Best Friedman Amps [2021]: Which Model is Right For You?

Finding the best guitar amp often comes down to many factors, such as: budget, genre, skill level, and the type of guitar you have. When it comes to finding the best Friedman amps it can be challenging to determine whether it’s worth looking at high-end Friedman Amps or if a lower-priced amp would be sufficient for you.

In this guide, we’re going to explore our favorite Friedman amps, from the budget-friendly to the most expensive, hoping that you can find the right amp for you in our guide. We have chosen to focus just on combo amps and ignore amp heads for fairness.

We will also explore the top queries and questions that we have come across, during our research, concerning Friedman Amps before finishing with our final thoughts. Before we go into details of our favorite choices, we’re going, beginning with an overview of the Friedman Amps we have selected to investigate.

Five of the Best Friedman Amps – Overview

We have chosen 5 Friedman amps to explore below, based on; popularity, top sellers with different retail prices, so that every reader can look further into a Friedman amp that applies to them.

Model Color Features Price Range
Friedman Dirty Shirley 1X12 Cab Black Budget-Friendly, Baltic Birch Construction. $
Friedman Jerry Cantrell JJ Junior Signature 20W 1×12 Tube Guitar Combo Amp Black Years in the making, perfect the sound and tonal experience in a smaller format. $$
Friedman Pink Taco 20W 1×10 Tube Guitar Combo Amp Black Iconic sound in a compact, manageable format. $$$
Friedman Runt-50 50W 1×12 Tube Guitar Combo Black Friedman’s legendary tone from a versatile 2-channel amp. $$$$
Friedman Buxom Betty White Classic American Clean sound To a classic British crunch $$$$$

What do we Know about Friedman Amps?

Friedman

Experts state that Friedman amps are more affordable and slightly chewy Marshalls. They’re much easier to play and highly saturated. Friedman amps are known for their phenomenal response and their ability to pick up every fine detail.

They’re loved by many professional musicians, and the brand’s website has a page dedicated to famous artists who use Friedman amps; see here.

When you want to play music professionally, it is the amp and not the most important guitar to get right. When it comes to tone, the amp quality is imperative. Even the greatest guitar in the world can sound pretty dire if played through a poor-quality amp.

Most Friedman amps are hard-wired, which, in short, means they take longer to create and are done so by hand – offering more longevity, reliability, and durability over mass-produced, machine-made amps.

They require a high level of skill and a timely amount of labor (often taking eight times longer to complete than a printed circuit board), which is accounted for with their retail value.

Why Should you Consider a Friedman Amp?

With many brands on the market and some vastly more popular than Friedman, when you’re looking for a combo amp, it’s entirely possible that Friedman doesn’t even enter the equation. However, many guitarists say that they never look back once they’ve played with a Friedman amp.

Often called ‘the best amplifiers’ in the online guitar world, Friedman amps have an excellent build quality, high and low inputs, awesome loop and master, and are fun to play, requiring minimal tweaking.

They are expensive, though, and you won’t often find them available second-hand. This says to us that when people purchase a Friedman, they don’t part with it.

Looking After Your Amp

With something as expensive as an amp, it should be worth noting the importance of taking care of it. As with the majority of musical instruments and equipment, an amp can be seen as a significant investment. Whether you require it for your profession, passion, or hobby, you’ve purchased it to enjoy and so protecting it from the point of purchase can be invaluable.

There are a number of ways you can look after your amp:

  • Consider a pro cover insurance plan at the point of sale – this will often include replacement amps, or unlimited repairs, for up to 5 years.
  • Purchase an amp cover or case, to store your amp safely at home or for safe travel on the road.
  • Regularly give the amp a wipe over, with a damp soapy cloth, to prevent a build-up of mold or mildew.
  • Store it in a well-ventilated room, and away from heat sources and direct sunlight
  • Finally, never attempt to repair your amp alone. This can lead to further damages to the innards and potentially even be a dangerous thing to do.

Our Top Five Friedman Amps

Below we investigate the best Friedman Amps (in our opinion)…

Friedman Dirty Shirley 1X12 Cab – Great Budget Option & Great Sound

Friedman Dirty Shirley

The most affordable on our list is the very well thought of Dirty Shirley – one of the ultimate vintage style amps on the market today. While many other amps have lost their vintage vibes, to keep up with a modern-day market, this amp has remained smooth yet extremely powerful.

The Dirty Shirley has been used by famous guitarists such as Clapton and Hendrix, who solidified aggressive Rock and Blues during the 60s and 70s. The oversized 12-gauge speaker wire is soldered between the terminal and speaker which ensures every ounce of tone is perfectly captured.

Made from Baltic Birch, and handcrafted with pride in the USA this is a sturdy build that can be relied upon on stage or the road. The Baltic Birch also has a great impact on the sound properties, allowing for a light, low-end, and impressively tight tone for those signature blue bites.

For the money, this amp is Stella. Portable and lightweight, at just 26lbs, it is a perfect choice for those who regularly gig and it’s surprisingly impressive sound will fill an area with ease.

Having listened to audio samples, this amp works well across the genres but particularly so for country and blues, although here it shows what it can do for Billy Idol, The Who, and David Bowie. The Dirty Shirley is a versatile and budget-friendly option.

Specifications

  • 65-watt power handling
  • Closed-back
  • Ported design
  • 16 ohms impedance rating
  • Baltic birch construction
  • 1×12 Celestion G12 Creamback
  • Tongue and Groove design
  • Weight: 26 lbs
  • Dimensions: 19 x 16.75 x 12 inch

Pros

  • Very affordable
  • Compact for on the road
  • Excellent sound
  • Handcrafted in the USA
  • Solid birch wood

Cons

  • Sound is said to not be as good as more expensive Friedmans
  • Some buyers mention an inability to gain a clean tone
  • Said to not be great at keeping up with rock drummers in a band

Friedman Jerry Cantrell JJ Junior Signature 20W 1×12 Tube Guitar Combo Amp – Years in the Making

Friedman JJ

Here we take a steep jump, as regards price, from the Dirty Shirley to look at our second lowest-priced Friedman amp – the Jerry Cantrell JJ Junior Signature Tube Combo.

Friedman has squeezed the iconic features of Cantrell’s flagship amp head, renowned for its exquisite high-gain tones, into an affordable and compact combo and with impressive results.

This amp is able to project phenomenal tones with a wealth of modern features to meet the demands of contemporary players. With the iconic ‘modded’ all-American character and old-school aesthetics, this is a pretty eye-catching amp that any traveling musician would feel proud to have on the road with them.

Able to perform as well within jamming sessions or in the studio as it would on the stage, this compact version of the JJ-100 has all the elements of its big brother’s success but with a smaller price tag and comes in a smaller size.

Friedman and Cantrell spent many years perfecting the classic JJ sound and then condensed this into a smaller format, yet cleverly with no sacrifices being made and the same tonal experience offered. At the heart of this amp is the 12” Celestion, 16-ohm speaker which delivers the mid response, bass, and signature tone of Cantrell.

You can also play this amp ‘silently’, meaning you can use the amp without having to have it connected to a speaker cabinet so it’s great for practice and rehearsals. This amp has been designed specifically to be able to take pedals well too.

Featuring beautiful black Tolex, grille cloth, and Baltic Birch just like the original JJ-100, you’re basically getting everything you would with the larger, more-expensive amp but in a more condensed and affordable way.

Specifications

  • 20-Watt power
  • 2 channels
  • 1×12” Celestion G12M 65 Creamback speaker
  • 8, 16-ohm switchable impedance
  • Footswitch included (single-button)
  • Tubes: 12AX7, EL84
  • Controls: presence, JBE voicing switch, bright switch, volume, master, gain, 3-band EQ
  • Series FX loop
  • XLR Cab Simulated output with Level, Axis, and Ground Lift switches
  • Weight: 52 lbs
  • Dimensions: 11.75 x 17.25 x 19 inch

Pros

  • A compact and more affordable version of the JJ-100
  • Takes pedals very well
  • Sturdy build
  • Ffx loop is incredible
  • Takes boosts and overdrives very well

Cons

  • Can be difficult to source
  • Often only pre-order, with a wait

Friedman Pink Taco 20W 1×10 Tube Guitar Combo Amp – Iconic Sound in a Manageable Form

Friedman Pink Taco

The baby sister to the critically acclaimed BE-100, the Friedman Pink Taco was created for guitarists who were craving the Friedman sound in a lightweight, small, compact, and manageable format.

Weighing in at 30lbs it can be carried with relative ease and transported simply, for musicians on the road. For those in the industry professionally, you could consider the use of an amp transporter to protect it from any damages during transit.

This amp is perfect for metal and rock, both at home or on the road. The natural compression works well in keeping the tone tight and controlled and it performs well at bedroom volume or on the stage. If you’re looking for crystal clear sound then this may not be the amp for you as it’s been built with rock and the associated distortions in mind.

Super versatile, due to its 3-way ‘’gain-structure-switch, the Pink Taco is able to perform well for many different genres, this hand-wired, single-channel, 20-watt amp is capable of producing classic rock and heavy metal just as well as country and blues. It recaptured the legendary sound of Celestions 1970s, due to its Celestion Greenback 10 inch speaker, yet with a deep tone that can come as a surprise.

Specifications

  • 20-watt tube power
  • Single input
  • Single-channel
  • Tubes: 12ZX7, EL84
  • 1X10 Celestion G10 Greenback
  • 8, 16 ohms impedance
  • Controls: 3-position gain switch, master, gain, 3-band EQ
  • Semi-open back design
  • Ultra-transparent series FX loop
  • Weight: 30lbs
  • Dimensions: 9.5 x 15.5 x 16.5 inch

Pros

  • Extremely versatile
  • Compact and manageable
  • Lightweight without sound quality being compromised

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Has been described as ‘over-priced

Friedman Runt-50 50W 1×12 Tube Guitar Combo – Versatile 2-channel Amp

Friedman Runt

A newcomer to the scene of boutique-style, small-sized amps from Friedman is the Runt-50. Handmade in the USA it’s a premium amp with an incredible broadcasting volume that can come as a surprise. With 2 channels, players get the best of both worlds – powerful and loud, as well as midrange heavy and clean – this amp is a rocker’s dream.

Friedman cleverly designed this miniature amp to ensure it is usable in all situations and with its internal load box it isn’t necessary to always use the speaker.

Set up as normal, plug in the XLR and you’re ready to rock. Two different mic positions can prove to be very useful with buyers being especially pleased with this.

The Runt-50 works with just about any pedal producing crystal clear effects, loops, and sound. It is extremely versatile and able to deliver anything from hard-core rock to broken-up tones ideal for country and blues.

The Boost switch and Gain knob will deliver the right amount of overdrive, without it being over-kill. We struggled to find a thing wrong with this amp in honesty.

This amp delivers midrange and tight bottom end, typically found in amps with a much higher wattage. It’s harmonically very rich and gives a clear definition of each chord.

Currently, there are bargains to be snapped up (in the form of several hundred dollars of savings) with open-boxed Runt-50’s at Guitar Center, but we can’t promise how long these will be around!

Specifications

  • 50-watt tube power
  • Tubes: 4 12ZX7, 2 EL34 (Preamp and power amp)
  • Single input
  • 2 channels
  • 8, 16 ohms impedance
  • G12M 65 Creamback speaker
  • Controls: Presence (universal), gain boost (overdrive channel), gain, 3-band EQ, 3-position bright switch (clean channel), volume, 2-band EQ
  • X2 ¼” outputs
  • Buffered series FX loop
  • Cab-simulated XLR output
  • Weight: 55 lbs
  • Dimensions: 11.75 x 20.25 x 22.5 inch

Pros

  • Rich, sparkling American-style clean channel
  • Legendary Friedman lead tone
  • Excellent note clarity
  • Clear sound

Cons

  • Power would be unsuitable at ‘bedroom’ volumes!
  • Buyers state: ‘lacking the gain I wanted’ – without a pedal add-on

Friedman Buxom Betty – Classic American Clean sound To a classic British crunch

Friedman Buxom

This single-channel, hard-wired, 50W boutique amp is the most expensive on our list and a wonderful amp in every way. Dave Friedman has brought together American and British tones and packaged it up beautifully in the Buxom Betty.

To derive from Classic American Clean to Classic British Crunch all you need to do is turn up the volume knob – it’s that simple and the results are incredible.

Guitarists with decades of experience speak of their shock at just how good this amp sounds. Never before had we come across the word ‘sophisticated’ when researching the sound for amps until we investigated the Buxom Betty.

With sound qualities that rival the very best Vox, Fender and Marshall, within one box, the Buxom Betty is the definition of versatile. For the money, you could opt for amps with many more features but the simplicity of the Buxom Betty is perhaps the best thing about it. Playing music isn’t about technology, but rustic, authentic sounds that can capture a whole audience.

The Buxom Betty comes in an eye-catching white color, already making it stand out from the crowd. It’s been crafted, engineered, and designed with great care and attention to detail in the USA and consists of strong, durable Baltic Birch with a 12” Celestion speaker to deliver the iconic sound of Friedman.

Specifications

  • 50-watt tube power
  • One channel
  • Spring reverb
  • EL34 power tube x2
  • 12AX7 preamp tube x3
  • 16 Ohm Celestion 12” G12M Creamback speaker
  • Controls: Reverb, presence, bass, middle, treble, volume
  • Three-position bright switch
  • Custom USA made transformers
  • 4, 6, 16-ohm impedance selector switch
  • Weight: 52 lbs
  • Dimensions: 9.5 x 22 x 24.25 inch

Pros

  • Undisputed sound quality
  • Eye-catching white finish
  • Simply sophisticated

Cons

  • Very expensive

Frequently Asked Questions about Friedman Amps

Here we look at the commonly asked questions and queries about Friedman Amps.

Question: Who Makes Friedman Amps?

Answer: The inventor of Friedman amps is Detroit-born Dave Friedman. He has been modding, repairing, building amps for nearly three decades and is responsible for the signature tones of some of the world’s best rock icons such as Steve Stevens and Eddie Van Halen. You can find out more about him here.

Question: Does Friedman Make the Best Tube Amps?

Answer: Tube amps are undeniably a popular choice, especially for professional live performers. Friedman amps are exceptionally good tube amps, capable of filling arenas and supporting the career of many of the world’s famous artists. But, they’re not the only tube amps out there.

We’ve taken the time to draw up 5 highly popular tube amps, from 5 different brands, that are suitable for live performers:

Supro Black Magick Reverb 25W 1×12 Tube Guitar Combo Amp
Fender Blues Jr IV
Marshall DSL5CR 5W 1×10 Tube Guitar Combo Amp
Orange Amplifiers TremLord-30 30 Watt 1X12 Combo
Vox Custom AC15C1 15W 1×12 Tube Guitar Combo Amp

Question: Where is Friedman Amps Made?

Answer: Every Friedman amp is made in the USA, using hand-selected components and to Dave Friedmans exacting standards. Furthermore, Friedman personally inspects, plays, and even signs every single amplifier before shipping!

So, Which Friedman Amp is the Best Choice for you?

With varying prices and different functions, there can be significant differences between Friedman amps. Whichever you buy is going to be a good-quality, reliable piece of kit – after all, their creator takes the time to personally check each one before dispatch – or so it is claimed.

If you’re wanting a show-stopping guitar amp then the Buxom Betty is an expensive, but excellent choice. It can fill arenas and venues of any size and requires minimal handling for fantastic, on-the-spot results.

We love the striking white finish for people to take note of this amp on the stage in the beginning before their breath is taken away by its powerful capabilities.

The downside to the Buxom Betty is its hefty price tag, however, this could very much be seen as an investment. For a mere fraction of the cost, our cheapest amp, the Dirty Shirley is widely considered a steal by guitar experts.

With incredible projection capabilities and comes in a compact, lightweight design, it can be the most inexpensive but most valued friend to have by your side, on the gigging circuit.

Years in the making, if you’re looking for an amp that’s had each detail finely investigated, vigorously tested, and tweaked an unimaginable amount of times to reach perfection then there’s nothing that fits the bill quite like the Friedman Jerry Cantrell JJ Junior Signature 20W 1×12 Tube Guitar Combo Amp. Although, previous buyers have considered this overpriced.

There are few differences between the Friedman Pink Taco Tube Guitar Combo Amp and the Friedman Runt-50 50W 1×12 Tube Guitar Combo with both making great choices for musicians on the stage or in the studio.

When you purchase an amp by Friedman you’re buying quality that cannot be disputed, and a man’s passion that runs through the product to aid your own. With every aspect of the amp being so carefully checked, there’s little you could find wrong upon receiving your amp.

During today’s research, it was difficult-to-impossible to find negative mentions for Friedman.

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