What is the best amp for metalcore? (our top pick)
The EVH 5150III 50S 6l6 amp head
While there are a ton of amps you could use for a modern, metalcore tone, the EVH 5150 is one of my favorite recommendations in this category. We'll start there and then hit three other recommendations that are good fits for this unique genre.
The best amp for metalcore should have the following qualities:
- Strong low end (lots of chunk)
- Modern and saturated onboard gain levels (heavy distortion)
- Flexible EQ
- Tube circuits, preferably
Solid-state amps can perform really well in this category too, so don't exclude amps you like just because they don't have a tube circuit. Though, ironically, I've excluded them from this list. The four tube amps I've covered here are simply tough to beat for metalcore and other metal styles.
I'll recommend a total of four.
Read more: Best Guitar Amps Overall
4 Best Amps for Metalcore (comparison table)
H&K GrandMeister Deluxe 40
Mesa/Boogie Rectifier Badlander 25
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1. EVH 5150III
Three channels and a preamp line out are two features that always catch my eye. But the main draw of this amp is that it's an absolute monster on the gain aggression scale. It's punchy, wide, and very smooth with a ton of sustain. For metalcore or any kind of modern rock sub-genre, the 5150 is an American-style amp that's very difficult to top.
The cleans on this amp are also incredibly satisfying—lots of warmth and fullness.
Note that you can save some money by going with a lower-wattage version. 50 watts seem to be the most popular.
IDEAL FOR: All metal styles, intermediate to advanced players, heavy distortion rhythm styles, power chords, sustain, clean tones.
- Three channels
- Preamp line out
- Two independent EQs
- Headphone jack (still needs a speaker cab or attenuator)
- Gain/distortion quality is one of the best I've ever heard
- Clean tone is excellent and not even the main focus
- No attenuator in the 5150, so you'll still need a speaker cab.
2. Hughes & Kettner GrandMeister Deluxe 40
I've been recommending the GrandMeister series for a long time. And with the Deluxe 40, they've somehow figured out how to incorporate a bunch of digital features (effects, presets, and the like) into a tube amp. It's even MIDI-compatible.
I don't know how they do that, but the result is awesome—a modern amp with modern features and flexibility.
The distortion isn't as good as the other amps on this list, but it's still ridiculously heavy. Ola Englund has you covered.
IDEAL FOR: All metal styles, flexibility on stage, anyone looking for an amp with onboard effects, those wanting a somewhat smaller amp head.
- Stage functionality with presets and MIDI control is fantastic
- Distortion is crazy aggressive
- Lots of modern flexibility
- Blue light look is pretty cool
- Digital effects
- Distortion sounds less contained then the 5150 and the Badlander. It's a little harder to corral.
3. Mesa/Boogie Badlander 25
The Badlander is one of my personal favorites and the one I've spent the most time with. It's not quite as heavy as the EVH, but the EVH is off the charts, so the Badlander is still very capable for metalcore.
I really like the onboard attenuator, which means you can use a speaker cab or not. For most of my testing, I just used the headphone jack.
For metal styles and modern distortion, anything Mesa should fit the profile. Again, going down to lower-wattage amps will save you a lot of money. These are some of the nicest guitar amps in the world and they're priced accordingly, so do what you can to cut costs.
Read the full review: Mesa/Boogie Rectifier Badlander 25
IDEAL FOR: Going without a speaker, metal, rock, practice, recording, performances, going direct to a PA system.
- CabClone built in (handles speaker load)
- Some nice chime and high end for treble-leaning EQs
- Wattage and cab selection
- Runs the table on gain levels (no distortion pedal needed)
- Comes with a footswitch
- 25 watt version is affordable by Mesa standards
- Direct out and headphone out
- Cab models are just ok
- No reverb
4. ENGL Fireball
The ENGL Fireball is similar to the Badlander, in that it's part of a very high-quality amp line with a lower wattage option, saving you a bunch of money. This is the most economical amp on this list, but every bit as heavy and metal-ready as the others. Its gain profile is a little more lead-focused, with a searing and biting quality. But there's a ton of power and saturation for the rhythm side as well.
IDEAL FOR: Lead/rhythm hybrid, recording, aggressive lead styles, lower budgets (compared to others in this list)
- Great price point in this quality range
- Some nice bells and whistles (noise gate, power soak, mid boost)
- Strong lead tone
- Harmonics sound great
- Good balance of lead and rhythm tones
- Nothing really
Best Practice Amp for Metalcore
The amps we've listed here are definitely not what I'd consider practice amps.
For a practice amp, I'd recommend a combo and something much cheaper. And even for a heavier style like metalcore, don't worry too much about getting a practice amp that meets the same style requirements as the above recommendations.
In other words, just get something cheap and simple.
I would go with something like the Boss Katana 50.
In my office, I use that amp for all kinds of stuff.
Best Bass Amp for Metalcore
For bass players in the metal space, bass amps and effects are a lot more forgiving when it comes to tone and musical style, though I do have a couple of suggestions for metalcore specifically.
Avoid Fender bass amps because they're designed with much lighter styles in mind.
My top brands to target would be Ampeg and Gallien-Krueger.
Both of those brands can handle a wide range of styles and are frequently used by pro-level metal bass players. I'd recommend one of either:
Best Amp for Progressive Metal
Progressive metal is actually different than metalcore with several stylistic distinctions. You can read about it here, or just skip to my recommendations below the toggle.
Metalcore and progressive metal are two distinct subgenres of metal, each characterized by its own unique musical elements and stylistic traits. Here are the key differences between them.
- Roots: Metalcore emerged in the late 1990s as a fusion of hardcore punk and metal. It often incorporates elements from both genres.
- Vocals: Metalcore typically features a combination of harsh, screamed, or growled vocals (commonly associated with hardcore) and clean singing. This dual vocal approach is a hallmark of the genre.
- Rhythmic Structure: Metalcore often relies on a breakdown-heavy rhythmic structure, with palm-muted guitar riffs and syncopated drum patterns.
- Lyrics: Lyrics in metalcore often deal with personal struggles, introspection, and emotional themes, although there can be variations.
- Song Structure: Songs in metalcore tend to follow a more straightforward verse-chorus-verse structure compared to the complexity found in progressive metal.
- Roots: Progressive metal, or prog metal, has its roots in progressive rock and traditional heavy metal. It is characterized by a focus on technical musicianship and complex song structures.
- Instrumentation: Progressive metal often features intricate and virtuosic guitar work, complex time signatures, and elaborate keyboard or synth arrangements.
- Vocals: While progressive metal can include clean singing and growled vocals, it's not as reliant on the dual-vocal approach as metalcore. Clean singing is often more prevalent in progressive metal.
- Rhythmic Complexity: Progressive metal frequently employs odd time signatures and complex rhythms, which can make the music more challenging to follow compared to metalcore's more straightforward rhythms.
- Lyrics: The lyrical themes in progressive metal can be diverse, ranging from philosophical and introspective topics to science fiction and fantasy concepts. The lyrics often mirror the complexity of the music itself.
The short answer is that metalcore is far more vocal-focused and emotionally driven. Guitar tones are heavy but the intrigue comes from the emotive nature of the music. Progressive metal is focused on technical complexity, often in the form of complex time signatures and lead guitar.
- Metalcore: Bring Me the Horizon
- Progressive metal: Periphery
- Hybrid of both: Tool
Now, in terms of the best amp for progressive metal, the metalcore buying guide still applies. Because, despite the differences between these two styles, the guitar tone is largely going to be the same.
High gain, modern distortion, powerful low-end, and a lot of saturation are needed for both styles. Since I liked the ENGL a little better for lead metal, I might start there, but even that's splitting hairs. Any of the amps listed will work nicely for progressive metal.
Remember to always put these recommendations into your context. I think they're going to make the most sense for the largest number of people and provide a lot of value, but I can't account for every situation.
The best metalcore amp for you might be something different.
So, either way, use this as a loosely held road map to get where you need to go.
If you have questions, catch me in the comments section below and I'll help out as much as possible.