5) Quilter Labs Amplifiers: Quilter Labs is a company that is truly at the forefront of modern solid-state guitar amplification. While most of its competitors are focused on digital modeling, Quilter is keeping it real, so to speak, with innovative, analog, Class D solid-state designs. Quilter's specialty is building small, lightweight, highly portable amplifiers with excellent tone and tons of output. The Tone Block 200 (reviewed in Tone Report issue 15) typifies this design concept, with a whopping 200 watts of loud packed into a rugged housing that's about the size of a dual-channel overdrive pedal. It is an absurdly compact amp with simple, useful controls, and it makes an incredible platform for the pedal geek, due to its abundance of clean headroom, flexible contour control, and solid tonal foundation. If any company today can make solid-state amps respectable, it's Quilter Labs.
The non-sucking solid-state amps I've listed here are but a few of the many fine examples in existence, including both obscure vintage models and current production units. The key to understanding and loving these rugged, reliable, and unique tone tools is not to continually compare them to their valve powered brethren, but to evaluate and appreciate them based on their own strengths and merits. These amplifiers deserve respect, and despite decades of disdain, ignorance, and abuse hurled their way, these transistor-souled sonic misfits will have their day.