When I started playing guitars, I had no idea what an amplifier was. I just knew that it made my guitar sound louder. It wasn’t until I started getting into theory and the different types of amps that I realized there were different types of amplifiers with different purposes.
One type of amplifier is the solid-state amplifier. This type of amplifier uses transistors instead of vacuum tubes. My latest excitement on solid-state amps is all about how versatile they are. I have compared several brands in this article, going through the features in fine detail to get you this list of the best solid-state amps you can get in 2022. It’s more durable and less expensive, but some people say it doesn’t have the same “warm” sound as an amplifier that uses vacuum tubes.
Solid-state amps have been around since the 70s and are the most popular type of amps today. They are used by both beginners and professionals. Many people believe that solid-state amps are the best type of amp for practice because they are relatively inexpensive and have a variety of features.
Benefits of solid-state amplifiers;
- -They’re more durable and less expensive
- -Some say they have a clearer sound
- -Can handle high volumes without distorting
How to use solid-state amps:
-Start by setting all the knobs and switches to their off or neutral position
-Turn on the amp
-Set the volume to a comfortable level
-Start playing your guitar
Are solid-state amps good or bad?
It really depends on your preference. If you’re looking for a durable, inexpensive amplifier with a clear sound, then a solid state amp is a good option. But if you’re looking for an amp with a warm sound, then you might want to consider an amp that uses vacuum tubes.
How do solid-state amplifiers work?
Like any amplifier, solid-state amps take the input sound signal through a circuit board and amplify it to a cutting tone that is thin compared to other tones by tube-based amps.
Amps work by magnifying guitar sounds on two stages, the pre-amp stage and the power-amp stage.
In the preamp stage, the amps pick tiny signals from the guitar to what is known as the line level. At this stage, there is the gain, channels, tone shaping, volume control adjustments, and more.
The second stage is the Power Amplifier stage. It amplifies the preamp sound to a level where the speaker can actually move because it gets really loud. There is no voice or sound toning or shaping in this stage.
Unlike solid-state amps, tube-based amps are more expensive, require more maintenance, and are less durable. On the other hand, they offer a much warmer sound than some guitarists prefer.
8 Factors to consider when picking the best solid-state amp;
- -The tone you want to achieve: Pick an amp with the right features that will help you achieve the tone you want. Some brands with very tones are Yamaha, Boss, and Line 6.
- -Your budget: Amps can be very expensive, so make sure you pick one that’s in your price range.
- -The size of the amp: If you’re looking for a portable amp, then make sure to pick one that’s small and lightweight. Some lightweight brands in the market include Orange and Vox.
- -The features: Make sure the amp has all the features you need such as effects loops, line in/out, and more.
- Versatility: Solid-state amps are more versatile than tube amps. If you play different genres of music, a solid-state amp might be a better option because it can handle different types of sounds.
- How much power do you need?: Amps come in different wattages, so you’ll need to decide how loud you want to be able to play. A higher-wattage amp is ideal for gigging and playing with a band, while a lower-wattage amp is better for practicing at home. Depending on where you plan to use your amp, pick the appropriate one.
- -Do you need extra features?: Some amps come with built-in effects or other features that might be useful to you.
- Ease of use: Pick a solid-state amp that is easy to use in various situations such as practice, recording, and live performances.
As I finalized this list of my top choices to include in my reviews, I made some considerations to enable me to narrow down what I found to stand out in each of my picks. For example, I provided details of the modeling units to highlight if an amp is using a single housing or has modeled tube amps as well. This combination is becoming common with some claiming it is essential to give you the best sound. I also delved into the different features in each of my picks, such as if they include an effects loop. This might be an important factor for some readers.
I also provided a description of how each amp would work best. For example, the Yamaha THR10X is ideal for those who want a portable and lightweight amplifier.
When it comes to the best solid-state amps, there are a few brands that always come to mind. These are Yamaha, Boss, and Line 6. I’ve had the chance to use all three of these brands and can attest to their quality.
I also highlighted if a brand is a combo model. Combo models are those that include both the preamp and power amplifier in one unit. This is as opposed to tube amps which require two separate units. I also highlighted the head and floor units as some key considerations that you need to be aware of. Head units are those that come with a separate cabinet, while floor units are usually all-in-one designs.
List of the best solid-state amps;
- Boss Katana 50 (mkII) – Best Overall and most versatile
- Roland JC-120
- Yamaha THR10X
- Boss Nextone Artist
- Line 6 Helix LT –
- Fender Tone Master Deluxe Reverb
Reviews of the Best solid-state amps in 2022
Boss Katana 50 (mkII)
Boss Katana 50 MK2 is Boss Corporation’s latest release from its line of Katana series of amps and is our overall best solid-state amp in this 2022 list. It comes with 50-watt power output, a 12-inch speaker, and is a combo model with dimensions of 18 x 15 x 12 inches and weighs 1 pound. The updated version has several new features including an effects loop, Bluetooth connectivity, USB audio interface, and more.
It also comes with Boss’s famous Katana amp modeling technology which gives you access to a wide range of tones. In terms of tone, the Boss Katana 50 MK2 is very versatile and can be used for different genres of music. It also has a clean channel and a lead channel, each with its own three-band EQ.
The Katana 50 MK2 also comes with an effects loop which allows you to connect external effects pedals.
The clean channel is very clear and articulate, while the lead channel has a nice crunch to it. The amp also responds well to different types of playing styles.
It is also an inexpensive solid-state amp that gives you value for your money. Whether you want a beginner amp or an amp for practicing, you won’t go wrong with this solid-state brand. You can read our full review of Katan 50 MK2 here.
Our second-best solid-state amp on this list is the Roland JC-120. Roland is a Japanese company that has been in the music industry for several decades. The Roland JC-120 is a classic combo amp that has been used by many famous musicians such as Carlos Santana and Steve Vai.
The Roland JC-120 is a legendary amplifier that has been in production since 1975. This flagship of the Roland Jazz Chorus series is known for its signature Dimensional Space Chorus effect and “JC clean” tone, which has been used by countless musicians over the years. With 120 watts of power and two 12-inch “silver cone” speakers, the JC-120 is perfect for both studio and live use. It features two input channels (Normal and Effect), each with three-band EQ and bright on/off switches, as well asone, Reverb, Distortion, and Chorus/Reverb effects.
The Roland JC-120 is a 120-watt combo amp with two 12-inch speakers. It is a solid-state amp with dimensions of 13.78 x 25.98 x 32.28 inches and weighs 73.8 pounds. The Roland JC-120 has two channels, a clean channel and an overdrive channel.
It also has an effects loop, three-band EQ, reverb, and chorus effects built-in. The Roland JC-120 is a very versatile amp that can be used for different genres of music.
The clean channel is crystal clear and can be used for jazz and country music. The overdrive channel has a nice crunch to it and can be used for rock and metal music.
The Roland JC-120 is a bit expensive but it is worth the price.
Yamaha THR10C Mini Guitar Amplifier
Our third best solid-state amp is a Yamaha brand called The Yamaha THR10X and I like it most as the most-portable lightweight solid-state amp powered by batteries or AC power. It can be powered by 8 AA batteries. Since its release in 2013, Yamaha THR10C has been rated by over 450 guitarists giving it a decent average rating of 4.5/5.
So, what does this solid-state amp has to offer?
It is a 10-watt combo amp with dimensions of 17.09 x 9.17 x 10.39 inches and weighs 2.8 Kilograms. It is a solid-state amp with two channels, a clean channel and a lead channel.
The Yamaha THR10X has five different amp types which are; Clean, Crunch, Lead, Brit Hi, and Modern. It also has three effects which are Reverb, Delay, and Chorus. The clean channel is very clear and can be used for different genres of music. The lead channel has a nice crunch to it and can be used for rock and metal music.
The Yamaha THR10C is a portable combo amplifier that gives you five classic amp models, plus bass, acoustic, and instrument modes. It can run on AC power or batteries and features effects processing driven by Yamaha’s signature VCM technology. The THR10C also includes Cubase AI recording software. Rated Output – 10W (5W + 5W).
For ease of carrying, it has a nice handle made of steel shown in the images below;
The Yamaha THR10X is a bit expensive but it is worth the price. You can read our full review of Yamaha THR10X here.
The Yamaha THR30II was released 6 years after Yamaha THR10C and some great improvements made it one of the best solid-state amps you can find in the market today. This model was released in 2019 and is a close match to Boss Katana 50 MK2 but with a few more features that make it worth its significantly higher price compared to Katana 50 MK2.
The Yamaha THR30II is a 30-watt combo amp with two 12-inch speakers. It is a solid-state amp with dimensions of 16.4 x 5.5 x 7.68 inches and weighs 12 pounds.
While it is a 100% solid-state amp, this Yamaha brand also utilizes tube-amp tones and feel to give you the essential effects that you won’t get in solid-state amps that do not utilize tube-amp tones.
The Yamaha THR30II guitar amplifier is perfect for practicing and performing. With 15 guitar amps, 3 bass amps, 3 mic models for acoustic electrics, and flat modes for everything else, you’ll be able to find the perfect tone for any situation. The THR30II also features Bluetooth support for audio playback, editing via THR Remote, and more. Plus, the built-in wireless receiver is compatible with the optional Line 6 Relay G10T transmitter, letting you play anywhere. The Hi-fi audio playback with extended stereo technology provides superior sound quality, while the 3-band EQ, presence control, and effects loop let you fine-tune your sound.
Line 6 Helix LT Guitar Processor
The Line 6 Helix LT guitar processor is another top-rated solid-state amp that features advanced HX Modeling technology found in the Helix Floor and Helix Rack processors. These amp processors offer the same sounds as their tube amp counterparts with the addition of programmability, flexibility, and portability. The Helix LT is a lighter and more affordable version of the original Helix guitar processor.
Line 6 has a series of tube amp-style compression including the Line 6 Spider IV 15 15-watt Modeling Guitar Amplifier which we reviewed it here at BGAR
The Line 6 Helix LT guitar processor is a streamlined and affordable version of the award-winning Helix guitar processor. It delivers the highest levels of performance, flexibility, and control in its class, with a large LCD and touch-sensitive footswitches with color LED rings. The HX Modeling engine captures and recreates amps, cabs, mics, and effects with authenticity and responsiveness.
The Line 6 Helix LT has dimensions of 30.5 x 15.5 x 6.75 inches and weighs 6 kilograms. It is a floor-based multi-effects processor and amp modeler. The Helix LT also has an integrated looper with up to 60 seconds of recording time.
The Line 6 Helix LT is a great option for those who want the same sounds as the original Helix but in a lighter and more affordable package. If you’re looking for an amp processor that offers a wide range of sounds, the Helix LT is a great option to consider.
Q: Do solid-state amps need to warm up?
A: Most solid-state amps produced today do not need to warm up but most of them have a built-in delay with the speaker output which usually lasts for 4 to 14 seconds after pressing the power button.
Q: What is the difference between a tube amp and a solid state amp?
A: The main difference between a tube amp and a solid state amp is that a tube amp uses vacuum tubes to amplify the signal, while a solid state amp uses transistors. Tube amps are usually more expensive and require more maintenance, but they tend to sound better than solid state amps.
Q: What are the benefits of using a solid-state amp?
A: The main benefit of using a solid-state amp is that they are much more reliable than tube amps and require less maintenance. Solid-state amps also have a longer lifespan than tube amps.
Q: Are solid-state amps better than tube amps?
A: This is a debated topic among guitarists but many experts believe that solid-state amps have come a long way and can now rival the sound quality of tube amps.
Q: Do solid-state amps break up
A: Older models of solid-state amps used to break until John Murphy, an engineer from Carvin came up with a ‘tube emulating’ circuit in the late 60s that sounded extremely tube-like. However, hese solid-state amps relying on circuit boards can still break up.
Q: how long do solid state amps last
A: On average, a solid-state amp should last around 20 years if properly taken care of. However, there have been reports of some amps lasting much longer.
Q: when were solid state amps invented?
A: The discovery of transistors in 1947 paved the way for the invention of solid-state amps in the late 60s and early 70s. The advantages of transistor-based amps led to a shift from vacuum tube amplifiers as the transistor solid-state amplifiers which were less expensive to build and maintain and reduced the weight and heat of an amplifier.
Q: what is a solid state amp head?
A: A solid state amp head is an amplifier that uses transistors instead of vacuum tubes. These amps are usually lighter and more affordable than their tube amp counterparts.
Q: Are solid-state amps good for metal?
A: Many solid-state amps are capable of producing high-gain sounds that are perfect for metal. These amps usually have a built-in distortion circuit that can be used to create a heavy metal sound.
Q: What is the best solid-state amp for beginners?
A: The best solid-state amp for beginners is the Line 6 Helix LT. This amp is affordable and includes a wide range of sounds that are perfect for those just starting out.
Q: who uses solid state amps
A: Many famous guitarists have used solid state amps throughout their careers including Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, and John Petrucci.
Q: Which solid state amp has effects loop?
A: My best solid-state amp with effects loop is the Boss Katana 50 MK2. This amp has 50 watts of power, 12 different amp types, and a built-in effects loop.
Q: What is the most popular solid state amp?
A: The most popular solid state amps are the Boss Katana 50 MK2 and the Line 6 Helix LT. These amps are affordable and offer a wide range of sounds that are perfect for a variety of genres.
Q: Is there a solid state amp with tube preamp?
A: Yes, the Peavey Vypyr VIP 3 is a solid state amp with a tube preamp. This amp has 100 watts of power and 12 different amplifier models that you can choose from.
Q: What is the best small solid-state amp?
A: The best small solid-state amp is the Blackstar HT-5R. This amp has 5 watts of power and is perfect for those who want a small amp that can still pack a punch.
Q: What is the best solid state guitar amp under $500?
A: The best solid state guitar amp under $500 is the Orange Crush Pix CR12L which goes for just $99. This amp has 12 watts of output power, 6 inches speaker and dual gain controls.
Q: What is the best Marshall solid state amplifier?
A: The best Marshall solid state amplifier is the Marshall CODE50. This amp has 50 watts of power, 14 preamp models 4 power amps models 8 speaker cab models Speaker and a built-in effects loop. We previously reviewed Marshall MG30CFX here.
Q: solid state amp vs modeling
A: The main difference between a solid state amp and modeling amp is that a solid state amp uses transistors to amplify the signal while a modeling amp uses digital technology to recreate the sound of different amps.
Q: Solid state amp vs tube preamp
A: The main difference between a solid-state amp and tube preamp is that a solid state amp lacks the smoothness and the ‘warmth’ that tube preamps have. Tube are able to create smooth and subtle distortions and transmission that add character.
Q: solid state amp cutting out or buzzing
A: If your solid-state amp is cutting out or buzzing, humming, or hissing with or without sound, it could be due to a few different things. First, check to see if the power cord is plugged in all the way. Next, check the fuse and make sure it hasn’t blown. Finally, check to see if the speakers are properly connected.
Q: Which solid state amp that sounds like tube?
A: The Orange Micro DarkTerror sounds like a tube amp and has the features of a solid state amp. This amp has an all-analog signal path, two channels, and a tube-driven spring reverb.
Q: How to get tube sound from solid state amp?
A: You can get a tube sound from a solid state amp by using a preamp pedal or by using an overdrive pedal. Both of these pedals will add some warmth and distortion to your sound that will make it sound more like a tube amp.
Hi there! I am Jack Musau, the founder of this Best Guitar Amp Review site. I am an avid musician with several years using both traditional and electric guitars and created this site to assist others looking to find the best guitar amplifiers in the market today. I also offer private coaching and training on how to use guitars and guitars amps of all kinds. You can reach out to me using my email, email@example.com.