Is there such a thing as the Best Guitar Amps For Jazz? Certainly, there is. Not everything with a speaker is great for playing what can be a complex style. As you can easily imagine, jazz goes back a long way. Its birthplace is commonly agreed upon as New Orleans. But when is more difficult to ascertain.
New Orleans had jazz clubs from the 1920s and possibly even before. Some can trace the origins of what were essentially jazz clubs as far back as 1895. But the when and the where doesn’t really matter. Jazz grew to be a big part of the musical psyche of the US. It produced great musicians and singers, and even a way of life.
Sadly though, Jazz is now in decline. It had its heyday, but it now sits in fifth place in the most popular forms of American music. But for those who love it, it is irreplaceable.
The first amps…
Guitar amplifiers came into use around the late 1920s. Basic and quite poor, they were needed to raise the volume level of the guitar player. Some of whom were taking solos. It has since become a never-ending quest to find a better amp. So, let’s take a look at this roundup we put together and see what is in store.
Top 5 Best Guitar Amps For Jazz to Purchase in 2021 Review
1 Fender Champion 20 Electric Guitar Amplifier – Best Budget Guitar Amp for Jazz
First up is Fender. Jazz musicians have been using their amps since those early days of the first so-called “Woody” amps in the 1940s. Fender made amps before they made guitars. But this offering has come a long way since then.
For a while now, we have been critics of Fender and what they do these days. With regards to amps, when we go to buy a Fender amp, we want it to look like one. No fancy colors or reinvented logos, just a Fender-looking amp. The Blackface does it for us, so that’s a good start.
It is a compact little amp measuring 16 x 12 x 16 inches and weighing under twelve pounds. Easy to carry around with you. It has one eight-speaker, specially designed, that will give you a decent twenty watts. As a result, it is one of the best lightweight guitar amps for Jazz.
The build is solid, and it has protective metal corners to make it ready to travel to work. And yes, the “Blackface” design and the vintage-looking control knobs all work for us. The black vinyl and silver grille cloth are the finishing touches. But that’s only half of it.
Classic Fender tones plus more…
This amp is going to dish you up some classic Fender tones at a very attractive price. It has a single channel that includes plenty of voicing options. Everything from those classic Fender noises to some modern high-gain.
As for the “more,” part of the sound package is a selection of British and modern amps. These allow you to play with a wide range of sound and tone options. Great for practice, great for performing.
Built-in to let you do some sound modeling are some basic but useful effects. You get Reverb and Delay, plus Chorus, Vibratone, and a Tremolo. These can be synced to the tempo of your playing using the tap button. There is a ¼-inch input for your guitar and ⅛-inch aux input for use with a media player. You also get a ⅛-inch stereo socket for headphones.
A great look and a very good sound at an attractive price point. It seems that Fender has got something right for a change. Should be considered as one of the best affordable guitar amps for Jazz on the market.
Sounds great but could be louder…
It is a shame it didn’t get a touch more volume. That would have made it a stand-out amp for live performances. Nevertheless, for a smaller venue or practice, it is a great option.
- Well-made with a great look and original Blackface styling at a great price point.
- Very good sound with plenty of special effects and modeling options.
- Could have used a bit more power for live performances.
2 Roland JC-22 Jazz Chorus 40-Watt Guitar Amplifier – Best Guitar Amp with Chorus for Jazz
There are times when you string a few words together, and it immediately conjures up an impression. Take Roland, add Jazz plus Chorus, and that is such a phrase. Put those three together, and we all know what that means. This is a scaled-down version of that giant of an amplifier.
It is a compact amp measuring 21.46 by 12.99 by 16.54 inches and weighing 29 pounds. There are two power amps independent of each other. It has two custom-designed 6.5-inch speakers that handle 30 watts of power. Surprisingly powerful for one of the best compact guitar amps for Jazz.
The Roland JC-22 is the baby brother in the Jazz Chorus family. They are a series of amps renowned for their signature tone. The JC-22 delivers that same sound in this small package. As an available extra, it also includes the renowned Dimensional Space Chorus effect. This gives out an enthralling 3-D stereo sound.
There is a stereo effects loop that can switch from parallel to series. This will integrate effects from external sources. As a result, this one of the best sound modeling guitar amps for Jazz. The only effect built-in apart from the Chorus is a lush-sounding Reverb.
Are all situated conveniently on the front. Along with the controls for Reverb and the Chorus, there is a basic 3-way EQ for control of Treble, Mid, and Bass. Also, a switch for adding some brightness if you need it.
There are sockets for a footswitch, effects loops, and Line in/out on the rear. The Line socket will let you connect to an audio interface or PA system. Also on the back is the headphone jack and the switch for moving loops between parallel and series.
A true classic…
This isn’t the cheapest amp you will find with this power rating. However, as we said in the beginning, the words Roland, Jazz and Chorus mean a lot. And a lot is what you get with this amp.
- Compact amp with a legendary JC sound.
- Built-in Reverb, Chorus, and a Dimensional Space Chorus effect.
- Some might think it expensive.
3 VOX Electric Guitar Amplifier (AC30C2) – Best Premium Guitar Amp for Jazz
There haven’t been many amps in history when all you need do is look at them to know. This is one. A vintage look that says it all, from the Shadows and the Beatles through Marc Bolan and Justin Hayward to Queen and even Nirvana.
The Versatile AC30…
The AC30 has always been an amp with a very recognizable sound. But the AC30C2 gives you that and a little bit more. You can get a range of sounds from classic British tones to those with a newer, harder edge. This makes this AC30 one of the most versatile guitar amps for Jazz around and a highly sought-after commodity.
Unlike some amplifier manufacturers who have their classic designs and then tinker with them, Vox keeps its look. And what a look it is. There are a few amps that are instantly recognizable. This is one of them. The look is all there, from the three handles on the top to the classic speaker cloth and the black vinyl styling with logo. A simple message, this is a Vox.
It has a rugged build measuring 32.5 by 15.7 by 26.4 inches and weighing 70 pounds, so it is no lightweight. It has two twelve-inch Celestion speakers that will give you thirty watts of nice and clean sound. And, of course, it has tubes. Four EL84 power tubes and three 12AX7 preamp tubes.
There are two channels, top boost and normal, with independent controls. Plenty of options to use the treble and bass controls and the tone cut to get “that” chimey Vox sound.
Each channel has dedicated volume control, and there is a Master volume. Jazz players usually want crisp and clean, and here it is. But there is also a little edge hidden inside if you want to find it. As we said, versatile.
To add to the sound options available, there are Reverb and Tremolo effects built-in. And to bring in your pedals, there is a True bypass effects loop. Great looking and great sounding with bucket loads of nostalgia. Not cheap, of course, but with this, you are buying more than just an amp.
- That Vox sound plus a little more built-in.
- Great looking with a strong, authentic build.
- Some are going to find it expensive.
4 Fender 68 Custom Princeton Reverb Amplifier – Best Guitar Tube Amp for Jazz
Next in our Best Guitar Amps For Jazz reviews, if you are a fan of the 60s Fender look, then this amp has been designed as a tribute to those days. It isn’t an attempt at a re-issue; it has too many extras. Instead, it is what Fender calls a “tribute” amp. That said, it is one of the best vintage guitar amps for Jazz, just with some modern twists.
It has the classic looks and design of the 68 Custom Silverface, even down to the turquoise nameplate. And it not only looks like a 68 amp, but it also sounds very much like one. But it has a whole lot more.
The original was small and lightweight, with only a modest power output. It may have been designed for practice sessions or use at home. But it soon became a go-to amp for many people for performances. In the studio, it produced a great performance with its built-in reverb and vibrato.
Nothing much has changed in its basic format. It is still compact at 9.5 by 16 by 19.88 inches and only weighs 28 pounds. It has a ten-inch Celestion speaker, and included is a two-button footswitch and a cover made especially for the amp.
Fender has adopted similar manufacturing principles with this amp as the original Princeton. It has tube sockets that are hand-wired and all-tube circuits. It also has special transformers, which all add up to a serious attempt at accuracy to the original amp.
The new Princeton will give you the sounds of the original but with a little bit extra. The modified tone circuit offers a wider set of tonal options. Especially when it is used with your effects pedals, and these days, it will go into overdrive a little quicker.
Keeping its roots…
The crisp tones are clear, and Fender hasn’t forgotten the amp’s roots. For jazz players, it has that traditional crisp Fender sound. And with tube-driven reverb and vibrato, there is that ‘little bit extra’ we keep mentioning. A good choice providing you don’t need too much volume. Although quite expensive, that might be a consideration for some.
- Great authentic build and look.
- Modified tone circuits give you a little extra.
- Might be underpowered for some venues.
5 Roland JC-120 Jazz Chorus 120-Watt Guitar Amplifier – Best Value for the Money Guitar Amp for Jazz
So, before you ask the question, no, we haven’t forgotten it. Considered by many to be one of the great Jazz amps ever, how could we not close with this legend.
Still a classic…
Since we first saw it in 1975, this amp has been on countless recordings and has become recognized as the king of the clean tones. Today it is still a sought-after amp, but why?
Simple. Apart from its tough road-ready construction and the built-in effects, it has a clean, crisp sound that made it famous.
We mentioned it being road-ready, and it most certainly is. The build is heavy-duty with protectors on the edges and the corners, and it has some heavy-duty casters. And at just under 74 pounds, it is going to need them. It is also quite a large amp measuring 13.78 by 25.98 by 32.28 inches.
There are two sixty-watt amps built-in, each driving its own twelve-inch silver cone speaker. This gives a quality performance that is not only powerful but crystal clear.
If you know this amp, then you will know. If you don’t, then you ought to go and listen. The natural sound is expanded by a built-in stereo chorus that lifts this amp to a higher level.
The reverb, also built-in, just adds the icing on the cake to a unique sound. It is not unrealistic to call this one of the most expressive amps there has ever been.
Are located conveniently on the front and are well-labeled. They give you easy access to whatever tonal changes you need to make. It has two inputs and a three-band EQ for both channels.
This is what might be called an amp designed for a specialized sound. It certainly isn’t going to suit every genre. But for those requiring a clean, crisp sound that can swirl around a venue, then this is the one.
Quality comes at a cost…
For Jazz players who need that clean sound, it is superlative. It is easy to consider this as one of the Best Jazz Guitar Amps. It isn’t cheap, though, but then you probably might have guessed that by now.
- Has that trademark JC-120 sound with excellent Chorus and Reverb effects.
- Good strong road-ready build.
- Expensive for some.
Best Guitar Amps For Jazz Buying Guide
There are several things to consider when you are setting out to buy a good or even great Jazz amp.
What will you use it for?
If it is for performing, you will need to consider how portable it is. Firstly, will you be able to carry it on your own? Some are quite heavy. Secondly, are you able to transport it given its size? If it is for performing, then the build quality will need to be good. If it is just for practice at home, then size won’t be an issue.
Tube or Solid State?
This is a personal preference. Both will be able to cope with playing Jazz. Tube amps do have a unique sound that is warm and clean. When playing Jazz, you will want a good clean tone, and you are more likely to get that with a tube amp. They will be more expensive, but for someone looking to the future, a good tube amp is an investment.
Solid State amps have improved dramatically over the years and now provide some very good sounds. They can be a little bit ‘plastic’ at times and do lack the tube ‘warmth’. But they often have some nice effects built-in, which allow you to create great sounds.
Solid State amps are usually multi-purpose amps. They will contain effects like overdrive that, as a Jazz player, you probably won’t need. So if you go Solid State, make sure you get an amp with clean tones.
You can get rid of your overdrive and wah pedals. But some effects work well for Jazz playing. Chorus, of course, and also Reverb. Neither disturbs the purity of the signal too much, but both add depth to the sound.
Again this will depend on what you will use it for. Jazz isn’t Rock, so the need for some astronomical volume level isn’t required. But you should consider the venue size and what you might need. A ten-watt amp will be lost in a larger venue.
Looking for Something Else?
When it comes to guitar amps, we have you covered. Check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Portable Guitar Amplifiers, the Best Acoustic Guitar Amps, the Best Solid State Amps, the Best Modeling Amps, and the Best Low Watt Tube Amps you can buy in 2021.
Also, take a look at our comprehensive reviews of the Best Guitar Amplifiers under $200, the Best Mini Amp, the Best Battery Powered Guitar Amps, the Best Amps For Metal, and the Best Tube Amps currently available.
What are the Best Guitar Amps For Jazz?
We’ve looked at some excellent amps. We have to say that usually, you review some amps that aren’t fit for purpose. Not the case here. Every amp could be considered as the best for Jazz. But we have to make a choice, and as predictable as it might be, we are going for the…
For forty-five years, it has been with us, and if there is a cleaner-sounding amp, we haven’t heard it. It is excellent in every aspect, especially for the clean sounds demanded by jazz guitar players. But, it’s also very versatile; even Metallica uses these for their clean tones, jazz to thrash, the JC-120 does it all!
So, until next time, may your music always make you move.