Finding best guitar amp for under two hundred dollars for practicing in the sea of brands and models can be really overwhelming. To help you with this, we went down to a local guitar shop, annoyed the heck out of the clerks, and walked out with a small list of what we thought were the best combo guitar amps. We also took some input from online stores, and read a ton of reviews from users to try come up with a most empirical list possible.
The amps that you’ll read about below are mostly entry-level products, considering that most of you are probably looking for something to start out with. Next to the sound quality and features, the main factor in choosing these amps was the price. This is based on the presumption that most of you don’t want to invest too much money in your first amp.
But, as you go down the list you’ll also find some really good amps loud enough even for some gigging, and you won’t feel the need to replace them after you train your ears and develop the ability to distinguish good sound from the bad. Most of those amps are of course a bit more expensive, but in the end if you have the money it is smarter to invest in a premium product, than to save a few buck buying something that just wasn’t made to last.
Let’s start of with the most basic amp there is, intended for beginners and those of you who want simplicity and compact size without getting too much into effects and all that fancy stuff. If you want a mini guitar amp with distortion and nothing else, Rogue is a good option.
- The Rogue G10 is a ten-water with a single 5 inch speaker. Ten watts can be enough as long as you understand what that exactly means. You can’t really expect to play for an audience with this thing – it will even struggle to follow a pair of drums, but it’s also important to remember that this amp was not really made for that purpose.
- Rogue G10 features only the most basic functions and controls. Starting from the left you have your volume control, then a toggle switch for choosing between the clean and the overdrive modes, and the two controls for treble and bass. As for connectivity, you have a input jack for your guitar, and a headphone jack on the right for your headphones.
- Perhaps surprising for its size, the amps has relatively decent sound quality. The clean channel is tolerable, and the overdrive is crunchy enough for practicing some basic power chords and scales.
Who should buy the Rogue G10
As said in the opening paragraph, this is pretty much the most basic amp there is. No effects and none of those fancy stuff, just a box with a speaker. As such, it is suited for someone who’s on a tight budget, or someone who just doesn’t want to spend money and who’s interested just in the most basic functions of an amp. It was made for people who intend to practice on their own, be it through the speaker or through a pair of headphones connected to the amp. .
Fender Frontman 10G
Fender Frontman has to be one of the most popular amps in the below $100 range, and it’s probably the one you’ll end up walking out with following a local guitar shop clerk’s recommendation. Even thought in its essence the amp is almost identical to the much cheaper Rogue G10, that shiny Fender badge for many seems to be worth the price.
- The Fender Frontman features 10W of power and a single 1-6″ Fender “Special Design” speaker. The amp measures 5.8 x 10.2 x 11 inches and weights 8.5 pounds. For it’s compact size it still manages to looks cool and gives the impression of a well-built amp.
- Controls are pretty much straight forward. You get almost the exactly same scheme as on the Rogue G10 (volume, bass, and treble) plus a knob that controls the gain. This knob only function when the amp is in the overdrive mode, and it allows you to decide how “dirty” you want your guitar to sound. The amp has inputs for Aux and Headphones (regular 3.5mm jack), as well as your regular 1/4″ guitar jack input.
- The amps sounds somewhat better than the Rogue, but the difference isn’t that huge. The 6-inch speaker surely plays a part in this role, as the amp tends to have a more to deliver somewhat more balanced sound, especially noticeable when played in a clean mode.
Who should buy the Frontman 10G
We’d say that this amp is probably best suited for those of you who are just picking up the guitar for the first time in your life, since it’s really simple and easy to use and requires no previous knowledge or experience when it comes to guitar gear. Due to lack of any effects this isn’t really the best affordable practice amp, but it’s good enough for starters.
Another amp with 10W of power and no built-in effects. The previously mentioned Rogue G10 is pretty much the exact same both in quality and in price, so the choice is pretty much whether to “invest” in a Fender badge or not.
Price group: 1/10
Fender Champion 20
At a first glance, Fender Champion 20 seems like a perfect amp for practicing and even playing some small gigs, considering its form factor and relatively affordable price. Many people started out on something similar to this amp, and our guess is that many of them decided to keep it as a back-up long after they moved up to a more expensive amp. This is something you would rarely see with the two cheaper amps that we mentioned before this one.
- Fender Champion 20 holds a single 8-inch speaker and offers you 20W of power – which is more than enough for the intended use. We’re still playing with relatively low numbers here, but if needed, the amp can somewhat successfully follow a pair of drums, given that your drummer takes it down a notch.
- The amp is packed with all kinds of digital effects, including chorus, delay, flanger, reverb, vibrato, and tremolo – a huge step up from the two amps mentioned above. It even has an additional knob for choosing between Tweed, Blackface, British, and Metal voicing. If this confuses you, don’t worry too much about – the feature is supposed to replicate the sound of some of the legendary amps made by Fender throughout the years, but it basically means having even more choice in deciding how exactly you want to sound.
- As for the sound quality, Fender Champion 20 is a big step above all the amps we’ve previously mentioned. Cleans are surprisingly well-balanced and crisp, even when compared to some of the much more expensive amps, and the dirty channel packs up just enough punch to allow for some metal and hard-rock sounds.
Who should buy the Champion 20
For most of the people $100 seems to be the mount they are perfectly fine spending on a piece of gear such as an amp. We honestly feel that this amp is the best 100 dollar practice amp, since it really isn’t just an amp for the beginners, but also for people with serious skill and expensive guitars in their arsenal. It’s just an all around well designed product, one of those that makes you fall in love with the company that makes it.
This amp features 20W of power and considerable amount of built in effects such as delay, chorus, reverb. It also features selectable amp voicings, which gives you even more control over the sound. All in all, a pretty good return on investment.
Price group: 3/10
Peavey Vypyr VIP 1
Peavey Vyper would really look like something straight from the future if put right next to all the other amps previously mentioned. It relies heavily on modern technology to produce all of the different sounds and voicings, which to some of the old guard might seem a little bit off-putting, while others will welcome the practicality and innovation that this amp brings along with it.
- Peavey Vyper features 20W of power built into a box measuring 16 x 16.5 x 8.25 and weighting 17.4 lbs. Although it can be a bit overwhelming at first, this is perhaps one of the most versatile amps around this price range, and it can offer you so much if you just get past that first shock. Of course, for some people this is exactly what they want – a sort of a command board which allows for total control over the sound, but for a sizable group out there it will probably be a bit too much.
- The said command board consists of a regular guitar jack, and next to it four buttons which transform the amp from the electric, to acoustic, and even a bass guitar amplifier. The first knob from the left allows you to choose between 25 different effects such as tremolo, phaser, and wah. The knob next to it gives you the option to choose between 36 amp models (basically changes the sound of the amp slightly and tries to replicate the sound of some of the iconic amps from Peavey’s line). The rest of the knobs are pretty much self explanatory, and you’ll figure it out with a breeze.
- Peavey Vypyr also has a built-in looper, tap tempo, and a chromatic tuner. If you don’t know what a looper is, in short it basically allows you to record a short sequence of you playing the guitar, and then repeat that to you in a loop. This is enormously practical for the people who wanna work on their improvisation skills, as well as anyone wanting to grasp the feeling of playing together with someone.
Who should buy the Vypyr
The target group here is pretty obvious – people who want total control of their sound, and achieving it without using a ton of different effect pedals. With the built-in looper, metronome, and tuner, this amp is pretty much perfect for people who simply want a small guitar amp with effects. Given that you are not too worried about sounding the best you can, it can even possibly became your long-term amp.
Peavey Vypyr is a 20W amp, with tons of built-in effects and different amps voicings. It also has a built-in looper which is a feature that in itself often reaches beyond the price of this amp. Perfect for people oriented towards heavier stuff.
Price group: 4/10
For the near end we left something that incorporates all the things that a guitarist would ever need from an amp, whether he or she is just starting out, or the person is already well experienced in both recognizing the good sound and being able to actually play the instrument. Marshall MG30CFX is actually big enough so that people wont laugh at you for having a cigar box for an amp.
- Marshall MG30CFX gives you 30W of power packed in a sizable box holding a single 10 inch speaker, measuring 18.9 x 8.8 x 16.5 inches and weighting 23.8 pounds. When compared to some other amps on this list, it actually looks like a proper-sized amp.
- As far as the effects you’ll get to play around with reverb, chorus, flanger, phaser, delay, and octave effects – which is basically more than enough to achieve almost any type of sound, or at least get somewhere close to it. The amp is built solid, and it really does deliver in all aspects as we would expect from something that that has Marshall written on it. As for inputs, on the front panel you’ll find Aux in, headphones jack, and foot-controller input. This means that you can actually use this amp while standing on-stage, and control all the effects with the pedal (which unfortunately does not come with the package). It also has a built-in tuner, which is obviously very useful.
- Where it perhaps lack in number of effects when compared to some of the amps on this list, the Marshall compensates in the quality of the sound that it delivers. Guess the thing that we would like to point out here is that this is the only amp on this list that made us get somewhat close that that feeling of having a huge amp stack at our disposal.
Who should buy the Marshall MG30CFX
This Marshall is perfectly fitted for people who want to rock as hard as possible while still being on a budget. If you have an electric guitar at home, $200 on hands, and you really care about good sound and quality – you’ll hardly find an amp that offers a better value than the Marshall MG30CFX.
With 30W of power this amp is a noticeable step above all of the previously mentioned amps. It features built-in reverb, chorus, phaser, and four programmable channels. The sound quality is comparable to some of the more expensive amps.
Price group: 6/10
Orange Crush 35RT
Although most of the amps in the higher price group mostly rely on packing tons of features into their package — meaning going for sort of one-in-all type of approach — there are quite few amps and companies that go for quality over quantity in that sense. The Orange Crush 35RT is simple in a sense that it only has the most basic effects and features, but bellow the surface there a lot more going on.
- Orange Crush 35RT has 30W of solid-state power and a single 10 inch speaker. The amp measures 12.01 X 11.42 X 6.88 inches and weights 10.4 lbs. The design language is satisfying, although some people may be put off by the orange color, in which case they can fortunately opt for a black version instead.
- As far as the effects, you only get to play with the reverb, but the basic controls still allow you to play with the sound a fair bit. The inputs are basic as well — headphone and guitar cable jacks, toggle switch to go from clean to dirty channel (also foot-switchable), aux-in, separate volume controls for each channel, and a dedicated gain knob. The headphone output comes with a CabSim feature, which emulates the sound of a Orange 4×12″ cabinet, and admittedly sounds really good in practice. A feature worth mentioning is the built-in tuner, which can be turned on and off with a dedicated switch.
- The sound quality really is the sell point of this amp. The clean channel actually sounds good, without the need to point out “for a such a small amp”. It just sounds very, very good – even when compared to some of the much more premium amps out there. The dirty channel is of course just as good, and playing around with the gain knob you can adjust the sound for different styles from light blues to heavy metal.
Who should buy the Orange Crush 35RT
This is a perfect amp for anyone who wants a simple, powerful sound, and who values pure quality over versatility. Orange focuses on one thing – sounding as good as possible for this price and size, and it doesn’t confuse itself by trying to do everything at once. This is a true no-nonsense, old school guitar amp, and that in itself should give you an idea whether it’s right for you or not.
Line 6 AMPLIFi 75
We scoured the internet looking for an amp that would satisfy even most demanding users, and be the most versatile and fun amp to use. To be honest, in the end the choice wasn’t that hard. The Line 6 AMPLIFi seems to incorporate almost everything that all the previous amps have, but so much more and done in arguably much more practical and unique way.
- Line 6 AMPLIFi is a 75W amp measuring 12.7 x 17.5 x 8 inches and 21 pounds. The design is refreshing and incorporates both the vintage look perhaps inspired by the legendary Vox AC30, and on the other side, it also looks modern featuring a fairly minimalistic design. It is equipped with a single 8” custom-designed speaker, and two mid-frequency drivers as well as two high-frequency drivers.
- If you thought that some of the other amps on this list are packed with features, this thing will blow your mind. With the Line 6 AMPLIFi, you are the artist and the amp is a blank sheet of paper. Your phone or your tablet device is your pen, and through the remote app that goes along with this amp you can draw and create and sort of sound and feeling that goes along with it. But take note – without the phone or the tablet your options are very limited, as the on-board controls don’t offer you nearly as much options as the remote app does. This will definitely put some people off, next to the fact that you can’t get the Amplifi app on the PC or Mac, just iOS and Android. We surely hope that Line 6 will do something about this in the future.
- Perhaps the most awesome thing about the amp is that you can download and use other people’s presets if your device is connected to the internet. You can do this either by directly searching for the artist or song, or by playing a song from you library and letting the app recognize the sound and automatically recommend you presets to use. This functionality alone blew our mind. To check how some of the presets from the user provided list sound, please check out this awesome video by Paul Glover on YouTube – Line 6 AMPLIFi 75: Playing with hero tone.
Who should buy the Line 6 AMPLIFi
Basically, this is for everyone who plays a guitar on both serious level, and just as a hobby. It is the ultimate practice amp, the one that isn’t afraid to push the boundaries and bring something new into the game. If money is no object, consider this to be the best guitar practice combo amp.
Guitar amp featuring 75W of power and ridiculous amount of built-in effects, given that you use the AMPLIFi Remote app for iOS/Andriod. If you don’t have a phone or a tablet, you’ll find that the on-board controls are very limiting, so take that into consideration.
Price group: 10/10