The Best Cheap Guitar Amps Under $100 - Combo

The Highest Rated Guitar Amps Under $100

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With prices soaring, it's reassuring to know that there are still good quality amps in the sub $100. Here we feature the best of them, some of which are great plug-and-play amps for home use, while others are exemplary mobile amps.

Amps in this price range have low wattage and small speakers, so don't expect them to be loud. But this lower volume also means that you can get good cranked tones without having to disturb your neighbors. Presented here are the top rated entry-level combo amps that have been making practice and playing more enjoyable for many users.

This 2022 edition sees big brands like Fender and Blackstar retaining their spots, while also making room for brands known for affordability, including NUX, Monoprice and Rogue.

The Best Guitar Amps Under $100 - 2022.10

Author & Contributors

Alexander BrionesAlexander Briones

I've written about and researched music gear for many years, while also serving as a music director at my local church, in addition to teaching guitar, bass and mentoring young musicians.

Rogue G-10

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 500+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$48
Rogue G10 10W Guitar Combo Amplifier

Cons

  • Limited controls
  • Single overdrive voicing
  • For low volume use only

Pros

  • Easy to use amp with built-in overdrive
  • Practice friendly volume and headphones out
  • Gritty clean and crunchy overdrive

Designed to be affordable and easy to use, the Rogue G-10 is as basic as it gets. Controls are limited to just three knobs that control master volume, treble and bass, plus a button for engaging overdrive. As such there's really not much tone shaping to do, but that is exactly what its supposed to be, a plug-and-play amp that provides useable clean and overdriven tone.

What I mean by useable is that the tones are good enough for beginners to play with. The overdriven tone has a basic crunch voicing which works for blues, rock and similar styles. The clean sound has a bit of grit to it, but it is still workable for practice chords and clean tone guitar lines. In any case, it would be unfair to expect great quality tones from this amp, but it sounds good enough for novices to learn on.

It's quite loud for a 10W amp with a 5" speaker, but the headroom is low, which means that pushing the volume too high will result in muddy sound. This amp is really meant for low volume practice use. A headphones out is provided for quiet practice.

Given its simplicity and basic tone, fast learners will outgrow the amp in no time. But this is a good buy for those who just want to test the waters without spending too much on equipment.

Specifications

  • Power Rating: 10-Watts
  • Speaker Size: 5”
  • Effects: Overdrive
  • Controls: Volume, Treble, Bass
  • Inputs/Outputs: ¼”, AUX-In, Headphone
  • Weight: 6.95 lbs
  • Dimensions (Height x Width x Depth): 10.2" x 9" x 6.1"

Monoprice 611720

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 100+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$80
Monoprice 611720 1x8" 20-Watt Guitar Combo Amp

Cons

  • Limited volume
  • Single overdrive voicing

Pros

  • 3-Band EQ control with good low-end
  • Higher power rating than the competition
  • Clean and OD with dedicated volume and gain
  • Line output jack

The Monoprice 611720 is a beginner friendly amp with quite the feature set. For the price, it allows for standard tone shaping via its 3-band EQ, and it comes with a built-in overdrive, complete with dedicated volume and gain knobs. All of these give it the standard functionality of a 2-channel amp, making it ideal for learning the ropes of basic tone shaping.

It has a flat clean sound that you can shape to your liking via the 3-band EQ knobs. This sonic malleability is its main edge over other amps that have limited EQ controls. With it, you can try different EQ settings like the famous scooped mid sound, are the more in your face reverse U shape. It's also worth noting that the amp has good low-end for the price.

The Overdrive button engages a basic distortion type effect, the level of which is adjusted via the gain knob. The gain knob allows for low to medium gain overdrive sound, but there's not much control over the voicing. Thankfully the 3-band EQ allows for tone shaping, but you're still getting the same vanilla flavor distortion.

Other practice friendly features of this amp include having an Aux input and a headphones output. Interestingly, the amp has a line output which can be used for recording or for plugging into a PA system. This is a feature that is usually only found in more expensive amps.

At 20-Watts and with an 8" speaker, it has a bit more headroom than many of the amps in this same price range. This means less muddying as you raise the volume, but it still is a practice amp, so it will have a hard time coping when used in band settings.

Specifications

  • Power Rating: 20-Watts
  • Speaker Size: 8”
  • Effects: Overdrive
  • Controls: Gain, Volume 1, Volume 2, Treble, Middle, Bass, Overdrive
  • Inputs/Outputs: ¼”, AUX-In, Headphones, Line Out
  • Weight: 15.4 lbs
  • Dimensions (Height x Width x Depth): 13.4" x 15" x 6.9"

Rating Source Highlight

Website Source *Rating Value
YouTube Matt Pula 88/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Blackstar Fly 3

93
GEARANK

93 out of 100. Incorporating 4350+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$75
Blackstar Fly3 Battery Powered Guitar Combo Amplifier 3W
At publication time this was the Highest Rated Guitar Amp Under $100.

Cons

  • For low volume use only
  • Clean tone is not as good as its overdriven tone
  • No USB recording

Pros

  • Great mobile amp for practicing anywhere
  • Organic sounding overdrive and delay
  • Variable amp voicing via Blackstar's ISF knob
  • Easy to use interface

The Fly 3 is a compact, battery powered 3-watt amplifier. It is designed to be a portable practice amp that you can take anywhere, while still being able to produce good Blackstar quality tones. It's compact and light at just 2 lbs, which makes it super easy to carry around, and since it runs on 6 x AA batteries, you can play it wherever you go.

At 3-Watts and with small 3" speakers, there's not much to expect in terms of volume. But this volume limitation actually makes the amp ideal for use in hotels or apartments where you want good tone that will not disturb other tenants.

What makes it a market favorite is its ability to provide great sounding cranked amp tones at room friendly volume levels. And it's not just limited to generic overdrive, it lets you change the voicing of the amp from American to British amp flavors via Blackstar's ISF (Infinite Shape Feature) knob. You can think of this knob as a combination of tone control and amp voicing switch. So you get voicing changes without the complications of buttons and menus.

Note that you won't be getting good sounding clean tones with this amp, so if that is what you're looking for then this is not for you. It would've been nice if it had USB connectivity, so you can easily record your practice or riff ideas but there's only so much you can expect at this price.

To make your lead lines sound more interesting, you can use its built-in “tape” delay, which models the more “organic” tone of vintage delay devices. There is also an optional power adapter that you can buy, so you can use it without batteries when a power outlet is accessible.

With the Blackstar Fly 3's portability and versatility, guitarists who are on the go will have no more excuses to skip practice.

Specifications

  • Power Rating: 3-Watts
  • Speaker Size: 3”
  • Effects: Overdrive, Delay
  • Controls: Gain, Volume, Overdrive Switch, EQ, Delay Level, Delay Time
  • Inputs/Outputs: ¼”, AUX-In, Headphone
  • Weight: 2 lbs
  • Dimensions (Height x Width x Depth): 6.6” x 5” x 4”

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Premier Guitar Shawn Hammond 87.5/100
The Gear Page Jackstand Johnny 96/100
Guitar Songs Masters Alon Cooper 90/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Demo

Fender Frontman 10G

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 13450+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$80
Fender Frontman 10G 10-watt 1x6" Combo Amplifier

Cons

  • Limited voicing options
  • Limited controls
  • Low volume use only

Pros

  • Classic Fender clean tones
  • Straightforward controls
  • Old school aesthetics
  • Good low to mid gain overdrive

The Frontman 10G packs Fender's iconic clean tone and classic aesthetic styling into a compact and affordable combo amplifier. And its continued success is proof that even in this era of amp modeling, there's still room for good quality old school amps.

The strength of this amp is its genuine sounding Fender style clean, with detailed highs that work great with many different musical styles. And this makes the amp sound responsive and lively. As expected, it doesn't have deep lows, but it has enough to make it sound great for practice. It would've been nice if it had a mid EQ knob to emphasize the highs better.

There's a button that engages its built-in overdrive. It adds an open and mild sounding distortion effect that actually sounds good at lower gain settings, viable for blues and even rock. It gets muddy as you go higher though, so if high gain distortion is what you want, then this is not for you.

At 10-Watts and with a 6.5" speaker, it doesn't have a lot of headroom, but it is good enough for solo playing or for jamming along with your favorite tracks. Speaking of jamming, it has an Aux input for plugging in your media player and it also has a headphones out for silent practice. All these features are packed inside a closed back cabinet that sports Fender's old school amp design.

With the Frontman 10G, what you see is what you get, classic Fender look and sound with simplistic control options that will not distract you from enjoying your practice.

Specifications

  • Power Rating: 10-Watts
  • Speaker Size: 6”
  • Effects: Overdrive
  • Controls: Gain, Volume, Treble, Bass, Overdrive Switch
  • Inputs/Outputs: ¼”, AUX-In, Headphones
  • Weight: 8.5 lbs
  • Dimensions (Height x Width x Depth): 11” x 10.25” x 5.75”

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Equipboard francesco_sartori_2 60/100
Audiofanzine le troll 80/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

NUX Mighty Lite BT

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 900+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$99
NUX Mighty Lite BT

Cons

  • For low volume use only
  • Gets a bit muddy when cranked too high

Pros

  • Feature packed mini amp
  • 3-Channels with delay and reverb
  • Portable and mobile
  • Bluetooth compatibility

The NUX Mighty Lite BT is as feature packed as it gets for an affordable and portable guitar amp. It lets you switch between 3 channels - clean, overdrive and distortion. And it also comes with two of the most commonly used effects - delay and reverb.

The overdrive channel in particular is where it really shines, full sounding and dynamic. High gain tones from its distortion channel are also quite good, but given its small size, it does get muddy at higher gain settings. In any case, it's unfair to expect this to be as pristine sounding as bigger and more expensive amps. The clean channel is OK, it has a warm voicing that may or may not appeal to you depending on your preference.

What makes this amp stand out from the competition is the built-in drum patterns, which also includes a metronome. This makes the Mighty Lite BT a true student friendly piece of gear. For real-time control over the timing of delay effect and drums, it even comes with tap tempo control.

For the price, this amp also lets you wirelessly stream your favorite tracks via Bluetooth. Feature and spec-wise, you'll be hard pressed to find one that can match it in this price range.

The amp can run on a 9V power supply, or via USB connection - which is very convenient given that we all have tons of USB cables available. It can also run on 6 x AA batteries for true mobility. Note that the Nux Mighty Lite BT is roughly around the same size as the Blackstar Fly 3, so it is also a viable tool for keeping your chops up when on the go.

If you're looking for a student-friendly mobile guitar amplifier, then definitely check out the NUX Mighty Lite BT.

Specifications

  • Power Rating: 3-Watts
  • Speaker Size: 3”
  • Effects: Overdrive, Delay
  • Controls: Knobs: Gain, Volume, Tone, Delay/Reverb | OD/DIST, Drums, Play/Pause, Tap
  • Inputs/Outputs: ¼”, AUX-In, Headphone, USB
  • Weight: 2.25 lbs
  • Dimensions (Height x Width x Depth): 6.5” x 3.9” x 4.9”

Rating Source Highlight

Website Source *Rating Value
YouTube Landon Bailey 97/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Demo

Things to Consider When Buying a Cheap Guitar Amp

Here we provide additional information that can help you better understand guitar amps, to make an informed selection, and lock in on a guitar amp that will fit your needs and musical preferences.

Power Rating

The power rating of an amp, also known as its wattage, is a good indicator of the amount of volume an amp will have. However, it’s important to know how wattage and volume relate to each other.

A 10-watt amplifier is going to be (roughly) twice as loud as a 1-watt amplifier, and half as loud as a 100-watt amplifier. Wattage is a better indicator of “headroom”, which is how loud an amplifier can be turned up before it starts to distort. Most of the amps in the sub $100 price range will be around 10-watts or lower, making them ideal for home practice use.

Speaker Size

Speakers come in all shapes and sizes, with the most common (and tonally balanced) being 12” speakers. The bigger the speaker the warmer and more bass focused its tone is going to be, while smaller speakers generally have a thinner and brighter tone. Given the price limitation of $100, amps in this price range usually utilize smaller speakers. But since these amps are intended for practice, the lack of bottom end may not be as noticeable.

Tone Shaping Controls (EQ)

Almost every amp comes with tone shaping controls, otherwise known as an EQ section (generally labeled on an amplifier as bass, middle, and treble). These controls change the tone of your instrument. Tone is best defined as the combination of harmonics, sustain, and frequency response (which is controlled by the EQ sections mentioned above) produced by your guitar and amplifier. In this price range, 2-band EQ controls are common, allowing for bass and treble adjustments. Some do provide more control, especially those with DSP (Digital Sound Processing) capabilities.

Built-In Effects

Many amps come with built-in effects, with the most commonly found ones being reverb and overdrive. Overdrive is what gives rock, blues, and metal their trademark tone. Reverb makes your guitar sound like it’s being played in a large room.

The cool thing about built-in effects is that they give you more options when you’re dialing in your tone, and they make it possible to play different genres. However, they do increase the complexity of the amp. Amps that have more features have more controls, and this means steeper learning curve. Most of the time, the benefits of complex features outweigh the drawbacks, but it will depend on how you will be regularly using the amplifier.

Outputs

Many amps come with extra outputs, with the most common being a headphone jack, which lets you plug in your headphones for silent practicing. A line out jack lets you go straight to a PA system or recording console. More modern amps allow for USB connectivity, for direct computer recording. Some amps also come with software that lets you edit various parameters of your amp.

There are also output jacks that allow you to plug your amp into extension speaker, that either works with or separate from the speaker already in your amp. This can be useful for those who want more volume and projection.

Portability

Since amps in this entry-level price range are usually small, most of them are inherently portable. Amps here usually have a lightweight and compact profile that make them easier to carry around. Some can even run on batteries for true untethered mobility. If you want to keep your chops up even as you move from place to place, then mobility should be high in your list of things to consider.

Best Guitar Amps Under $100 Selection Methodology

The first edition was published in 2018 and the current edition was published on October 18th, 2022.

The goal of this guide is to feature the best electric guitar combo amps that you can buy for less than $100, so we looked at the best rated and popular models in this price range. Aside from ratings and popularity, we also considered accessibility, so we also filtered for those that can be readily bought from major US retailers. These filters resulted in a list of 23 candidate amps, which is fewer than the previous edition because many amps have increased their prices above the $100 ceiling since the previous edition. We then gathered and analyzed various reviews, ratings and recommendations, including the most recent ones up to October of 2022. We ended up with over 43,700 data sources, more than double compared to the previous edition of this guide. All these data were then processed using the Gearank Algorithm which gave us the rating scores out of 100 that you see above. Finally we selected the highest rated options to recommend. For more information about our methods see How Gearank Works.

About the Author and Contributors

Here are the key people and sources involved in this guide's production - click on linked names for information about their music industry backgrounds.

Lead Author & Researcher

Alexander BrionesAlexander Briones

I've written about and researched music gear for many years, while also serving as a music director at my local church, in addition to teaching guitar, bass and mentoring young musicians.

I used an older version Fender Frontman for many years, and it served me really well. I have since given it to my dad, and it still works without any hitch! These days, beginners have it better with full featured portable amps like the Blackstar Fly 3 and NUX Mighty Lite BT. Not only are they portable, they also sound good and are convenient to use.

Contributors

Jason Horton: Editing and illustrating.

Media

Main/Top Image: Compiled using photographs of the Fender Frontman 10G, Blackstar Fly 3 and Monoprice 611720.

The videos have been embedded in accordance with YouTube's Terms of Service.

The individual product images were sourced from websites, promotional materials or supporting documentation provided by their respective manufacturers.

Comments

A combo amp has been

A combo amp has been redefined since modelling and effects have become pretty much standard. Having Overdrive is no longer considered a combo amp by anyone's definition/interpretation. Even adding reverb is more old school combo category. And the battery operated amps, essentially a park bench practice amp, those are a different category altogether. That said, the Fender Champion 20 is the only one of this bunch that anyone would classify as a combo amp. The rest of them are basic relics from an era long past. Doesn't mean they aren't any good, they're just practice amps either way. Saying that clean mode/tones are an amps strongest, commended/revered feature is just laughable in 2019, any amp should play clean tones, a Donner DEA-1 10W saves you a few bucks. easily as good as a Frontman 10g and has a 3 EQ vs the Fenders 2 EQ controls.

A combo amp isn't defined by

A combo amp isn't defined by effects or signal processing but simply by the fact that they have the amp and speaker combined into a single cabinet.

The other type is an Amp Head which typically doesn't include speakers - like these.

What you're talking about sounds more like a description of Solid State Amps, and I would agree that modeling/effects are changing the definition of those.