The Best Amp Heads for Metal

The Best Amp Heads for Metal

There is nothing more satisfying than unleashing on a guitar with very sharp humbuckers and a properly loud amp, but are all the amps equally suitable for the job? 

Well, of course not! But the problem is that each guitar player in the world has their own idea of what amp will do the trick better, so in this article, we would like to give you an overview on some of the best amp heads for metal out there.

Top 10 Best Amp Heads for Metal

  1. EVH 5150III 50-watt Tube Head with EL34 Tubes
  2. Boss Katana Head MkII 100-watt Guitar Amp Head
  3. Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier 100-watt Tube Head
  4. Peavey Invective.120 – 120-watt Tube Head
  5. Blackstar HT Stage 100 Mark II – 100-watt Tube Head
  6. Orange Rockerverb 100 MKIII – 100-watt 2-channel Tube Head
  7. Kemper Profiler Power Rack – 600-watt Rackmount Profiling Amp Head
  8. Marshall JCM800 2203X 100-watt Tube Head
  9. Diezel VH4 100-watt 4-channel Tube Head
  10. Hughes & Kettner Triamp MKIII 150-watt Dual 3-channel Programmable Tube Head

Amp Heads for Metal Buying Guide

Combo vs Head

Somewhere along the way, you may notice a strange absence of the combo amps on this list. And there is just one very specific reason for that, they’re simply not loud enough. Even when cranked to 11, combo amps couldn’t compete with an amp head connected to a dual speaker cabinet when it comes to stage performance.

That being said, if you prefer smaller venues or simply practice at home, you are most definitely better off with a combo amp. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be enough headroom to set the amp head to a sufficient amount of gain, unless you are not very fond of your eardrums.

Important features

When it comes to choosing the best amp heads for metal, there is only one feature that we are interested in. If the amp doesn’t give you a very aggressive high gain, what use could it be, right?

So all of the amps on this list have a lot of gain without losing notes definition and midtones. And since you’re not going to let hell loose all the time, having a nice and transparent clean tone could be useful as well.

In this modern age, six strings aren’t necessarily a way to go, so all of the amps are pretty capable of handling seven or even eight strings guitars.

Best Amp Heads for Metal Reviews

EVH 5150III 50-watt Tube Head with EL34 Tubes

EVH 5150III 50-watt Tube Head with EL34 Tubes

Pros
  • 3 separate channels
Cons
  • Only 50W
See price @ Sweetwater
Best features and specs

EVH 5150III is a lightweight beast of an amplifier that offers you great versatility of tone, starting with modern high gain to old school 80’s hard rock. It has a sparkling and transparent clean channel on top of crunch and lead channels, with the latter having its independent EQ.

User impressions

Users are quite impressed with EVH 5150III for being an absolute beast. The low end is extremely tight. The green channel is clean and clear, while the red channel sounds absolutely fantastic when the gain is on.

What we think

You’d be surprised how much gain you can squeeze out of such a small amp, and this is something we feel really deserves to put this under the spot light. At times you wouldn’t even believe that it’s only 50W. That being said, you might feel it if you try to plug it into 4 speaker cabinets.

Bottomline

EVH 5150III is a great choice for someone who is looking for a very versatile and compact amplifier with a great clean tone and very powerful high gain.

Boss Katana Head MkII 100-watt Guitar Amp Head

Boss Katana Head MkII 100-watt Guitar Amp Head

Pros
  • 5-inch internal speaker
  • 60 additional effects
Cons
  • Fully digital
See price @ Amazon / @ Sweetwater
Best features and specs

Boss Katana is a digital 100W amp with 4 channels, 5 amp types, including an acoustic guitar amplifier, and output with cabinet simulation. Its built-in 5-inch speaker gives you an opportunity to use it at home.

User impressions

Users like Boss Katana for being a killer amp, having a lot of effects and tone shaping. Also, it is absolutely easy to run and the sound is full, rich, and has plenty of power. Users value the ability to dialing-in many different sounds and styles in one amp.

What we think

If you’re skeptical about digital amplifiers, you should definitely check this one out. We were surprised when we compared it with a real tube amp, as it’s almost impossible to tell the difference.

Bottomline

Boss Katana Head MkII 100-watt Guitar Amp Head is a great choice for someone who is looking for an amp that offers unprecedented versatility at an extremely affordable price. Unless having tubes in your amp is a matter of principle for you.

Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier 100-watt Tube Head

Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier 100-watt Tube Head

Pros
  • Multi-Watt switch
  • 3 separate channels
Cons
  • None that we know of
See price @ Sweetwater
Best features and specs

Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier is a new refined, and upgraded version of a legendary metal amp. This time it has 3 channels and 8 selectable modes, which let you tailor the sound according exactly to your needs.

User impressions

Users say that Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier is a perfect tool to find that particular tone that you have always been longing for. This head is a true beast, versatile, articulate, big, and wide. You can achieve absolutely any sound you want, from clean to metal destruction.

What we think

Yes, we also thought that Mesa wasn’t in any need of an upgrade, but it turns out that even the best things could be even better, despite not having room for improvement in the first place.

Bottomline

Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier is a great choice for someone who is looking for a legendary metal amp with a highly customizable tone. This version of the amp also gives you an opportunity to switch between very modern Rectifier tubes and very vintage British EL34 tubes.

Peavey Invective.120 – 120-watt Tube Head

Peavey Invective.120 - 120-watt Tube Head

Pros
  • Output with cab simulation
  • 120W
Cons
  • Rather heavy
See price @ Amazon / @ Sweetwater
Best features and specs

Peavey Invective is a signature model of Misha Mansoor, a sensational guitarist from Periphery. Although this band is well-known for their heavy use of digital emulations, this amp is as analog as it gets, with quite a few very modern conveniences on top.

User impressions

Users like Peavey Invective for its versatility and ability to sound equally amazing on live gigs, practice sessions, and at-home recordings. Users value this amp for having unique voicing, which may appear too modern for somebody., however this amp does have lots of character, and cleans can be round and fat and chimney.

What we think

It feels like it has every possible feature that you could think of and even more. It has a 10-button footswitch, an internal power supply for the pedals in the loop, and an output with cabinet simulation. But to be completely honest, that extra 20W of power makes all the difference.

Bottomline

Peavey Invective is a great choice for someone who is looking for an amp with a lot of bite and versatility. Although amp heads are usually not designed with traveling in mind, this one would be especially inconvenient in public transport.

Blackstar HT Stage 100 Mark II – 100-watt Tube Head

Blackstar HT Stage 100 Mark II - 100-watt Tube Head

Pros
  • Additional reverb
  • Tone switch
Cons
  • None that we know of
See price @ Amazon / @ Sweetwater
Best features and specs

Blackstar HT Stage 100 Mark II is a reliable and powerful amp with 3 separate channels, 2 reverb modes, and USB connectivity. It also has an output with cabinet simulation and the ability to switch between modern and vintage tones.

User impressions

Users agree that Blackstar HT Stage 100 Mark II sounds amazing and is simply versatile. It has outstanding clean, overdrive, and distortion tones. Users say that this amp is extremely easy to use and carry around.

What we think

The best thing about Blackstar HT Stage 100 Mark II is its tone. It feels like this amp could sound like any other amp you could think of and then some.

Bottomline

Blackstar HT Stage 100 Mark II is a great choice for someone who is looking for an all-around excellent and very reliable tube amp with phenomenal sound versatility and a very pleasant design. Although it’s a very powerful amp, it has a power reduction that lets you use it at home safely.

Orange Rockerverb 100 MKIII – 100-watt 2-channel Tube Head

Pros
Cons
  • 2 channels only
See price @ Amazon / @ Sweetwater
Best features and specs

Orange Rockerverb 100 MKIII is a legendary amplifier with 2 channels of a juicy tone and a tube-powered spring reverb. In case you feel like 100W is too much, it lets you scale amplification down to 30W with options in between.

User impressions

Users say that Orange Rockerverb 100 MKIII has an unbelievable crunch tone, lots of bass, and is well articulated. Users add that with the gain cranked up and a clean boost in front, this amp morphs into an all-out modern metal amplifier. Also, this amp, when playing on a clean channel, lets you play beautiful ambient chords and nice jazz licks.

What we think

If you have never encountered Orange amps before, don’t be confused by its slightly silly and over-the-top design. There’s absolutely nothing funny about the sound of this beast. If you want to bring down the storm on the world and look cool while doing so, this one is definitely for you.

Bottomline

Orange Rockerverb 100 MKIII is a great choice for someone who is looking for a legendary amplifier with a rather fleshy design and a powerful sound. Although it has only 2 channels you quickly realize that there’s no need for more with this one.

Kemper Profiler Power Rack – 600-watt Rackmount Profiling Amp Head

Kemper Profiler Power Rack - 600-watt Rackmount Profiling Amp Head

Pros
  • 600W of power
  • Extremely versatile
Cons
  • Fully digital
See price @ Amazon / @ Sweetwater
Best features and specs

Kemper Profiler Power Rack is a fully digital 600W amplifier that gives you an opportunity to have the sound of any possible amp at your disposal. It has 200 factory presets and an incomprehensive amount of downloadable ones.

User impressions

Users like Kemper Profiler Power Rack for having the warmth and dynamics of a real tube amp and no midrange harshness. This amp gives you the feel as if all the room was filled by every tube amp that has ever been made.

What we think

Although digital emulations came very far in the past years, there’re still quite a few people who argue against it. Although the sound is completely indistinguishable from the real amp, the feeling that a digital amp gives you isn’t quite the same. It’s not in any way unplayable, it just takes time to get used to.

Bottomline

Kemper Profiler Power Rack is a great choice for someone who wants to experience the fully digital convenience of having the sound of every possible amplifier in the world. The best thing about Kemper is that you can easily and effortlessly make profiles of your own amplifiers and, for that matter, any amp you would encounter.

Marshall JCM800 2203X 100-watt Tube Head

Marshall JCM800 2203X 100-watt Tube Head

Pros
  • Legendary sound
Cons
  • Single channel only
See price @ Amazon / @ Sweetwater
Best features and specs

Marshall JCM800 2203X is a legendary guitar amplifier with a sound that defined heavy metal. This amp offers you a pure experience of a simple one-channel operation and 100W of iconic all-tube sound.

User impressions

Users like Marshall JCM800 2203X for incredible tonal dominion and lots of power. This amp’s tone is so thick and gratifying that you don’t need to add to it. Users also said that the series of effects loop allows you to insert your pedalboard between the preamp and power amp. Being made from Birch ply makes this amp durable and long-lasting.

What we think

Usually, when people who aren’t engaged or are new to the music industry think of guitar amplifiers, they mean Marshall. And if you are a rather seasoned industry participant, chances are you’ve encountered quite a few Marshall amps on your journey.

Bottomline

Marshall JCM800 2203X is a great choice for someone who is looking for a legendary amplifier with very simple and old-school controls. Dial in your perfect tone and simply use a volume knob on your guitar to seamlessly transit between a deafening high gain and a very warm clean tone.

Diezel VH4 100-watt 4-channel Tube Head

Diezel VH4 100-watt 4-channel Tube Head

Pros
  • 4 separate channels
Cons
  • Rather expensive
See price @ Amazon / @ Sweetwater
Best features and specs

Diezel VH4 is a 4 channel tube amplifier with a very modern and original design and a very sharp and precise tone. Since all 4 channels are completely independent you can effortlessly achieve a great sonic variety and considering that it has individual effects inserts on each channel, you can customize your sound even further.

User impressions

Users agree that Diezel VH4 can get great tones at room volume that don’t harm the ears. Single-channel effects are extremely easy to use and provide endless possibilities for tone enthusiasts. This amp has a solid build and is durable and reliable.

What we think

Considering that both Adam Johnes and James Hatfield use Diezel amps you can easily see how versatile the sound could be. This also should give you some idea of what quality to expect.

Bottomline

Diezel VH4 is a great choice for someone who is looking for an exquisite high-quality guitar amplifier specifically designed with heavy metal in mind. You might consider the price a bit high, but after all, what’s good for James Hatfield most definitely should be beneficial for us.

Hughes & Kettner Triamp MKIII 150-watt Dual 3-channel Programmable Tube Head

Hughes & Kettner Triamp MKIII 150-watt Dual 3-channel Programmable Tube Head

Pros
  • Versatile tone
  • DI output
  • 6 channels total
Cons
  • A bit pricey
See price @ Amazon / @ Sweetwater
Best features and specs

Hughes & Kettner Triamp MKIII is an ultimate 150W all-tube heavy metal weapon. It has 3 separate channels and each is further subdivided into 2 channels depending on which pair of freely assignable tubes you would choose. It has a built-in DI output for very flexible recording sessions.

User impressions

Users like Hughes & Kettner Triamp MKIII for being absolutely fantastic and having the best specs possible. Playing with this amp feels so good that you don’t need an external noise gate. This amp is easily tweakable and it easily gives you the exact tone you need. Despite having a lot of knobs and giving an overwhelming feeling, this amp is super user-friendly and you’ll get accustomed to it really fast.

What we think

We find it a bit strange that it has a built-in DI box since we couldn’t find a reason why you would need one. Usually, DI signals are recorded in case you change your mind later and would need to reamp a guitar, with or without a reamp box, but with Hughes & Kettner Triamp MKIII we don’t see why you would want to, since it sounds truly astonishing right out from the box.

Bottomline

Hughes & Kettner Triamp MKIII  is a great choice for someone who is looking for an extremely powerful and versatile tube amplifier with a mesmerizing tone.

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