The Best Guitar Amps Under $300 - Combo

Guitar Amps Under $300

While there are cheaper options, the $200 to $300 price range has some nice amps with serious tone and flexibility. Since tone quality inspires better and longer playing, and sonic versatility allows for exploration of other musical styles, these amps are ideal for first time buyers, and for experienced players who want something compact.

Here we look at the best of these guitar combo amps, to help you get a head-start in your quest for good tone and improving your technique.

Contents

Best Guitar Amps Under $300

Best Solid State Amps under $300

Marshall Code50

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 300+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$300
Marshall Code50

Known for being the backline brand for many iconic guitarists, Marshall continues to be the go-to provider of premium amps for the rich and famous. But they are not limited to just that, as evidenced by the popularity of their entry level amps, including the highly rated Marshall Code50. This is not your typical one-trick pony classic amp, because this amp lets you mix and match virtual amplifier elements (14 preamps, 4 power amps and 8 cabinets) via Softube's digital sound processing, allowing for a wide array of tones. It also lets you use five virtual effect pedals concurrently, which you can choose from its 24 built-in effects. That's a lot of fire power for the money, which is nice considering that it comes with big brand backing. Finally, this amp comes equipped with convenient wireless app control and music streaming via Bluetooth.

Specifications:

  • Power: 50W
  • Speaker: 1 x 12"
  • Amp Modeling: 14 Preamps, 4 Power Amps, 8 Cabinets (Softube Modeling Technology)
  • Effects: 24 (5 Simultaneous)
  • Input: 1 x 1/4", 1 x 1/8" (Aux), Bluetooth
  • Outputs: 1 x 1/4" (Headphones)
  • USB: 1 x Mini B (App Control)
  • Weight: 28.6 lbs.

Pros:
Sonic versatility gets mentioned a lot, which also translates to good value, as many rightly point out. As expected, most users are impressed with its recreation of classic Marshall crunch tones, even Chris Gill of Guitar World agrees, saying "Right off the bat you get a great collection of classic and modern tones that will satisfy Marshall connoisseurs. The distortion delivers that desirable Marshall crunch, and the EQ nails the characteristic Marshall treble sparkle, midrange growl and bass thump." Interestingly, the reviews also show others who are just as impressed with its clean tone settings.

Cons:
Some of the amp presets are unappealing to tone purists, especially those who are unreasonably looking for natural tube amp warmth from a cheap solid-state amp. There are a few users who wish for the controls to be a bit more intuitive, with some noting that getting the amp to sound really good requires a bit more time than expected.

Overall:
If you're looking for an affordable yet versatile amp with big-name backing then the Marshall Code50 is right for you.

Orange Crush 35RT

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 225+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$259
Orange Crush 35RT Guitar Combo Amp 35W 1x10"

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. 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

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.

Pros:
Market response to the Orange Crush 35RT is overwhelmingly positive, with sound quality being its standout trait. There are many reports of it sounding great when used in blues, rock and similar styles. Nick Guppy of Music Radar gave the amp a perfect score and expressed a similar sentiment, "The 35RT has plenty of classic and modern Orange tone on tap, sounding equally great at bedroom levels or cranked up with a band". Ease of use and the amp's aesthetics are also mentioned prominently by satisfied users.

Cons:
There are a few users who find the bass emphasis a bit too high, and recommend lowering the bass EQ knob a bit to compensate. One user also noted that the amp sounds best when driven hard, which is good when jamming with a band, but hard to do when you need to play at lower volumes.

Overall:
The Orange Crush 35RT is a cool plug and play amp for those who are not into the complexity of amp modeling and effects.

Yamaha THR10C

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 325+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$300
Yamaha THR10C Battery-Powered Stereo Guitar Combo Amplifier - 10W

The THR10C is part of Yamaha's recently released desktop profile guitar amplifiers, which continue to gain acclaim. It features a 10W amplifier with dual 3.15" speakers (stereo), and it gives you 5 amp models that are based on classic amps with names that hint on the actual models that they are based on, including Deluxe, Class A, U.S. Blues, Brit Blues, and Mini. Together with the built-in modulation, delay and reverb effects, you'll have a lot of sonic options in one compact box. Yamaha also equipped it with an acoustic and bass amp preset, adding to the overall value and flexibility of the amp. Other features include the ability to record direct to computer via USB, Bluetooth streaming, more tweaking options via software editor, and the ability to run on 8 x AA batteries for portability.

Specifications:

  • Power: 10W (Can run on 8 x AA Batteries)
  • Speaker: 2 x 3.15"
  • Amp Models: 5 Classic Amps, 1 Acoustic Amp, 1 Bass Amp
  • Effects: 8 (2 Simultaneous)
  • Input: 1 x 1/4", 1 x 1/8" (Aux), Bluetooth
  • Outputs: 1 x 1/4" Headphones
  • Weight: 6.17 lbs.

Pros:
Phenomenal and amazing are two words that summarize how the most users feel about the Yamaha THR10C. Its balance of portability, quality and features helps it gain quite the following, which is quite special considering that it does not follow the usual combo amp shape and configuration. Sound quality gets a lot of thumbs up, even experienced players are impressed by its tube emulation. Peter Hodgson of I Heart Guitar Blog's opinion of the tones are similarly positive: "The Mini amp model is great for Jeff Beck-style lead (think “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers”) while Brit Blues does a great David Gilmour. US Blues is killer for SRV-style semi-Hendrixian chord work, and Class A is packed with great chime. Deluxe is a nice all-round blues or country model."

Cons:
While the amp's classic clean and overdriven tones are well received, there are a few who feel that the effects are short changed. Other users are hoping for a speaker emulated output for going straight to PA, or to a powered speaker.

Overall:
If you're looking for a portable and classic sounding amp to spice up your practice and home recording, then check out the Yamaha THR10C.

Yamaha THR10X

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 325+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$300
Yamaha THR10X

The Yamaha THR10X is a portable 10W combo amplifier with two 3.15" speakers, designed to satisfy the high-gain cravings of guitarists. And it continues to be successful at doing just that, as reflected by its popularity and high ratings. It is another variation of Yamaha's THR10 series, only this time it carries five different high-gain tones derived from popular amps. It covers everything from in-your-face tones of classic metal to low-end heavy rhythms of modern metal styles. In addition, it also comes with an acoustic guitar friendly amp model, as well as one for electric bass guitars, a nifty addition for guitarists who also record/practice on acoustic and bass. Other features include a 3-band EQ, Bluetooth Connectivity, built-in effects, and the ability to run on battery, which means that you have access to good emulations of high-gain tube amps virtually anywhere.

Specifications:

  • Power: 10W
  • Speaker: 2 x 3.15"
  • Amp Models: 5 High Gain Amps, 1 Acoustic Amp, 1 Bass Amp
  • Effects: 8 (2 Simultaneous)
  • Input: 1 x 1/4", 1 x 1/8" (Aux), Bluetooth
  • Outputs: 1 x 1/4" Headphones
  • Weight: 6.17 lbs.

Pros:
Satisfied metal heads continue to flood the reviews with their high ratings. They cite the tube like feel of the Yamaha THR10X's high gain tones as their top reason for liking the amp. Martyn Casserly of The Guitar Magazine have a positive impression: "It’s light, visually pleasing, sonically impressive, and just plain old damn fun to play – and doubles as a classy hi-fi into which you can plug your iPod or smartphone." It is also commended for its overall portability and convenience.

Cons:
There are no notable complains about the amp's performance, but there are a few users who feel that they are not getting their money's worth. Some recommend saving a bit more for louder amps in the sub $500 price range.

Overall:
Looking to scratch your itch for a portable high-gain capable amplifier, then the Yamaha THR10X is highly recommended.

Best Tube Amps under $300

Blackstar HT-1

91
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$250
Blackstar HT-1 1W 1x8" Guitar Combo Amplifier

More often than not, you have to drive tubes hard to get it to sound great. The Blackstar HT-1 lets you do just that, while keeping your volume levels manageable because it is rated at just 1 Watt. This compact amp houses an ECC83 preamp and ECC82 power amp tube, both of which work together to produce Blackstar's high-gain friendly tones, which would normally be hard to get in a bedroom or small studio setting. It comes with Blackstar's ISF (Infinite Shape Feature) knob, which adds American or British amp flavors to your sound. For quiet practice, you can plug a pair of headphones into the amp's speaker emulated output. You can also use the same output to send your amp signal straight to a recording console or a PA system.

Specifications:

  • Power: 1W
  • Speaker: 1 x 8"
  • Preamp Tube: 1 x ECC83
  • Poweramp Tube: 1 x ECC82
  • Effects:
  • Input: 1 x 1/4", 1 x 1/4" TRS (Line)
  • Outputs: 1 x 1/4" TRS (Headphones), 1 x 1/4" (Speaker)
  • Weight: 13.2 lbs.

Pros:
Reviews are littered with compliments from those who are impressed with the amps overdriven tone. Common descriptions of the Blackstar HT-1's sound include great and awesome, while others are happy with the amp's feel. Ease of use and portability also got their share of mentions.

Cons:
There are some users who find the amp to be quite loud for 1W, they recommend being careful when cranking the amp. As expected, the clean channel is not as well loved as the overdrive channel, so if you are looking for a tube amp with good clean tones - this is not the amp for you. A few users suggest saving up for the HT-1R, which comes with built-in reverb effect.

Overall:
The Blackstar HT-1 is an affordable and accessible way to enjoy Blackstar's brand of distorted/overdriven tones.

VHT Special 6 Hand-Wired

91
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$260
VHT Special 6 Tube Combo Guitar Amp 6W 1x10

As the name implies, the VHT Special 6 Hand-Wired is an affordable tube amp with old school point-to-point wiring, ideal for those who want to customize their own amps. But it's not just for tweakers and builders because its default setup is already good enough for most reviewers, as evidence by its high ratings. This amp comes in a compact combo configuration with a 6W amplifier and a 10" speaker. It doesn't stray too far from familiar territory with its 12AX7 preamp tube and 6V6 output tube. It features a push-pull gain knob that lets you engage VHT's gain boost, which is essentially the overdrive channel of the amp. Finally, it features a High/Low power switch that lets you attenuate the power so you can drive the amp at lower volumes when needed.

Specifications:

  • Power: 6W (Hand-Wired Circuit Board)
  • Speaker: 1 x 10"
  • Preamp Tube: 1 x 12AX7
  • Poweramp Tube: 1 x 6V6
  • Input: 2 x 1/4" (Hi/Low)
  • Outputs: 3 x 1/4" (Speaker Out),
  • Weight: 25 lbs.

Pros:
The VHT Special 6 Hand-Wired is received warmly by most, even those who were skeptical at first change their minds after trying the amp for themselves. Tone wise, it is mostly commended for its clean tone, which works really well with various guitar styles. Surprisingly, even non-guitarists are using the amp's clean sound to add warmth to their instrument. The overdrive channel also have a good number of fans, many of them say that it sounds great for blues and rock, especially when paired with good pedals. Guitargear.org summarizes their review by saying: "This is a hand-wired, solidly built tone machine that packs great features for an unbelievable price. The value proposition alone is enough to turn heads, but add superb tone to the equation and you have a winner! "

Cons:
Experienced players report getting great tones after swapping out the default tubes with new ones from reputable sources. There are also a few who feel that the amp's build quality is not as solid as they hoped it to be.

Overall:
If you're looking for a pedal-friendly tube amp that can easily be modded, then check out the VHT Special 6 Hand-Wired.

Vox VT40X

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 125+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$250
Vox VT40X

The Vox VT40X is a tube/digital hybrid, sporting a genuine 12AX7 preamp tube with built-in DSP for amp modeling and effects. This melding of old and new technology allows the amp to retain the vibe of classic tube amps, while having the flexibility of modern amp modelers. Speaking of flexibility, the Vox VT40X lets you choose from 11 preloaded amp models (expandable to 20 via its software editor), and 13 effects - all of which are customizable via the software editor. This means that you are getting a tube amp and a versatile guitar rig all in a compact and more importantly, affordable package. With its power rating and features, the Vox VT40X is easily the best value tube amp in this list.

Specifications:

  • Power: 40W
  • Preamp Tube: 1 x 12AX7
  • Speaker: 1 x 12"
  • Amp Modeling: 11 Amp Models (Up to 20 via Editor Software)
  • Effects: 13 (3 Simultaneous)
  • Input: 1 x 1/4", 1 x 1/8" (aux)
  • Outputs: 1 x 1/8" (Headphones)
  • Weight: 20.94 lbs.

Pros:
Reviews of the Vox VT40X continue to be overwhelmingly favorable, pointing to the amp's value for money as its best trait. It's no surprise that it can reproduce the jangly bright tones of classic Vox amps, impressing even the experts. While other fans of the amp report that it is relatively easy to craft good sounds with its interface. Nick Guppy said in his Music Radar review, "There's no real secret to this; they sound superb".

Cons:
There are a few who complain about noise from cabinet components rattling, but it maybe due to some small parts coming loose on the inside, which can be fixed. As such, better handling care is recommended, thankfully it is not much of a deal breaker given that this amp comes with a 12AX7 tube. Speaking of tube, there are some users who got better results after swapping out the default tube. Others are looking for modern features like Bluetooth connectivity.

Overall:
Who said you have to sacrifice versatility when you want tube tone? Check out the Vox VT40X.

Laney CUB 10

88
GEARANK

88 out of 100. Incorporating 225+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$300
Laney Amps CUB 10

The Laney Cub 10 is a streamlined 10W 1 x 10" tube amp, tweaked to be similar to boutique tube amps minus the expense. It doesn't have much in terms of features, but it makes up with its impressive hardware specs, at the core of which are two ECC83 preamp tubes and two 6V6GT output tubes. It follows after classic amplifier designs with its class A/B circuit that gives it a vintage voicing that many prefer. Since this amp is designed to be portable and easy to use, controls are deliberately simplified, with just three knobs for adjusting, volume, gain and tone.

Specifications:

  • Power: 10W
  • Speaker: 1 x 10"
  • Preamp Tube: 2 x ECC83
  • Poweramp Tube: 2 x 6V6GT
  • Input: 2 x 1/4" (Hi/Low)
  • Weight: 18.19 lbs.

Pros:
Many are thankful for the Laney Cub 10's great classic tone, which some describe to be comparable to more expensive boutique alternatives. The amp's cutting midrange is well received, while others are impressed by its full sounding low end. Many users report that it has enough volume to keep up with a drummer in jams, while others appreciate its good handling of pedals. Its vintage style aesthetics is mentioned positively a number of times.

Cons:
The lack of output options limit the Cub 10's functionality to that of traditional amplifiers, with no way of going straight to a console or PA system, and no way for quiet practice via Headphones. The lack of reverb and aux input also came up a number of times, specifically from those who use this amp as a practice tool.

Overall:
If you're looking for a compact yet loud tube amp to appease your classic rock urges then get the Laney Cub 10.

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

  • Tube vs Solid-State

    Tube amps are generally regarded as better sounding, but they are more fragile and 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 rating models.

    While some tone purists consider solid-state amps to be inferior to tube amps in terms of tone, they continue to be the practical choice, thanks to their affordability and reliability. As such, there are a good number of highly rated solid-state amps in this price range, the best of which are featured in the list above.

  • 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.

    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 because of their extra bass emphasis.

  • Connectivity

    While they are of secondary importance, extra input/output options add to the overall functionality of amplifiers. 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 PA or to a recording console. Most 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 aim of this guide is to showcase the best combo amps (with built-in speakers) within the $200 to $300 price range, so we limited our search using the mentioned criteria. And since we want this guide to be helpful, we made sure that the amps we feature are those that can be easily bought from major music gear retailers in the US. We ended up with a shortlist of almost 20 combo amps, that required us to gather over 3800 relevant reviews, ratings, forum discussions and expert recommendations. All these data were then processed via the Gearank algorithm, which gave us the scores that we used to rank the amps. Finally, we divided the list into solid-state and tube categories, to make it easier for you to find what you want. For more information about this process see How Gearank Works

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