In addition to being a private violin teacher, Alecia started writing music-related articles 3 years ago and has been enjoying this experience greatly. Loves quilting and scrapbooking in her free time.
Marcus has a vast experience in digital audio and sound design. Thanks to his knowledge, he actively helps musicians with technical problems, improving their audio quality and even promoting their tracks so that thousands of listeners could enjoy some really good music.
Last updated: February 17, 2021
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When shopping for a guitar amp, you have to take a lot of things into consideration. And when you’re on a budget, it’s difficult to find a good amplifier because it should produce a clear sound that passes through one or multiple speakers to fill up an auditorium. To help you pick the best guitar amp under $300, we researched the top models available in the market for electric and bass guitars.
As a performer, your main goal is to deliver thrilling performance, for which you need the ideal equipment. Choosing a guitar amp is not just about defining the right from wrong as it is more of a personal choice. Some of the factors that play a role in choosing the best guitar amp include the type of amplifier, configuration, and construction. Power and speaker size matter too because different variations are suitable for different occasions. Additional factors that you can consider include built-in effects, channel switching, and effects loops.
Our team of reviewers who love playing guitars got together to research into the top seven budget guitar amps. They spent two days with each model and combined their first-hand review with pointers from customer reviews, expert reviews, and product specifications to come up with this in-detail article. It is divided into three sections – comparison table, detailed product reviews, and buying guide to find the best guitar power amp under $300.
One of the most popular amp models by Marshall, Code 50 is a portable modeling combo amp and can be synced with your phone or online software. Code 50 has one 12-inch speaker with separate Preset and Edit control knobs. Features on the control panel include master, gain, volume, Treble EQ, bass, and middle. It provides up to four power amp models, eight-speaker models, 14 preamp models, and 24 effects. You can use up to five effects at the same time. There are over 100 presets that you can edit to match the song you are playing.
You can use this amplifier with both electric and acoustic guitars. However, if you plan on using it exclusively with acoustic guitars, we’d rather recommend you other models designed specifically for that purpose, for example, Fender Acoustasonic or Fishman Loudbox, also available under $300.
When it comes to performance, Marshall Code 50 is the best. Download Marshall Gateway on your phone to have greater access to all the features. Use it to play music directly from your iOS or Android phone. Code 50 is recommended for studio recordings and gigs performed in a small or medium-sized auditorium. It isn’t loud enough to perform in a large auditorium, but for the price you get it, it is a sweet deal. We recommend this model for beginners and professionals as well.
What we liked:
100 editable presents to choose from
Lots of effects
Versatile model for a fabulous performance
What could be better:
Not suitable for performances in a large auditorium
A professional yet easy-to-use model, Fender Champion 50XL is a solid-state modeling combo amp with one custom 12-inch Celestion Midnight 60 speaker. The sophisticated design has an 8-way voice switch, which you can use to mix music and play every style from country to metal. It is a minimalist model and doesn’t have any menu, but you can modify the settings by turning the knobs clockwise or counterclockwise. You can use the FX Select dial to change the tone with your solos, chorus, or tremolo.
We are impressed by the amp’s tap tempo delay switch, which records repeats to match songs of varying tempos. The specially voiced 12-inch Celestion Midnight 60 speaker is encased in a 5/8-inch pressed wood cabinet, and the sound it produces has a huge impact. At 19 pounds, it is one of the lightest amplifiers.
Couple it with a 0071359000 footswitch, which you can purchase separately, access remote channel switching and FX toggling. The amp has 12 classic effects, including delay, reverb, and Vibratone to try your hand at sonic experimentation. It comes with a two years limited warranty, which is one of the best in the market. It is quite loud, so don’t ever use it in a small room.
What we liked:
Full tone with increased output
Two-year manufacturer’s warranty
Full-on metal distortion
Simple model packed with features
What could be better:
Not ideal for practicing or performing in a small room
Makes a loud electronic pop sound before turning off
Designed for use by beginners, Vox AV15 can be used in closed spaces – at home or in a studio. It is a 15W modeling combo tube amp with one custom 8-inch Vox speaker that works the best with acoustic guitars. It comes packed in a vintage wood box for better resonance. The three analog-voiced digital effects offered by this amp include Reverb, Delay, and Chorus. Whether you are playing jazz or rock, this amp is suitable for all styles of music. The unique cabinet construction along with the tube equipped analog power section produces a clean sound that will definitely impress your audience.
It has Bright and Fat switches that help you while preparing for a mix of songs. Another wonderful feature is the switchable Bias control, which lets you select between modern and vintage tube response. The user-friendly layout assists beginners in adjusting to the amp’s settings easily. It also has a Reactor switch that allows you to loosen or tighten power amp damping. A few more convenient features include a full complement of clean, crunch, overdrive, and high gain tones and Hi-Fi Aux input. Also, the amp has a headphone output with realistic cabinet simulation to assist you while practicing.
Other than these attractive features, it comes with a two years long warranty from the manufacturer.
What we liked:
Three effects to choose from
Fitted with three types of outputs – phone, aux in, and input
Two years of manufacturer’s warranty
Lightweight and easy to use
Sounds good even at low volumes
What could be better:
The speaker is smaller compared to other amps on our list
Orange Amp Pumps created Micro Dark after several customers who used and were impressed by their other Dark Terror and Dual Dark amps, asked the brand to create something pint-sized. Don’t get confused by the amp’s tiny size because it can blow your voice and beats across the roof. It is designed for metal tones, but it is quite versatile and sounds just as good with any style of music. Our top favorite features of this model have to be its transparent, fully buffered effects loop, CabSim circuitry, and headphone output, which helps you concentrate while preparing for a performance.
Whether you are just practicing or recording a song in the studio, consider Micro Dark your best buddy for a record-breaking performance. The amp’s buffered, low impedance loop adds a variety of effects without affecting the tone. It is a transparent loop that will boost your pedal’s performance. Coming to its design, the nitty gritties have been worked out well. It has a small handle at the top to conveniently carry it around. The masterpiece costs almost half of Marshall amps, which makes it a more affordable choice for every type of guitarist. You receive a one-year warranty on the purchase, which can be extended to two years.
What we liked:
Best for loud punchy sounds
Small amp packed with powerful features
Fitted with CabSim circuitry
Convenient design makes it easy to carry
What could be better:
You should be using Orange speakers to like the sound it makes, which is warm and a bit thick
Durable, premium quality and clean are three features that describe Roland amps the best. Roland CUBE Street is another wonderful product by the brand, which is a compact 5W combo amplifier that’s the ultimate amp for traveling musicians. It is battery-powered, versatile, and capable of high-volume output, thanks to its two 6.5-inch high-performance speakers. The amp is designed for convenience than for traveling, so makes a great choice for teachers as well.
We don’t recommend it for analyzing/transcribing music, and it isn’t good for vocals either. If you want to use it for vocals, you will need an extra channel. Since it isn’t a full range system, an acoustic guitar won’t sound good with it. However, if you are on a budget or want to buy this model only, you can tweak the settings to make it work for you. We like the separate volume, EQ and reverb controls and complements an electric guitar really well.
The battery lasts for up to seven hours, which is enough for conducting a class. After use, take out the batteries because some users complained of batteries leaking. Other features include 8 COSM AMPs, 6 digital effects, and chromatic tuner, which we liked as well. Roland offers a one-year warranty on purchase of this product.
What we liked:
Ideal for traveling musicians and music teachers
Budget amp with separate volume, EQ and reverb controls
One of the best 15W combo tube amps on the market, Monoprice 611815 is known for its flexibility, versatility, and superior tone. It comes fitted with one 12-inch Celestion Speaker, which makes the amp the best choice for performances in large studios. You can switch on its spring reverb feature using the pedal. Our team’s favorite feature of this amp is its 3-band equalizer, which lets you dial in your sound. Coming to the design, it is sophisticated and stylish.
The beige box and handle are made of synthetic leather. However, we noticed that only in a few uses, the beige color started getting dirty but it easily went off using a wet wipe. You still need to be careful while using it, since it is a light color. It has three industry standard 12AX7 tubes to monitor re-amp and power amp sections, which adds versatility to your music and makes it unique. Since it is a vintage piece, the amp is best for playing tunes from the 1940s and 1950s.
It also features a low and high input, and Celestion Seventy 80, which produces a crisp sound. It comes with a one-year replacement warranty along with a 30-day money back warranty.
What we liked:
Perfect for playing vintage tunes
Powerful 12-inch Celestion Speaker
Ideal for performances in large auditoriums
Tone control for the wet reverb signal
What could be better:
Synthetic leather cover starts peeling in a few months
An affordable model perfect for beginners, Line 6 Spider V 20 is a modeling combo amp with one 8-inch speaker. It comes with 16 diverse onboard presets, which can customize using Spider V Remote to create your own music. The presets can be used for both acoustic and bass guitar presets. The remote makes several features of the amp more accessible including 200+ amps, cabs, and effects. It delivers amazing blue and clean tones, which left us surprised too. We didn’t expect this budget model to perform so well.
It has an onboard tuner and tap-tempo along with USB interface, all of which come in handy when you are practicing. The amp comes with a headphone outlet, so if you are practicing at home, your neighbors won’t be disturbed and have their peace. You can play three simultaneous effects and independent reverb on this device.
If you have second doubts about this piece, don’t worry. When we compared it to MicroCube, we found that the sound was cleaner and stronger. Other than that, you receive a one-year limited warranty on purchase of this product. We enjoyed using this amp and we are affirmative that you will too.
What we liked:
16 diverse presets to choose from
Pure, clean strong sound at low volume
Headphone outlet to keep the noise down
Bluetooth app makes customizing tunes easy and hassle-free
What could be better:
Only one input; two would have been better
Some customers complained of a non-working speaker
Things to Consider
Whether you want to buy a budget beginner amp or a high-end model for your stage performances, we have got you covered. As a starter, finding the right amplifier can be overwhelming, especially under $300. There are multiple types from the solid state amp to tube amp to choose from, which makes everything more confusing. But you don’t have to worry about anything at all because we’ve got you covered. Here’s your personalized buying guide to help you find the best guitar amp under $300.
Guitar amp under $300: What you should and should not expect?
As a beginner, purchasing an expensive guitar amp doesn’t make sense because you are still discovering your style and learning new skills. At the same time, you need a guitar amplifier that lasts you for a long time and turns you into a rockstar.
Advantages of using a guitar amp under $300
It is cheap, obviously. Even if you decide not to go ahead with your music journey, you won’t feel guilty about spending too much money. You can also sell it to another aspiring guitarist, which can afford the amp. It makes a good Christmas gift for your child who is developing a liking for music.
Made for rugged use
Amps under $300 are designed for rugged use. Beginners tend to experiment with amp because they are discovering new things, so these amps make a great choice.
All the seven amp models we reviewed in this article weigh less than 40 pounds, making them easy to carry around. None of them have a glass or any delicate part, so you don’t have to worry about breaking it either.
Disadvantages of using a guitar amp under $300
Not for versatile use
Most affordable amps are solid-state amps, which aren’t as versatile as tube amps. It creates a warm sweet distortion, which is suitable only with electric guitars.
Difficult to produce heavy amp distortion effects
If you are into heavy metal and know that is what you want to go ahead with, these amps might not be the best. They can only be created using amplifiers and not pedals or effects.
Features to consider while choosing a guitar amplifier
Your dream guitar needs the perfect amp partner to deliver outstanding performance. Here are five features to consider while buying your dream guitar amplifier:
Type and Configuration
There are four types of guitar amplifiers to choose from including modeling, tube, solid state, and hybrid. A solid-state amp uses transistors for power sections and preamps. They produce a clean tone, while some have a distortion effect. It is the perfect touring amp for traveling musicians
Guitarists who enjoy warm, organic and fat tone distortion choose the tube amplifier, such as the Vox AV15. Even though it consumes the same wattage, it produces more sound than a solid-state amplifier. However, it has a short product life, so you have to change it often depending on you. Modeling amps, like the Marshall Code 50, are similar to tube amps but a more vintage model. Hybrid amps are the best of all amps as they are a combination of the tube with the solid state power section.
Every guitarist is different, and their requirements vary accordingly. That’s where the configuration matter. A combo is a self-contained unit that has the speaker and amplifier in one box. Then, there are head amps tat require a separate speaker.
Power and speakers
More powerful the amplifier, the more expensive it will be. The products we featured are between 15W to 50W and have speakers between 8 to 12 inches, which are commonly found in solid state or modeling combo models. They are suitable either for studio or small and medium venue use. The Orange Micro Dark is the smallest powerful unit on your list, but keep in mind that it requires a speeker.
If you are playing at larger venues, you will need a 100W amp to cover the area. You can also use two 50W amp units and it will work in the same way.
Amp units come with a number of built-in effects with the most famous being tremolo. It works best with a surf guitar. You will find the most built-in effects in modeling amp units. Other features include reverb, which defines the sound produced by an acoustic guitar and distortion, which alters the sound of an electric guitar.
Some extra features that an amp might come with include preset effects and channel switching.
A good amp unit is one that has at least two USB inputs and one headphone output. However, since the models we reviewed are what we can say budget-friendly, not all have inputs and outputs. If this criterion is important for you, Orange Micro Dark and Line 6 Spider V 20 are two good units.
Most brands offer one or two-year replacement warranty. If you plan to use the amplifier for a long time, go for Fender Champion 50XL or Vox.
You can’t use all amps for gigs as well as home practice because some of them are too loud. However, they are many that are designed for multipurpose use. If this is your requirement, pick an amp unit with a headphone outlet, so you can practice at home without disturbing your family or neighbors. Vox AV15, Orange Micro Dark, and Line 6 Spider V 20 have headphone jacks for home use and are loud enough for performing gigs.
As a beginner, an all-in-one amp unit is more beneficial. One of the main reasons being its affordability. Separate amp head and cabinet are bigger and more expensive. Once you are sure about the style of music you want to learn, you can purchase it. Until then, carry on with a guitar amp under $300.
Yes, there’s a difference between the two. Solid-state amps are recommended for beginners because you don’t need to be too concerned while matching a speaker while using them. On the other hand, the tube amp is unforgivable. It can destroy your performance if you don’t find the right speaker. Tube amps sound better than solid-state amps because the sound is warmer, cleaner, and clearer.
All of us had a lot of fun playing different songs and jamming together with these several budget models for two weeks. We picked three favorites, which we recommend you to buy for carrying ahead your music journey. The iconic Marshall Code 50 is our top favorite because it is not only packed with features but also is compatible with Bluetooth. It has over 100 editable presets and 24 various built-in effects, which is the most offered by a budget amp unit that costs less than $300.
Our second favorite is a solid-state modeling combo amp unit – Fender Champion 50XL. The powerful 50 W is perfect for outdoor performances and works best with electric guitars. It is fitted with one large 12-inch Celestion Midnight 60 and has amazing features like 12 classic effects, four stompbox effects, and 12 amp tones.
We have become huge fans of our third pick – Vox AV15. It is a tiny 15W amp unit that offers a number of amazing built-in effects including reverb, mod, and delay. Also, it comes with a two years limited warranty. The speaker is smaller than that of Marshall and Fender models, but it is just as loud and clear.