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The best new guitar amplifiers of 2021, as voted for by you

Best guitar amp 2021
(Image credit: Future)

Best of 2021: It is no surprise that your Top 5 favourite new guitar amplifiers of 2021 is a movable feast, showcasing the diversity of amp design in the 21st century.

It is not just that we have a selection of solid-state, digital modelling and tube amps on offer, it is the range of features they present, and the shapes and sizes they assume. 

In recent years, our expectations of what the ultimate heavy metal guitar amp should be have been transformed. It used to be all about the level of gain, and of how much control we had over shaping it. 

But your Number 5 redefines that, demonstrating how you can scale down the size while scaling up the functionality by augmenting a tube amp design with digital technology that makes it a practical unit for stage, studio or home.

And what of the practice amp? Quite possibly the one amp style we all own, digital modelling technology has revolutionised them, with your fourth best amp of 2021 taking the idea to its logical conclusion – an amp that’s fits neatly into your pocket.

Elsewhere, your Top Five is populated by enduring designs; an affordable tube-free but analogue version of a high-wattage rock classic, and a pair of 1x12 retro tube combos, one of which grabbed top spot by a distance. But again, part of the appeal is very 21st century; it makes a great pedalboard platform.

Here, let's take a closer look at your Top 5 new guitar amplifiers of 2021, and at the bottom of the page we have the Top 10 for reference.

1. Fender 68 Custom Pro Reverb

What makes the '68 Custom Pro Reverb your choice for best new amp of 2021? Well, it's familiar, the latest in a very successful series that has brought us modern reproductions and improvements of classic amps such as the Princeton Reverb and Reverb Deluxe.

But in a word, it's the cleans. With 40-watts driving a single 1x12 Celestion G12 Neo Creamback speaker, the Custom Pro Reverb has ample headroom for those who like their guitar tone spanky, bright and with a Transatlantic twang.

It makes a superb pedalboard platform. It plays nice with humbuckers and single-coils alike – that Bright switch comes in very handy with a muddy set of humbuckers, or for such occasions when you need to slice through the mix.

Fender 68 Custom Pro Reverb

(Image credit: Fender)

Fender's 21st-century modifications have made the circuit a little more touch-sensitive, so if you have the good fortune to be playing in an environment where you can crank this up for hot, gritty drive, it'll clean up nicely and respond to how hard you dig in.

No matter how hard you push it, the Custom Pro Reverb holds your tone together. The detail and definition is exceptional. The valve-driven spring reverb and tremolo is classic Fender. It's hard not to plug into this and not find an inspiring tone.

MusicRadar verdict: It just shows what a little bit of refinement and some tinkering can to do reinvent a lost classic and make it that little bit more relevant for today's player. Fender has done that here, without losing the essence of the original with beautiful cleans and sparky, lively low-gain drive.

Fender '68 Custom Pro Reverb review

2. Orange Super Crush 100

The Super Crush 100 is for those looking for huge tube amp tones without the tubes, and offers a budget-friendly alternative to the vaunted Orange Rockerverb amps. For under 500 bucks, there are few better 100-watt head options.

It uses the Class A/B power amp from the Pedal Baby 100 to imitate that tube amp response and dynamics, with a Class A JFET preamp section offering low-noise drive across two channels. 

Orange Amplification

(Image credit: Orange Amplification)

There is ample opportunity to sculpt your gain, with a Dirty channel equipped with a three-band EQ and Dirty channel boasts four cascading stages, along with a passive 3-band EQ and four cascading gain stages. No question, the Super Crush 100 is a bit of a monster. But then, with a name like Super Crush 100, it's not going to be for the faint-hearted.

You will find an abundance of headroom on the Clean channel, and the spring reverb might be digital but it nonetheless sweetens everything nicely. And this being a 2021 design, we've got some mod cons that really enhance the package, with a buffered effects loop allowing you to integrate your pedalboard with ease, and a balanced XLR output with CabSim speaker emulation for sending your signal direct to the mixing desk or to your DAW for recording at home.

3. Supro Delta King 12

The Blues King is dead. Long live the Delta King. Supro switching up its affordable tube amp combo was big news but once the dust had settled, it proved that the Delta King was another very successful variation on the theme.

Those who had perhaps lined up Fender's superb Blues Junior might want to addition the Delta King 12 first, at least for context. The Supro has all the potential to be an evergreen best-seller, too.

The format is simple. You've got 15-watts and a footswitchable drive and FET boost feature. The cleans are sweet but detailed and precise. When pushed, the overdrive is hot, musical and dynamic, and cleans up nicely when you roll back the volume on your guitar.

Supro Delta King 12

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

The spring reverb seals the deal with a wonderful organic sense of ambience, and helps make the Delta King 12 a no-brainer for budding rock 'n' rollers and blues cats alike, and also works well as a pedal platform and as a portable and affordable combo for playing small gigs.

MusicRadar verdict: The retro styling offers a few clues as to the kinds of sounds on the menu, but with its switchable drive and FET boost, allied to line out and power amp inputs, the Delta King 12 makes for a versatile and practical take on vintage tube combo.

4. Fender Mustang Micro

The Fender Mustang Micro has had a big year. According to the internet retail giant Reverb, no guitar amplifier shifted more units in 2021. Affordable, easy to use, and as portable as the guitar amp can get, it is not surprise why guitarists have fell for the Mustang Micro.

Unlike some personal guitar amplifiers or headphone amps, the Mustang Micro lets you use your own set of headphones, and presents a decent array of realistic amp models and onboard effects for dialling in a tone.

But it is quite possibly the capability to use the Mustang Micro as an audio interface that has makes the difference, elevating the form beyond simply a mere practice tool.

Fender Mustang Micro

(Image credit: Fender)

Fender has given the Mustang Micro 12 of the Mustang GTX's amp models, 13 effects, and somehow presents these in a device that is considerably smaller than your mobile phone.

You can also liven up your practice sessions by streaming music via Bluetooth to the unit, which you can of course enjoy in full stereo. The Mustang Micro will fit pretty much any electric guitar, and offers four hours of playing time when fully charged. When it runs out, simply charge it via the USB connection. 

5. Peavey Invective MH Head

Misha Mansoor’s forward-thinking fire-breather reimagined in a compact lunchbox format, what’s not to like? It’s hard to remember a more keenly anticipated amp head than the Invective MH. 

For metal guitar players, it has it all. Not only does its Lead channel deliver some nuclear electric guitar tones, mother’s milk for those whose medium of expression is full-on, visceral chug, but the cleans are superb.

No matter how you like your gain, the Invective MH gives you an option. There are Tight and Boost switches, a three-band EQ to style it, plus a push-button noise gate to help tidy up those staccato riffs.

Peavey Invective MH

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

Once you factor in the footswitchable effects loop, speaker-emulated USB and cab-emulated direct output with XLR and ground-lift, you’re dealing with a state-of-the-art high-gain guitar amp.

MusicRadar verdict: The Invective MH Mini Head is compact, convenient, user friendly, versatile and ferocious, capable of stripping the paint off the wall with its ridiculously awesome gain stage. It's everything a metal player would want in a moderately powered lunchbox head.

Peavey Invective MH Head review

The best new guitar amplifiers of 2021: Top 10

1. Fender '68 Custom Pro Reverb
2. Orange Super Crush 100
3. Supro Delta King 12
4. Fender Mustang Micro
5. Peavey Invective MH Head
Joint 6. Boss Nextone Special
Joint 6. Blackstar ID: Core v3 Stereo 40
8. Friedman BE-Mini Head
9. Hughes & Kettner Spirit Nano Series
10. Carr Super Bee