The 6 Second Summary:
Particularly with such a rhythmic music like funk, the real funky sounds and tones will undoubtedly come from the looseness of your picking hand (as it intuitively feels around for different tonal areas around the neck and bridge to strum), and the timing of the musical ideas which flow from your ears.
Once you’ve got that down, the best amplifier for your funk is the one which complements the feel from your hands. For Jimmy Nolen, James Brown’s guitar player, that was the Fender Twin Reverb, an amp with a classic tube sound, and brilliant trebles for his strums to pierce through recordings like “I Got the Feeling”.
For selections like the Fender Twin Reverb which can hopefully pair well with your funk sound, keep reading for some selections we’ve made.
There’s just something about funk that makes your body move to the groove.
This genre is amazingly enjoyable to listen to, but even more fun to play on your guitar.
However, once again, you’re not really sure what kind of amp you should get.
Lucky for you, I’ve come up with a simple explanation of the sound you’re looking for, as well as a list of some of the best amps you can get for this kind of music.
So, let’s see exactly how you can achieve that slick chuck-ah tone in no time!
Top 5 Amplifiers for Funk Guitarists
|1.||Vox V9106 Pathfinder|
|2.||Orange Crush Pix CR12L|
|3.||VHT AV-SP1-6 Combo|
|4.||Fender Mustang II V2|
|5.||Marshall Code 50|
What Defines That Unique Funky Guitar Tone?
Take a listen to some of the most popular funk guitarists out there.
James Brown, Prince, Nile Rodgers.
What can you tell about the guitar tone?
First of all, for funk music, you’re mostly going to be using the clean channel. So, you’re basically looking for an amp that can give you a nice, crisp, and balanced clean tone.
Many of the amps I’ve recommended for country twang can be easily used for this kind of tone, as you’re kind of looking for the same traits.
Generally speaking, playing funk is more about the actual technique than the gear you’re using.
Sure, most musicians would recommend amps such as the Fender Deluxe, or the Bassman. However, these are pretty expensive, and as a beginner, you won’t be able to really tell the difference.
- A Good EQ to Start With – Don’t Forget the Mids!
Once you actually get an amp, you should at least have a rough idea about the settings that you’re going to use for this kind of tone.
Using the neck pickups can give you more definition as well.
A good EQ combination for funk is: boosted highs and lows, and slightly lower mids.
This is great for practicing riffs and licks at home.
However, playing alongside other people, whether it’s band practice or on a stage, with this kind of EQ setup won’t get you far.
As mids are the guitar’s frequencies, you won’t be able to cut through the mix.
So, the bottom line is: turn up the treble and bass but give the mids a good kick as well.
As with any genre of music, this kind of advice is to be used as a baseline. Build your own unique sound on top of it, and you’ll be delivering groovy licks in no time!
- The Age-Old Question – Tube, Solid State, or Modeling?
Once again, you need to choose from these 3 main types of amps.
When it comes to funk, and that particular tone, a tube amp is always a good idea.
You’re looking for as clear of a clean tone possible. That natural tube overdrive you get from this kind of amps is good, but make sure you’re not getting it accidentally when you’re playing certain parts of songs that require a clean sound.
Solid state amps often offer handy effects such as Phaser, which can add a nice flavor to your sound. Being pretty affordable in most cases is definitely something that you’re looking for as a beginner guitarist.
Modeling amps, well, as I’ve already said before, can be pretty tricky. Depending on the actual model, you can either have a natural sounding, or pretty artificially-colored tone.
The best thing about this kind of amps is that they do offer simulations of some amps that can be pretty expensive. Sure, they won’t sound exactly like the real thing, but can get pretty close.
- Less is More – Let Your Amp do the Talking
I’ve heard of many guitarists using this simple trick for achieving that sweet funky tone.
By using a smaller, less powerful amp, you can crank it up much more without actually collapsing the walls of your house or the venue you’re playing in.
This way, you can really unleash the full potential of the amp, and get as tight of a clean tone possible.
For home practice sessions, you can go under 10W and achieve this effect easily.
As for gigs, it depends on the size of the venue. Downscaling proves to be a good way of getting a good tone while at the same time, saving up some money!
Now, let’s see some of the best guitar amps for funk!
Reviews of the Best Guitar Amps for Funk
- Vox V9106 Pathfinder
Vox is one of those companies that basically needs no introduction. The V9106 Pathfinder is a great example of an amp that can offer a great sounding and tight clean tone at an affordable price point.
For under $100, this just may be your best option if you are on a tight budget.
As it has only 10 Watts of power, it’s great for practicing at home. This also means you can crank the volume and gain pretty high and get that snappy treble-rich sound easily.
The controls while pretty basic, cover volume, gain, treble, and bass, with, of course, a switch for toggling between the clean and overdrive channel.
For most beginners, this should be enough, but a 3-Band EQ would be nice as well.
With no integrated effects, you will have to use some additional pedals in order to get that true funky sound. However, with a great sounding clean channel and pretty low price point, it’s definitely still worth it.
Being pretty small and lightweight, it’s practical enough for carrying around for practice sessions with your friends. The solid build quality Vox is known for guarantees that this amp is going to last you a long time.
- The focus is on a consistent, snappy, clean sound
- Having 10W of power allows you to use it to its full potential
- Simple controls
- Pretty affordable
- Lacks effects
If you’re all about simplicity, and just want a solid, great sounding amp for playing funk, the V9106 Pathfinder by Vox is a great option worth considering.
- Orange Crush Pix CR12L
Orange amps have become somewhat of a synonym for “vintage” and “old school”. Their Crush CR12L is an affordable, yet pretty effective sneak peek into the world of Orange amps and their unique sound and flavor.
The whole design of this amp has that vintage feel. However, it doesn’t just look good. The build quality is pretty solid as well, with the corners offering extra protection.
The controls finally cover a 3-Band EQ, unlike many models in this power range. Besides that, you’ve got your standard volume and gain knobs, as well as overdrive control.
How does it sound? Well, it has that Orange vibe for sure. The clean tone is pretty raw and organic, and adding just a grain of overdrive can give you that additional sting needed for playing funk.
The 12 Watts if offers should be enough for most circumstances except gigs at venues that are larger than a café.
Pair this puppy up with a wah pedal or a compressor, and you’ve got yourself a small, yet ferocious funk box!
- Good both for practicing and small gigs
- Appealing looks, durable build
- Natural and raw sounding clean tone
- The overdrive adds a nice flavor to the sound
- Could use an FX loop
The sound sometimes breaks up at high volume settings
Orange amps offer a unique tonal and playing experience, which I, personally, find to be great for playing funk and similar genres. For just under $100, the CR12L is an amp worth considering.
- VHT AV-SP1-6 Combo
Although not as popular as Vox, Fender, or Marshall, VHT definitely knows their way around amps. The AV-SP1-6 combo is an amp that may look simple at first glance, but can definitely provide you with various interesting tone settings.
Offering 6W of power, it’s perfect for practice sessions at home. As it is a tube amp, 6W can actually give you more than a solid-state amp with the same power rating.
So, you can basically use it to jam along with your friend, or split the power in half with the dedicated switch, and still be able to use it to its full potential without waking up the whole neighborhood.
Similar to the Vox V9106, the controls are as minimalistic and straightforward as they can get. With only a tone and volume knob to tinker around, you can really experiment with the sound of the guitar you’re using, and hear the details that your technique adds to the sound.
But why should you spend around $250 on a 6W amp?
Well, the wide tonal range this amp is capable of covering is definitely worth the money. The cleans are similar to the ones you would get from a much more expensive Fender amp, and the overdrive is reminiscent of the AC-15 one.
You can easily make your guitar snap and pop to the groove with the VHT AV-SP1-6 combo!
- Very dynamic sound
- Great for funk as well as other genres
- Unique tube sound
- Power split option comes in handy
- No effects
The VHT AV-SP1-6 offers a vintage experience, that covers a good variety of different, funky sounds.
- Fender Mustang II V2
At number 4, we have a great modeling amp coming from Fender. The Mustang II V2 features a wide range of different amp simulations, which make tuning in that snappy funk tone a piece of cake.
Fender is known for their famous but expensive professional guitarist equipment. However, the Mustang II V2 manages to capture the essence of that unique Fender flavor and offers it at an affordable price point.
You can either go for the 20 or 40W option, but personally, I’d recommend the first one.
Controls cover gain, volume, master volume, as well as treble and bass as far as EQ goes.
What really makes this amp special when compared to the others I’ve mentioned so far is the ability to choose from 17 different amp presets. All of the simulations sound pretty good and allow you to experiment the funk playing technique through amps such as the Supersonic, Deluxe, and many more.
The digital delay and reverb sound decent, but still can’t be compared to the natural ones that other amps can offer.
- Various amp models to choose from
- Good sounding clean tone
- Built-in delay and reverb
- Supports custom presets
- Some buzzing may occur
As far as modeling amps for funk go, the Mustang II V2 by Fender is probably your best bet, due to the great sounding clean tone presets and built-in effects.
- Marshall Code 50
And finally, at number 5, we have the Code 50 by Marshall. Similar to the previously mentioned Mustang II V2 by Fender, this is Marshall’s take on modeling amps.
While the Mustang II is, obviously, focused on fans of the classic Fender sound, the Code 50 features great sounding presets with that well-known and unique Marshall flavor.
As it is a 50W amp, it should be enough for smaller gigs, as well as your everyday home practice sessions.
Browsing through and choosing the presets is easily done with the dedicated buttons and a small display. The simulations include 14 preamp models, 4 power amp models, as well as a couple of different cab options.
This means that you can choose the amp you want, and run it through various different cabs in order to get just the right sound.
Funk-wise, we’re looking at a wide range of different amp sims, each with a unique sounding clean tone.
With built-in effects, and the ability to play alongside backing tracks via the aux port, the Code 50 is definitely a great choice.
- Wide range of amp and cab simulations
- Built-in effects
- Easy to navigate through the presets via the display
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Some of the presets sound a bit too artificial
If you’re a fan of modeling amps, but prefer Marshall over Fender, definitely consider getting the Code 50.
Final Words and the Top Choice for Funk
Even after checking out my pick of the 5 best guitar amps for funk, you might not be sure which one to get.
Personally, I would have to go for the Orange Crush Pix CR12L.
It’s the raw power and snappy clean tone that makes it so good, with the overdrive adding to the already amazing playing experience.
Just don’t forget that a good amp won’t make you sound better if you don’t practice your technique! And funk is one of those genres that relies heavily on the musician and not that much on the instrument.
As always, I hope that you found this article informative and that it helped you with choosing just the right amp for your needs!
Thank you for reading, and I’ll catch you in the next one!