Posted on06 December 2016 1:13 AM GMT

10 Versatile Multi-Channel Guitar Amps for Your Consideration

Electric GuitarGuitar OwnershipMulti-Channel Guitar AmpsVersatile Guitar AmpsGuitar Amp HeadsGuitar Amp CombosGuitar Amps+-
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I have so far acquired 3 amps along this tone quest. I rather naively though I could get by with purely solid state - with largely onboard effects - i.e. moddelling. My first acquisition was the 150W Fender Mustang IV V2 - which excels at reproducing Fender’s classic amp tones, but does not quite have the full throttle grunt for harder styles of playing - it’s generally a very good amp with some excellent effects, and very even tone - most will be able to dial in something pretty great sounding - note that all of the default presets need some tweaking.

 

I then picked up a 100W Boss Katana which is an amazing all-round solid state amp, with some great natural gain distortion (albeit it digitally manipulated) - particularly on the Brown Sound Channel Mode. Yet missing for these two was the lovely randomised analogue saturation and breakup which tube amps do so well. So I ended up with a Hughes & Kettner Tubemeister 18 Twelve - the most highly spec’d of small tube amps (bar the Carvin q.v.) - it is two Channel, but both Channels share the Bass | Mid | Treble EQ dials. I could have gone for the Tubemeister 36 Combo which has some extra functionality and 3 Channels, but again shares 2 EQs across its three Channels - having two amps already, I feel a smaller footprint is essential.

 

The 10 Amps listed on this page are 10 of the very best available today - for a variety of playing styles out of a single box. Some players would advocate just a single Channel amp with a tonne of pedals, but most agree that the best saturated tones come directly from inside Tube amps themselves. All amps on this page are Full Tube Amps, and range in price from £699 for the 3-Channel Laney IRT60-212 up to £3,235 for every Session Player’s favourite Studio Amp - the wonderful 3-Channel MESA/Boogie Mark V.

 

The one of these I have set my sights on to get next is the hard-to-get-hold of in UK - Carvin V3MC Combo - like a miniaturised version of the MESA/Boogie Mark V - with 3 fully independently controllable Channels, and a tonne of clever features. There is a UK dealer, but it never seems to have anything in stock, while its German counterpart always has at least one of everything - unless that’s a bluff - we’ll find out in a few weeks.

 

Of the 10 listed on the page, 6 are Combos and 4 are Heads which need separate speaker Cabinets for sound. Most of the Combos are available in Head versions, while none of the Heads featured are available as Combos. Probably the most amazing Amp on this page is the Hughes & Kettner 6-Channel Triamp - which is a genius combination of versatility, control and simplicity. If money were no object - and space for that matter too, I would plump first for the H&K Triamp + Cab, then the MESA Mark V, and then the Carvin VM3C. For my own current situation - space etc. the Carvin would seem the perfect solution.

 

In the visual above, the Amps are arranged top to bottom - Heads, Single 12" speaker combos, then Dual 12" speaker combos - some of those latter ones are relatively huge, and really very heavy. Weight ranges from 16kg for the Carvin, through to 44kg for the Egnater Tourmaster.

 

I’ve spent months pouring though a variety of websites / videos / features / reviews - in and out of Guitar store showrooms, and this is the result of that research. I like all the amps I have already, and am not looking to switch out or replace any of them - they all do certain things brilliantly. The Carvin will round out my tone pallette and I can move on to concentrating on Pedals and Signal Chain. In terms of choosing the right amp, there is no substitute for long-term tinkering - you won’t get a proper idea in-store. Also, you realise how valuable certain features are - such as fully individual tone controls per channel, and thinks like power scaling / power soak. It’s a grate feature on both the Boss Katana and the Tubemeister - and is a feature I would look to have as a requirement.

 

Here follows a list of most of the World’s significant amp manufacturers, the most notable of these have been highlighted in bold:

 


USA Amp Manufacturers

 

3 Monkeys Amps | 65 Amps | Aiken Amplification | Amplified Nation | Atomic Amps | Bad Cat Amps | Ball Amps | Benson Amps | Blackheart Amps | Bogner Amplification | Budda Amplification | Carl Martin | Carr Amplifiers | Carvin Amplifiers | Crate Amps | Dean Markley Amps | Devilcat Amplifiers | Divided by 13 / ÷13 | Dr Z Amplification | Dumble Amplifiers (RIP) | Egnater Amps | EVH | Fargen Amps | Fender | Friedman Amplification | Fryette Amplification | Fuchs Audio Technology | Gabriel Amplification | Goodsell Amplifiers | Gladivs Amps | Homestead Amps | Jet City Amplification | Kendrick Amps | Komet Amplification | Kona Amplifiers | Krank Amplifiers | Kustom Amps | Lerxst Amps | Line 6 | Magnatone | Matchless Amplifiers | MESA/Boogie | Milbert Amplifiers | Milkman Sound | Morgan Amplification | Music Man Amps | Park Amplifiers | Peavey Amplifiers | Pignose | PRS | Randall Amplifiers | Rick Tone | Rivera Amps | Rocktron | Sioux Guitars Amps | Soldano Custom Amplification | Specimen Amplifiers | Splawn Amps | Standel Amps | Suhr Amplification | Supro Amplifiers | Tech 21 Amps | THD Electronics | Tone King | Tungsten Amps | Two-Rock Amplifiers | VHT Amps | Victoria Amplifier | Vintage Sound Amps | Voodoo Amps | Wizard Amplification

 


UK Amp Manufacturers

 

Barnett Davis Amplification | Blackstar | Carlsbro Amps | Cornford Amplification | Cornell Amplifiers | Eckert Amps | Flynn Amps | Gartone Amplification | Hampstead Soundworks | Hayden Amps | Hiwatt Amps | Howling Wolf Amplifiers | JPF Amplification | KSR Amplification | Laney | Lazy J Amps | Marshall | Matamp | Matrix Amplification | Orange | Rosewell Amps | Stoneham Amplifiers | Sutcliffe Amplification | Victory Amplification | Volt Amp Co | Vonhatski Amps | Vox

 


German Amp Manufacturers

 

AER | Behringer / Bugera | BluGuitars Amps | Diezel | Engl | Framus | Hughes & Kettner | Kemper Amps | Rutzen Amplification

 


Japanese Amp Manufacturers

 

Guyatone | Ibanez | Roland / Boss | Yamaha

 


Rest of the World Amp Manufacturers

 

Australia - Peerless / Ulbrick Amps | Belgium - Stagg Music | Canada - Yorkville Sound / Traynor Amps | China - Joyo Audio | France - Rockman Amps | Netherlands - Koch Amplifiers | Italy - Klonz Labs | Poland - Laboga Amps | Spain - Bigtone Custom Amplification | Taiwan - Phonic Corporation

 


10 Featured Amps (Alphabetical)


Blackstar Blackfire 200 Head

  • Pricing: £1,641
  • Origin: UK, www.blackstaramps.com
  • Retail: Discontinued (Limited Edition of 225), odd one does pop up in the wild now and again

A unique and smart limited edition showcasing the best of Blackstar. A very capable 4-Channel amp with lots of power, and a very streamlined control interface.

  • Type: All Tube, Head
  • Tubes: 4 x ECC83, 1 x ECC82, 4 x KT88
  • Output: 200W DPR (Dynamic Power Reduction) 200W > 20W
  • Channels: 4 - Clean | Crunch | Fire | Fury
  • Modes: 6 footswitchable modes
  • Individual Controls: Gain + Volume for each Channel
  • Shared Controls: Bass | Middle | Treble | ISF - 2 sets, shared by Clean/Crunch and Fire/Fury
  • Master Controls: Resonance | Presence | Volume
  • Footswitch: 4-way footcontroller included
  • Midi: Thru | In
  • Impedance: 8‎Ω | 16‎Ω
  • Console: Emulated Output
  • FX: Effects Loop, Level selector
  • Power Input: 100V, 50/60Hz
  • Weight: 60lb / 27kg


Carvin V3MC Combo

Unfortunately difficult to get hold of in the UK, this beautifully compact and versatile 3-Channel amp, has the power and feature set that puts much larger amps to shame. This will be my next acquisition for sure - I love how small, yet how capable it is.

  • Type: All Tube, Combo, also available as Head
  • Tubes: 4 x EL84, 4 x 12AX7
  • Output: 50W | 22W | 7W (Power Mode / Power Soak)
  • Channels: 3 - Clean | Crunch | Lead
  • Modes: Soak/Bright for Clean Channel, individual Thick/Intense for each of Crunch and Lead Channels
  • EQX: Each Channels has 3-level EQX toggle which in off mode gives you harder more modern sound, on you get creamier vintage sound
  • Individual Controls: Treble | Mid | Bass | Drive | Volume | Presence
  • Master Controls: Reverb | Master Volume
  • Boost: Boost Level dial on reverse
  • Footswitch: FS44L-V3M - CH3 | CH1/2 | Reverb | Boost
  • Impedance: 4Ω | 8‎Ω | 16‎Ω
  • Speaker: Carvin GT12
  • FX: Effects Loop
  • Line Out: Emulated / Cabinet Voiced
  • LED : Switch between Red | Blue
  • Power Input: 120 / 240 VAC 50-60 Hz
  • Weight: 36lb / 16kg


Diezel VH4 Head

Every other metalhead’s favourite sounding amp - amazing full-on saturated sound, just recently made available in pedal form - one is en-route to me currently. Ian Crichton of Saga uses purely a Diezel Herbert (no pedal effects), which has more output power, but not quite the range of features of this flagship amp.

  • Type: All Tube, Head
  • Tubes: 7 x 12AX7 / ECC83S, 4 x KT77 / 6L6
  • Output: 100W
  • Channels: 4 - Clean | Crunch | Mega | Lead
  • Modes: individual Bright - On / Off toggle for CH1 and CH2
  • Individual Controls: Gain | Volume | Treble | Middle | Bass
  • Master Controls: Master Volume | Volume Parallel Loop | Presence | Deep
  • Footswitch: Optional 12 button Columbus Footcontroller (£325)
  • Impedance: 1 x 4Ω, 1 x 8Ω, 2 x 8Ω, 1 x 16Ω, 2 x 16Ω
  • FX: 2 sends – 4 insert loops / parallel & serial returns - per Channel, 2 switchable FX Loops / Mix - mode
  • Weight: 55lb / 25kg


Egnater Tourmaster 4212 Combo

  • Pricing: $1,600 (£1,260)
  • Origin: USA, www.egnateramps.com
  • Retail: Andertons and GuitarGuitar stock Egnater, but not this model - special order possibly, model currently in short supply

A somewhat weighty yet powerful and versatile 4-Channel combo amp - possibly on its way to being deprecated / discontinued. Very few in active circulation either side of the pond at the moment. Great feature set though.

  • Type: All Tube, Combo, also available as Head
  • Tubes: 8 x ECC83S, 4 x 6L6
  • Output: Selectable Power Grid - 100W/50W | 50W/25W | 20W / 10W - per Channel
  • Channels: 4 - Clean / Vintage 1 | Clean / Vintage 2 | Overdrive 1 | Overdrive 2
  • Modes: Modern / Classic toggle switch per each Channel
  • Individual Controls: Gain | Bass | Middle | Treble | Contour | Volume
  • Master Controls: Reverb | Master Volume | Presence | Density
  • Footswitch: Optional Tourmaster 6 button footswitch $150 (£120)
  • Impedance: 16Ω | 8‎Ω | 4‎Ω
  • Speakers: 2 x custom-voiced Egnater Elite-80 12” speakers from Celestion
  • FX: Assignable Tube-Driven Effects Loop - Assign to Channels 1 & 2 | Assign to Channels 3 & 4 | Assign to all Four Channels | Assign to Pedal Only |Send and Return Level Controls | Selectable Series or Parallel
  • Line Out: Cabinet Voiced Line/Recording Out
  • Power Input: 120 / 240 VAC 50-60 Hz
  • Weight: 97lb / 44kg


Engl Special Edition E670EL34 Head

  • Pricing: £2,200 (discounted from £3,280)
  • Origin: Germany, www.engl-amps.com
  • Retail: Various - including www.gak.co.uk where above discounted price was procured

Another heavy rock / metal amp which the Germans are so good at producing. 4-Channels of beautifully saturated sound - with another great feature set, and a great deal of options in sound sculpting.

  • Type: All Tube, Head
  • Tubes: 5 x ECC83, 4 x EL34
  • Output: 100W | 50W A/B half-drive mode
  • Channels: 4 - Clean | Crunch | Lead 1 | Lead 2
  • Modes: Tube Driver | T.D. EQ | Gain Boost | Hi Gain | Normal Bright | Ultra Bright | Contour Active | Mid Edge
  • Individual Controls: Gain + Treble + Volume per Channel
  • Shared Controls: 2 x Bass | Middle | Reverb- 1 per Clean + Crunch, and 1 per Lead 1 + Lead 2
  • Master Controls: Presence A | Presence B | Master Volume A | Master Volume B | Depth Boost | Mega Lo Punch | Reverb Active | FX Loop I/II | Seroa; FC Loop | Presence A/B | Master Volume A/B | Modern/Classic | Lo Power/Hi Power | Speaker A/B | Noise Gate | Write/Copy
  • Footswitch: Optional 6-button Z-9 footswitch (£159)
  • Midi: Thru / In - Midi programmable functions at a glance, storable in any combination as required: Channel switches | preamp boosts | normal/ultra bright | modern/classic mode | preamp defeat | FX loops | tube driver circuit | mega-low punch | depth boost | reverb | noise gate | Master A/B | Presence A/B | Speaker A/B | Half-Power switch (100/50 watts).
  • Impedance: 4Ω | 8‎Ω | 16‎Ω for both Power Amp Outputs A and B
  • FX: Serial FX Loop | FX Loop I | FX Loop II
  • Line Out: Balanced recording out
  • Power Input: 120 / 240 VAC 50-60 Hz
  • Weight: 57lb / 26kg


EVH 5150 III Combo

  • Pricing: £1,209
  • Origin: USA, www.evhgear.com
  • Retail: Widely Available - Andertons, GAK etc.

A Fender Amp in everything but name, but one for the rockers - Eddie Van Halen’s signature amp is great for those classic 80’s Brown Sound rock tones.

  • Type: All Tube, Combo, also available as Head
  • Tubes: 7 x JJ ECC83 / 12AX7, 2 x JJ 6L6
  • Output: Power Scaling Dial - 50W > 1W
  • Channels: 3 - Clean | Crunch | Lead
  • Individual Controls: Gain | Low | Mid | High | Volume - for Channel Three (Clean)
  • Shared Controls: Gain || Love | Mid | High | Volume - or Channels One (Crunch) and Two (Lead)
  • Master Controls: Presence | Reverb | Power Level
  • Footswitch: 4-button footswitch included
  • Midi: In
  • Impedance: 4Ω | 8‎Ω | 16‎Ω
  • Speakers: 2 x Celestion G12M
  • FX: Effects Loop
  • Resonance: Resonance Dial on rear of unit
  • Power Input: 120V~60Hz
  • Weight: 84lb / 38kg


Hughes & Kettner Triamp Mark 3 Head

The Rolls-Royce of current Amp Heads - 6 easily transformable Channels with amazing tonal potential. A simply incredible feature set - with some really smart innovation. This amp deserves to do really well - for those that can afford it + Cab ovbiously.

  • Type: All Tube, Head
  • Tubes: 1 x 7025 / E83CC (High Grade), 1 x 12AX7A-C, 7 x ECC83, 2 x EL34B-STR, 4 x 6L6GC-STR
  • Output: Scalable by selection of Poweramp Tube Pairs - 1+2 | 3+4 | 5+6 - each pair = 50W, so - 150w | 100W | 50W
  • Channels: 6 - 50s Californian Clean | 60s British Clean | 70s British Lead | 80s Brown Sound | 90s Californian High Gain | Modern-Day High Gain and beyond
  • Modes: Stomp Boost - different preset effect for each of the Channels
  • Individual Controls: individual - Master | Treble | Mid | Bass | Gain for each of the 6 Channels
  • Master Controls: Midi Learn | Master Volume | Presence | Resonance | Noise Gate | FX Loop | Poweramp Tubes selector for three pairs: 1/2 | 3/4 | 5/6
  • Footswitch: Included 7 button Midi Board Footswitch for setting and accessing 128 presets in 32 banks of 4
  • Impedance: 2 x 16Ω | 16Ω | 8‎Ω | 4‎Ω
  • Console: Red Box AE port for connecting seamlessly with digital music production
  • TSC: Tube Safety Control - Actively Monitors condition of each Power Tube pair
  • Midi: In / Thru
  • Noise Gate: Hard<>Soft
  • FX: FX Loop | FX Serial | FX Level
  • Master Insert: Preamp Out | Power Amp In
  • Panel Brightness: Dark/Bright Dial
  • Power Input: 220V-240V selector, 50-60Hz
  • Weight: 48.5lb / 22kg


Laney Ironheart IRT60-212 Combo

The lowest cost amp on the featured list is still no slouch - 4 configurable Channels, perhaps not with the expansive feature set of some of the others, but nearly half the cost. Laney amps have great heritage and are often just criminally overlooked, but they are easily the equal of the other great British amp makes.

  • Type: All Tube, Combo, also available as Head
  • Tubes: 4 x ECC83, 2 x 6L6
  • Output: 60W RMS Vari Watts Attenuation Feature
  • Channels: 3 - Clean | Rhythm | Lead
  • Individual Controls: Clean Volume | Rhythm Volume | Rhythm Gain | Lead Volume | Lead Gain | Lead Pre-Boost | Lead - Treble | Middle | Bass
  • Shared Controls: Clean / Rhythm - Treble | Middle | Bass | Pull-Push EQ shift/deep on each tone button
  • Master Controls: Watts | Reverb | Tone | Dynamics
  • Footswitch: Included 4-button FS4-IRT
  • Impedance: 2 x 16‎Ω | 16‎Ω | 2 x 8‎Ω | 8‎Ω | 4Ω
  • Speakers: 2 X HH Custom designed 12" Drivers 16‎Ω
  • FX: Variable FX Loop, -10dB Bypass
  • Power Input: 100V / 120V / 220/30V / 240V, 50/60Hz
  • Weight: 85lb / 38.5kg


Marshall JVM410C Combo

You kind of have to include a Marshall on the list, so legendary is its legacy and sound. This probably the most versatile of it combos - the full-fat JVM410. Great feature set, and some smart setup here, like using a mix of Vintage and Heritage speakers.

  • Type: All Tube, Combo, also available as Head
  • Tubes: 4 x ECC83, 1 x ECC83, 4 x EL34
  • Output: 100W
  • Channels: 4 - Clean | Crunch | OD1 | OD2
  • Individual Controls: Gain | Treble | Middle | Bass | Volume | Reverb - per Channel - dials on reverse of device
  • Master Controls: Presence | Resonance | Master Volume 1 | Master Volume 2 | FX Loop Switch | Footswitch Midi Program Switch
  • Footswitch: Included 6-button PEDL-91005 footswitch
  • Impedance: 2 x 16‎Ω | 16‎Ω | 2 x 8‎Ω | 8‎Ω | 4Ω
  • Speakers: 1 x Celestion Vintage, 1 x Celestion Heritage
  • Midi: In / Thru
  • FX: Serial + Parallel Variable FX Loop
  • Power Amp Insert: Serial Loop
  • Line Out: Emulated Lined Out
  • Power Input: 100V / 120V / 220/30V / 240V, 50/60Hz
  • Weight: 76lb / 34.5kg


MESA/Boogie Mark V 1x12 Combo

  • Pricing: £3,235
  • Origin: USA, www.mesaboogie.com
  • Retail: Widely available - Andertons, GuitarGuitar etc.

Every session player’s and journeyman’s favourite studio amp is somewhat old in the tooth now, but still peerless in what it does. Simply the most tweakable 3-Channel amp that has been on the market for the best part of two decades now. Very expensive, but no doubt lovely to own. For my taste the Carvin does a suitably signifcant part of what is available here in a form factor less than half the size, and less than a third of the price - no doubt a great buy for anyone who has the means

  • Type: All Tube, Combo, also available as head
  • Tubes: 7 x 12AX7, 1 x 5U4, 4 x 6L6
  • Output: Full Power/Variac Power Switch 90W | 45W | 10W per Channel
  • Channels: 3 - Clean | Crunch | Extreme
  • Modes: 9 - Channel 1 = Clean, Fat or Tweed, Channel 2 = Edge, Crunch or Mark I, Channel 3 = Mark IIC+, Mark IV or Extreme
  • Individual Controls: Gain | Master | Presence | Treble | Mid | Bass | EQ On / EQ FS | 90W / 45W / 10W | also Normal / Bold for CH1, Normal / Thick for CH2, Normal / Bright fo Ch3 | Sliders / Preset toggle for Graphic Equalizer + Preset Depth
  • Shared Controls: 80Hz / 240 / 750 / 2200 / 6600 EQ Bands
  • Master Controls: Output | Solo
  • Footswitch: Included 8-button footswitch
  • Impedance: 2 x 8‎Ω | 2 x 4‎Ω
  • FX: Variable EFX Loop, Hard Bypass
  • Loop Assign: CH1 | CH2 | CH3 | On All | FT SW
  • External Switching: Solo | Chan 2 | Chan 3 | EQ
  • Channel Select: CH1 | CH2 | CH3 | FT SW
  • Outputs: Slave Out / Level | Tuner
  • Fan: On / Off Switch
  • Bias: EL34 / 6L6 toggle
  • Power Input: 100V / 120V, 50/60Hz
  • Weight: 84lb / 38kg
Stefan
Posted by Stefan
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