Guitar Amps can range from $50 to over $5,000. The range of quality is massive.
While most people will lose sleep deciding which $1000 guitar amp is for them, it is just as important to do research on the cheap guitar amps that cost under $100. While most of us know that we are getting a bottom tier amplifier at or under $100, there are still value guitar amps that can be found under $100.
When determining the value of an amplifier, whether it is a guitar amp, keyboard amp, bass amp, electronic Drumset amp, or whatever it may be, we look at quality through function, sizing up the design and electronics, sound quality, versatility & function, look and cost (we’ll refer to those last two features as the “vibe” of the amp.
As amplifiers can be somewhat complicated for beginners and those less familiar with the inner working of an amplifier, we urge everyone to read through our buyers guide before choosing the best guitar amp for you. Guitar amplifiers can come as combo or sold as speakers and cabinets with the actually amplifier sold separately.
Understanding the difference between a guitar amp (often referred to as an amp head or just “the head”) and the speakers or cabinet is easy to grasp but often mistaken by musicians in their communication.
With our buyers guide we’ll point out which amps are “combo amps” which is amplifiers that include that amp and the speakers. In addition we will point out some great guitar amps that are sold as just the head (amplifier only) and some of the best speakers and cabinets for guitar amps that are sold without the amplifier.
How do we pick our Top Choices for Best Guitar Amps?
The four main factors we look at when determining which guitar amps in this price range give you the most bang for your buck, include:
- Sound Quality
- Versatility & Function
- The Design
- The Vibe
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How does the Sound Quality of this Amp compare?
When it comes to any instrument, sound quality is important. For guitar amplifiers we are focusing on the tonal quality and how it performs as various volumes.
The tone of a guitar amp does not have to be stylistically specific. A rock guitar amp will have a different tone than a blues amp and both can be exceptional even if they are completely different in their tone. We are more concerned with unintended distortions, rattles, clipping and projection.
The other factors we take into account are focused around how well the guitar amp delivers it’s intended sound. If it’s a cheap guitar amp that is sold as a practice amp, we want to judge the sound quality on how it applies to it’s intended use.
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What is the Versatility & Function of this Guitar Amp?
The versatility and function of a guitar amp is a good bit of information to have at your finger tips while decided on the perfect guitar amplifier for your needs. While a guitar amp can have superb function without being a particularly versatile amplifier, the two typically go hand in hand.
The functionality of a guitar amp has to do with specs like dual channel footswitches, the design of the knobs like the reverb and volume knobs, as well as other effects which are the features that would make a guitar amp versatile.
Depending on the type of guitar amp you are looking for, some guitar amps can come with xlr inputs which allow for the direct input of a microphone which can be very handy for public speaking situations that do not require a full sound board.
How well was this Guitar Amp designed?
Yes, the design of an amp is important, but only as important as the end results which is determined in the sound quality of function as well as the vibe the design creates.
This section of the buyers guide is focused on the more technical side of the guitar amp. We break each guitar down into pieces and look at the quality of the amp based on the electronics, preamps, tubes and all that fun technical stuff.
For advanced guitar players and musicians that need amplifiers, this information is important as there are customizations that are available for amplifiers and specific types of design features that are exciting for the enthusiast.
For our purpose with looking at the best guitar amps under $200, we are grading the overall design. When diving into the individual reviews of the more expensive guitar amps, we are going to be diving into more details of the design.
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How well is this Amp designed?
When breaking down the design of a guitar amp, we taking a close look at the guitar amp watts, the specific types of speakers inside the cabinets, the preamps, tubes (if it’s not a solid state guitar amp), the quality of features like reverb and much more.
This section gives us the opportunity to see how they put the amplifiers together from the technically, nerdy musician perspective. Typically, the more expensive guitar amps have better designs with top shelf electronics, but sometimes affordable guitar amps can be designed very well, making affordable parts work to the best of their ability by pairing them with other complementary amp design choices.
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Does this Guitar Amp have a good Vibe?
I have no shame in saying that I love beautiful instruments and am frequently lured by the look of a cool instrument. This applies to everything from guitar amps to home studio headphones. The look of an instrument creates a vibe that should be reflective of the musician and the music.
Of course, the vibe is only as important as the functionality and sound of the instrument. In the case of guitar amps, the amps are typically the first things people see when they go to a concert. Before the band takes the stage, the drums, and amps are on full display.
In some cases, you can determine the style of music the band will be playing based on the amps on stage. It’s not always the case, but if you walk into a venue and there is a wall of Marshall Amps across the stage, you are likely in store for some loud and powerful rock and roll.