There’s a nasty myth about playing the electric guitar, namely that it’s inherently expensive.
This may come from the fact that when we see guitars, amps, and other gear on stage or in music videos, it’s always top-of-the-line equipment.
We associate the electric guitar with the most expensive possible guitars and the most expensive possible amps.
But today, there are a huge number of affordable options in both of those categories, many of them from some of the most well-known names in the business.
So whether you’re a beginner buying your first amp or you’re an experienced player looking for a new amp with some original sounds, we hope you’ll be interested in one or more of the killer amps we’ve listed below.
Every one of them can be purchased for less than $200. Some are less than $200 new and a few are less than $200 when you buy used.
Regardless of your situation, we highly encourage you to buy used, unless budget is no object. As long as you can verify that the internal components of the amp are working perfectly, buying used is the perfect way to save some cash.
And if you’re looking for some killer effects, you should check out our list of trippy guitar pedals.
Orange Crush 20RT ($189.00)
Orange is one of the most famous British amp companies in the world, and for good reason, too.
Many of their classic amps are indeed orange, immediately setting themselves apart from much of the competition, which tends to wrap their amps in black.
But the Orange sound has also set them apart. Orange amps have a beautiful clean tone, suitable for many different genres and playing styles.
The Crush 20RT is a lovely 20-watt amp that places an emphasis on fine-tuning your sound.
It has a built-in tuner (handy for practice as well as live gigs) and a line-in for playing music or other sounds to help you practice.
But when it comes to onboard effects, the Crush 20RT certainly doesn’t have quite as many as some of the other amps on our list.
You get a reverb, and a Clean/Dirty control, Dirty here representing a basic overdrive/distortion.
In other words, Orange isn’t so worried about doing everything the competition is doing. They know what they’re about and what they want to offer to their customers.
The Crush 20RT is also perhaps the prettiest amp on our list.
Vox Valvetronix VT20X ($179.99)
The VT20X is a modeling combo amp from Vox. For those who aren’t familiar with the concept, modeling refers to the way in which an amp achieves a certain sound.
More expensive vintage amps earn their sound by using genuine analog circuits and vacuum tubes to dial in a specific tone and timbre.
In contrast, a modeling amp uses digital components to mimic the sounds of other amps, oftentimes well-known amps.
The VT20X gives players the option to choose between several different amp sounds. It also has analog components for its own rich sound.
It also boasts 13 total onboard effects, covering many basic effects types.
And if you’re on the fence about buying a Vox, just take a look at the artists who have made Vox part of their rig:
The Beatles, Dire Straits, Queen, Radiohead, The Rolling Stones, and The Kinks.
Marshall Code 25W ($150 USED)
Marshall are the makers of some of the best amps in the world. In fact, they almost single-handedly inspired the rise of hair metal in the 1980s.
The Code 25 is a cute little combo amp that is less about tweaking to find the right sound and more about exploring the dozens of presets that Marshall has programmed into it.
Yes, it’s technically a practice amp, and to get any real power you’d have to hook it up to some additional cabinets.
But for any basement players looking to own a Marshall that can be their practice and recording workhorse, the Code 25 is a small package that can yield some very big results.
Fender Champion 40 ($199.99)
Let’s take a second to talk about Fender. They remain one of the biggest names in the world of electric guitars and amps.
Fender amps from the 60s and 70s now fetch hundreds or even thousands of dollars on the resale market.
This is all just to say that they know what they’re doing. And although the Champion 40 isn’t exactly their most well-known amp, it can certainly pack a punch.
Like many of the other amps on our list, the Champion 40 features many different built-in effects, including delay, echo, tremolo, chorus, and Vibratone.
It also gives you a line-in so that you can sync up your phone or another audio device so that you can play along to your favorite songs.
And let’s not let the name escape us. The 40 in Champion 40 represents the wattage. Practice amps tend to range anywhere from 10 to 30 watts.
But a 40-watt amp has the ability to step beyond the realm of a practice amp. This combo amp could come with you on gigs, and that makes it worth the investment.
Blackstar ID:Core 10 V2 ($109.99)
This Blackstar has a lengthy name as well as a long list of features.
In a small form factor, you get a built-in bank of four different effects, as well as six different voice modes, including Clean Warm, Clean Bright, Crunch, Super Crunch, OD 1, and OD 2.
The number of features on offer here makes this a great amp for a beginner.
More experienced guitarists are probably aware that they would most likely be able to achieve many of these voices on their own, with the gear they already have or by adjusting levels and EQ.
But for a beginner, these settings show off what the amp is capable of while making these sounds easy to access.
And when it comes to the effects bank, the ID: Core 10 offers several different modulation effects, delays, and reverbs.
None of the effects are really worth writing home about, but at this price point, it’s hard to beat the sheer selection this amp brings with it.