Plugging into one of the best beginner guitar amps may be the first step on the road to realizing your dream of becoming a bonafide electric guitar god. After all, there are few greater joys than the marriage of an electric guitar and a great-sounding guitar amp.
We still have a lot of love for the acoustic guitar, but there's something exhilarating about the fusion of electric guitars and amps, that you just can’t beat. If you're still weighing up what to buy, do check out our guide on acoustic vs electric guitar: which is better for beginner guitarists?
It's safe to say that the quality of beginner guitar amps is better than ever - you can now get those stadium rock sounds at home without blowing the windows out! If you're new to the world of beginner guitar amps, then you have come to the right place. In this guide, we will walk you through the best options available today, and give you expert advice on what to look out for when picking your first amplifier.
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Best beginner guitar amps: Guitar World's choice
For us, there is one clear winner for the best beginner guitar amp - the Boss Katana 50. Boss took the guitar world by storm with the release of their latest modeling amp, and for good reason. This amp perfectly balances cost, versatility, and portability, making it an obvious choice for the beginner guitar player.
The Katana comes fully loaded with an array of amp models and access to the effects that made Boss a household name. We would say it's pretty much impossible to get a bad sound out of this amplifier. Crucially, the Katana has various power modes, from 0.5W to 50W, meaning it's got enough power to hold its own at your first rehearsals or even your first gigs. So, if you're serious about putting yourself out there, this versatile combo covers all the bases.
Best beginner guitar amps: Product guide
Boss is one of the guitar industry’s best-known brands, largely due to its incredible history in the world of effects pedals. The Boss Katana 50 MKII takes this heritage and translates it into one of the best value beginners’ guitar amps on the planet.
For a shade over $/£200 you get five different amp voicings, along with 60 different effects, so there is something tonally here for anybody. Add extra features like a USB PC interface, so you can record onto your computer, and you have a pretty compelling package.
Plus, with 50 watts of power and a 1x12 speaker, you've got a combo that can carry you through from the bedroom to the rehearsal room and on to the stage.
The Blackstar Fly 3 Bluetooth is the perfect beginners’ amp for anybody short on space. Weighing in at under 1kg, this tiny amp delivers a surprising amount of volume through its 3-inch speaker, while the two channels ensure you can alternate between a rich clean sound and something a touch hairier. The inclusion of a delay effect will help round out your sound too.
We like the way you can connect two Fly 3 amps in stereo, while adding Bluetooth inside for jamming to backing tracks or music streaming offers an extra element of usefulness.
It's a killer purchase for guitarists on the move – whatever your ability – and especially ideal for university students and anyone who needs to keep the volume down.
As perhaps music’s most recognisable guitar brand, it’s reasonable to expect something good from Fender. With the Fender Mustang LT 50, we weren’t disappointed. While this amp is classed as single-channel, in reality packs in 20 different amp voicings for you to choose from, as well as a small selection of good quality effects.
We found its preset ability useful; with so much in the way of choice from various amps and effect voicings, it was nice to be able to store the ones we liked for quick recall later. An excellent addition to our best beginner guitar amps guide.
The Vox VX15 GT is a little different from the other amps on this list. Rather than the standard construction usually found on practice amps, the Vox opts for an ultra-lightweight sealed cabinet made of ABS with a bass-reflex design. This unique design gives your tone the tight low-end you’re looking for and ensures all the sound is projected forward, where it is needed most.
This amp has an impressive range of sounds onboard, from vintage AC30 tones to killer high-gain metal sounds, meaning it's never been easier to find a tone you love, no matter your playing style or inspiration.
Read our full Vox VX15 GT review
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For smartphone or tablet owners, the IK Multimedia iRig Micro Amp is particularly interesting. This tiny amp connects to your mobile device and, through its Amplitube app, allows you to access loads of different amp voices, cabinets, effects and other tools.
The iRig Micro can be powered by a power supply, or by six AA batteries, making it both portable and versatile which, when it comes to the best beginner guitar amps, is a superb combination of features.
There's no doubt that the Yamaha THR10II is one of the best desktop guitar amps you can get your hands on. This mighty little amp offers a wide range of tonal options in a compact, stylish package that fits in any room.
Straight out the box, this amp offers five incredibly realistic amp models and an array of studio-quality effects, as well as one bass guitar model and an acoustic guitar option. If this wasn't enough, the mobile editor app allows you access to even more sounds at the touch of a button.
So if you're tight on space but looking for an amp that delivers big on tone, then look no further than the Yamaha THR10II.
If the promise of multiple amp voicings doesn’t appeal to you, and you just want one solid, high quality sound to work with, then the Blackstar HT-1R may be the best beginner guitar amp for you.
It’s an all-tube amp, meaning you get those glorious tones the professionals rave on about, yet in a package small enough to suit a beginner – and, thankfully, means you don't need to turn it up too loud to get great sounds.
Indeed, what the HT1R lacks in features, it more than makes up for in tone and, as such, is easy for us to recommend to any beginner guitarist.
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While Marshall and Fender are arguably the better-known brands, many players gravitate towards British amp giants Orange for their high-gain needs. Put simply, the gain – or distortion – sound produced by an Orange is quite unlike any other. Thick, with oodles of mid-range girth, and a raspy high-end, the sound of an Orange at full throttle is something to behold.
The Orange Crush 20 takes all that expertise and knowledge and packs it into a 20W, beginner-friendly solid-state amplifier that’ll serve any aspiring metal player perfectly. Yes, it lacks effects of any kind, but that’s a small price to pay for such a tonally balanced amplifier.
This is the third entry for Blackstar on this list, but with an amp this good, it needed to be included. The Blackstar ID:CORE 10 is perfect for beginners looking for an easy-to-use amp that packs a punch.
Those who like to have more control over their amp can take advantage of the new Blackstar Architect software. This allows the user to customize many features of the amp, from the effects settings to the Cab Rig. This software is available for both Mac and PC.
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It would be remiss of us not to produce a list of best beginners’ amps and not include a Marshall. After much deliberation, we’ve opted for the Marshall Code 25, which is a solid-state/digital hybrid with all manner of amp models and effects included.
What appealed to us about the Code series was the impressive number of amp combinations you can choose from. With 14 preamps, four power amps and eight speaker emulations, there is a tonal combo here for everyone. That’s before you get into the included 24 digital effects, which can even be controlled from your mobile device via Bluetooth.
Best beginner guitar amp: Buying advice
Whether you're a total beginner looking for your first amp, or an experienced player looking for a home practice rig, we've put together a few handy tips to help you make an informed decision.
Arguably the most crucial factor to consider is the amp's size and power rating, which is measured in watts (W). We know it may be tempting to opt for the largest or loudest amp you can afford, but that may actually be detrimental to your sound. It's essential to choose an amp that is fit for purpose. There is no need to splash out on that 100W Marshall if you can't turn it up loud enough to get the tone out of it. All the amps on this list are more than loud enough for home practice, with some even loud even for small gigs.
While more experienced players gravitate towards tube amps as they chase that perfect tone, tube amps can be overkill for a beginner. They can also be more expensive and may require regular servicing – plus, they usually sound best when cranked up loud. That's why most of the amps on this list are solid-state or digital modeling amps. These amps offer a wide range of amp voices and a myriad of effects. More importantly, they sound fantastic at lower volumes.
With that being said, these amps aren't just for beginners. They can be a very appealing option for experienced guitarists on a budget. Often you can find reasonable interpretations of more sought-after amps at a fraction of the cost, with the sacrifice being the size and power you'd need to play live shows.
So, as long as you consider the size and power you realistically need and choose an amplifier that gives you the flexibility to try out different sounds, you'll be sure to find the perfect home practice companion.