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Blues Amps | Finding One That Works For You

Fender AmpChoosing a blues guitar amplifier is probably just as important as choosing a blues guitar… but maybe harder.

Once you choose a guitar (or guitars) you like you probably won’t change too much over the years (at least I haven’t). But finding a great amp is an ongoing process (at least for me). And there’s so many to choose from.

Blues Tone

What a great blues tone sounds like to you may be completely different than what a great blues tone is to me. It’s totally subjective. Some people like a clean tone with just a little edge, while others like to shred and want a completely overdriven sound. It’s all about what works for us and sounds good when we express that blues feeling in our playing.

And you may want different tones whether you are playing lead or rhythm or even different parts of a song. Variety is the spice of life and the blues.

Plus even if we both played through the same guitar and the same amp we both might sound very different. Your style and playing approach might be completely different than mine.

But most of us agree, when we hear a great blues guitar player with a great tone we know it. And we want it.

Yes, finding that great tone is a lifelong pursuit. And the guitar amp you choose plays a big part in finding that tone.

Fender Super ReverbPopular Blues Amps

There are many “camps” when it comes to blues tone. Some belong to the Fender camp, like Stevie Ray Vaughan and Ronnie Earl, while others may belong to the Marshall camp like Joe Bonamassa and Jeff Beck. And there’s plenty of other camps to belong to like the Vox camp or the boutique amp camp.

And of course the popular amp of the today may change tomorrow. Mesa Boogies were big favorites in the 80’s but I don’t hear too much talk about them today.


And vintage amps have always been in great demand. But cost and availability can often put those amps into the “dream” category. We all want to follow our dreams but my conclusion is you can get a great sounding amp without spending big money.

And the Fender Super Reverb may be the one amp that I hear blues guitarist talk about the most. It is used by many of the top players and finding a good old one is a real prize. Although Fender Custom Shop has a new one that you can buy too. Here’s more about the Super Reverb.

The Amps I Use

As I mentioned, I’m always looking for a better amp. I’ve owned dozens over the years. But these days I’m down to just four.

Click on the links above to learn more about these amps. I confess, I go back and forth about which one I like the best. One month it’s the DRRI and the next month it’s the Super Champ. And it’s not about which one is “better.” It’s about which one sounds good at the time or in a particular situation.

I guess that’s just they way it is for a blues guitarist. Always searching for the perfect tone. Oh well.

Fender Deluxe Reverb ReissueYou Be The Judge

The only way to really tell if an amp will cut it is to run it through it’s paces. And no… just trying it out in the music store is often not enough. It takes playing it with a band and even using it at a gig to really know if it will work.

So we’ll be offering evaluations of amps and letting you know what we think. We’ll put them in videos so you can hear them yourself. And we’ll take videos of live blues using their rigs and then interviewing them to get their thoughts.

You Can Help

We want to make this an open forum where you can share YOUR results and impressions of the amps and guitars you are using. So if you have something to offer please let us know.

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2 Comments

  1. Les Pauls are good in general (though the Epiphone less so), but a Fender Stratocaster is pbaborly the most versatile choice. A Telecaster is also a good guitar but suits a narrower style swath. A Strat of decent quality (preferably not with a maple fret board, unless you REALLY like that feel) will meld into many different musical styles and with a few minor electronic tweaks can replicate the sound of most other instruments.

    Reply
  2. Playing blues is very subjective..people say many things about it..but if comes down to Feeling,not the equipment that you use! First of all..Be Yourself! Think of it..like the Amp You Use..it has its own unique and commanding voice,and never a copy,clone or wannabe of any other major brand,thats were a Player stands out

    Reply

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