7 Best Guitar Amps under $200 – Make Excellent Sound Affordable
Last updated: Apr 10, 2020
59Hours of Research
When you’re in the market for a new amplifier for your guitar, you want to get the most for your money. Thankfully, there are a number of high-quality guitar amps for under $200 that allow you to get great sound quality on a budget. These amps, while still inexpensive, incorporate much of the technology of more expensive amplifiers that help to produce clean tones at high volumes.
In order to help you find the best guitar amp under $200, we considered a number of features that differentiate these amplifiers. We looked at the configuration of each amp – modeling, acoustic, and tube or solid – and the power each amp is able to put out. These features can dramatically alter the sound and versatility of an amp, so you’ll need to think carefully about how you plan to use your amplifier.
Top 7 Guitar Amps under $200 Review 2020
We spent tens of hours poring over technical specifications and customer reviews for guitar amps under $200. The result is our list of the seven best amps in the table below. Continue reading for detailed reviews of each amplifier, with their pros and possible cons. Our buying guide covers everything you need to know about how to choose an amplifier and whether an amp under $200 can suit your needs. Finally, we sum up our three overall favorite guitar amps under $200 on the market today.
This combination modeling amp from VOX focuses on sound quality. The amp is constructed with VOX’s Virtual Element Technology, which analyzes the electrical current through the amp’s components to produce the most faithful tones of any amp we reviewed. That makes it an ideal choice for guitar players who prefer a crisp, clean sound. The preamp’s multi-stage amplification circuit, which uses a vacuum tube, also gives the amp some additional warmth that resembles the sound of a tube amplifier. In addition, users were extremely impressed with the ability of this amp to play without cracking at very loud volumes despite it’s relatively small 20-watt power output.
However, the amp is short on sound models and built-in effects. It includes just 11 amp models, 13 effects, and 33 presets, and users found that the volume changes unexpectedly when you change between presets. That said, users were extremely happy with the manual mode on this amp, which allows you to mix sounds directly from the amp itself and then to connect those sounds to pedals for remote play. Otherwise, the presets can be modified by connecting the amp to your computer via the built-in USB port.
The speaker itself is relatively standard for the sub-$200 price class. VOX built this amplifier with a single eight-inch speaker, although it’s worth noting the construction is thick enough to keep vibrations down and there is a back to the amp to improve bass quality.
Users love this extraordinarily versatile guitar amp from Line 6. The combination modeling amp comes with 78 amp models, all of which can be customized to your liking via the Line 6 remote editing app for iOS and Android devices. On top of that, the amplifier includes 128 presets and more than 100 built-in effects so that you can make a huge range of sounds. The only downside is that users felt that the presets weren’t perfect and did take some customization in the remote editor.
The 30-watt power is notably more than most other amplifiers in this price class, which is an advantage when using it for small gigs in addition to practice sessions. Users were happy to find that the volume knob was sensitive and covered a whole range of volumes, rather than just quiet and loud as for other Line 6 amplifiers. While the amp isn’t small, users felt that it was compact and lightweight enough to carry around without any issues.
Another plus to this amp is that it has a full-range speaker system that allows it to play extremely clean sounds for acoustic guitars. This is a huge benefit if you play both electric and acoustic guitars, as you can use the same amp for both and simply switch between models to get the tones right for each.
Keep in mind that while this amp can be used remotely, it doesn’t use a standard Bluetooth connection. Instead, you’ll need a proprietary Line 6 transmitter that is somewhat pricey.
This incredibly versatile guitar amp from Peavey is designed to do a little bit of everything well. The amp includes not only 36 on-board models for electric guitars, but also six models for acoustic guitar and six models for bass guitars. Even better, the semi-enclosed back of the amp helps to produce rich bass sounds, and the amp is capable of playing up to four effects at the same time. Users also appreciated the built-in looper, which can be activated with a set of after-market pedals.
Users liked the 16 presets, but were even happier to find that they could connect the amp to a computer via USB to endlessly modify the presets. The USB connection also enables recording via Peavey’s software. Off the computer, the amp has a manual mode that allows users to modify the tone and sound effects with a what-you-see-is-what-you-get interface so you never have to guess at levels and sound quality. That said, some users felt that with all of this flexibility, it was surprisingly difficult to attain a basic clean-sounding tone – Peavey tends to focus on grainy electric guitar presets instead.
The amp itself is small and portable thanks to the single eight-inch speaker, and the 20-watt power capacity is more than enough for practice sessions and small gigs. The headphone output can be hooked into a PA system for using this amp at larger venues as well.
This beautiful vintage amp from Bugera is one of only a handful of combo tube amps available for under $200. Users were extremely impressed with the quality of the sound and loved the warm, natural distortion that modeling amps are constantly trying to replicate. Some users felt that the tone was quite dark for a tube amp, which can be good or bad depending on the style of music you play.
Note that this amplifier is mainly designed to be used in conjunction with a PA system, since it only has five watts of power itself. Guitarists found that the amp doesn’t start cracking until moderate volumes, which means that this amp can be used for practice, but constantly playing at high volumes also runs the risk of burning out the tubes fairly quickly. While users felt that the amp could be used for gigs in small venues without a PA system, they warned that the amp could not stand up to the volume of a drummer in any circumstances.
One issue that users had with this amp was that the back is open, which created a significant loss of bass and reverb from the speaker. While Bugera does make a cab to add reverb back into the amp, this costs nearly as much as the amp itself. In addition, users highly recommend replacing the tube that comes standard with this amp, since it is of relatively cheap quality and is one of the biggest detractors of the amp’s potential sound quality.
This 40-watt combo amp from Fender is designed specifically for acoustic guitars, with incredible clean tons and reliable sound quality. What sets this amp apart for many users is that it has two 1/4-inch and XLR inputs, which allows you to plug in two guitars or a guitar and a microphone. Both inputs have their own volume and tone controls, which further enhances the versatility of this amp to be used for multiple instruments. You can also use this amplifier for monitoring a PA system or for audio recording thanks to the inclusion of a single line out jack.
The amp is somewhat larger than most amplifiers under $200 because it uses two 6.5-inch speakers rather than a single eight-inch speaker. Still, users felt that this amp was lightweight and portable enough to be transported between practices and gigs without any issues.
Note that while this amplifier is often listed as having a built-in chorus effect, that is not the case. The chorus effect is only available on the more expensive Acoustasonic 90, which exceeds the $200 mark. Because of that, some users who have experience with older acoustic guitar amps felt that this amplifier doesn’t do anything to improve on the basic acoustic sound as a higher-end amplifier would. Sure thing, the amp works with not only Fender instruments, but also any other brand models, including PRS, Ibanez, Yamaha acoustic guitars and so many more.
Dual ¼-inch inputs for second guitar or microphone
This hybrid amp head isn’t a full amplifier in and of itself, so expect to pay more than $200 in total to get a full sound system set up. That said, this amp head can give you the versatility to choose a wide range of cabinets and even to set up an amp stack for more advanced sound customization and for playing medium-sized venues. Plus, the amp head is extremely small with a simple metal bracket to make it easy to transport.
The high gain makes this head relatively unique, and it comes with a 12AX7 preamp tube to give it a dark and warm tone with just a hint of authentic distortion. Many users reported using this head for metal and punk rock thanks to the dark, grungy sound that it easily achieves.
Users loved that the controls are extraordinarily simple and provide a huge range of tone and volume in a small package. Users also felt that the head was significantly louder than its 20-watt power rating lets on and were impressed that it produced only a minimal amount of noise at maximum gain and volume levels. Still, you wouldn’t want to use this head for a bass guitar, since it is relatively low on total power.
The only problem that users have with this amp head is that it does not have a reverb control built-in. However, the head can accept an effects loop, so it’s possible to easily add reverb back into your sound that way.
This combination modeling amp from Fender is perfect for guitarists on a really tight budget but who still want the sound quality of a $200 amp. The amp includes 17 amp models that span a huge diversity of sounds, making this amp a good starting point for any style of music. Better yet, the amp can be customized either in manual mode or on your computer through a USB connection to fully adjust the basic amp models. The included software also allows you to use this amp as a recording studio.
That said, the main upside to this amplifier – the inclusion of Fender’s FUSE software – is also its main disadvantage. While the FUSE software opens up a huge range of possibilities with this amplifier, it also makes it relatively difficult to use this amp without constantly returning to your computer. The controls on the amp itself are relatively limited, and there is no way to mix effects in addition to the amp model tones you have created.
A unique feature of this amp, which is especially suited for beginners, is that you can play along to your favorite music. The auxiliary input jack allows you to plug in your MP3 player so that you can play your guitar and a favorite song over the amp at the same time.
17 amp models
Includes software for customizing models
Play along to MP3 tracks
No effects or presets
Requires close coordination with computer software
Now that you’ve learned more about our seven favorite amps under $200, how do you choose between them to find the amp that’s right for you? In our buying guide, we’ll help you understand what you should expect from an amp for under $200 and discuss the features that you need to consider when choosing the best amplifier for your playing style.
Guitar amp under $200: What you should and should not expect?
$200 is a decent budget for a guitar amplifier, but any experienced musicians know that top-of-the-line amplifiers can sell for much more than that. So what do you get for $200 and what will you need to sacrifice?
The first thing that you need to be aware of when choosing a budget amp is that your options for power will be somewhat limited. Most amplifiers under $200 offer 20 watts of power or less, which is plenty for practicing at moderate volumes but not as ideal for a gig. That said, some amplifiers like the models from Line 6 and Fender offer up to 40 watts, which makes them more versatile for playing from a stage.
Another thing to keep in mind is that amp heads are relatively uncommon under $200. Most of the amps we reviewed – with the notable exception of the Orange Amps model, which is a hybrid amp head – are combination amps. This is not a huge problem, but it does make upgrading your amplifier system more difficult later since you can’t mix and match speaker heads and cabinets.
With those minor downsides in mind, an important thing that amps under $200 do have is solid sound quality. Budget amplifiers in this price range typically have much of the sound modeling of more expensive amplifiers.
For example, the Fender Mustang I V2, the least expensive amplifier we reviewed, includes USB connectivity so that you can program your amplifier using 17 different amp models.
Features to consider while choosing a guitar amplifier
With those basic restrictions on guitar amps under $200 in mind, what features should you be looking for in your amp? The style and specifications of amp you need depend a lot on how you plan to use it and your playing style, so it’s important to think about the type of amp you want and then match that up to specific features.
Amplifiers can be divided into five basic types: tube, solid-state, modeling, hybrid, and acoustic.
Tube amplifiers, like the amp from Bugera, are known for the warm tones they produce and their very natural-sounding distortion. Many guitarists appreciate this sound as well as the extra volume that tube amplifiers put out compared to solid-state amplifiers with the same wattage. In addition, the distortion can typically be turned off quickly by switching into a “clean” mode on the amp. Keep in mind that the tube in tube amps needs to be replaced on occasion.
Solid-state amplifiers are inexpensive and reliable because they use transistors for their preamp and power construction. Thanks to their low cost, solid-state amplifiers are ubiquitous in the under $200 category and are used widely among guitarists. These amplifiers naturally produce a clean sound, although most models also have a distortion mode.
Modeling amps are solid-state amplifiers that use computer processors to replicate the warm, distorted sound of a tube amplifier. These amplifiers are typically programmable and come with many different sound models, so that you can choose what type of sound you would like for your guitar.
While modeling amps were once more expensive, they are now widely available for under $200 and are extremely popular because of their versatility.
Hybrid amps try to mimic the sound of a tube amplifier by using a tube in their preamp and a transistor in their power construction. The advantage to hybrid amps like the Orange Amps amp head is that they don’t require as much maintenance as tube amplifiers, but produce similarly natural distortion.
Finally, acoustic amplifiers like the Fender Acoustasonic 40 are designed to produce extremely clean tones rather than mimic the sound of tube amps. These amplifiers are the perfect pairing for acoustic guitars because they accurately reproduce sound and maintain the natural sound and feel of an acoustic guitar.
There are a number of different configurations for guitar amps. The most common configuration for amps under $200 is a combo amp, which puts the amplifier and speaker in a single cabinet. Alternatively, you can purchase an amp head like the Orange Amps head and pair it with just about any speaker to create a custom amplifier setup. You can also create an amp stack by pairing two or more speaker cabinets with an amplifier head, which is ideal for gigs in larger spaces where extra volume is needed.
Power and speaker size
The power and speaker size of your amp determine the volume that it can play at without becoming overly distorted. Most amplifiers under $200 are limited to 20 watts, although acoustic amps like the model from Fender can produce up to 40 watts of power.
Speakers in these amplifiers also tend to be on the small side, around eight inches. While most low-priced amplifiers include only a single speaker cone, some models like the Fender acoustic amp are built with two smaller 6.5-inch speaker cones.
The construction of an amplifier is about much more than durability – it’s also one of the most important determinants of sound quality. The thinner the construction of the amplifier, the more likely it will be to vibrate, which causes unwanted distortion of the tone. Amplifiers that are built with less than one-half inch of casing are typically prone to such distortion, although many budget amplifiers straddle this casing thickness.
Also, keep in mind that the presence of a backing on the amplifier is important. Amplifiers with a back will generally produce a better bass response than amplifiers with an open back.
Additional features and built-in effects
There are a huge variety of extra features and effects that can be built into amplifiers, and in the under $200 price range the presence and quality of these features varies widely. For example, some amps use spring reverbs to create a natural bass sound, while others use digital reverb to keep the cost of the amp low. Some amps also include extra inputs, known as effects loops, to allow you to add stomp boxes, rack units, or other effects after the pre-amp to avoid unwanted amplification.
Depending on your playing style, you may want to consider choosing an amp with channel switching. Channel switching allows you to quickly and seamlessly switch between a clean sound and a distorted sound. Note that even if your amp has channel switching capabilities, you may need extra equipment, like a foot switch, to change channels remotely.
Finally, consider the number and type of built-in effects, or models, that your amp comes with. For example, the Line 6 amp comes with 128 preset models, while the budget Fender Mustang I V2 only comes with 17 preset models. Having more models may be unnecessary if you prefer a clean tone, but it can also be important in unlocking your creative style.
Even under $200, a guitar amp is a big purchase. Most manufacturers offer warranties to protect your purchase against defects in the wiring or speaker units, but these warranties can vary widely. For example, Fender offers a five-year warranty on their budget amplifier, while Line 6 and other manufacturers offer only one- or two-year warranties.
Most guitarists will be more than okay with the 20 watts found on most amplifiers under $200. That’s because this provides more than enough volume for practice, and most gig venues will have a PA system that you can connect to when you need louder volumes. Plus, doubling your volume requires ten times the wattage, so trying to get louder simply by increasing the wattage of your amp is not very effective.
An effects loop is a loop that bypasses your amp’s preamp and inserts effects such as distortion, reverb, or chorus into the sound your amp produces. Having an effects loop rather than producing effects directly within your amp prevents them from being unintentionally amplified, while also giving you more freedom to customize the sound of your guitar.
Yes! The power supply is responsible for keeping your amp continuously electrified even when the output you need from your amplifier is suddenly increased. If you plan on playing jazz or blues, you may need a power supply that will struggle with sudden power increases and compress the tones of your guitar. Otherwise, you will likely want a highly reliable power supply that can produce clean, uncompressed tones.
Our three overall favorite guitar amps available for under $200 are the Line 6 Spider V 30, the VOX Valvetronix VT20X, and the Peavey Vypyr VIP 1. The Peavey amp excels at grainy, dark-sounding tones and offers the versatility to use the amp with acoustic and bass guitars in addition to an electric guitar. While some users found that it was hard to achieve a clean tone, the included software enabled limitless flexibility in the amp’s presets. The Line 6 amp is our runner-up thanks to its incredible diversity of models, presets, and built-in effects. The amp includes a whopping 128 presets, all of which can be customized remotely from your smartphone thanks to Line 6’s remote editing app. However, we feel that the VOX amp is the overall best guitar amp under $200 and a favorite among users for it’s incredibly strong sound quality, on the other hand. While there were only 11 amp models, users were impressed with the clean sound of this amp for the very affordable price.