We''ve rounded up 7 fire-breathing, high-gain heads by Blackstar, Diezel, Engl, EVH, Marshall, Orange, and Randall.

Once upon a time, heavy rock and metal players who craved crushing volume and lightning-fast response had just a few places to turn. There was Marshall and Orange, smaller American manufacturers like Sunn, or smaller English builders like the blokes at Laney.

But just as hard rock and metal have mutated into a hydra with jaws of doom, sludge, speed, stoner, and shred variants all gnashing and writhing from atop its back, heavy amps have splintered into a plethora of subsets—each with its own set of performance ideals. Some are built for guttural low end, others for sharp midrange definition, others still for the hyper-fast responsiveness that speed-metal warriors demand. There’s a specimen of each among our menagerie of seven gained-out beasts. The Orange TH100 relies on brutish, old-school simplicity to do its damage, while companies like Diezel and Engl delve into aggressive high-mid output and tight response to meet the needs of contemporary shredders. Marshall’s JVM410HJS capitalizes on more than four decades of experience and heavy associations to cover everything from primitive savagery to nuanced clean tones. Despite all the different approaches in our bunch, each shares a common goal—apocalyptic levels of loud. So plug your ears and prepare to ride into the netherworld and meet the denizens of heaviness that reside there—the Monsters of High Gain.

See the Monsters of High Gain 2013 reviews with video demos by Ola Englund:

If one of these seven doesn't provide the flavor of gain you're looking for, chances are someone else does. Here are 5 current versions of classic high-gain heads and 8 relative newcomers worth checking out.


Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier
Output: 100 watts
Power-amp tubes: Four 6L6s
Channels: Three channels, 8 modes
Used by: Kim Thayil, Adam Jones, John Petrucci
Street price: $1,999

Soldano SLO-100
Output: 100 watts
Power-amp tubes: Four 5881s or 6L6s
Channels: Normal, Overdrive
Used by: Eddie Van Halen, Tommy Kessler
Street price: $4,149

Krank Krankenstein +
Output: 120 watts
Power-amp tubes: Four 6550s
Channels: Dime, Kleen
Used by: Dimebag Darrell
Street price: $1,699

Hughes & Kettner Triamp MK II
Output: 100 watts
Power-amp tubes: Four EL34s
Channels: Three dual-channel modes
Used by: Alex Lifeson
Street price: $2,799

Bogner Ecstasy 101B
Output: 100 watts
Power-amp tubes: Four EL34s or 6L6s
Channels: Green (clean), Blue (rhythm), Red (lead)
Used by: Steve Vai, Jerry Cantrell
Street price: $3,599

New Blood

Diamond Heretic
Output: 100 watts
Power-amp tubes: Four EL34s
Channels: Clean, Crunch
Standout feature: Two distinct gain settings available on crunch channel
Street price: $2,699

Egnater Vengeance
Output: 120 watts (with half-power switch)
Power-amp tubes: Four 6L6s
Channels: Channel 1, Channel 2
Standout feature: Reverb on each channel that decays naturally when switching channels
Street price: $1,099

Schecter Hellraiser
Output: 100 watts
Power-amp tubes: Four EL34s
Channels: Clean, Lead I
Standout feature: Normal or active inputs and focus control tailor the amp to different guitars
Street price: $1,799

Peavey Triple XXX II
Output: 120 watts
Power-amp tubes: Four EL34s or 6L6s
Channels: Clean, Rhythm, Lead
Standout feature: Power amp switchable for different tube types
Street price: $1,199

Rhodes Colossus H-100
Output: 100 watts
Power-amp tubes: Four EL34s, 6L6s, or KT66s
Channels: Clean, Crunch, Lead 1, Lead 2
Standout feature: Deep MIDI functionality, biasing controls for different tubes
Street price: $3,050

Friedman SS-100 Steve Stevens
Output: 100 watts
Power-amp tubes: Four EL34s
Channels: Clean, Lead
Standout feature: Metro SS effects loop with send and return levels
Street price: $3,699

Bugera Trirec Infinium
Output: 100 watts
Power-amp tubes: Four 6L6s, 6550s, or EL34s (or combinations)
Channels: Classic, Vintage, Modern
Standout feature: 1-100-watt Varipower, self-biasing tube-life multiplier, tube, solidstate, or combined rectifier modes
Street price: $799

Laney Ironheart IRT120H
Output: 120 watts
Power-amp tubes: Four 6L6s or EL34s
Channels: Clean, Rhythm, Lead
Standout feature: Pre-boost switch at the front end of the preamp
Street price: $999

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