The Best Cheap Guitar Amps Under $100 - Combo

The Highest Rated Guitar Amps Under $100

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Having limited experience or budget is not an excuse to settle for just any random amplifier. Even in the sub $100 price range, there are quality amps that are good enough to be a beater amp at home, or a portable alternative to your main amp.

Here we present you with a list of the top rated entry-level combo amps that have been making practice and playing more enjoyable for many users. This 2021 edition features a good variety of amp brands and types that cover a wide variety of tones, so you can get one that better fits your preference and needs.

The Best Guitar Amps Under $100

Author & Contributors

Alexander BrionesAlexander Briones

He's written about and researched music gear for many years, while also serving as a music director at his local church, in addition to teaching guitar, bass and mentoring young musicians.

Blackstar Fly 3

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 4100+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$70
Blackstar Fly3 Battery Powered Guitar Combo Amplifier 3W

Blackstar’s Fly 3 is a compact, battery powered 3-watt amplifier. It is designed to be a portable amp that you can take anywhere, while still being able to produce good Blackstar quality tones.

It is meant to be the go-to amp to take along when you travel, especially ideal for use in hotels where you want good tone that will not disturb other tenants.

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. For a small amp, owners are quite pleased with the overall sound, especially when cranking up the gain. It is commonly used by guitarists who travel often, allowing them to play virtually anywhere. There are also plenty of users who are satisfied with the flexibility provided by Blackstar's ISF control.

Cons
Users caution that you'll have to purchase a power supply separately if you plan on using this amp while plugged into an outlet. There are 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 anywhere, with this portable and versatile amp.

Fender Frontman 10G

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 9100+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$80
Fender Frontman 10G 10-watt 1x6" Combo Amplifier

The Frontman 10G packs Fender's iconic clean tone and classic aesthetic styling into a compact and affordable combo amplifier

Even in this era of amp modeling and feature packed amps, the Frontman 10G still continues to be rated highly for its genuine sounding Fender style clean.

And what makes this special is that it does all this with a 10-Watt amp, a small 6.5" speaker, and a very affordable price point.

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
As expected, the Frontman 10G is appreciated for its Fender clean tones, which works great with many different musical styles. Even experienced musicians are pleased with how responsive the amp is, especially when in the clean tone setting. The built-in overdrive also gets a lot of thumbs up, which is described to be good for rock and blues. The amp's simple interface and classic styling also gets commended in reviews.

Cons
Compared to amps with digital modeling and effects, the Frontman 10G does not offer much flexibility.

Overall
The Frontman 10G gives you the classic Fender look and sound with simplistic control options that will not distract you from enjoying your practice.

Vox Pathfinder 10

95
GEARANK

95 out of 100. Incorporating 2850+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$90
Vox Pathfinder 10

At publication time this was the Highest Rated Guitar Amp Under $100.

The Vox Pathfinder is the cheapest way to get that trademark Vox chime in a portable package.

This amp is meant to be minimalistic, no digital amp modeling or effects, just basic 2-band EQ, gain, volume controls and two channels that you access via the Overdrive / Clean button.

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. Reviewers appreciate how the Pathfinder 10 gets the Vox chime down with its portable profile. It also helps that it looks more like a classic Vox amp, which many appreciate.

Cons
Being a one-trick-pony, this is not for those who like to play with voicing and effects right on the amp. Some feel that the volume is a bit lacking for a 10W amp.

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

NUX Mighty Lite BT

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 700+ 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 the 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. It 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 reports of this issue are few and far in between.

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

Orange Crush 12

93
GEARANK

93 out of 100. Incorporating 850+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$99
Orange Crush 12 - 12W 1x6" Guitar Combo Amplifier

The Orange Crush 12 is an affordable solid-state combo amp that is based on the popular Rockerverb, reproducing Orange's brand of overdriven tone at a more beginner friendly price point.

It doesn't stray far from traditional combo amps, with intuitive controls and a more focused voicing that goes against the usual multiple voiced amps that are available in this price range.

And it seems to be reproducing the iconic Orange tone nicely because it has continued to secure a spot in this guide for several now.

Features:

  • Power Rating: 12-Watts
  • Speaker Size: 6”
  • Effects: Overdrive
  • Controls: Volume, Treble, Middle, Bass, Overdrive, Gain
  • Inputs/Outputs: ¼”, AUX-In, Headphone
  • Weight: 10.4 lbs
  • Dimensions (Height x Width x Depth): 11.42” x 12.01” x 6.88”

Pros
Overdriven tone is the strong suit of this amp, and this is reflected in many reviews. Users love how easy it is to get great sounding dirt tones that are ideal for rock and similar musical styles. Reliability is also another plus for many.

Cons
Orange is not as well known for clean tones or sonic versatility, so if clean tone is important to you, then this may not be a good option.

Overall
If you're a fan of Orange's brand of overdriven tones, getting this portable student friendly amp is an easy decision.

Blackstar Fly 3 Bluetooth

92
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$100
Blackstar FLY 3 Bluetooth 3W Guitar Combo Amplifier

Blackstar’s Fly 3 Bluetooth is a step up from its Fly 3 sibling, 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 its 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 volume is lacking.

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

Marshall MG10G

93
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$100
Marshall MG10G 1x10" 10-Watt Combo Guitar Amp

Marshall is easily one of the most prominent amp brands, seen in music videos and on stages world over. And thanks to the MG10G, the brand is doing just as great for students just as it is for the pros.

The MG10G is a 10-Watt combo amp with 2 channels, Clean and Overdrive.

It sports a compact profile with a single 6.5" speaker, and as such has limited control options. Controls include two volume knobs for each channel, gain knob for the overdrive channel, and a contour knob for adjusting tone/EQ.

Other features include aux input, headphones / line out.

Features:

  • Power Rating: 10-Watts
  • Speaker Size: 6.5”
  • Effects: Overdrive
  • Controls: 2 x Volume, Gain, Contour, Overdrive Switch
  • Inputs/Outputs: ¼”, AUX-In, Headphone/Line Out
  • Weight: 10.5 lbs
  • Dimensions (Height x Width x Depth): 12.3” x 11.65” x 6.8”

Pros
For a small and cheap amp, many are impressed with how good the Marshall MG10G sounds. And while many of those who commend this guitar amp are beginners, there are also experienced players who chimed in with their kudos, specifically praising it for its overdriven tone. Ease of operation and good portability are also often mentioned.

Cons
There are a few who report that the amp is a bit noisy with "hiss" sounds.

Overall
For rock music and overdriven tone - it's hard to go wrong with Marshall amplification, even in the sub $100 price range.

Things to Consider When Buying a Cheap Guitar Amp

Here we provide additional information that can help you better understand guitar amps, to make an informed selection, and lock in on a guitar amp that will fit your needs and musical preferences.

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. Most of the amps in the sub $100 price range will be around 10-watts or lower, making them ideal for home practice use.

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. Given the price limitation of $100, amps in this price range usually utilize smaller speakers, 6.5" being the most common size. But since these amps are intended for practice, the lack of bottom end may not be as noticeable.

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. In this price range, 2-band EQ controls are common, allowing for bass and treble adjustments. Some do provide more control, especially those with DSP capabilities.

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 line out jack. A headphone jack allows you to plug in your headphones for silent practicing, while line out lets you go straight to a PA system or recording console. More modern amps allow for USB connectivity, for direct computer recording. Some amps also come with software that lets you 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.

Best Guitar Amps Under $100 Selection Methodology

The first edition was published in 2018 and the current edition was published on July 20th, 2021.

The goal of this guide is to feature the best electric guitar combo amps that you can buy for less than $100, so we looked at the best rated and popular models in this price range. Aside from ratings and popularity, we also considered accessibility, so we also filtered for those that can be readily bought from major US retailers. These filters resulted in a short list of 28 sub-$100 combo guitar amps. This entailed gathering and analyzing various reviews, ratings and recommendations, including the most recent ones up to mid July of 2021. We ended up with over 38,300 data sources, more than double compared to the previous edition of this guide. All these data were then processed using the Gearank Algorithm which gave us the rating scores out of 100 that you see above. Finally we selected the highest rated options to recommend. 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

He's written about and researched music gear for many years, while also serving as a music director at his local church, in addition to teaching guitar, bass and mentoring young musicians.

Drawing from his experience in performing and recording, he teaches guitar and bass and mentors young artists to be better musicians. And when he is not busy playing or tinkering with musical gear, he puts on his entrepreneurial hat, which helps fund his passion for collecting guitars, mecha figures and Gunpla kits.

Contributors

Alden Acosta: Product research.
Mason Hoberg: Supplemental writing.
Jason Horton: Editing and illustrating.

Media

Main/Top Image: Compiled using photographs of the Vox Pathfinder 10, Orange Crush 12 and Blackstar Fly 3.

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.

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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