So you recently started playing electric guitar, and you want to take your skills to the next level with a decent amp that won’t break the bank.
The world of amps is daunting, but never before has the industry offered so many amazing entry-level amps capable of a variety of different options for a great price.
And even if you aren’t a beginner and are looking to add an apartment-friendly (or smaller) amp to your arsenal, you might be surprised at what you’ll find below.
1. Blackstar ID:15 TVP ($229): This is one of the best combo amps on the market and with good reason: it comes with a variety of options to not only get you playing in no time. It also allows you to record very easily with a built-in USB option. You can select from six different power responses modeled after popular tube amp sounds (via Blackstar’s True Valve Power system) and even when turned down, the amp doesn’t lose its bite. The built-in multi-effects allow you to experiment with the world of effects and the Insider Software allows you to edit up to 128 user storable patches to further your sonic crafting.
2. Orange Micro Dark w/1x8 Cabinet ($288): Who doesn’t love tiny yet mighty lunchbox amps and the speakers they rest upon? The Micro Dark head uses a tube front end to push 20-watts of power and coupled with a 1x8” speaker, you’ll be able to get awesome tube tone for a fraction of the price and size of a bigger rig. This little duo is well-equipped to handle clean and overdriven tones whether you are cracking the volume on the speaker or playing through your headphones.
3. Peavey Vypyr VIP 2 40-watt 1x12 ($199): This amp is an all-in-one powerhouse, equally capable of handling electric guitar, bass and acoustic all in one amp. Not only is it capable of effects modeling, it can also handle instrument modeling, giving the player access to acoustic, violin, bass and many other stringed instruments. As far as effects go, it boasts more than 25 effects with controllable parameters and with over 40 watts of power, it’s even ideal for rehearsal.
4. Vox VT40X 40-watt 1x10 Combo Amp ($249.99): The Vox is another modeling combo that utilizes a Valvetronix tube preamp to give you the sound qualities of a tube amp. With 13 onboard effects, you can channel quality effects without having a pedalboard at your disposal. Vox’s Virtual Elements Technology has allowed them to carefully recreate up to 20 realistic models of very sought-after amp tones, all within an attractive looking package.
5. Marshall Code 50 1x12 Digital Combo Amp ($249.99): Marshall is the household name of the amp industry and their inclusion on this list was a definite must. The Code 50 boasts more than 100 presets in an easy-to-transport package. As with most of the amps on this list, the Code 50 also includes a mini USB plug-in for ease of recording, headphone capability for practicing late into the night, and even an aux input for jamming along with music on your smartphone. You can even control it directly via Bluetooth and the mobile app. It also delivers 50 watts through a 12-inch speaker so it’s great for practice or rehearsal.
6. Bugera V5 Infinium 5-watt 1x8 ($199.99): This little amp delivers pure all-tube tone at a fraction of the size of its larger counterparts. Bugera has utilized the Infinium Tube Life Multiplier technology to make sure your tubes stay healthy over the lifetime of the amp. If you want to get into the world of tube amplifiers but don’t care about a lot of bells and whistles, this little amp is a great option.
7. Line 6 Spider V 60-watt 1x10 ($299.99): Line 6 has been an industry leader in the world of modeling amps and the fifth generation of the Spider is no different. Allowing you to access more than 200 amp tones, effect options and cabinet options, the Spider has a very intuitive design that will allow you to switch presets effortlessly, not to mention a color-coded control set. Perhaps the coolest part about the Spider V is the built-in wireless receiver, allowing you to plug into an (optional) Relay G10 transmitter, letting you go cordless with your guitar. With pre-recorded drums loops, built-in metronome and included onboard tuner, plus functionality with Mac/PC and iOS/Android, this is certainly an option worth checking out.
8. Fender Champion 40-watt 1x12 ($179.99): If you are looking for a great introduction into the world of Fender tone, you need to look no further than the Fender Champion 40. This solid state amp with Fender classic styling allows you access to a variety of on-board effects like Vibratone, tremolo, delay and many more. The two amp channels allow you to switch between Fender Blackface clean or a variety of different amp voicings, accessing the sounds of other Fender amp greats. The ability to add a footswitch pedal allows you to switch channels and effects with great ease at the tap of a button. There’s a reason why Fender is the go-to company for many of those in the music community.
9. Boss Katana 50 1x12 Combo Amp ($199): The Boss Katana 50 is nothing to sneeze at. Perhaps one of the coolest functions is its immediate access to 15 awesome Boss pedal tones, supporting up to 55 of the BOSS family of effects. You can also customize your effects and amp settings via the Tone Studio Software or even download preamps from the Boss Tone Central website. You can also completely bypass the speaker by connecting the amps line output to a line input on your favorite device, which also comes in handy for connecting to a PA system.
10. Behringer Ultracoustic ACX450 45-watt ($229.99): Not to leave our acoustic-centric players out of the list entirely, the Behringer Ultracoustic not only looks amazing, but it has a ton of features to keep you inspired and sounding great. Two channels are utilized so while you plug your acoustic into channel one, channel two allows you to input a microphone or another source. The FBQ Feedback Indicators allow you to control the feedback coming out of your amp by monitoring the LEDs on the graphic EQ. Need your own guitar effects? The ACX450 allows for 16 different presets on each channel, including delay and reverb. A great bargain for those looking to take their acoustic playing to the next level!
11. Yamaha THR10 ($299): Another compact yet mighty combo amp, the THR10 boasts a mid-century-modern design with a variety of onboard effects and amp emulation options. This amp uses Virtual Circuitry Modeling (TCM) technology, which creates realistic and pristine tone. When plugging in your bass or acoustic guitars, you can even bypass the modeling section. One of the most convenient functions is the ability for the amp to run on a supplied AC adaptor or battery power for ultimate portability in your individual practice scenario. And it even includes Steinberg’s Cubase AI recording software so it’s plug-and-play right out the box!
Not sure which one to choose? Check out one of the comprehensive Guitar Tricks tutorials on how to test and pick the best guitar amp for you.
Monique Hernandez-Fuentes writes for the guitar lesson website GuitarTricks.com.