Various high-gain amps come to mind when I think of the term ‘Metal Amp.’ For example, Mesa Boogie, Bogner, Diezel and, Randall are just a few.
But this got me thinking, are Fender Amps suitable for playing metal? Would a Fender amp be able to perform a decent metal tone?
With my experience of using multiple amplifiers, this post is my full guide to this interesting topic. Let’s get to it!
Are Fender Amps good for metal? Fender Tube Amps are not suitable for metal because their amps have lots of ‘headroom.’ Meaning they are not designed to distort and saturate at low volumes. Secondly, Fender amps are voiced to produce transparent tones; hence why they are excellent for clean guitar tones and not high-gain metal.
Why Fender Tube Amps Are Not Good For Metal – Point 1
As mentioned above, Fender tube amps are not the typical metal amp for a few good reasons.
With that said, there is an exception when it comes to their solid-state and digital modeling amps (more on that soon.)
However, Fender’s vintage and hot-rod valve amps are not designed for any metal type for these reasons.
First, Fender valve amps are designed to have lots of available ‘headroom.’
If you didn’t know already, the term ‘headroom’ means the amount of ceiling you have until an amp distorts and saturates to the sweet sound distortion and overdrive (known as ‘breakup.’)
For example, an amp with lots of headroom will need lots of volume in order to distort and saturate.
Essentially, an amp with lots of headroom will maintain a clean tone even with the volume cranked, as you’ve guessed, not ideal for metal tones.
Therefore, this is not ideal for metal because the signature metal guitar tone is drenched in distortion and saturated in gain.
Something that an amp with lots of headroom struggles to achieve without additional distortion and overdrive from other sources such as effect pedals.
In summary, an amp with lots of wattages will keep the tone transparent and clean hence, why Fender tube amps are the king when it comes to sparking and pristine clean tones. For this reason, These amps are not typically designed to be metal amps.
The only way to achieve a workable metal sound would be to add a distortion or boost pedal in front of the amp.
Speaking of pedals, I have reviewed my top distortion pedals for sweet high-gain metal tones. This selection of awesome pedals caters to a spectrum of budgets. You can view this post here!
Why Fender Tube Amps Are not Suitable For Metal – Point 2
When it comes to tone, Fender tube amps are admired for their transparent and clear sound.
This is arguably their signature sound within the crowded amp industry. This is due to how their amps are voiced and how their pre-amp tubes do not heavily color the input signal.
Thus, Fender amps are so popular for clean tones associated with many genres, such as country, blues, jazz, funk, indie, etc.
Furthermore, they also sound great for mild-gain ‘crunch’ sounds as they produce an American vintage sound that players love, hence, why they stamped their authority during the rock n roll era of the 50s and 60s.
In contrast, high-gain metal amps are typically voiced to sound dark and warm, with each amp coloring the signal slightly differently.
Not to mention, most metal amps today sound modern, which is what most typical metal players adopt.
Whereas, Fender amps, as mentioned, sound more on the American vintage side, which is not to most metal players’ tastes.
Metal players typically want a modern, tight, and high-gain guitar sound, something that Fender amps are not known for.
What Are Fender Amps Good For – Tones & Genres
As mentioned, Fender cemented their reputation as rock n roll machines back in the 50s and 60s.
Due to their sparkling clean tones, lush spring reverbs, and crunchy mid-gain classic rock tones.
The majority of Fender valve amps spanning the range from the vintage series (Deluxe Reverb, Twin Reverb, Princeton) to modern amps such as the Bassman, Blues-junior, Supersonic, and Hot Rod Series.
Every amp mentioned above and more covers a broad range of genres such as blues, country, rock, jazz, indie, folk, pop, funk. It depends on how you want to utilize your amp.
However, Fender amps are known for their excellent clean tones combined with lush reverb making a recipe for amazing defined cleans for jazz, country, funk, etc.
Secondly, when you push the volume over a certain threshold, the amp will begin to break up and saturate, producing mid-gain crunch tones—ideal for rock, blues, and other genres.
What Fender Amps Can Play Metal?
The only Fender amps that could potentially play metal would be the company’s collection of solid-state and digital modeling amps. These include the following two amps.
The Fender Mustang
The Fender Champion
These amps include high-gain presets designed for a usable metal tone for bedroom practice.
Having digital components allows these amps to have enough gain to push your signal to a high-gain and saturated metal tone.
With that said, these amps are primarily designed for bedroom practice and rehearsals and not as effective as gigging workhorses typically because the highest wattage from these series is 100-watts of solid-state volume.
Some players will argue that this is enough wattage for gigging with a solid-state amp. However, there is an argument that solid-state amps do not sound at their best when you crank the volume to gigging levels.
If I were to play a gig with a metal band, I would not take a Fender amp with me.
I would instead bring an amp that includes enough gain and drive for the ideal metal tone. It would be like taking a knife to a gunfight (sorry for the pun.)
What Amp Brands Are Best For Metal
As we have discussed, Fender is not the typical amp company you think of when you think of an aggressive high gain metal sound. So, What amp brands would I recommend? And which amp stands out?
Here are some amp brands that you can not go wrong with…
- Mesa Boogie
- Line 6
Want to see my selection of the best practice amps for metal? Click here for my comprehensive review post on the best practice amps for brutal metal tones at bedroom volumes.
Best Affordable Metal Amps
Orange Dark Terror – Classic Mini Metal Head
The Tiny Terror series from Orange amps is a classic range of mini amps that pack a bite-sized punch.
The Dark Terror (Reverb.com) is a high-gain version with tighter low-ends designed for metal’s aggressive and gritty sound. This amp is an excellent choice for an affordable, simple, and great high-gain tones without an expensive price tag.
Boss Katana – Versatile Solid-State Amp
The Boss Katana Series (Reverb.com) has won plaudits from all over the industry for how well it can perform a range of tones. Being a solid-state amp, the Katana is packed full of features making it a swiss army knife of amps.
This amp produces saturated tones with bucket loads of volume, making it ideal for gigging or bedroom practice while being highly affordable for players with lower budgets.
Diezel 6505 Mini Guitar Head – Classic Metal Amp Just Smaller
The Diezel 6505 Mini (Reverb.com) is a compact reincarnation of the classic metal amp, the Diezel 6505. The original 6505 is an industry-standard when it comes to metal amps.
The mini version still produces all the brutal tones from its big brother and holds all the same metal heritage. The best thing is that the mini version comes in at a fraction of the cost.
Marshall DSL40C – Versatile Combo Amp
The Marshall DSL40 Combo (Reverb.com) is lauded for its ability to produce high-gain tones to its pristine cleans for a range of genres and styles.
The DSL40C is a modern amp with all of Marshall’s personality and grit without an expensive price tag. You can easily dial in genres rock to classic metal to modern metal styles.
Thank For Reading
Speaking of metal presets, I have a round-up post of the 9 best amp simulator plugins for metal. Achieve realistic and iconic amp tones for jamming and recording professional tones on your PC. Check out the post here!