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Best clean amps for guitar pedals

Having your entire rig “at your feet” is a growing trend among guitar players, especially those that do a lot of traveling. Renting or relying on third party backline can be a nightmare for a number of reasons, so it’s become not only useful, but somewhat necessary, to be able to get “your sound” with your pedal chain alone. Building your rig this way provides a blank canvas for painting any tone. Here are five of the best clean amps for pedals.

What Makes a Good Pedal Amp?

A few factors go into making an amp that is a solid, clean platform for your pedals. A healthy amount of headroom on tap is a must. Gain pedals especially work well in a high headroom scenario. With smaller, underpowered amps they can get overly compressed and sound thin. Some pedals sound better going into a driven, or slightly dirty, amp. The Fuzz Face is a perfect example. Wattage is also a consideration Usually 60W and upward seems to be a consensus starting point.

The last feature a lot of pedal gurus look for in an amp is an effects loop. This lets you insert pedals (like reverbs and delays) between the preamp and power amp sections for maximum clarity and efficiency. You can get pretty experimental with it, but at its fundamental it allows you to choose which effects come after the gain from the preamp.

Gain staging is critical when getting all of your juice from your pedals. High headroom amps don’t have the same saturation point that others do. If you like to push your preamp, these amps might not be the best choice.

Tube or Solid-state?

You have three main types of amplifiers to choose from: tube, modeling/digital, and solid-state. So, which provides the best platform for your robust pedal chain?

It’s really up to you. Solid-state and modeling amps can sound anemic and lacking “mojo” to some. I have an old Vox Pathfinder 15R that sounds amazing with pedals (not humbuckers, though…) There is also the Roland JC line, which is one of the reigning top choices for pedal aficionados.

Best solid-state clean amp for pedals: Roland Jazz Chorus Line

roland jazz chorus guitar amp
Best solid-state clean amp for pedals
Roland Jazz Chorus Line
Shimmering clean sounds and a historic chorus section make this amp one of the absolute best for clean pedals.
Timeless clean sounds
Onboard chorus
Light and easily portable despite its size
Works with a lot of genres
Might be a little too thin sounding for certain pedal setups

The crisp cleans and deep stereo chorus off the JC line are well-known. Due to the build focus on clean sounds, these are the perfect platform for guitar pedals. They are loud, but are available in a variety of wattages to cater to how much volume you need to pump.

Stereo I/O and effects loop lets you integrate even the most complex pedal chains. After all, it is legendary in genres like shoegaze and indie. And they love their pedals!

Best high-end clean amp for pedals: Supro 1968RK

Supro 1968RK
Best high-end clean amp for pedals
Supro 1968RK
This reasonably sized combo amp from the kings at Supro features Celestion speakers. It can also power external cabinets. There’s no effects loop, but it still sounds great with pedals.
Smaller format makes transport easy
Celestion speakers
Can power external cabinets
Might be too expensive for some
No effects loop

If you’re looking for a high end tube amp with a retro aesthetic and crystal clear clean sounds this is it. It’s a convenient 25W, 1×12 combo that comes with Celestion speakers, and effects loop, and can power an external cabinet. Supro has really restored themselves to their former glory. With amps that sounds this good it’s no wonder why.

Best clean tube amp for pedals: Fender ’65 Deluxe Reverb

fender 65 deluxe reverb
Best clean tube amp for pedals
Fender ’65 Deluxe Reverb
One of Fender’s all-time classics got that reputation for a reason. This amp is a great mix of tone, portability, and power.
Small but powerful 22W, 2×10 combo amp
Works with any genre
One of Fender’s all-time classics for a reason
No effects loop
Some players might need more wattage

Fender clean sounds are second to none. And most of their amps have a reputation of working really well as one of the best clean amps for a pedal platform. The Deluxe is certainly one of these amps.

Perfect for a variety of styles, it has 22W pumping through a 2×10 and provides plenty of clean headroom for your pedalboard. There isn’t an effects loop, so everything has to go into the front end. Classic onboard spring reverb and vibrato mean you might even be able to lose a couple of pedals.

Best half stack for pedals: Marshall Astoria

marshall astoria
Best half stack for pedals
Marshall Astoria
This interesting line from Marshall features a head with KT66 power tubes, 1×12 cabinet, effects loop, and a good EQ section.
Creamback speaker and KT66 power tubes provide classic British sounds
Effects loop
Good EQ section
Head and cabinet makes setup and transport take more time
Buy From

The Astoria is not your typical Marshall. It has an up-front clean tone that runs on KT66 power tubes. It’s a 1×12 combo with Creamback speaker. It has solid headroom and no trouble staying clean. There are a few controls for fine tuning. Body adds some lows and low-midrange back in, and the Edge control works much like the familiar Presence.

An effects loop adds further pedal integration options. Even for a Marshall it’s not cheap. But if you’re looking for Marshall quality and a great marriage for your pedals at the same time there might not be a better option.

Best combo amp for pedals: Vox AC Series

vox ac series guitar amps
Best combo amp for pedals
Vox AC Series
Vox’s classic amp line offers tones that can go from glassy breakup to warm overdrive. There are multiple sizes to choose from to fit your needs.
Classic Vox tone that goes from sparkling cleans to warm overdrive
Comes in multiple combo sizes
Might have too much midrange for some

The AC Series is the perfect example of a vintage amplifier that provides enough modern headroom to work with pretty much any pedal, proving it to be one of the best clean amps. There is a reason it is one of the most emulated types of amps when it comes to modelers.

The AC circuit is fantastic at cleaning up. Keeping the preamp gain fairly low and cranking the output provides that beautiful glassy breakup that works great with various gain pedals. There is a lot of midrange though, which might affect your pedal selection.

Best small format clean amp for pedals: Orange Pedal Baby

orange pedal baby
Best small format clean amp for pedals
Orange Pedal Baby
For the touring musician it doesn’t get more ergonomic. This 100W, small format head can power multiple cabinets and is designed to work with pedals.
Convenient size
Can power 8ohm or 16ohm cabinets
Great for touring musicians
Only three controls
Might be too much wattage for some

Designed for the guitarist that gets all of their tone from what’s on the floor in front of them, this 100W Class A/B power amp can crank! Only three knobs are present, volume, bass, and treble controls. The EQ is intentionally neutral. At 12 o’clock it defaults to transparent, so the equalization of your sound is totally dependent on your pedal settings.

When powering an external cabinet it provides the full 100W at 8 Ohms. As far as outputs, it has 8 Ohm and 16 Ohm connections. You can run it with two 16 Ohm cabs, but the output will be reduced to 70W. It’s ergonomic and purpose-built for the touring musician.


What kind of amp is best for pedals?

Both tube and solid-state amps are great for pedals. It’s more about the features they offer that sets certain models apart. Not all amps have effects loops, and not all players want one, but it’s definitely handy to have access to one just in case.

Are solid state amps better for clean tone?

There are some misconceptions that solid-state amps are best for a clean tone. Models like the Roland Jazz Chorus is known for it’s amazing clean sounds, but the right tube amps can be just as good.

What kind of amp is best for pedals?

It all depends on what you need, what sound you’re going for, and what types of pedals you’re using. If you don’t like the sound of time-based effects going into the front end you at least want an effects loop. A good amp EQ can also help you adjust for how your pedal chain alters the sound.

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