Gear Of The Year 2015 – Best Amplifiers Under £1000

It’s no surprise that the popularity explosion in the effects industry has created a demand for amplifiers that play nicely with your pedalboard.

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Though it’s easy to be seduced by the sumptuous tone machines on the opposite page, the fact is, you don’t have to spend a fortune to sound very good indeed, especially with judicious use of stompboxes. You’ll find two designed along those lines here, along with a great little amp for home noodling…

Blackstar ID:Core BEAM

Blackstar copy
• Price £239
• First reviewed Vol 26 No 10
• Contact Blackstar Amplification 01604 817817

Lifestyle amps, desktop amps, living room amps – call them what you will, they’ve made the humble transistor practice amps of yesteryear look positively prehistoric. Blackstar’s BEAM joined the fray this year and set a new standard with Super Wide Stereo sound, wireless streaming via Bluetooth and a range of guitar voices and effects. “A great idea well executed that should be standard issue for all young guitarists,” we said, but it wouldn’t make a bad gift for a guitarist of any age…

Victory V40 The Duchess

V212VC_withamp_side copy
• Price £829
• First Featured Vol 26 No 12
• Contact Andertons 01483 456777

Back in September, we featured The Duchess in our round-up of six of the best pedal-platform amps and with good reason. The brainchild of amp guru Martin Kidd, the single-channel V40 offers plenty of headroom and a front end that’s designed to work in conjunction with high-output overdrive, distortion and boost pedals in order to create an impressively wide variety of overdrive textures, compression and sustain characteristics.

Fender Hot Rod DeVille ML 212

Guitar & Bass September-21 copy
• Price £849
First reviewed Vol 26 No 12
• Contact Fender UK & ROI 01342 331700

Michael Landau has worked as a session guitarist with artists as diverse as Michael Jackson and Miles Davis and he certainly knows a thing or two about getting a great guitar sound. Landau’s collaboration with Fender on the Hot Rod DeVille ML 212 came about when the sessioneer was playing rented backline roulette on tour. One evening, he ended up with a Fender Hot Rod DeVille.

Plugging his pedalboard into the clean channel, Landau thought it sounded great and handled pedals as well as any amp he’d ever used. The Fender Custom Shop had already produced a signature Strat for Landau, so a signature amp seemed logical. The result is a one-channel Hot Rod DeVille with two footswitchable volume controls and a boost.

Majestic, clear guitar tones with ample headroom and luscious reverb are available in abundance – this is an amplifier for the stage and no mistake, and street prices are low enough to allow you to use the change from a grand to buy a couple of nice pedals. After all, you wouldn’t want that headroom to go to waste…


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