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

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.

Blackstar Fly 3

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 3900+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$75
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.

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Premier Guitar Shawn Hammond 87.5/100
The Gear Page Jackstand Johnny 96/100
Guitar Songs Masters Alon Cooper 90/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Fender Frontman 10G

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 10550+ 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.

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Equipboard francesco_sartori_2 60/100
Audiofanzine le troll 80/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

NUX Mighty Lite BT

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 850+ 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!

Rating Source Highlight

Website Source *Rating Value
YouTube Landon Bailey 97/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

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

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.

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.