Best Digital and Solid State Amps Under $300
Orange Crush 35RT
At publication time this was the Highest Rated Combo Guitar Amp Under $300.
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
- 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.
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.
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.
The Orange Crush 35RT is a cool plug and play amp for those who are not into the complexity of amp modeling and effects.
Roland Cube Street
Roland amps are well known for their good balance of quality, feature set and price. The Cube Street is an excellent example, an affordable and portable amplifier sporting two channels for mic/line and guitar.
The guitar section comes complete with basic EQ, 6 built-in effects, and 8 amp models, more than enough for to play with for a long time. All the digital processing is done by Roland's own COSM technology.
Another noteworthy feature of this amp is it's wedge type profile, which allows you to listen to the amp at better angles.
Wrapping up its feature set is its ability to run on batteries, which allows the Cube Street to work virtually anywhere.
- Power: 5W
- Speaker: 2 x 6.5"
- Effects: Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, Tremolo, Delay, Reverb
- Input: 1 x 1/4", 1 x XLR-1/4" combo 1 x 1/8" (aux)
- Outputs: 1 x 1/4" Headphones
- Weight: 11.46 lbs.
The Roland Cube Street is raking in more and more good reviews thanks to its overall build quality and value for money. Many are happy with its portability, while others are impressed at how good it sounds for a small amp. There is also plenty of positive feedback regarding its built-in amp modeling and effects, especially with its clean to light overdrive tones.
Lack of bottom end is a concern raised by a few users, although this is more of an expected limitation given the amp's size. There are also others who wish for a line-out jack.
If you're looking for an affordable, good quality portable amp, then the Roland Cube Street is well worth checking out.
Boss KATANA-50 MkII
The Katana 50 MkII is a versatile combo amplifier that packed with practical technology, including Boss' guitar effect 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.
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.
Finally, 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.
- 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.
The Boss Katana-50 MkII is described by many as the most versatile amp in this price range, and with its feature set it's easy to see why. Owners of this amp are pleased because they don't need to have smaller practice amps, they can just use this one amp for both practice and gigging. There are also plenty of thumbs up for its tone, and while most are happy with its clean tones, there are also many who are satisfied with its mid to high-gain sound. The ability to pick and choose various effects are also commended often in user reports.
There are a few who note that while the amp's interface is easy to use, getting a handle on its software editor may take some extra effort. And as expected, there are a few who find that some of the amp voicings and effects do not meet their expectations.
With its power attenuation and versatile digital sound processing, the Boss Katana-50 MkII is very easy to recommend.
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.
- 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.
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, user reviews also show others are just as impressed with its clean tone settings.
Some of the amp presets are unappealing to tone purists, especially those who are unreasonably looking for natural tube amp warmth from a budget 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.
If you're looking for an affordable yet versatile amp with big-name backing then the Marshall Code50 is right for you.
Best Hybrid & Tube Amps Under $300
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 rich feature set, the Vox VT40X is easily the best value tube amp on this recommendation list.
- 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.
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".
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 tubes, there are some users who got better results after swapping out the default tube. Others are looking for modern features like Bluetooth connectivity.
Who said you have to sacrifice versatility when you want tube tone? Check out the Vox VT40X.
The Vox AV15 combines modern amp modeling with classic tube circuitry, featuring a genuine 12AX7 tube in the preamp section. This helps the amp add tube-like warmth to their amp models, which include emulations of popular Vox amps like the AC15 and AC30.
The amp modeling feature expands your tone option to emulations of amps from other makers, covering everything from British to American voicings.
There's even a Bias and reactor switch that lets you adjust tube response and damping, for even more control over the resulting tone.
Other Controls include 3-band EQ, Bright and Fat switch and gain.
Finally, the amp is equipped with adjustable power levels, which can be used to get cranked tones at lower volumes.
- Power: 15W
- Speaker: 1 x 8"
- Preamp Tube: 1 x 12AX7
- Effects: Reverb, Delay, Modulation
- Input: 1 x 1/4", 1 x 1/8" (Aux)
- Outputs: 1 x 1/8" (Headphones)
- Weight: lbs.
Versatility is the Vox AV15's strong point, and it does so while still appealing to those who prefer the tone of genuine tube equipped amps. While it's expected for users to appreciate its Vox clean tone, it is surprising to see many commendations that point to its tone in mid and high gain settings.
Note that since this amp is equipped with a preamp tube, it will require replacement or maintenance in the future. Speaking of preamp tube, there are a few who found that this amp sounds much better after swapping out the default preamp tube.
If you want a versatile amp that still has tube sensibilities, then check out the Vox AV15.
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 really well 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.
- 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.
In terms of specs and value for money, there's simply no amp that can beat the Monoprice 611815 in this price range. But it's not just about good spec sheets, as seen in its high ratings, it's hard to deny that these specs translate well in real life use. Tone is its strength, more specifically its low to mid-gain tones, which together with its warmth and dynamics - work well with many musical styles. There are also many who appreciate the quality of its spring reverb.
There are some who report getting better results by replacing the default tubes in the amp. They note that while switching out the tubes increases cost, the improvement in tone is well worth the extra investment.
The Monoprice 611815 is easily the amp to get if you're looking for a good value all-tube amp in the sub $300 price range.
There's no denying the iconic status of the Marshall brand, so when they make an affordable tube amp like the Origin5C, it's only natural for it to get a lot of attention.
The 5 Watt amplifier section features a familiar combination of two ECC83 preamp tubes and a single EL84 power tube.
The amplifier section drives an 8" Celestion Eight-15 speaker that's tweaked for British crunch tones.
While 5W and 8" may seem low volume on paper, tube amps are usually louder that their solidstate counterparts, so Marshall installed a power attenuator switch, so you can crank the amp at lower power settings.
Other features include 3-band EQ with presence control, tilt control for blending normal and bright tones and it ships with a footswitch included.
- Power: 5W
- Preamp Tube: 2 x ECC83 (12AX7)
- Poweramp Tube: 1 x EL84
- Speaker: 1 x 8" Celestion Eight-15
- Effects: None
- Input: 1 x 1/4"
- Outputs: 1 x 1/4" (Internal Speaker)
- Weight: 20.7 lbs.
Getting a Celestion equipped all-tube Marshall amp in this price range is already a good reason to buy this amp, but it's more than just having good brand backing. Users love its overall quality and appeal, but more importantly it is well received for its tone. Interestingly, it's preferred for its low to mid gain tones instead of the usual mid to high gain tones that Marshall is known for.
Don't expect too much low end with its 5W power rating and small 8" speaker. This is probably the reason why it's high gain settings are not as appreciated.
If you want a compact tube amp from no-less than the iconic Marshall brand, then this is for you.
Things to Consider When Buying an Electric Guitar Amp Under $300
Tube vs Solid-State or Digital
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 rated models.
While some tone purists consider digital and 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.
There are also some amps that combine the warmth of tubes with the flexibility of digital sound processing. This is usually done by equipping the preamp section with actual tubes, and 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.
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 PA or to a 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 guide was first published on March 22, 2018 written by Alexander Briones who also produced the latest comprehensive update which was published on April 15, 2020.
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. For this 2020 update, we ended up with a shortlist of 19 combo amps, that required us to gather over 4,300 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 digital/solid-state and tube categories (which include hybrid tube equipped amps), to make it easier for you to find what you want. For more information about our methods see How Gearank Works.