Best Overall Modeling Amp – Vox Adio Air GT Modelling Combo Amp
Small, compact, mighty, and absolutely loaded with features, the Vox Adio has set the bar when it comes to modern-day modeling amps. With all the effects, tones, voices, and software you need for a complete experience, the VOX Adio has been designed around you.
Best Budget Modeling Amp – Line 6 Guitar Combo Amplifier
Line 6 is world-renowned when it comes to their high-quality audio products that contain a ton of premium features, but are available to all thanks to their affordable price tags. This simple yet feature-rich modeling combo amp is a prime example of the fantastic experience they provide.
Best Premium Modeling Amp – Vox AV30 Analog Modeling Amplifier
A robust hybrid device that combines the traditional advantages of an analog amp, a modern-day tube amp, and the features of a modeling amp, all into one powerful and clean device, Vox have raised the bar with this addition to the modeling amp market.
Our Top Ten
As a guitarist, you’ve probably heard of tube amps and solid-state amps, but there’s a third, dark horse variety of amp that has been unsung for decades: the modeling amp. While this type of amp has been pushed around a lot over the years, and its older brothers have taken the limelight over and over again, there’s no denying that modern-day modeling amps have a lot to offer.
As the title suggests, a modeling amp is an amp designed to help you model your guitar sounds in many different ways. While in the past the complexity of these amps made them far too expensive for typical musicians, the introductions of digital technology and FX has made modeling amps a very viable option.
Today, we’re going to help you enjoy the very best that the modeling amp industry has to offer and help you get started. Whether you’re trying a modeling amp for the first time or you’re upgrading your existing amp, there’s something here for everyone.
In this guide, we’ll highlight our top ten recommendations when it comes to modeling amps, as well as share our complete buying guide to help you choose which one is best suited to what you’re looking for! Here we go!
As the title of this modeling amp suggests, the Nux Mighty Lite is a compact, budget-friendly and power-punching amp that aims to provide you with a complete modeling experience while ensuring everything stays simple with a natural learning curve. However, that doesn’t mean this amp skimps out on features.
Portable and Compact
This highly portable amp is designed for desktop use, which basically means you can use it anywhere, and it provides all the amplification solutions you need. It’s a 9V system that can run on either the power adapter or batteries. You can even connect it using a USB cable to an external battery pack!
All this power equals a 3-watt power output. This is more than enough for you to casually perform to friends, family, or just practice at home. Perhaps surprisingly, however, Nux takes things a little further.
The amp is loaded with extra FX features, including a digital reverb effect and a delay, and three individual channels to get creative with, namely clean, overdriven, and distorted. No matter what kind of guitar musician you aspire to be, this amp can help you get there.
Get Creative Instantly
There are also nine unique drum patterns to play along to, an integrated metronome, tap tempo, and delay speed controls. The firmware is regularly updated by Nux, the updates of which can be downloaded and installed easily from the Nux website.
All in all, this is a fantastic modeling amp that sounds great and opens the door for plenty of creative opportunities for you to try. With everything you need in a handy compact solution, and all for a fantastic price suitable for all budgets, it’s easy to see why this modeling amp is so popular with musicians all over the world.
What We Like About It
Perhaps the highlight feature of this amp is the fact it’s compatible with the official Nux smartphone and tablet app. You can connect this amp to your phone via Bluetooth, where you’ll then be able to control all the settings and features of the amp, make adjustments, and basically give yourself an even more effortless experience!
- 3-watt power amp that can run on any kind of power supply
- Loaded with FX like reverb, delay, and three unique drive settings
- Connect your guitar and amp together wirelessly using the included adapter
- Compatibility with the dedicated Nux app to help you control your settings easily
Vox is a huge name in the guitar amplification market, and there’s very few lists or musicians who won’t recommend their devices. When it comes to modeling amps, Vox has pushed the boat out again and really raised the bar as to what’s expected. This is another highly portable amp loaded with potential you’re going to love.
Power Your Way
This is another desktop amp that can be powered by either batteries or the included AC adapter. On batteries, this amp can last an impressive 10 hours of continuous use, which is ideal for taking this device out with you on the go, perfect for performing live in public or in a lesson setting!
Interestingly, there are 11 unique amp models you can emulate with this amp, which gives you a huge amount of creative potential as to what your final outputted guitar sounds are like. You can even use this amp with other instruments, in addition to guitars, to really spice things up!
Iconic Technology as Standard
Of course, this amp features the legendary Vox circuitry inside that has made Vox the reputable name and brand that it is today. In this amp, it’s known as the ‘Bassilator,’ and it allows you to create an ultra-rich sound, even when playing with lower frequencies.
Then you add in all the included effects, some of which include tremolo, reverb, delay, flanger, and chorus, and you should quickly begin to understand why this amp is so popular. Affordable and available in three distinct styles and designs, the Vox is a great addition to the modeling amp market and guarantees to tick the boxes for what you’ll be looking for.
What We Like About It
Perhaps the highlight feature of this amp isn’t the fact it sounds great, but rather the fact you can use it as a fantastic speaker for playing your favorite tunes! The AUX lead connection means anything with a headphone jack can be connected to listen to your music when chilling out and relaxing!
- Can run off a power cable or batteries that can last up to 10 hours
- Contains patented Vox ‘Bassilator’ circuit for rich and pleasing bass tones
- A wealth of built-in FX including reverb and tremolo
- Comes with a built-in AUX input for listening to your favorite music
Line 6 is another hugely popular audio equipment brand, so their addition to the modeling guitar amplifier market should not be ignored. Available in three power varieties ranging from 30 watts all the way up to a whopping 150 watts, and full of features to give you everything, this is a worthwhile contender to head your list of considerations.
Every Frequency Covered
The sound this amp produces is made to be simple and not too complicated like some modeling amps can be, but the outputted sound is clean and clear with next-to-no distortion or interference. Inside the amp, you’d find two mid-frequency drivers and two high-frequency drivers, covering a vast frequency range for optimal sound.
Of course, you can make adjustments to this sound as you please. The AMPLIFi technology integrated into the amp offers four built-in presets you can choose between, however, there’s more. Connect your smartphone to the amp via Bluetooth, and you’ll be about to access an unlimited amount of presets from the cloud to really push your creative boundaries practically as far as you want!
Connect Your Way
As mentioned above, this amp does come with a Bluetooth connection. This means you can use this amp as an amp, or you can connect your wireless device to listen to your favorite playlists or tracks. There’s even an included wireless Bluetooth controller, so you can control the settings on your amp from wherever you are in the room.
Due to the professional and luxurious design, the many features and functions built into the device, and the fact you can enjoy your music and practice your guitar music to your heart’s content while adding endless effects, 70+ amp settings, and 20+ custom speaker cabinets, and unlimited user-created tones, this is one amp where you can really push your music further than ever before.
What We Like About It
Hands down the best feature of this amp is that you can use it as a fully functional USB audio interface. This means you can plug your guitar into the amp and then your amp into your computer for full recording and editing opportunities. All tones are tracked and recorded exactly how you play them!
- Comes with a Bluetooth remote for controlling all amp settings wirelessly
- Allows you access to 70 amps sounds, 100+ effects, 20+ cabinet presets, and thousands more online
- Use this device as a fully functional USB audio interface for recording your sounds
- Looks great in any environment and sounds amazing
If you’re looking for a modeling amp that’s small and compact, meaning you can take it anywhere, but packs an incredible punch when it comes to the quality of your sounds, the Vox Adio has it all, and then some.
This amp packs a hefty 50-watt system designed using two 3-inch speakers positioned side by side. This is more than enough to allow you to hear the sounds you’re making in crystal-clear detail and absolute clarity. Whether you’re just messing around and jamming at home, or you’re performing out and about, perhaps busking or with friends and family, this amp is going to be all you need.
Access Endless Effects
Since this is a modeling amp, you’ll be happy to know there are two effect sections built into the amp (containing a grand total of 19 effect types) and 23 unique guitar amp models. You can cycle through these models however you please to give yourself an individual sound. In fact, you can use this amp to make your guitar sounds perfect for any genre, whether that’s rock, metal, pop, or even jazz and blues!
There’s even plenty of tones to choose from, full Bluetooth and MIDI support, and an AUX lead for plugging in your headphones for private practice, or for connecting your music player to listen to your favorite tunes in your downtime.
Raising the Bar
We can literally keep going on and on. Vox has rammed this device with so many features that have the sole aim of giving you the very best experience. With premium features like noise reduction to prevent problems when you’re at high gain settings, and the auto tuner that completely eliminates any need for some kind of guitar tuner, what more could you ask for?
Well, more, in fact! Each purchase of this modeling amp comes with a free copy of JamVOX III, which is basically computer software designed to help you record and edit your guitar sounds for mastering, editing, or even releasing a single or album. There’s no denying this is one of the best overall modeling amps, so if you’re a guitarist of any skill level, this is one amp well worth your consideration.
What We Like About It
While portable, this does mean this amp runs on batteries, which traditionally meant suffering with the problems of a short battery life. However, on just eight AA batteries, this amp can last an incredible eight hours on a single charge with continuous use, meaning you can keep going and keep performing for longer.
- Full Bluetooth connectivity and MIDI support
- Comes with a free copy of JamVOX III for editing and mastering your sounds
- Contains 23 unique amp model types to customize your sound in endless ways
- Contains a boatload of included effects, all easily accessible and adjustable
Heading back over to the Line 6 brand now. If you loved the first option we suggested, but you’re looking for something a little more budget-friendly and simple, Line 6 does have another modeling amp alternative for you to indulge in.
Punchy and Loud
This compact amp, also known as the ‘Spider V 20’ is a punchy 20-watt amp that’s been designed using a custom-made 8-inch speaker that sounds amazing whether you’re practicing or even performing in a small live venue. However, in a home or studio setting, this amp will excel.
As a modeling amp, you’ll find 16 individual presets to explore that house three main digital effects, and dedicated reverb effect. There’s even custom presets for acoustic and bass guitars, so if that’s the instrument you’re playing, you can get a custom sound experience you simply don’t get with any other modeling amps available today.
An Effortless Experience
Of course, all the effects and presets are easy to access and can be adjusted using the durable and hard-wearing dials found on the front of the device. If you want to record your sounds to edit or listen back on a computer, tablet, or smartphone (both iOS and Android), there’s a handy micro USB port to do just that!
Affordable, highly rated by dozens of customers around the world, hailed as being one of the best sounding amps around, and designed to the strict quality requirements of the Line 6 manufacturers, this is one compact amp that goes above and beyond the call of duty!
What We Like About It
In addition to all the amazing features you can find with this modeling amp, one of the greatest advantages is the access to free editing and recording. This comes in the form of the legendary Cubase LE recording suite, completely free to download to your Mac or Windows computer!
- Comes with a completely diverse range of 16+ amp and effect presets
- Grants access to a free copy to Cubase LE recording and editing suite
- An incredibly simple to use interface suitable for musicians of any skill level
- Weighs only 11lbs, meaning it’s incredibly portable and easy to move
No list of best amps would be complete without a mention for the iconic audio equipment manufacturer that is Yamaha. Known throughout the decades as being the go-to for both starter musicians and worldwide headliners, everything you expect this Yamaha amp to be, it is.
There are five unique amp models found without this amp, and a huge range of effects have been made available to you thanks to Yamaha’s legendary VCM technology. This means you not only have a seemingly endless choice of amp effects to choose from, but they also sound absolutely perfect when selected.
This is then coupled with Yamaha’s other patented technology, the AV division circuitry. This is used to offer a truly exceptional sound quality, despite being small and compact. Sit this amp on the floor, the other side of the room, or on your desktop table next to you. Wherever you are, you can guarantee this amp is going to sound great.
Use Wherever, Whenever
Looking at the specifics, this is a 10-watt speaker comprised of two 3-inch speakers that can be powered by both an AC cable or through batteries, ensuring an optimal amount of portability to perform wherever you want, especially if you’re busking.
There’s no denying that Yamaha has excelled in what they’ve set out to achieve here. You can even expand on what the company has already achieved by downloading more presets and effects from your computer and then installing them via a USB.
Look anywhere online and you’ll find hundreds of five-star reviews from satisfied customers around the world, which just goes to show what this amp has to offer. To many, if you ever need a guitar modeling amp that’s on par with other amp varieties, this is going to be your go-to solution!
What We Like About It
As we mentioned above, this is a small amp that doesn’t go very low because it’s designed for casual use and practicing. However, while small volume-wise, the quality is simply outstanding, and you’ll be very hard-pressed to find something similar in this price bracket. You’ll be able to hear every note and chord with complete clarity, which can only help you perfect your creative ventures.
- Contains five classic amp models and a ton of effects
- Comes with Yamaha’s integrated VCM technology for the best sounding effects
- Can run on an AC power supply or battery power
- One of the best sounding amps available in this price bracket
Fender is an incredibly iconic audio equipment manufacturer in the audio industry, and no matter how little you know about guitars, instruments, and amps, you’ll have heard of Fender. They literally cover everything, including this modeling amp you see before you.
To make things interesting, this is actually a solid-state amp, but it contains a wealth of features that make it a leading modeling amp. Of course, as the title suggests, this amp is named in line with the Mustang car, a vehicle renowned for its outstanding performance, visuals, and quality. These qualities are emulated in this amp perfectly.
It’s also worth noting there are three different versions of this amp available, all depending on how loud you want to go, what your budget is, and what kind of use you want your amp for. If you’re practicing at home, the 40-watt version will be more than enough. However, if you want more, there are also 100 and even 200-watt versions available!
Access Everything via the App
This particular model houses the new and improved modeling technology from Fender in the 2017 edition of their amps, which means you have access to all their presets and effects. The special thing about this amp is the fact you can connect it wirelessly to your smartphone, and therefore the free Fender Tone app.
This means you can download any updates Fender releases from now on, add new presets and effects all the time, and control your app while you’re using it with ease. You can even stream music from your smartphone to use this amp as a speaker!
Of course, you don’t need to use your smartphone all the time. All the effects and presets can be downloaded, managed, and accessed directly from the amp itself, and this has been made easy thanks to the included, full-color LCD screen, ensuring the entire process for using this amp is simple, allowing you to concentrate on what’s creatively important.
What We Like About It
Not sure if this is the amp you want to spend your money on? Don’t worry; Fender is a very reputable brand that is renowned around the world for their quality and high-performance products. This is backed by their 2-year warranty that ensures you’re always covered with a working amp!
- Available in three versions to give you access to the power you need!
- Compatible with the Fender Tone app that allows for updates and new presets
- Bluetooth connectivity to stream your music and control the amp settings
- Comes with a full 2-year warranty
Making our way back over to the Vox range now, we’ve opted for their edition of a compact and highly functional modeling amp, this time available in 15-watt and 30-watt editions. This type of amp is designed for home, studio, and practice use, but remains portable and could even be used in small live performance situations.
Combining the Past and the Present
What makes this amp particular special is the fact it’s designed using internal analog circuitry. This is the complete opposite of the other digital amps you’ll find on this list and is created in the way traditional amps used to be made originally, decades ago. This means the outputted sound is exactly like original guitars used to sound, which is great if you want your play to sound nostalgic.
This means you get to enjoy genuine and authentic tones from your guitar that simply sound amazing. What’s more, despite being analog, there are still multiple amp model sounds you can choose from, with 16 options available to explore.
Make Music Your Way
In true Vox fashion, you’ll also find all the effect looping functions you’d expect to help you edit and adjust your sound to be exactly how you want it. These adjustment dials include everything from being able to enhance your tones to customizing your overall resonance to however you want. Of course, there’s also reverb, delay, and chorus effects to explore.
Inside this amp, you’ll find a 10-inch speaker that pumps out your sound in the highest quality, and there are even two 12AX7 tubes inside to help refine your sound to perfection, free from any interference or distortion. That confirms this amp’s place as a tube/modeling amp hybrid, a title this amp excels in.
All in all, if you’re looking for handy modeling that sounds amazing and takes everything that’s great about traditional amps, tube amps, and modern-day modeling amps and combines it all into one, you may not need to look further than this Vox masterpiece!
What We Like About It
The tube technology found in this amp is easily one of the best features, simply because it allows your music to sound incredible. With the ability to hear every note and chord, you’ll be able to perfect every action in your performance, so you’re genuinely creating the music you want to create.
- Contains 16 amp models you can explore to adjust and customize your sound
- Contains two 12AX7 tubes to ensure your music sounds great
- Available in 15 and 30-watt designs to suit the performance type you’re looking for
- Comes with a selection of tones and effects to experiment with
Our final Vox modeling amp recommendation today, this time drawing our attention to the Valvetronix VT20X edition. This is a wildly popular model that comes in 20, 40, and 100-watt versions. This means whether you’re practicing or performing live in even a medium-sized venue, you and your listeners can enjoy everything this amp has to offer.
Each version comes with a single 8-inch speaker, which is connected using the patented Vox vacuum tube amplification circuitry that’s designed to maximize quality and minimize interference and distortion, ultimately ensuring your sounds are perfect.
Customise Your Sound However You Want
To help you remain creative, Vox has offered all their standard amp models, 11 in total, as well as allowing you to edit your sounds using the 13 high-quality effects integrated right into the device. There are even a whopping 33 unique preset programs to explore. This is a world of opportunity, all housed within this compact amp.
There are also plenty of extra features including a built-in tuner, meaning you don’t have to buy one, an AUX-in lead for listening to your music player device and plugging in your headphones, and even USB connectivity for downloading more effects and keeping the firmware up to date now and in the future.
Accessorize and Innovate
You can even use these USB slots to plug in compatible footswitches, VFS2 and VFS5, making it even easier to change your settings quickly, and allowing you to add another level to your performance. We can go on and on all day about the benefits that Vox provides with their amps and how amazing they are. Backed up by hundreds of five-star reviews, this is an amp where you can’t go wrong.
What We Like About It
To further showcase how great this Vox amp sounds, it’s important to note that this comes with VET technology. This is technology that stands for Virtual Elements Technology, which is one of the most state-of-the-art designs that allows your sound to be amplified in crystal-clear clarity. You’ll understand the importance of this when you hear it for yourself.
- Comes with both AUX lead inputs and USB connectivity
- Compatible with two specific types of footswitches
- Grants you access to 33 individual preset programs to help customize your sounds
- 11 amp models to change your sounds with
To conclude our list of the best modeling amps today, we make our way back over to Fender for another one of their
Mustang amps. This specific model is a 20-watt powerhouse that really gives you more than enough bang for your buck. This amp comes fully loaded with everything for a professional experience, for a fantastic price.
Same Fender, Same Amazing Sound
There are 17 amp models to choose between, giving you access to a range of Fender’s best sounding amps and sound variations, which help you to perform basically any genre of guitar music you like. When it comes to exploring your opportunities to get creative, no one does it better than Fender.
This is backed by the amp’s compatibility to connect with the Fender FUSE software that grants you access to an incredible range of effects, all provided in the highest quality. This effect catalog contains all the classics, including reverb, tremolo, phaser, and echo, plus many bonus effects that sound great.
Of course, Fender offers all the essentials, including an AUX connection for connecting your music player, or for connecting your headphones when it comes to private practice, automatically muting the speaker’s output.
A Complete Audio Production Package
Another fantastic feature is the fact that this amp comes with software for furthering your recording ventures.
Connect the amp via USB to your computer, where you’ll have your free and included copy of Ableton Live Lite 8, the special Fender Edition. This is compatible with both Mac and Windows computers and allows you to record and edit your sounds for re-listening or even prepping to release to your fans!
This is an awesome amp in every way, both quality and performance included, and there are hundreds of satisfied customer reviews to back this up. As is common with a vast range of Fender products, this is one of the best-selling modeling amps in the market, and in many respects, it doesn’t get much better than this.
This amp sounds great, looks great, and comes with everything you need, whether you’re performing live or practicing at home or in the studio. There’s even a grille cloth, so maintenance is easy, and your amp always looks its best!
What We Like About It
We’ve mentioned this several times, but the Fender amp sounds amazing. This is all thanks to the special design that Fender has created for this amp. It’s an 8-inch design that optimally covers all frequency ranges, and it glistens with clarity.
- Comes with full USB compatibility for connecting to your computer
- Filled with 17 unique amp models that cover all genres and 24 integrated effect presets
- Available in 20-watt and 40-watt versions for practicing or performing live
- A specially designed 8-inch speaker that’s one of the most highly rated
The Complete Buying Guide to Choosing the Right Modeling Amp
As you can see, there are plenty of modeling amps here to choose from, many of which have similar features, and many of which have several aspects that are unique to certain models. As a musician, you’re going to want to choose the amp that’s right for what you’re after.
In the below buying guide, we’re going to explore the key features you need to look out for, as well as answer some of your most common questions, ultimately helping you make the right investment.
The first thing you’ll want to look at is how powerful your amp is in terms of wattage. The more watts your amp has, the louder it can be, which will obviously make it suitable for performing live.
If you’re only using your amp to practice at home or in a studio environment, you might not need something as loud as a 100-watt amp, but something smaller, from 5 watts upwards. However, for performing in venues, you need to be loud and perform to a high quality, which means getting an amp with lots of watts for pumping your sound out.
Available Amp Models
Inside many modeling amps, you’ll find what is known as ‘amp models.’ This is a feature that allows your amp to emulate the sounds and style of another amp, usually in the same manufacturer range, or a specific model.
Having a large selection of these amp models available means you can adjust your sound to suit different styles and different genres. This opens up a whole new door of possibility to what you can achieve with your amp, basically allowing you access to any number of amps in one!
Due to the nature of modern technology, the obvious draw to modeling amps is the number of effects that come with them. These are important for making sure you have the tools necessary to adjust your sounds and add many levels to your performances.
Always check the product description to see what kinds of effects and presets are available at your disposal. More budget-friendly options will come with a select few common effects, such as delay or reverb.
However, as you go up the price ladder, you can potentially allow yourself access to endless presets, all thanks to the ability to download new ones and custom versions from the internet.
The level of connectivity that a modeling amp has these days is so important because connecting your amp to other devices can help you do so much more. Of course, on more budget-friendly amps, you’ll have the ability to connect to your guitar and maybe a headphone port.
On more premium devices, you can connect to your computer via USB, which is great for allowing you to record and edit your sounds, or for downloading firmware updates and more effects. You can even connect your phone, tablet, or computer to record your sounds, add effects, or even stream your favorite playlists to listen to on your own time!
If you’re performing live and you’re going to be taking your amp with you wherever you go, you need to make sure it’s portable. Even if you’re only practice at home, busking in the streets, attending lessons, or going to a friend’s house, you need to make sure the amp is easy to move.
Of course, this might not be a necessary feature if you’re planning on keeping the amp in the same place, but it is vital if you plan on moving your amp around. Look for a compact, lightweight amp that you’re not going to get annoyed with or find too difficult to move.
As you can see from our list above, there are plenty of amps out there that come with a lot of extra and special features, and it’s well worth doing your research to see what deals and extras you can treat yourself to.
A common extra, specifically if the amp has USB connectivity, is a free DAW application suite, or some kind of computer software. This only exists to enhance your experience, and with some of the best on offer being Cubase and Ableton Lite Live, there are some great packages out there.
Frequently Asked Questions & Answers for Modeling Amps
Do you need to buy extra cables to connect to the modeling amp?
In most cases, yes, you’ll need a cable to connect your guitar to your modeling amp. However, this can be amp dependent, so always check the product description to see if a connection cable is included!
However, if your chosen amp is USB compatible, usually the amp will come with a USB cable so you can connect your computer to the amp straight away.
Is it better to get a solid-state amp or tube amp?
As you can see from our list, there are modeling amps out there that are designed to be tube amp or solid-state hybrids, so you can get the best of both worlds. However, what kind of amp you want is completely up to you, and what you’re looking to achieve as a musician.
If you’re looking for a lot of opportunities to play around with and adjust your sounds to something unique, or to find your own style, then a modeling amp will be well worth your attention.
Do these amps come with footswitches?
Not usually, and you’ll need to check to see whether your chosen amp is compatible with footswitches if you’re planning to use one. However, if you don’t have one and you want to use one, you’ll need to buy one separately.
Now that we’re shared everything you need to know, it’s now time to choose the modeling amp that’s right for you, if you haven’t already! Make sure you’re patient and spending your time to be clear about what sort of features and functionality you want, and you’re sure to find what’s best for you and your next musical venture.