Adam's Take: This 20 watt 1x8inch combo electric guitar amp is one of the better practice amps for is portability, ...
2019 Guitar Amp Buyer's Guide
Shopping Advice for Guitar Amps
There are some great guitar amplifiers under $200 on the market. There are also some duds that I have wasted money on in the past. With our buyers guide, you should be able to narrow down the list of the best guitar amps under $200 while weeding out the amps that are nothing more than a waste of money.
From the Marshall MG15 Combo Amp to the Fender Champion 20, there are some really good guitar amps under $200. You don’t have to spend over $2000 on a Marshall JVM Series guitar amp to get out an playing.
For most of us looking at guitar amplifiers under $200 we are looking at good quality practice amps and amplifiers for small bar gigs. This price range is also great for beginners to find affordable guitar amps that offer a little more value than some of the cheaper guitar amps under $100.
When determining the value of any amplifier, we look at sound quality, function, design and vibe of the amp to figure out how high on the list any individual guitar amp should rank. Whether you are looking for a combo amp, a speaker or just the amplifier, there are some good options in the affordable price ranges.
For most musicians looking for guitar amps under $200, the combo amplifier is the way to go. Finding individual speakers and heads that are good quality, while keeping the cost to under $200 dollars total can be a challenge. If you just need a speaker or just need a head there are some good options under $200, but we’ll be focusing mostly on the guitar combo amps under $200 in this buyers guide.
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
How is the Sound Quality of this Amp?
The sound quality of a guitar amp under $200 can be surprisingly good. Recently while on tour with a grammy winning guitarist, we had issues with the tubes in his amplifier. The venue had an Orange Crush in their office that the talent buyer used to practice on.
In a pinch, we put the $120 guitar amp to the test. While we knew that Orange Amplifiers makes great guitar amps, we were still shocked at the quality of the sound that came out of a cheap guitar amp.
There is certainly a jump in quality when you get into the 1-2k range for guitar amps, but a lot of times the build and design choices can be made to where an affordable guitar amp can sound great. On the flip side, I have heard expensive amps that have been poorly assembled. Feedback and grounding issues can exist on an amp at any price level.
Finding guitar amps that have a great sound quality is our goal with our guitar amps under $200 buyers guide.
How Versatile & Functional is this Guitar Amp?
Guitar amps have various functions beyond just amplifying sound. The tone of sound reflects the musician musically and personally. While many guitar amps under $200 are bought for practice situations, there is still a desire to have a high quality tone.
For most musicians, been versatile is a huge advantage to staying busy and in demand. A guitar amp can have such an effect on your sound that finding guitar amps that have the ability to be modified or at least have some basic features that allow a musician to dial in a range of tones will help the musician to adapt to different bands and songs.
If you are playing dub reggae you will want a different tone than if you are playing James Brown, chicken grease style funk. Many guitarists (or any musician that needs an amp) will benefit from having an amp that can be adjusted based on the style of music.
Within the versatility, the function plays a huge role. It’s find to have an amp with digital effects built in, but if it takes 10 minutes to adjust those effects, the function will be useless to the musician that needs to be able to cycle through tones on the fly.
For our buyers guide we look at versatility and function in tandem and make sure that we are getting amps that can deliver the tones we need in a way that makes sense for the modern guitar players and musicians.
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.
Whats the Vibe of this Guitar Amp?
For almost any musicians, we are first attracted to the look of an instrument before we even get to the point where we are judging the sound. Some guitar amps scream out punk rock, while other have a quintessential rock-a-billy look. Just as some drum sets are design for hip hop musicians and other are designed for drummers like Terry Bozio.
While a great looking guitar amp is worthless if it doesn’t sound good there is merit in caring about the look and vibe of an instrument, or in this case, a guitar amp.
I’ve noticed over the years that just as dog owners come to look like their dogs, musicians come to resemble their instruments. Having gear that has a good professional look is important.
Since look and vibe are typically a matter of personal taste, we are just making sure that the guitar amps look professional and project a strong vibe that we would want for ourselves. Once you dive in, you will have to chose the vibe and look that attracts you.
We will just make sure you have a heads up if something looks like a toy or just doesn’t live up to the pro level vibe we take pride in.
Best Guitar Amps Under $200
Individual Guitar Amp Reviews and Ratings
Orange Crush 20
The Orange Crush 20 is a great product by Orange Amps. The twin channel 20 watt amp is a pro series amp that packs a punch despite it’s small size and low cost.
In my opinion it’s one of the best practice amps on the market and I wouldn’t hesitate to take it out to small gigs. The 4 stage preamp gives the Orange Crush 20 an edge on most of the other low wattage guitar amps available on the market.
The custom 8″ Voice of the World speaker is impressive for its size and delivers a live sound that an guitar player can appreciate.
The Marshall MG15 is a 15 watt amp that somehow has the signature Marshall tone, even though it’s in a small, low watt amplifier.
The 2 channel guitar combo amplifier has a 3 band EQ and digital reverb built in to it’s signature Marshall body.
Orange Crush 20RT
The Orange Crush 20RT is an impressive little amplifier that furthers my respect for the Orange Amp brand.
The solid state amp comes equipped with two footswitchable channels and a solid built in reverb that brings the value of this amplifier way above its price tag.
The CabSim circuit is an added bonus pushing the ability of this 20 watt amp to the max. This is a great practice amp that I have seen used in small performance settings and I’ve enjoyed the sound every time.
Fender Champion 20
The Fender Champion 20 is on of the best low wattage, practice amps around. For under $200, you can get a classic style Fender amp with twice the wattage of the it’s 10watt counterpart.
With a signature Fender grille cloth look and sound of Fender amplifiers, equipped with quality EQ and more punch than you would expect from a 20 watt amp.
The Vox Pathfinder 10 made the list for both best guitar amps under $100 and best guitar amps under $200.
This little 10 watt amp is just a good deal. At it’s low price, you wouldn’t expect the nice tone that the Pathfinder offers. With the well made Vox EQ, this amp is a great low volume practice amp.