Best Modeling Amp under $500

Messages
2,528
I'm looking for an inexpensive modeling amp. I'd like something that could work with acoustic and bass, but that isn't must. This is mainly going to be for fun and noodling at home, but I would like something that just sounds good.

My first thought is a Fender Mustang or Blackstar ID Core. But, I do like the thought of the Firehawk FX simply for the use with the iPad.

So, any thoughts are welcome. It's got to be under $500.
 

ShaunOsovs

Member
Messages
241
If you are talking a modeling combo -- look at the Boss Katana 100

If you are going to be just playing through studio monitors or headphones most of the time -- a used Atomic Amplifire can be found for typically just under $500, and its amp modeling will be far superior to any of the sort of entry level combos out there.

Of course, your initial thoughts of Mustang/ID Core/Firehawk aren't bad ones either. You can get good amp tones from BIAS amps iPad app too.

Lots of great options! Oh Brave New World.
 

JerEvil

Vendor
Messages
4,697
The ID Core seems pretty cool IMHO. I think you might be able to get into one of the Katana amps at that price as well maybe. The new Viper line falls under $500 IIRC.
 

patriot7

Member
Messages
127
Fender Mustang III v2 is an awesome modeling amp - 100W, 12" Celestion speaker, XLR out, etc. Great amp if you like Fender and crunch tones. High gain metal is not it's sweet spot.
 

Audioholic

Member
Messages
2,573
I just picked up the backstar ID core 40. For a practice amp it is sweet. I tried a few at the same price point (200) and for my taste, the backstar was the clear winner. I liked the fender, but the high end was still a bit fuzzy for gain tones. I would imagine picking up the ID combo amp at 350 would be even better. I have always liked how Blackstar sounded though so it could be personal preference.
 

Pastafarian

Member
Messages
5,428
Another vote for the Mustang MIII or IV. Gig mine quite a bit. I get high gain tones from it easily but I rarely ever need them.
 

Elantric

Member
Messages
12,410
Although not specifically a modeling amp - you do a disservice not auditioning a Katana 100-112
 

JerEvil

Vendor
Messages
4,697
Although not specifically a modeling amp - you do a disservice not auditioning a Katana 100-112
Yeah a buddy of mine literally just posted about the 100-112 that his other guitar player in his band got for rehearsals. Said it hung with his DSL rig just fine.
 

mattball826

Member
Messages
20,796
I'm looking for an inexpensive modeling amp. I'd like something that could work with acoustic and bass, but that isn't must. This is mainly going to be for fun and noodling at home, but I would like something that just sounds good.

My first thought is a Fender Mustang or Blackstar ID Core. But, I do like the thought of the Firehawk FX simply for the use with the iPad.

So, any thoughts are welcome. It's got to be under $500.

Few are going to do well with a bass. You could buy a FLY 3 for that. Our bassist has one and loves it.

What power range? What type of tones? There are many good sounding SS modeling combos, and they offer anything from simple classic tones to units like the Spider V that offer a much much wider variety since it's basically an amp fx modeler with a powered cabinet.

Blackstar, Katana pretty much are clean ch amps and a few Marshall type voiced od tones. Blackstar IDC and Katana offer 5-6 ch's from clean to crunch to od's. If you play mostly 80's stuff, you'll like it. If you play more modern sounds, Recto, or detuned, those amps won't do it for you. They seem to be popular with classic rock and 80's players though. IDC can sort of get the Mesa Mark sound if you use the ISF control. Recto? Not there with either product. Katana 100 is a loud amp. Easy to gig with. Again, for me, the sound is too 80's and classic rock defined. If that is your thing, then it'll suit well.

They are a step up from the Marshall Code line, though there are some specific models in the Code that do sound better than the averaged voices in the IDC and Katana. Code was a great idea, just something about it falls short of all other amps in these price ranges. Too boxy and thin. Katana was a bit thin to me when I paired it vs an IDC 100 with the band. Of course Katana is mono and IDC 100 is stereo, so the room filling sound of the IDC carried it. Katana thinned out at any distance from the stage and unlike the IDC 100, I had to b near the Katana to hear it well enough. IDC 100 envelops the stage by comparison.

Blackstar IDC is Stereo too but the Super Wide Stereo effect is amazing and makes that amp fill a room with sound even at lower volumes. Really is a huge selling point and feature I absolutely love in the IDC lines. USB Audio interface on IDC is stereo. The lower line IDC 10-20-40 lines are full range speakers. The IDC 100/150 are 10" pr guitar speakers. Controllers available are the FS12 5 way with included FS13. FS12 has tuner indicator, banks control, looper control, and 3 presets per bank. 36 in all. Without the FS12, the FS13 can provide 3 banks of 2 preset options, or can used to control the looper. FS only works on the IDC40. IDC 10 and 20 do not have FS capability, but it really doesn't need it. I think there are simple mods to add a FS option. Blackstar IDC lines are also regarded highly for the low weight. Even the big stereo 100 and 150 weigh in just over 30 lbs. You can easily gig with them. Plenty loud.

Blackstar also has the ID line in the TVP series. These are guitar speaker voiced but not only do you have the standard clean crunch and od channel options, the TVP lines offer specific tube voicings of which users can change around. Some models are stereo with Super Wide Stereo as well. ID 260 TVP is a very loud giggable amp and has a nice feature set including super wide stereo. Foot controller is also available.

Spider V Line draws its parts from the Helix and Firehawk (ime). For now, the editor is based on the Firehawk and Amplifi iOS and Android Apps. There are no computer editors (Win Mac) of yet. Difference being the Spider Line offers 80 or so more specific amp models and cab types, plus hoards of effects. The audio interface built in is Stereo, so even if you buy the mono versions, the recording you make can be stereo. Spider V offers additional options for foot controls in various FBV types. Great for live players. It also offers on 60-240 models the G10T wireless integration. Drum machine/metronome is included, and a few pre recorded guitar loops help you set the amp models and fx without you having to play. Of course you will likely fine tune those sounds with your specific guitar. A very well thought out product.

For fun and home noodling, all the amps above sound good and have cool feature sets. Those are the things that you will have to decide on. Most have integrated audio interfaces as well, some have full range speaker systems, so jamming along to mp3 players is cool.
 
Last edited:

jageya

Senior Member
Messages
4,251
Few are going to do well with a bass. You could buy a FLY 3 for that. Our bassist has one and loves it.

What power range? What type of tones? There are many good sounding SS modeling combos, and they offer anything from simple classic tones to units like the Spider V that offer a much much wider variety since it's basically an amp fx modeler with a powered cabinet.

Blackstar, Katana pretty much are clean ch amps and a few Marshall type voiced od tones. Blackstar IDC and Katana offer 5-6 ch's from clean to crunch to od's. If you play mostly 80's stuff, you'll like it. If you play more modern sounds, Recto, or detuned, those amps won't do it for you. They seem to be popular with classic rock and 80's players though. IDC can sort of get the Mesa Mark sound if you use the ISF control. Recto? Not there with either product. Katana 100 is a loud amp. Easy to gig with. Again, for me, the sound is too 80's and classic rock defined. If that is your thing, then it'll suit well.

They are a step up from the Marshall Code line, though there are some specific models in the Code that do sound better than the averaged voices in the IDC and Katana. Code was a great idea, just something about it falls short of all other amps in these price ranges. Too boxy and thin. Katana was a bit thin to me when I paired it vs an IDC 100 with the band. Of course Katana is mono and IDC 100 is stereo, so the room filling sound of the IDC carried it. Katana thinned out at any distance from the stage and unlike the IDC 100, I had to b near the Katana to hear it well enough. IDC 100 envelops the stage by comparison.

Blackstar IDC is Stereo too but the Super Wide Stereo effect is amazing and makes that amp fill a room with sound even at lower volumes. Really is a huge selling point and feature I absolutely love in the IDC lines. USB Audio interface on IDC is stereo. The lower line IDC 10-20-40 lines are full range speakers. The IDC 100/150 are 10" pr guitar speakers. Controllers available are the FS12 5 way with included FS13. FS12 has tuner indicator, banks control, looper control, and 3 presets per bank. 36 in all. Without the FS12, the FS13 can provide 3 banks of 2 preset options, or can used to control the looper. FS only works on the IDC40. IDC 10 and 20 do not have FS capability, but it really doesn't need it. I think there are simple mods to add a FS option. Blackstar IDC lines are also regarded highly for the low weight. Even the big stereo 100 and 150 weigh in just over 30 lbs. You can easily gig with them. Plenty loud.

Blackstar also has the ID line in the TVP series. These are guitar speaker voiced but not only do you have the standard clean crunch and od channel options, the TVP lines offer specific tube voicings of which users can change around. Some models are stereo with Super Wide Stereo as well. ID 260 TVP is a very loud giggable amp and has a nice feature set including super wide stereo. Foot controller is also available.

Spider V Line draws its parts from the Helix and Firehawk (ime). For now, the editor is based on the Firehawk and Amplifi iOS and Android Apps. There are no computer editors (Win Mac) of yet. Difference being the Spider Line offers 80 or so more specific amp models and cab types, plus hoards of effects. The audio interface built in is Stereo, so even if you buy the mono versions, the recording you make can be stereo. Spider V offers additional options for foot controls in various FBV types. Great for live players. It also offers on 60-240 models the G10T wireless integration. Drum machine/metronome is included, and a few pre recorded guitar loops help you set the amp models and fx without you having to play. Of course you will likely fine tune those sounds with your specific guitar. A very well thought out product.

For fun and home noodling, all the amps above sound good and have cool feature sets. Those are the things that you will have to decide on. Most have integrated audio interfaces as well, some have full range speaker systems, so jamming along to mp3 players is cool.
wow in a nutshell that is the newer modelers under $500 for sure. Very nice through post. There are other options like the fender mustangs..the older fender cybertwins...older vox vtx150 combo...older spider valve combos....but the ones you listed are all very nice.
 

Hackdog69

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
2,056
I NEVER thought I would say this but Fender Mustang 3 v2... I read a bunch about them, so much that I went and tried one, ONLY intending to use the effects return with my Helix and AX8..( looper mode on ) I was simply blown away by it.. Actually took it to a last minute gig with the two button foot switch and a PRS... the lightest 35 lbs rig ever... so impressed... love it with a modeler in the efx return even more!
 

veritechc

Member
Messages
2,805
I own the Katana 100 and a Spider V60. Both are really outstanding. If you like basic controls on the amp and prefer simplicity in your tone (few effects) the Katana is for you.

As folks have mentioned above the Spider V comes with a boatload of effects and amps. If you like options the Spider V can't be beat. Oh and it's wireless ready!!!
 

VCuomo

Member
Messages
16,687
Another vote for the Flextone, and I agree that the III was the best of the bunch. You should be able to pick up one used along with an FBV for under $500 (probably well under $500, not including shipping).

Heck, for that matter, you could probably pick up a used Vetta for under $500...
 

Chris O

Member
Messages
448
Not many seem to, as I've had my Flextone IIPlus, Ext. cab, and long floorboard for sale at a local music store for almost a year with no serious offers.

Depends on what you're asking for it. There are a lot of them out there for SUPER bargain prices.
 

Pastafarian

Member
Messages
5,428
I NEVER thought I would say this but Fender Mustang 3 v2... I read a bunch about them, so much that I went and tried one, ONLY intending to use the effects return with my Helix and AX8..( looper mode on ) I was simply blown away by it.. Actually took it to a last minute gig with the two button foot switch and a PRS... the lightest 35 lbs rig ever... so impressed... love it with a modeler in the efx return even more!

Yep I occasionally plug my Mustang Floor into the input using an empty patch and it's outstanding. First modeling amp I ever owned that had more than a couple goosebump inducing tones out of the box.

For FX only I give my modeling award to the RP1000 via 4cm. As far as options and ease of use go there's not much better in the sub 500 range. Some even like it's amp and cab modeling. I gave up on that aspect of it but that doesn't mean others won't find their tones in there.
 




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