Crate Amp Review (2022 Updated)

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Crate make great amps. They have been producing amps since the 1980s, and have built up a huge level of expertise in that time.

Whether you are looking for a guitar amp that is suitable for practice, gigging, or one that is well suited to your acoustic guitar, Crate have you covered.

For this review, we’ve talked to some super-fans of Crate amps, in order to bring you the best Crate amp in each category. All of these amps are great, but if you are looking for the best all-around Crate amp for your electric guitar, we would recommend the Crate FlexWave FW412A. With more than enough power for gigs, but also compact enough to carry to practice, this amp might be the only guitar amp you ever need to buy.


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Comparison Chart

Crate FlexWave FW412A33 x 32.2 x 17 inches 73.5 pounds120 W with suitable head unit
Crate V5 EL8416.6 x 16 x 9.9 inches 23.7 pounds5 W
Crate CA125DG22.4 x 19.2 x 14.8 inches 52.3 pounds50 W

Crate Amps

Crate amplifiers tend to divide opinion. Whilst it is true that they did not make the most technologically advanced amps, a lot of musicians actually preferred the no-nonsense approach to amp design. If you are looking for a next-generation modeling amp, look elsewhere.

A big advantage of this basic design is that Crate amps, besides a few minor niggles, are incredibly durable, long outlasting some of their more advanced competitors.

In addition, the valves used in Crate amps have a particular sound that it is hard to replicate in other amplifiers. We don’t pretend to entirely understand the physics and electronics of the way in valves work, and you can literally spend a lifetime learning everything about tube amps, but we like what we hear.

Though Crate’s amplifiers tend to have limited tone options, if you are the kind of player who loves to use a wide range of pedals, all of these amps faithfully reproduce any effect that is fed to them.


What kind of Crate amp you need, and the features you want it to have, depend on how you’re going to use it. A pedal for playing lead guitar in a rock band is quite a different beast from one for acoustic guitar.

Some of the things to look for in any pedal amp stay the same, though:

  • A lot of people talk a lot about power, as though it is a measure of how good an amp is. In our opinion, 50 watts for a guitar amplifier is more than enough for most purposes.
  • Everybody plays in a different style, and everyone needs different effects. All the amps we are reviewing today offer a great range of different tones, but if you are after a very specific sound, nothing beats going down to your local guitar store an hearing these amps for yourself.
  • Build quality. The no-nonsense design of Crate amps means you normally don’t have to worry about this.
  • Inputs and outputs. It might sound obvious, but make sure the amp you are looking at has the correct type of inputs, and enough of them, to accommodate all the other equipment you want to plug in.
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Ultimately, there is no substitute for hearing these amps yourself. Everybody has different preferences when it comes to how they want their amp to sound. But you could do worse than checking out these ones:

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Best for Gigging: Crate FlexWave FW412A

Crate FlexWave FW412A Review

This is a real workhorse, which will go on gigging long after some other amps have given up. If you are looking for huge power in a gigging amp, this Crate amp is a great option – capable of taking up to 125 W of input, it will go incredibly loud.

Note, however, that this is not a combo amp, but just a cabinet. Crate follow the old-school path of selling their cabinets and heads separately, but this will pair well with any Crate head unit, and in fact most head units generally.

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Of course, this amp also comes with several more advantages:

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  • If you like the sound of Crate amps, which typically sound particularly filthy when playing hard rock, this is a good option. Especially when pushed to its volume limit, the amp distorts in a really satisfying manner.
  • The slanted enclosure means this amp can also do service as a monitor cabinet, increasing its flexibility.
  • The amp cabinet is remarkably compact, given the power generated.

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  • Very few. This might be one of the most expensive Crate amps, but considering the power you get, it is good value.


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Best for Practice: Crate V5 EL84

Crate V5 EL84 Review

A great practice amp. With 5 watts, this small amp is not going to blow you away, and it is certainly not suitable for playing gigs, but what you get here is a solid, durable practice amp.

In addition, this is a tube amp, and delivers amazing valve tones. At a price that you would associate with a solid state amp, you get incredible vintage tones. If you gig with a valve amp, and want to replicate the sound in the practice room, this is a great option.

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In addition, this Crate amp offers a range of features:

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  • Importantly for a practice amp, this one has a headphone output. Especially if you practice at home, your neighbors will appreciate this.
  • Incredibly, the amplification here is Class A, the highest quality available. This is a real rarity in a practice amp, and the tone it gives to your instrument really shines.
  • Whilst you are going to need more power if you are gigging, the amp is really compact, making it easy to keep in your truck between practice sessions.
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  • Very few, in truth. Some people have found this amp to be a little unreliable, but in our experience if you look after your equipment you will get many years of service from it.


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Best for Acoustic Guitar: Crate CA125DG

Crate CA125DG Review

Lastly, a crate amp for acoustic guitar. What you are looking for in an acoustic guitar amplifier is, in some senses, the opposite of an electric guitar amp – clean tones, rather than overdriven noise.

This amp certainly delivers a crisp, clear tone that is great for acoustic guitar. And with so many sound options to choose from, you will be fiddling with the knobs and dials for hours.

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In addition, of course, this amp comes with a number of advantages:

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  • The amp uses its 50 W of power in an unusual way, delivering half directly to a dedicated tweeter. This is great for acoustic guitar, because it separates out the highs from the rest of your tone, giving much greater clarity.
  • The 5-band EQ gives you a great range of control over your tone.
  • In addition, the dedicated microphone input is perfect for singer-songwriters and solo performers, because it means you can run both your voice and your acoustic guitar through the same amp.

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  • If you are looking for an amp for both acoustic and electric guitar, this is not the one for you – the clean sound that makes your acoustic sound great does not deliver the hefty sound required for electric. If you mainly play acoustic guitar, though, this is a great amp.


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So which to choose?

Well, it depends on whether you are looking for a Crate amp for electric guitar, acoustic guitar, or for practice. Depending on your requirements, however, any of the Crate amps we’ve reviewed above are among the best of their type.

In our opinion, though, if you are looking for the best all-around Crate amp for your electric guitar, we would recommend the Crate FlexWave FW412A. With more than enough power for gigs, but also compact enough to carry to practice, this amp might be the only guitar amp you ever need to buy.

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