Practice Amps Under $200
Blackstar Fly 3
Blackstar’s Fly 3 is a portable guitar amplifier that allows you to take Blackstar's sought after overdriven tone and ISF (analog amp voicing control) wherever you want to.
This 3-Watt combo amp drives a 3" speaker, all packed inside a lightweight enclosure that's around 2 lbs.
For improved portability, this amp is designed to run on either power supply or six AA batteries.
Wrapping up its features is the addition of a built-in tape delay that is modeled after warmer sounding vintage delay pedals.
- Power Rating: 3-Watts
- Speaker Size: 3”
- Models: ISF (Infinite Shape Feature)
- Effects: Overdrive, Delay
- Controls: Gain, Volume, Overdrive Switch, EQ, Delay Level, Delay Time
- Inputs/Outputs: ¼”, AUX-In, Headphone
- Extras: ISF (Infinite Shape Feature), Can run on 6 x AA Batteries
- Weight: 2 lbs
For a small and low power amp, many are surprised at how good its tone is, especially in room settings where you don't have to drive the amp's output too hard. And as expected, most of the commendations point to the Fly 3's portability as its main asset.
There are a few who wish that the power supply is included in the package. Some users note that 3W is a little too quiet for their needs.
The Blackstar Fly 3 is a nice portable battery powered amp for those who are into Blackstar's brand of dirt and high-gain tones.
Orange Crush 12
Practice amps need not be complicated to be effective, and this is exemplified by the success of Orange Crush 12.
Unlike other practice amps that are packed with amp models and effects, this one sticks to Orange' distinct dirt tone, and based on reviews, users love this amp's easy plug-and-play design.
Rated at 12 Watts and with a 6" speaker, this amp has enough juice for personal practice and even for a small group jams.
Controls follow classic amp setup with 3-band EQ and volume, the main difference is the ability to adjust overdrive and gain independently in addition to the volume knob.
- Power Rating: 12-Watts
- Speaker Size: 6”
- Models: N/A
- Effects: Overdrive
- Controls: Volume, Treble, Middle, Bass, Overdrive, Gain
- Input/Output: ¼”, AUX-In, Headphone
- Extras: None
- Weight: 10.4 lbs
Many are impressed with how good this amp sounds, especially when considering its small 6" speaker. And the ease of getting good tone is also mentioned by users who use different guitar models and playing styles. It is also often commended for its durability and reliability.
Aside from its default Orange tone, there's not much room to play with, so this is is not ideal for those who want to try different voicings and effects right on the amp.
If you're looking for a great sounding overdriven amp with a price tag that'll be easy to justify, then this is for you.
Fender Mustang LT 25
Fender's foray into the entry level market continues to be met with rave reviews, and the LT 25 is one of their more popular amps in the sub $200 price range.
This amp is unapologetically a full on amp modeler, with 25 digital effects, 50 presets, and 20 amp models that include classic Fender tube amps.
This amp is rated at 25-Watts and has an 8" speaker, with a modern and sleek looking cabinet design.
Controls are kept to minimum, but its USB connectivity allow for software editor control.
Other features include built-in tuner, color display, aux input and headphone out.
- Power Rating: 25 Watts
- Speaker: 1 x 8"
- Models: 20
- Effects: 25
- Controls: Gain, Volume, Treble, Bass, Master, Preset Control Switches
- Input/Output: 1/4", 1/8" (Aux), 1/8" (Headphones
- Extras: USB Connectivity, Built-in Tuner and Tap Tempo
- Weight: 14.9 lbs.
This amp is often described as a great practice amp, with its good balance of features and intuitive control. Portability is also another plus, with many users using this as their main plug and play amp at home. Tone wise, users are impressed with how this amp emulates Fender's clean tones, and there are also some who love its overdriven sounds.
While this amp can go loud, there are some who report that tone degrades as you push the amp hard. Some of the presets and amp models included are also not as well received.
The Fender Mustang LT 25 is a modern practice amp with classic tone sensibilities, do check it out especially if you're a fan of Fender amp tones.
Orange Crush 20RT
At publication time this was the Highest Rated Practice Amp Under $200.
With so many feature packed amps available in this price range, it's impressive how something as simplistic as the Orange Crush 20RT retains the top spot in this list.
This amp is as old school as it gets, with a straightforward 2-channel clean/overdrive configuration, with basic controls that include gain, 3-band EQ and reverb.
Nothing about it will confuse any guitar player, regardless of skill level.
The Crush 20RT's 20W solid state amp section drives a single 8" speaker, but it also comes with a headphones out with speaker emulation in case you want to practice quietly.
Other features include a traditional Aux input port and it has a built in tuner.
- Power Rating: 20-Watts
- Speaker Size: 8”
- Models: N/A
- Effects: Distortion, Reverb
- Controls: Dirty, Treble, Middle, Bass, Gain, Clean, Reverb
- Input/Output: AUX-In, Headphone/ Line-Out
- Extras: Tuner, Voice of the World Speaker
- Weight: 15.9lbs
Solid build quality and consistent tone are two of the main characteristics that makes this the favorite practice amp of many players - so much so, that based on our analysis, it continues to be the top rated practice amp in this price bracket. For what would be considered as limited in terms of features, many are impressed at how responsive the amp's voicing is to its basic controls. This in turn gives it enough sonic flexibility to please many players. Its crunch overdriven tone is the most praised, but there are also plenty of positive comments pertaining to its clean to low gain tone. Many also report that it receives pedals well in terms of tone, much like an old school amp.
Ironically, its main strength is also its weakness, If you want more effects and voicings, then this is not for you.
If you’re looking for an easy to use practice amp with great distortion tone, the Orange Crush 20RT may be your best bet.
Practice Amps Under $500
Roland Cube Street
Roland Cube amps are known for being portable and beginner friendly, this includes the Cube Street, a 2-channel 5-Watt amp with mic and guitar inputs ideal for budding singer songwriters and multi-instrumentalists.
The guitar / instrument channel comes with 8 amp models and 6 built-in effects, all of which are based on Roland's COSM modeling - the same technology found in Boss guitar processors.
What makes this a good practice amp is its wedge type profile, making it easier to align the amp's dual 6.5" speakers to your ears much like a floor monitor would, allowing you to better hear your playing, which is of utmost importance in both practice and performance.
Also, you can run the Roland Cube Street on 6 x AA batteries, making it possible for you to practice or even perform anywhere.
- Power Rating: 5-Watts
- Speaker Size: 2x6.5”
- Models: 8 COSM Amp Models
- Effects: Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, Tremolo, Delay, Reverb
- Controls: Mic Channel (Bass, Treble, Delay/Reverb), Guitar Channel (Bass, Middle, Treble, Effects, Delay/Reverb)
- Input/Output: 1/4", XLR-1/4" Combo, 1/8" (Aux), 1/4" Headphones Out
- Extras: Runs on 6 x AA Batteries
- Weight:11.46 lbs
Owners of this amp appreciate how it simplified their busking and practice rig, removing the need for a separate amp for mics. The sound of the amp also gets a lot of thumbs up, especially its clean tones, and its modulation effects.
Given the smaller size of its speaker and limited power rating, there are some who report that it sounds too trebly. Lack of nifty features like a line-out jack would've been a great addition, to better utilize the amp as a monitor.
If you're looking for an affordable and portable practice guitar amp with dedicated mic channel, then check out the Roland Cube Street.
The Yamaha THR10II is a portable guitar amplifier with a distinct desktop friendly rectangular profile, designed to better fit into and meet the needs of modern home recording studios.
To meet the need of plugging in different instrument types, the THR10II features 15 guitar amp models, 3 bass amp models, 3 mic amp models and a flat mode.
It also houses different effect types that include different types of modulation, delay and reverb.
Rounding out its modern features include Bluetooth support for streaming audio, USB direct recording and preset editing, and built-in tuner.
- Power Rating: 20-Watts
- Speaker Size: 2 x 3”
- Models: 15 Guitar Amps, 3 Bass Amps, 3 Mic Amps, Flat Mode
- Effects: Reverb(Spring/Hall), Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, Tremolo, Echo, Compressor, Noise Gate
- Controls: Amp, Gain, Master, Bass, Middle, Treble, Effect, Echo/Rev, Output (Guitar/Audio), User Preset Buttons and Tap Tempo Button
- Input/Output: 1 x 1/4", 1 x 1/8" (Aux In)
- Extras: Bluetooth Connectivity, Built-in Tuner and Tap Tempo
- Weight: 6.61 lbs
What's great about the Yamaha THR10II is that it appeals to both beginners and experienced musicians - and this is what we've seen in reviews. Students love how easy it is to setup and use, and how it works nicely with computer setups and media players for convenient practice. Experienced musicians on the other hand appreciate its multi-instrument compatibility and recording functionality. For a small amp with 3" speakers, many are also impressed with the quality of its sound given the low expectation in terms of volume.
Speaking of volume, don't expect much from this small amp. This is not like traditional amps that you can carry for jams or band practice.
If you're looking for a practice amp that can double as your main home recording amp, then this is for you.
At publication time this was the Equal Highest Rated Practice Amp from $300 to $500 along with the Yamaha THR30II.
There's no denying the big influence of Marshall's crunch tone in rock music, and the DSL1CR gives you just that in a compact and practice friendly package.
It sports the familiar configuration of having two ECC83 preamp tubes and an ECC82 poweramp tube, but since it is rated at 1W, you can crank this all-tube amp at much lower volumes than regular Marshall amps.
And since 1W tube amps can still be quite loud, this amp comes with a power attenuator switch at the back so you can lower the power rating to 0.1W. This way you can crank it further without disturbing your loved ones or your neighbors.
This amp has two channels: Classic Gain and Ultra Gain, and drives an 8" Celestion Eight 15 speaker.
- Power Rating: 1W / 0.1W (Via Low Power Button)
- Preamp Tube: 2 x ECC83
- Poweramp Tube: 1 x ECC82
- Speaker: 1 x 8" Celestion Eight 15
- Effects: Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, Tremolo, Delay, Reverb
- Input/Output: 1/4" Instrument, 1/8" Aux, 1 x 1/8" (Softube Emulated out), 1 x 1/4" (Internal Speaker)
- Controls: Classic Gain Channel: Volume, Ultra Gain Channel: Gain, Volume, Treble, Middle, Bass, Reverb
- Extras: Power Attenuator (0.1W)
- Weight: 17 lbs
As expected, most of the positive reviews are from those who love the amp's signature Marshall overdriven tone. And thanks to its power attenuation, users are happy that they can conjure their favorite rock tones without disturbing their loved ones and neighbors. There also many who describe this amp as very pedal friendly.
There are some who aren't as impressed with its clean and low gain setting.
If you want nothing less than Marshall's iconic crunch tone for low volume practice, then get the DSL1CR.
Yamaha THR30II Wireless
At publication time this was the Equal Highest Rated Practice Amp from $300 to $500 along with the Marshall DSL1CRI.
The THR30II is part of Yamaha's desktop friendly line of guitar amplifiers, meant to better address the need of modern computer-based home studios. And since home recording via computer is now the norm, this amp continues to be in demand.
It's distinct profile allows it to sit on a desk, which means that you won't have to awkwardly reach down to make amp setting adjustments.
Compared to the THR10II, this particular model is a step up in terms of size and volume, rated at 30 Watts and sporting two 3.5" speakers.
It comes with the same Virtual Circuitry Modeling (VCM) technology that other THR amps use, which utilizes component modeling for improved realism. Sonic options include 15 guitar amp models, 3 bass amp models, 3 mic models and a flat mode.
Other features include built-in reverb, delay and modulation effects, bluetooth compatibility and USB direct recording.
- Power: 30W
- Speaker: 2x3.5"
- Amp Modeling: 15 x Amp Models
- Effects: Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, Tremolo, Echo, Compressor, Noise Gate, Reverb
- Input/Output: 1 x 1/4", 1 x 1/8" (Aux in), 2 x 1/4" (Line out)
- Extras: Power Attenuator (0.1W)
- Weight: 9.48 lbs.
While there's no replacing conventional amps especially on stage, this amp is hard to beat when it comes to practicality and efficiency in home recording setups. Users appreciate the sound quality and extra projection that this amp provides compared to its smaller siblings, while having the same tone quality. The convenience of using just one amp for multiple instruments, for practice and for recording is also another reason why this amp is rating really well.
There are a few who wish for a version with more conventional and bigger speaker design.
If you're looking for a practical guitar amp to add to your home recording studio and you want one that's louder than the 10-Watt version then this is for you.
Practice Amps Under $1000
Quilter Mach 2 Combo 8
The Quilter Mach 2 Combo 8 provides amp modeling without digital sound processing, utilizing analog circuitry to give you 6 amp models which include Full Q, Smooth, Surf, Lead, Brown and Tweed.
Given the price, this 200-Watt 1x8" amp offers a more premium approach to modeling, which many seem to be liking.
In addition to analog amp modeling, it has a lot of tone shaping control elements including gain, EQ, filters, and there's even a built-in Boost function with 6 modes that go from flat to adding scoop EQ to adding similar effect of having an overdrive pedal in front of the amp.
Other features include having built-in reverb, tremolo and effects loop.
- Power Rating: 200-Watts
- Speaker Size: 1 x 8” Celestion TF0818 Speaker
- Models: 6 Analog Amp Models
- Effects: Reverb, Tremolo
- Controls: Gain 1, Gain 2, Boost, EQ2, Select, Bass, Mid, Treb, LIM, Trem, Rate, Rev, Tone, Dwell, Hi-Cut, Mast 1, Voice, Phase
- Input/Output: 1 x 1/4" (Instrument), 1 x XLR-1/4" Combo (Mic/Line), 1 x XLR (DI out), 2 x 1/4" (internal/external speakers)
- Extras: Expanded Tone Shaping Controls, Analog Amp Modeling
- Weight: 19 lbs
Portability and tone usually don't go hand in hand, but the Quilter Mach 2 Combo 8 seem to be successful at balancing the two, as can be seen in reviews. Users of the amp love the quality of each of the amp voicings available, and there are also many fans of the built-in multi-mode boost function. Being pedal friendly is also another cited strength, even though it also does really well as an all-in-one guitar rig.
Pricing is the main hindrance, not everyone can justify spending this much for a practice amp. But those who did get the amp feel that it is a worthy investment. There are some who feel that the bottom end is lacking, but this is more of a physical limitation given its 8" speaker.
With its great sounding analog amp models and multi-mode boost, the Quilter Mach 2 Combo 8 is a really good amp to consider.
Fender ’57 Custom Champ
At publication time this was the Highest Rated Practice Amp Under $1000.
When it comes to guitar amps, louder isn’t necessarily better. You’d be surprised how many famous recordings were made on sub-10-watt amplifiers; chief among them being Eric Clapton's Layla which was recorded on a tweed Fender Champ from the ‘50s.
The focused tone and manageable volume of a small tube amp can actually result in a huge tone when used in the studio.
The cool thing about this amp is, rather than just being a small tube amp, is a faithful reproduction of the Champ’s used on famous albums (Joe Walsh and Eric Clapton both used them extensively).
This amp is all hand-wired, uses the original 5F1 circuit, and even uses vintage yellow capacitors.
The speaker is different, though it was designed to come as close to the tone of original Champ amplifiers as possible.
Fender used the same font that was used on their '50s amps and even went so far as to include a genuine leather handle.
- Power Rating: 5-Watts
- Speaker Size: 8”
- Models: N/A
- Effects: N/A
- Controls: Volume
- Input/Output: N/A
- Extras: Protective Cover
- Weight: 16lbs.
While digital modeling is getting close, there is still room for straightforward tube amps, and this is reflected in reviews of the Fender '57 Custom Champ. Users are simply blown away by its clear and transparent tube tone. It is also described as pedal friendly, and its low wattage makes it easier to crank even at lower volumes which makes practice more inspiring - and not to mention making the amp viable for home recording. Build quality of the amp also gets a lot of thumbs up.
The only thing that’s not to like about this amp is that it only has a volume control, so all adjustments besides that will have to come from either your pedals or your guitar.
This Fender '57 Custom Champ is a no-brainer for fans of the classic Fender tone, be it for practice or for recording. It's quite the investment but if you go by what the market says - this amp is definitely worth it.
Things to Consider When Buying a Small Amp or Practice Amp
Practice Friendly Features
Musicians used to have to use external pieces of equipment to help them practice, whether that was jamming along to their favorite CDs or practicing scales to a metronome. However, as guitar amps have become more complex, they have incorporated most of what a guitarist needs right into the amp.
Most practice amps come with, at the very least, an AUX-in and a headphone-out. The AUX-in allows you to plug in a different device and have its audio come through the speakers (some amps even come with backing tracks, though they are more limited than what you can find online). This is a huge help if you’re running through backing tracks. A headphone-out lets you play through headphones, which is a must-have feature if you’re looking to practice silently.
There are also two features which are becoming more popular on practice amps: a metronome and a looper. A metronome plays notes at a consistent speed which, when you play along with it, can help you develop your sense of time. A looper records a small section of audio and plays it back, allowing you to essentially be your own rhythm guitarist (which is great for practicing improv.). Other features to look out for include having a built-in metronome and power attenuation for getting good tones at bedroom volume levels.
There are two main reasons two have a small amp: quiet home practice and warming up before a gig. Portable amps can be quite convenient for home practice, since you can easily move it around with you, and practice wherever you feel like playing. If you’re in the latter category, you’re going to want to look for a relatively light amplifier. As long as your amplifier has an 8” or less speaker it should remain pretty portable, though if tone isn’t a prime concern it you could hunt down a micro amp (an amp which is roughly the size of a coffee mug).
Power Rating and Speaker Size
When you see an amp advertised as “number”-watts, that’s referring to its power rating. As a general rule, the higher and amp’s power rating the louder it is going to be. For gigging, a 100-watt solid-state amp will usually suffice. But for practicing, as long as it’s audible to you there’s not really a set amount of wattage you need.
Speaker size is another important specification to look at. Generally speaking smaller speakers have a hard time producing low-end frequencies, making the sound they produce perceived as being “thinner” than the sound you’d get from a larger speaker - especially when playing with others. However, as speaker size gets bigger amps get bulkier and heavier.
Thankfully, speaker size does not matter as much for solo practice, especially when amps utilize modeling and cabinet simulation.
Performance (Tone/Channels/Amp Models etc.)
Good and bad tone is extremely relative. It’s impossible to objectively say that one piece of equipment sounds bad and another sounds good, or even that one piece of equipment is better than another. However, when looking at groups of practice amps there are a few qualities that are desirable.
The main thing that you want to look for if you’re going to use an amp as a dedicated practice tool is a tone that facilitates whatever genre of music you want to play. If you want to play country, an amp that has decent cleans is right up your alley. Similarly, if you want a metal amp you’re going to want an amp that’s focused on that.
A cool component of modern amps is that many have the capability to model different amp cabinets, which changes the shape of your sound. You can set your amp to model the response of a 4x12 stack, giving it way more depth and presence. Similarly, you can set it to have a response more similar to a small combo, focusing its tone and punch. You can also set it somewhere in the middle.
Many amps also come with different channels, generally in the form of either a clean or distorted setting. These two settings allow you to easily flip from very clean to distorted which gives you a wider array of tones you can produce.
Many practice amps double as modeling amps, featuring presets of famous effects. Amps that do this generally include an example of everything, so you have basic settings for: distortion, overdrive, fuzz, delay, and modulation (chorus, flange, phase, tremolo, and vibrato).
The benefit you’re going to get from built-in effects depends on what you’re going to want to do. If you want to play a bunch of different genres, odds are that an amp with a bunch of built-in effects is going to be an asset. However, if you don’t plan on using effects you can get a better amp for your money if you don’t buy one with built-in effects (though this does depend on your budget).
Best Practice Amp Selection Methodology
While there is no universal definition of a practice amp, for the purposes of this guide we defined them as combo electric guitar amps weighing no more than 20 lbs. In addition to meeting those specifications, to be eligible for this guide an amp had to be available from a USA based retailer.
For this 2020 update, we ended up with 68 amps on our short-list, which entailed analysis of over 27,500 review and rating sources - more than double compared to the previous edition. We looked at and analyzed relevant reviews, ratings, forum discussions and expert recommendations, including the most recent ones up to September of 2020. These were then processed via the Gearank Algorithm, which gave us the rating scores out of 100 that we used to recommend only the best of the best. Finally we divided the list into different price categories to make it easier for you to see which ones fit your budget. For more information about our methods see How Gearank Works.