The Best Guitar Amps Under $100 - Combo Models

Budget Guitar Amps

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The guitar amp is an integral part of your electric guitar tone, but not everyone can justify dropping hundreds (or even thousands!) of dollars on a guitar amp. Thankfully, there are now plenty of options in the sub $100 price range, albeit a little too many.

So after analyzing the amps that are available for under $100, we have come up with a list of top rated amps that we can recommend, based on the most recent review and rating data up to July of 2019.

The Best Guitar Amps Under $100

Fender Frontman 10G

89
GEARANK

89 out of 100. Incorporating 1450+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$60
Fender Frontman 10G 10-watt 1x6" Combo Amplifier

Fender’s Frontman 10G is a tried and tested amp for beginning musicians, and is arguably one of the most common and revered practice amps currently produced. The amp, weighing in at just 8.5 pounds, has a great mid-ranged focus Fender-style clean. Though the amp is does only come with a 6.5” speaker, the clean response actually compares pretty favorably to the larger amps in the Frontman series.

Features

  • Power Rating: 10-Watts
  • Speaker Size: 6”
  • Effects: Overdrive
  • Controls: Gain, Volume, Treble, Bass, Overdrive Switch
  • Inputs/Outputs: ¼”, AUX-In, Headphones
  • Weight: 8.5 lbs
  • Dimensions (Height x Width x Depth): 11” x 10.25” x 5.75”

Pros
The Fender Frontman 10G is most commended for its clean tone, but there are also many who are pleased with its built-in overdrive which works well with blues and rock styles. It also helps that the Frontman10G has a clean interface and classic look that matches its tone.

Cons
The built-in overdrive is is not meant to pump out high gain tone, so there's not much flexibility in terms of tone. There are also no extras like other built-in effects.

Overall
If you're looking for a plug-and-play amp with less gimmicks, then this is the amp for you.

Blackstar Fly 3

92
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$65
Blackstar Fly3 Battery Powered Guitar Combo Amplifier 3W

Blackstar’s Fly 3 is a compact, battery powered 3-watt amplifier. Aside from the Fly 3’s portability, a huge feature that works in this amps favor is that it has a really impressive sound considering the size of its speaker. Coupled with the amps portability, the Blackstar Fly 3 is a great amp to take along when you travel, especially when taking private lessons. An interesting feature of this amp is Blackstar’s ISF control, which can best be thought of as the combination of a tone control and a voicing switch. The amp also comes with “tape” delay, which models the more “organic” tone of vintage delay devices.

Features

  • Power Rating: 3-Watts
  • Speaker Size: 3”
  • Effects: Overdrive, Delay
  • Controls: Gain, Volume, Overdrive Switch, EQ, Delay Level, Delay Time
  • Inputs/Outputs: ¼”, AUX-In, Headphone
  • Weight: 2 lbs
  • Dimensions (Height x Width x Depth): 6.6” x 5” x 4”

Pros
The Fly3 is commended mostly for its portability, especially with its battery power capability. There are also plenty of users who are satisfied with the flexibility provided by Blackstar's ISF control. For a small amp, users are quite pleased with the overall sound, especially when cranking up the gain.

Cons
Be aware of that if you plan on using it without batteries, you'll have to purchase a power supply separately. There are also some who feel that the volume is a bit lacking, but this is to be expected, given its size.

Overall
There's no more reason for you to skip practice or jams with this portable and versatile amp.

Vox Pathfinder 10

89
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$90
Vox Pathfinder 10

The Vox Pathfinder is arguably the cheapest way to get that trademark Vox chime in a portable package. A cool thing about this amplifier is that it’s pretty minimalistic, which depending on what you’re looking for can actually work in an amp’s favor. There are times where you just want an amp for a particular tone or purpose, and that is exactly what the Pathfinder 10 gives you, a plug-and-play compact alternative to big Vox amps.

Features

  • Power Rating: 10-Watts
  • Speaker Size: 6.5”
  • Effects: Overdrive
  • Controls: Gain, Treble, Bass, Volume, Overdrive Switch
  • Inputs/Outputs: ¼”, Headphones
  • Weight: 10 lbs
  • Dimensions (Height x Width x Depth): 10.24” x 14.96” x 6.69”

Pros
Many smaller amps don’t retain the tone of their namesakes, instead they sound weak and uninspired overall, thankfully, this isn’t the case for the Vox Pathfinder 10. Aside from getting the Vox chime right, this amp is also well loved for its portability and simplicity. It also helps that it looks more like a classic Vox amp, which many appreciate.

Cons
Some feel that the volume is a bit lacking for a 10W amp, but that maybe more of a preference issue. Being a one-trick-pony, this amp is not for those who like to play with amp models and effects.

Overall
If you're a fan of Vox, or you're into UK style tones, then this is the perfect portable amp for you.

Blackstar Fly 3 Bluetooth

93
GEARANK

93 out of 100. Incorporating 50+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$95
Blackstar FLY 3 Bluetooth 3W Guitar Combo Amplifier

Blackstar’s Fly 3 Bluetooth is a step up from its Fly 3 brother, carrying over the same compact profile and battery powered design, only this one has bluetooth compatibility. This addition allows it to double as a wireless multimedia speaker, where you can connect your phones, tablets and computers. Its main tone shaping control is Blackstar's ISF control which lets you adjust the voicing of the amp from American to UK style via a single knob. It also comes with delay effects, aux input and speaker emulated output.

Features

  • Power Rating: 3-Watts
  • Speaker Size: 3”
  • Effects: Overdrive, Delay
  • Controls: Gain, Volume, Overdrive Switch, EQ, Delay Level, Delay Time
  • Inputs/Outputs: ¼”, AUX-In, Headphone
  • Weight: 2 lbs
  • Dimensions (Height x Width x Depth): 6.7” x 5” x 4”

Pros
The addition of Bluetooth connectivity adds to it's overall usability, which in turn ups the value that you are getting for the money. This is reflected in a number of reviews where users are simply happy to find this very convenient and truly mobile guitar amplifier. Many are also impressed with its tone, which many consider as really close to how bigger Blackstar amps sound.

Cons
The need to buy a power supply separately is a nuisance for some people, while others feel that the projection is lacking.

Overall
With its Bluetooth connectivity, the already versatile Fly 3 is now even more versatile and functional.

NUX Mighty Lite BT

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 70+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$99
NUX Mighty Lite BT

The NUX Mighty Lite BT is as feature packed as it gets for an affordable and portable guitar amp. To start off, it lets you switch between 3 channels - clean, overdrive and distortion. It also comes with two of the most commonly used effects - delay and reverb. But what makes it stand out is its built-in drum patterns which also includes a metronome - making the Mighty Lite BT a true student friendly piece of gear. For real-time control over the timing of delay effect and drums, the amp comes with a tap tempo control. You can also wirelessly play your favorite tracks on the amp via Bluetooth. Finally, the amp can run on a 9V power supply or via USB connection. It can also run on 6 x AA batteries for true mobility.

Features

  • Power Rating: 3-Watts
  • Speaker Size: 3”
  • Effects: Overdrive, Delay
  • Controls: Knobs: Gain, Volume, Tone, Delay/Reverb | OD/DIST, Drums, Play/Pause, Tap
  • Inputs/Outputs: ¼”, AUX-In, Headphone, USB
  • Weight: 2.25 lbs
  • Dimensions (Height x Width x Depth): 6.5” x 3.9” x 4.9”

Pros:
The NUX Mighty Lite BT continues to meet, if not exceed the expectations of those who bought the amp. Feature and spec-wise, you'll be hard pressed to find one that can match it in this price range - so value for money is its main strength. Interestingly, this amp gets a lot of complements pertaining to its overdriven tone, while others are impressed with its practice friendly features. The ability to be powered via USB or via batteries also make this amp incredibly mobile.

Cons
There are some who have minor beef with the Mighty Lite BT's dirt channel. There are a few who report that the amp restarts itself, indicating a software issue, but they are few and far in between.

Overall
If you're looking for a student-friendly mobile guitar amplifier, then check this one out!

Boss Katana Mini

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 250+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$100
Boss Katana Mini 7W Combo Amp

The Katana Mini is a portable sized option from Boss’s popular Katana series. The Katana series can best be thought of as Boss’s answer to Fender’s Mustang line, featuring a variety of onboard effects and amp models. The Mini scales back some of the offering of the larger amps in the line, but with that in mind it still packs in plenty of great features. The amp comes with three different voicings: brown, crunch, and clean. Brown is a Marshall voiced amp, crunch features higher gain, and the amp also comes with a clean voicing (like based of the JC-120). The Katana Mini also comes with delay, which on lower settings can be used to somewhat resemble reverb.

Features

  • Power Rating: 7-Watts
  • Speaker Size: $”
  • Effects: Distortion, Delay
  • Controls: Gain, Amp Type, Volume, Bass, Middle, Treble, Time, LEvel
  • Inputs/Outputs: 1/4”, AUX-In, Headphones
  • Weight: 2 lbs 11 oz
  • Dimensions (Height x Width x Depth) 7.13” x 9.06” x 4.63”

Pros
Between these three different models the Katana Mini offers enough flexibility for most musical styles. The built-in 'crunch' overdrive that comes with this amp is good enough for blues and classic rock. There are also plenty of users who are impressed with the built-in effects, which is not surprising given that this amp is from Boss.

Cons
Some users give it slightly lower scores because the the power supply is sold separately. There are also those who feel that it should've come with built-in reverb.

Overall
With Boss' reputation for quality and reliability, the Katana Mini is a great compact amp to add into your arsenal.

Things to Consider When Buying a Guitar Amp for Under $100

If you’re not sure where to start when buying a guitar amp, or you just want to brush up on your background knowledge before throwing any money down, check out the sections below!

  • Power Rating

    The power rating of an amp, also known as its wattage, is a good indicator of the amount of volume an amp will have. However, it’s important to know how wattage and volume relate to each other.

    A 10-watt amplifier is going to be (roughly) twice as loud as a 1-watt amplifier, and half as loud as a 100-watt amplifier. Wattage is a better indicator of “headroom”, which is how loud an amplifier can be turned up before it starts to distort.

    As a general rule, when it comes to wattage 100-watts is usually enough to gig with. 10-watts is enough to easily be audible in a home or apartment, and 1-watt is great if you’re looking to play without (overly) disturbing others.

  • Speaker Size

    Speakers come in all shapes and sizes, with the most common (and tonally balanced) being 12” speakers. The bigger the speaker the warmer and more bass focused its tone is going to be, while smaller speakers generally have a thinner and brighter tone.

    However, there are amps that are exceptions to this rule. Some manufactures use specially designed speakers that, while small, still produce a really full and musical tone.

  • Tone Shaping Controls (EQ)

    Almost every amp comes with tone shaping controls, otherwise known as an EQ section (generally labeled on an amplifier as bass, middle, and treble). These controls change the tone of your instrument. Tone is best defined as the combination of harmonics, sustain, and frequency response (which is controlled by the EQ sections mentioned above) produced by your guitar and amplifier.

  • Built-In Effects

    Many amps come with built-in effects, with the most commonly found ones being reverb and distortion. Distortion is what gives rock, blues, and metal their trademark tone. Reverb makes your guitar sound like it’s being played in a large room.

    The cool thing about built-in effects is that they give you more options when you’re dialing in your tone, and they make it possible to play different genres. However, they do increase the price of the amp. If you’re on a budget it’s better to find an amp that only features the effects you can reasonably see yourself using, rather than trying to find an amp with as many effects as possible.

  • Outputs

    Many amps come with extra outputs, with the most common being a headphone jack and a USB out. A headphone jack allows you to plug in your headphones for silent practicing, and a USB out allows you to plug your amp into your computer for easy recording. Some amps also come with software that, when your amp is plugged into a computer via the USB jack, allows you to edit various parameters of your amp.

    Some amps also come with output jacks that allow you to plug your amp into extension speaker (a different speaker that either works with or separate from the speaker already in your amp) or a P.A.

Best Guitar Amps Under $100 Selection Methodology

First published on Feb. 5, 2018 written by Mason Hoberg and last updated on Jul 9, 2019 by Alexander Briones.

For this 2019 update, some of the amps from our initial short list are no longer available, so we ended up with a slightly shorter list of 24 sub-$100 combo guitar amps - all of which are available from major American online retailers. We then gathered relevant reviews and ratings data for each of them, which went up to over 8300 sources, including the most recent ones. All these data were then processed with the Gearank Algorithm to calculate the scores out of 100 you see above. Finally we selected the highest rated options to recommend, and arranged them according to price. For more information about this process see How Gearank Works

Comments

A combo amp has been

A combo amp has been redefined since modelling and effects have become pretty much standard. Having Overdrive is no longer considered a combo amp by anyone's definition/interpretation. Even adding reverb is more old school combo category. And the battery operated amps, essentially a park bench practice amp, those are a different category altogether. That said, the Fender Champion 20 is the only one of this bunch that anyone would classify as a combo amp. The rest of them are basic relics from an era long past. Doesn't mean they aren't any good, they're just practice amps either way. Saying that clean mode/tones are an amps strongest, commended/revered feature is just laughable in 2019, any amp should play clean tones, a Donner DEA-1 10W saves you a few bucks. easily as good as a Frontman 10g and has a 3 EQ vs the Fenders 2 EQ controls.

A combo amp isn't defined by

A combo amp isn't defined by effects or signal processing but simply by the fact that they have the amp and speaker combined into a single cabinet.

The other type is an Amp Head which typically doesn't include speakers - like these.

What you're talking about sounds more like a description of Solid State Amps, and I would agree that modeling/effects are changing the definition of those.

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