The Best Cheap Guitar Amps Under $200
Thanks to tough competition, amplifier manufacturers are continually improve their entry-level products. Affordable amps now have built-in effects and amp modeling, practice utilities and some even have USB connectivity and stereo speakers.
So if you are looking for your first amp or an extra amp, you're in luck because you won't have to spend more than $200 to get good quality. We've taken it upon ourselves to pick out the best among the many entry-level amps available, while keeping in mind the various needs of guitarists of various styles.
Peavey Vypyr VIP 1
The Vypyr VIP 1 stands as the most feature packed amp in this price range, with 36 amp models, 24 effects and 60 presets. And note that it is has the ability to handle electric, acoustic and bass guitars, making it ideal for multi-instrumentalists. Aside from readily handling various instruments, this amp also features instrument modeling, where it can turn your electric guitar tone into an acoustic guitar or bass. Mix them all together and you have a myriad of sonic possibilities in just one compact and affordable amp.
The amp's built-in USB connectivity allows for direct recording to your favorite DAW, removing the need for a separate USB audio interface. This means that start up home studios can use just one Vypyr VIP 1 to record three instruments separately, resulting in savings and convenience that hobbyists and professionals alike will find rewarding.
Finally, Peavey's TransTube technology ensures that the modeled tones of this 20Watt amp are organic sounding. If you are looking for a flexible yet compact combo amp in this price range, then you should definitely get this.
Manufacturer: Peavey | Price: $129.99
Blackstar ID:Core 20
Blackstar is a newcomer in the entry-level amp market, but they quickly made a name for themselves with the ID:Core series. I was among the many that were impressed with the sound of these new amps when they were first introduced.
The ID:Core 20's most notable feature is its true stereo design, featuring a pair of 5" speakers that are powered by dual amps. Having stereo speakers is currently trending in this market, and with the success of ID:Core and other stereo amps, it may be a standard feature on smaller amps in the future.
Instead of utilizing digital modeling, Blackstar stayed closer to traditional analog amp design with the help of their patented ISF tone shaping. 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.
Manufacturer: Blackstar | Price: $149.99
Yamaha is not known for their amplifier products, but the THR series is slowly but surely building up their reputation. The idea behind the amp's design is quite simple and yet profound - instead of going with the same old single speaker combo look, Yamaha decided to build a proper "desktop" amp from scratch. The result is a table friendly amp that provides impressive tones at bedroom level volumes.
The THR5 is the smallest in this new line of stereo amps, featuring 10 Watts of power that drives two small 3.15" speakers. It is also the most portable because it can run on 8 AA batteries for up to 6 hours. 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.
With only 5 amp models, 4 modulation effects and 4 reverb/delay effects, the THR5 is certainly not the most plentiful in terms of features. But it makes up for this lack with its impressively organic and responsive tone. Wrapping up the amp is its USB connectivity which can be used for recording, playback and for deep tone editing. Highly recommended if you are looking for a dedicated amp for your room.
Manufacturer: Yamaha | Price: $199.99
Roland Cube Lite
The Cube is easily the most popular budget guitar amp. Roland, who brought us the popular Boss effect pedals, designed the Cube to be a practical, sturdy and efficient guitar amplifier. This no-nonsense approach resulted into a successful line of compact and affordable amplifiers. As proof, check out the various Roland Cubes being utilized by buskers in street performance videos all over YouTube.
The one member of the Cube family that will carry their legacy to the future is the Cube Lite, a tabletop friendly version of Roland's top selling amp. It features straightforward DSP modeling, and iOS connectivity and packs all of that into a full featured multimedia player. It only has three guitar amp models that include JC Clean, Crunch and Extreme - but the sound that it creates are more than enough for big name players like Richie Kotzen to recreate his tone. Complementary tone shaping is provided by the stereo chorus and reverb effect
Roland did not follow the familiar "cube" exterior design for this amp, instead they went for a more elegant compact shape. Roland's i-Cube Link fits the form factor well, as it will let you directly record to your iPhone or iPad, or jam along with your favorite iTunes tracks. Although it looks more like a modern radio or multimedia player than a guitar amp, this amp is designed to uphold the brand's reputation when it comes to reliability.
Manufacturer: Roland | Price: $149.00
Fender Mustang I
The Mustang amp series shows how flexible the company can be, instead of sticking with the vintage clean tone that they are known for, they decided to fight fire with fire by incorporating their own amp modeling technology into this entry level amp.
The 20Watt amp Fender Mustang I is among the most popular in this line, thanks to its modern versatility and affordability. While other modeling amps tend to have mediocre clean tones, this amp reproduces characteristic Fender clean tones quite well - proving that nobody does Fender like Fender! There are a total of 8 amp models that will let you switch from vintage cleans to midrange crunch to high-gain.
Further flexibility is afforded by its 24 built-in effects with 12 modulation and 12 delay and reverb types. The amp also features Fender's new DSP platform, with its USB connectivity for both direct recording and patch editing. For something priced at just under one hundred dollars, this is definitely a sweet deal.
Manufacturer: Fender | Price: $99.99
Line 6 Spider IV 15
The Line 6 Spider series reigned supreme in terms of sales in the USA thanks to their versatility and affordability. These amps stood among the best bang per buck guitar amps for a long time, and has forced other manufacturers to upgrade their entry-level amps. The Spider IV 15 is the smallest in this line of affordable amps.
This 15Watt amp gives you 4 essential amp models that cover clean, overdrive sound, punchy high gain and a channel that gives you high gain with increased mid-range which are great for shredding and solos. In addition, the amp offers 6 Smart FX including Phaser, Tremolo, Sweep Echo, Tape Echo, Chorus/Flanger and Reverb. It also comes with freebies like online guitar lessons, jam tracks and patches, making this amp even more tempting for would be buyers.
What's great about this low-cost amp is that it has enough features to keep practice and playing interesting, while keeping controls simple enough for beginners to use. If you are a student or you are planning to buy an amp for one, we highly recommend the Line 6 Spider IV 15.
Manufacturer: Line 6 | Price: 99.99
Vox Pathfinder 15R V9168R
If you are looking for a simple more affordable alternative to classic Vox tube amps, get the Pathfinder 15R. It is a pretty straight forward amp that focuses on getting its namesake tone right, stripped of digital and modeling features.
Although they offer modeling amps in this price range, the company knows that there are some that want to get great sounds without having to tweak too many knobs. So they have designed the Pathfinder 15R to provide just that, plug-and-play operation with tube-like tone.
What you see is what you get, a Vox amp with a single 8" Bulldog speaker that has gain boost. Thankfully, it does come with impressive sounding tremolo and spring reverb that many users rave about. Since it has a speaker and line out - many guitar players have been using this amp in small venue gigs without having to mic the amp. Its simplicity, tank like build, and its great aesthetics make this a great affordable guitar amp for players that have the ear for classic tones.
Manufacturer: Vox | Price: $119.00
Orange Crush PiX Series CR20LDX
Known for their expensive tube amps, Orange is also well represented in the low-cost guitar amp market. They have been aggressively expanding their offering to challenge other manufacturers in this entry level market with the PiX series.
One look at the Orange Crush PiX and it is obvious that it looks as cool as its more expensive brothers. It has the same basket weave tole, woven speaker grille, beading and hieroglyphs all rounded up by the familiar Orange "picture frame" edging.
As expected, this is a straight ahead rock and roll amplifier, with minimal essential controls that include 3 band EQ, switchable overdrive and master volume. It comes with some practical digital effects like reverb, delay, chorus and tremolo, which can be used to add flavor to the sound. The tone is just as Orange as its looks, only more affordable, in solid-state format and at lower volumes.
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