Best Guitar Amps Under $200 - Combo/Head/Pedal

The Highest Rated Guitar Amps Under $200

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There are a lot of great sounding and good value amps in the $100 to $200 price range. Here we feature the best of them, covering the cream of the crop in three popular categories, Combo, Amp Heads and Pedal Board Amps.

For this edition, Orange remains dominant across all three categories, proving that guitarists are highly appreciative of amps that can provide great tones with simple controls. Fender also made the cut, thanks to the to the flexibility of digital amp modeling.

The Best Guitar Amps Under $200 - 2022.12

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 Guitar Combo Amps Under $200

Fender Mustang LT25

96
GEARANK

96 out of 100. Incorporating 3500+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$149
Fender Mustang LT 25 1x8" 25-watt Guitar Combo Modeling Amp
At publication time this was the Highest Rated Combo Guitar Amp Under $200.

Cons

  • Requires more tweaking to get good tone

Pros

  • Versatile amp modeling and effects
  • Good sounding Fender clean tone
  • USB recording and software control
  • Sleek modern aesthetic

The Mustang LT25 is a 25-Watt combo amp with 8" speaker, part of Fender's popular Mustang line of entry level modeling amps, loved for their good overall quality and portability.

The LT25 in particular features 20 amp models, 25 effects and 50 presets - which cover a wide range tones, from Fender's classic clean tones to mid crunch and high gain. That's a lot of features packed inside something compact and affordable.

While it's not as simple to operate as traditional amps, it is still more intuitive compared to other modelers. It has a good balance of features, presets and parameter options, while dropping some control options, most notable of which is the lack of a mid tone knob. More in-depth control is available via software control when plugged in using the USB port.

Other beginner friendly features include headphones out for quiet practice and it has a built-in tuner. To meet the demands of home recording, it also comes with USB recording.

Get the Fender LT25 if you want nothing less than the top rated modeling combo amp under $200.

Specifications

  • Power Rating: 25-Watts
  • Speaker Size: 8”
  • Channels: 1
  • Controls: Gain, Volume, Treble, Bass, Master, Preset, Back, Save, Menu, Tap
  • Amp Models: 20
  • Effects: 25 (Modulation, Reverb, Delay)
  • Inputs/Outputs: 1 x 1/4", 1 x 1/8" (Aux), 1 x 1/8" (Headphones)
  • Dimensions: 14.5" x 16.8" x 11.9"
  • Weight: 14.9 lbs

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Guitarworld Stuart Williams 90/100
Guitarist Next Door Teemu Suomala 92/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Demo

Orange Crush 20

95
GEARANK

95 out of 100. Incorporating 1150+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$149
Orange Crush 20 - 20 Watt 8" Solid State Combo Amp

Cons

  • Limited functionality
  • Clean tone is not as good as overdriven
  • No Reverb

Pros

  • Simple operation
  • Great sounding overdriven tone
  • Good build quality
  • Distinct Orange aesthetics

While most big name brands have gone the modeling route, Orange maintains their traditional 2-channel design in many of their amps - and they do so with continued acclaim. Case in point is the Orange Crush 20, which enjoys high ratings despite its straightforward functionality.

What makes it standout is its 4-stage preamp that adds realism to its tone giving it a great sound when overdriven. With minimal tweaking, it produces great sounding tube-like overdriven tone at manageable volume levels.

It also easily stands out visually, with its distinctly Orange profile. And build quality is more than what you'd expect for its price. If you want to practice quietly via headphones, this amp comes with a built-in cabinet simulator.

The main weakness of this amp is its clean tone, so if you are looking for a good clean sounding amp, this is not for you.

The Orange Crush 20 is a true to form plug-and-play amplifier for guitar rock styles, hard to go wrong with its tried and tested simplicity and killer tone.

Specifications

  • Power Rating: 20-Watts
  • Speaker Size: 8”
  • Channels: 2
  • Controls: Clean/Dirty Switch, Dirty, Treble, Middle, Bass, Gain, Clean
  • Amp Models: None
  • Effects: None
  • Inputs/Outputs: 1 x 1/4", 1 x 1/8" (Aux), 1 x 1/4" (Headphones)
  • Dimensions: 12.8" x 14.67" x 7.75"
  • Weight: 15.8 lbs

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Guitar World Richard Blenkinsop 80/100
Guitars For Idiots Matt Dunn 86/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Demo

Best Guitar Amp Heads Under $200

Orange Micro Terror MT20

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 1600+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$159
Orange Micro Terror MT20

Cons

  • Limited functionality
  • No reverb
  • Not for those who want great sounding cleans

Pros

  • Great sounding tube overdrive tone
  • Lively and responsive
  • Can go loud and still sound good

The Orange Micro Terror is an amp head that features a combination of tube and solid state design.

This 20-Watt hybrid amp sports a 12AX7 preamp tube paired with a solid state poweramp, reproducing classic Orange tones. The resulting is sound is organic and lively, even when the amp is cranked.

As expected from Orange, this is no modeling amp, instead it's focused on reproducing the iconic British Orange tone with minimal complication and it does it very well.

With its compact profile, this amp head has limited tone shaping controls which includes volume, tone and gain knobs.

Speaking of compact, the Micro Terror MT20 is packed inside Orange' distinct lunchbox style all-metal amp head design.

If you're a fan of the classic Orange tone, then this amp is a great portable solution.

Specifications

  • Power Rating: 20-Watts
  • Speaker Out: 1/4"
  • Tubes: 12AX7 (Preamp)
  • Channels: 1
  • Controls: Volume, Tone, Gain
  • Effects: None
  • Amp Models: None
  • Inputs/Outputs: 1 x 1/4", 1 x 1/8" (Aux)
  • Dimensions: 5.3" x 6.49" x 3.6"
  • Weight: 1.87 lbs

Rating Source Highlight

Website Source *Rating Value
Premier Guitar Jordan Wagner 90/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Demo

Orange Micro Dark

97
GEARANK

97 out of 100. Incorporating 1050+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$199
Orange Micro Dark
At publication time this was the Highest Rated Guitar Amp Head Under $200.

Cons

  • Lack of EQ limits tone shaping
  • Single channel only
  • Headphone out tonality is harsh and only for last resort practicing

Pros

  • Loud for such a small amp
  • Simple controls
  • Great tone across the gain range. Surprisingly good cleans
  • Includes an effects loop
Further explanation of the Pros and Cons along with audio samples are available in the Extended Review.

By its name and appearance, the Micro Dark was designed to be a smaller version of Orange's Dark Terror amplifier. Surprisingly enough, the Dark Terror is rated at 15W (tube) while the Micro Dark is at 20W (solid state). Numbers aside, the Micro Dark is tuned to sound and feel close to the Dark Terror.

Orange Micro Dark rear panel
Figure 2: The Orange Micro Dark's rear view and outputs as well as its effects loop. See a larger version in the Extended Review.

I was surprised to see that it was affordable and at 20W I thought it would be a lot quieter considering the volume difference between solid state watts and and tube watts. Tube amps sound louder at the same wattage because they are designed to be pushed beyond their power rating for more saturation. Most solid state designs are designed to operate around their clean ceiling as solid state clipping is nowhere near as good sounding as tube clipping, hence a 20W solid state amp will run quieter than a pushed 20W.

Tonewise the Micro Dark's gain range can take it from sparkly clean, to blues grit, all the way to modern metal. The "Shape" knob is a combination of an EQ and a contour control (as seen on some Marshall amps) that shifts the tone from dark to bright.

Others might feel that the lack of a typical EQ can be seen as a minus. Personally, I like the pedal-like simplicity of a singular tone control. I often found myself going towards both extremes depending on the genre.

I also play an all-tube Dark Terror. Listen to comparisons I recorded in the extended review.

All in all, The Orange Micro Dark is one of the best value purchases I've ever made. It's a fun piece of gear that I use a lot for both rehearsals and recordings and has the potential to be a main amp for smaller gigs with less overall stage volume. Get it if you want a small amp for rehearsals, recording or as a backup for gigs. It's much more than just a toy that you play with a few times and forget.

Specifications

  • Power Rating: 20-Watts
  • Speaker Out: 1/4" (8 Ohm)
  • Tubes: 12AX7 (Preamp)
  • Channels: 1
  • Controls: Volume, Shape, Gain
  • Effects: None
  • Amp Models: None
  • Inputs/Outputs: 1 x 1/4", 1 x 1/4" (Headphones), 2 x 1/4" (Send/Return)
  • Dimensions: 5.3" x 6.5" x 3.74"
  • Weight: 1.72 lbs

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Gearank Raphael Pulgar 94/100
Guitar Richard Purvis 80/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Orange Micro Dark Guitar Amp Head

Best Pedal Board Amps Under $200

Orange Terror Stamp

91
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$199
Orange Terror Stamp
At publication time this was the Highest Rated Pedal Board Guitar Amp Under $200.

Cons

  • Lacks volume
  • Limited tone shaping controls
  • Clean tone is not as good

Pros

  • Orange tone in a pedal
  • Genuine tube preamp
  • Useful volume switch feature
  • Pedalboard friendly FX Loop

The Orange Terror Stamp is a pedalboard friendly version of their popular Terror micro amp, complete with its own genuine tube preamp.

It sports the same hybrid design with a 12AX7 preamp tube paired with a 20-Watt solid state poweramp, featuring an all-analog design that reproduces the distinct overdriven tone of Orange amps.

Aside from its floor-based form factor, the Terror Stamp differs from its amp head counterparts with its volume footswitch, which lets you switch between two volume levels that you can set yourself. It is meant to behave like a boost but without any coloration and relying on just the volume setting.

Tone shaping is done with just one knob, which lets you go from copped to mid-emphasized voicing.

Other features include buffered effects loop, headphones out with 4x12" cabinet simulation, and a speaker output.

This is a no brainer for fans of Orange, but for those who are not, this is a great alternative compact amp if you are into low to mid-gain overdriven tone.

Specifications

  • Power Rating: 20-Watts
  • Speaker Out: 1/4" (8/16 ohms)
  • Channels: 1
  • Tubes: 12AX7 Preamp
  • Controls: Volume 1,Volume 2, Shape, Gain
  • Amp Models: None
  • Effects: None
  • Inputs/Outputs: 1 x 1/4", 1 x 1/4" (Headphones), 2 x 1/4" (Send/Return)
  • Power Source: 15V DC 2A (Included)
  • Dimensions: 2.4" x 5.4" x 3.9"
  • Weight: 0.84 lbs

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Gearspace Arthur Stone 95/100
Guitar World Rob Laing 90/100
MusicRadar MusicRadar 90/100
Audiofanzine Brian Johnston 100/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Demo

Things to Consider When Buying a Guitar Amp

Amp Head / Pedal Amps vs Combo

Combo amps are guitar amplifiers packaged with speakers, while amp heads and pedal amps do not come with speakers. Combo amps are more common because they can be used immediately without the need for an extra purchase - making them more practical and easy to acquire. Amp pedals and heads on the other hand require a separate speaker purchase to work, which adds to your cost, and you also have to understand a bit more about speakers and compatibility before you even think of getting one. The main advantage though is portability and the ability to mix and match amps with your preferred speakers - a decision which usually is reserved for more experienced guitarists.

Power Rating

Power rating gives you a good idea of how loud an amp can go, and in the sub $200 bracket, the power ratings are usually around the 20-Watt range. For this reason, most of the amps in this price range are meant for practice or for small venue jamming. Thankfully, loud is not always better, amps with lower power ratings allow you to get good cranked tones at lower volumes, ideal for bedroom or apartment use, and for home recording.

Speaker Size

The difference will usually be subtle to a beginner's ear, but generally speaking, the bigger the speaker, the more low-end it can reproduce. And this added low-end is ideal for modern musical styles. Smaller speakers have more articulation and emphasis in the middle frequencies, great for intimate practice, or for those who prefer the styles of blues and classic rock. Some manufacturers utilize dual speakers in their combo amp design, resulting in a stereo sound that's closer to how you hear guitars in music tracks, as opposed to how guitars sound and feel on stage.

Amp Modeling / Channels

Many guitar amplifiers in this price range are packed with multiple "amp models" (some manufacturers call these "channels" but they are the same in principle) that let you switch between different sounds. The most common configuration is still the 2-channel setup with one for clean and the other for overdriven sounds. The more amp models, the more tone options you can choose from, which can be good if you prefer deep tone customization, or bad if you just want minimal tweaking and don't want to be distracted by tone chasing.

Built-in Effects

Many of the amps included in this list come with built-in effects, the most common of which is reverb, while others offer a whole host of effects from modulation, to delay to distortion and many more. These effects help simplify your practice rig, especially if you don't really need high quality effects for your practice routine.

Solid State vs Tube

There was a time when all tube amps were recognized as the only real option for a truly great tone for some styles and many still see them as the pinnacle for their organic and detailed sound. But in the lower price bracket the 'all tube' options are limited and the modelling amps are now recognized as producing some pretty convincing versions of the classics. As such, the more practical choice would be to get a solid state amp with digital sound processing, especially for those who want to play with different tones and effects.

There are a few amps which incorporate a preamp tube along with solid state amplification and digital modelling. This option may not impress some tube purists but they do impress many players, so much so that many of them rate highly.

Direct Recording, Tuning and Other Features

USB connectivity is now becoming standard feature on many amps, even in this price range. This lets your amp double as an audio-interface, allowing you to capture your guitar playing for practice, evaluation, and even for producing your own songs. Other notable features that you want to look for include looping, tuning and modern preset management with sharing and Bluetooth connectivity. If you are not into tweaking and recording, then you can go for more streamlined plug-and-play amps.

Guitar Amp Selection Methodology

The first Edition was published in 2016 and the current Edition was published on December 2, 2022.

To be considered in this guide, our criteria was simple, it has to be a guitar amplifier priced between $100 and $200, and be available from a US based retailer. This includes the three major types of guitar amplifiers, combo, amp head and pedal amps. For this edition, we ended up with a short list of 37 amps (see the list in the Music Gear Database), which then entailed the gathering and analyzing of over 28,300 reviews, ratings and forum discussions, including the most recent ones up to December of 2022. All these data were then fed into the Gearank Algorithm, which gave us the rating scores out of 100 for each amp. This allowed us to zero in on what the market truly considers as the best amps in this price range, divided into three categories: Combo Amps, Amp Heads and Pedal Amps. 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.

Before I simplified my rig with guitar processors, I owned and used a number of Fender amps. My dad now owns my old Fender Frontman practice amp, and amazingly, it still works well! These days, I still get to play on a Fender Mustang amp which I gave to my son, hence my admitted preference to Fender's voicing, influenced by the tone of my favorite guitarists which include Stevie Ray Vaughn and Eric Johnson.

Contributors

Raphael Pulgar: Orange Micro Dark Review
Jason Horton: Editing and Illustrating.

Media

Main/Top Image: Compiled using photographs of the Fender Mustang LT25, Orange Crush 20, Orange Crush 20RT, Orange Micro Dark and Orange Terror Stamp.

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 with the exception of the additional Orange Micro Dark photographs which were taken by Raphael Pulgar.

Comments

Absolutely agree!

Absolutely agree!
You've done a great job at picking out the best beginner and professional gear alike. I would just add the Vox Mini 5 to your fantastic list.

"Smaller speakers have more

"Smaller speakers have more articulation and emphasis in the middle frequencies, making them ideal for intimate practice, or for those who prefer the style of blues and classic rock."

Is it correct, or you mean bigger speaker instead of smaller? Thanks

Yes it is correct.

Yes it is correct.

Smaller speakers generally lack low frequency response (think laptop speakers), which result in more pronounced middle frequencies. This mid frequency bump is appealing to guitarists, as it emphasizes picking attack and dynamics.

Bigger speakers are fuller sounding because they can handle lower frequencies better, but this same bass tends to drown some of the middle frequencies.

Today we removed the

Today we removed the following amp from our recommended list above due to a price increase, but you can still read our analysis of it: Marshall MG30CFX.

Thank you very much for

Thank you very much for pointing that out - I've corrected the mistake above.

Hey I just want to mention

Hey I just want to mention that BOSS KATANA 50 is one of the best solid state for the money right now
Its 1x12, practicable, gigable and recordable tone amp
So, I think it is going to beat all of this list
Thx

Our data supports this

Our data supports this comment - the Boss Katana-50 currently has a Gearank score of 90 - read more about it at Amazon.com.

The only reason its not currently in our recommended list above is because it was released the month after we published this guide - there's a very good chance the Katana-50 will be included when we update this guide.

An update to the above

An update to the above comment - the Boss Katana-50 now has a street price above $200 so it's no longer eligible for this guide.