What Are The Best Modelling Amps? (REVIEW)

Best Modelling Amps

Modelling amps have long been looked down on by serious musicians as nothing more than toys. Until very recently, they were only capable of delivering underwhelming performance, lacking the true tones of the amps they were intended to model.

The game has been changed recently, as the best modelling amps are not only capable of delivering great sound, they give you access to dozens of options that would simply be impossible for the average musician and even small to medium recording studios.

At a Glance: Our Choice Of The 5 Best Modelling Amps On The Market

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Buyer's Tips: What to look for when buying the best modelling amps

  • A good range of amps and effects to select from is the core of a good modelling amp. The more you have to choose from, the better. Having said that, it’s worth keeping in mind that some modelling amps do a better job than others, and not all of them are able to cater to a bass guitar or acoustics that have been mic’d up
  • Some modelling amps allow you to use a software editor to create and tweak the amp modelling options to your tastes
  • The ability to directly record from the amp is a rare feature, but worth keeping an eye out for as it ensures the best possible recreation of any given amp tone for distribution

Ok let's look at each product in more detail. To make things easier for you, we've added pros and cons for each one, as well as a video demonstration so you can see them in action. So without further ado, let’s take a look...

5 Best modelling Amps

1. VOX VT40X Valvetronix

VOX VT40X Modeling Amp, 40W

Unlike most modelling amps, the VT40X also has a genuine tube valve along with 11 amp models and 13 effects.

  • Able to provide the most realistic tube model, since it actually has one
  • The 11 amp models can be expanded to 20 by using the software editor
  • At 40W it’s suitable for both practice and small gigs
  • The tube components will need the usual care and maintenance that goes with this technology
  • The select of amp models is relatively low compared to other modelling amps
  • Without the Tone Room software this amp is severely underwhelming

Let's take a look at this product...

2. Line 6 Spider V 120 (Budget Choice)

Line 6 Spider V 30 Modeling Amplifier

The Spider V is the latest in the Spider series and is one of the best modelling amps in terms of performance and variety of models, effects and has excellent speaker quality. It’s available from 15W and higher, although lower watt versions lack some of the additional features in exchange for a lower price.

  • 78 amp models and over 100 effects plus over 100 presets for quick use make it a very flexible modelling amp
  • Built in tuner, metronome and drum loops help with practice sessions
  • Suitable for both electric and acoustic guitars
  • Needs the Line 6 Relay G10T in order to truly customise and tweak the sounds, and the additional accessory needed for this is expensive
  • No XLR Input for microphone
  • No suitable for use with bass guitar

Let's take a look at this product...

3. Peavey Vypyr VIP 3 100 W

Peavey Vypyr VIP 3 - 100 Watt Amplifier

An entry level modelling amp with a decent range of effects and models at an affordable price tag and one of the only amps that caters for electric, bass and acoustic guitars equally.

  • Models many different instruments including bass and acoustic guitars, but also more ‘out there’ models such as sitar
  • Good selection of 26 effects that are enough to cover the needs of most guitarists
  • PowerSponge control allows you to choose between 1W all the way up to 100W
  • Using this amp for a bass guitar can lead to poor sound quality, except at low volumes
  • The instruction manual is in CD format only
  • Some of the effects have very little difference between them

Let's take a look at this product...

4. Fender Mustang III

Fender Mustang III 100-Watt 1x12-Inch Guitar Combo Amplifier - Black

An easy-to-use amp with high-quality modelling that is relatively budget friendly considering the specs.

  • Decent number of models and effects
  • Includes Ableton Live Lite 8 plus AmpliTube Fender LE software
  • Can be connected with USB to a computer for recording and editing directly
  • Doesn’t include the 1-button footswitch
  • Software is of low quality and difficult to use
  • Poor selection of modelling choices

Let's take a look at this product...

5. Roland CUBE Street EX

Roland CUBE Street EX 4-Channel 50-Watt Battery Powered Amplifier

A modelling amp that has a focus on being portable and allows for easy integration with vocals, having space for up to two microphones, and is one of the best modelling amps if you don’t like to carry lots of gear around and need an amp for a singer or two.

  • Completely battery powered 50w amp
  • 4 amp models that suit electric guitar, vocals and acoustic guitar
  • Can adjust volume, reverb, chorus and delay with on board controls
  • Quite expensive compared to the others on the list
  • Low amount of amp models, sticking with the most commonly needed rather than a large variety
  • No gain adjustment

Let's take a look at this product...

So what are the best modelling amps?

In the end it was very difficult to choose a clear winner because they all offered something different. When choosing the best modelling amp for you it is worth considering what is most important to you and therefore the best choice. 

However, in the end we decided that the Roland CUBE Street EX was the best because it was able to handle vocals much better than any of the others could. However, since it was quite expensive the Line 6 Spider V is our second pick for those of you with a tighter budget. 

Ged is Founder and Editor-in-chief at Zing Instruments. He’s a guitarist for London based gypsy jazz band ‘Django Mango’ and a lover of all things music. When he’s not ripping up and down the fretboard, he’s tinkering with his ’79 Campervan.

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