Buying an amp is a big decision and arguably as important, if not more so, as buying a guitar! Your sound quality depends heavily on the quality of your amp. With most things, the more you pay the more you get, but that’s definitely not always the case with guitar amps. There’s an incredible amount of value to be had for different needs and every budget. In fact, you can get an extremely high-quality amp for less than $500 if you know what to look for.
When it comes to picking the right gear, it’s best to get familiar with some basic terminology so you can make an educated decision. I’ll start this article by reviewing my favorite amps and helping you find the best guitar amp under 500 dollars for your use cases, but if you want to learn more about them before reading reviews, check out our guitar amp buying guide at the bottom of the page.
|Name of Product||Image of Product||Description||Price Range||Full Review|
|1. Marshall Origin (Best Overall)||Type: Tube|
|$500||Read Full Review Below|
|2. Positive Grid Spark Guitar Amplifier (Editor’s Choice)||Type: Solid State|
|$300||Read Full Review Below|
|3. Fender Mustang LT-25 (Budget Pick)||Type: Solid State|
|$150||Read Full Review Below|
|4. Fender Champion 100||Type: Solid State|
|$400||Read Full Review Below|
|5. Fishman PRO-LBT-500 Loudbox (Best Acoustic Guitar Amp)||Type: Acoustic Amp|
|$350||Read Full Review Below|
|6. Marshall M-DSL5CR-U (Best Low Watt)||Type: Tube|
|$500||Read Full Review Below|
|7. Roland BC-HOT-VB Blues Cube Hot||Type: Tube|
|$500||Read Full Review Below|
|8. Line 6 Spider Jam||Type: Solid State|
|$400||Read Full Review Below|
|9. BOSS Katana KTN-AIR||Type: Solid State|
|$400||Read Full Review Below|
|10. Vox AV30||Type: Tube|
|$400||Read Full Review Below|
|11. Marshall DSL1CR||Type: Solid State|
|$400||Read Full Review Below|
|12. BOSS Katana Mkii Amplifier Head||Type: Solid State|
|$350||Read Full Review Below|
|13. Blackstar Silverline Standard||Type: Solid State|
|$400||Read Full Review Below|
|14. Laney CUB12R||Type: Tube|
|$400||Read Full Review Below|
|15. Orange Amps Crush 35RT||Type: Solid State|
|$300||Read Full Review Below|
|16. Bugera V5 Infinium||Type: Tube|
|$235||Read Full Review Below|
|17. Blackstar ID: Core 40 V2||Type: Solid State|
|$210||Read Full Review Below|
|18. Fender Champion 40||Type: Solid State|
|$220||Read Full Review Below|
|19. Kustom KG100FX212||Type: Solid State|
|$430||Read Full Review Below|
|20. Pevaey Vypyr VIP2||Type: Solid State|
|$250||Read Full Review Below|
|21. Yamaha THR10II||Type: Solid State|
|$299||Read Full Review Below|
Here Are the Best Guitar Amps Under $500
1. Marshall Origin (Best Overall)
My Review: Get that beloved, vintage Marshall tone at an affordable price with this no-frills single-channel 50w 26lb tube amp head, packed with an impressive 3 preamp and two power tubes. Between the separate gain and master controls, presence knob, and 3 band EQ, you can really craft your sound. There’s also a Tilt control which blends normal and bright tones, and adjustable power so that you can turn down the volume while keeping your sound. There’s also a built-effects loop, and with the foot-switchable gain boost you can up your gain game easily and hands-free. Hook it up to a cab, and you’re ready for home practice, gigging, or recording alike.
Key Features and Specs: This single-channel tube amp head comes with 50w output (adjustable to 5w/10w/50w); it contains 3 x ECC83 preamp tubes and 2 x EL34 power tubes. The controls are 3 band EQ and tilt control. There’s one ¼” output, and four outputs (1/4” 16 ohms, two 1.4” (2×16 ohm/single 8 ohms), and one ¼” (DI out). There’s a footswitch I/O (1/4”, gain boost/effects loops), footswitch is included. There’s also an effects loop.
Bottom Line: If you like vintage tube sounds and have a simple-is-best attitude, then the no-frills, value for money nature of this amp is quite appealing. Despite not coming with bells, whistles, apps, etc. There’s plenty of scope to craft your sound. Hook it up with the right cab to make the most of the impressive five tubes under the hood to make the most of this warm, all-tube, versatile sound.
2. Positive Grid Spark Guitar Amplifier (Editor’s Choice)
My Review: This solid state software-driven amp is jam-packed with a whole lot of smart technology and versatility, including a particularly handy feature that lets you stream tunes to play along with as it shows you what chords to play on your mobile device via the clever proprietary Spark app. The app is loaded with a huge library of amp models and effects, so you can emulate and vintage tube amps, bass amps, acoustic amps, and more; with 30 built-in amp models and 40 effects, you can really tweak, explore and find your own sound, and you can use the app to access literally thousands of presets. There’s also a cool “Smart Jam” feature which intelligently learns your style as you play, and auto-generates bass and drum tracks for you to jam with; instead of scouring YouTube for backing tracks that can get boring at times, these backing tracks feel more authentically you. All in all, some real future-is-now powerful tech with a lot of potential.
At 40w and 11.4 lbs, this amp is small and portable without compromising on power. Bluetooth connectivity means you can stream audio cable-free, and with two 4” speakers, you’ll get true stereo sound.
Key Features and Specs: This 11.4lb amp boasts a surprising 40w power playing nice and loud through 2×4” custom-designed speakers. It comes with plenty of integrated controls, a dial for choosing between preset amp types, and dials for adjusting gain, bass, mid, treble, master, mod, delay, and reverb. There are physical controls for output volume and music volume, and four buttons to which you can program to call up your favorite presets. Lastly, there’s a tap/tuner button that lets you access features such as the onboard tuner. The amp comes with ¼” input, a 1/8” headphone jack, 1/8” aux input, and USB.
Bottom Line: This smart amp is a bit more expensive than what you’d ordinarily pay for a beginner’s practice amp at the 40w range, but in turn, you’ll so many cutting-edge effects and features to play around with that would have been unimaginable not long ago. With the Smart Jam and Auto Chords features, you’ve got tools at your disposal that can up your guitar game in a really fun way. If you like checking out new tech, this is well worth exploring. This is easily one of the best guitar amps under $500, especially considering this amp is less than 300 dollars.
3. Fender Mustang LT-25 (Budget Pick)
My Review: This tiny 14.9lb solid state amp packs 25w of power, making it awesome for practice and performance alike. No-one knows Mustang modeling better than Fender, and this amp really offers that unique Fender Mustang vibe that’s instantly recognizable. With 20 amp models, 25 effects, and 30 iconic presets covering beloved eras and genres (with 20 more easily accessible), you can really get that immediate, accurate sound without having to fiddle with the controls. You can import presets, build your own, load patches, and manage them easily via the USB port.
It’s pretty astonishing how many features are packed in an amp so small, lightweight, and portable that you can take it with you wherever the mood takes you. It also comes with a headphone out and aux in for silent practice or solo play.
Key Features and Specs: This solid-state amp with digital modeling has a single channel totaling 25w of power through an 8” Fender Special Design speaker. It comes with built-in reverb, delay, modulation, and stompbox effects, 20 different amp models and a total of 50 presets (30 built-in, 20 more easily accessible). The EQ is only bass and treble, with gain master and volume additional knobs. Inputs include a 1/4” and 1/8” aux. Comes with a USB type Micro-B connection. There’s also a 1/8” headphones jack and a 1/4” footswitch I/O (footswitch not included). It also comes with a 1.8” color display.
Bottom Line: Mustang amps are iconic with good reason, and being able to model that digitally in such an effective way is pretty appealing. With 20 amp models, 25 effects and up to 50 presets, there’s plenty of features to explore here. The digital display is a definite bonus too, making it easier to jump between presets.
This app is good for busking, but it’s practically speaking a bit low-watt for giggability; however, if you’re looking for an affordable feature-packed amp that you can take with you, and you love that Mustang sound, check this one out.
4. Fender Champion 100 (Best Value)
My Review: This 40lb guitar combo amp has 100w of power, making it a great choice for practically any gig. You’ll get that vintage Fender sound without hurting the pocket. It incorporates two 12″ Fender Special Design speakers, and with selectable amp voicing and two channels, you can tailor your sound from clean to dirty to get a sound that’s just right for you. There are built-in effects like reverb, chorus, delay, and Vibratone; an effects loop; aux input for playing to your fave backing tracks; and a headphone output for silent practice. Lastly, it’s a very cool old-school Fender amp with classic Blackface styling, for a look, you’ll be proud to show off on stage. It’s on the heavy side, but considering how much power it packs, it’s worth the weight!
Key Features and Specs: This solid state amp has 2 channels, 100w power, and two 12” Fender Special Design speakers. It has built-in effects such as reverb, chorus, tremolo, delay/echo, Vibratone, and more. 3 band EQ. It comes with a 1/4” footswitch (channel & effects), effects loop and a 1/8” headphones jack. There’s 3 inputs: 1/4” instrument, 1/4” power amp in and a 1/8” aux, as well as one output (1/4” preamp out). This amp is a heavy one at 40 lbs, making it hard to travel with.
Bottom Line: With tonal flexibility, ease of use, and plenty of built-in effects, you can get your own sound with this amp. It’s easy to set delay time and tremolo speed using the dedicated Tap button, and there are 16 combinations of effects to choose from, letting you sound more unique and getting you closer to the sound you’re looking for. Whether you’re playing metal or country, or practically any style, this amp is a one-stop-shop. It’s known for not having the limitations of “digital” sound that can often come with a digital amp, so if you like a vintage sound with a classic Fender vibe, it’s worth checking out. Overall, I would say this is the best guitar amp under 500 dollars for the money.
5. Fishman PRO-LBT-500 Loudbox (Best Acoustic Guitar Amp)
My Review: This 60w 21lb acoustic guitar/vocal amp is powerful but portable and ready for home practice, recording, or gigging in small spaces. It comes with two channels, guitar and microphone, and boasts the tonal quality that’s made the Fishman brand legends for rich & true-to-original acoustic sound amplification. It also comes with handy Bluetooth connectivity, so you can play along with backing tracks; digital reverb and chorus on the instrument channel, and reverb on the mic channel. With aux input and balanced XLR DI output, you can jam along and record your live performances easily. Controls are simple and easy to use, so you don’t have to get too technical to get the sound you’re looking for. The instrument channel comes with a phase switch, as well as knobs including gain, low, mid, hi, reverb, and chorus to shape your tone; there’s also gain, low, high and reverb knobs on the mic channel, letting you achieve the vocal mix you’re looking for.
Key Features and Specs: This acoustic amp comes with 60w power, and two-channels through two speakers (6.5” LF woofer and 1” HF tweeter). Inputs are one x 1/4″, one XLR (mic), one 1/8″ (aux), and one 1/4″ (aux) inputs. There’s also one output, XLR (mix DI out). It comes with Bluetooth, digital reverb and a 3 band EQ, chorus effect, and feedback control.
Bottom Line: If you’re looking for an acoustic amp that’s easy to pop in the boot of your car or take on public transport, that will let you shape your tone while maintaining that natural, acoustic feel, and be powerful enough not to get lost in the sound of other instruments while you’re jamming with the band, this is a great choice. Being able to tune your vocals is a great plus, too, and with Bluetooth connectivity, it’s easy to jam to backing tracks or put on other tracks for in-between sets. In my opinion, this is the best acoustic guitar amp under 500 dollars.
6. Marshall M-DSL5CR-U (Best Low Watt)
My Review: Compact & portable, this is an iconic tube combo amplifier with that great classic Marshall tone (revere for good reason) at an affordable price. The power level’s adjustable even down to a single watt, so you can crank it up loud while keeping it down so the whole neighborhood won’t hear you jamming (unless they want to, that is). There’s even per-channel gain and volume controls, reverb, and a back-panel series effects loop. You can also do direct-recording and monitoring with speaker-emulated output. It’s perfect for tone-shaping too, thanks to the two ECC83s in the preamp section, and a deep switch for defining low-end girth. The sound spectrum goes from crisp and clean to vibrant crunch, so you can really make a sound that’s right for you.
Key Features and Specs: This is a 27.9lb tube amp with 5 watts output (1-watt energy saving), coming through one 10” Celestion Ten-30 speaker, with 2 channels, 2 preamp tubes, and 1 power tube with built-in reverb. There are 3 band EQ and an additional tone shift and deep setting, and it comes with an easy-to-use 2-button footswitch controlling the channel and effects loop. There are a 1 ¼” instrument and 1 1/8” aux, and the outputs are 1 ¼” internal speaker and 1 1/8” Softube emulated out.
Bottom Line: With 2 channels (Classic Gain and Ultra Gain) you can really get those classic Marshall sounds (past or present). Your neighbors will be grateful for the high- and low-power modes, so you can control volume levels easier. You can record and monitor easily with line output emulating a Marshall 1960 cab. You’ll love the tonal flexibility of the refined EQ section, the high-quality digital reverb, and the back-panel series effects loop. With all these features and the great sound you can come up with, it’s good value for money if you’re ready to invest in a quality amp.
7. Roland BC-HOT-VB Blues Cube Hot
My Review: Warm, fat tube tones and response in a 30-watt amp that’s ready to gig, with minimal fuss! This one-channel amp has a diverse tonal palette and variable power output, merging old-school vibe with modern tech thanks to Roland’s Tube Logic circuitry reproducing the sounds of a tweed amplifier all the way from preamp to speaker output. Perfect for pick players and fingerstyle players alike, and the variable gain for the crunch channel gives you that perfect amount of grit when you want it. Top-line reverb adds depth to your sound, and thanks to the headphone output you can practice in the middle of the night without bugging friends and fam. The USB record output is super handy too, capturing your guitar sounds directly to your computer so you can listen to it, share it, and up your sound game.
Key Features and Specs: This 27.8lb solid-state amp with tube emulation outs 30w (or an energy-saving 0.5/5/15w) to one 12” speaker with a boosted single channel. It has great reverb, and the usual 3 band EQ; there’s also a footswitch jack which is ¼” so you can control boost and tone. It comes equipped with a USB type B, with ¼” input and ¼” output.
Bottom Line: This digital amp with a tweed sound and authentic tube-style tone brings together modern and vintage for a bluesy feel. At up to 30w, it’s high voltage at an affordable price, and the power control and headphone jack mean you can jam without worrying about being too noisy. Recording direct-to-computer is another plus, and the reduced cabinet size makes it easier to pack it up for gigs.
8. Line 6 Spider Jam
My Review: With 12 amp models, cutting-edge Line 6 modeling tech, seven Smart Control effects and more than 400 presets, this is a great amp for jamming at home. Thanks to the Endless Jam Engine and 28-min looper, you can jam for hours and record straight to the amp without needing a computer setup. This amp also comes with a headphone output so you can rock out with the sound down.
Key Features and Specs: This 37.1lb solid-state amp is a bit on the heavy side, but it’s a beast, with 75w power, and a single 12” speaker with one channel. Built-in reverb and effects add to the fun, and there’s 200 amp modeling pre-sets, 36 users, and 12 amp models along with 3 band EQ. You can add a footswitch (sold separately) through RJ-45 (FBV Express/Shortboard, FBV2) I/O. There are 4 different inputs: instrument, XLR (line), 1/8” for mp3, and a 1/4” Aux.
Bottom Line: This is a seriously versatile amp, with amp models, smart control effects, and presets galore. The mic and CD/MP3 inputs mean you can play to background music and sing along, and the vocal effects mean you can be a polished one-man-band. If you’re short on computers at home, not needing to have one plugged in to record your jam means you can play for hours uninterrupted by other users, and the effects are so easy to use that you can concentrate on playing and not fiddling with the controls. Too easy!
9. BOSS Katana KTN-AIR
My Review: The BOSS weighs in at a tiny 4.8lbs, but packs a punch! This world-first fully wireless guitar amp delivers portability that’s perfect for gigging and practice alike. You can even stream music straight to its stereo speaker system using Bluetooth. It can be powered by batteries (8xAA), so no need for wall power – perfect for outside gigs. The amp reaches 20w on battery and using a power adaptor reaches 30w: easily enough for a sound-immersive experience.
The amp comes with five distinct amplifier profiles and 50+ effects. The raw sound is really appealing for most genres of music. High-tech, wireless, small, and sounds awesome – you might be wondering what more you could want, but wait, there’s more: you can create custom effects with the BOSS Tone Studio editor software.
It also has motion-activated operation, automatically turning on when you lift your guitar, which means less time fiddling and more time sounding fly. The amp holds 12 hours on a single charge; to recharge, simply dock the transmitter onto the Katana-Air. Finally, you can stream music directly from your library to the amp wire-free, which is super convenient.
Key Features and Specs: This amp lets you play guitar lead-free for up to 12 hours using a ¼” Wireless Transmitter Plug, or up to 10 hours on battery. It’s lightweight, but not light on power, packing 20w (battery) to 30w (plugged in). 3 band EQ. Two 3” speakers give you that stereo effect, and it’s packed with reverb, delay, modulation, boost and FX. It comes with 2 inputs: ¼” for instrument and a 1/8” aux in. There’s a 1/8” output for headphones/record out, a USB type B, and a Bluetooth which can be paired with an Android/iPhone mobile device using the Tone Studio Remote App.
Bottom Line: Look ma, no hands! Small, convenient, high-tech, and feature-packed, this amp’s great for people who don’t like fussing with wires. Thanks to the Bluetooth, you can stream music straight to the amp (it doubles as a premium Bluetooth music player!) The battery power is handy for when you’re out and about. Finally, with up to 12 hours of wireless play, you can jam for ages without worrying about power. With wireless tone editing via phone or tablet, this amp has that future-is-now feel, letting you really customize your sound.
10. Vox AV30
My Review: This 26.46lb tube combo amp with 8 analog circuits delivers true Vox valve sound, with tube grit and dynamic response in a compact package. Onboard FX lets you explore a range of sounds, whether you feel clean or dirty, crunchy or overdriven; while the bright and fat switches give you that immediate feedback you’ve been looking for. The eight analog preamp circuits are based on classic amps ranging from clean to crunch, and with delay, chorus and reverb, you can really customize your sound. The power level control lets you keep the sound down or rock the room, and the sealed cab with a custom speaker makes for serious bass. Whether practicing at home or gigging, this user-friendly fully-featured amp is a great choice.
Key Features and Specs: This amp offers 30w RMS and 4ohms resistance, with built-in effects: modulation, delay, and reverb. There are two channels each containing a clean, crunch, OD, and high gain, along with 3 band EQ, master volume, and adjustable power level. The amp comes with four inputs (normal, footswitch, return, and aux) and 3 outputs (external speaker, FX send and headphones). The preamp uses a 12AX7x2 tube with a 10” Vox original speaker, and interchangeable valve stages splits the valve to preamp (bright and fat sound) and the power amp (bias and reactor).
Bottom Line: Full Vox, small-scale, and a modern approach to old-school mechanics. With so many valves and pure analog sound, you can replicate the tone of practically any classic amp. There’s so much control of the dynamics and harmonics. 30w (adjustable) is quite powerful for a tube amp, too. The bias switch lets you go for a modern or old-school sound. This feature-packed flexible amp is perfect for a range of sound styles, and great for home practice and gigging alike.
11. Marshall DSL1CR
My Review: Heavy Marshall tone, in a compact all-tube 22.7lb 13.3”x 14.1″ package! This is the smallest Marshall amp yet but doesn’t compromise on what matters. 1w power makes it the perfect amp for practicing at home, and it fits easily into your car boot on the way to recording in a studio. The amp has two channels, reverb, and effects loops; the power is adjustable so you can keep the sound down when you need to, and you can record and monitor directly using speaker-emulated output with Softube software which emulates Marshall’s 1960 speaker cabinet. It’s great for tone-shaping from clean to crunch and high gain.
Key Features and Specs: This mini all-tube amp has a surprising 1w of power, with a low power mode of 0.1 when you want to play without disturbing others in the house. Weighing in at 22.7lbs, it’s not as light as you might think, but it’s easier to carry around than some heavier amps, and at that size, it’s so portable. It has one 8” speaker and two channels (classic gain and ultra gain), and two ECC83 preamp tubes with an ECC82 power tube. On the controls, you’ll find 3 band EQ, as well as reverb and tone shift. There’s two inputs (instrument and 1/8” aux) and two outputs (1/8 Softube emulated out, and ¼” internal speaker footswitch IO and effects loop; footswitch included).
Bottom Line: Small size, without compromise! Get classic Marshall sound in a tiny package. High and low power modes mean you can keep things quiet or turn the sound up; it’s not really gig-suitable, but the sound easily fills a bedroom or studio. The speaker delivers in-your-face diverse tones, and with Softube’s emulation of a Marshall 1960 cab, you’ve got modern & vintage in one package.
12. BOSS Katana Mkii Amplifier Head
My Review: This 100w solid state guitar amp head is the latest of the Katana series amplifiers, and it’s a seriously powerful tool whether you’re practicing, recording, or gigging. It’s got five distinct amp voicings, with clean, crunch, and lead ranging your tone from clean to gritty and high-gain; the amp also supports 60 BOSS effects. You can load up the BOSS Tone Studio editor software to really get into customizing your amp voicings and effects and shaping your sound, or even download setups courtesy of pro guitarists from the BOSS Tone Studio website. The amp can also store and recall multiple customized amp and effects profiles, meaning less fiddling and more jamming. There’s also an acoustic mode, so you can plug in your acoustic-electric guitar for some tonal diversity.
With cab-emulated outputs and monitoring, you can hook this up to a cabinet and play loud and proud, but between the adjustable Power Control and the internal 5” speaker, you can get that cranked-amp tone even when you’re playing quietly at home, and you can also play in complete silence whether in studio or on stage by connecting the amp’s line output to a line input on a recording device. The cab emulation works with USB and headphone outputs too.
The amp lets you customize your emulated tones via selectable cab resonance; you can choose between vintage, modern and deep; and miking emulation (direct, distant, and blended). There’s also handy multi-channel footswitch support so that you can access all the sounds without the hands-on hassle. There’s a built-in Stereo Expand link which you can set up to fill the whole stage with impressive stereo sound, enveloping the listener in tonal complexity.
Key Features and Specs: This 19.4lb solid state amp head boasts a total power of 100w (50/0.5w adjustable settings), 4 channels, built-in reverb, modulation, delay, and 60 BOSS effects. It comes with 3 band EQ. Three inputs: ¼” (instrument), ¼” (power amp), 1/8” (aux in); three outputs: ¼” (line), ¼” (speaker), ¼” (phones/rec). Two ¼” for footswitch I/O (GA-FC, Exp pedal; footswitch not included). USB type B and MIDI in. 5” internal speaker.
Bottom Line: This is a super-powerful amp, and it’s excellent in terms of modeling and effects; and with variable powerful control, you can hook up to a cabinet with your favorite speaker(s) and play to concert halls, or dial it down and jam in your room. Between the Tone Studio editor and the handy gain, EQ, and effects controls, you can really find your own sound. With the Stereo Expand switch, you can enjoy some high-quality stereo sound, and the support for two footswitches makes using the controls while you play easier.
13. Blackstar Silverline Standard
My Review: This fully-digital combo amp is versatile, reliable, accurate, and with the sound quality and build quality, we’ve come to expect from Blackstar. Weighing in at just under 18 lbs, it’s quite easy to move from your music room to the studio and gigs. With plenty of tones, onboard FX, and a seriously cool look, this amp makes playing even more fun. Thanks to variable power tube emulation, this solid-state amp has all the benefits of that tube amp sound; on the other hand, you get the versatility and ready-to-go presets without the traditional tube amp limitations. With the high-powered SHARC processor and patented TVP tech, you’ll get six cool-sounding amp voicings: clean warm, clean bright, crunch, super crunch, OD1, and OD2. You can customize these voicings, choosing your preferred responsive dynamics, sag, swing, and breakup, or create entirely new voicings by blending the TVP and Infinite Shape Feature (ISF) controls together to make a sound that’s truly you. The six voicings can be saved as presets with EQ, power tube, and FX choices, and you can then access the presets using buttons on the control panel or using a footswitch (not included). The USB connection gives you access to Blackstar’s INSIDER software for free, so you can edit, tweak and share tones and presets, and even record direct. This is a good-looking app that’ll have you ready for most situations.
ISF is an exciting feature that makes Blackstar stand out from the pack: on one end, you’ll get a smooth, clean American sound with accurate base and leveled mids, whereas, on the other end, you’ll get that dirty, crunchy British vibe. The onboard Celestion VT-Junior speaker combines old-school goodness with modern tech; whether you’re playing by yourself or jamming with the band, you’ll get a clear sound that stands out and gets noticed.
This amp comes with speaker-emulated stereo output with a great dimensional response, making it perfect for gigging in small rooms, practicing at home, and recording alike.
Key Features and Specs: This 17.7lb solid-state amp has a total power of 20w, with one 10” Celestion V-type speaker, 4 channels, 6 amp voicings, built-in reverb, and effects (modulation and delay). It’s got variable output tube modeling; the knobs are ISF control, resonance, presence, and 3-band EQ. The plugs are 1/4” and 1/8” aux inputs, with a 1/8” headphones output, USB type B, and footswitch I/O with a 1/4 “plug.
Bottom Line: This digital combo amp is relatively light, but packs a punch for versatility; whether you’re looking for that clean, crisp American sound or dirty British browns, with a Silverline Standard, you’ve got it. The easy-to-understand layout is all physical buttons, so no more scrolling through menus. TVP tech lets you tailor your preferred sound to match your favorite classic amps you always wanted but couldn’t afford. The speaker-emulated stereo output makes for easy gigging and recording, while ISF gives you endless possibilities for tone-shaping. With MP3 input, you can jam to your fave backing tracks, and the USB connection opens you up to the powerful Blackstar INSIDER software for countless hours of tweaking, editing, sharing, preset management, and great fun.
14. Laney CUB12R
My Review: This small amp is by Laney, an amp manufacturer from Birmingham, UK who were adopted in the 60s by fellow Birminghamite Tony Iommi to create that iconic Black Sabbath sound. They’re known for being affordable, vintage, good-looking, and perfect for people who appreciate classic, old-school sounds. The CUB12R delivers 15w of power from two EL84 power tubes; it’s a bit low-power for gigging unless it’s a pretty small room, but ideal for studio recording or just jamming with your friends. You can even dial it down to less than 1w, for the same tube tone at quieter levels when you don’t want to disturb others. The layout is straightforward, as you’d expect from Laney’s simple, classic vibe, and with 3x ECC83 pre-amp tubes, you can switch between warm clean, and dirty crunch.
The CUB12R has a custom 12” HH speaker, designed exclusively for Laney, with a driver that gives you that perfect loudspeaker pairing to the amp. The reverb has a rich sound. You can also add an FS1 footswitch (not included) to switch the reverb handsfree. You can also use the CUB12R as a guitar amp head, by hooking it up to a larger cabinet using its extension-out socket, for a louder, bigger sound. You can try it out with even a 4×12 cabinet for some seriously impressive results! You can connect effects pedals using an FX loop, showcasing the true awesomeness of the CUB12R.
Key Features and Specs: Enjoy a pure tube sound with 15w, and the option to reduce all the way to 1w when you want to keep quiet without compromising on tone. The 12” HH driver speaker has 8 ohms resistance. 3 band EQ, volume, tone and gain controls, a plug for an FS1 footswitch (not included), effects loop, and interesting built-in reverb. There are 3 ECC83 preamp valves and 2 EL884 output valves, and at 25.35 lbs, it’s a small but hefty, powerful amp.
Bottom Line: If you appreciate old-school sound with modern tech, at an affordable price point, Laney is great both in terms of value for money and unique, quality tone. The 2x EL84 power tubes and 3x ECC83 pre-amp tubes give you that warm, fat sound. The 12” speaker is pretty large for a tube amp, and the custom-designed driver makes for a perfect loudspeaker pairing to the amp. It’s pretty exciting to be able to use this as a guitar amp head, hooking it up to multiple cabinets and creating a wall-of-sound effect; depending on your setup and budget, using this as a guitar amp head means it could even be used in huge areas like concert halls. You can connect effects pedals via the FX loop, and add a simple FS1 footswitch to switch reverb; all in all, it’s a diverse yet classic amp that can serve you well whether you’re jamming at home, recording in a studio, or aspiring to play to a huge crowd.
15. Orange Amps Crush 35RT
My Review: Packed with all the features at an affordable price, this combo amp delivers heavy, layered sound, responsive distortion, and great tonal range. It’s got two channels (clean and dirty) you can conveniently switch with a footswitch; the clean channel is a little too quiet to gig with, but the dirty channel is louder and still delivers the goods. Orange is known for its eye-catching look and old-school analog sounds, and the Crush delivers; it also boasts Orange’s CabSim circuit, emulating an Orange 4×12” cabinet through the headphone/line output. There an onboard tuner and reverb, and low-impedance ultra-transparent effects loop. Sweet sound, at a sweet price.
Key Features and Specs: The 25lb powerful Crush sends 35w power to a 10” Voice of the World speaker with 2 channels and an integrated chromatic tuner. There’s also a 4-stage high gain preamp. You’ll find built-in reverb, 3 band EQ, two inputs (1 x 1/4″, 1 x 1/8″) and a ¼” headphone jack and ¼” footswitch jack (footswitch not included). It’s not ideal for gigging, but if you’re practicing at home or with friends, or even recording in studio, this is a great choice.
Bottom Line: This amp delivers a very loud sound for 35w of power. Its heavy sounds take you by surprise, making it particularly great for hard rock & metal. The reverb, distortion, and cabinet emulation make it awesome for lovers of full, dirty sound. The high gain preamp gives complexity, depth, and a wide range of tones, with four distinct stages so you can tailor your sound. It’s got Orange’s distinct British tone, a good amount of power, and sweet sound at a sweet price.
16. Bugera V5 Infinium
My Review: This UK-engineered 22lb tube amp delivers silky, velvety tones in a tiny package, and its built-in power attenuator gets you just the right tone no matter whether you’re keeping the volume down or cranking it up. With Bugera’s proprietary Tube Life Multiplier tech, your tubes will keep you jamming for longer, saving you money and lengthening tube lifespan. There’s an LED next to the tubes so you know they’re coming to the end, so you don’t need to worry about your amp dying on-stage. This cutting-edge tech monitors how your output tubes are performing and keeps them at their optimum operating point. After all, your tube amp is only as good as your tubes, so this is a big selling point.
The 12AX7 preamp tube can give you a harmonic, bluesy tone; the EL84 power tube gives you that dirty British vintage sound. The adjustable high-def reverb adds depth and helps smooth out your sound; keep it down low for a mellow vibe or have it on max for a cavernous experience.
Key Features and Specs: This compact 5/1/0.1w tube 1-channel amp has an 8” Turbosound speaker, a 12Ax7 preamp tube, and a EL84 power tube, as well as reverb, gain, volume, and tone controls. It includes a 1/4 “ input and 1/4” internal speaker output, as well as a 1/4” headphones jack.
Bottom Line: This amp really does clean sound exceptionally well, with a bluesy, silky, and sweet vibe, and a great range of harmonics and distortion, without compromising on crisp and dirty. The sound quality from the Turbosound speakers is awesome, and the built-in power attenuator, reverb control, and Infinium Tube Life Multiplier tech are great points of difference; with tubes being the most important part of any valve amp, it’s great to know yours will last for longer.
17. Blackstar ID: Core 40 V2
My Review: This feature-rich solid state amp weighs in at a mere 13.6 lbs, making it perfect to take with you when you want to jam with friends or even for recording. It’s a great practice amp for beginners, with six distinct amp voicings ranging from clean and sweet to high-gain distortion: Clean Bright, Crunch, Super Crunch, OD1, and OD2. Blackstar is known for being great with technology, and their proprietary Infinite Shape Feature (ISF) means you can really shape your tone. As we’ve mentioned previously, ISF is a pretty exciting feature: on one end, you’ll get a smooth, clean American sound with accurate base and leveled mids; on the other end, you’ll get a dirty, crunchy British vibe. You can also dial in the amp between the two, for a musical response that’s very attention-worthy. Their Super Wide Stereo technology is pretty awesome too, giving you some seriously immersive sound. You can also play along to your fave backing tracks with the revoiced MP3/line input (great motivation for beginning guitarists!) and even use the amp’s USB connection to download, edit, store and share patches using Blackstar’s included Insider app. The app itself is pretty exciting, with features like a built-in audio player and a phrase trainer to break down those hard-to-play sequences and make learning faster and easier.
With 12 built-in effects including various modulations, delays, and reverb, this is a fun amp at a great price. It isn’t a high-end amp, but you’ll get plenty of those Blackstar digital capabilities that have made this brand stand out from the pack.
Key Features and Specs: This is a solid state with DSP amp, with 2x20w stereo power (40w total) into two 6.5” speakers. It has 6 voices channels: Clean Warm, Clean Bright, Crunch, Super Crunch, OD 1, OD 2. With effects like delay, chorus, stereo modulation, and reverb, you’ll get plenty of different sounds. The EQ has ISF tone control so you can choose between British or American sound. You can plug in 2 inputs: 1/4” instrument and a 1/8” line in, and for output, there’s 1/8” shared emulated out and headphones. There are a USB mini-B and a 1/4″ footswitch I/O (preset select, channel, effects). Footswitch not included.
Bottom Line: This 40w (2x20w) modeling guitar combo amp is a fantastic choice for beginners. It’s packed with features and various amp voices, making it a great investment for at least the first few years while you’re exploring your sound. While it’s not going to please sound experts or people who are really looking for a particular tone, and it wouldn’t do the trick for gigs, it’s full of sweet tech to help you shape your sound, jam with background tracks, and make use of patches as part of the INSIDER community.
18. Fender Champion 40
My Review: This lightweight 19lb two-channel solid state amp gives you that classic Fender sound profile with value for money. At 40w, it’s packing power for its weight, and thanks to the selectable amp voicing you can reach a wide range of tones to suit your style from classic cleans to modern high gain, delivered via a proprietary 12” Fender Special Design speaker. It comes with classic Blackface styling for that cool Fender look, and it’s packed with built-in effects such as reverb, delay/echo, chorus, tremolo, Vibratone, and more so you can get your sound just right. There’s also an aux input so you can play along with your fave tracks, and a headphone output so you can practice without disturbing the fam.
Key Features and Specs: This 40w two-channel solid state combo amp has a 12” Fender Special Design speaker, and plenty of effects such as reverb, delay/echo, chorus, tremolo, Vibratone, and more. It comes with 2 band EQ, a footswitch 1/4” I/O plug (footswitch not included), and 2 inputs: 1/4: instrument and 1/8” aux, as well as a 1/8” headphones output jack.
Bottom Line: This amp is borderline powerful enough for club gigs, but not necessarily powerful enough to stand out in the mix. It’s also light, small, and portable enough to toss into the boot of your car. It’s also a really good-looking amp you’ll be proud to show off. The selectable amp voicing and built-in effects make it great for a wide range of styles, and being able to set tremolo speed and delay time with the Tap button means less fiddling around.
19. Kustom KG100FX212
My Review: This two-channel solid-state combo amp offers a whopping 100w of clear sound with a classic vibe that’s great for a wide range of styles. At 35.3lbs, it’s on the hefty side, but it’s a real beast and the most affordable gig-worthy amp out of this list. Equipped with two 12” Kustom speakers, it’s perfect for guitarists that like to play loud. It comes with two channels (rhythm and lead), so you can switch between crisp and rounded sound.
Key Features and Specs: This 100w RMS dual channel (rhythm and lead) combo amp comes with two 12” Kustom speakers; the controls are the usual 3 band EQ and gain. It includes onboard digital reverb, delay, and chorus effects, as well as solo boost with optional footswitch and effects loop. There’s a speaker out jack so you can hook up an external cab, an aux-in, and headphone out.
Bottom Line: This amp is a real behemoth for those who like to play loud, and by attaching it to a cab as a guitar amp head you can make it even louder; perfect for gigging without breaking the bank. With two channels (rhythm and lead), it’s quite versatile, and the aux in and headphone out means you can jam to your fave tracks or practice silently when you don’t want to disturb anyone.
20. Pevaey Vypyr VIP2
My Review: This 40w 29lb solid state multi-instrument modeling guitar amp is packed with amp and effects modeling, and its ability to model electric guitar, acoustic guitar and bass alike means you can turn your single guitar (electric, bass and more) into several realistic-sounding instruments – acoustic guitar, resonator, 12-string, 7-string, violin, baritone guitar, bass and so on. That’s certainly not a feature you see often anywhere, at any price, and it means no more lugging around multiple instruments. With 25 effects and 36 guitar amp models, this amp is great for practicing at home, rehearsing, and recording. The Variable Instrument Input lets you change gain and input sensitivity depending on the instrument you’re using; and the amp also boasts the easy Peavey WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) interface which means less fiddling around to switch presets, with LEDs surrounding each knob to indicate settings. There’s also a built-in tuner so you can keep in tune at a glance; easy as!
Thanks to the strong 32-bit SHARC processors that come with the whole Vypyr VIP series of amps, you’ll enjoy accurate, detailed modeling, alongside features and versatility galore across many instruments. These amps are also great for tone control thanks to Peavey’s proprietary TransTube technology.
The amp also contains a built-in studio-quality USB2 output which your computer recognizes as an audio device, meaning that the amp acts as a standalone computer interface so you can load up your software and start recording. It can also be used to install firmware updates and edit presets.
Key Features and Specs: This single-channel 40w solid state amp comes with a custom-voiced 12” speaker, 36 amp modeling options, 3 band EQ, and various effects including chorus, compression, compression/chorus, wah, octaver, tremolo, reverb, rotary speaker, and delay with tap tempo. It also comes with a built-in tuner. This is the first-ever amplifier to contains electric guitar, bass, and acoustic models. It comes with a bidirectional USB type B and 1/4” instrument with 1/8” aux inputs, as well as 1/8” headphones and an 8-pin DIN (Sanpera I, Sanpera II) footswitch included.
Bottom Line: Peavey has really revolutionized multi-instrument modeling with this amp! If you’re looking to play several instruments without needing to lug them around or store them, you’re in luck here. With 40 watts of power, it’s ideal for rehearsal, recording, and home practice, but maybe a bit low-power for gigging except in small rooms. With 36 amp models, you’re spoiled for choice, and an impressive 25 onboard effects (of which you can use 4 at the same time) means you can really polish up your sound. The studio-quality USB computer interface is very handy, and with quality aux/mp3/CD input and headphone out, it’s perfect whether you’re jamming to backing tunes or practicing silently.
21. Yamaha THR10II
My Review: This compact, lightweight 6.61lb portable solid state combo amp offers realistic tube tone on the go! It comes with a wide variety of guitar and bass amp emulations (15 in total), as well as mic modeling. It also offers Bluetooth support, which is still not a feature you see often on amps, and it lets you stream backing tracks through the amp’s stereo speakers wire-free, as well as preset editing using Yamaha’s THR Remote app. You can use the software to have a play with the compressor and noise gate to shape your tone even more, and with five user setting recall buttons, you can set five fave tones to access on to go.
It also comes with USB connectivity – perfect for recording and playback alike. Designed by Yamaha to be an ideal amp for combining tones and effects, it comes with a bunch of onboard effects, with modulation effects on a second knob and reverb & echoes on a third. This versatile amp can be used with electric, bass, or acoustic-electric guitar, and you can also choose to skip the modeling completely.
Key Features and Specs: This solid state single-channel amp has an impressive 20w (2x10w) power at a lightweight 6.61lb size, making it the second-lightest amp on this list. It comes with two 3” speakers, and Bluetooth/computer audio playback. It comes with 15 guitar tube amp emulation settings covering a variety of amp styles, as well as a variety of effects, echoes, and reverbs. You can access the compressor and noise gate via THR Remote. It comes with 3 band EQ, USB type B, and two inputs (one ¼” and one 1/8” aux in). It also comes with a headphone jack. It also comes with Cubase AI recording software, the THR remote app, and Yamaha’s excellent virtual circuitry modeling (VCM) tech for realistic tube sound.
Bottom Line: The THR Remote app is a great easy-to-use feature that adds a lot of appeal to this amp; tweaking is so much easier this way. Bluetooth is another attractive tech extra, and the 5 user setting buttons make it easy to recall your fave tones on the go. The tiny size and weight make it great if you’re looking for a portable choice, and being able to hook the amp up to a few different guitar types is pretty awesome. All the effects let you really polish your sound, and thanks to the Virtual Circuitry Modeling you get the benefits of digital without losing that authentic tone.
Choosing the Right Guitar Amp (Buying Guide)
Picking up an amp on a budget doesn’t mean you have to compromise on what matters to you, whether that’s tube, modeling, or wireless capabilities. This buying guide will help you gain more of an understanding about the terms we’ve talked about before, so you can make an educated decision when you’re ready to buy your next guitar amp. A word of caution – don’t be tempted to get the first amp you see! It might feel like a perfect fit, but it’s better to do the research and explore all the options so you can get one that’s just right for you.
Tube vs Solid State
First of all, choosing a tube (aka valve) vs solid state (digital) amp is a major decision. More experienced players tend to choose tube amps for their authentic vintage sound, while hobby players love solid state for benefits like lightness, tonal diversity, ease of use, and value for money. Let’s talk more about the differences below.
The technical difference between tube amps and solid state amps is that tube amps use vacuum tubes which amplify the guitar signal, and solid state amps use electronics. Vacuum tubes are relatively old technology, giving that vintage sound, while solid state amps open up an exciting world of digital technology: from “modeling” other classic amps to even multi-instrument modeling that lets you make your electric guitar sound like a multitude of other instruments.
Tube amps have a distinct sound that’s generally described with adjectives like “warm” and “fat”, making it more appealing to the ear; solid state amps can emulate this sound, but a lot of guitarists and sound engineers reckon it’s never going to quite match the original tube tone.
Solid State Amps
It doesn’t feel like that long ago that there wasn’t much of a difference between a basic solid state amp and a great one, but now there are so many exciting features on solid state amps from editing presets with apps to multi-instrument modeling and so much more. There’s so much more capacity for evolution and innovation with a solid-state amp, making them a great choice for a wide variety of music styles.
They’re also more robust than tube amps; since vacuum tubes are quite an old technology, they need to be replaced more often and are also prone to breakage; with solid state amps, you generally don’t have to worry about maintenance for years or even decades.
The tone of tube amps is beloved by experienced guitarists everywhere, and most of your favorite musos probably use tube. They’re also great in terms of responding to the subtle nuances of how you play. Tube is great for overdrive and saturation, giving you a more “natural”, clean sound that feels less cropped.
For a lot of guitar players, having full control of the tone is very important, and being able to customize your tone helps you develop your signature sound.
Modeling is a seriously exciting solid state amp technology that lets you emulate the sound of other amps, and even of other instruments. Even with many basic, lightweight, budget amps, you can find practically any tone or effect you’re looking for (or create it yourself). With modeling amps, you can easily switch between music styles, and go from clean to dirty or vintage to modern in an instant, and experience the sound of a wide variety of famous amps all in one package. Unless you’re really a tube tone purist, this is a pretty convenient way to experience a breadth of tones and grow as a musician in the process.
Power and Speaker Size
The power rating of your amp and the size of the speaker are important to think about before deciding what amp to buy. Are you practicing at home, rehearsing, gigging at small clubs, or playing at concert halls? People usually choose solid state or modeling combo units for practice amps, with relatively low voltage (10-30w) and smallish speakers (8”-10”); there are some small tube amps around, but they do tend to be larger. If you’re rehearsing or playing small venues, tube amps or modeling-combo amps are probably going to suit you better; look for power ratings of around 50w and speakers of around 12” so that your sound can still be made out among other instruments (it’s all-too-easy to not be heard above drums). If you love a loud sound or you’re playing in larger venues, look for 100w or more. You can also use twin speakers or combo amps with pairs of 12” speakers.
Reverb: some amps use spring reverbs, which have a very natural sound; others use digital reverb.
Effects loops: these jacks let you add stomp boxes or rack units to avoid amplifying any effect noise.
Channel switching: switching between preamp channels, generally going from clean to distorted. Digital amps may include a footswitch to change tones remotely, or you may be able to purchase one separately.
Built-in effects are a real point of difference for many amps; for example, tremolo is great for that surf guitar sound; wah makes (as the name suggests) a “wah” noise that’s got the funk, and chorus sounds like hundreds of different guitarists playing what you’re playing, but slightly out of time.
Modeling amps will usually come with many built-in digital effects and may allow you to customize them and even share them online.
My name is Chris and I’ve had a passion for music and guitars for as long as I can remember. I started this website with some of my friends who are musicians, music teachers, gear heads, and music enthusiasts so we could provide high-quality guitar and music-related content.
I’ve been playing guitar since I was 13 years old and am an avid collector. Amps, pedals, guitars, bass, drums, microphones, studio, and recording gear, I love it all.
I was born and raised in Western Pennsylvania. My background is in Electrical Engineering, earning a Bachelor’s degree from Youngstown State University. With my engineering experience, I’ve developed as a designer of guitar amplifiers and effects. A true passion of mine, I’ve designed, built, and repaired a wide range of guitar amps and electronics. Here at the Guitar Lobby, our aim is to share our passion for Music and gear with the rest of the music community.