12 Best Guitar Amplifiers Under $500 (2018 Review)

Best Guitar Amplifiers Under $500

As the popularity of playing the electric guitar grew exponentially that started way back in the early 1950’s. So does the demand of guitar players for better guitar amplification with rivaling capabilities in terms of output volume, quality of sound, tonal controls and functionalities thru the number of built-in effects and amp model presets that can come with the guitar amplifiers.

Even though we are lucky to have an overwhelming variety of guitar amplifiers at this age with superior technology to choose from. Picking the right one is still hard on what or whether to choose a valve amp, solid state or an advance modelling amp because of contrasting ideas hyped by their on-board features and especially about the undying tone debate.

To tackle the heart of the matter without over analyzing. My small piece of advice would be is to come up with your own personal preference which may take you unavoidably going in and out of your specifics and comfort zone. Just to arrive on a narrowed selection of guitar amplifiers geared towards on what is mainly essential for your playing and has the strongest appeal before eventually pulling the trigger.

Onward now to the amps. These type of amps on the list can be considered for the working class musician. They are loud enough especially when running on a mic of a PA system to influence a big part of their sound at home, recordings and when on the road playing on small to mid size clubs for the amp to naturally pay for itself.

While for those beginners who are excited to get their feet wet on a guitar amp at this price range. They’ll be delighted not only by the sound having an above passing mark in the ear test, but the built quality as well for that everyday long hours of practice and in soonest of time to use for jam sessions.

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Peavey Vypyr VIP 3Peavey Vypyr VIP 3

This innovative guitar amp from Peavey is a first of its kind on combining amplification for three separate instruments in one amp namely for an electric, acoustic electric and bass guitar. It is consist of 24 electric guitar models, 6 acoustic models, and 6 bass models controlled by WYSIWYG controls (what you see is what you get) which is easy to use to channel the sounds that you like for all three instruments.

The transtube analog circuit and 32-bit floating point SHARC processors as sound source of the amp is a perfect combination of Peavey’s technology to create a powerful modeling amplifier that makes guitar players feel and sound like playing on a tube amplifier. Also built-in to this combo amp are dozens of stompbox models for additional range of sound and amp models that includes the Peavy 6505 to hit high gain tones to fill the needs of metal players. Other features that comes with the amp are headphone jack, aux-in jack and USB port to plug into the computer to record and access the Vypr edit software.

Where to buy: Peavey Vypyr VIP 3 Guitar Amplifier $299.92 Amazon

BOSS Katana-100BOSS Katana-100

If you like some of the guitar amplifiers coming from Roland. For sure you will also like the ones offered by BOSS because basically they are same brand. This 100 watts 12” inch speaker modelling amp that BOSS has can deliver an awesome range of gig worthy high volume sounds to shake and be heard across the room. The Katana-100 is integrated with a wide selection of effects and amp models which are customizable using the free BOSS tone studio editor software making it pretty exciting effective combo amplifier for beginners and seasoned veteran players alike.

Functionality and dynamic response on accessing clean to dirty tones is a breeze using the dedicated gain, EQ, presence, and effects control knobs. Then when the desired settings are achieve, the channel setups and effects combinations can to stored on a memory for instant recall making it stage ready.

Where to buy: BOSS Katana-100 Guitar Amplifier $349.99 Amazon

Blackstar ID CORE Stereo 100Blackstar ID:CORE Stereo 100

Considering adding amps in different sizes for different gigs or a totally new type amplifier from the ones you always use can open up a new class of sounds. This idea on an amp is epitomize by Blackstar ID:CORE Stereo 100 up to the 150 model and Blackstar ID:CORE V2 with three models consist of a 40 watts (2×20), 20 watts (2×10), and 10 watts (2×5) version. Offering players a full range of possibilities.

The version that is gigable is the Blackstar ID:CORE Stereo 100 and 150 models for its volume capacity to get loud without affecting much the overall quality of the 2 clean channels, 2 crunch and the 2 overdrive channels remains effortless to growl in super stereo wide experience. Equalization of the sound is done by using the bass, middle, treble knobs and Blackstar’s patented ISF control to have the option to emulate American and British vibe of sound. Looper feature is also available with 30 seconds record time and infinite overdubs, 12 vintage style effects including Octaver, tap tempo, an mp3 line input, USB connectivity for recording to a computer and for the free insider software.

Where to buy: Blackstar IDCORE100 Guitar Amplifier $349.99 Amazon

VOX AC15VRVOX AC15VR

VOX AC15VR is a 15 watts hybrid combo amplifier with 1×12” inch custom celestion speaker housed in classic style closed back cabinet. Players will only get a positive of both sides of the world with this guitar amplifier due to the combination of solid state circuitry and the amp is being all fired up by a valve reactor power section producing a genuine tube amplified sound.

The controls on top is split panel divided. Separating the natural volume channel from the overdrives. Channel 1 provides that clean tone which is just immaculate to hear and when you raise the volume a little bit more, it gives that natural Vox brown sound. Channel 2 is the overdrive section subdivided into two. OD1 is for the bluesy crunch and OD2 for the meaty high gain sound. EQ, master volume and reverb can be use for both channels. Jacks at the back of the amp are for the VSF foot switch turning On/Off the amps reverb, and an external speaker out to hook up an 8 to 16 ohms speaker cabinet, disabling the internal celestian speaker.

Where to buy: VOX AC15VR Guitar Amplifier $379.99 Amazon

Fender Super Champ X2Fender Super Champ X2

Fender enduring success only means one thing, they really make exceptional products. Aside from the pioneering achievements of the guitars they make. They also never had a hard time on making a significant impact with their line of guitars amplifiers by Influencing how we perceive what a great sound is, not only on a guitar but musically  overall. Those vintage amps are simply the best, however they are very expensive for an average Joe, that’s why they develop a line of amps which are budget friendly and great in their on way in delivering those legendary sounds.

In the many amp models Fender offers, the Fender Super Champ X2 is a superb vacuum valve amplifier for its size, volume output, and awesome quality of tube driven sounds. This 15 watts combo amp is powered by a 2x6V6 tubes and 1x12X7 preamp tube with 1×10” inch Fender design speaker place on a black texture open back cabinet with grille cloth. On the panel going from left to right, it starts with the dedicated volume 1 control for the clean channel and by pressing the select button, it brings players to channel 2 which is the amp modelling section with the gain, volume 2 and voicing knob totaling to 16 presets including the blackface, silverface, tweed, British combos and many more. Third final section on the panel is for the EQ bass and treble, FX adjust, and FX select.

Where to buy: Fender Super Champ X2 Guitar Amplifier $379.99 Amazon

Bugera V22 InfiniumBugera V22 Infinium

Nothing beats a natural sound. That is why no matter how expensive they are, tube amps are irreplaceable and always be on the list. Introduction on playing with a tube amp this days became more reachable thanks to company like Behringer on developing Bugera amps. These are powerful good sounding valve driven amp with a boutique vintage look that is easy on the pocket.

Bugera V22 Infinium is a hand built 2 channel 22 watts tube combo. Powered by 2xEL84 power tubes and a 3x12AX7 tubes on the preamp section with infinium life technology monitoring the tubes. Meaning you’ll get more mileage with the tubes twenty times than normal before replacing. On the front panel is where to find the two channels. One for the clean controlled by volume and gain, then the the other one is the multi stage lead channel for the overdrives and distortion. Both channels shares the boost button for highs/lows and EQ consist of bass, mid, treble, presence, and a high definition dedicated reverb control to blend and achieve an awesome sound. More feature can be seen on the back of the amp like effects loop, pentode/triode mode switch to transfer from 15 watts to 5 watts output volume, foot switch input jack, and infinium tube monitoring LED light.

Where to buy: Bugera V22 Infinium Guitar Amplifier $399.99 Amazon

Ibanez TSA15Ibanez TSA15

Ibanez TSA15 was first introduced almost decade a go. It’s a 15 watts combo amp powered by 2x6V6GT tube circuitry followed by a 2x12AX7 tube preamp with celestion 1×12” celestion speaker. The amp also has a built-in tube screamer giving the amp a totally different tonal characteristics on the drives and shows how much the amp can handle pedals making this tube amplifier a welcome addition for those tone chasers.

Adjacent to the tube screamer section and past the boost toggle switch is the clean section. The range of clean channel is just great staring from really clean until you spice things a bit by turning the volume level up and tweaking the sound more using the bass and treble to give that nice bluesy crunch sound. Moving at the back of the amp is where to find the attenuator switch to transfer from 15 watts to a 5 watts power. Other speaker out (4ohm to 16ohm speaker cabinet extentions), foot switch jack and send/return input jacks for effects.

Where to buy: Ibanez TSA15 Guitar Amplifier $449.99 Amazon

Marshall MG101CFXMarshall MG101CFX

It is no secret and almost a given fact that every guitar players dream is to own a Marshall. On that note, by looking thru its full range of models. The guitar amplifiers this famed brand offers is open to any players budget, making it possible for anyone to wish and have one. Topping the list on Marshall’s entry for a guitar amplifier at this price point comes from its Carbon Fiber Series, the Marshall MG101CFX.

This amp is a 100 watts solid state combo amplifier with 1×12” inch speaker that can be operated in four programmable channels overall consisting of a clean, crunch, OD1 and OD2. Also on the amp is an impressive selection of on-board digital FX namely Chorus, Phaser, Flanger and Octave in addition to the two Reverb types (spring/studio) and an independent Delay section to have a hi-fi, tape, multi and reverse delays with tap tempo. Other features included on the control panel are input jack for the cable and headphone jack is also available for quiet practices.

Where to buy: Marshall MG101CFX Guitar Amplifier $499.99 Amazon

BUGERA T50 INFINIUM head amplifierBugera T50 Infinium

The Bugera T50 Infinium is a hard to beat the best affordable amp head to buy on the market today for players on a budget. It is a hand built 50 watts guitar amplifier with 2 channels. Powered by 4x12AX7 tubes on the preamp and 2xEL34 power tubes with infinium life multiplier technology placed on a boutique style cage casing.

For operation, both channels has designated controls in carving out tones. The clean channel has it own EQ bass-mid-treble and the lead channel EQ bass-mid-treble has a separate volume knob to use aside from adjusting at the main master volume. On the master control panel side, a built-in reverb is placed for ambient sound, path switch to boost and tone cut for further tone shaping. Jack socket at the back are consist of an FX loop, DI out, speaker out, and the foot switch. Impedance is 4, 8 and 16 Ohms to match any speaker cabinet using proper speaker cables.

Where to buy: Bugera T50 Infinium Guitar Head Amplifier $299.99 Amazon

Randall RD20H Diavlo Series head amplifierRandall RD20H Diavlo

On the upper echelon of amps when it comes to producing crispy clean and distinct high gain metal sound. The Randall RD20 head 2 channel 20 watts guitar amplifier is an absolute monster. This particular model on the Diavlo series of amp is powered by 4x12AX7 tubes on its preamp and 2x6V6 for main power tubes with a boost mode.

It has a master volume, EQ bass-mid-treble-presence used for both channels. Individual gain control for each channel, and the overdrive channel with a separate volume knob. Located at the back of the amp are sockets for an FX loop, speaker out, foot switch, and speaker emulator. Impedance starts at 8 ohms minimum to 16 ohms to match and use only proper speaker cables.

Where to buy: Randall RD20H Diavlo Series Guitar Head Amplifier $499.99 Amazon

Marshall DSL15HMarshall DSL15H DSL Series

Replacement for the great sounding Marshall MA series that promises to be a lot better than its predecessor in terms of features, finishing and to continue on delivering the legendary valve Marshall tones players loving and rave about is the DSL series which include DSL15 head.

Marshall DSL15H is a 2 channel 15 watts all tube amplifier for having a 2x6V6 power valves and 4xECC83 in the preamp section for the purpose of delivering amazing clean to punchy overdrives perfect for any style of playing. Front panel controls are volume and gain for the clean channel. Volume and gain for ultra-gain or overdrive channel. Shared 4-band EQ bass-mid-treble-presence. Tone shift button when activated give a more modern metal tones and deep button that ads a boost on the bass. Then at the back is a pentode/triode switch drops the amp’s output power in half, foot switch jack, and speaker out jack. Impedance of 8 ohms minimum to 16 ohms to match with a speaker cabinet connected using proper speaker cables.

Where to buy: Marshall DSL15H DSL Series Guitar Head Amplifier $499.99 Amazon

Peavey 6505MHPeavey 6505MH

In your face crazy gain tones and set to deliver awesome clean sound on a small head using its 2xEL84 power tubes and 3x12AX7/ECC83 preamp tubes are all built-in with Peavey’s 6505MH head. This 2 channel amp offers versatility on both channels. The clean/rhythm section has the option of playing just clean, or by adding bright and crunch to it. While the lead channel where it really makes a massive difference on the distortion.

Controls to master in dialing tones are pre-gain and post-gain knobs for both channels. Shared 3-band EQ bass-mid-treble, reverb effect, and power amp section to control resonance and presence. Jacks at the back are USB record output, for the foot switch, FX loop, DI out, and speaker out. Other controls also placed at the back are attenuator switch for 20 watts, 5 watts, or 1 watt output power. Speaker defeat button for the MSDI to create a dummy load across the amp, and impedance switch for 8 or 16 ohm cabinets.

Where to buy: Peavey 6505MH Guitar Head Amplifier $499.99 Amazon