The Top 10 Best Guitar Amps Under $500 - Tube & Solid State

Here we present you with our updated selection of the best guitar amps under $500, covering both tube and solid state combo amps.

Sweetwater

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This selection features the best among the top rated amps in this price range, many of which rival the quality of more expensive amplifiers, in terms of tone, functionality and appearance. The scope of this list is limited to combo amplifiers, because they give you more value for you money (you won't have to spend more on a speaker cabinet). To better organize the list, we've divided it into two sections: first of which feature the best solid state amps, followed by a section dedicated to the best tube amps.

Contents


Best Solid State Guitar Amps Under $500

Picture View on Sweetwater Overview Detailed Description
Fender Mustang GT 40

Fender Mustang GT 40

The GT 40 is a modeling amplifier from Fender's popular Mustang line, with a 40W amplifier, 2x6.5" speakers, upgraded digital sound processing, and Wi-Fi connectivity, all packed in a compact and affordable package. See our detailed description below
Orange Crush 35RT

Orange Crush 35RT

The Orange Crush 35RT 35W 1x10" combo amp goes against today's digital hype with its old school 2-channel design, it's best feature being its simplicity and great sounding built-in overdrive. See our detailed description below
Blackstar ID:Core 100

Blackstar ID:Core 100

Thanks to Blackstar, you can have a stage-ready and really loud 100W 2x10" amplifier without spending too much, and without compromising their brand of versatility and high-gain friendly tones. See our detailed description below
Marshall Code100C

Marshall Code100 Combo

Marshal joins this list with the Code100 combo, a powerful 100W amp with 2x12" stereo speakers and customizable digital models of 14 preamps, 4 power amps, 18 speaker cabinets, and 24 effects. See our detailed description below
Roland Blues Cube Hot

Roland Blues Cube Hot

The Roland Blues Cube Hot combo is a straightforward 30W 1x12" amp that delivers vintage style tones that you can appreciate on stage or in your bedroom - via its built-in attenuator, which goes down to half a Watt. See our detailed description below

Best Tube Amps Under $500

Picture View on Sweetwater Overview Detailed Description
Vox Valvetronix VT40X

Vox Valvetronix VT40X

The Vox VT40X is a hybrid modeling 40W 1x10" combo amp that combines versatile digital sound processing with a real 12AX7 preamp tube, resulting in a flexible amplifier with genuine tube response and overdrive saturation. See our detailed description below
Fender Super Champ X2

Fender Super Champ X2

The Fender Super Champ X2 is a top rated 15W 1x10" combo amplifier with genuine tube preamp and power amp sections, the versatility of selectable amp voicings, built-in digital effects and USB recording. See our detailed description below
Bugera V55 Infinium

Bugera V55 Infinium

Thanks to Bugera, you can get your hands on loud traditional tube amps at more modest price points, case in point is the Bugera V55 Infinium, which provides the most power and tubes per buck in its price range. See our detailed description below
Vox AC10C1

Vox AC10C1

The AC10C1's all-tube 10 Watt and 10" Celestion speaker combo is all about Vox's iconic jangly clean tone, and European crunch. It is designed to be a portable and more accessible alternative to its bigger siblings, the AC15 and AC30. See our detailed description below
Blackstar HT-5R

Blackstar HT-5R

Blackstar's popular all-tube HT-5R wraps up this list with its incredible high gain tones. This 5 Watt 1x12" combo amp comes with Blackstar's ISF (Infinite Shape Feature) technology, which expands the tones that you can get. See our detailed description below

Best Guitar Amps Under $500 - Solid State

Fender Mustang GT 40

Fender Mustang GT 40
Manufacturer: Fender | Retail Price:$249.99

There's no denying the popularity of Fender's Mustang line of guitar amplifiers especially in the entry to mid tier market, thanks to their good balance of versatility, quality and value for money. The new Mustang GT series takes this flexibility up another notch, featuring improved digital sound processing for more realistic amp and effects modeling. They also come with built-in wireless connectivity, for convenient control and music streaming.

The Fender Mustang GT 40, in particular, caught our attention with its great balance of features, affordability and portability. At 14 lbs, this combo amplifier houses a 40W amplifier and two 6.5" speakers which allows for true stereo sound operation without the usual bulk and weight.

What makes this amplifier stand out is its Wi-Fi capability, which allows for wireless download of software updates, preset management and control. This is in addition to its USB port and Bluetooth connectivity that allows the amp to double as a Bluetooth stereo speaker. But it's not just about fancy wireless features because they also updated the amp's digital processor, with 47 effects and 21 amp models. And all these features are controlled via a more intuitive top mounted interface.

The Fender Mustang GT 40 is a true modern guitar amplifier that gives you good return for your money, needless to say, it is highly recommended.

Check out the latest price and reviews at Sweetwater.com


Orange Crush 35RT

Orange Crush 35RT
Manufacturer: Orange | Retail Price:$259

While most amp manufacturers have switched over to the amp modeling side, the Orange Crush line continues on its analog path. And it does so successfully, because it continues to be prominent in terms of reviews, recommendations and sales. The Crush 35RT showcases the best of this old school design, with its simple 2-channel 35W amplifier, 10" speaker and built-in overdrive.

The Orange Crush 35RT's most sought after feature is its built-in overdrive, which oozes with inspiring tones that are great for blues and rock music. This is made possible by its 4-stage preamp design, and is controlled via the amp's straightforward control set.

Surprisingly, Orange added a couple of extras that enhance the practicality of the amplifier, first of which is a fully buffered low-impedance effects loop. This feature has made it the favorite compact amp for guitarists who prefer to get their sound from pedals. Other extra features include built-in reverb, tuner and cabinet simulator for the headphones/line output.

If you're looking for a straightforward amplifier that's always ready to rock, then get the Orange Crush 35RT.

Check out the latest price and reviews at Sweetwater.com


Blackstar ID:Core 100 - 100W - 2x10"

Blackstar ID:Core 100
Manufacturer: Blackstar | Retail Price:$349.99

The Blackstar ID:Core 100 is a powerful 100W combo amplifier with dual 10" stereo speakers, more than enough to handle medium to large size venues. But it's not just about power because this amp comes with a voicing knob and the company's ISF (Infinite Shape Feature), both of which enables incredible versatility. What makes it even more interesting is that all these tone shaping is done via analog components, a unique technology that is developed by Blackstar.

While the amp's six voicings may seem limited, Blackstar's ISF knob makes up with its variable tone shaping that morphs from American to British style tones with just one knob. Both features work together with the amp's EQ and built-in effects for a wide variety of tones.

Speaking of effects, Blackstar equipped the amp with stereo capable chorus, modulation, delay, octaver and tremolo effects, to make full use of the ID:Core 100's stereo speaker setup. In addition, the amp comes with a built-in looper which adds to the amp's practical features. And since the amp has a digital brain with fully customizable presets, you can make full use of its features to make different tone variations that you can save and load as you prefer.

Finally, the versatile 100W stereo Blackstar Core:ID 100 amplifier comes with a very reasonable price tag, ideal for budget conscious musicians who are looking for an affordable yet loud amplifier.

Check out the latest price and reviews at Sweetwater.com


Marshall Code100C

Marshall Code100C
Manufacturer: Marshall | Retail Price:$399.99

While Marshall is still more popularly known for rock friendly overdrive tone, they are by no means limited by them. This is evidenced by the feature-packed Marshall Code100, a solid state 100W combo amp with two 12" speakers. Far from a traditional Marshall amp, this one comes equipped with digital amp modeling and Bluetooth connectivity, highly recommended for those who are looking for a versatile and reasonably priced stage-ready amp with big-brand backing.

With its digital modeling (including 14 preamps, 4 power amps, 24 effects and 8 speaker cabs), you are afforded with a lot of tone variations. As expected, the amp excels in reproducing many classic Marshall amp tones, while the other amp models extends the amp reach while keeping sonic quality up to par with other amp modelers in the same price range.

Like many amplifiers with modeling features, some of the factory presets tend to be lackluster, but they are good starting points for creating your own tones. There is also a 5 effect block limitation, but it should be more than enough for most purposes. The Bluetooth feature lets you control the amp's presets and many settings conveniently on your smart phone or tablet, and it is made even more convenient by the intuitive app interface.

If you're looking for a loud and versatile amp in the sub $500 price range, and you want one from a reliable brand like Marshall, then get the Code100 combo.

Check out the latest price and reviews at Sweetwater.com


Roland Blues Cube Hot

Roland Blues Cube Hot
Manufacturer: Roland | Retail Price:$499.99

As the name implies, the Roland Blues Cube Hot is all about the blues. As such, it does away with distractions and anything that doesn't fit into the style, to keep your playing soulful and inspired. But it does have some nifty modern features that do not contradict its main function, including built-in reverb, power attenuator, and USB output for direct recording.

Much like old blues amps, this one has just the right power (30W) and speaker (1 x 12") for small clubs, but thanks to its power attenuator, you can lower the power rating to as low as 0.5W for cranked tones at bedroom volume levels. This feature, together with its pedal friendly sound make the Roland Blues Cube Hot a favorite among experienced guitarists. And while the name does imply blues music, it can work just as well with other genres with some tweaking and with the right pedals.

What's surprising about this solid state amp is its genuine tube like tone, which impress even experienced musicians. There's not much detail on how the amp is able to reproduce the clean tone of classic tweed amps digitally, but the results continue to speak for themselves, as evidenced by the high ratings and recommendations that it continues to rake in.

If you're looking for an old school amp that gives you classic tones without the maintenance and fragility issues of real tubes, then definitely check out the Roland Blues Cube Hot.

Check out the latest price and reviews at Sweetwater.com


Best Guitar Amps Under $500 - Tube

Vox Valvetronix VT40X

Vox Valvetronix VT40X
Manufacturer: Vox | Retail Price:$249.99

While the flexibility of digital amp modeling continues to be popular, many still prefer genuine tube amp tone and feel. For this reason, Vox have decided to get the best of both worlds with the Vox VT40X hybrid amplifier. It combines digital sound processing and a genuine 12AX7 tube preamp inside a 40W 1x 10" combo amplifier that's affordably priced.

This meeting of technologies from different eras result in modern versatility and improved classic amp tones, which continue to impress even experienced players. The amp's digital brain comes with up to 20 different amp models that span many musical styles, along with 13 effects that transforms the amp into a viable rig. Interestingly it shines the brightest when played in clean to mild overdrive tones, while its crunch and heavy gain tones can definitely get the job done.

The exterior of the Vox VT40X is designed to look as good as it sounds, featuring classic aesthetics and discrete top mounted controls. Speaking of controls, while it's not the most intuitive, it offers a practical and cost effective interface that lets you tweak settings without the need for an LCD screen. The buttons and knobs are labeled nicely to ensure that you know what your settings and how you make the adjustments.

If you are looking for a stylish and affordable amp that gives you the best of both worlds - amp modeling and genuine tube preamp - then check out the Vox VT40X.

Check out the latest price and reviews at Sweetwater.com


Fender Super Champ X2

Fender Super Champ X2
Manufacturer: Fender | Retail Price:$379.99

At first glance the Fender Super Champ X2 might look like another run-off-the-mill compact practice amp, but looking closer at this top rated amp shows its best features - genuine tube preamp and power amp sections, multiple amp voicings and built-in digital effects. This means that you get genuine tube driven Fender clean and overdrive tones, as well as other amp voicing and effects packed inside a compact combo amplifier.

At its core is a genuine 15W tube amplifier section, which features a single 12AX7 preamp tube, and two 6V6 power amp tubes. It drives a single 10" speaker that is housed along with the amp inside a classic looking cabinet. And while a good clean sounding Fender tube amp is already good by itself, the Super Champ X2 adds a versatile voicing knob that lets you choose between 16 different amp voices, much like an amp modeler would.

It lets you choose between 16 different amp voicings which are easily accessible via rotary knobs, including classic clean and overdriven Fender amp tones, as well as emulations of popular amps from other manufacturers. And since it runs on genuine tubes, the resulting voicing variations offer improved realism and sound quality. As expected the best voicings are the ones that reproduce classic Fender amp tones. In addition, the Super Champ X2 also comes packed with 15 digital effects that make it a true all-in-one tube amp rig that's great for small venue performances and for practice.

If you're a fan of classic Fender tube amp tones and want a bit more flexibility, then the Fender Super Champ X2 is definitely for you.

Check out the latest price and reviews at Sweetwater.com


Bugera V55 Infinium

Bugera V55 Infinium
Manufacturer: Bugera | Retail Price:$449.99

Thanks to Bugera, you can get your hands on loud traditional tube amps at more modest price points, case in point is the Bugera V55 Infinium, which provides the most power and tubes per buck in its price range. At 55Watts, this tube amp can definitely drive its 12" speaker hard, while utilizing triple 12AX7 preamp tubes and two 6L6 power amp tubes.

For a tube amp, 55W can get really loud, making this combo amp capable of filling most small to medium size venues and stages. To make this tube amp more roadworthy, Bugera equipped it with their Infinium technology, which increases the lifespan of tubes by carefully managing their performance. There's also an LED indicator that shows up when you need to replace one or more of the tubes.

The Bugera V55 Inifinium follows after boutique tube amps, so there's not much in terms of extras included, but it does have adequate channel switching, tone shaping controls and a built-in reverb. This means that you don't have to spend much time tweaking the amp, and it also makes it easier to integrate with pedals. There's also a boost switch that ups the gain in case you need it to.

Get the Bugera V55 Infinium if you're looking for a loud and reliable traditional tube combo amplifier.

Check out the latest price and reviews at Sweetwater.com


Vox AC10C1

Vox AC10C1
Manufacturer: Vox | Retail Price:$449.99

Thanks to iconic bands like the Beatles and U2, Vox continues to enjoy worldwide popularity among musicians. This is especially true with their AC15 and AC30 "Top Boost" tone, which the AC10C1 reproduces in a more compact and affordable configuration. This 10 Watt amp with 10" Celestion speaker combo is all about Vox's iconic jangly clean tone, and European crunch.

As expected, the amp's clean tone is true to form, with its sparkly top end, but surprisingly, turning the gain up results in overdriven tones that are just as good. Maxing the gain results in really nice crunch tones that retain articulation and clarity.

The preamp section of the Vox AC10C1 is equipped with two 12AX7 tubes, while the output section has two EL84 tubes, a classic configuration that results in familiar tones that many are familiar with. It would've been nice if Vox gave the amp two channel switching and dedicated gain knobs for each channel, but I guess that defeats the purpose of its simplicity and classic design.

If you're looking for genuine Vox tube tones in this price bracket, then the Vox AC10C1 is for you.

Check out the latest price and reviews at Sweetwater.com


Blackstar HT-5R

Blackstar HT-5R
Manufacturer: Blackstar | Retail Price:$499.99

With stricter noise level laws and complaining neighbors, getting cranked tube tones outside the stage is all but impossible. Thankfully, manufacturers like Blackstar have looked passed traditional practice amps to make it possible. At just 5 Watts, the Blackstar HT-5R provides cranked tube tones at lower volumes, allowing guitarists to practice or record at lower volume levels with premium Blackstar tones.

The amp gets its tone from two tubes, a single ECC83 in the preamp and a 12BH7 tube in the output section, both of which work together to drive a 12" speaker that allows for fuller sounding lows.

For a compact amp, Blackstar did not pull any punches with the controls, equipping it with two channels with dedicated controls, along with tone shaping EQ knobs. Included in the EQ section is Blackstar's ISF (Infinite Shape Feature) knob which lets you morph the sound from American to UK amp characteristics. While it doesn't have extras like built-in effects, it does come with a full complement of connectivity options, which include a dedicated effects loop, speaker outputs, emulated cabinet headphone outputs and an MP3/Line input.

While the price can be a bit daunting for its size and power, those who have invested in the Blackstar HT-5R have mostly good words to say about it. Check it out if you're looking for a compact, low-volume and pedalboard friendly tube amp.

Check out the latest price and reviews at Sweetwater.com


If there is another sub $500 amp that you feel deserves to be included in this roundup then please let us know in the comments below.

What to Look for in a Sub $500 Combo Guitar Amplifier

  • Solid State vs Tube

    The use of old Tube technology in guitar amplifiers is still very much alive, thanks to them being sought after for their sound quality, which many prefer over solid state amps. And while technology has made tube amps become more reliable, they are still regarded as fragile and high maintenance. On the flipside, solid state amps are regarded for their cost effectiveness and reliability, especially in the lower to mid-tier market.

    If you're looking for a quality recording/performance amp that will mostly stay in one place, then Tube amps are the way to go. If you're always on the go or if you want a low maintenance amplifier, then solid state amps are for you.

  • Power Rating and Speaker Size

    Power Rating indicates headroom and volume level, this means that amps with higher power ratings are expected to be louder to fill bigger venues, while lower ones are meant for smaller venues. And since we're talking about sub $500 amps, you'll find that many of them have relatively lower power ratings, which is not at all bad given that they make for great recording and practice amps. The main draw of low power rating amps is their ability to achieve cranked tones at lower volume. Some manufacturers even equip their amps with built-in power attenuators, to lower the volume further without compromising tone integrity.

  • Amp Modeling

    Most amps, especially solid state ones, now offer amp modeling, which lets you choose between different amp tone flavors. This means that you're not getting just one sound from an amp, rather you get many variations - from clean to overdriven to high gain. As such, it is a good plus if you're looking for versatility, but they can complicate matters if you just want something straightforward to plug your existing gear into.

  • Built-in Effects

    Reverb is the most commonly added effect to amplifiers, but some amps can have more. Popular effects that are being added to amps include Modulation (Chorus, Flanger, Phaser Etc), Boost, Distortion, Looper and more. Again, these are very useful if you want to have an all-in-one amplifier, but they can be distracting if you already have your preferred effects on hand.

  • Connectivity

    While basic 1/4" cable connectivity is what you'll mostly need, there are amps that allow for more, including effects loop connections, modern Bluetooth and Wi-Fi compatibility. If you're into amp modeling then you'll want with wireless connectivity for the extra convenience. Effects loop routing flexibility is also a nice plus if you're looking to implement complex pedal routing with your amp.

Related Items:

guitar amplifiers See what we named as the best Practice Amp
 

electric guitars Check out this collection of guitars under $500 which our team here are GuitarSite.com have rated as the best.
 

guitar headphone amplifiers See our Guitar Headphone Amp Report - they come with effects and plug directly into your headphones.
 

tube amp Come and see our roundup of affordable Tube Amps.
 

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Great list!

Was just looking around for reviews for amps on the cheaper side and stumbled across this. Great collection and info on here. Keep up the good work!

Thank you AJPJR - we

Thank you AJPJR - we appreciate your encouragement and we're glad you found this article useful!

Useful Article

Thank for the useful article, this really useful for newbie like me, i also looking for guitar amp reviews.

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