Six Super Cool Amps

Just as one man´s carefully-nurtured tone is another´s nail to the ear drum, the look of some amps can turn as many stomachs as they do heads. We´ve taken a straw poll around t´internet and corralled just five amps that we reckon mix quality tone, a wealth of features and sheer vibe with eye-popping looks.

We´ve probably missed a hundred or so, so point us in the right direction if you´d be so kind!

1 - Mesa/Boogie Road King

Boogie offer a wide selection of finishes, liveries and other custom vibes through their lauded Custom Design service. It´s not cheap, but boy does it make a selection of great amps look as good as they sound. This version of the all-conquering Road King is clad in Saddle Tan Suede and is crowned with a gold grille. In the words of the Churchill bulldog: “Oh yessshhh...!”

2 - Budda MN-100

Budda provide some wonderful amps, but none are as cool as this brand new MN-100, a three-channel affair clad in a leather cloak fashioned by Mark Nason, who usual applies is not inconsiderable skills to manufacturing shoes. The phrase you´re searching for is “Holy blimes!”.

3 - Engl Steve Morse Signature 100

With a Mid Control Matrix that allows you to play around with no less than eight independent voicings for the midrange, this is about as far away from a plug in ‘n go amp as it´s reasonable to get on the open market. As usual, though, it´s well worth ten minutes spent with the manual as the amp can sound spectacular, as does Morse himself.

4 - Marshall 1992LEM

There´s not much cooler than a standard Marshall head, but this, the signature model of bass monster Lemmy that´s based on his original 100-watt head that´s been christened Murder 1, is made all the more frosty by the inclusion of the gold crests that adorn the original. But is it loud? Pardon...?

5 - Hughes & Kettner TriAmp Alex Lifeson Signature

If you wish to start a company dedicated to producing the flashiest amps possible, you need to begin with a front panel that lights up in the way many current Hughes & Kettner amps do. Still, after you´ve developed all that you´ll have a hard job getting your stuff to sound as good or be as versatile as the Rush guitarist´s signature head: boasting, in effect, six channels, it rocks.

And finally, just for balance...

Dr. Z Mazerati GT

How about this for simplicity? 38 watts, simple tone and volume pots...and that´s it. Turn it up full, connect to a good speak cab and grab a decent guitar and you´ll have a tone to die for. Who said boutique needed to be bells and whistles?

Simon Bradley is a guitar and especially rock guitar expert who worked for Total Guitar magazine and has in the past contributed to world-leading music and guitar titles like MusicRadar (obviously), Guitarist, Guitar World and Louder. What he doesn't know about Brian May's playing and, especially, the Red Special, isn't worth knowing.