10 Best Budget Guitar Amps
For guitar players, finding the right sound is of the utmost importance. Often, perfecting one’s tone can become an obsession. Many guitarists have spent unheard of amounts of money seeking out the perfect sound. But most of us don’t have that luxury.
Musicians are stereotypically known to be broke much of the time. But not to worry, because there are many options for guitarists working on a budget. Here, we take a look at some of the best amps available for those with limited funds. A wide variety of guitar amps, including tube amps, solid state amps, combos, heads, hand-wired amps, and amps with built-in effects are available for around $500, or often less than that. This is our list of the 10 Best Budget Guitar Amps.
RG1003H 100 Watt Head
In the past, most rock guitarists would turn up their noses at solid state amps. Solid state amps just couldn’t compete with the classic sound of real tubes. But technology has begun to catch up. Randall has some big heavy metal artists in its ranks now, including Metallica‘s Kirk Hammett, Anthrax’s Scott Ian and Extreme’s Nuno Bettencourt. The RG Series is Randall’s attempt to deliver high-gain tone at a low price. The RG1003H is a 100 watt head with three foot-switchable channels and spring reverb. This amp will definitely give you the power you need in any venue. And for about $500, you can get the head with a matching 4×12 cabinet. Find more information here.
Valve King II 50 Watt Combo
Peavey has been producing some very nice amps at very reasonable prices lately. The Valve King series is near the top of the list. This combo version produces 50 watts pushing one Sheffield 12-inch speaker. It’s one of Peavey’s most versatile amps, with a crystal-clean rhythm channel and a scorching-hot lead channel shaped by 12AX7 preamp tubes and 6L6GC power tubes. Peavey made the amp even more versatile by adding a control that lets you choose between a classic sound, a more modern sound, or any blend of the two. The value and quality push it onto our list of the 10 Best Budget Guitar Amps. Find more information here.
V160R Vendetta 160w 2×12 Combo
Rocktron has been working on ways to recreate great tone for a long time. They’ve been trusted by big names like Five Finger Death Punch, Dave Mustaine and Disturbed. Now, the Vendetta series brings huge power to guitarists of all incomes. It has tons of features, including two channels (clean and distorted), reverb, an effects loop, a headphone jack, numerous EQ controls, and even a noise gate to dampen unwanted hiss and feedback. The 2×12 combo pushes 80 watts in stereo, totaling 160 watts, so it should be loud enough wherever you take it. Find more information here.
AC30VR Valve Reactor 2×12 Combo
Vox has been one of the most revered names in rock and roll ever since the Beatles, Queen and many other legendary acts made them famous. But they’ve also always come with a high price tag. Vox’s Valve Reactor series works to produce that classic British sound via solid state technology, making them much more affordable. The AC30VR is a 30 watt, 2×12 combo with two switchable channels. It also has Vox’s exclusive Tone Cut control, which helps to dampen the harsher aspects of your high-end frequencies. Find more information here.
Spider IV 150 150W 2×12 Combo
Line 6 has been in the tone-modeling business for years. Big names like Adrian Belew use Line 6 amps to get all sorts of sounds. The Spider IV has become one of the biggest-selling amplifiers in recent history. The 150 is a 150 watt, 2×12 combo that has more options than you can shake a guitar at. It comes pre-loaded with over 300 signature sounds, developed by artists from 50 bands, including Slipknot, As I Lay Dying and Meshuggah. It also includes pre-made tones based on songs, such as ‘Back in Black,’ ‘Head Like a Hole,’ ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and ‘Crazy Train.’ It’s popularity alone grants it access to our list of the 10 Best Budget Guitar Amps. Find more information here.
HT Studio 20 Watt Head
There has been a movement toward smaller, high-quality tube amps. Their lower wattage makes them well-suited for studio recording, and often makes them more affordable. The Blackstar Metal series gives this option to metal guitarists. Powered by a 12BH7 preamp tube and a ECC83 power amp tube, this tiny beast was made specifically for high-gain players. The amp features Blackstar’s patented ‘infinite shape’ control, which Blackstar says lets you choose between a classic British metal sound or a modern American tone. Blackstar has some heavy hitters in its artist stable, including Ozzy Osbourne‘s Gus G, Cradle of Filth‘s Paul Allender and High on Fire‘s Matt Pike. Find more information here.
MG102CFX MG Carbon Fibre 2×12 Combo
One would expect to see Marshall make an appearance on this list of the 10 Best Budget Amps, and they come in near the top. Their new MG series aims to deliver that hard-rock Marshall sound, and make it available to those who can’t yet afford that JCM800. With 100 solid state watts pushing two 12-inch speakers, the MG102CFX gets loud. It also includes a host of built-in digital effects and four channels. Find more information here.
6505 1×12 Combo
Peavey makes their second appearance on our list with the 6505+. This amp is based on the now-legendary 5150, which was Eddie Van Halen‘s signature amp. When Eddie left Peavey, he took the 5150 name with him, and so was born the 6505. Machine Head‘s Robb Flynn, The Devil Wears Prada and Asking Alexandria have all used these amps. The 1×12 combo produces 60 watts through five 12AX7 preamp tubes and two 6L6GC power amp tubes driving two channels. Find more information here.
Crush Pro CR120h 120 Watt Head
Orange has been amplifying rock royalty for ages now. Like Vox, Orange has been among the most sought-after amps throughout rock history. But also like Vox, the price attached to Orange amps has kept them out of reach for many poor guitarists. The Orange Crush series looks to change that. With new solid-state technology, Orange has been working to produce the classic sounds without the classic price. The Crush Pro CR120h is a 120 watt solid-state head with the look and feel of its more expensive tube brethren. It features a clean and a distorted channel, and includes digital reverb shaped to sound like the classic Orange spring. Find more information here.
6260 Infinium 120 Watt Head
At the top of our list of 10 Best Budget Guitar Amps is the Bugera 6260 120 watt head. This feature-laden beast is packed with five 12AX7 preamp tubes and four 6L6 power amp tubes. More than vaguely reminiscent of the Peavey 5150, Bugera claims this amp’s rhythm channel is dynamic, responding to the way you play your guitar. They designed the lead channel to provide a ton of gain while staying clear and cutting through the mix with ease. Find more information here.