Best Amps For Metal of 2020 – Ultimate Buyer’s Guide

Thalia
| Last Updated: January 4, 2021

If you are a metal player, you will know how difficult it is to get the right amp.

In this article, we will discuss some important issues around the best amp for metal. We will also do informative reviews of the best amps for playing metal.

This article is also for the beginners out there who are thinking of making metal their main gig.

Comparison Chart of the Best Amps For Metal

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Best amp for medal overall
  • The all-tube amplifier provides rich distortion effects
  • Two channels for clean sound and one dedicated to ‘dirty’ sound
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  • This amplifier has great distortion effects
  • The dual handles at the top make it easy to lift
  • The high and low gain controls give you a wide range
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  • Best amp for metal for the money
  • The new modeling engine gives you much better sound quality
  • The nicely compressed metal tones give you a well-sustained sound
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  • Best solid-state amp for metal
  • You can get some nice distortion on low volume
  • This lightweight amp head gives you a great mobile option
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  • Best practice amp for metal
  • The heavy tones work well for distortion effects
  • The four channels provide faultless clean and high-gain metal sounds
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  • Best tube amp for metal
  • The heavy tones work well for distortion effects
  • The 60-watt output is ample for gigs and stage performance
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  • Best metal amp under $500
  • This amp gives you two clean channels and one dirty channel
  • The low price may convince you to try this amp head out for a test ride
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  • Best Marshall amp for metal
  • The built-in effects loop gives you a near-perfect series of effects
  • The controls on the Marshall amp head make it easy to dial in the preferred sound
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  • Best Orange amp for metal
  • The wide selection of power-switching gives it a nice gain range
  • The dirty channel has 3-stage gain structure with bright low gain and fat high gain
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Are All Amps Suitable for Playing Metal?

The simple answer is no. You can not use just any amplifier for playing metal, just as you can not use any random electric guitar to play metal. It is possible to play your metal with a metal guitar through any amp, but you will not get the results you are looking for from all amps available on the market. 

Randall Thrasher

You can go through all the motions and tricks, but the end will just not be the same. Metal amps are made for the purpose of giving the distortion effect. The main factor in selecting a metal amp is its capacity to deliver great distortion.

Why Did These Amps Make Our List?

There are a few reasons that we are looking at the amps we have listed in this article. To find the right metal amp, you need to look at a few factors and qualities before you choose the one that is suitable for you and your type of music. The following are some of the features you must look for in the right metal amp.

Price

Price is always an important factor when buying the right metal amp. The popular opinion is that the more you pay, the better the quality. Unfortunately, that is not always true, especially when it comes to electric amplifiers.

Brand

Sometimes, it is true what they say that you are paying for the name when buying certain brands. Then again, some of the names out there are just simply very reliable.

Quality

Most of the time, the money you spend on anything is your hard-earned cash, and, for you to spend that money on a good metal amp, it is very important that you get value for your money.

Characteristics

Does the amplifier you want to acquire deliver what it says it can do? It is very important that the amp you buy gives you the results you are looking for.

Quick Take: 
Top 3 Picks

Review of the Best Amps for Metal

This review is to help you find the right amplifier to play your metal music. We will look at all the factors that are crucial to consider when looking for a metal amp.

Peavey invective.120 Guitar Amp Head

PROS

  • It has a fast noise gate for sound cutoffs
  • The amp has a clean channel with boost
  • This amp has two 3-band equalizers included
  • Fast tone recall is provided through the effect loops
  • The 3-channel design gives a lot of tone and power
  • A strong footswitch is included for access to on-board features

CONS

  • This device has a high price tag
  • This amp is not very easy to use
  • There is no speaker included, as it is only a head

What Recent Buyers Report

The Peavey Invective is an amazing amp for metal players. A very effective noise gate included with this amp makes it perfect for recording and live playing. The clean sounds are soft and not friable. There are two effects loops included with this amp, and they can operate independently.

Why it Stands Out to Us

From perfect, clean sound to high gain, dirty sound, this tube amp delivers a wide range of effects through the effects spectrum, proving it to be a perfect amplifier for metal music. The boost is something that every metal guitarist will appreciate, and the tone and power are impressive for the price.

Who Will Use This Most

This amplifier is perfect for metal guitarists who love to play gigs and love their jamming sessions. The Peavey Invective amp is also ideal for recording sessions and home practice for quick, low-volume distortion effect.

Bottom Line

This nicely built, easy-to-use for those with just a bit of experience, this Peavey amplifier delivers strong and clean sounds. The myriad of effects included with this amp head makes it a valuable asset to your music performance career.

Randall THRASHER Guitar Amplifier Head, Thrasher

PROS

  • This amplifier has good sound output
  • This Randall amp is a sturdily built unit
  • The effects have a clean selection and fast response
  • The nice, clean channel is good for individual sounds
  • The overdrive channel creates the creamy, overdriven sound

CONS

  • This amp is quite expensive
  • It is not a true metal amplifier
  • This amp is not a versatile amp for a clean dial-in

What Recent Buyers Report

This amplifier sounds great for clean arpeggios or country music. The Randall Thrasher has a good overdrive channel if you use it right and is great for crashing rhythm. This is a good quality amplifier, and it is very loud and seems well-built.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The high gain gives you a lot of distortion for that metal effect, and you have a lot of control over the effect. The discrete gain control on the 2nd channel will add some grit and boost the sparkle effect which is something unique to metal music.

Who Will Use This Most

The Randall Thrasher amplifier head is for metal players who love to perform live. This is also a great amplifier head for at-home playing and recording. If you are just starting out or you want a backup amp to take with you for gigs or practices, then this is the unit for you.

Bottom Line

Randall is a good, reliable name and can be trusted to deliver a metal amp that will give the pleasure of performing with nice, easy sound output. You get a lot of control with this amplifier and your metal band will thank you for the tonal quality that it offers.

Best for the Money:
Vox VT40X Modeling Amp

VOX VT40X Modeling Amp, 40W

PROS

  • There are a lot of high-quality onboard effects
  • This amp has nice compression in the metal tones
  • It has a great pre-amp tube with a clean tube style
  • There is good resonance in the bass-reflex designed cabinet
  • With the Tone Room software, you can create a lot of preset programs
  • The new Vox Tone Room software gives you the option of digital editing

CONS

  • The pitch shifter and rotary is not included
  • There is no wall ground supplied for the equipment
  • It is a little bit noisy, with a hissing sound in the background

What Recent Buyers Report

The delays have a nice analog sound to them, not the brittle digital sound. The compressor is flexible, and you get a serious funky sound from it. The tone and the experimental possibility with this amp are endless.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Vox VT40X combines a new modeling technology with the multistage preamp circuit for a unique distortion effect. This amplifier delivers a fast response that is standard with the classic tube amps.

Who Will Use This Most

You can't go wrong with the Vox VT40X modeling amp. The modeling features are solid and give a fast response with the vacuum tube preamp circuit which makes it a perfect choice for both newbies to metal guitaring as well as more advanced players looking for a well-priced option.

Bottom Line

At the price you are getting this modeling amplifier, you are getting real value for your money. With all the extra features included, you are getting an excellent, high-quality bargain. The inclusion of the preamp tube circuit gives you that ideal metal amp for a good price.

Best Solid State Amp for Metal:
Orange MD20 Mikro Dark Mini Amplifier Head

Orange MD20 Micro Dark 20-Watt Mini Guitar Amplifier Head Bundle with Instrument Cable and Austin Bazaar Polishing Cloth

PROS

  • This amp has a satisfying gain
  • It provides a nice, clean sound output
  • Everything you need to play is in the box
  • The gain on this little amp is rich and creamy
  • The lightweight design makes it easy to handle
  • It gives good sound production with low volumes

CONS

  • It is a little light for gigs
  • It is not as loud as it suggests
  • This is only the head, so you must buy speakers separately

What Recent Buyers Report

You will get amazing tone and volume out of this tiny amp. This is a great little practice amp for metal players. The sound and clarity are just wonderful, and this amplifier is worth every penny spent on it.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This is a perfect at-home practice amp. The hybrid design amplifier, with a solid-state circuit combined with the tube amplification, gives it that extra edge for better performance. With the tone knob to one side, you get a clean tone, and you can turn it to the other side to get a rich metal sound.

Who Will Use This Most

All metal players out there can benefit from this little hybrid tube and solid-state amp. Even if you have a much larger and stronger metal amp for your gigs, this one is a handy at-home practice metal amp.

Bottom Line

Beautifully designed and well-priced, the Orange MD-20 Mini amp head will take you the distance when going for gigs, as well as home jamming and home practice. With the low volume distortion and nice power output, this is the ideal beginner and professional metal amp.

Best Practice Amp for Metal:
Hughes & Kettner Black Spirit 200 Head

Hughes & Kettner Black Spirit 200-200-Watt Head

PROS

  • It can recreate a lot of amp tones
  • The black spirit tone generator is included
  • It has built-in Bluetooth for audio streaming
  • The four channels cover a wide range of gain
  • The preset function can store up to 128 settings that can be instantly recalled

CONS

  • It is a little pricey
  • It can be a little difficult to operate
  • The speaker must be purchased separately

What Recent Buyers Report

The Hughes & Kettner Black Spirit amp head has an outstanding feature set and 4 channels, all of which sound amazing. The crunch channel is outstanding and can really dial in modern tones.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The nice range of effects on the built-in delay and reverb gives you clean and strong modulation effects. The Black Spirit 200 gives you a 4-channel, 200 watt guitar amplifier that is ideal for practicing, recording, or gigging as a metal guitarist. Even your keyboard or synth player may be interested in one of these for practice.

Who Will Use This Most

The Black Spirit 200 is ideal for metal players who are looking to have as many tones as possible. This amp head is for those who want to experience the intense playing satisfaction of metal guitar.

Bottom Line

The Hughes & Kettner Head amp is an ideal metal practice amp, with all the presets and extra features coming with it. The option to stream music via the built-in Bluetooth gives a large variety of options, as well.

Best Tube Amp for Metal:
Peavey 6505+ Combo Electric Amp

Peavey 6505 Plus 112 Guitar Combo Amp

PROS

  • This amp is made for distortion
  • Because it is a combo, it takes up little space
  • The Peavey 6505 has 5 preamp tubes installed
  • It has great built-in effects for metal and grunge
  • The Peavey electric amp gives ample tone at low volume
  • The low-volume distortion effects make this amp a perfect metal amp

CONS

  • It is a little heavy
  • It is lacking the real 5150 sounds
  • There is not enough headroom for clean tones

What Recent Buyers Report

This combo electric amplifier is quite the surprise in what it can deliver. This amp does modern metal and hard rock very well. This is the perfect amp for the heavy tone of metalcore music. This amp is just right for the home musician on a budget.

Why it Stands Out to Us

What makes this Peavey tube amp stand out is the fact that it is a nice combo amp. It is a little bit heavy, but you won’t need to bring extra cabinets along to your gigs. The power of having this combo amp allows you to enjoy more versatility with it, so you can take it to practices and recordings too.

Who Will Use This Most

The 5 tubes built into this amp and the easy distortion at quite low volumes make this the perfect amp for metal players who do not want to have to carry too many things with them when going for jams.

Bottom Line

This is an affordable amp combo that gives you that metal effect and extra boost. With 60 watts of RMS output, the Peavey 6505+ Combo electric guitar amp is a great amp for your metal needs, especially if you are into the rich sounds that come with tube amps.

Best Metal Amp Under $500:
Randall RG1003 Amplifier Head

Randall RG1003 RG Series Amplifier Head

PROS

  • It has nice loud output
  • It is a lightweight amp head
  • The amp has three channels
  • The amp head is sturdily built
  • It is well-priced for a nice solid-state amp
  • The output is loud enough for performing at gigs

CONS

  • Speakers need to be added
  • The built-in reverb is not up to standard
  • The bottom end of tones is a bit jumbled

What Recent Buyers Report

The amp itself is excellent for metal playing. The sound of this amp is great for the price you pay for it. This Randall amplifier head is loud enough to perform at small venues and is definitely well suited for practicing and recording, especially when you want a truly gritty bite in your metal sound.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Randall amp head is a great amp head for gig performing and small jamming sessions, as well as for at-home practice. The fact that it is solid-state makes it a lightweight amp head. The nice, loud output, as well as the decent distortion effects at low volumes, makes it the right amp for metal players at the right price.

Who Will Use This Most

This is the right amp head for beginner and veteran metal players who love to take power to their gigs and jams. Simply adding the right power of cabinet speakers can take you a long way. The Randall amp head will best suit metal players for a nice gig in town.

Bottom Line

The affordability of this amp head will make it a favorite with all beginner metal players. The basic metal features built in with this amp head will help you along in becoming a metal player or a well-known gig metal player.

Best Marshall Amp for Metal:
Marshall JCM800 100 Watt Tube Head

Marshall JCM800 2203X 100W Tube Head

PROS

  • It has 3 preamp tubes
  • It has factory-installed effects loops
  • This amp gives you 3-band equalizer
  • The Marshall has a very sensitive tone stack
  • There are 4 power tubes installed in the Marshall amp head
  • The sound on this amp head will sound just right if you crank it up

CONS

  • It is quite expensive
  • Speakers need to be added
  • It is not made for easy mobility

What Recent Buyers Report

This Marshall tube amp head is loud and awesome. It has that classic rock crunch sound. It is better than ever with the factory-installed effects loops, and this amp head allows you to dial in any guitar to near equal gain.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The tone of the Marshall tube amp head defines heavy metal. The perfect metal output of the Marshall amp head makes it the preferred choice for metal playing. This amp head may not be good for at-home practice, but it is perfect for the stage.

Who Will Use This Most

All metal players will want the Marshall tube amp head to add to their arsenal of music enriching equipment. This amp head will help you get that perfect metal effects, so this is the perfect metal amp head.

Bottom Line

The Marshall tube amp head will almost always be the first choice for many metal players if they can afford the price tag. For those who can, they are getting a top-quality amp that lives up to the name of its manufacturer, which means you can rest assured that you have an amp that will last for years to come.

Best Orange Amp for Metal:
Orange Brent-Hinds Terror Amp Head

Orange Amps 4 String Electric Guitar Pack, (BRENT-HINDS-TERROR)

PROS

  • The Terror is fitted with two power amp valves
  • This amp has a buffered effects loop installed
  • The natural channel has a finely balanced character
  • There are three preamp valves added to the Orange Terror
  • The wide selection of power-switching gives it a great gain range
  • The Orange amp head comes with two independent channels included

CONS

  • The Orange Terror is not easy to use
  • The footswitch must be bought separately
  • It is a head only, so you need to add speakers

What Recent Buyers Report

It is one of the most gnarly amps ever made by Orange. The Orange Terror amp head is extremely versatile and has lots of fine sound effects on it. This is easily the favorite of all Orange amps. The amp offers a lot in a small package and puts a spin on the classic Orange tone.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Orange Terror amp head is a portable metal amp for gigs and jamming. It is affordable and a favorite among most metal players. We also love that it has an effects loop installed that makes using this amp a lot more fun.

Who Will Use This Most

Metal players and everyone else who wants to have a great sounding amp head for their favorite music performance. This amp head from Orange is well suited for metal players. With its 3-stage gain structure, it delivers a clean distortion effect.

Bottom Line

The rich high gain sounds and beautiful clean tones make the Orange Brent-Hinds Terror amp head the best Orange amp for metal. The character and the tone offered by this amp will make it a firm favorite in your practice or recording sessions very quickly.

Cautious Considerations to Keep in Mind

When you are in the market for a metal amplifier, you are always pressed by your friends or other musicians and even family, not to mention the salesperson who wants your support. Everybody seems to know just the right amp for you, but there are, in fact, a few things you have to consider before buying an amplifier. Let's have a look.

Watts

This is the amount of power an amp can put out. This is the single factor that will tell you the power of an amplifier - how loud of a sound it can produce and how much the speaker can handle. To know how loud your amp will be, you need to know the wattage of the amp.

Style

Style refers to the style of music you want to play through this amp. Not all amps are made for all styles of music. This factor will determine what type of amp you are going to buy. If you want to play metal, you would want an amp that will give you nice distortion effects at a much lower volume. The perfect amp for this will be a tube amp.

Configuration

You must decide if you need a combo amp with the speaker included in the box, or if you are going for the amp head for which you still need to buy the speaker cabinet separately. 

Conclusion

After everything is said and done, the final decision is still your own. All the nice features are a way to make you decide if you want to go for a certain brand or what configuration you are going for or if you need a hybrid or specialized amp for your metal needs.

Thalia

Thalia has spent most of her life loving two things - writing and music. Thalia's passion for music saw her learning to play several instruments throughout her childhood and teen years. This passion also led to her earning two qualifications in Sound Recording Engineering, which she now uses by writing about musical instruments, studio gear, and the processes involved in making and producing music.