can make an informed and quick decision.

In this blog post, I’ve outlined five of the best amps for clean tones ā€“ perfect for any guitarist who wants the best out of their rig.

It’s critical to point out that these amplifiers are top-tier choices, but many great amps have yet to be included. I wanted to keep this article short and punchy, so some excellent options were left out. One of these options will work for you, but don’t get mad if you don’t see the amp you’ve had your eye on missing on this list.

Alright, with that out of the way, ready to find out which ones made our cut?

Let’s get started…

TL;DR: My Top 3 Picks

Editor's Choice
Dr. Z Z-28
  • With this tube amp, you'll get astonishing clean tone clarity, dynamics, and responsiveness
  • You will feel like your pedals are built into the amp itself
  • Enjoy outstanding sound quality from an amp hand-wired in the USA
Best Solid-State
Roland Jazz Chorus
  • Get one of the most pristine clean tones with this solid-state amp
  • Unlock the full potential of your guitar pedals with the stereo speaker output
  • Achieve legendary, iconic tone with Bucket Brigade Chorus to take your sound to the next level
For Pedals
Supro Keeley
  • Get high headroom and a clean gain for maximum pedal performance
  • Its straightforward, single-channel design means spending less time fussing with knobs and more time making music
  • Choose a British Voiced 12'' Creamback for warm tones or a custom 10'' Supro speaker for a neutral and balanced sound

The best amps for cleans in 2023

  1. Dr. Z Z-28 (Editor’s Choice)
  2. Roland Jazz Chorus (Best Solid-State)
  3. Supro Keeley (Best Pedal Platform Amp)
  4. Boss Katana (Best Value for Money)
  5. Fender Twin Reverb (Best Vintage Clean Tone)
Editor's Choice
Dr. Z Z-28

Are you a guitar player or producer looking for an amp that can deliver top-notch clean tones and be a fantastic pedal platform? Look no further than the Dr. Z Z-28. 

This sophisticated, reliable, dynamic amp makes an excellent choice for giving you monster amounts of clean gain that’s both responsive and malleable. The 5881 power amplifier section gives you all the clarity and clean tones of classic American amp design while mixing in British punch as you turn up the gain. Rest assured, each note stays articulate and balanced at whatever volume.

This beast of an amp is designed to meet the needs of the most discerning music fanatics on stage, studio, or at home.

Get ready to take your sound to new heights with Dr. Z Z-28!

My favorite choice for a clean pedal platform amp comes from an amplifier that doesn’t even have a dedicated effects loop. It might sound crazy, but what goes on underneath the hood of the Dr. Z Z-28 makes this one of the best guitar amplifiers for taking whatever pedal you throw at it.

The secret sauce of the Z-28 is in the tube choice in the preamp and power amp section. This amp features an EF-86 preamp tube into a 12ax7 preamp tube. This tube combination provides a monster amount of clean gain and is exceptionally dynamic and responsive. This clean gain is critical for ensuring that any pedal you throw at it will work with the guitar amp and not choke out your tone.

The power amp section features a pair of 5881 tubes with a sing 5AR4 rectifier tube. This tube pairing has become a favorite of amp builder Dr. Z. This is for its ability to retain the clean tones of an American amp while getting the mid-range punch of a British amp at a higher gain. For the sake of looking for the best clean guitar amps, the Z-28 allows you to maintain excellent dynamics at a high or low volume.

Speaking of volume and clean tone, the Z-28 features a phase-inverted master control. This control lets you roll back the amplifier’s volume without affecting the tube-driven tone of the amp. So this makes it a very versatile amp for at-home use, in the studio, and on the stage.

The Dr. Z Z-28 guitar amp is a straightforward amplifier that features a single channel with a volume, treble, bass, and post-phase inverter master knob. While this setup may seem limiting to some guitar players, the amount of tones you can coax from this all-tube amplifier is astounding.

The Z-28 is an expensive guitar amplifier for a very straightforward amp. However, the build quality, great clean tone, and hand-wired design make this a fantastic amp purchase.

It comes in a combo with a 12-inch Celestion Creamback speaker or as an amplifier head. To run stereo effects, you must purchase the amp head and connect it to a speaker cabinet with more than one speaker. The combo amp doesn’t have an output to connect to external speakers.

Suppose you’re looking for a well-made amplifier with a high-fidelity clean sound that your pedal board can shape. In that case, you need to seriously consider the Dr. Z Z-28 today!

Pros
  • High input headroom and power amp tube choice keep your clean tone dynamic and clear at high and low volumes
  • Makes pedals feel like they are a part of the amp
  • High-quality, hand-wired, all-tube amp made in the USA
Cons
  • It's expensive
  • If you want to run stereo effects, you'll need to purchase the amp head with a speaker cabinet, making this an even more expensive purchase

 

Best Solid-State Amp
Roland Jazz Chorus

The Roland Jazz Chorus is the best solid-state amp for clean tones. Whether you're looking for an amp with minimal maintenance or one that can take any pedal you can throw at it, the Jazz Chorus has your back. Most importantly, this fantastic equipment offers a great clean tone that can be pushed to loud volumes without getting distorted or dirty. 

What makes this choice even better? Every Jazz Chorus comes equipped with twin speakers so that you can make the most out of your stereo time-based effects. Need more convincing? The Jazz Chorus amps have built-in reverb and chorus effects and distortion (on some models). With such an array of features in just one product, you'll always feel satisfied. 

No doubt about it – if you want an amplifier with pure, clean tones, there is no need to look further than the Roland Jazz Chorus!

The Roland Jazz Chorus solid-state guitar amplifiers are known for their pristine cleans, fantastic bucket-brigade chorus, and twin speaker configuration.

If you are looking for an amplifier that will need minimal maintenance (tube amps can be a pain), fits any budget, and will take whatever pedal you throw at it, the Roland Jazz Chorus is worth a look.

Because this amp doesn’t use any vacuum tubes and uses transistors instead, the clean tone of this amp can be pushed without adding dirt or distortion. This makes it an excellent Jazz amp and one of the best pedal platforms.

Every Jazz Chorus has twin speakers allowing you to maximize your stereo time-based effects, like an analog delay or “whoosing” flanger. This is something that any other guitar combo amplifier (besides the Fender Twin) can give you.

Also, there are quite a few extra features that make the Jazz Chorus a serious bargain. Each model has a built-in reverb and chorus effect. The larger JC-40 and Roland JC-120 also come with distortion, but to be honest, the sound of this distortion might make some users long for something more “tube-like.”

There are quite a few different options, which can be daunting for first-time users. I recommend the JC-22 for those who want an amp for their home studio or at-home practice. If you’re playing live shows, then the JC-40 should suffice, but if you need your amp to be LOUD, go with the Roland JC-120.

Suppose you’re not a staunch lover of tube amps, and hearing the word “solid-state amp” doesn’t make you cringe. In that case, you’ll find the Roland Jazz Chorus one of the best clean guitar amps for the money.

Pros
  • Each amp in the series comes with a stereo speaker setup
  • The Bucket Brigade Chorus is an iconic sound that adds an excellent vibe to your clean tone
  • Solid-state design is very rugged and generally requires little maintenance
Cons
  • Audible hissing comes from the amp
  • The distortion channel may sound sterile to players used to tube saturation

 

Best Tube Amp Pedal Platform
Supro Keeley

Are you looking for a tube amp that can handle your best pedals? Look no further than the Supro Keeley.

This high-quality amp provides maximum pedal performance with its clean gain and high headroom. Equipped with a single-channel design, you won't waste time adjusting knobs and instead spend more time creating fantastic music! 

Made in close partnership with Keeley Electronics, the Supro Keeley lets your pedals take center stage - giving you the perfect platform to develop your tone without hindrance. So don't wait any longer - get the most out of your pedals with the Supro Keeley today!

Many guitarists are searching for a tube amp that will allow them to put guitar pedals into the signal path and use the amplifier as a springboard into new sonic territories. An amp that won’t stand in the way of the guitar tone and their inspiration.

The Supro Keeley is a crystal-clear tube amp that delivers a flexible and dynamic response to whatever guitar pedal you run through it. The Keeley keeps things simple with a volume and master control and two-band EQ to help you shape your sound without distorting or overloading the amp. Also included is a transparent effect loop to add depth to your mix with a range of modulation and time effects without overloading the preamp.

The Keeley also uses a solid-state rectifier stage to keep transients snappy and headroom high. As you add in your effects pedals, you will feel the responsiveness and dynamics stay consistent when playing through this amp. 

The Keeley comes in two different options. The 1970s 10-inch design with a more balanced and transparent speaker or the 1968 design with a 12-inch Creamback for more British-inspired bluesy amp tones. The ’68 will “dirty” up your clean tones, so if you’re looking for a blank canvas, go with the ’70s.

The Supro Keeley lineup of amplifiers isn’t the most versatile amp on its own and is pretty expensive. However, because this clean amp has been designed in partnership with Keeley Electronics to be a perfect pedal platform, you are ensuring that your purchase will work well with the pedals you’ve already invested in.

If you’re looking to shape your guitar tones with guitar pedals, and are looking for the best clean guitar amp, look no further than the Supro Keeley lineup of amps today!

Pros
  • High headroom and a clean gain get the most out of your pedals
  • The simple single-channel design ensures you spend more time writing music than tweaking knobs
  • It comes with either a British Voiced Creamback speaker or a more neutral and balanced Custom Supro speaker
Cons
  • No way to connect to an external speaker for stereo effects
  • Some users have reported some quality control issues, but this seems to be rare
Best Value for the Money
Boss Katana

If you're looking for an amp that offers the best value for money and unbeatable clean tones, look no further than the Boss Katana. This all-in-one model is one of the most popular amps in the world, giving you access to multiple amp sounds and built-in effects in a lightweight package.

And when it comes to versatility, the Boss Katana really shines. You have up to 60 built-in effects, external speaker expansion, speaker cab simulation output for easy recording projects, and more!

Get your hands on one of these great guitar amps today and see what all the fuss has been about.

The Boss Katana is one of the most popular modeling amps in the world. It’s an incredible all-in-one amplifier that gives you access to multiple amp sounds, effects, and expansion in a lightweight package.

Because the Katana is a solid-state amplifier, you will get an excellent clean tone no matter what amp model you choose. However, all the built-in effects you can access make Katana’s the best clean guitar amps for many players.

While there is nothing like a rich, resonant clean tone, being able to experiment with modulation effects on the fly is a really fun feature. You can achieve this with the other options on this list; however, you must invest in many different pedals.

With the Boss Katana, you have 60 different effects to play with to add more depth to your clean signal. On top of that, you can expand to external speakers to take advantage of stereo effects. You also have speaker cab simulation outputs for silent recording or removing stage volume from your live performances.

Even if you already own a few great amps, the Boss Katana would still be a great addition to your rig. It makes an excellent practice amp because of the silent headphone jack and the variable wattage control to help you keep your amplifier at apartment-friendly volumes.

The flexibility and scope of the Boss Katana are immense, and it’s worth reading a dedicated product page to see all this can do.

The bottom line is if you are looking for the best clean guitar amps that pack a ton of value, then the Boss Katana is a no-brainer choice.

Pros
  • An all-in-one solution for practice, recording, and small gigs
  • Affordable
  • Solid-state amps have lots of headroom to keep cleans pristine
Cons
  • All the features and options may distract you from actually making music
  • The Katana 50 doesn't have an effects loop or the ability to use an external speaker cabinet
Best Vintage Clean Tone
FenderĀ '65 Twin Reverb

If you're looking for an authentic American rock 'n' roll sound, look no further than the Fender '65 Twin Reverb. 

It's widely considered one of the best clean amps and produces an iconic twangy tone that adds to its vintage appeal. Whether it's jazz, blues, or classic rock, this amp delivers a dynamic sound with unbeatable clarity. 

The Fender '65 Twin Reverb is a great choice for anyone who loves a crystal-clear crisp sound that oozes vintage character. Treat yourself today and add a bit of classic charm to your setup -you won't regret it!

You can’t have an article on the best clean amps and not include a Fender. Fender amps are synonymous with twangy, crisp, clear tube amp tones.

The four 12ax7 preamp tubes feeding into the 6L6 power tubes are the secret mojo behind this high-headroom, very powerful amp with a gorgeous clean sound. The Fender Twin Reverb has two channels. Both channels have input gain, a bright switch, and EQ. The second channel features spring reverb and tremolo effects that produces classic tones you’ve heard on countless records.

The two Jenson speakers keep the clean guitar tones crispy and sharp. While the tilt-back legs help keep stage volume down and that ability to hear yourself up.

This amp gets extremely loud. So if you are looking for the perfect amp for practicing your licks at home, consider another option unless you have a perfectly soundproofed room. In that case, wear earplugs!

The Fender ’65 Twin Reverb is one of the best guitar amps of all time, and having one in your collection, if you are a vintage clean tone kind of person, is a must!

Pros
  • Get the iconic Fender clean tone that inspired countless hits and moved many hearts
  • Built-in Tremolo and Reverb is about all you need to make your clean tones sing
  • Takes pedals well
Cons
  • Extremely loud, which is great for band practice and gigs, but not for neighbors and family
  • It gets very hot and is heavy

What makes great clean guitar amps (especially for guitar pedals)?

Many things go into the design of an amp that makes it either a good or bad amplifier for clean sounds and pedals. While this topic is well beyond the scope of this article, the following things should be considered when doing further research.

Headroom

Headroom is the amount of power available before overloading tubes and circuits. While pushing vacuum tubes to break up is often a desirable and sought-after sound for guitarists, you want more headroom if you’re looking for pristine clean tones in a guitar amp.

The type of preamp and power tubes used in the construction will indicate how much headroom tube amps will have.

Classic power tubes used in American amps are 6L6 and 6v6. 6L6s are generally utilized in higher-wattage amps and have higher headroom and broader frequency response. While 6v6s often have more compression and break up faster and at lower volumes and less frequency response. The Twin Reverb uses 6L6s, which is a reason the amplifier stays clean and “hi-fi” at differing gain stages.

Similarly, British Amps often use EL34 and EL84 power tubes. The EL34 is similar to the 6L6, while the EL84 is like the 6v6. However, it’s worth mentioning that the tonal characteristics are different between these tubes, which gives the distinctive American or British “Invasion” sound.

Higher headroom amps also tend to take guitar pedals better because they have a wider dynamic range and won’t “choke out” your signal.

Tube Amp vs. Solid State

Tube guitar amplifiers use vacuum tubes to create the sound, while solid-state amps use transistors. 

Tube amps have a warmer, richer tone with a natural distortion and are known for their classic “valve” sound. They need more maintenance than solid-state amps and are generally more expensive. You will want higher headroom for great tube amps for clean tones. Typically, this is found in higher-wattage amps.

Solid-state amps have a much cleaner, clearer sound but lack the warmth of tube amps. They’re less temperature-sensitive, more reliable, and require less maintenance over time. Solid-state amps make fantastic amps for clean sounds because they have headroom for days. However, they may seem less loud than a valve-state amp. So you can’t take the wattage as 1:1 when comparing the two.

Another thing to consider with solid-state amps is that they sometimes have a more “sterile” sound, which can make gain and distortion pedals sound fizzy and thin.

The Bottom Line on the Best Amp For Cleans

The best guitar amp for clean tones depends on your musical style and preferences. Higher-wattage tube amps such as the Fender ’65 Twin Reverb are great for classic American rock ‘n’ roll sounds with plenty of headroom.

On the other hand, solid-state amplifiers can provide a cleaner, clearer sound that is better suited for jazz and indie amp stylings.

Ultimately, it’s a matter of preference and experimentation to find the right amp for your sound. There is no one-size-fits-all answer. But with the proper research and experimentation, you can find the amp that best suits your clean tone needs.

Thanks for reading!

Editor's Choice
Dr. Z Z-28
  • With this tube amp, you'll get astonishing clean tone clarity, dynamics, and responsiveness
  • You will feel like your pedals are built into the amp itself
  • Enjoy outstanding sound quality from an amp hand-wired in the USA
Best Solid-State
Roland Jazz Chorus
  • Get one of the most pristine clean tones with this solid-state amp
  • Unlock the full potential of your guitar pedals with the stereo speaker output
  • Achieve legendary, iconic tone with Bucket Brigade Chorus to take your sound to the next level
For Pedals
Supro Keeley
  • Get high headroom and a clean gain for maximum pedal performance
  • Its straightforward, single-channel design means spending less time fussing with knobs and more time making music
  • Choose a British Voiced 12'' Creamback for warm tones or a custom 10'' Supro speaker for a neutral and balanced sound
A picture of Brad Johnson (Owner & Writer of Song Production Pros) playing and testing a guitar at the Sam Ash Westminster Store. The guitar being played is a Taylor 814ce.

Why you can trust our content

Brad Johnson, the creator of Song Production Pros, researches and writes these reviews.

He's been playing music since he was nine and has played, used, and owned many instruments and pro audio gear. His reviews are based on hands-on experience, user-generated reviews, and subject matter expert reviews.

Please refer to our page, Our Review Process, for more details on how we approach writing our review articles.

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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.