The Best Cheap Guitar Amps Under $200
Entry-level guitar amplifiers have come a long way, thanks to tough competition. Manufacturers are always on their toes to get the upper hand, packing as many quality features as they can, inside compact combo amplifier packages. And since quality is at an all time high, this is a great time to be on the lookout for cheap amplifiers.
This guide is sponsored by Sweetwater so you can click through to get the full specifications, the latest price, and purchase any of the Guitar Amplifiers stocked by Sweetwater that we have recommended.
One drawback of having fierce market competition is the sheer number of products produced, and this applies to affordable guitar amplifiers. So to help you narrow down your options, we've taken it upon ourselves to pick out the best among the many amps available in the sub $200 price range, while keeping in mind the various needs of guitarists.
Things to Consider when buying a Budget Guitar Amp
In this price range, budget is a big deal, because saving for a few dollars more can get you a louder and more feature packed amp. So if you don't want to regret simply buying a cheap amp, get your budget sorted out and only look at amps that fall within your limitations.
Tube vs SolidstateIn an ideal world, we will all have a wall of premium tube amplifiers, but the reality is, maintenance, cost and consistency of tube circuits can be a bit problematic. So for beginners, we recommend that you stick with straightforward amplifiers, and after gaining more experience you can then weigh up your options better. Thankfully, there is an affordable tube amp that made it to this list.
Head vs Combo
If you already have a speaker cabinet setup then you may consider amp heads. Other than that, going for combo amplifiers is the best thing to do for both beginners and cash strapped guitarists, simply because you're getting more out of your hard-earned money.
You'll want a guitar amp that is enough for practice and the occasional jam, without the excess weight and cost of bigger and louder amplifiers. Amps that are too powerful may not work for practice and room jamming because you can't really drive the amp to get to its sweespot. Included in this list are amps that range from 5 Watts to 30 Watts, so consider how loud you really want to get before you make your choice.
Tone and Voicing
As your gain experience, you will begin to notice the subtle difference of various guitar amps. So right at the start, it would be best to get the amp with a tone that you prefer. One sure way to do this is to look to your favorite guitarists and their tracks, find out which amplifier they use, and get the amp that sounds as close as possible - be it via analog or digital methods.
Portability is another critical factor that will depend on where you want to use your amplifier. We've included a number of portable options in this list for those want to play virtually anywhere using these battery powered combo amps.
The Top 10 Best Cheap Guitar Amps
This list shows you all of the cheap guitar amps in our top 10 list - scroll down below to read our extended information for each of these amplifiers.
|Many of the amps we see today owe their existence to old Fender amps, an undeniable testament to their influence and legacy. So it only right that the champion amplifier in this list goes to the Fender Champion, with its industry standard clean tone, versatile amp voicing, onboard effects and practice friendly input/output options. More Fender Amps.||Extended meta-review below|
|With diverse artists under their fold like Ted Nugent, Rob Flynn and Michelle Poe, Peavey's gear has to cover a wide spectrum of musical styles. And this is exactly what endeared the Vypyr VIP 2 to many, packed with as many possible features while keeping quality high at the entry level price point. More Peavey Amps.||Extended meta-review below|
|Bugera makes classic tube amp tones more accessible, giving you genuine all-tube tones at a much lower price point. The V5 Infinium does just that with extra features like power attenuation for quiet practice, easily the top pick in this list if you're looking for real tube driven tones. More Bugera Amps.||Extended meta-review below|
|While Vox is known for their classic Brit tone, they are not one to shy away from technology to make life easier for startup guitarists. Case in point is the VT20X, an affordable hybrid analog-digital amp with digital sound processing technology to cover a wide range of tones, while still fiting into a compact cabinet. More Vox Amps.||Extended meta-review below|
|Roland is the brand to beat when it comes to balancing quality, features and mobility. The Mobile Cube is an excellent example, a super portable and great sounding battery-powered combo amplifier that gives you sonic flexibility and true stereo sound virtually anywhere, while keeping the price incredibly low. More Roland Amps.||Extended meta-review below|
|While not as popular when it comes to amplifiers, Yamaha has been making waves in the entry level market with the THR5. Instead of going with the same old amplifier and speaker combo configuration, they came up with the THR5, which is a proper "desktop" amp with versatile tones, designed from scratch. More Yamaha Amps.||Extended meta-review below|
|Marshall is back into the entry-level amp race with the recently released Code series, and they're gaining quite the foothold thanks to good implementation of digital processing and modern Bluetooth connectivity, without compromising Marshall’s signature tones. More Marshall Amps.||Extended meta-review below|
|This relatively new guitar amp builder is now an established and sought after brand. While they are mostly known for their tour-grade high-end amps, compact amps like the Blackstar ID:Core 20 have allowed the brand to get into the rooms of more and more guitarists. This amp features true stereo speakers and innovative ISF tone shaping capabilities that allow for a wide variety of overdriven tones, from classic crunch to modern high gain. More Blackstar Amps.||Extended meta-review below|
|The Orange Crush 20RT is as cool looking as its more expensive brothers, having the same basket weave tole, woven speaker grille, beading and hieroglyphs all rounded up by the familiar Orange "picture frame" edging. This is the ideal amplifier if you're looking for classic rock tones in a compact and affordable package. More Orange Amps.||Extended meta-review below|
|There's no denying the popularity of the Line 6 Spider series, especially when it continues to dominate the USA entry-level amp market in terms of sales. It continuesly forces other manufacturers to up their game while competing at the same price point, resulting in improved overall quality of affordable amps. More Line 6 Amps.||Extended meta-review below|
The Best Cheap Guitar Amps - Extended Information
1. Fender Champion 40
Fender has left an undeniable mark in the amplifier industry, even amongst their competitors because there is simply no substitute for a good Fender clean tone. And since having a good clean tone is fundamental to any guitar playing style, Fender amps like the Champion 40 become an easy choice for many. And what's scary is how Fender has been improving their digital processing technology, which means that in addition to dominating in the clean tone department, they can now compete in terms of sonic versatility, especially in the entry level market.
With their ever growing list of artist endorsers that cover a wide range of styles, Fender amps have infiltrated almost every musical genre available, save maybe for high-gain metal. But this is quickly changing with versatile entry level amps like the Champion 40, which allow for various levels of gain without compromising the famous Fender clean tone. I find it ironic how affordable Fender amps tend to have more features compared to their premium line - but this is good news for guitarists with real-world budget limitations.
The overdrive section of this amp is quite notable, covering a wide selection of amp voicings from British to modern distortion flavors. And since it has two channel switching, you get the ability to change your tone in real-time.
While it may not have the same big numbers of effects as other amps in this price range, the effects section includes essentials like reverb, delay/echo, chorus, tremolo and more.
Finally, Fender did not skimp on the amp section with its 40 watts of power that drives a Fender 12" Special Design speaker. It is housed in the familiar old school style cabinet and weighs in at just 19 lbs.
Retail Price: $180 | Manufacturer: Fender.
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2. Peavey Vypyr VIP 2
If feature set and versatility is high on your priority list, then the Peavey Vypyr 2 will come as an easy choice. While it looks much like a traditional amp, the inner-working go beyond tradition with a wide variety of amp models and effects, many of which are surprisingly well implemented considering the price point. I'd describe this as a digital processor with amp capabilities, because it can easily compete with stand-alone/stompbox multi-effects processors in terms of features, quality and value for money.
In addition to providing amplification for traditional electric guitars, the Vypyr VIP 2 is specifically designed to also handle bass and acoustic guitars, upping the value for money yet again with its sheer versatility. The effects section also includes modern "instrument modeling" which essentially transforms your guitar signal into another instrument which includes electric violin, resonator, 7-string and even a bass guitar.
This versatility is made possible by the built-in 32-bit SHARC processor, while Peavey's TransTube technology keep the tones sounding natural and authentic. There's also a built-in USB port for recording directly to your computer and for convenient editing of the amp's many digital parameters.
The only downside to this amp is you may have to spend more time fiddling with the settings instead of playing, and you'll definitely have to spend a lot of time if you want to go through all the features that is available in this small amp.
If you're a multi-instrumentalist, or if you're looking for a versatile amp to play around with, then get Peavey Vypyr VIP 2.
Retail price: $199.99 | Manufacturer: Peavey
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3. Bugera V5 Infinium
For electric guitars, there's just no substitute for a genuine tube amp sound, but tube amps normally require a hefty investment and are usually setup for loud playing. Thankfully, Music Group, the company that runs Behringer, have produced an amp like the Bugera V5 Infinium, which offers genuine tube circuitry at a much more affordable price point, while also incorporating modern improvements to tube longevity and overall reliability.
With just four knobs, there's nothing much to tweak in this amp, but it does allow for reasonable tone shaping. Since it sounds great on almost any setting, there's really nothing to complain about - especially considering its price. There's even a built-in attenuator that lets you drive the tube amp hard while keeping the output volume low, making this an inspiring amplifier to use for practice.
The main drawbacks of tube amps are maintenance and reliability, and these are especially true when the price tag is low. Thankfully, Bugera developed their "Infinium Tube Life Multiplier" technology, which dramatically extends the lifespan of the tubes.
And since this amp is only rated at 5-watts, it is sitting at a safe and comfortable volume level that will allow the tubes to last longer, and hopefully not offend your neighbors.
If you're looking for genuine tube tone within the sub $200 price range, the Bugera V5 Infinium is highly recommended.
Retail price: $199.99 | Manufacturer: Bugera
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4. Vox VT20X
Vox stamped their British voiced guitar tone into the ears of the world, thanks to iconic artists like The Beatles. Thankfully, they are not stuck in the past and have since incorporated modern digital sound processing into their amplifier designs, specifically at the more affordable price points. And since digital modeling is getting dangerously close to getting the tube amp tones down, this versatility is a welcome addition, especially when considering that the VT20X also incorporates a real 12AX7 tube in the preamp section, for authentic sounding tones.
This amp carries 11 amp models, or up to 20 with the accompanying software that can be used via USB. This may not rank in terms of sheer numbers, but many of these will easily outclass other digital amp models in terms of realism because of the multi-stage tube circuit that's incorporated into the hybrid design. Essential effects like Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, Delay and Tremolo are also included.
At 20 Watts and with an 8" speaker, this amp is meant for practice and small room band jamming. Years ago, having a hybrid tube/digital amp in this price range would be a dream come true, let alone the amp being built by a reputable manufacturer like Vox.
It also helps that the amp exterior does not look cheap at all, rather it has a premium and familiar look that will surely have other guitarists wondering. And it's not just skin deep, because the same thing can be said about the amp's sound and build quality.
Highly recommended for those who want some versatility without compromising real tube circuitry.
Retail price: $179.99 | Manufacturer: Vox
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5. Roland Mobile Cube
Roland's Cube series is easily the most recognizable mobile amplifier line, with its excellent balance of portability, quality and affordability. And this line of amps is represented in this list by the distinct looking Mobile Cube, which looks more like a portable boombox than a guitar amplifier. Don't be fooled by the looks though, because this is a true guitar amplifier right at the core.
Being part of the Cube line, this small true stereo speaker (2 x 4") equipped amplifier carries over the same tones that impressed many guitarists, only this one sounds a bit fuller and more open because of the stereo speaker configuration. It comes with essential guitar effects that include overdrive, chorus, reverb and more, all of which are tweaked to complement the amp's dual speaker setup.
Being portable and super compact, this amplifier is only rated at 5 watts, but it should be enough to get good practice and decent jamming volume. In addition to accepting electric guitars, the Mobile Cube also handles microphones, acoustic guitars, keyboards and other acoustic instruments quite well.
This versatility essentially transforms the Roland Mobile Cube into a compact mini-PA system, making it ideal for multi-instrumentalists, or guitarists who play other instruments from time to time.
This amplifier is designed to run on an optional power AC adapter, or you can use 6 x AA batteries for true portability. If you're looking for a quality, yet affordable guitar amplifier that you can literally take anywhere, this is your best bet.
Retail price: $179 | Manufacturer: Roland
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6. Yamaha THR5
Yamaha is making their presence known in the portable amplifier market with the THR Series, and the idea behind the success of this line is quite simple - instead of going for the familiar single speaker combo look, Yamaha decided to build a proper "desktop" amp from scratch. The result is a table friendly form factor that provides impressive tones at bedroom level volumes.
The THR5 is the smallest in this new line of stereo amps, but even still, it has 10 Watts of power that drives two small 3.15" speakers, more than enough for practice and jamming along with your favorite tracks. For portability, this amp can also run on 8 x AA batteries, and operate on them for up to 6 hours.
Compared to others in this list, the THR5 may seem lacking in terms of features, with only 5 amp models, 4 modulation effects and 4 reverb/delay effects, still it makes up for this lack with its impressively organic and responsive tone.
Wrapping up the amp's features is its USB connectivity which can be used for recording, playback and for deep tone editing. This adds tremendously to the value you are getting, especially when considering its low price, giving you an easy to use recording interface.
The amp looks really nice with its vintage amp/radio like appearance, it won't look out of place with your living room or bedroom furniture. Highly recommended if you are looking for a dedicated amp for your room.
Retail price: $199.99 | Manufacturer: Yamaha
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7. Marshall Code 25
Marshall enters this list with the Code 25, a compact amplifier with digital amp modeling, bluetooth connectivity and other modern features. While this line is relatively new, it has gained considerable positive reviews and recommendations within just a short amount of time, a testament to its overall quality. The main selling point of this amplifier is its deep digital amp modeling, which lets you combine different modeled preamp and poweramp sections from popular amps.
While the ability to mix and match preamp/poweramps is not necessarily new, it is just well implemented in Code 25, resulting in a variety of tones, without complicating the controls too much. And the company was also able to maintain high sonic quality, even with the amount of tone variations possible. And when you consider the price tag, this versatility and portability makes great sense for convenient practice and jamming use.
In addition to the number of modeled preamps and poweramps to play with, this unit also lets you choose between various speaker cabinet emulations and digital effects. Controlling amp parameters wirelessly through your smart phone is just an icing on the cake, made possible via bluetooth technology.
As the name implies, this amp is rated at 25 Watts, driving a 10" speaker which would be more than enough to cut through garage jams, or even on small stages. If you want modern versatility, without straying too far away from established Marshall tones, this is the amp to get.
Retail price: $199.99 | Manufacturer: Marshall
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8. Blackstar ID:Core 20
Blackstar is now a popular brand name in the entry-level amp market, thanks to the ID:Core series, which showcases their incredible balancing of value and quality. I was among the many that were impressed with the sound of Blackstar amps when they were first introduced, and they just continue to get better.
Blackstar's entry into this list is the ID:Core 20's, a true stereo speaker combo amplifier, with a pair of 5" speakers that are powered by dual 10 Watt amps. Stereo speakers continue to trend in the entry-level market, and with the success of the ID:Core 20, it may very well be a standard feature on smaller amps in the near future..
Instead of utilizing digital modeling, where you can get various guitar amp sounds with a push of a button, Blackstar stayed closer to traditional analog amp design. This doesn't mean that the amp lacks versatility, because their patented ISF tone shaping lets you dial in various guitar amp tones using analog components and a rotary knob. This gives the amp six different voicings which can then be paired with the built-in modulation, reverb and delay effects.
USB connectivity is present in this amp, allowing for direct recording and modern preset management. Although this one may not have the bells and whistles, it makes up with impressive tones, which will be especially appealing to players that utilize overdrive and high-gain distortion.
If you're into high-gain distortion style sounds or if you prefer modern rock and metal style tones, then you should consider getting this amplifier.
Retail price: $149.99 | Manufacturer: Blackstar
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9. Orange Crush 20RT
Orange's eccentric visual styling and cosmetic appeal makes their amplifiers easily stand out in a market dominated by monochrome old school colors. And it doesn't end at just being easy on the eyes because the tones you can coax out of their amps are just as unique and stylish. The Crush 20RT exemplifies their design philosophy, giving students and budget-strapped guitarists with an affordable amp that does not compromise on visual and sonic flair.
The Orange Crush 20RT starts off with the classic Orange look, which is just as cool as more premium models. Everything that makes an amp Orange is present, including the basket weave tole, woven speaker grille, beading and hieroglyphs, all rounded up by the familiar Orange "picture frame" edging. The main difference that this amp brings is its compact form factor, and solid state operation, with an amplifier section rated at 20 Watts, which in turn drives an 8" speaker.
As expected, this is a straight ahead rock and roll amplifier, with a minimalistic control interface that include a 3-band EQ, gain and switchable overdrive. It also comes with its own built-in reverb effect for creating soundscapes, and a tuner feature that can be handy especially when playing while on the go.
The resulting tone is just as Orange as its looks, only more affordable, in solid-state format and at lower volumes. Many are impressed with the amp's dynamics and responsive gain.
This amp is for you, if you're looking for a reliable classic sounding, straightforward rock and roll machine.
Retail price: $189 | Manufacturer: Orange Amps
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10. Line 6 Spider V 30
20 years after Line 6 introduced the first digital modeling amplifier, AxSys 212, digital processing is still their bread and butter, and they continue to innovate while keeping the price accessible. With over a million units sold, the Line 6 Spider amp line is easily among the most popular in the market, and the Spider V 30 in particular takes the last spot on this list with its great combination of functionality and value for money.
This amp has 78 amp models, 23 cabinets and 101 effects (up to 8 can be used simultaneously). These features are far from modest compared to others, allowing Line 6 to again be the most innovative entry level amplifier. The number of amps and effects are more than enough to play and jam along with virtually any musical styles.
For the price, this amplifier houses a powerful 30 Watt amplifier section that drives a custom fullrange speaker set. It can get loud enough for small to medium sized venues, while still being having low enough volumes for practice.
The amp's deep controls for tone shaping, amp modeling and effects helped propel and keep it at the top of sales charts for many years. Add to that the reliability and longevity of this amp and you have for yourself a workhorse that can double as a practice amplifier. If you're still not sure what to get, this is a safe pick.
Retail price: $199.99 | Manufacturer: Line 6
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If you have any questions about low cost amps, or if you feel there's a great one that we should consider including in the top 10 above, then please leave a message in the comments below.
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