Most players consider a good “clean” amp as an amp that projects a clear, direct tone, over a wide range of volumes (from subtly quiet, to quite loud). Amps which have great distortion are probably going to be tube amps, which have a crispy, natural “break-up” at louder volumes; or, they’re amps which pair well with pedals, to produce the sound you’re looking for.
Also, the best amp for your desired clean or distorted sound is the amp whose wattage is a good fit for your playing environment. In other words, don’t get a 15W+ tube amp for your bedroom; it may have a legendary distorted sound at 90 decibels, but you won’t get the distorted sound you want at normal, household volumes.
With those factors in mind, read more to see the selections we’ve made which are hopefully likely to fit what you’re looking for when it comes to amps with nice clean and distorted sounds!
While professional musicians have the ability to use pretty much any guitar and amp and sound amazing, non professionals might have some trouble finding just the right amp for their needs.
Each model offers a slightly different approach to clean and distortion channels, catering to different needs.
However, not every amp is able to deliver a truly good sounding, versatile tone signature.
That’s why I’ve decided to make a simple and concise buying guide regarding the best sounding and most versatile amps which offer the best of both worlds:
Clean and distortion!
What Defines a Good Clean Tone?
Before actually looking at different models, let’s first take a closer look at what you’re looking for.
A good clean tone on an amp should be able to easily represent the natural sound of the guitar you’re using.
Whether it’s the different pickup positions, the unique tonewood choice, or the general feel and overall sound of your guitar, the amp must be able to deliver that tone.
An amplifier is just that – a device for amplifying the sound of an instrument. Any coloration, unwanted effects, or similar things like those make for a bad amp, if, of course, default presets are being used.
Depending on the actual situation in which you’re playing, you might need an amp to perform well at lower or higher volume levels.
While low-volume performance depends on the actual type of amp and the power it has to offer, high-volume occasions such as gigs are different.
A good clean tone must stay crisp, clean, and sharp, even when you’re pushing the amp to its limits.
The bottom line is this:
An amp with a good clean channel should have a consistent, natural sounding, and crisp sound, no matter the volume level you’re playing at!
- Different Types of Distortion – Know What You’re Looking for
I remember the first time I’ve come in contact with an electric guitar:
A friend of mine started playing it, but I just felt something was missing. Then, he turned on the distortion, and that was it.
Different types of distortion are used in different styles of playing and genres of music.
From overdrive, classic distortion, to fuzz, various models offer different types of distortion.
Before you actually start looking for an amp, you should at least have a rough idea of the type of distortion you want.
Of course, depending on the type of amp, you can expect more or less from actual models, and we’re going to talk about it in the next paragraph!
- What Can I Expect From Different Types of Amps?
Any good guitar amp review should clearly bring out the differences between the 3 main types of amps.
While you could basically use any kind of amp for each and every different genre of music, certain types just perform better and offer either tonal consistency or variety at a press of a button.
Like I already stated, you should keep in mind the occasions in which you’re going to use the amp, and the most prominent features you find the most useful.
Tube amps offer a truly unique clean tone. Unlike most other amps, this type allows your guitar’s natural sound to be easily projected.
Cranking up the volume and gain up to a certain point results in a sweet yet powerful tube overdrive sound. It’s an effect that you can hardly simulate to sound like the real thing.
If you plan on playing jazz, blues, country, funk, or other similar genres which mostly utilize the clean channel, going with a tube amp is definitely your best bet.
Solid state amps, on the other hand, offer a nice combination of clean and distortion. Depending on the model, you can either have one clean channel and one distorted, or multiple, different, distortion channels to choose from.
The clean channel still sounds pretty good, but can’t really be compared to tube amps.
Because they are so versatile, solid-state amps are widely used for all kinds of genres, and the fact that any malfunctions are generally easy to fix makes them pretty convenient.
Modeling amps, or digital amps in general, focus on delivering multiple amp and cab simulations, as well as loads of different effects.
The main downside of this type of amp is that they can sometimes sound too artificial, and well, digital.
However, there are some great sounding modeling amps on the market, that not only feature loads of interesting presets, but sound pretty natural at the same time.
Basically, it’s up to you to choose which type suits you best. And I’ve made a list of the best guitar amps for clean and distortion which we’re going to check out!