When starting out playing the guitar, we’ve probably all dreamt of standing in front of a wall of amps, playing to an adoring crowd. However, you’ve got to start small and work up to that, and there’s no better place to start than by plugging into one of the best beginner guitar amps.
If you’re new to the world of electric guitar, then getting a great beginner guitar amp will mean you’re ready to take on your first ever riffs, chords, solos and more – both at home on your own, and jamming with friends. If you opt for one of the bigger models, you’ll probably even get enough mileage out of it to cater for your first few shows.
Thanks to massive leaps in technology, you needn’t spend a lot when shopping for your first amplifier. Our pick of the best beginner guitar amps showcases some really good choices that offer a range of different sounds for different types of guitarist, at a sensible price point.
We’ve included some buying advice from our team of experts at the bottom of this page. If you’d rather just take a look at our top choices, then keep scrolling.
Best beginner guitar amps: Guitar World's choice
The Boss Katana series gets a lot of praise, and rightly so. The Katana 50 packs a lot of high quality amp tones and effects into a relatively compact unit that’s also easy to use. You can play quietly at home with it, and even use it for recording, plus it’s not too expensive – what’s not to love?
If space really is limited, then check out the Blackstar Fly 3 Bluetooth. It’s really small, but still packs a punch with its tones. You can even power it with batteries so you can use it on the go, plus it’s Bluetooth enabled so you can stream your backing tracks and favorite songs to jam along with.
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 modeling 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.
Read the full Boss Katana 50 MKII review
The Blackstar Fly 3 Bluetooth is the perfect beginners’ amp for anybody short on space. Weighing in at under 1kg, this mini 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
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. While it may not be one of the best combo amps ever, it definitely ticks all the boxes a beginner guitar amp needs to.
Yamaha is responsible for some of the best beginner guitar gear around. They make one of the best beginner electric guitars in the form of the Pacifica, and now the Yamaha THR10II amp - 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.
The Line 6 Catalyst comes from a proud line of some of the best modeling amps ever created. Perfect for the beginner guitarist, its combination of high-quality amp modeling and studio-grade effects makes it the perfect platform to start playing.
There’s a nice even spread of amp models here, taking you from crisp and clear clean sounds all the way to high gain metal madness. There are some great boutique amp emulations in between, and a crunch setting that’s perfect for the hard rock aficionado.
Line 6 is well known for its high-quality digital effects and in particular the reverbs and delays shine on this amplifier. Using the Catalyst Edit app you can finely tweak your sounds, saving them to two memory slots for instant recall at any time. Add some excellent recording functionality and you’ve got a powerful amplifier that can do it all.
If you drew the short straw and got the box room, or you’ve just got too much stuff as it is, then the Fender Mustang LT40S gives you a huge range of guitar sounds in a compact form factor. Don’t let the small size of this amp fool you either, this thing packs a serious punch.
With all the same amp models as the regular Mustang range, you can dial in any tone you can dream of with the Mustang LT40S. 30 presets give you a great base to start tone tweaking, with a further 30 custom slots once you’ve got the hang of sculpting sounds for your own creations.
Add in some amazing sounding effects, an onboard tuner, and an intuitive LCD display and you’ve got the perfect tool for practicing at home. Thanks to its subtle appearance it will fit in nicely with any decor and the headphone out and line in gives you everything you need to start on your guitar journey.
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.
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.
Marshall are one of the best known amps brands in the world and are synonymous with rock and roll. Their black and gold aesthetic is iconic and instantly recognizable. The Marshall Origin 5 has this classic look and sound, but it’s packaged in a unit that’s beginner friendly – it’s not too loud, it’s easy to use, and it sounds great.
This is a really cool medium gain amp, so if heavy metal is your bag, then this probably isn’t the amp for you. Where the Origin excels is rock, classic rock, blues – that sort of thing. There’s a gain boost that’s really useful for solos which can be activated with a footswitch, and the tilt control lets you blend slightly different voices – handy for nailing your tone with different pickup types. It’s fitted with an 8” speaker which really helps keep the whole amp fairly compact, but sounds great.
Best beginner guitar amp: Buying advice
What should I consider when buying a beginner guitar amp?
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When looking for the best beginner guitar amps there are several factors you’ll need to consider before making a purchase. You’ll be hard pushed to go wrong with any of the amplifiers on this list, but it’s always worth diving into specifics to ensure you’ve got the perfect match for your particular needs.
First of all, you’ll want to look at the type of amplifier. In the guitar world, there are two main types of amplifiers, solid state amps and tube amps. There are also endless debates over which one is better. In our humble opinion, for a beginner, a solid-state amplifier is best. This is because tube amps need to be cranked to reach their optimal sound – which isn’t always desirable when you’re learning the ropes. They’re also very heavy and are a lot more expensive than their solid-state brethren. Although we have some tube amps in this guide, for the most part, you’ll be dealing with amplifiers of the solid-state variety.
What type of music do you play?
To pick the best beginner guitar amp for you, you’ll need to make a few considerations. First off, what sort of music do you want to play? If you’re into rock and metal, then you’ll want an amp that’s got a good overdriven or distorted sound. Most beginner amps do offer this, but it’s worth keeping an eye out. If you’re more bothered about a good clean tone, then you don’t need an amp with various levels of overdrive.
Many of the best beginner guitar amps are modelling amps – that is, they aim to replicate the sound of a bunch of other, much more expensive amps. These are versatile and offer a wide array of tones, plus they usually come with lots of different effects built in. So, if you’re into various genres of music, and might flit from classic rock, to country, to blues, and even heavy metal, then a modelling amp could be ideal for you.
How many watts does my beginner guitar amp need?
Next, you’ll need to look into the wattage. The wattage of the amplifier determines how loud it is, so you’ll know straight off the bat whether it’s a pure practice amp for the bedroom, or if it will be able to handle small live shows.
Beginner guitar amps ordinarily sit in the range of 10 to 50 watts, with 10 being more suited to playing at home, while 50 will offer up enough power for smaller live shows. Tube amps have a much higher perceived volume, so a 5-watt tube amp will compete with a 40-50 watt solid state amp.
How big should my beginner guitar amp be?
This is another important question to ask yourself. There is no right or wrong answer, as everyone needs different-sized amps to meet different criteria. You should consider where you're going to keep it, where you'll be using it and whether you'll be leaving it always set up or packing it away after use.
We'd usually recommend getting something with the biggest speaker you can afford. Something like a 10" or 12" speaker will help you to obtain a full range of frequencies from your new beginner guitar amp. However, there are amps like the Yamaha THR10II that, while having much smaller speakers fitted, are able to produce a full tonal range down to a pair of specially designed speakers. It won't kick out the same gutsy tone as a 1x12", but then, it's not really meant to.
The physical size of the amp ties in with speaker sizes nicely. A larger amp will allow for more resonance and sometimes a fuller tone, but can be inconvenient if you're limited on space.
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.
What type of amp do I need?
Many solid-state amps now come with various amp models based on famous tube amp tones, which gives rise to the term ‘modeling amp’. Modeling amps are an excellent choice for beginner guitar players because they allow you to choose from different sounds to find one you enjoy personally. If you’re not sure what style you’ll be playing in, many modeling amps let you select presets from funk clean tones right through to screaming high gain metal. As well as different amp models you’ll usually get some effects thrown into the mix too. This could be anything from overdrive and distortion to delay and reverb, making modeling amps the perfect choice for helping you find your signature sound.
What about tube amps?
Tube amps are the most traditional type of amp, and to many players, are the best sounding. They respond nicely to your playing, have a lovely, rich sound and will naturally go into an organic overdrive when pushed. However, they tend to be loud, heavy and expensive. That said, there are some tube amps that have been designed to be used by any style of player – including beginners. If you’re certain that you want to go down the tube amp route, then look for something around 5W or lower – anything above that might just be overkill at this stage.
Is connectivity important?
When starting out on the guitar, you might want to play along with songs, backing tracks or use resources on YouTube etc. Luckily, many of the best beginner guitar amps have connections for plugging in your phone or tablet, so you can run everything through one speaker. Some even feature Bluetooth so you can do it cable-free.
Recording yourself and listening back is one of the best ways to improve your playing too, and there are a bunch of options here for recording to a laptop or computer. This will aid your songwriting skills as well, allowing you to share ideas with potential bandmates and develop your ear for chord changes and soloing.
Many modeling amplifiers come with native software too, which lets you make deep edits to sounds, download updated amp models, and even curate presets from famous guitar players.
Find out more about how we make our recommendations and how we test each of the products in our buyer's guides.