Doom Metal is highly specific when it comes to guitar tones, but over the past decade many artists have broken the mold. At the same time, many have stuck to tried and true tradition. So what are the best amps for Doom Metal in 2020?
The Best Amps For Doom Metal In 2020: We Have Come A Long way…
We have talked about Doom Metal in great length before. Whether it is concerning its roots in the 1970’s or even more modern takes. Doom Metal is such an interesting genre because it is steeped in tradition, and even the newest modern artists at least borrow from that tradition and formula.
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The mere idea of getting a good tone for Doom is using whatever you have at your disposal. I have seen guitarists use the cheapest pawn shop amps to play Doom Metal. At the same time, I have seen huge racks of boutique amps being used in the same manner.
The devil, as they say, is in the details. That is what makes doom metal, especially if you’re recording at home, such an interesting niche to operate in.
So this list may be a little all over the place. When it really comes down to the best amps for Doom Metal, you can use just about anything. But the key to finding the right tone is all about versatility. Sure, just about any amp can make a fuzzed-out dystopian soundscape.
But which ones can do it the best? We will base our picks on what artists use, and what I know from personal experience. We will try and stick to these parameters:
- No Custom Amps, despite their popularity in Doom Metal
- Nothing crazy expensive
- Road tested and proven
- No rare amps or lost gems: Must be available and easy to find.
- No modeling/digital amps!
I think that covers just about everything. I choose not to mention any modeling amps, because some of them do not take pedals very well. Pedals are almost essential to the genre.
I know there are lots of custom amps out there, made in small batches that appeal to the Doom Metal community. But these are generally hard to come by. Accessibility is important, especially if you are new to Doom Metal or you are trying out something new with your rig.
Lets get on with the best amps for Doom Metal!
#5 Orange Rockerverb 100/50 Watt
Orange has been the outcast of the guitar community for years. But about 15 years ago, these amps became a staple of some big name artist’s rigs. Now we associate Orange Amps with everyone from Slipknot to Boris.
The Rockerverb is the flagship model for Orange and is currently in it’s 3rd edition. While it has been updated over the years, most of the signature features remain the same:
- 100 or 50 watt models
- Class A/B
- Preamp tubes: 4x ECC83
- Power amp tubes: 4x EL34
- Reverb/ effects loop tubes: 2x ECC81
- Stepless attenuator circuit (reducible output power) and switchable output power (100/ 70/ 50/ 30 W)
- “Pictogram” knobs for control parameters
- Effects Loop
The British amp manufacturer has carved out a niche for their products, and you will find Orange often imitated. Their amps use pictograms for the controls, which takes some getting used to!
Both channels have independent controls on the Rockerverb. This gives you tons of freedom to dial in whatever tone you like. Along with the two tube powered channels, you get a huge sounding tube powered reverb. Hence the name, the reverb is out of this world.
But where Orange becomes one of the best amps for Doom Metal is in the effects loop, which is tube-buffered. This means you can use just about any combo of pedals to craft your tone. When using fuzz, the Orange Rockerverb’s gain channel blends perfectly, allowing you to be subtle or LOUD.
The built in attenuator makes this a perfect studio solution as well as the stage. You can crank the amp, while lowering the wattage from 100 all the way down to 30. This can be useful in smaller venues as well.
Orange is a pretty obvious choice. The price is under $2000 and this is a very popular amp.
#4 Peavey Valveking 100
Peavey is one of those companies that makes something for everyone. Almost all genres are covered in Peavy’s lineup of popular amps. In fact, sometimes “something for everyone” can be amassed in just one single amp!
That amp is the Valveking 100. I owned one of these for a few years, and I was very impressed with the insane amount of tones I could get out of it. On paper, it looks a lot like the Orange Rockerverb:
- 2 Channels
- Class A/B
- Buffered Effects Loop
- Powered by Four 6L6GC and three 12AX7 tubes
- Footswitchable gain/volume boost on lead channel
- 100 watts
- Stereo Output
The Valveking has the same buffered effects loop built in that the Orange Rockerverb is equipped with. This means you can have pedals galore running through this amp, and be pretty satisfied with the clarity of the signal.
The tube selection is certainly different, and the gain stage in the lead channel is more tailored for Metal than the Orange. This means that Peavey dialed this amp in to be versatile whether you are using crunch, or all out distortion. The distortion is mid-heavy, so it blends excellent with fuzz pedals.
But where the Peavey Valveking really shines is the “Lead Boost” built in to the footswitch. This is meant to boost the signal when playing live, for guitar solos to cut through the mix of a full band. It also makes everything sound absolutely filthy when engaged with fuzz.
Peavey is known to be a budget choice in most cases. The Valveking is no exception. Unfortunately these were recently discontinued, but they can be found on Reverb for almost nothing. This makes the Peavey an affordable option for the best amps for Doom Metal.
#3 Fender Super Bassman
Ok, hear me out. I know that Fender isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind when someone says “Metal”. In fact, it probably isn’t the second or third amp to come to mind when talking about Metal.
But we are exploring all of the different possibilities today, and so far this list is exactly what you thought it was going to be. But let’s subvert our expectations for a minute, and look at the Fender Super Bassman with an open mind.
The Bassman series is usually revered in the Blues Rock community since it has a beautiful clean channel. So why is it on a list for the best amps for Doom Metal? Let’s look at the features:
- 300 Watts
- 8, 4 or 2 Ohm
- Tubes: 2x 12AX7, 1x 12AX7, 1x 12AT7, 6x 6550
- Dual Channel, Clean/Overdrive
- Single Button Footswitch
- Controls for: Vintage-VOL, Bass (pull DEEP), Mids, Treble (pull Bright), Overdrive-GAIN, Blend, Vol, Bass (pull DEEP), Mid Freq, Mid Level, Treble (pull Bright), Master (pull Mute)
- XLR out
- Effects Loop
The controls can be a little confusing, since all of the knobs are push/pull. But this changes the fundamental frequencies, and can be very useful when dialing in your tone. I would try to “set it and forget it” if I were you, to avoid confusion.
But that isnt the reason this is one of the best amps for Doom Metal. It is perfect for Doom because of the two different channels. We can start with the clean channel.
The clean channel can be dialed in to be anything you want, and it is extremely versatile. But the important thing is the definition, as it highlights any fuzz pedal you plug into it! You can get 100 good tones easily with a couple of fuzz pedals and this amp!
The distortion channel, in my opinion, is virtually unusable. Fender is known for making good clean amps, and their distortion is usually lacking. The Fender Super Bassman is no exception. While it sounds terrible alone, it works great with fuzz if you blend the two. This gives your fuzz sound a big mid-boost for solos.
Finally, we have a great effects loop, that will handle all of your modulation pedals really well. So while Fender might be the last on your list for Metal of any form, keep an open mind and try it out yourself.
#2 Marshall DSL Series
Marshall is legendary in the Metal world, and have been for over 3 decades. Marshall is a legacy company that rarely messes with the design of the amps in their flagship series. These amps are “new vintage” in most cases.
One of the best amps for Doom Metal is the Marshall Superbass. This amp has been used on recordings for so many Doom bands and Sludge records, you would be hard-pressed to find a band that hasn’t tried it. The problem though, is the Superbass is a hard amp to come by for most people.
So the modern, next to best thing to the Marshall Superbass, would be the DSL series. The two amps actually share the same DNA, with a few minor tweaks. The DSL series has been revamped with a ton of features.
- Powered by 4 x ECC83 and 4 x EL34
- 2 Channels: Classic Gain and Ultra Gain
- Independent volume and gain control for both channels
- Clean and Crunch Modes in Classic Gain Channel
- Lead1 and Lead2 modes in Ultra Gain channel
- Tone Shift circuit
- Pentode/Triode switching
- Digital Reverb
Right out of the box, the Marshall DSL is a great amp for many applications. The two channels can cover four stages of distortion, giving you total control of your sound. The distortion is classic Marshall and sounds great.
But the features that make this one of the best amps for Doom Metal, is the almost “generic” aspect of the amp. I don’t say that with any spite or malice, this is a good thing!
The DSL is almost a blank canvas when it comes to crafting tones. With the various Pentode modes and the tone shift, you can start your tone crafting at a very basic level without adding any effects yet. This gives you total control.
Like the other amps on this list, the distortion channels are very versatile and easy to blend with an epic fuzz tone. The Marshall DSL does not shy away from pedals at all. Mixing Marshall’s classic distortion and fuzz is how bands like The Sword and Mastodon created their huge tones on their albums.
These amps are very budget friendly for a full-on tube amp that is so versatile. Even the 100 watt head model comes in at under $1000. To me, that is a steal for such a great amp.
So if you are looking to build your tone from the ground up, then you can’t go wrong with the Marshall DSL series. This approach will take a little more work, through trial and error. For some people, this is what building a rig is all about!
The Best Amps For Doom Metal: An Honorable Mention
Sunn O)))) Amps were originally created in the Pacific Northwest by brothers Norm and Conrad Sunhold. The company was eventually purchased by Fender (like everything else these days) and was promptly discontinued. But these amps have a legacy in the best amps for Doom Metal…
Seriously, a band named themselves after these amps. Many Doom and Sludge bands found their tone with Sunn O)))) amplifiers. These were crafted to have a huge amount of headroom, adding definition even at high volumes.
IF you can find one, they are still widely regarded as THE Doom Metal amp. These are a blank slate with the clean channel, so any fuzz/distortion pedals added to the mix come through the amp loud and clear. The amp is also known for being very bass heavy. It will definitely shake the windows in your house!
I can’t add Sunn O)))) to the list due to their availability. They pop up on used sites from time to time, but most people that have them keep them in their arsenal forever. And rightfully so!
Since this is considered a “lost gem” I couldn’t add it to the list in good faith. I searched and found a few for sale, but not enough to be considered as widely available.
But what about the #1 pick in the best amps for Doom Metal?
#1 Laney AOR Series
The Laney AOR is not peak versatility like the other amps on this list. It can’t do everything and be a tone chameleon. But what it does do really well is Doom. AOR stands for “Advanced Overdrive Response” and became popular in the 1980’s as high gain amps were starting to rule the market.
The Laney AOR is made popular by a few different artists with Matt Pike from High On Fire and Sleep being a big fan of the Laney. They have also been used by Josh Homme and Tony Iommi over the years. I think the popularity of the Laney AOR comes from the Marshall Plexi sound it creates and it’s simplicity. The features are pretty bare bones.
- Push/Pull Preamp on certain model
- Hot rodded wiring
- Versatile Distortion tones
- Point to point wiring
- Parts are interchangeable with Marshall
- 4 12AX7 and 2 EL34 Tubes
- Effects Loop
This is a perfect example of an amp that came out at the wrong time. During the 80’s no one was going for a Black Sabbath sound during the time of hair metal. But that classic sound is exactly what the Laney AOR amps does. And it does it really well, without pedals.
When you add in pedals, the Laney AOR becomes an absolute monster. The distortion is great all on it’s own, but add some fuzz to it and it sounds like the end of the world. This is loudest, and most obnoxious amp I have heard.
The Laney AOR was almost a complete failure when it first came out, but over the years a cult following and saturated used market has kept it very relevant. You can find these used all day, for a great price. There are several different versions floating around, but they all share the same double helix design that makes it so filthy.
The Best Amps For Doom Metal: Let’s Wrap This Up…
So that’s my choices for the best amps for Doom Metal, and I am sure not everyone will agree with me. But that’s the point. Doom Metal is so extremely diverse when it comes to gear. The amp is just one part of the equation.
Pedals are going to make up a huge part of the sound of your rig, as well as the guitar itself. Every choice you make along the way contributes to your unique voice. To me, that is what metal is all about. Being yourself, and pushing the limits.
But with any of these amps, you will be well on your way to slowing down, fuzzing out, and pissing off all of your neighbors for miles around.
Do I need a specific amp for Doom Metal?
Not really. But there are many amps that are well regarded in the Metal community that preform the task at hand better than others.
Are tube amps good for Doom Metal?
Yes. Almost all recommended Doom Metal amplifiers are tube/valve based. This is because Tubes provide a much warmer, bass-heavy sound.
Can Modeling Amps work for Doom Metal?
While not preferred by the pros, modeling amps often have a pretty decent fuzz tone that can get you started. Tube amps are usually used in Doom Metal.
What is the go-to amp for Doom Metal?
These days, Orange Rockerverbs are preferred by many Doom Metal guitarists. Older Peavey models are very sought after as well.
Which pedals do I need to use with my amp for Doom Metal?
Most Doom Metal Guitarists use a myriad of Fuzz pedals. These can be used in tandem with your amplifier’s distortion, or be used as a stand alone pedal.