When it comes to playing the guitar, choosing the right amplifier can make all the difference in your sound. And with so many different types and price ranges of guitar amps available on the market, it can be overwhelming to know where to start.
To help you find the right amp for your needs, this post will guide you on choosing guitar amps and list the 10 best guitar amps under $200.
From the beginner-friendly Fender Frontman 10G to the legendary Orange Crush 12 that Led Zeppelin’s very own Jimmy Page used, we’ve got you covered!
We’ll also dissect them based on different genres and purposes. Without further ado, let’s look at the top options.
The Best Guitar Amps Under $200
- Fender Frontman 10G – Best for Beginners
- Marshall MG15GFX – Best for Metal Guitarists
- Orange Crush 12 – Best for Classic Rock Enthusiasts
- Blackstar Fly 3 – Best for Practicing on the Go
- Vox Pathfinder 10 – Best for Clean Tones and Vintage Sounds
- Peavey Vypyr VIP 1 – Best for Versatile Tones and Effects
- Boss Katana Mini – Best for Bedroom Use
- Yamaha THR5 – Best for Recording and Home Use
- Line 6 Spider IV 15 – Best for Experimenting With Different Tones
- Behringer Ultracoustic AT108 – Best for Acoustic Guitar Players
|Volume, overdrive, treble, bass, gain
|¼” guitar, ⅛” AUX, ⅛” headphone output
The Fender Frontman 10G is a quality budget-friendly amp for beginners. Despite its affordability, it packs plenty of advantages.
It looks like a smaller version of Fender tube amps and weighs only 8.5 pounds. Yet, it produces a powerful, high-quality sound. Since it’s such a light amp, it’s ideal for traveling players and guitarists always on the road.
The Fender Frontman 10G is a good choice for small-venue gigs or home practice as its power is 10 watts, and it comes with AUX and headphones options that fit practicing at home.
Without them, it can still be quiet enough for you to play your guitar without bothering your neighbors—even quiet enough to play in a hotel room!
The Frontman 10G gives you a classic and clean tone from the get-go. If you want to customize it a little, you can do so through the bass and treble knobs.
If you want to practice rock, and blues, or play some solos, you can put the overdrive switch into good use to get a sharp overdrive with the proper bite for these genres.
This 6” speaker has a special design with black textured vinyl, a silver grill cloth, and a chrome hardware finish with a blackface control panel.
The Fender Frontman 10G is the ideal amp for those looking for a cheap option that’s good enough for home practice.
However, if you plan to play at big gigs with a large audience, you should opt for a stronger option.
- Lightweight and portable
- Quiet and suits home practice
- Highly affordable
- AUX input and headphone output
- Doesn’t come with any effects
- Minimal controls
- 15-watt power
- Portable weight (16 pounds)
- Instrument cable, headphone jack, AUX inputs
The Marshall MG15GFX is part of the Gold series by the well-known brand Marshall. These solid-state amps are a leader, yet they come at a price that doesn’t break the bank.
This amp is a 15-watt one that weighs 16.3 pounds and measures 8″ x 15″ x 14.8”, which makes it quite portable and suitable for small-gig travelers. However, protect the backplate as it’s relatively fragile and won’t withstand rough moving conditions.
Despite not having the most dazzling looks, the control panel at the forefront looks stellar.
The amp comes with four channels: clean, crunch, Overdrive 1, and Overdrive 2. However, there are only two buttons to control these channels: one for the clean/crunch and the second for the OD1/OD2. It also features five handy effects: chorus, phaser, flanger, delay, and reverb.
It comes with programmable settings, which give you a fine degree of customization, especially since you can apply the reverb without the other effects. Having a dedicated module for the reverb is an unexpected yet pleasant surprise.
Its controls include gain, volume, and tuner as well as the 3-band EQ: treble, mids, and bass.
The Marshall MG15GFX is a fit choice for metal, thanks to the distortion that the Overdrive 2 gives you. It helps you achieve the dark growly sound that’s essential to playing metal. It could work well for hard rock as well.
However, if you plan on playing softer genres, you might want to search for another option.
- Great value for the price
- Equipped with onboard effects
- Compatible with footswitch
- Chromatic tuning via the tap-tempo button
- Only a single knob controls all the effects
- Only two buttons to switch between the four channels
- Doesn’t look aesthetic
- 12-watt power
- 3-band equalizer (EQ)
- Lightweight and portable design
- Distinguished orange color
It’s worth mentioning that rock and metal icons like Steve Harris (Iron Maiden), Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), and Jim Root (Slipknot) all have chosen Orange amps to deliver their art.
The Orange Crush 12 is a compact option, measuring 7.87″ x 11.81″ x 12.6″. It’s also portable as it’s only 10.4 pounds.
Connectivity options aren’t plenty, but they’re enough as you get a ¼-inch input and a ¼-inch headphone output with a cab sim emulator.
Not to mention, the Orange Crush 12 only comes with a single channel. Still, this channel features overdrive knobs, gain, and volume, which helps you reach clean and crunchy tones alike.
The amp provides a bright and clear voice with proper articulation for clean tones. The Crush 12 also does well at responding to dynamic playing and facilitates going from one attack to another seamlessly.
Yet, Orange Crush 12 excels at distorted tones. It delivers a sound reminiscent of the original Orange sound associated with heavy music from the 60s and 70s.
The Orange Crush 12 is a good option for beginners looking to get an Orange amp on a budget.
- Simple operation
- Overdrive sounds good
- Solid construction
- Doesn’t sound as good in clean tone as in overdrive
- No reverb effect
- Comes with only one channel
- Compact and portable design
- 3 watts of power
- Solid performance for the size and price
The Blackstar Fly 3 is one of the smallest amps that you can find. It measures 5.59″ x 7.59″ x 4.29″ and weighs only 1.98 pounds. It’s so compact that it can run on six AA batteries or a regular AC power adapter.
Although it comes with plenty of controls, including an overdrive switch, volume, gain, delay level, and EQ, it only comes with one effect: delay.
It does better on the cleans than on distorted tones. However, if you crank it up, you’ll get a tone similar to overdrive, even if you’re on the clean channel.
Naturally, the sound won’t be big and will suit solo sessions in your hotel room, but not jamming or recording. Mainly, this is because it produces only 3 watts of power, so there’s not much to work with.
It comes with a ¼-inch input, AUX, and headphone output. What makes it unique in this area is it also comes with Bluetooth connectivity.
The Blackstar Fly 3 is the ideal option for guitarists on the go. If you want to travel far and wide without feeling burdened with your amp, it’s the best option you can go for.
- Sturdy build
- Compact design
- Portable and lightweight enough for travel
- 3 watts of power is too little for anything except home practice
- Overdrive tones with high volumes, even on the clean channel
- A distinctive look and signature VOX tone
- 10-watt power rating
- Open back design
The VOX Pathfinder 10 is a classic item, both in terms of looks and sound.
Although it sounds well-articulated and clear, the open back compromises the concentration of sound. It does allow you to peek at the 6.5” speaker inside, which isn’t quite common on amps at this price segment.
The Pathfinder 10 comes with a 2-band EQ, along with volume and gain knobs. However, the 2-band EQ is less than the 3-band that most amps on the list offer.
Still, it comes with a clean and overdrive switch that allows you to choose to play warm and rich tones or ones with a chime.
With 10 watts of power, it’s ideal for practicing at home or doing small gigs, and it suits those looking for the simplest design.
However, if you want some complexity to your tones, you might want to check other options.
It comes with a line/headphone jack that allows you to practice at night and at home without bothering the neighbors.
- High-quality construction
- Feels even more expensive than it looks
- Little space beneath the handle for carrying the amp
- The open back minimized the sound
- 20W of power
- One 8” speaker
- Combo and modeling configurations
The Peavy Vypyr VIP 1 is a small-sized amp with 20W power. It features a built-in looper that you can activate with a group of after-market pedals and 36 onboard electric, six acoustic, and six bass guitar models. Not to mention, it can play up to four sounds at the same time.
This amp gives you a deep, rich sound and comes with a semi-enclosed back.
It’s a versatile amp as it allows you to connect various instruments and has AUX, MP3, and CD connectivity options.
Moreover, the amp’s interface is pretty simple, making it easy to figure out the levels and sound quality so you don’t spend too long adjusting them.
While it originally has 16 presets, you can connect the Peavey Vypyr VIP 1 to a computer via USB. By doing so, you can modify the presets however you please, adding endless possibilities to your tones. For this reason, it’s the best option for versatile tones and effects.
That’s a bonus since Peavey prioritizes grainy electric guitar presets. Applying these modifications is a lot easier on a computer—even if the amp’s interface is simple.
While you’re connected, you can also record whatever you play using Peavey’s software.
If you’re looking for home practice, recording, or playing gigs at small venues, this 20-watt amp will serve you just fine.
However, if you’re after the big gigs and large venues, you’ll need a much stronger amp than the Peavey Vypyr VIP 1.
- Plenty of guitar models
- Built-in looper
- USB connectivity to a computer, allowing for preset customization
- Compatible with PA system
- Sound tends to be grainy
- Adjustments to presets can be tough through the interface
- Compact design
- A solid set of controls
- 7-watt power
- 4” speaker
The Boss Katana Mini is incredibly compact that you can stick it into a handbag. It measures 4.63″ x 9.06″ x 7.13″ and weighs 3.3 pounds, which is as portable as amps get.
To add to this portability, the Boss Katana can run on batteries without a power source connection. If you record on the move, the Katana Mini has a direct recording ability so you can save your tones to your laptop right away.
Despite the portability, it offers you 7 watts of power with gain, volume, delay time, and delay level controls. That’s beside the EQ controls: treble, middle, and bass.
It features a ¼-inch guitar input and AUX input and headphone/recording output. So, you can use it to play music in the comfort of your bed without disturbing anyone. The AUX connection even allows you to use the amp as a speaker to play music.
The Katana offers three high-quality channels: brown, crunch, and clean. The brown channel makes it unique, as it comes with a high-grain sound ideal for playing metal and hard rock. You can even shred without needing extra distortion pedals.
- Can run on batteries
- Extremely compact and portable
- The high-grain channel is impressive for a compact amp
- Weak sound
8. Yamaha THR5
- Yamaha’s signature VCM technology
- Lightweight and battery-powered
- True hi-fi stereo
- 10 watts of power
Yamaha is a peg in the music industry, but does this amp live up to their standards? It sure does!
It comes with Yamaha’s True Hi-Fi stereo sound, developed with the company’s award-winning AV division.
While it comes with 10 watts of power, you’ll find the sound more powerful than other options on the list as this is a tube amp. So, you can set it up on a table but get an entire wall of sound.
The amp even comes with Yamaha’s patented Virtual Circuitry Technology, which enhances the sound.
The THR5’s sound is ideal for warming up backstage. It’s also a popular choice to play around campfires or on beaches.
It measures 6.58” x 4.72” x 10.67” and weighs 4.4 pounds, While it’s not designed to be portable, it turned out to be. It can even operate with batteries when there’s no AC power option.
You can also connect your tablet or your phone to the amp for more practical usage.
- Small and portable
- Runs on batteries
- Excellent sound for a portable amp
- Buzzing appears when you crank the volume up
- Doesn’t suit performances
- 15-watt power rating
- Modeling amp
- Built-in tuner
- High-quality direct recording
The Line 6 Spider IV 15 is a great modeling amp for beginners. Despite being small in size, it’s quite large in sound.
The amp comes with four amp tones: clean, crunch, metal, and insane. Not only that, but it also comes with six effects and plenty of presets. However, it’s worth mentioning that the metal and insane models can sound too aggressive and distorted at higher sound levels.
You also get a 3-band EQ, channel volume control, and gain knob. Moreover, the effects include two knobs: the first for flanger, chorus/flanger, phaser, and tremolo while the second is for reverb, tape echo, and sweep echo.
You can create, save, and recall four entire settings with a push of a button. Bear in mind, though, that each amp model can only save one preset.
As for connectivity, the amp comes with a CD/MP3 jack and output for headphones/direct recording.
It measures 8.5” x 16” x 15” and weighs 17 pounds, so it’s not an amp that suits traveling. It’s ideal for home practice if you want to experiment with different and varying tones.
- Comes with a built-in tuner
- Packing a lot of features
- Easy to navigate
- Tap Tempo function and Tremolo can’t be synced
- Doesn’t come with a footswitch
- 15 watts
- Virtual Tube Circuitry (VTC) technology
- Versatile I/O
The Behringer Ultracoustic AT108 combines a vintage personality into a portable and affordable amp.
The Virtual Tube Circuitry gives you tube amp tones that further enhance the acoustics you play using this amp.
From there, you can use the 3-band EQ to shape the tone to your personalized needs.
Imagine playing at a coffee house with your dynamic mic and acoustic-electric guitar plugged in; that’s the ideal use for the Behringer Ultracoustic AT108.
And if you want some rehearsing before you get on stage, you can put the headphone input to use.
The amp measures 12.68” x 6.38” x 14.06” and weighs about 12 pounds, which doesn’t make it too hard to carry around wherever you’re playing.
However, if you’re looking for large sounds that suit rock and metal, you should look into other options.
- Vintage tone and character
- Incredible acoustic enhancement
- Only suits acoustic and vocal purposes
- Sometimes has hums and hisses to the sound
How to Choose the Best Guitar Amp (Buyer’s Guide)
There are some tips and tricks to choosing a guitar amp, no matter its price tag. In this section, we’ll tell you how to pick the best option that suits both your needs and your budget.
Types of Guitar Amps
When looking up guitar amps, you’ll stumble upon three types: solid-state, tube, and modeling or digital amps.
Let’s look into each option and its uses, characteristics, advantages, and disadvantages.
Tube amps sometimes go by the name “valve” amps. Their mechanism relies on vacuum tubes that amplify guitar signals and produce dynamic tones full of warmth.
They best suit those who play blues, rock, and metal. However, they tend to be a little more expensive, heavier, and require more maintenance than other types of amps.
Moreover, they’re quite exceptionally loud, which can hinder your freedom to practice at home.
In short, they’re the ideal choice for those who like to invest in their gear and get the perfect tone.
Solid-state amps, also known as transistor amps, use built-in electronics to produce their sound. These amps are generally more affordable, lightweight, and reliable than tube amps.
They also tend to have more built-in effects and are much easier to use. However, they lack dynamic range and warmth.
Solid-state amps are an excellent choice for reliable and affordable options.
Modeling amps are a type of solid-state amp and they use digital technology to simulate the sound of different amps, effects, and cabinets.
These amps are highly versatile and can produce a wide range of tones, making them ideal for guitarists who play different genres.
They’re also often more budget-friendly than tube amps. Yet, modeling amps can be complex to use and require technical knowledge of digital sound processing.
If you’re highly versatile and tech-savvy to a degree, a modeling/digital amp will serve you well.
Factors to Consider
When choosing a guitar amp, it’s important to consider your playing style, budget, and preferences.
You have to begin your journey of looking for a guitar amp by setting a proper budget. Amps can range from a few hundred dollars and up to several thousand. That’s why it’s crucial to how much you’re willing to spend on the amp.
Bear in mind that a higher price doesn’t always mean better quality; you have to choose something that fits your needs, which will require some research on your end.
Why you’re getting your amp makes a huge difference when it comes to choosing one. If you’re looking for a home practice option, you might suffice with fewer features and a smaller option.
On the other hand, live performances require a heavy-duty amp with plenty of power to cover the entire venue.
Recording might not need an amp that’s big or has a lot of power, but it should come with plenty of options and ideally should be a multi-channel amp.
Finally, a travel-oriented amp has to be small and portable, so you’ll have to pay attention to dimensions and weight. “
Something that weighs around 33 to 55 pounds and measures 19” x 16” x 10” will be suitable. Of course, if you can go lower while keeping the same power, that would be even better.
Music Genre and Style
When choosing the best guitar amp for your playing style, you have to consider the genre you’ll be playing. So, let’s look at what each genre entails.
- Blues: Blues guitar is often light and natural-sounding crunch as well as a round and pleasant tone. A tube amp is the best for playing blues as it helps you achieve a classic, warm sound. Good amps for playing Blue are Fender Frontman 10G.
- Rock: Rock music requires some more aggressive and distorted sound. A high-gain amp is essential for achieving the heavy, crunchy sound that is typically associated with rock music. The Marshall MG15GFX and Orange Crush 12 are ideal options for rock guitarists.
- Metal: Metal is a genre that needs a high-gain amp with plenty of sustain. That’s why a modeling or solid-state amp will best suit this genre. Good options include the Marshall MG15GFX, Orange Crush 12, and Boss Katana Mini as they provide you with the necessary grain without compromising sound clarity.
- Jazz: Jazz music needs a warm, clean sound with a lot of headroom. A tube amp is a good choice for jazz as it gives you both clarity and warmth.
- Country: Country guitarists require an amp with a twangy, clean sound with plenty of definition. That’s why tube amps and solid-state amps are good options for country players.
Power and Wattage
If you plan on playing in small venues or practicing at home, a low-wattage amp may be all you need. Getting something that ranges between 10 and 40 watts will do the job and leave you with an amp that’s not too big to compromise portability.
You can opt for a medium-sized amp between 50 and 100 watts if you’re practicing with a band. While this doesn’t require an amp that’s too large, you’ll need something that still stands out between the bass and drums during rehearsals.
On the other hand, if you’re going to play in large areas or with a band, you should opt for a high-wattage amp. To cover an adequate area and give you a distinguished sound for a big area, you should aim for 100 to 200 watts.
Keep in mind that the genre you play also affects the power and wattage you need. So, if you’re playing metal in a small venue, you might want to opt for a medium-sized amp instead of a small one.
Read Also: How Many Watts Does a Guitar Amp Use?
Speaker Size and Configuration
The size of the speaker plays a role in how your tone will sound. Not to mention, whether your amp is a combo amp or a head and cab one makes a huge difference.
With combo amps, you’ll get the head and cab both tucked into one unit. On the other hand, the head and cabinet setup has each item in a separate unit.
The former is a lot more convenient, especially for those who travel with their amps. However, the separate setup allows you to be more deliberate with the tones of your guitar.
Most amps come with standard knobs and basic adjustable tones, while others give you a considerable number of ways you can explore. These effects can include:
- Equalization Controls (EQ): The knobs for equalization allow you to control the bass (low end), mid, and treble (high end) frequencies. You can configure these knobs to tweak the tone and adjust it to get the exact sound you’re aiming for. That’s why these configurations may change depending on the setting, the size of the area you’re playing in, and the type of genre you’re playing.
- Distortion: Distortion is also known as “gain.” It allows you to adjust the distortion levels to ensure that the amplified signals aren’t exceeding the limit of the amp’s power.
- Reverb: You can control the reverb —also known as acoustic echo— your amp produces. This gives your amp a push and allows it to produce a bigger sound than it typically does.
- Digital Effects: Instead of buying a lot of pedals to get the tone you want, many modern amps come with digital effects. If you’re still practicing, having digital effects can help you experiment with more tones and styles. On the other hand, if you’ve been playing for some time, they’ll motivate you to tap into new realms of music.
- Multiple Channels: While some amps come with a single channel, you can opt for a multiple-channel option if you plan to switch between different tones. A footswitch allows you to jump from one channel to another. Having more than one channel allows you to assign one for an original tone and others for various effects like chained distortion or overdrive.
Does brand reputation matter when it comes to guitar amps?
Brand reputation can be a good indicator. Some brands are known for producing high-quality amps, and if you can land one of those, it’ll add to the quality of your playing.
Should I consider portability when shopping for guitar amps?
If you’re planning on traveling with your amp or playing gigs in various locations, portability would be a make-or-break factor.
Keep in mind, though, that the larger amps would be more difficult to fit in small venues or practice areas.
What amp size do I need for home use?
A solid-state amp that ranges between 10W to 30W will be more than enough to practice at home. If you’re opting for a tube amp, then go for 5W to 10W.