8 Best Clean Amps That Take Pedals Well

8 Best Clean Amps That Take Pedals Well
8 Best Clean Amps That Take Pedals Well

I tested eight clean guitar amps and found the Roland JC-120 to be the best for adding effects pedals.

I have played guitar for over twenty years and plugged a ludicrously overpowered pedalboard into many amplifiers. I will admit that I wanted people to be impressed by my board which resembled an alien spacecraft. 

Did I use all those pedals? No. Does it matter? No, except when I got confused and forgot which pedals were active. 

These amps have the power and headroom to handle effects without becoming oversaturated or dirty. 

You may want your sound to be oversaturated and dirty, but you probably want the ability to use a nice clean tone, too! 

The Roland JC-120 is famous for its clear, clean tones and incredible power. This amp has been used on hundreds of famous recordings and is just as popular today as it was in the ’70s.

The effects loop and high headroom allow the JC-120 to handle whatever pedals you’re using easily.

Keep reading to learn about the best clean amps that take pedals well.

What Is a Good Clean Amp?

Guitar amplifiers come in many varieties. Some have a great clean sound, while others are better suited for distorted tones. And then some amps do both quite well. 

But what if you’re looking for an amp with a good clean sound that works well with effects pedals?

There are multiple factors to consider when picking an amp for this purpose, so here are eight of the best electric guitar amplifiers that have a good clean sound and work well with effects pedals:

The Best Clean Amps for Effects Pedals

  1. Roland JC-120

The JC-120 is one of the most famous and beloved solid-state amps ever produced. Renowned for clean, crystalline tones, this is the most popular unit in the Jazz Chorus line. Jazz Chorus amplifiers have been popular for spectacular clean styles since 1975.

This amp does not mimic the distortion breakup that occurs with tube amps, so there is plenty of room for pedals to create a sonic landscape. An effects loop means adding effects is effortless, and dual power amps feeding 60 watts to each speaker allow this beast to dominate in concert and the studio.

  1. Fender Blues Junior IV

The Fender Blues Junior IV is a famous tube combo amp that is perfect for any style. Features include:

  • 15-watt output
  • Celestion 12″ A-Type speaker
  • Modified spring reverb
  • Fat switch to boost midrange for playing lead
  • Three-band EQ

A modified preamp circuit creates excellent note articulation even with overdrive. This amp does not include an effects loop but has a ton of headroom and works well with pedals. Robust and lightweight, the Type-A speaker can handle anything you throw at it.

  1. Vox AC15C1X

The Vox AC15C1X is an excellent option for those looking for some classic British tube tone. It is a 15-watt tube combo amp with a Celestion Alnico Blue speaker, and it features reverb, tremolo, and an effects loop.

Plug into the top boost channel to access bass and treble controls. This powerful amp contains three 12AX7 preamp tubes and two EL84 power tubes. The Alnico Blue speaker provides a clear, powerful sound that can handle your entire pedal board.

  1. Boss Katana II Mk-50

This solid-state modeling amp is renowned for its low price and ability to generate countless exceptional tones. With a power amp input and a cabinet simulator on the USB record output, this modern unit generates insane vintage sounds.

There are sixteen different amplifier models to choose from, each with its own EQ settings. Five different power tube options can be selected, which means you can get any type of sound imaginable out of this amp, and it will take pedals exceptionally well.

In addition to using pedals, you can connect the Mk-II to your computer and download hundreds of sounds that can be fed directly to your amp.

Modeling amps are getting scary good. I notice that many youths are not even using standard amps and are either going with modelers or straight into the computer with plugins. 

“Hey Matt,” you’re likely thinking, “you’re highly intelligent and open-minded, how do you feel about this development?” 

Thank you for asking. I think standard amps, especially vintage tube amps, are more fun to play, but I don’t think the sonic advantages will exist for much longer. 

Steve Vai says he can feel the lag from modeling amps. I’m sure this is true, but I can’t feel it. I own a Katana II, and the sound quality is amazing. I think tube amps will become less ubiquitous but will still be around because, again, they are so fun to play. 

  1. Fender ’65 Princeton Reverb

The Fender ’65 Princeton Reverb is a vintage reissue and an excellent option for adding effects pedals. This amp is famous for studio use because it is powerful but small enough to turn up loud. The tone breaks up at high volume, which is the natural overdrive sound many people want, but plenty of clean headroom is still available for effects.

Features include onboard reverb, vibrato, and a 10″ Jensen Special Design C-10R speaker. This amp is known for durability, so you can safely move it between home, studios, and live venues.

  1. Fender ’65 Deluxe Reverb

The ’65 Deluxe Reverb combo amp is ideal for any style of player who wants a high-powered amplifier with plenty of volume. You can hear the rich, clean tones on countless popular recordings, from The Beatles to B.B. King.

The Fender ’65 Deluxe Reverb comes complete with a pair of 6V6 Groove Tubes output tubes, one 5AR4 rectifier tube, four 12AX7 preamp tubes, two 12AT7 tubes, one 12″ 8-ohm Jensen C-12K speaker, dual channels (normal and vibrato), tube-driven Fender reverb, and foot-switchable tube vibrato.

This unit takes pedals exceptionally well, thanks to its immense tube power and stunning clean channels.

  1. Mesa Boogie California Tweed 6V6

The Mesa/Boogie California Tweed 6 amp comes loaded with boutique effects. It’s also highly versatile, with a Multi-Watt power amplifier that includes Duo-Class and Dyna-Watt technologies, allowing you to choose between five power and three wiring options.

You can easily choose the voicings you want with normal and low inputs via a three-band EQ and Gain, Presence, Reverb, and Master controls. An all-tube, long-tank spring reverb adds extra depth to your performance. Adding pedals is easy pedals with a buffered series tube effects loop.

  1. Supro 1968RK Keeley 12

The Supro 1968RK is a collaboration project with Keeley Electronics. This amp is 25 watts and contains a Celestion G12M-65 Creamback speaker. Two-band EQ, warm British tones, and high headroom keep tones crisp and clear even while overdriven.

An invisible effects loop lets you manipulate your tone before the signal hits the primary 6V6 tubes. This unique design gives you more control over your sound and functions to connect your pedals directly to the power source of this unit.

The explicitly tailored preamp and EQ section works beautifully when using distortion pedals in front of the amplifier, with Supro’s famous midrange boost and wide-field dynamics.

A transparent effects loop is the best place to put your delay and reverb effects because it doesn’t change or distort the amplifier’s all-tube signal path.

Buying Guide

Amplifier Power

An amplifier’s power designation is in watts. Higher wattage means a more powerful amplifier. An amp’s headroom refers to how much the amplifier can handle before producing a distorted sound. If you’re trying to get a distorted sound at lower volumes, you’ll have more success with a less powerful amp.

At lower volumes, high-powered tube amps may have difficulty producing pleasant sounds. If you don’t need the power, a smaller model will perform better because vacuum tubes function best when driven intensely.

Some guitar players want amps that produce a lot of noise and distortion, while others prefer clean amps with more “headroom.” You may achieve higher volume levels with a clean amplifier than with high-gain amps before the point of breakup is reached. They also have several advantages, such as taking pedals well.

Power becomes even more of an issue if you’re using distortion or overdrive pedals because the increased headroom allows you to create spacious sounds.

The wattage versus the volume of a device is something to keep in mind when shopping for power. Many watts do not necessarily equal high volume. When purchasing for the first time, it’s easy to make this error.


The word “headroom” is used frequently in the context of clean amplifiers. It refers to how loud the amp can get before hitting breakup. The point of “breakup” is when the amplifier can’t get any louder without distorting the sound.

When the sound breaks up, it becomes distorted and no longer clear, so the more significant the volume before breaking up, the more headroom there is. If you want a clean amplifier, the more headroom there is, the better. It gives you more usable volume with your preferred tone.

An amp with a lot of headroom will be more suitable for pedals than an amplifier that breaks up quickly because the amp’s distorted qualities won’t interfere with the natural character of the amp and any effects you’re adding to the signal chain.

Effects Loop

Any new amplifier with an effects loop will be able to handle the sound of any pedals you use. However, you might think that vintage-style guitar amplifiers may not be as convenient with pedals because they lack effects loops. This idea is often false, although you may have to work harder to eliminate unwanted noise.


These amps are amazing, and you can really go “balls to the wall” if you’re an effects addict. Whammy pedal with a preamp pedal and a RAT? Why not. Metal Zone with a wah and a phaser. Sure! 

Owning 200 pedals might be tacky, but you will feel serene knowing that your amp won’t shit the bed when you’re “going buck wild” on stage.