The Best Guitar Amps Under $300 - Combo & Amp Heads

The Highest Rated Guitar Amps Under $300

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Fierce market competition in the $200 to $300 price range has given us many good quality and great value guitar amps, and the best of them are featured here.

There are many changes in this August 2022 edition, due to price increases over the last year we've seen a lot of amps move out of this price range, however the current crop includes some very highly rated options.

Best Guitar Amps Under $300

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.

Best Digital & Solid State Amps Under $300

Blackstar ID:Core 40 V3

96
GEARANK

96 out of 100. Incorporating 20+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$230
Blackstar ID:Core 40 V3

Cons

  • Not loud enough for a full band setting

Pros

  • Great sounding high-gain tones
  • Versatile voicing
  • Intuitive ISF control
  • Outputs for streaming and direct recording

The ID:CORE 40 V3 houses a 40W amp paired with two 6.5" speakers for stereo sound, featuring Blackstar's Infinite Shape Feature (ISF) that lets you shape your tone from American to British and in-between with just one knob.

In addition to its unique ISF feature, the amp has 6 amp voicings which range from clean to saturated overdrive, allowing for a wide range of tone options and it has 12 built-in effects for further expanding your sonic palette.

Other features include TRRS Line in/Streaming input and USB direct recording.

This amp is at it's best as a great sounding beginner friendly amp that has enough volume for solo practice but will usually need to be miked up for practicing with a loud band or used at gigs.

One thing that helps beginners get good tones with this amp are the amp models that allow you to choose settings that pair well with your guitar regardless of the type of pickups you have, so weather you're playing a guitar with humbuckers or single coils, you'll find a tone that works. For example the 'Clean Warm' model pairs nicely with single coils for jazz and funk while the 'Super Crunch' model is good for blues with either type of pickups, and the 'OD2' model goes great with humbuckers for hard rock. You'll probably find you spend hours going through all the models to find the sound that suits your guitar and musical style.

The ID:Core 40 V3 is as versatile as it gets given this price range, featuring the latest DSP improvements that Blackstar has to offer.

Specifications

  • Power: 40W (2 x 20W)
  • Speaker: 2x6.5"
  • Amp Modeling: 6 x Amp Models
  • Effects: 12 Different Modulation, Delay, Reverb Effects
  • Input: 1 x 1/4", 1 x 1/8" (Aux in)
  • Outputs: 1 x 1/8" (Line Out / Headphones)
  • Weight: 13.6 lbs.

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Do Re Mi Studios Paulo 100/100
Guitar World Nick Guppy 100/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Boss KATANA-50 MkII

95
GEARANK

95 out of 100. Incorporating 2200+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$280
Boss KATANA-50 MkII 1x12" 50-watt Combo Guitar Amp

Cons

  • Software editor takes a bit of getting used to
  • Not ideal for those who want to tweak and play with more amp models and effects

Pros

  • Versatile attenuator, 3 power settings makes it great for both gigs and quiet practice
  • Fewer but great sounding amp types, especially the clean, brown and lead
  • Good quality effects, derived from Boss/Roland's guitar processors
  • Intuitive control setup

The Katana 50 MkII is a versatile combo amp packed with practical technology, including Boss' guitar effects processing.

At its core is a 50W amp with built-in power attenuator, which allows you to half its output to 25W, or go as low as 0.5W for quiet practice.

Built-in amp modeling allows you to choose between different voicings, from clean to lead, there's even a setting that's meant for acoustic-electric guitar. Although I do have to point out that if you're looking for a huge number of amp models to play with then this isn't the best option, but the models it has sound great.

In addition, the amp lets you utilize effects right on the amp, with over 60 digital Boss effects available via the amp's software editor. Unfortunately the software editor is a bit overwhelming at first, but if you take the time to understand it you'll get a lot more out of the effects.

This amp can go from practice to stage and recording use with its support for two external footswitch / expression pedals, 1/4" output and USB recording output.

With its power attenuation and versatile digital sound processing, the Boss Katana-50 MkII is very easy to recommend, particularly for anyone who doesn't mind having a large practice amp that's fully capable of gigging.

Specifications

  • Power: 50W (25W / 0.5W Attenuation)
  • Speaker: 1x12"
  • Effects: Modulation, Delay, 60 BOSS Effects (Tone Studio software)
  • Input: 1 x 1/4" (Instrument), 1 x 1/4" (PowerAmp), 1 x 1/8" (Aux)
  • Outputs: 1 x 1/4" (rec/headphones)
  • Weight: 25.6 lbs.

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Guitar World Richard Blenkinsop 100/100
Guitar Richard Purvis 80/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Orange Crush 35RT

97
GEARANK

97 out of 100. Incorporating 1000+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$299
Orange Crush 35RT Guitar Combo Amp 35W 1x10"
At publication time this was the Highest Rated Combo Guitar Amp Under $300.

Cons

  • Clean tone is not as good as its Dirty Channel
  • Needs to be driven hard to get good overdrive tone (try tweaking the EQ to improve the sound at lower volumes)
  • 10" speaker means limited bass response

Pros

  • Great sounding Overdrive for rock, blues and similar styles
  • 4-stage preamp design that results in better OD saturation and response
  • Distinct aesthetics and portable form factor
  • Practice friendly features include built-in tuner, aux input and headphones out
  • Good sounding reverb

Orange goes down the old path of straightforward rock and roll with the 2-channel Orange Crush 35RT.

There are no amp modeling features to complicate things, rather it depends on its 4-stage analog preamp circuit, which gives it a streamlined yet familiar tone. This simplicity helps it to gather consistently high ratings, even exceeding those of amps with more features and why it has consistently topped the ratings in the Solid State Amp category since we began publishing that list.

With its 35W and 1 x 10" combo configuration, it can work as a good practice amp with enough volume for jamming with friends.

Thankfully, it does come with some nifty extras, which include an onboard tuner, cabinet emulated headphone output and built-in reverb

Orange has always been a "rock" oriented amplifier company. The trademark Orange saturation is present in the Orange Crush 35RT even at lower volumes. The thick grind of the Orange tone isn't compromised with the absence of tube circuitry as Orange has put a lot of time getting their solid state Crush series to get them as close to tube tone as possible.

One of the limitations that the amp has is the 10" speaker. The deviation away from the standard 12" speaker results in less physical bass response.

If you're looking for a great blues and rock tone without having to worry about tube amp maintenance, the Orange Crush 35RT makes a perfect jam partner.

Specifications

  • Power: 35W
  • Speaker: 1 x 10"
  • Effects: Reverb
  • Input: 1 x 1/4", 1 x 1/8" (Aux)
  • Outputs: 1 x 1/4" (Headphones/Line)
  • Weight: 25 lbs.

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Music Radar Nick Guppy 100/100
Guitar World Chris Gill 92/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Positive Grid Spark Modeling Amp

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 6400+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$299
Positive Grid Spark 40-Watt 2x4" Modeling Combo Guitar Amp

Cons

  • Speakers sound 'muddy' for electric guitar sounds in particular
  • Requires Mobile/Tablet for detailed control. No Desktop Software
  • Ads for expansion pack in the controls
  • Gets so much right that it leaves you wanting even more

Pros

  • Great wireless mobile app integration that 'just works'
  • Good collection of Amp and Effect Models
  • Compact 'Boutique Amp' looks suitable for the home
  • Versatility - Stereo Guitar, Bass and Acoustic Amp as well as Bluetooth Speakers
  • Excellent Practice Options

Positive Grid were previously known for their excellent 'BIAS' software modelling apps and that experience shines through here. The amps and effect models are quite good but the sound is hampered by the speakers sounding too bass heavy which often leads to a 'muddy' tone by default. There are ways to address this but it's a hassle to have to deal with. Not everyone find this a problem but many do including myself so be warned.

The Spark 40 aims for the look and feel of a small boutique amp and they've done a pretty job at making it home friendly as possible. You still have your classic amp control knobs for gain, Hi/Mid/Low and Master volume plus Mod Level, Delay and Reverb and you can store 4 patches in the unit.

The controls look pretty well organised on the top of the amp with about as many knobs as you could fit (10). There's an amp style selector and the usual amp controls (gain, 3 band eq and master) plus single knobs for levels of Mod, Delay, Reverb and Output (the real master volume). You can recall 4 patches via buttons next to a tap tempo button and these can also double as tuner lights which is pretty handy.

Spark 40 amp controls
The control knobs on the Spark 40 amp itself.

They've done good job of making it look and feel like a classic amp here but there's only so much you can control this way. For more fine grained control of effect parameters or amp models you need to use the app. The problem you inevitably run into with this sort of setup is that of 'dueling' controls between the analogue knobs and the app or patch values. Short of expensive motorized knobs or led lights all over the place there really isn't a perfect solution which means that you are often operating blind when looking at the physical controls.

On the Spark if you twist a knob it will change that associated setting to the knob value and the app shows this is real time. This could result in a quick jump from it's prior value which could be nasty surprise if you are turning the gain 'down' from 9 when it has actually been operating at 2. Controlling the amp models and effects in the app is fairly straightforward. The signal chain is laid out as a virtual pedalboard with 6 effect pedal type slots and one amp model as below:

Spark 40 effects signal chain as in the app

When it comes to the sound though there is issue that we need to talk about. It's divided users between those that don't hear it, those that don't mind and those that think there's a problem. For me, the moment I started playing through the amp the sound coming from the speakers was overly 'bassey' for electric guitar. You won't have to look far to find many others experiencing the same, describing it as 'Muddy', 'Muffled', 'Boxy', 'Wooley' and complaining about the lack of brightness. It's surprising for such small speakers really but they do put out a lot of low end and that can obscure the high end, particularly the high midrange that's so important for guitar. Personally I can still hear and appreciate the tones which do sound good themselves but alongside a certain 'rumble'. I found myself using the bridge pickup to get the same tone as the bridge/neck mix on my humbuckers and but that didn't quite work.

One of the highlights of the package are the features that allow you to play along with practically any song on YouTube with chords automatically detected and shown. There's also a 'Smart Jam' feature where you can play a short chord progression and it will add a bass and drum accompaniment as well as generic track for you to Jam with. This doesn't always produce great results but it can be handy. For fun I pulled up an old smartphone video of me and a friend at an open mic night playing an original song with less than 50 views on it and sure enough, after the first playthrough it produced an accurate rendering of the chords which is quite impressive!

If you're looking for a home friendly amp with a ton of sounds and practice options literally at your fingertips via the app then this is a great choice.

Specifications

  • Power: 40W Class D
  • Speaker: 2x4"
  • Effects: 30 Amp models, 40 Effects
  • Input: 1 x 1/4" (Instrument), 1 x 1/8" (Aux)
  • Outputs: 1 x 1/8" (Headphones)
  • Weight: 11.46 lbs.

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Gearank Daniel Barnett 85/100
Wired Parker Hall 80/100
Guitar World Rob Laing 100/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Best Hybrid & Tube Amps Under $300

Bugera V5 Infinium

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 700+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$279
Bugera V5 Infinium

Cons

  • Limited tone shaping options
  • Not enough gain for genres like metal

Pros

  • Built-in attenuator enables cranked tones at lower volumes
  • Tubes can be easily replaced for future tonal upgrades and maintenance
  • Great entry to tube tone and feel

Bugera is known for affordable tube amplifiers, and the Bugera V5 Infinium is currently rating well in the sub $300 price range.

This 5W all-tube amp houses a 12AX7 preamp tube and EL84 poweramp tube, with built-in power attenuation that lets you switch the power down to 1W or 0.1W. This built-in attenuation allows you to crank the amp at lower volumes, which means allowing for great tube tones at more room friendly volume levels.

Also worth noting is Bugera's Infinium technology which extends the life of tubes by making sure that the tubes are operating at their ideal parameters.

Low to mid-gain tones are where this amp shines, and as such, it works well with a wide range of musical styles. The ability to attenuate its output power down to 1/10th of a Watt is also an important for those that need that saturation at a more manageable volume.

The simplification of the usual tube amp setup is not without its compromises. For one, the lack of tone shaping limits the kind of tones you get from the amp. It's not about to let you go into super scooped metal territory either.

Despite these limitations, the Bugera V5 Infinium is a great entry point into the world of tube amps, the built-in attenuator also makes it a great bedroom / practice amp for those who want genuine tube tones at lower volume levels.

Specifications

  • Power: 5W, 1W, 0.1W
  • Speaker: 1x8"
  • Effects: Reverb
  • Input: 1 x 1/4" (Instrument)
  • Outputs: 1 x 1/4" Internal Speaker, 1 x 1/4" Headphones
  • Weight: 22.1 lbs.

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Sound On Sound Paul White 96/100
Audiofanzine Mythrandir1 100/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Monoprice Stage Right 611815

93
GEARANK

93 out of 100. Incorporating 1500+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$280
Monoprice 611815 - 15-Watt 112 Tube Combo Guitar Amp
At publication time this was the Highest Rated Combo Tube Amp Under $300.

Cons

  • Can get muddy when driven too hard
  • Not for those who prefer tight response

Pros

  • Hard to beat when it comes to value
  • Vintage clean and dirty voicings
  • Good volume for a 15W amp
  • Works well with pedals

While hybrid amps provide more functionality, they still cannot replace the appeal of a genuine all-tube circuit amp. And the Monoprice 611815 gives you just that, a straightforward all-tube guitar combo amp that continues to rate highly in the sub $300 price range.

The preamp section houses three ECC83 tubes, while the power section has two EL84 tubes, a potent combination used on many classic amps.

But what's really interesting is the amp's 12" speaker, which is a Celestion Red Truvox 1215, quite the catch for something so affordable. Other features include basic 3-band EQ and built-in spring reverb.

Tonewise, its surprising at what this little amp can do. It has a great vintage tone that's perfect for blues and slide. The spring reverb enables 60s surf rock tones at the edge of breakup.

Like all tube amps, many don't come with the best ones straight from the factory. The good thing is that they're a great way to upgrade your tone. It brings up the overall cost a bit but it's worth it if tone is your top priority. Because of the vintage tone, it's not ideal for heavier genres and higher gain settings.

Looking to spend a nice afternoon jamming to some blues? The Monoprice Stage Right 611815 is a great vintage sounding, all tube amp for days when you just want to blues it up.

Specifications

  • Power: 15W
  • Preamp Tube: 3 x ECC83 (12AX7)
  • Poweramp Tube: 2 x EL84
  • Speaker: 1 x 12"
  • Effects: Reverb
  • Input: 1 x 1/4"
  • Outputs: 1 x 1/4" Speaker Out, Effects Loop
  • Weight: 31.62 lbs.

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Festival Peak Christian A. Pfeiffer 88/100
YouTube 60 Cycle Hum 97/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Guitar Amp Head Under $300

Vox MV50 Clean Hybrid Tube Amp Head

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 200+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$220
Vox MV50 Clean 50-watt Hybrid Tube Guitar Amp Head
At publication time this was the Highest Rated Guitar Amp Head between $200 and $300.

Cons

  • Limited functionality if you don't use pedals

Pros

  • Excellent pedal platform
  • Clean tone reminiscent of Fender and Roland JC series amps
  • Compact size makes it easy to bring to small gigs

As the name implies, the Vox MV50 Clean is lunchbox style amplifier head meant for producing clean tones.

It utilizes the same Korg Nutube technology as the other MV50 amps, which mimics the behavior of actual tubes using modern materials that allows it to be more compact, affordable and efficient.

Instead of Gain and Tone controls, this one has volume, treble and bass knobs.

The clean tones on the MV50 make it a great pedal platform, especially for dense reverbs and long delays. Reminiscent of Fender Blackface amps or Roland JC series amplifiers, it keeps poise and remains clean even with a lot of effects piled on top. The compact size of the amp also makes it a great live amp for smaller gigs.

The lack of an overdrive and reverb limits this amp but it does its specific job as a clean pedal platform exceptionally well. If you're looking to make dense soundscapes with a tube amp that can keep up with as many layers without saturating too early, the Vox MV50 is the ideal pedal platform.

Specifications

  • Power: 50W
  • Preamp: 6P1 NuTube
  • Effects: None
  • Input: 1 x 1/4"
  • Outputs: 1 x 1/4" (Speaker Out), 1 x 1/4" (Headphones/Line)
  • Weight: 1.32 lbs.

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Sound On Sound Paul White 92/100
Guitar World Chris Gill 95/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Things to Consider When Buying an Electric Guitar Amp Under $300

Amp Head vs Combo Amp

Amp heads are amplifiers without speakers built into them, and in the sub $300 price range, most of the good ones come with a compact form factor. This means that you'll need to spend more for a compatible speaker cabinet to make it work, but it also means that you are free to pick the speaker you prefer - as long as they are compatible with the amp head.

Combo amps combine both the amplifier and speaker(s) in a single cabinet, making them more practical and affordable. This also means that they are bulkier and heavier compared to amp heads, but when you factor in the weight of the speaker cabinet, they are equal.

Tube vs Solid-State or Digital

Tube amps are generally regarded as better sounding, but they are more fragile and often more expensive. So the lower the price range is, the harder it is to find good tube amps. Thankfully, there are still a few good ones, but they are mostly limited to compact and low power rated models.

While some tone purists consider digital and solid-state amps to be inferior to tube amps in terms of tone, they cannot discount their practicality, affordability and reliability.

There are also some amps that combine the warmth of tubes with the flexibility of digital sound processing, also called hybrid amps. This is usually made by equipping the preamp section with actual tubes. Some of them have been rated high enough by guitarists to get featured in this guide.

Amp Modeling & Effects

Amp modeling utilizes DSP (Digital Sound Processing) to replicate the sound of many different amps, adding sonic flexibility to what once were one trick ponies. And since we are dealing with affordable amps here, the quality of amp models are not as good as more expensive modelers, but are still good enough for practical use.

Like amp modeling, some guitar amps carry with them digital effects. And again, it's unreasonable to compare the quality of these effects to expensive stompboxes, but they can provide basic sonic variety that many musical styles require.

Power Rating and Speaker Size

The general idea is that power rating is proportionate to how loud the amp is, and since high power ratings also mean higher cost, there aren't that many big and loud amps in the sub $300 price range. Thankfully, compact and low power amps are quite popular because they are ideal for practice and small venue jams. The same can be said about tube amps, where lower power makes it easier to crank the amp at lower volumes. Just don't expect these amps to give you full sound on stage. Also in line with power rating, there are some amps that feature power attenuation, where you can cut the power rating back to get cranked tones at lower volumes.

Speaker size affects sound clarity and projection, and obviously, they are limited by the size of the cabinet and the power of the amplifier. Smaller speakers have emphasized mids which many guitarists prefer. Bigger speakers are often preferred by those who want extra bass emphasis.

Connectivity

While they are of secondary importance, extra input/output options add to the overall functionality of amplifiers. An aux input allows you to play along with your favorite tracks, while headphone output lets you practice quietly via headphones. Speaker output lets you use the amp with other guitar speaker cabinets, while DI output lets you connect straight to a PA or recording console. Many modern amps come with USB connectivity for direct computer recording and software control, while some even come with wireless streaming via Bluetooth.

Best Guitar Amp Under $300 Selection Methodology

The first edition was published in 2018 and the latest edition was published on August 27, 2022.

To be eligible for this guide an amp had to be either a Combo or Head (no pedal amps were considered), have a street price between $200 and $300 and be available from a major US based retailer.

We created a short-list of 29 popular amps that met the criteria, then we collecting retailer ratings, user reviews and forum discussions about each one - that totaled to more than 18,900 rating sources. We then processed that data with the Gearank Algorithm to produce rating scores out of 100 for each one which we then used to select the highest rated options in each category above.

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.

Drawing from his experience in performing and recording, he teaches guitar and bass and mentors young artists to be better musicians. And when he is not busy playing or tinkering with musical gear, he puts on his entrepreneurial hat, which helps fund his passion for collecting guitars, mecha figures and Gunpla kits.

Contributors

Daniel Barnett: Positive Grid Spark Review.
Jason Horton: Editing and Illustrating.

Media

Main/Top Image: Created by Gearank.com using photographs of the Vox MV50 Clean, Positive Grid Spark and Boss KATANA-50 MkII.

The individual product images were sourced from websites, promotional materials or supporting documentation provided by their respective manufacturers except for the Spark Controls and Spark App pictures which were taken by Daniel Barnett.

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

Comments

The following amp has been

The following amp has been removed due to a price increase putting it above this guide's price limit, but you can still see our recommendation in the Modeling Amp guide: Marshall Code50.

Today the following amp was

Today the following amp was removed from our recommended list above, due to having been discontinued, but you can still read our analysis of it: Blackstar HT-1.