9 of the best modern high-performance amp heads
Hughes & Kettner Puretone 25-watt head
The Puretone is a special amp. Known for complex, multi-function designs, H&K blew us away with this no-frills hand-wired monster powered by two EL34s.
If you don’t care for the illuminated Plexiglas front, our advice is to close your eyes and just listen. Sensational.
Marshall’s current flagship head is a four-channel, fire-breathing monster.
In typical Marshall fashion, it’s capable of wreaking sonic havoc; however, it’s also capable of great subtlety, with the muscle to compete with any of the world’s super amps at an attainable price.
Read our full Marshall JVM410H review
Fargen Olde 800 MkII 50-watt
Hard-as-nails old-school build quality and extreme attention to detail are the Fargen’s trademarks, combined with a clever ‘decade switch’ feature that lets this amp emulate 60s, 70s and 80s Marshall style voicings.
It translates into superb JTM45-, JMP- and JCM-esque tones.
Read our full Fargen Olde 800 MkII 50-watt review
ENGL Artist Edition E651 Limited Edition
A specially voiced version of Engl’s regular 100-watter, developed from its Ritchie Blackmore signature model combining two channels of tone for a revelatory modern-rock experience.
This was the last amp to be used by the late Gary Moore; definitely one for the collectors.
Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier 100-watt
Nearly 20 years on from its introduction, the Dual Rec remains one of the ultimate modern rock heads.
It spawned a new genre of rock, which went on to become modern metal. It’s also capable of surprising tonal range that makes it a capable choice for blues and country, too.
Read our full Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier 100-watt review
Rivera Knucklehead Reverb 100-watt
The current Rivera flagship has three channels and a host of functions all aimed at squeezing out every last ounce of tone and sustain.
Aimed at the top of the pro market, users include Steve Lukather, Mick Thomson and David Rhodes. The Knucklehead is staggering value.
Orange Rockerverb Mk III 100-watt
The recently unveiled Mk III version of the Rockerverb has a built-in attenuator circuit as well as a choice of output settings from 100, 70, 50 to 30 watts, which makes it easy to get the classic Orange Brit rock tone at any volume.
The clean channel has also been re-voiced for more ‘chime’.
Read our full Orange Rockerverb Mk III 100-watt review
Blackstar Artisan 100 Hand Wired
The Artisan 100 is a hand-wired 100-watt monster inspired by the classic Marshall Super Lead design, with burgundy vinyl covering and some clever twists.
Plexi tone that can sound vintage or modern, the Artisan’s superior build quality makes it exceptional value for money.
Read our full Blackstar Artisan 100 Hand Wired review
Magnatone Super 59
The revived Magnatone brand impressed us greatly with this superbly built and finished Plexi tribute head, which features the classic Magnatone frequency modulation vibrato effect.
Designed with input from Billy Gibbons, the Super 59 offers superlative tone - but at a price.