The Stratocaster by Fender is arguably the most popular electric guitar on the market, and has been for quite some time now.
The simple design and great play-ability make it a perfect choice for both beginner and professional guitarists.
Sure, the Strat is pretty versatile, but what amp should you get in order to get the best sound?
In the vast sea of various different amps, it’s not always easy to pick just the right one.
Here’s the kicker:
I’ve come up with a short guide, as well as a list of the best amps you can get for your Strat.
We will, together, go over some of the most important features you should look for, as well as what makes each and every model unique and suitable for this legendary guitar!
Top 5 Amps for the Fender Stratocasters
|2.||Vox Valvetronix VT20X|
|3.||Fender Champion 100|
|4.||Marshall DSL Series DSL40C|
|5.||Hughes & Kettner TubeMeister 36|
What Makes the Strat Unique?
Apart from the design of this guitar being used by so many other brands, the Strat offers a pretty unique playing experience and tonal characteristics.
Of course, depending on the actual model you have, and the money you spent on it, you’ll be getting slightly different specs.
The Stratocaster can easily be used for a variety of different genres.
Most Strats come with a pickup layout that consists of single- coils for the neck and middle position, and a humbucker on the bridge position.
This, coupled with a five-way pickup switch means you can easily switch through 5 types of sound.
Whether it’s a solo, chord progressions, or fast riffs, the Strat has got you covered.
With that in mind, you’re basically looking for an amp that’s as versatile as the actual guitar.
Besides the electronics, the design of the neck makes for a pretty comfortable playing experience.
Having a slim and relatively narrow neck means you can easily both grip more complex chords and play complicated licks.
The Vintage models do come with a slightly less slim neck profile, but it’s still good enough for beginners to start practicing.
- Find an Adequate Pair for Your Strat – Try to Match the Price Range
Generally speaking, the end result of you playing guitar depends on 3 things.
First, your skill level. Second is the guitar you’re using. And third, is the amp you’re playing your guitar through.
Each of these components affects the end result differently.
What I’m trying to say is, pairing a beginner guitarist with a >$1000 guitar and amp won’t result in a great performance.
If you already have a Stratocaster, you should get an amp that’s going to allow it to display its full potential.
Playing a cheap guitar through an expensive amp, and vice versa, simply won’t sound good.
The bottom line is:
For a budget Strat, look for more of a budget amp, and for a more expensive one, a better amp makes more sense.
- Have a Rough Idea of What You’re Looking for
While you could use any amp for any genre and playing technique, some models simply perform better and give you more useful features than others.
As I’ve already said, the Strat is one of the most versatile guitars out there.
So, depending on the style of music you plan on playing the most, you should choose an amp accordingly:
- Jazz, country, funk, and other similar genres usually utilize the clean channel the most. Obviously, you’re going to look for an amp with a good clean tone.
- Tube amps, while they can be more expensive than other types, usually offer a strong and crisp clean sound, as well as the unique sounding natural overdrive.
- Modeling amps may be an interesting choice for the Strat as well. Because they offer so many different amp and cab simulations, and usually come with numerous interesting effects to play around with, with a simple press of a button you can go from playing blues to shredding heavy metal riffs.
- Solid state amps, on the other hand, don’t offer as wide of a range of different presets but balance clean and distortion tone quality pretty well. As they are easy to repair and generally much more sturdy than tube amps, they are a great choice for beginner guitarists, and Strats can sound pretty good on them.
What’s the bottom line?
Well, think about what you find to be the most appealing features from the different types of amps, and go with that. With a Fender Stratocaster, you can’t really go wrong.
Reviews of the Best Amps for Fender Stratocasters
- Marshall MG10CF
The MG10CF is probably one of the best small solid-state amps that you can use for home practice sessions. Coming from Marshall, you can expect a good sound as well as solid build quality.
Offering 10 Watts of pure power, you can count on the MG10CF to be more than powerful enough for your everyday needs. As it is pretty compact, it won’t take much room.
The controls while pretty limited, offer enough room for shaping your tone. There are separate volume controls for both the clean and overdrive channel.
A simple little button is used for toggling through the 2 channels, and a gain knob allows you to easily go from a rock tone to a sizzling heavy metal one.
Apart from the mentioned controls, there is one more knob, labeled “Contour”. It’s practically a mid boost/ cut control, used to shape and define the overdrive tone with more detail.
The MG10CF also has headphone/aux output and input, which both come in the standard 3.5mm jack size, so you won’t even have to use an adapter. Jamming along backing tracks or your favorite songs is done in no time.
- Very compact and convenient
- Good sounding clean and overdrive
- Aux/headphone I/O is pretty handy
- Overall good value
- Not much more than a practice amp
- Limited tonal possibilities
If you’re looking for a small yet good sounding amp to use for practice sessions with your Strat, the MG10CF by Marshall is an inexpensive yet solid option.
- Vox Valvetronix VT20X
The Valvetronix VT20X by Vox is probably one of the best sounding modeling amps on the market. For under $200, you get amazing versatility, great design, and the well-known Vox build quality.
What makes it unique when compared to other modeling amps is the fact that Vox used a tube preamp instead of going all- digital. So, you’re getting a wide variety of different presets, with the clean and overdrive ones sounding much more natural and organic than you’d expect.
The simulations include models such as the AC30, Brit 800, Double Rectifier, and many more. With 3 user presets available for custom modeling, the possibilities are practically endless with this amp.
There is an option for using a footswitch as well, so you can easily cycle through 4 different banks, loaded with either the built-in or your own custom presets.
Other controls include a 3-band EQ, volume, power level and gain, so you can shape your tone to the finest details.
As you’d expect from a modeling amp, there are built-in effects that include a compressor, chorus, flanger, phaser, and a couple of others, and they actually sound pretty good.
- A combination of tube tone and modeling options
- Great range of amp simulations
- Detailed controls over the sound
- Built-in effects
- Footswitch support
- Occasional hiss and background noise may occur
Vox really hit the sweet spot with the VT20X combining the best from the tube and modeling amp worlds. As this model comes in 20, 40, and 100W versions, you can easily go for it, whether it’s more of a practice, or a small/large venue gig amp you’re looking for.
- Fender Champion 100
At number 3, we have a fairly interesting model from Fender. The Champion 100 manages to combine the well-known design of this brand with the expected Fender sound, as well as a couple of handy little features.
As this bad boy packs 100 Watts of power, you can rest assured that you’ll be heard loud and clear, even at larger venues filled with people.
With a couple of built-in amp simulations, you can call the Champion a modeling amp. However, unlike most other models from this category, this amp isn’t packed with over the top simulations and countless effects.
You can basically choose from 5 different voices. They include tweed, blackface, British, metal, and jazz. While all of them sound pretty good, I found the blackface voice to sound best with my Strat.
Nonetheless, you still have a good choice of different presets, which actually sound decent.
Apart from that, you can choose from around 10 different effects as well, which can be pretty interesting if you’re playing a Strat.
- Overall good build quality
- Amp voices sound great
- Built-in effects
- A solid choice for gigging
- The effects could be a tad better sounding
The Champion 100 by Fender is a great addition to any guitarist’s gear, especially if you plan on playing gigs at larger venues.
- Marshall DSL Series DSL40C
The DSL40C is one of the best tube amps you can get from Marshall, at least while not busting your bank. For around $700, you get a true valve beast capable of delivering a wide range of different tones.
This bad boy sits right in between a 15W combo and a 100W head, placing it in the perfect middle ground between performance and portability.
Marshall went with a pretty simplistic approach with the DSL40C, but that doesn’t mean that the sound quality was sacrificed at all.
You get 2 channels, classic gain, and ultra gain. However, both of those channels has 2 modes, practically leaving you with 4 different voices.
The classic gain channel offers clean and crunch, and a myriad of various tones in between. Go either for the crispy clean tone, or, on the other hand, Plexi- style dirty sound.
The second, ultra gain channel, makes for a much heavier sound. Think of 80’s metal, and you’re thinking of the DSL40C.
With a 5 band EQ, you can easily shape the sound to your liking. Besides that, you can play around with either the classic or ultra reverb for additional flavor.
- Good choice of different Marshall tones
- 5 band EQ
- Consistent and clear performance
- Heavy, hard to carry around
- Footswitch control could cover more things
If you’re looking for that classic Marshall tube sound, the DSL40C is a great option worth considering.
- Hughes & Kettner TubeMeister 36 (Amp Head)
And finally, at number 5, we have the TubeMeister 36 amp head by Hughes&Kettner. This amp head is for those of you who own a more expensive Strat and are willing to spend a bit more money on an amp.
Given the fact that the around $800 price tag is only for the amp head, you need to consider the fact that you’re going to need a cabinet as well.
What makes the TubeMeister so special?
Well, if you’re a fan of tube amps, you probably love this model.
From the actual appearance, design details, to the outstanding performance, it’s clear that H&K really put some hard work in this one.
Basically, you have 3 different channels, clean, crunch, and lead, each with its special and unique flavor of tone.
The clean channel sounds incredibly open and clear. Turn up the gain, and enjoy that sweet tube overdrive sound.
The crunch channel adds some nice bite to the sound, while the lead channel takes it all the way.
There are 2 separate 3-band EQs, one for the lead, and the other for the clean/crunch channels.
- Amazing overall performance
- Separate EQ control for the channels
- MIDI footswitch compatible
- Power split is present
- Expensive for some, given the fact that you still need a cabinet as well
The TubeMeister 36 by Hughes&Kettner is one of the best amps you could get for your Strat, as it really allows it to show its true potential.
Conclusion - Which Amp is the Best Choice?
As I’ve already said, the Stratocaster is an amazingly versatile guitar. Depending on the amp you run it through, it can cater to the needs of pretty much any guitarist.
The models that I’ve chosen represent different approaches, and truly make the Strat sound different when compared to each other.
If I had to pick only one of the models I’ve mentioned, it would be the Valvetronix VT20X by Vox.
The combination of valve tubes and numerous great sounding amp simulations make it a perfect partner for the Fender Stratocaster.
It’s an amp that’s worth every cent and should last you a pretty long time as well.
Well, that pretty much concludes our article. I truly hope you found it helpful and learned something new while reading it.
As always, thank you for reading, and I’ll catch you in the next one!