Any electric guitarist knows that picking the perfect guitar is only half the battle. Your ‘59 Les Paul will only sound great coming out of an equally great guitar amp. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of the best guitar amps you can ever own. Each of these guitar amplifiers offers a range of different features, price points, and tones. Whether you’re just practicing in your garage or selling out amphitheaters, you’re going to want to take a look at one of these amps.
Table of Contents
- Best Guitar Amps Under $2000
- Best Guitar Amps Under $1000
- Best Guitar Amps Under $500
- Best Guitar Amps Under $300
- Best Guitar Amps Under $200
- Best Guitar Amps Under $100
- Guitar Combo vs Head
- What are the different types of guitar amps?
- Other stuff you need to know before buying your guitar amp:
Best Guitar Amps Under $2000
If you’re looking for the best of the best, then you want to check these amps out. They all offer a distinct sound, and can easily fill any venue. Of course, this comes with a price, but you can’t beat these guitar amplifiers when it comes to sheer quality of tone. These are for the pros, and many have been used by the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Steve Vai, Bruce Springsteen, and many other rockers.
You can’t spend more than 2 minutes with a guitarist without hearing the name “Marshall.” Marshall amps have been a staple of the guitar community for decades, perfecting the tube amp design. This Marshall tube amp is a throwback to the company’s early days in guitar amplifiers. It offers one of the highest quality tube amp sounds you can get, and is a professional’s favorite. Furthermore, it comes loaded with classic gain, reverb, and EQ settings for total control over your tone. Players love the iconic, vintage sound. It’s perfect for a range of styles, but is best with classic rock. If you’re in search for the best tube amp on the market, this would be it!
The Vox AC30 is the standard in tube combo amps. It’s been on the market for decades, and has been a mainstay in acts ranging from Nirvana, Lamb of God and Queen. It’s extremely barebones, offering simple gain and EQ. Otherwise, you just get that grainy, iconic sound of a tube amp. The AC30 has that perfect crunch, and works with a range of genres from classic rock to grunge to punk. This is definitely one the best tube amps that you can ever buy at this price range.
Fender pioneered the modern reverb sound back in the 60s with their Fender Twin Reverb and Fender Deluxe Reverb amps. Today, they still hold onto what made them stand out with the Custom Deluxe Reverb.
This tube combo amp is specially designed with classic rock enthusiasts in mind, but offers a special “custom” channel for modern players. This Fender amp sits at the intersection of classic and modern guitar, offering a truly professional amp. If you play jazz, blues, classic rock, or even funk, this amp’s bright. Its full sound is perfect, which is synonymous with Fender amps.
Best Guitar Amps Under $1000
If you’ve been playing a few gigs and are ready for your next big upgrade, these amplifiers have you covered. They’ll push hundreds of watts and offer phenomenal sound, all for under $1000. These are for guitarists who are serious about playing, so make sure you’re ready for one of these powerful pieces of equipment.
PRS is more known for guitars, but the brand’s amps are a force to be reckoned with. The MT 15 Mark Tremonti is a 15 watt tube amp head that delivers a crisp, rich sound. It’s a small head, coming in at only 15 watts, but it has an unbeatable sound, making it perfect for home practice or the studio. This amp is obviously made to capture the rock sound of Mark Tremonti. So if you’re looking for that powerful, crunchy tone, this amp is a great option.
The EVH 5150 III isn’t just for Eddie Van Halen fans. This powerful tube amp head pushes out 50 watts of that shimmering tone that Van Halen made famous. It comes with 2 outputs, EQ, effects, and more. Just make sure that you have a combo amp to plug it into. Like any artist series amplifier, this amp works to get you Eddie Van Halen’s signature tone. If you’re a budding shredder, this EVH 5150 amp is a great choice for its light, crisp sound.
Blackstar amps are known for their thick, saturated leads, and the HT Club 40 MkII continues that legacy. You get all of the drive and power you would expect from Blackstar in a portable guitar amp that is great for traveling guitarists. Metalheads and hard rockers alike will love this amp for it’s thick lead tone. Perfect for fans of modern metal and rock.
Peavey is an industrial-grade manufacturer, offering hearty, powerful tone. This all-tube 60 watt combo amp will get you some of the most powerful sounds out there. The Peavey 6505 plus head is fixed with EQ, gain, several channels, and more than 1 EQ board. This high quality amp is an all-in-one package for the gigging professional. Peavey is all about practicality, so if you want a barebones, quality tone, then this amp is the way to go.
One of the all-time classic amps is the Fender Hot Rod. This modern release keeps all of that classic sound, bundled up in a 60 watt combo amp. This is a great choice for gigs, the studio, and home practice. This Fender tube amp comes with a vintage clean and overdrive, EQ, and that iconic spring reverb. It was huge with the retro-vintage movement of the 90s. So if you want a rockabilly, surf rock tone, then this Fender combo amp is the way to do it.
Fender changed the industry when they introduced a revolutionary reverb technology in the 60s. The Twin Reverb amp made lush reverb easy to control, and they continue that with their separate Fender Princeton Reverb line. This tube electric guitar amp offers that classic sound, as well as a rich and full reverb, with 15 watts of sound. This highly versatile amp works for tons of genres. From classic rock tribute bands to alternative, any guitarist would love this classic.
Hughes Kettner is definitely not one of the biggest names in guitar heads, but they do offer a powerful analog amp fixed with a suite of knobs and effects. It comes with a full range of EQ, 4 channels, and gain, allowing for tons of variety and experimentation. This retro brit-rock amp gives you all of the tone options you need for classic rock. Particularly for psychedelic rock and other classic styles.
The Egnator Tweaker 40 is one of the few tube combo amps worth paying attention to, aside from the legendary Vox AC30. It offers that thick, classic sound that all players strive for, along with classic EQ, gain, and effects. Tube amps are remarkably versatile, working for both classic and modern sounds. If you’re a guitarist looking for something that’ll work for any band, this is a great option.
Despite the name, the Marshall DSL 100H all-Tube amp head is not actually a tube amp. Instead, it is a digital Amp head with some of the best solid state modelling technology out there. It comes loaded with both analog and modern modeling tones, making it great for any style of music. If you want to get your hands on the Marshall brand, then this is the way to go. It’s going to deliver the iconic tone of a Marshall without breaking the bank. It’ll work for nearly any style.
Best Guitar Amps Under $500
Once you’ve outgrown your starter amp, you’re ready to move up to one of these. Whether you want to fill up a small local venue or you can’t hear yourself over your drummer, these options push out plenty of that crisp, crunchy sound that you want out of an amp.
Boss makes some great distortion pedals, but they also make a great amp with their Boss Katana 100. This digital combo amp comes packed with 100 watts, full EQ, and a powerful sound. It’s perfect if you’re trying to fill up venues with sound. Boss is renowned for their budget friendly amplifiers. If you’re already suped up with effects pedals, this amp is a great way to blast your tone through any venue.
The Fender Pro Junior IV is a 15 watt digital combo amp that makes some powerful sounds. It may be small, but it has a tone that’s perfect for either home practice or the studio. It’s been a fan favorite for decades, and it’s still around for a reason. For fans of rock from before 1990, this option will get you that crunchy, heavy tone. The Fender Pro Jr IV is a great option for beginners looking to jump right into a high quality sound.
Blackstar amps make a vast range of affordable amps. The ID Core 100 is a 100 watts digital combo amp that comes with a spectrum of distortion channels and several digital effects. Ever since the 90s, metal guitarists have been using digital amps to get that heavy, saturated tone. This amp is perfect for getting that beefy distortion for metal and modern hard rock.
The Fender Champion 100 is a powerful amplifier that delivers Fender’s iconic tone with 100 watts of power. You’ll fill a small stadium with that rich, vintage tone using this modeling combo amp. It’s perfect for the traveling professional. Like every other Fender guitar amp on this list, this amp is perfect for older styles of music. Jazz, blues, and rock guitarists will love that grainy, vintage tone. From our list this will definitely be the best guitar amp under $500 that you can buy.
If you want that incredibly, iconic Vox tone but don’t need to break the bank and sell out stadiums, the Vox AC10 is the way to go. This small amp has all of that classic vintage tone of the AC30 at a much more affordable price. Just like it’s more glorious upgrade, this Vox amp is perfect for nearly any style. Play crisp and piercing cleans, or push some crunchy distortion for some heavier playing.
Best Guitar Amps Under $300
When you’re starting to get really into shredding, you’ll need an amp that has that luscious tone. These amplifiers are a great option for players of nearly any caliber, whether you’re a pro who wants a back up practice amp, or you’re trying to upgrade from your first starter amp. Each of these guitar amps will give you a rich sound that can even fill up small venues.
Fender amplifiers have been a staple of rock, metal, and the blues for nearly a century. If you want something with all the bells and whistles, take a look at the Fender Mustang GT 40. This 40W digital modeling amp delivers an incredibly powerful sound, comes with bluetooth enabled, and even offers wifi connectivity for updates.
It’s fixed with a suite of guitar digital effects, including the classics like EQ, gain, and digital reverb. Like most digital modeling amps, the Mustang GT 40 works for a range of styles. Get that super-saturated distortion for metal, or get a classic tube amp sound for classic rock.
Marshall is the top of the industry, setting the standard for tube amps back in the 50s. Today, they offer a few digital options, including the mid-ranged Code100C. It’s a powerful modeling amp that delivers 100 watts of classic tube amp sound without the tube amp price. This Marshall combo amp comes loaded with plenty of effects to keep you occupied for years to come. Any player will love this amp, since it can replicate a range of tones. If you’re still exploring your artistic interests, this amp will get you a great sound for any style.
The Marshall Code 25 is the same line as the Code100C, but trades some of the volume for some features. Clocking in at 25 watts, this amp features on-board effects, bluetooth connectivity, and a USB port that you can use to run through your computer for recording and playback. It’s a great choice for both gigs and recording. Just like the Code 100C, the Code 25 is perfect for nearly any style of music.
Many of the pros look back fondly on their early days of using Orange Crush combo amps. They’re affordable, durable, and have an incredibly powerful sound. The Orange 35RT is a great amp for the budding musician, packing 35 watts of that saturated digital tone into a compact combo amp space.
This Orange Crush amp comes with the standard EQ, an overdrive channel, and digital reverb for a true all-in-one package. Crush makes a great 90s and 00s tone. It’s got a crisp, full clean tone and a rich, saturated gain. Fans of grunge and alternative will definitely want to consider this amp.
Vox guitar amps need no introduction, they always trade quantity for quality. The Vox AV 15 guitar amp is the lowest wattage amplifier that you can find in this pricing section. It may not be as loud as a 100 watt head, but jamming and studio sessions will have an unrivalled sound with the Vox AV15. This incredibly combo amp is a solid state modeling amp, working to get you that vintage guitar tone without breaking the bank. Vox packs their premium, vintage tone into this little amp, making it great for a range of sounds, from rock to metal.
Jumping back to Marshall, we have the Code 50. This digital combo amp gets you plenty of sound and replicates the classic Marshall tone. It has 4 different tube modeling options, a 12 inch speaker, and built in drive and reverb. It’s perfect for any number of settings, from small gigs at home to practicing on the road. When you grab this amp, you’ll be able to play music from a range of styles, including classic rock, blues, grunge, and even heavy metal.
Best Guitar Amps Under $200
If you’re on the lookout for your first amp and want something that you can grow with, these options are worth a look. They’re affordable enough that guitarists on almost any budget can afford them, and they’ll last you a few years before you’re looking to replace them.
The Orange Terror series of amp heads is one of the staples of the Orange brand. Their Micro Terror is an interesting 20 watt digital head that offers the full sound of a larger amp head for a great price. It’s a digital amp that gives you that fully saturated sound that you’d expect from a digital amp. It’s an amp head, so you’ll have to have a cabinet to plug it in to. This little Orange mini amp head is perfect for getting a premium sound in a small space. Like other options from Orange, this amp head has a 90s and 00s sound. So it’s great for grunge and alternative.
Fender makes excellent amps, from their legendary and classic tube combo amps to their modern digital amps. The Champion 40 is a 40 watt digital combo amp that offers top-of-the-line modern tone at a great price. It comes set up with digital reverb, distortion, and effects, as well as on-board EQ. This amp sounds a lot like the Fender Champion 100, but in a smaller package. It gets you that crisp, vintage sound for fans of older styles.
Bugera amps are one of the classiest manufacturers on the market, and they’ve streamlined the technology into the V5 Infinium. This 5 watt digital modeling amp packs in some incredible technology to truly replicate a 60s tube amp tone. You get that vintage sound in a small package. There’s a reason why you’re paying nearly $200 for 5 watts of sound. Fans of the original rockers will love the tone of this small guitar amp. From Jimi Hendrix to Jimmy Page, you really get that classic tone with the Bugera V5 Infinium.
Orange really caters to the budget market, giving some premium sounds for decent prices. The Crush 20RT is a great 20 watt practice combo amp that offers a full digital sound. It’s compact and colorful, making it perfect for both the practicing student and the budding professional. It comes with EQ, gain, and reverb controls, giving you full control over your tone. Just like any other Orange amp, the Crush 20RT gets you a great sound for more modern styles.
Peavey makes some of the most durable, yet affordable, equipment on the market. The Rage 25 is a medium-sized digital combo amp that specializes in both analog and digital sound. Besides the EQ and gain options, you can switch between modern and vintage modeling. You really get the best of both worlds with this guitar amp. Peavey amps have a great sound for the price. It may not offer all of the major tone upgrades of a more expensive guitar amp, but you still get a powerful head.
The Spider series from Line 6 is one of the true modern classics in amplifier tone. Starting out at incredibly affordable prices, these digital combo amps offer tons of effects, reverb, EQ, gain, and more. If a guitarist bought their first amp in the 2000s, there’s a good chance it was a Spider III or Spider IV. Now the Spider V offers an updated version of the same great amp. The Spider series is one of the most versatile amps on the market. You can use it for nearly any style, from crunchy classic rock to saturated heavy metal.
Best Guitar Amps Under $100
If you’re really on a budget, you’re going to want to take a look at these amps. They’re almost exclusively small digital combo amps and top out at 20 watts. Whether you’re looking to get your first amp, or you’re looking for a cheap travel amp, each of these is a great contender. You’ll be rockin’ out with a quality tone without breaking the bank.
Vox is the king of combo amps, and they bring that to a budget market with the Pathfinder. This 10 watt amp comes suped up with a basic EQ and some built-in overdrive. This is a modeling amp, meant to replicate that classic tube amp sound. It’s guaranteed to give you that classic Vox look and sound. It’s a great way for beginners to get a premium sound that works with most styles of music. Having said that it might be too small to play live.
Fender is one of the original names in the amp industry, which is how they’ve been able to perfect the formula. Not only do they make spectacular tube amps, but they also make great digital amps. This Fender Champion is a compact speaker that packs a punch, complete with EQ, digital effects, and reverb. Beginners who want to play jazz, blues, and classic rock will love this amp’s tone. If you’re on a tight budget just go for this one, you won’t be disappointed.
Blackstar is one of the bigger brands when it comes to modern solid state amp technology. You don’t have to shell out the big bucks to get ahold of one of their amps, with their student model coming in well under $100. This is a great amp for beginners looking to practice, or even for seasoned pros looking for a spare amp. It comes with a simple bass and treble EQ, as well as an overdrive channel. When you get the Blackstar 10, you have a great starter amp for heavier, more distorted genres like metal. It doesn’t work that well for blues or jazz. If you’re into that style we suggest you go for the Fender Champion 20W amp.
If you’ve ever used a mixing board, PA system, or a second-hand cabinet, there’s a pretty good chance it was Peavey. Sure, they make a couple of guitars, but they really excel at making speaker technology. It’s no surprise that their Solo combo amp is a great, affordable option for any budding player. It features an 8 inch speaker, meaning you can crank up the volume louder than the standard 6 inch speaker. It also has a special tube emulating technology. This is a great option for just under $100.
As far as affordable amps go, Orange is one of the best in the business. From full on tube amp heads to this affordable solid state combo amp, they create some of the best amps at budget prices. This simple 12 watt option comes with a full 3-band EQ and a gain knob, giving you plenty of control over your tone. This is one of the most affordable ways to get Orange’s iconic grungy tone. However it’s good to note that Orange excels in the mid and high range to give you that treble tone that most guitarists love. If you’re interested in a balanced tone, more punch on the low end, we suggest you go for the Fender Champion 20W guitar amp.
There’s a pretty good chance that you’ve never even heard of Pignose, but they make some of the best niche guitar amplifiers on the market. While they aren’t as big as Fender amps or Marshall, this option is a great choice for anyone looking to play on the road. This 5 watt battery powered speaker offers an excellent clean tone, and also offers a gain option. You may not be using this for recording or gigs, but it’s great for practice and jamming with friends. Bonus: It looks really cool!
Guitar Combo vs Head
You may have noticed that some of these amps are combo amps, while others are amp heads. That’s because some amps work differently than others, based off of how much power they require.
Amp heads only generate the electrical signal, but don’t have a speaker built in. You’ll have to set it on top of a large speaker, called a guitar cabinet, to actually play the sound. So if you have the Marshall DSL 100, one of the best amp heads out there, you’ll need to run it through a cabinet. If you have just one cabinet, or a half stack, you’re going to output 50 watts from a 100 watt amp. Get 2 guitar cabinets on top of each other, or a full stack, and you can push out all 100 watts of sound.
Guitar combo amps are an all-in-one package. The guitar head is built into the speaker, so there’s less setup and wiring involved. Because of this, you tend to see combo amps in the more affordable niche, and higher quality combo amps tend to cost more than their amp head counterparts. The standard in combo amps is set by the Vox AC30, which has helped define the sound of guitar.
What are the different types of guitar amps?
There are even more subdivisions of guitar amps. You can find both digital analog amps, and each one offers a different sound. Let’s go over the differences in each one.
Solid State Amp
Digital amps, sometimes known as solid state amps, use transistors instead of tubes to make sound. This means that they can get a wider range of sounds because it’s artificially generated. Some guitarists like the more saturated, full sounds of solid state amps, while others think they sound cheap and plastic. One of the best solid state amps is the Orange Crush 35RT, which gets you a full, rich tone with a simple overdrive,
Modeling amps are a type of solid state amp that attempts to sound like a tube amp. Players love that vintage sound, but tube amps are often expensive and fragile. Now, modern technology lets players get ahold of that classic sound at a much cheaper price, like with the Line 6 Spider series.
Tube amps are the original amp. In order to get the volume you need to fill a stadium, you used to have to use vacuum tubes that would use hot air to create the sound. Marshall perfected the technology, and the industry loved the sound. Today, there are plenty of great tube amps, but nothing quite beats the Marshall JCM.
Other stuff you need to know before buying your guitar amp:
Amps often come with a few bells and whistles to sweeten the deal. Nearly all amps come with reverb, eq, and gain, so let’s go over those features.
Reverb, not to be confused with echo, is that saturated, rich sound you hear in most music. Fender pioneered the technology for portable analog reverb. But now most amps come with digital reverb, which gives the player more control over the tone. The Fender Custom Deluxe Reverb has the best option for reverb.
EQ are those knobs that say bass, mid, and treble. They’re actually a filter that manipulates a range of frequencies, or “bands.” Now almost every amp comes with them, and can help you control the tone of your guitar to be bassier or tinnier. The Peavey 6505+ comes with one of the most thorough EQ boards out there.
Most amps come with the classic overdrive setting. There are a few ways amps can do this, but the most popular options include a simple gain knob, an overdrive button, or a separate distortion channel. You get a more full range of sounds with digital amps for this, and the Line 6 Spider series has some of the best onboard distortion out there.
Your electric guitar is only half the battle, with amps making a huge impact on your sound. Now more than ever, you can get a great sound as long as you have a good amp. Even if you don’t love your guitar’s tone, digital amp technology can give you a great sound. Or if you love that classic vintage style, you can get a tube amp. By picking an amp you love, you’ll be one step closer on your path to guitar mastery.