4 Best Reggae Guitar Amps

When shopping around for a reggae guitar amp the factors you are most likely going to consider are:

  • Tube amp vs. Solid state
  • Wattage Output
  • New or Used
  • Good Clean Channel
  • Budget $$$

Roland JC-120

reggae guitar amp- roland jc-120

nEW : $1,200       uSED: $400- $800

This amp is a favorite among reggae guitar players because of the cyrstal clear response you can hear while using the clean channel. It was used by reggae jazz guitarist Ernest Ranglin and Junior Marvin when he played with Bob Marley & the Wailers.

It’s a solid state, combo amp, and features two 60 watt speakers which sounds good in live music venues in addition to a recording studio.

The main disadvantage of this amp is the weak distortion channel, so if you are going to play some reggae rock solos you will definitely need some effect pedals. On the other hand, this amp is very versatile becuase it can also be used for acoustic guitar, keyboards, and even vocals.

Fender Twin Reverb

Best Reggae guitar amps - Fender twin reverb

New: $1,450     Used: $900+

This is the guitar amp that was used by Bob Marley along with his lead guitarist in the Wailers, Al Anderson.

The main appeal of this guitar amp is the classic, vintage sound you get when the tube’s are warmed up. Also by using the vibrato channel you can get a natural distortion & reverb effect from the amp that will sound much better than any guitar pedals you will find.

This amp is 85 watts and is suitable for any live music setting. If you need something smaller check out the Fender Hot Rod Deluxe which is a 40 watt combo amp for half the price.

Vox AC30

New: $1,000   Used: $600-800

The Vox amps were made popular by the British rock bands like the Beatles, The Kinks, and Queen. In addition to the authentic vintage sounding rock n’ roll tone, it also sounds great when playing reggae. It features 30 watts of tube power and two celestion “blue” speakers.

The older, original AC30 amps where known to have wiring problems which have since been fixed with the reissues. There are several variations of this amp available including the valve reactor, custom, and handwired. This is a high quality, boutique amp which has a awesome sounding clean and dirty tones.

Peavey Classic 30

 NEw: $650   Used: $300-450

This a solid sounding tube amp for the price. It features a good sounding clean channel for reggae rhythm guitar, and warm crunchy tones for lead playing in the drive channel. The amp features 30 watts of sound with a built in reverb effect. Good for live music in bars and small clubs. I personally own one of these amps and can vouch for them. Also check out a Peavey Classic 50 if you need more sound.

4 Classic Guitars for playing Reggae

An authentic reggae guitar tone is achieved by using the correct right hand guitar technique and least 95% of your tone is coming directly from your fingers. Although, if you want to sound like a guitar legend, these are the four guitars most commonly used for playing reggae music.

Stratocaster

  •  The stratocaster is a great guitar for playing reggae because it’s lightweight, the neck is a comfortable shape for lead and rhythm playing, and you can get a variety of  tones with the pickups in the neck and mid-neck positions. Some famous reggae guitarist’s who played a stratocaster include Eric Clapton, and the lead guitarist for Bob Marley, Al Anderson.

Telecaster

  •  The Fender Telecaster is more lightweight than the Stratocaster which lends itself to having a thinner sound and is good for doubling the bass line in reggae using the palm muting guitar technique .In addition, the Telecaster is great for playing the reggae rhythm guitar because of the bright tone in the neck pickup position.Two famous guitar legends who used a telecaster are Jimmy Page and Keith Richards.
 

Les Paul

  • The Gibson Les Paul is best known for its humbucker P90 pickups which gives it a fat sound and crunchy blues lead guitar tone. The neck has a wider shape, and it is a heavier guitar to shoulder than the Strat or the Telecaster. Bob Marley played a Les Paul while he was in the Wailers and Eric Rachmany plays one now with the reggae band Rebelution.

 PRS

  • The PRS guitar is a like combination of a Strat and a Les Paul. It has a thin neck like the Strat, which makes it easier to play but it also has humbucker pick ups like a Les Paul for a crunchy lead guitar tone. PRS guitars are very versatile and can be used for playing Rock, Reggae, Jazz, Blues, and most styles of music. A guitar legend who plays a PRS is Carlos Santana.

Best Amp Settings for Reggae Guitar Tone

Reggae guitar tone is subjective and can be achieved using almost any guitar amp, but below I have laid out some guidelines to help you find your reggae guitar tone.

Reggae Guitar amp settings

Clean Tone & Rhythm Guitar

The clean tone is best used for reggae rhythm guitar and can be heard in classic Bob Marley songs including “Stir it Up” and “Is this love” .  Using the clean channel of your amp, try adjusting to the setting’s below.

  •  Volume 6

  • Treble 5

  • Middle 5

  • Bass 5

  • Reverb 3

  • Presence 5

  Overdrive Tone & Lead Guitar


For a lead guitar tone switch to the drive channel of your guitar amp. This is best if you have two guitar players in your band, then one can use a clean tone and the other guitarist has an overdrive tone. If you are the only guitar player in the band, then I would suggest using the clean channel for rhythm parts and using a pedal for lead guitar solos. Below are the amp settings for a overdrive tone.

  • Pre 7

  •  Post 7

  • Treble 5

  • Middle 5

  • Bass 5

  • Reverb 3

  • Presence 5

“Stir it Up” Bob Marley Chords & Wah Wah Pedal

Video Lesson

Chord Chart Available in Songbook

reggae guitar lessons songbook

Guitar Technique


The Wah effect pedal can be used for the rhythm guitar part Bob Marley is playing by pressing all the way down on your wah pedal. Using the clean channel of your guitar amp this should give your guitar more top end (treble).

The wah pedal can also be used during the lead guitar part that Peter Tosh is playing. You want to slowly press down on the pedal as you play the chord on the downbeat.

With guitar effect pedals less is always more, so try to be economic with your use of the Wah pedal when playing