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top 6 guitar amp pedals

Best guitar amp pedals: Give your tone that amp-like sound

The days of lugging around an amp rig that weighs as much as your car are over! You can now get big, realistic amp tones from pedals that aren’t much bigger than the others on your board.

Unlike guitar amp modelers, each selection here is an analog design. So rest easy, no more putting your precious tone in the hands of fate by relying on vague descriptions of venue backline or having to rent whatever the sound company has available.

Here are 7 of the best guitar amp pedals.

Best guitar amp pedal overall: Hughes and Kettner Amp Man

hughes and kettner amp man classic
best guitar amp pedal overall
Hughes and Kettner Amp Man
50W guitar amp pedal with two channels that can power external speaker cabinet. Comes in two tone styles – Classic and Modern.
Pros
50W guitar amp pedal
Can output to speaker cabinet(s)
Easy to integrate pedals with it
Cons
Fairly expensive
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If you like H&K amps, wait until you see what this little baby can do! 50W pumps through channels that have identical and independent control sets. With the Tone control, you can select between British chime and overdrive all the way over to California cleans.

The Presence, Sag, and Resonance controls let you adjust how the power amp behaves and reacts. But perhaps the most innovative feature is H&K’s very own Spirit Tone Generator technology. This allows you to tailor the power amp saturation as you would by cranking a real amp via the Sagging knob – but without the unmanageable volume levels.

It can output to a 4-16ohm external cabinet, or use the onboard Red Box cabinet simulation to send a direct signal of one of 8 impulse responses. Switchable serial FX loop and built-in noise gate let you integrate your other pedals with it. And finally, Boost and Solo switches let you take it up a notch no matter what channel you are on. Amp Man comes in Classic and Modern tone styles, but the units function the same.

Best high-end guitar amp pedal: Victory V4 Duchess

victory v4 the duchess
best high end guitar amp pedal
Victory V4 Duchess
The Duchess is a classy guitar amp pedal. It’s got 3-band EQ, onboard tremolo and reverb, and provides 180 watts to power external cabinets.
Pros
180 watt power section
Onboard tremolo and reverb
Works well with other pedals
Cons
Very expensive
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This option is just as classy as the name implies. It is a single-channel all-tube preamp with a solid-state Class D 180W power section. When run with a 4ohm cab it operates at 180W, but if you’re using an 8 or 16ohm cab it will run at 90W and 45W, respectively.

It has a 3-band EQ and onboard tremolo and reverb, though they are both digital. The tremolo can be controlled externally but the reverb cannot. A balanced line out lets you fed whatever might be next in your signal chain. Among guitar amp pedals, this one is royalty.

Best multi-effect guitar amp pedal: Tech 21 Fly Rig 5 V2

tech 21 fly rig 5 v2
Best Multi-effect Guitar Amp Pedal
Tech 21 Fly Rig 5 V2
A rugged, convenient multi-effect meant for life on the road.
Pros
Multiple amp sounds
Delay, reverb, boost, and tuner
Very convenient for travel
Cons
Can’t power an external speaker cabinet
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Tech 21 has been at the forefront of guitar amp pedals for decades. The original Sansamp was released in 1989 and the company has been pushing the idea forward ever since.

The Fly Rig 5 V2 solves a lot of problems. You can easily transport it, it’s sturdy as can be, and comes with seven different tone sections. You get Tech 21’s Blonde Sansamp circuit, which models a Fender-style amp. It also includes the amp sounds of Marshall and Mesa/Boogie.

Additional circuit features include delay with a tap tempo, reverb, a boost section, tuner, and effects loop. It’s got XLR and 1/4″ outputs, so it’s meant to go direct. It can’t power a cabinet, but that’s not the point.

Best power amp guitar pedal: Seymour Duncan Powerstage 170/200

seymour duncan powerstage 170
Best power amp guitar pedal
Seymour duncan Powerstage 170/200
A pedalboard-size power amp with tone shaping that can support any size cabinet.
Pros
An entire power amp that fits on your pedalboard
3-band EQ
Can power any size cabinet
Cons
Needs additional preamp to function
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Amps don’t get much smaller or simpler than this. 170W or 200W crank through an amp-in-a-pedal that can fit pretty much anywhere. You can run your signal through your pedal chain or right into the amp. 3-band EQ and Level controls are all you need to get things going.

It can run cabinets all the way up to a 4×12. Keep in mind this is a power amp. You will still need some sort of preamp or tone shaping going into it. But it’s pretty awesome you can just bring a pedalboard to a show and plug into the backline, right?

Guitar amp pedal with the most tones: Quilter Labs SUPERBLOCK

quilter superblock
Most Tones in a Guitar Amp Pedal
Quilter Labs SUPERBLOCK
Put a 25 watt tube amp on your pedalboard! Multiple tone options and cabinet modeling.
Pros
25W tube amp
Versatile tone set
Cabinet modeling
FX loop
Cons
None

The SUPERBLOCK puts a 25W tube amp right on your pedalboard without taking up much real estate. It comes in UK (Vox and Marshall-sytles) and US (Fender-style) versions. Each model has three different voicings and onboard limiting and reverb.

It offers two distinct cab simulations as well as a FRFR mode (for use with your favorite next generation modeler) on the XLR and headphone outputs. The FX loop lets you keep your cabling short, as you’ll likely have this right beside your other pedals. Among the best guitar amp pedals, this one covers a lot of tonal ground.

Best guitar amp pedal for heavy styles: Diezel VH4

diezel vh4 pedal
Best Guitar Amp Pedal for Heavy Styles
diezel vh4
This is one of the best guitar pedal preamps and is especially good for heavy music.
Pros
Perfect for heavy music
Extensive EQ controls
Comes in single or dual channel versions
Cons
Preamp only, but can connect to a power amp

Diezel is a popular brand in the hard rock, punk, and metal communities. The VH4 is one of their most popular amps, and with this pedal you not only get that sound in a pedal format, but you also get the option of replacing your current amp altogether! It’s a simple control set with an additional Deep control that functions the same as on the VH4 amp. Split outputs lets you use it simply as an overdrive pedal or a preamp to send signal to an external power amp source – or through the FX return on your amp. It also comes in a two-channel version.

Most compact guitar amp pedal: Electro-Harmonix 44 Magnum

electro-harmonix magnum 44
Most Compact Guitar Amp Pedal
Electro-harmonix 44 Magnum
44 watt power amp with a pedalboard-friendly footprint.
Pros
Can power 8 or 16 ohm speaker cabinet
Small size
Cons
Power amp only

It doesn’t get simpler or smaller than this. The Magnum is 44W that can power an 8 or 16 ohm cabinet, all in the size of a standard pedal. It’s single channel, mono and you just run the output directly into the external speaker cabinet.

It integrates with your other pedals for a very ergonomic and travel-friendly utility that doesn’t skimp on power.

FAQ

What is a power amp guitar pedal?

A power amp guitar pedal is a standard-size effects pedal that functions as a power amp. Most of them can be connected to an external speaker cabinet or go direct to an interface or mixing console.

What do guitar amp pedals do?

Guitar amp pedals function as the preamp and/or power amp section of a standard guitar amp. The circuit is smaller so that it can fit into an effects pedal enclosure.

What is a guitar pedal amp?

A guitar pedal amp is an amp-like circuit that is fitted into an effects pedal. They are much easier to transport and many of them have amp features like an EQ section and onboard effects like tremolo and reverb.

Many of them can power external speaker cabinets – if they offer a power section. Some are only preamps that require an additional piece of gear to function as the power amp.

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