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The 9 Best Amps for Pop Punk: Nail that Thick, Crunchy Tone

Getting the best amp for pop punk can be tricky. In fact finding the best amp for any genre of music can be hard.

There are so many different models and brands – Orange, Fender, Marshall, Mesa Boogie, just to scratch the surface. But which is best amp for pop punk?

best amps for pop punk

You’re going to need a high gain amplifier. Pop punk isn’t metal, so you don’t need a ridiculous amount of gain. But you definitely want that thick, saturated distortion.

Choosing a clean amp with pedals is an option but if you’re looking to copy the tone of famous pop punk bands (Blink 182, Green Day, The Wonder Years etc) then they all used high gain amps.

So, let’s not waste time. My top picks are:

  • Best on a Budget: Blackstar HT5R – suitable for bedroom and apartment volumes but also small gigs, the HT5R is an affordable, 2 channel amp that offers lots of tone control and gets a great pop punk sound
  • Best Solid State: BOSS Katana – arguably the best solid state amp ever made, the Katana does everything you could possibly want.
  • Best for Beginners: Orange Crush 20 – if you’re fairly new to playing guitar then the Crush 20 is the perfect starting point. A fantastic amp all round that will also give you that pop punk tone you’re searching for.
  • Best for Playing Live Mesa Boogie Single/Dual Rectifier – if you’re playing moderate sized venues then one of the Mesa Boogie Rectifiers is going to
  • Best for Modern Pop-Punk: Orange Rockerverb – if you want to get the same tones as the most modern pop punk bands then the Rockerverb is
  • Best for Classic Pop-Punk: Marshall JCM 800/900 – no amp encapsulates the classic pop punk sound like the Marshall JCM 800.

For more information on each amp, how I picked them and more keep reading or follow the links just below to each individual section.

How I Chose the Best Pop Punk Amps

I spent days ranking the best pop punk amps and I tried to consider everyone when putting together this guide. So things like:

  • Price and the type of budgets people are likely to have.
  • Size and volume. So the physical size of the amp itself along with its wattage.
  • A good mix of solid state and tube amps.
  • The tone and how good a sound you get for pop punk.

I’ve combined reviews from the biggest music stores online, so Amazon, Sweetwater, Musicians Friend etc. But more importantly I’ve included my own recommendations based on what I’ve tried and my love for pop punk.

Yes – I’m a huge pop punk fan. One of the first riffs I learnt to play was Dammit by Blink 182. I grew up on Green Day, New Found Glory, Fall Out Boy, The Offspring and more.

So I like to think I know what I’m talking about.

But there are a lot of choices availabile for pop punkers, and this round up should cover everyone. I don’t want anyone to miss out by picking any sub-par amps that will leave you disappointed. So I lean towards affordable but good amplifiers – that have all you could need without breaking the bank.

That doesn’t mean I’ve neglected the top and bottom ends of the spectrum. There are some high level boutique options through to the lower and entry level choices. And, as you would expect, all the big brands feature: Marshall, Fender, Orange…

So – you want that tight, low end sound that retains its mids to cut through the mix, allowing you to play those chugging palm muted riffs? You’re hoping to get that melodic lead sound you know so well from your favorite bands?

This guide will get you there. Each of these amps will deliver the tones you’re searching for. From the speed and bite of skate punk to the chugging, palm muted riffs of modern day punk.

Best Pop Punk Amps Buying Advice

There are a few major things to consider. Most importantly – you’re budget.

Don’t worry. I’ve featured a good range from very affordable through to pretty damn expensive!

You also need to be keeping in mind two more things:

  • What type of player you are
  • What type of sound you want

The Type of Player you are

This is pretty straightforward. Do you play in a pop punk band? Is your aim to join a band? Are you looking for an amp to gig with?

Then you’re going to want something with a decent amount of watts and power for playing reasonable sized gigs. That will push your budget up though.

If you’re a beginner, bedroom player or just casual guitarist then the smaller and solid state options will be ideal for you.

A 100 watt Marshall in your bedroom isn’t going to work! Unless of course you’re aim is to blow your eardrums and shatter every window in your house.

What Type of Sound you want

Pop-punk, as I know it, has 2 major eras.

  1. The late nineties and early 2000’s sound.
  2. Think early Blink 182, Green Day, New Found Glory, Offspring etc.

    They had that very thick, crunchy tone that began synonymous with that era.

  3. The more modern sound of 2010 onwards
  4. Stuff like The Story So Far, The Wonder Years, Neck Deep, State Champs etc.

    Different tone, less fat and thick, slightly more aggressive sounding.

Which amp is best suited to you will depend which of those sorts of tones you’re looking to get.

If you want Tom Delonge’s tone from the earlier Blink years – Dammit, All the Small Things, What’s My Age Again etc. A Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier is predominantly what he used around that time both in the studio and live.

If you want to sound like Casey Cavaliere from The Wonder Years then Orange amps are where it’s at.

So thinking about the sort of tone you want to achieve and where it sits within the pop punk eras will help to narrow down the choices of amplifiers for you.

For more help choosing an amp try our Guitar Amplifier Buying Guide: What to Consider

Best Pop Punk Amps by Category

I’ve broken down the picks into individual categories to help you decide which would suit you best. If have a tight budget or are fairly new to the guitar then the first 2 choices will be best for you. Looking to play gigs or want a specific tone? You’re covered.

So let’s take a look at the picks:

Blackstar HT5R – Best for Small Budgets

Blackstar HT5R MKII 5-Watt 1x12 Inches Tube Combo Amp with Reverb

Type: Tube
Configuration: Combo
Power: 5W
Dimensions: 28″ x 14″ x 14.9″

Pro’s:

  • Excellent gain that is great for pop punk and more
  • Very good at low volume
  • Decent built-in reverb
  • An effects loop
  • Fairly small and lightweight

Con’s:

  • Average clean channel
  • Boring design/looks

The Blackstar HT5R ticks a lot of boxes when it comes to getting pop punk tones.

Blackstar are still relatively new on the amp scene but have grown amazingly fast. They’re used and endorsed by some of the biggest bands and artists around and having been created by ex Marshall engineers it’s no surprise they’ve such a good pedigree.

The HT5R is a 5 watt combo that features 2 channels – clean and distortion – inbuilt reverb, an effects loop, headphones out, USB output for recording and more.

Very much a high gain amp, there’s a lot on tap and with a great range going from bluesy rock through to full on metal. You shouldn’t struggle to find a great pop punk tone as the Blackstar’s are designed by some of the people who worked on the JCM 800 (which we’ll look at further down), a classic in the world of pop punk.

The clean channel is a bit uninspiring, however. There’s nothing particularly wrong with it but it just falls flat somewhat. But really this amp excels when it comes to gain and that’s where the focus should be.

Being 5 watts and having a responsive volume control means it can be played at low volume and bedroom friendly levels. But better than that it has a built in attenuator that brings the power down to 0.5w – ideal for not annoying the neighbors. If you need to play small gigs though it’ll happily keep up with a drummer too.

Overall the HT5R is a great choice for pop punk at a decent price. You get a lot of versatility and can dial in any number of high gain tones. It’s clean channel is a little disappointing but certainly not a deal breaker, especially when with pop punk it’s all about the distortion.


BOSS Katana – Best Solid State

BOSS KTN-50-2 Katana-50 MkII-50-watt 1x12 Guitar Combo Amp (KTN-50-MK2)

Type: Solid State
Configuration: Combo
Power: 50W/100W
Dimensions: 18″ x 10″ x 16″

Pro’s:

  • Great range of tones
  • Perfect for quiet playing
  • Small and lightweight
  • Useful software

Con’s:

  • Too quiet for gigs
  • Effects need a bypass

If you’ve been doing your research then you’ll almost certainly have come across the BOSS Katana. It’s been a bit of a revelation in the few years since it came out.

Regardless of skill level or ability it has united players in their love for it. And there’s a good reason for that – it sounds amazing.

Right out of the box it’s got so much to offer with a huge range of sounds and built in effects. It’s easy to use and goes from whisper quiet to plenty loud enough for jamming.

With lots of different amp models you can easily replicate your favorite pop punk band and go from a thick crunch to chiming cleans.

If you don’t need to gig and want some versatility then it’s hard to beat the Katana. The hype really is justified.


Orange Crush 20RT – Best for Beginners

Orange Amps Electric Guitar Power Amplifier, (Crush20RT)

Orange Crush 20RT

Type: Solid State
Configuration: Combo
Power: 20W
Dimensions: 28″ x 14″ x 14.9″

Pro’s:

  • Affordable
  • Simple Controls
  • Small foot print
  • Portable

Con’s:

  • Too quiet for gigs
  • Solid State (possibly a pro to some)

The Orange Crush 20RT is a fantastic little amp. In fact the entire ‘Crush’ series by Orange are all excellent. The Crush 20 is a sort of entry level amp aimed at the beginner or more novice guitarist but you can find some of the most famous, talented and experienced shredders out there talking it up. Basically it’s a whole lot of amplifier for not a lot of money.

You get 2 channels with controls for both of them – cleans and “dirty” – and a 3 band EQ. It’s small, portable, easy to use, and would even stretch to playing live at a small venue.

A step up would be the Crush CR60. An exceptionally good amplifier that packs a punch well above its size or price. Brilliant gain, as we’ve come to expect from Orange and although solid state it doesn’t sound any poorer than its tube competition.

If you’re near the beginning of your guitar journey, want a solid state option or need your amp to be very quiet then the Orange Crushes are perfect choices. Go for the 20RT if you’re a beginner as it’s the cheaper of the two and more straightforward to dial in and get the sound you want. The CR60 is a nice step up though so shouldn’t be discounted if you can stretch to it or see yourself playing for a long time.

But both can easily get great pop punk tones though and would be fine choices.

Mesa Boogie Single/Dual/Mini Rectifier – Best for Playing Gigs

Mesa Boogie Mesa Mini Rectifier Head

Mesa Boogie Mini Rectifier

Type: Tube
Configuration: Head
Power: 25/10W
Dimensions: 28″ x 14″ x 14.9″

Pro’s:

  • Amazing gain
  • Sparkling cleans
  • Synonymous with early 2000’s pop punk

Con’s:

  • Expensive
  • Earth shatteringly loud
  • Can be awkward trying to dial in/find the sound you want

The Mesa Boogie Rectifier range of amps are classics. If you’re a fan of pop punk then the number of albums they’ve been used on is crazy. They were, and still are used for a reason – that incredible sound. Nothing gives that chunky, full palm muted chug-a-chug sound like the Rectifier.

The Rectifier series go from the 50 watt Single Rectifier, 100 watt Dual, and 150 watt Triple.

Be warned though: These amps are LOUD. If you’re gigging at moderate sized venues then that shouldn’t be a problem but they have a huge amount of volume and power available. If you’re looking for a bedroom or apartment amp then they definitely aren’t for you.

They’re not cheap either. The full blown Dual or Triple Rectifier may well be out of your price range, especially seeing as you’ll need a cab to go with them.

If you want something a little more affordable and manageable then the Single Rectifier can be found for relatively cheap. Or you could look at the baby brother of the series – the Mini Rectifier. It’s 25W that can be switched down to 10W. Whilst you lose a little of that oomph with less power it is definitely easier to tame and control (albeit still pretty damn loud!).

Any of the Mesa Boogie Rectifiers will work perfectly for pop punk tones though.

Orange Rockerverb – Best for Modern Pop Punk

Orange Amplifiers Rockerverb 50 MKIII 50W Tube Guitar Amp Head Orange

Orange Rockerverb

Type: Tube
Configuration: Head or Combo
Power: 50 or 100W
Dimensions: 28″ x 14″ x 14.9″

Pro’s:

  • Gain, gain and more gain!
  • Lovely cleans
  • Build quality
  • In built attenuator for quiet playing/home use

Con’s:

  • Very expensive
  • Both combo and head are extremely heavy

If you’re a fan of modern day pop punk then the Rockerverb is the amp for you. So many pop punk bands are using Orange amps at the moment and most of them the Rockerverb range.

It’s difficult to think of a better all round amp than the current version of the Rockerverb. It does everything you could want really, really well.

  • Amazing gain? Check.
  • Crystal clear cleans? Check.
  • In built attenuator for smaller gigs/practice/home playing? Check.
  • Great onboard reverb? Check.
  • Sturdy and durable enough to last a lifetime of touring? Check.

The Rockerverb is an absolute beast. It’s only drawbacks are it’s price and that both the head and the combo weigh about as much as an elephant.

But if money isn’t a problem and you’ve got a strong back then it’s hard to recommend anything other than the Rockerverb.

Marshall JCM 800/900 – Best for Early 00’s Pop Punk

Marshall JCM 800/900

Marshall Studio Classic SC20H 20W All-Valve JCM800 2203 Amplifier Head with FX Loop and DI

Type: Tube
Configuration: Head
Power: 100W
Dimensions: 28″ x 14″ x 14.9″

Pro’s:

  • Amazing, classic sound
  • Fantastic for playing live

Con’s:

  • Single channel and no master volume
  • Needs to be cranked to sound good
  • Not a bedroom/house amp

Much like the Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier the Marshall JCM 800 was a staple of late 90’s/early 2000’s pop punk. It was seen everywhere and used on so many of the most classic and beloved pop punk albums.

In fact if you’re in a pop punk band with 2 guitarists then having one of each will absolutely nail any classic pop punk era tones. Back in the early 2000’s you couldn’t go to a pop punk show without seeing that combination.

They were and still are very popular with emo/post-hardcore bands who crossover quite a bit with pop punk. So if you’re thinking of throwing in some breakdowns to your sound or just want the option to go a bit heavier then the JCM will be ideal.

Honourable Mentions

The Orange Micro Terror or Micro Dark are one trick ponies really – but they do that one trick really well!

Affordable, tiny and surprisingly loud, they’ve been the backup choice for many guitarists for years purely because of their portable size.

You’re not going to get anything clean from either of the Micro’s, but if you want that Orange gain then you can’t go wrong. And it’s that gain that has been used by an awful lot of pop punk bands.

Get either of them with the matching 1×8 cab and you’ve got a decent practice setup that will sit easily on a desk or table that delivers awesome pop punk tones. You’ve also got a super lightweight head that’s more than loud enough for gigging. Which isn’t bad!

A relative newcomer, the Orange Rocker 15 is the follow on from the much loved (now discontinued) Rocker 30. It’s a simple 1×10 combo, or alternatively you can get the Rocker 15 Terror which is the head version, albeit with a confusingly different name.

I should be upfront here and admit that I own a Rocker 15, so am probably more than a little biased. But I absolutely love it, as my review makes clear.

It’s got quite a classic rock voicing to it, but I’ve had no trouble getting some great pop punk tones from it. The clean channel takes pedals brilliantly and there’s loads of gain on tap.

The 15W/7W/1W/0.5W bedroom/headroom switch is ideal for playing at low volume but don’t be fooled, even with a 10″ speaker and only 15 Watts it can get plenty loud.

Apart from a slightly iffy speaker that you might want to consider changing there’s very little wrong with the Rocker 15 and it’ll give you some top pop punk sounds.

A contender alongside the BOSS Katana for best solid state amp, the Yamaha THR10 is a phenomenal desktop solution. Tiny by comparison to most other amplifiers it is an excellent choice for being able to play anywhere and at any time.

The built in Bluetooth and wireless makes it so simple to just pick your guitar and play, or bring the THR to wherever you prefer to jam.

The MKII combines the original THR models but also brings in the higher gain ones found in the THRX and the acoustic models in the THRC. So you have a very wide range of tones at your fingertips.

The higher gain models will easily get you into the pop punk territory and considering how small it is the sound is surprisingly good.

The Katana has a little bit more going for it overall, but for a really brilliant amp that will fit on your shelf or desk and still sounds great the THR can’t be beaten.

Other Things to Consider

Deciding on the right pop punk amp is tricky and you’ll want to get it right. So we’ll take a closer look at some of the other features and considerations you need to keep in mind.

Tube or Solid State

We won’t get into the tube vs solid state debate here but it may be something you’re wondering about. There are so many different opinions and takes on what’s best that you’re going to have to make your own mind up.

For me solid state is great for home use. If you’re playing live though it’s really got to be tube, especially for this type of music. But for the purely bedroom player then either of them will get the job done without any issues.

Combo or Head

This really comes down to personal preference.

In the past heads have tended to be the more powerful option so were used more widely when playing live. That’s not really the case anymore and combos are likely to be just as powerful in most cares.

Personally when playing at home I like the convenience of a combo – there are less cables and fiddling. But when touring you may find a head and cab to be the more sensible option. They’re easier to transport and having head means if you lose your cabinet or it goes wrong you can always plug into another. That isn’t the case with a combo.

But both have pro’s and con’s so the decision will come down to whichever you prefer.

Power

How much power you need will come down to what sort of playing you’re going to be doing. If you’re in a band playing venues then anything under 30 watts probably won’t cut it.

Alternatively if you’re a bedroom player or just want to jam with friends then any of the lower watt choices will be more than enough.

Effects

Pop-Punk isn’t known for its effects and so you shouldn’t be too concerned with having built in or onboard presets. A few pedals won’t hurt when trying to recreate some specific tones but on the whole pop punk is a genre that you can plug straight into your amp, dial in some gain and just play. Nice and simple.

Final Verdict

Overall it really depends on your specific wants and needs. All of the amplifiers featured here will do a good job of getting a pop punk sound.

But if you need something small, that won’t cost an arm and a leg and can be played both indoors at sensible volumes and gigged with then the Blackstar HT5R is the best choice for pop punk.

If price, size etc. isn’t a factor though then the Orange Rockerverb is the best amp for pop punk.

About Andy Fraser

I'm Andy and I've been crazy about music, and specifically the guitar, for longer than I can remember. It's this passion and enthusiasm about all things guitar that drove me to start this website. A place where I could talk about the gear, techniques and general awesomeness that is the best instrument. I began playing somewhat late compared to a lot of people. I was 15 years old as it had taken me a while to find the confidence to believe in myself and take that step to learn to play an instrument. It started my lifelong love of music and playing in general. Since then like so many before me I've become an addict and gone through more guitars, amps and gear than I care to remember. Guitar Inside Out is my way of sharing hat love and passion with the music community and hopefully inspiring and helping others to enjoy it as much as I do.

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