Whether you love country music or hate it, you can’t argue that it has a pretty interesting tone, and requires a bunch of unique playing techniques for it to sound on point.
But how exactly do you achieve that sound without spending loads of money on equipment?
In this article, we will go over the crucial specs and features that a good amp for country twang needs to have.
You will learn how to set up the amp for this kind of tone, as well as other things you can do to achieve that old-school western sound.
What is Country Twang?
Generally speaking, country twang can mean a couple of things.
Think of someone with a country or southern US accent. You can almost translate exactly that into the world of guitar tone.
It’s that unique, thin, yet treble-rich tone that’s mostly used in country music.
Sure, you could play any genre of music with the same tone settings, but it would lack that vibe and feel the genre is known for.
The same thing applies to country music. It’s that twang and bright tone that give this genre that unique flavor and essence.
- The Technique
Technique is as important as is your gear.
Like with any instrument and specific genre of music, the technique is as important, if not more important than the actual equipment you’re using.
People always say that a good musician can utilize even a bad sounding instrument and make it sound good.
So, in order to exploit the full potential of your guitar and amp, you first need to take into consideration a couple of things.
- Practice With Your Guitar Unplugged
This way, you can focus more on the actual fingerwork than the sound. It’s important to get a good grip of your instrument before you start playing around with your tone.
- A Heavier Pick May be More Comfortable
Considering the tonal characteristics of the genre in question, a slightly heavier and thicker pick should result in a more accurate sound.
- Try 10’s for Your String Size
Same as the previous tip regarding the pick, this type of strings will make achieving that twang way easier.
- Focus on the Picking Hand
As country can get pretty fast, focusing on your picking hand and working on your stamina will greatly improve your skill level.
What Kind of Amp Should You Look for?
Think about country music, listen to it, and focus on the guitar.
What can you tell about the tone?
Well, first of all, you need to look for an amp that has a good clean tone.
As most songs utilize this kind of tone more than an overdriven or distorted one, a natural sounding and clear clean tone is your priority.
On the other hand, some of the most popular country guitarists like to turn on the overdrive when playing solos.
So, basically, you’re looking for a great clean tone, with a good and powerful overdrive.
Tube amps are probably the best choice for country twang, but unfortunately, they tend to be pretty expensive.
Solid state amps will do the job just fine, especially considering the fact that you’re more or less a beginner.
In the review part of this article, you will have the chance to look at some of the best amps we’ve chosen, coming from different price ranges.
Dial in Your Sound – The Gain, EQ, and Effects
So, how do you actually achieve that country twang tone?
You’re looking for a thin sound, with a lot of treble.
A good starting position on your amp can look like this:
- Set your volume at a level you normally would
- Gain should be somewhere in the middle, with a slight boost for when you’re playing a solo
- If you’re playing a Telecaster or a similar sounding guitar, dial in the bass at around 12 o clock
- On the other hand, guitars with humbucker pickups sound better with slightly less bass
- Play around with the highs – As we’ve said, it’s all about reaching that thin, treble- rich tone
As for the effects, it’s up to you and your personal preferences.
Country twang shouldn’t be too saturated with effects. A bit of reverb, or even a hint of delay. Experiment with the settings on your amp, or pedals if you use any.
By following these simple steps, you will have a good baseline, with which you can play around, and modify it to sound just the way you like it.
While there are certain boundaries and borders in music, at the end of the day it’s up to you to find that tone and dial in those settings that sound and feel the most comfortable!
Reviews of the Best Guitar Amps for Country Twang
- Vox V9106 Pathfinder Combo
The V9106 Pathfinder Combo by Vox is arguably one of the best amps that you, as a beginner, could get. Coming in at under $100, it’s an investment worth every penny.
The fact that Vox oriented this model towards absolute guitar newbies is pretty clear.
Starting from the controls, you can see they’re straightforward and minimalistic. Gain, treble, bass, and volume knobs are coupled only with a switch which allows you to toggle between clean and overdrive channels.
Blasting 10W out of a 6.5” speaker will definitely be more than enough for practice sessions, and you can always pop in a pair of headphones if playing after hours is more of your thing.
So, why should you get this model from a country twang point of perspective?
Well, Vox is known for their great sounding clean tone. While there are definitely better-sounding amps from this company, the fact that the V9106 Pathfinder Combo is so simple and most importantly, inexpensive, makes for a great balance of sound quality and price.
- Simple and easy to use
- Can get pretty loud
- Good sounding clean tone
- At under $100, it’s practically a steal
- No built-in effects
- The tonal range is kind of limited
If you’re looking for a solid amp for home practice sessions, look no further than the V9106 by Vox.
- Fender Champion 20
When you think about country music and where it originated, it’s pretty obvious that going for a Fender amp is a good idea. Their Champion 20 model is a budget-friendly option that can deliver some mean tunes!
After just the first glance at the controls, you can see that the Champion 20 has a lot to offer.
Besides the regular gain, volume, bass, and treble knobs, there are a couple more that deserve attention.
The first one is called voice, and allows you to choose from 4 different sound styles, each with its own unique characteristics. These include tweed, Blackface, British, and metal, meaning you can truly experiment with the sound.
Personally, I find the Blackface voice type as the best for country twang, rocking that retro feel and providing everything that we’ve talked about in the intro.
Other controls include FX Level as well as the actual effects, ranging from reverb to tremolo, with chorus, flanger, delay, and the most commonly used ones in between.
As the name suggests, this version of the Champion offers 20W of power, with larger and more powerful, 40 and 100W variations being available as well.
- Huge sound from a small body
- Crisp and clear highs
- Various amp voices
- Good sounding effects
- The effects could be better sounding
Overall performance is at beginner guitarist level
- Vox MINI3G2CL
Continuing our journey with another inexpensive amp, at number 2 we have the MINI3G2CL by Vox. The sheer versatility and great sounding clean tone that this amp can provide make it a great choice for beginners.
Although some musicians may argue that a modeling amp isn’t the best choice for this kind of music, the fact that this model has so much to offer justifies its place in our review.
The MINI3G2CL offers 11 different amp model simulations, each being on point and sounding very natural. The clean channel is surprisingly clear and bright, which is perfect for achieving that thin, country twang tone.
Even though it comes in a small form factor, this amp can really hit those low notes as well as the highs. Vox included their “Bassilator” circuit in order to do so, without any sound degradation even at higher volume levels.
You can easily take this puppy with you wherever you go, as it can run on AA batteries for up to 10 hours of playtime.
Pair it up with a mic on the spot, use the included effects, and you’ve got yourself a one-man country show!
- Compact and lightweight design
- 11 Different amp simulations
- Great sounding clean tone
- Easy to use
- Can run on AA batteries
- Can be a bit too noisy at certain presets
- Some amp simulations are kind of flat
All things considered, there is hardly a better country twang amp for beginners that can also easily be used for different genres at the same time. That clean tone Vox is known for is certainly unique and great sounding.
- Peavey Bandit 112 TransTube
At number 4, we have the Bandit 112 TransTube by Peavey, as a great yet inexpensive way of getting that tube amp sound without spending loads of money.
As we’ve previously discussed, when it comes to that country twang, using a tube amp yields the best results. Peavey studied these amps and found a way to emulate the unique sound and drive, making it possible for even the beginners to experience.
This means that when you turn the volume up, you will be getting that natural tube drive with each step of the way, adding to the unique country vibe and experience.
The clean and lead channels offer separate tone controls, allowing you to tune in just the right sound for your needs. Both feature a vintage/classic tone switch, with the vintage preset hitting pretty close to the sound we’re looking for.
As far as effects go, you only have reverb to play around with. But then again, you won’t need much more with this kind of amp and this genre of music.
The generally solid build quality and tonal continuity are what Peavey is all about.
- Tube amp simulation is on point
- Separate channel controls and EQ
- Great reverb effect
- Perfect for country twang
- Could offer more effects
Suitable for practice sessions as well as gigs, the Bandit 112 by Peavey is a great long-term investment for anyone looking for a serious, natural-sounding amp.
- Peavey Classic30 112
And finally, at number 5, is the Classic30 112 by Peavey. This is probably the best you can get in terms of all tube amps, without busting the bank!
After almost 30 years of being on the musical scene, this amp has definitely proven it’s one of the best sounding amps out there. From its looks to the actual sound and performance, it simply screams vintage and classic!
Each part of the Classic30 was carefully selected and put together in order to provide that unique, old-school vibe.
The clean channel is very warm, with the highs being exceptionally bright and natural sounding. It lands somewhere between the tweed and blackface voice, meaning you can easily achieve that country twang.
It’s the lead channel that lets this amp really shine. Whether it’s country, blues, or even classic rock, the Classic30 is more than able of cutting through other instruments.
For around $600, it’s the best tube amp you could get for country twang.
- Doesn’t get more retro than this
- Great sounding tubes
- Covers a wide range of different genres
- Gain channel has pre- and post- gain controls
- Slightly overpriced
- The channels could offer more of a difference in terms of sound
If you’re looking for vintage, definitely consider getting the Peavey Classic30 112.
Conclusion! Which One Should You Buy?
Getting that unique country twang tone is easily done with high-end amps. It’s the budget and mid-priced ones that are hard to find.
As we’ve had the chance to see, different brands offer different ways of hitting just the right spot for this particular genre.
Personally, I would suggest getting the Fender Champion 20, as it offers multiple amp voices, a good range of different effects, and overall sounds pretty good.
Just keep in mind that you may want a new, better sounding amp once you’ve progressed after a couple of years.
As always, I truly hope that reading this article helped you with finding just the right amp for country twang and that you’ve learned something new.
Thank you very much for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one!