The Best Cheap Guitar Amps Under $200

Budget Guitar Amps

This guide is designed to help anyone who is currently looking for a good inexpensive guitar amplifier. We have only included combo amps which you can take out of the box and start using immediately without having to buy an additional speaker cabinet.

Methodology

We started our search with combo amps designed primarily for electric guitars in the sub $200 price range, and we limited our search to gear that are available from major online music gear retailers in the USA. The reviews of both users and experts were processed by Gearank's algorithm, we then narrowed down the list to 10 amps that ranked 90 and above. For more information about this process see How Gearank Works. If you are looking for acoustic-electric guitar amplifiers, see our Acoustic Guitar Amp Guide.

Things to Consider When Buying a Budget Electric Guitar Amp

  • Power Rating

    The power rating of amplifiers give you a good idea of how loud an amplifier can go. So if you'll only be using the amp mostly for practice, sticking to low wattage amps like 20W combos will easily suffice. Louder and more powerful amps on the other hand are a bit pricier but they have enough power for performing in small to medium sized venues. They are ideal if you are planning/starting to gig.

  • Speaker Size

    The difference will usually be subtle for a beginner's ear, but generally speaking, the bigger the speaker, the more low-end it can reproduce, making them ideal for live performances and for low note riffs that are common in modern rock and metal music. Smaller speakers have more articulation and emphasis in the middle frequencies, making them ideal for intimate practice, and for those who prefer the style of blues and classic rock.

  • Amp Modeling/Channels

    Most guitar amplifiers in the sub $200 price range are packed with multiple "amp models" (some manufacturers call this "channels" but it is the same principle) that let you switch between different sounds. The more the 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. If you are the type who can benefit from tonal variety then you should consider these features highly, just be careful not to be too distracted by them. Note that although some of these amps have a quite a few effects available most of them limit you to using a few at once and only in certain combinations. So be sure to check whether any particular effect combinations you need are available.

  • Solid State vs Tube

    For beginners and students of the instrument, solid state amplifiers with digital amp modelling and built in effects are usually the most versatile and practical option at this price range. They can give you a chance to experience a wider range of amp tones so you can find what works for you. There was a time when all tube amps were recognised 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 (there is only one in this list) and the modelling amps are now recognised as producing some pretty convincing versions of the classics. There are a few amps which incorporate a tube along with solid state amplification and digital modelling. This option may not impress the tube purists but at least you can say you've (kind of) got a tube amp. One thing to be aware of is that tube amps have traditionally been a bit less reliable than solid state ones, sometimes requiring tubes to be replaced and a few users have reported issues with the tubes in some of the amps in this list.

  • Direct Recording, Tuning and Other Features

    USB connectivity is now becoming standard to 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. If you are not into tweaking and recording, then you can go for more streamlined plug-and-play amps.

The Best Guitar Amps Under $200

We incidentally ended up with a list of top 10 amps that scored 90 and up, with Fender capturing three spots with their top rated entry-level amps. These amps cover a wide range of musical styles, from classic blues to modern metal, so whatever your preferences are, you'll find a suitable amp right here.

Fender Mustang I v2

93
GEARANK

93 out of 100. Incorporating 750+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$120
Fender Mustang I v2

The Fender Mustang I v.2 tops our list with its sound quality and versatility. It starts off with Fender's great sounding clean tone which legendary artists like Kurt Cobain, Eric Clapton, John Lennon, George Harrison and many more used to make their chart topping music. But it doesn't end there because it adds multiple amp models, a huge library of effects and other useful features - making it easily standout as the best value guitar amplifier in the market today. From quiet practice to jamming, to direct recording, this amplifier can do it all and it doesn't even get close to the $200 ceiling price.

Features:

  • 20W Modeling Amp
  • 1x8" Speaker
  • 18 Amp Models and 37 Effects
  • Onboard Chromatic Tuner
  • Headphones Output
  • Aux Input
  • USB connectivity
  • Bundled with Ableton Live 8 Fender Edition
  • Weight: 17 lbs.

Pros

Users and experts alike love everything about this amp, from its genuine sounding Fender clean tone, to the quality of its digitally processed effects and amp models, to its direct USB recording capability. A lot of users were floored by the Mustang I v2's quality, especially when considering its ridiculously low price, and almost everyone alludes to it being the best amp out there for the price.

Cons

There were some complaints about the amp producing unwanted "hum", but it may very well be a setting issue (gain or effects set improperly like all the way up). There were also some who did not quite like the high-gain metal tones, but this can be a matter of taste and experience.

Overall

This is a great budget friendly amp that even experienced players found to be inspiring and useful, and it gets our top recommendation.

Blackstar ID:Core Stereo 20

91
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$150
Blackstar ID:Core 20W

Blackstar has grown to be a big name in the guitar amplifier industry, thanks to their versatile tones that satisfy modern players. To be specific, it is their high-gain tones that impressed players, including virtuosi players like Gus G and Fredrick Akesson, Richie Sambora and more. And this same high-gain tone is now made accessible to more players with the ID:Core Stereo 20, along with other overdrive voicings, thanks to Blackstar's ISF Tone Shaping technology, which is essentially a knob that shapes the resulting sound to either American or British amp voicings.

Features:

  • Dual 10 Watts Stereo Modeling Amp
  • 2x5" Speaker
  • Blackstar ISF Tone Shaping (American to British Amp Voicing)
  • 6 Amp Models / Channels
  • Built-in Effects (Modulation, Reverb, Delay)
  • Headphones Output
  • Aux Input
  • USB connectivity
  • Weight: 11.02 lbs.

Pros

The general consensus is that this amp sounds good, good enough for appease even experts. Positive comments cits its natural sounding notes, and the amp's incredible versatility, which was implemented without confusing knobs and buttons. But it gets most of its accolade from players who love its gain/overdrive tones.

Cons

There aren't any consistent complaint about the amp, other than a few who recommend to get the bigger CORE:ID model because the pricing is not too far off.

Overall

If modern rock and metal music is what got you into guitar playing, then the ID:Core Stereo 20 will inspire you to practice longer and play better.

Orange Crush 20RT

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 40+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$189
Orange Crush 20RT

In this era where amp modeling has become the norm, it is quite a feat for a traditional amplifier to not only survive, but thrive. Even with its streamlined design, the Crush 20RT's distinct picture frame aesthetics and in-your-face overdriven tones were more than enough to get the thumbs up and recommendations of many players. This stylish rock guitar amplifier makes for a simple yet inspiring practice amp, a compact amp that brings about the Orange sound that inspired iconic artists that include Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page, Slip Knot's Jim Root, ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons, Oasis' Noel Gallagher and many more.

Features:

  • 20W Amp
  • 1x8" Speaker
  • 4-stage preamp and 2 Channels
  • 3-Band EQ
  • Built-in Reverb and Tuner
  • Cabinet Simulator Output
  • Headphones Output
  • Aux Input
  • Weight: 15.9 lbs.

Pros

The Crush 20RT's combination of killer looks and tone have endeared this amp to so many players. Almost all users love its overdriven tone, and how it can be cranked to get great tones at lower volume levels. And it's not just about the dirt channel because I found that there were some who were impressed with the sound quality of the clean channel.

Cons

There were a few that found the built-in reverb to be lacking, but this could be a preference issue, also one reviewer found that setting the reverb higher makes it sound better.

Overall

If you're looking for a plug-and-play no-frills amplifier that's easy on the eyes, ears and on your wallet, check this one out.

Vox Valvetronix VT20X

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 30+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$180
Vox Valvetronix VT20X

Vox helped define the British clean and overdriven tone back in '50, used by iconic artists the include the Beatles, Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds and many more. They have since been acquired by the Japanese company Korg which helped steer Vox to incorporate amp modeling into their amplifier designs. The Valvetronix VT20X is an excellent example of how they meld old school tube tones with modern digital sound processing.

Features:

  • 20 Watts
  • 1x8" Speaker
  • Preamp Tube: 1 x 12AX7
  • Amp Class and Bias Shift
  • 20 Amp Models and 13 Effects
  • Onboard Chromatic Tuner
  • Headphones Output
  • Aux Input
  • USB connectivity
  • Weight: 16.09 lbs.

Pros

Being a hybrid amp with an actual 12AX7 tube in the preamp section gives the VT20X a clear advantage in terms of tone, and reviews reflect this with constant mentions of the amp sounding nice and exceeding their expectations. The versatility and musicality of the amp and effects modeling got a lot of praise, they described the sound as very musical and inspiring.

Cons

There are a few who complained about hiss noise with their VT20X, and an experienced user noted that this could be fixed by replacing the 12AX7 tube. Note that you can prolong the tube's lifespan by letting the amp warm up before actually playing. Since this amp has a tube preamp section, you should expect to replace the 12AX7 tubes at some point.

Overall

If you're into the organic sound of tube, but don't want the sound limitation of basic tube amps, then the Vox VT20X is perfect for you. Just remember that you need to put in extra effort into maintaining/replacing the tube component.

Fender Mustang II v2

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 550+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$200
Fender Mustang II v2

Fender takes another spot in this list with the 40W version of their popular Mustang modeling amplifier line. The Mustang II has the same features as the 20W version, with the main difference being the increased power rating of 40W and bigger 12" speaker. The Mustang II v2 is meant to be a practice amp that you can take with you when you perform in small to medium sized venues.

Features:

  • 40W Modeling Amp
  • 1x12" Speaker
  • 18 Amp Models and 37 Effects
  • Onboard Chromatic Tuner
  • Headphones Output
  • Aux Input
  • USB connectivity
  • Bundled with Ableton Live 8 Fender Edition
  • Weight: 24 lbs.

Pros

As expected, the most favorite and widely praised feature of this amp is its Twin Reverb clean tones, which sounds as Fender'y as it can get, without the premium price tag. The amp modeling and effects feature also got a lot of commendations, saying that the quality is more than enough to make practice fun and interesting.

Cons

Interestingly, the smaller Mustang I v2 20W combo amp outranked this one, and it maybe because of the slightly heavier and bulkier profile of this amp. Being an in-between practice/jamming amp, it's not as light as other practice amps, and not loud enough as other live performance amps, and this is reflected in some of the comments who either find the amp too big, or too small depending on what they are planning to use them.

Overall

If you're looking for the best value and loudest amplifier that you can get for under $200, then the Fender Mustang II v2 is highly recommended.

Bugera V5 Infinium

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 60+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$200
Bugera V5 Infinium

Bugera is a sub-brand of the company Music Group, and as such, it is the sister company of Behringer. With that connection in mind, it's easy to connect the dots and understand what Bugera really is about, they produce premium spec amplifiers at much lower price points. Thanks to them, you can enjoy a genuine all-tube amplifier at the sub $200 price range, complete with a 12AX7 preamp tube and EL84 output tube.

Features:

  • 5W Tube Amp
  • 1x8" Speaker
  • Preamp Tube: 1 x 12AX7
  • Power Tube: 1 x EL84
  • Built-in power attenuator
  • Infinium Tube Life Multiplier
  • Headphones Output
  • Weight: 24.7 lbs.

Pros

Many agree that this affordable and compact tube amplifier produces nice and natural sounding clean to dirty-crunch tones. Even experienced players who have acquired more expensive tube amps found the Bugera V5 Infinium to be surprisingly good, to the point that they even recommend it as a great entry way into the world of tube amps. Another important feature of this amp that gets a lot of praise is its built-in attenuator, which allows you to lower the power to as low as 1/10th of a Watt, for sweet cranked tones at bedroom levels.

Cons

There are some who complained about the lack of EQ and tone shaping, but this is to be expected given the price and features. Some also complained of buzzing and muddy tone, this however maybe due to the tube needing replacement.

Overall

There's just no substitute for the organic sound of tube amps, and the Bugera V5 Infinium lets you experience this in bedroom/living room friendly volume levels, without going beyond your budget.

Marshall MG30CFX

90
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$200
Marshall MG30CFX Guitar Amp

Marshall is easily one of the most recognizable amplifier brands today, used by the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Slash, Zakk Wylde, Eric Johnson, Randy Rhodes and many other iconic guitarists. So it's not surprising at all to find them ranking in the entry level, and they did so by embracing digital sound processing while retaining their analog tonality. It may not have as many extras as other amps in this list, but it carries enough to make practice and even small venue gigging interesting.

Features:

  • 30W Amp
  • 1x10" Speaker
  • 4 Programmable Channels
  • Built-in Effects (Phaser, Chorus, Delay, Flanger, Reverb)
  • Speaker emulated Line out
  • 3-Band EQ
  • Headphones Output
  • Aux Input
  • Weight: 23.8 lbs.

Pros

The crowd favorite feature of the MG30CFX is its great emulation of the revered Marshall crunch tone. But it doesn't just stop there because many also liked the OD2 high-gain metal sound, as well as the clean tones, stating that it has a lot of low-end punch. And it also gained a lot of commendations for its ease of use, which is interesting considering that this amp is quite versatile. Simply put, the general consensus is that this amp is a great buy.

Cons

The limited number of effects, and limited ways of configuring them were brought up by some users. Some also complained about the lack of volume, but since this is meant to be a practice amplifier, this is to be expected more or less.

Overall

If you're looking for a semi-versatile practice amp that has the classic Marshall rock guitar crunch, then you can't go wrong with the MG30CFX.

Blackstar ID:Core 40

90
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$200
Blackstar ID:Core 40

Blackstar's second entry into this list is the 40 Watt version of their popular ID:Core amplifier series. It carries over the same versatility and high-gain goodness but with twice the power and bigger speakers. Since it features stereo speaker configuration, you get to utilize stereo effects better and get interesting sounds that are simply not possible with conventional single speaker combo amps.

Features:

  • Dual 20 Watts Stereo Amp
  • 2 x 6.5" Speakers
  • Blackstar ISF Tone Shaping (American to British Amp Voicing)
  • 6 Amp Models / Channels
  • Built-in 12 Effects (Modulation, Reverb, Delay)
  • Headphones Output
  • Aux Input
  • USB connectivity
  • Weight: 10.6 lbs.

Pros

Many were impressed by the tone that the ID:Core 40 can pour out of its stereo speakers, especially when the gain is cranked. And reviews constantly mention its incredibly versatility, thanks to the ISF knob. Some experienced players even commented that they found the tone to be very close to more expensive tube amps, and users have put it to good use in their bedrooms, living rooms, and offices. Some even use the amp for home recording and for band practice with great results.

Cons

There are some who complain about the lack of volume that this amp has for its power rating of 40W. Others find the controls and software companion to be a bit challenging, but this can easily be remedied by a cursory search on existing presets and user settings online.

Overall

If you're into high-gain metal and you are looking for a versatile stereo capable amplifier for practice and jamming, then get this one.

Fender Champion 40

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 550+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$180
Fender Champion 40 Guitar Amplifier 40W

Even with the alluring promise of different tones and various levels of distortion, the transparency and articulation of Fender's clean sound continues to be in demand. And this demand applies to the entry level market as well, as evidenced by the popularity of the Champion 40, which takes the old school Fender look and sound, while adding a bit of modern digital amp modeling into the mix without overcomplicating the controls. It also sports the classic Fender amp look with an intuitive interface that makes it easy on the eyes, and easy to use.

Features:

  • 40W Modeling Amp
  • 2 Channels (Blackface Clean and Multi-voice channel)
  • Rotary Voicing Knob to select from 12 amp voices
  • 1x8" Speaker
  • Rotary FX Selector (12 effects options) with FX Level
  • Headphones Output
  • Aux Input

Pros

Fender is not really known for amp modeling, but the high ratings of their entry level amps prove that at least in this market, their amp modeling has exceeded the expectations of many. There are mostly good words being said about this amp, citing its great tone, good headroom, ample versatility and light weight as laudable features. From quiet practice to small/medium venue gigs, users have found that this amplifier can do the job of an entire rig, and do so without the bulk and expense.

Cons

The aux input came up a few times, with reports of it adding unwanted hiss sound when used with a phone or tablet, but others had no problems with it. Other minor complaints were directed at the quality of some of its overdrive voicings, specifically in the higher gain settings, and its limited number of effects.

Overall

If you're not into Fender Mustang Amps with their fancy versatility, and you prefer old school streamlined Fender amp design, then go get the Champion 40.

Final Thoughts

If you're interested you can view all the guitar amps we currently have in our Music Gear Database.

If you have any questions or observations please let us know in the comments below.

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