The best jazz guitar amplifiers can mean different things to different musicians. As ever, the “perfect” tone for any genre is a highly contested topic. In a parallel universe, we would A/B all our favorite amps at a local store. That's not an option for many of us, especially in 2021.
But the show must go on.
The next best thing is to revert to online resources and rely on the first-hand experience of seasoned musicians. There is a step you must take before that. Figure out your stylistic needs, tone palette, and budget, and finding the right amp for your rig becomes a simpler task.
Once that is done, this roundup can lead you to the perfect choice. My selection criteria are an amalgam of price, performance, build quality and sound. I also link to the best video resources to review guitar amplifiers. Why shouldn't your ears chime in on the decision?
Now, unless you are willing to go the boutique route, much of this post hints at Fender amps. The brand has an iron grip on solid-state and tube amps that work well for jazz. I also wanted the selection of amps to be accessible. So, I sidestepped premium/boutique amps that cost a fortune.
With that preface, let’s look at the top three picks and move on to detailed reviews.
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Top Three Picks for Best Guitar Amplifiers for Jazz
The iconic Roland JC-120 Jazz Chorus is my top pick for the best jazz guitar amp. It’s a longstanding classic that we have heard in many of our favorite recordings. The construction is robust, the sounds are fantastic, and the price is within reach for any committed musician. You should look at the Fender Tone Master Twin Reverb if you want something in the digital realm.
Fender Champion 40 is a perfect wallet-friendly choice for those who predominantly need a practice amp. It can accompany you in small gigs and recordings. But, the selling points here are portability, good clean tones, built-in effects, and a sub-$300 price tag.
Among the tube amplifiers for jazz guitar, Fender George Benson Hot Rod Deluxe is a top choice. George Benson is celebrated for his scat skills, crossover style, and to-die-for tone. Fender designed this amp in collaboration with the legend to bring you a slice of his greatness.
Detailed Reviews of the Best Jazz Guitar Amplifiers of 2021
1.Best Overall: Roland JC 120 Jazz Chorus Guitar Amplifier
The "King of the Clean" JC 120 is undoubtedly the best jazz guitar amp, and it has been so for many decades now. The Roland Jazz Chorus Amplifier belongs to an iconic and time-tested club of solid-state amps. It's a perfect workhorse amp with a universally recognized tone, killer stereo chorus, and retro-styling.
- 120-watt (60W + 60W) combo amplifier
- 2 x 12-inch silver cone speaker
- 2 channel with stereo effects loop
- Built-in effects – stereo chorus, reverb, distortion, and vibrato
- Rugged build with built-in caster wheels
This build-like-a-tank guitar amp packs serious power, quality components, and stereo output under the hood. It was launched in the 1970s but it continues to enjoy unrivaled popularity in the segment due to its sparkling clean sound and built-in stereo chorus effect.
The Roland JC 120 Jazz Chorus Amp is powerful, but the clean tones are what make this such a coveted jazz guitar amp. It sounds huge and exciting when the occasion calls for power. The amp features two 12-inch speakers powered by two 60-watt power amplifiers.
The price tag may be out of reach for casual musicians or hobbyists. Moreover, the power handling is sheer overkill if you are only going to use it for home practice. Either way, if you have the cash and need, the JC-120 has all the clarity and heft you could desire.
In a nutshell, the JC 120 delivers a rich, powerful, and iconic tone. It could be the dream beast for gigging and recording musicians. More so if you want a piece of history wrapped in the classic tones from an iconic jazz chorus collection. Either way, you get a lot of power and value on every cent of the dollar you spend.
2.Best Budget: Fender Champion 40 Combo Guitar Amplifier
Some guitarists have humble needs. A quality practice amp to noodle away in their free time. Those big-hitting bad boys don’t justify the price tag when the volume knob is always at one. Plus, the neighbors may not be as supportive as you think if you transcribe John McLaughlin licks after midnight on a Twin Reverb. For those use cases, I vouch for the Fender Champion 50 as the perfect solution.
- 40-watt solid-state combo amplifier
- Fender Special Design 12-inch speaker
- 2 channel with a single input
- Built-in effects and versatile amp voicings
- 1/8” auxiliary input + headphone output
The Fender Champion Series is now a modern classic, but this 40W avatar is a budget-friendly way to score an amp that can be used for practice and smaller gigs. It’s a solid-state combo amp with a robust black-meets-silver-grille enclosure.
The amplifier houses a single 12-inch speaker and has a 2-channel operation – clean and gain/voice. It also includes 1/8-inch aux input to play your backing tracks and a ¼-inch headphone input. The amp models and effects make it a highly versatile choice.
Tone-wise, it doesn’t compare to the Reverb or Blues Junior, but it has the sweet cleans that will sit well with jazz guitar players. It’s easy to dial in a good tone and the amp sounds good across the range of volume. In addition, you can always plug in a pair of headphones for silent practice.
VerdictThe Fender Champion could be the best jazz guitar amp for those who need a compact build for bedroom use, rehearsals, and small-venue gigs. If you need a jazz guitar amp purely for practice (with no scope of gigging), the Champion 20 or Roland Cube are more wallet-friendly options.
3.Best Digital: Fender Tone Master Twin Reverb Guitar Amplifier
After the JC 120, Fender Tone Master Twin Reverb is the second heavy hitter on my list. Imaginably, it has too much juice for home use alone (or any other modest application). Heck, it might be too loud for small venues too. But when you let it rip ‘n roar, it reminds you why it is a soon-to-be success in the guitar circles.
- 85-watt digital processing amp with five attenuated settings
- 2 x Jensen N-12K neodymium speakers
- Normal, warmup, and mute/silent mode
- USB port for firmware upgrades
- Padded cover and 2-button footswitch included
The dynamics, wide response, and scooped mids are all there in the right amount. The guitar amplifier can also be as loud as the occasion calls for it without relinquishing its expansive treble and gritty drive without the hiss and hum found on the non-digital version.
Tonally, the amplifier FX sounds are a touch brighter than the original Twin Reverb. In most other uses, the Tonemaster is on the money. The build-in voicings and effects are stellar and guitarists will find themselves using them instantly or more often than ever.
The Tone Master draws its juice from the new Jensen N-12K speakers with neodymium magnets. You will have to strain the ears to tell the difference between the original and digital amp in a full mix or live band setting.
The Tone Master amplifier has nailed the digital spin and eliminated the weight factor, which was a worry with the flagship model. It is a cost-effective way to retain the classic Twin Reverb style and headroom while staying in the sub-$1000 price bracket. There are a few differences, but none that weigh down anyone looking for a go-to jazz guitar amplifier.
4.Best Tube: Fender George Benson Hot Rod Deluxe Guitar Amplifier
In 2013, Fender launched a guitar amp fine-tuned to the needs of jazz guitar players and designed in collaboration with George Benson. Plus, the amp has been around long enough for thousands of jazz guitarists to vouch for its top-notch performance.
- 40-watt combo guitar amplifier
- Jensen C12K 12-inch speaker
- 2 channel operation
- Designed in collaboration with George Benson
- 2 x 12AX7 preamp tubes + 12AT7
- Padded cover and 2-button footswitch included
Spec-wise, the GB Hot Rod Deluxe is a 40W all-tube amp with a solid pine enclosure and gray Tolex grille. Under the hood, you find a 12-inch Jensen C12K speaker that works perfectly for jazz. The amp also features 2 x 6L6 power tubes with 1 x 12AT7 and 2 x 12AX7 preamp tubes.
The control panel features 3 knobs to EQ the tone and a 2-channel operation – Clean Channel and Drive. The GB Deluxe is famous for its low-gain, sweet tone. It sounds dynamic, responsive, and well-rounded (no muddy lows!) thanks to the 12AT7 preamp tube.
The 100-watt speaker ensures a copious range and plenty of headroom. In a nutshell, the tones are rich and sound pleasantly lush in a variety of applications. The guitar amp is lightweight enough (43 lbs) to lug it around without any hassles. It’s perfect for home use, practice, jams, and rehearsals.
The Hot Rod guitar amp for jazz is for those who admire Benson’s tone or organic-sounding clean tones. It is relatively pricey, but you get a versatile amp of the highest pedigree in return. Considering the warm tone, the 2-channel footswitch, and the build quality, the GB Deluxe amp is destined to add quality and value to your jazz rig.
5.Best Brit: Vox AC30 C2 All-Tube Guitar Amplifier
The AC30 C2 delivers clean and overdriven sounds with the same aplomb. It is famed for its signature chime and a historic stint as the amp that powered the British Invasion. The C2 version promises to be hotter, more contemporary and bears the authentic styling. This is the amp for those who want a piece of the British tone with an affordable price tag.
- 30-watt All-Tube guitar amplifier
- 2 x 12-inch Celestion G12< Greenback Speakers
- Fender Special Design 12-inch speaker
- EL84 Power Tubes
- Normal and Top Boost
- 1/8” auxiliary input + headphone output
Vox is very popular on the other side of the pond. After all, their reputation stands on the appreciation of every member of the Beatles. There are a few jazz cats who use Vox guitar amplifiers in the Northern continent, John Scofield is the first to come to my mind.
Vox offers three killer amplifiers for jazz guitar players. The AC-15, AC-30, and Valvetronix VT40+. I picked the AC30 C2 because it is easily available and has hundreds of musicians vouching for its brilliance.
The guitar amplifier does lack a footswitch option and a rectifier valve. However, it is unlikely that you will miss them as you employ its classic flavor. By itself, the amp is highly versatile. It can sound warm, organic, belligerent, and deep.
The Vox AC30 C2 guitar amp is a great amalgam of classic styling and modern usability. The tone is old-school but the amp has oodles of super cleans and sonic appeal. If you dig this flavor of tone, it could easily qualify as the best jazz guitar amplifier for your gig-rig and studio recordings.
6.Best Stereo: Roland JC 22 Jazz Chorus Guitar Amp (Budget Pick)
It is no secret that Roland's solid-state stereo amp is a bestseller among jazz guitar players. From a larger avatar to a 40W combo, the JC amps have seen a lot of success due to their clean tones and reverb and stereo chorus effects. With the JC-22, Roland has compacted their iconic sounds in a perfect home-use package for jazz aficionados.
- 30W True Stereo Guitar Amp
- 2 x 6.5” speakers
- Built-in reverb and Dimensional Space Chorus
- Compact, lightweight, and portable
- Perfect for home use and rehearsals
The Roland JC-22 is a 20W stereo guitar amplifier with a pair of 6.5-inch speakers. It is specifically made for home users who covet the stereo effects, inputs, and effects loops that can be toggled with a footswitch. This includes a unique Dimensional Space Chorus effect.
It has fantastic cleans that sound the right amount crisp and warm. The sounds are pristine and scream jazz when you run a semi-hollow electric guitar through it with a kiss of reverb. The built-in effects are of an excitingly high standard, especially for the price. The JC-22 is every bit portable and travel-friendly.
Similar to its larger counterpart – the JC 120 – the Roland JC 22 is one of those amps you can't go wrong with. Consider it a highly-compact treat for jazz guitar players – the kind that excels at every setting without breaking the bank. You will need a pedalboard for a full range of tones. However, it’s fully capable of appeasing your tonal palette if you don’t expect built-in overdrive.
7.Best for Blues/Jazz: Fender Blues Junior IV Guitar Amplifier
The Fender Blues Junior IV is a grab-and-go contender for the best jazz guitar amplifier. This amp is a staple in blues, jazz, and their blended iterations. It features portable single-channel operation and luscious clean tones.
- 15-watt combo amp
- Celestion 12-inch A-Type Speaker
- Proprietary preamp circuit for fullness
- Spacious and natural spring reverb
- 1-button footswitch included
The Blues Jr. features a 12AX7 preamp section, two EL84 power tubes, and a 12" driver. It is a 15-watt amplifier, but don’t let that fool you. It can sound plenty loud when cranked. Luckily, the power comes in a compact package styled as a black cab with an aged yellow grille cloth.
The amp is lightweight with a vintage appeal. It’s ultra-portable and ideal for those who need to lug it between recordings, gigs, and home use. Tone-wise, the Blues Jr. IV is famed for creamy organic tones and smooth cleans. It has a ‘FAT’ footswitch to kick up the mids for solos.
The amplifier has headroom and midrange grit for overdrive and a well-balanced presence when pampered with modulation. It features a remarkable built-in spring reverb. Overall, it is an exemplary workhorse for the money that will serve all your club gigs and recordings.
Pick up a Fender Blues Junior IV if you want a sturdy, portable, and responsive valve-based amplifier. Fender found the perfect formula of price, tone, and size with the fourth version of the amp. It’s creamy, warm, and surprisingly loud, making it a powerhouse in its price range.
The list for the best jazz guitar tone doesn't end here. Numerous guitar amplifiers and stacks are seemly for jazz and its various niches. My selection is just 7 of the ones that offer the best value, tone, and build quality among their competitors. Of course, if you are willing to pay thousands of dollars, there is a wide world that opens up to you. For everyone else, I hope this list has helped you make an informed purchase. As always, Happy Hunting!