Gear of the Year 2018: Affordable guitar amps nominees

In the market for a new amp but on a shoestring? These are our five nominees for the best guitar amps under £1,000 of 2018.

In this edition of our Gear of the Year series, we’re looking at the best affordable guitar amps of 2018. These models may not have all the bells and whistles of their fancier cousins, but you can bet they still pack a wallop. Plus, they’re easier on your wallet.

The actual winner will be announced in our January issue, so keep an eye out for that. In the meantime, here are the nominees:

Marshall Origin 20C

The Origin series comprises two heads and three combos, ranging in output power from five watts to 50, and this 20-watt combo should be the Goldilocks ‘just right’ model for a lot of guitar players: powerful enough to gig, but small and light enough to hoik out of the boot without worrying about sending your back into spasm. It’s about the same size as a blackface Princeton, and sure enough the Origin 20C is a 1×10, with a Celestion G10 VT Jr pumping out the noise.

Read our full review here.

Blackstar 10th Anniversary Artisan 10 AE

Thanks to its excellent master volume the Artisan 10AE is effectively two amps in one. If you’re looking for sweet, boutique-style cleans and classic overdriven tones at living room volumes then this is would be a shrewd choice but what makes £499 seem like a serious bargain is the fact that it can also handle stripped-down gigs and rehearsals, and is a versatile weapon in the studio.

Read our full review here.

Fender Hot Rod Deluxe IV

The Hot Rod Deluxe IV brings about some welcome updates to one of the world’s most popular amps. It now features a pine cabinet, which means it’s lighter than its forebear – 1.57kg, to be precise. Other changes include ivory-coloured chicken-head control knobs to compliment the re-textured black control panel, a steel-reinforced strap handle, lightly-aged silver cloth and a single 12-inch Celestion A-Type speaker.

In terms of performance, the Deluxe’s midrange characteristics and smoother drive come closer to the tone and feel of some of the high-priced and hand-made amps you might find in premium guitar shops.

Read our full review here.

DV Mark DV ‘Raw Dawg’ EG

The guitar head market might not be quite so ripe for revolution, but the ‘Raw Dawg’ EG has a clear ambition to set a new standard in performance per kilo. A stripped-down head that weighs in at under 3kg, its solid-state output stage – DV Mark’s own proprietary MPT type – claims to belt out 250 watts through a four-ohm cab, or 150 watts through eight ohms.

However you choose to reduce that figure to come up with a rough valve equivalent, this should be loud enough for pretty much anyone in 2018. And it isn’t even entirely tubeless: there’s a 6205 subminiature valve on preamp duty.

Read our full review here.

Orange Rocker 15 Terror

The basic principle of this Terror remains true to the blueprint: 15 watts from a pair of EL84s, switchable down to seven watts, in a compact white metal chassis. But it’s a couple of inches wider than its daddy, and the main reason for that is that it’s a two-channel amp. Plus, while the Tiny Terror stripped things right back with just master volume, preamp gain and a single tone control, this model offers a three-band EQ section on the dirty channel for precise tailoring of your overdriven tones.

Read our full review here.