Best Guitar Amps Under $500 in 2022: Earth-Shattering Tones That Won’t Break The Bank

Boss Katana 100 on a wooden floor with white brick background
(Image credit: Boss)

A guitar amplifier is easily one of the most expensive outlays guitarists have, aside from guitars themselves. It’s a pursuit that can get seriously out of hand, but you don’t have to sink your entire savings into getting a great guitar tone. In fact, the best guitar amps under $500 can often compete with boutique amps that cost thousands of dollars. 

There are great options at this price point for both solid-state and tube amps, so no matter which side of the fence you fall upon, your needs will be met here. Your amplifier is one of the core aspects of your guitar sound, so we’ve put together this guide to the best guitar amplifiers under $500 for players on a budget to achieve the sound in their head.

If you want to do a little more research, in addition to our product recommends we've included some buying advice at the bottom of the guide, too. 

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Best guitar amps under $500: Guitar Player’s Choice

For pure bang for your buck, you can’t go wrong with the Boss Katana MkII (opens in new tab) 2x12. It’s got power on tap when you need to gig, as well as power attenuation options for playing at home and that’s before you get into the plethora of amp tones and built-in effects.

If you’re more of a traditionalist, the Fender Pro Jr IV SE (opens in new tab) offers all valve tones with plenty of vintage flavors thanks to its EL84 power tubes. Used by such luminaries as Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton, you’ll be in great company with this on your backline.

Best guitar amps under $500: Product guide

Best guitar amps under $500: Boss Katana Mk II

(Image credit: Boss)

1. Boss Katana MkII 2x12

Probably the most versatile amplifier on the planet

Specifications

Type: Solid-state combo
Output: 100W, switchable to 50W, 0.5W
Speakers: 2x12
Channels: 4
Effects: Booster, Mod, FX, Delay, and Reverb each with 3 variations
Weight: 19.8kg

Reasons to buy

+
Great tone selection
+
Huge amount of power

Reasons to avoid

-
Footswitch is extra
-
Not as rugged as some

The Boss Katana MkII 2x12 has topped many of the best guitar amp lists for good reason. It packs a myriad of amp tones from clean to high gain, realistically recreated with a full suite of Boss’ studio-quality effects.

The clean tones are pristine and clear, reacting beautifully to single coils without a hint of thinness. Cranking the gain you get everything from a pleasing Plexi-style crunch to all-out metal distortion.

The ability to run five effects at once means you can craft a set of very specific sounds, saving them in four preset slots for instant recall. A line out for recording and a power amp input round out this adaptable amp’s immense feature set.

Best guitar amps under $500: Fender Pro Jr IV

(Image credit: Fender)

2. Fender Pro Jr IV SE

A no-frills tube amp for pure tone hounds

Specifications

Type: Tube combo
Output: 15W
Speakers: 1x10
Channels: 1
Effects: N/A
Weight: 10.36kg

Reasons to buy

+
Simple to use
+
Loud enough for gigging

Reasons to avoid

-
Won’t do high gain
-
No power attenuation

The Fender Pro Jr IV SE is about as basic as they come, with just two knobs and a power switch. Don’t let its simple façade fool you though, this is a serious tube amp with a lot of volume and tone on tap.

The Pro Jr IV SE is seriously loud, just as you get to '2' on the volume switch you’ll get a harmonically rich tone that will fill any living room with ease. Around the halfway mark you’ll find things start to break up for that gorgeous valve overdrive, and with the knob maxed, expect a huge midrange roar.

There’s not much here regarding extra functionality and features, just a big tone in a small box. You’d think that would hold this amp back but in fact, it just lets you concentrate on actually playing your guitar.

Best guitar amps under $500: Marshall CODE 50

(Image credit: Marshall)

3. Marshall CODE 50

A tonal powerhouse that’s super easy to use

Specifications

Type: Solid-state combo
Output: 50W
Speakers: 1x12
Channels: 1
Effects: 24 (5 simultaneously)
Weight: 12.97kg

Reasons to buy

+
Amazing array of tones
+
Intuitive USB interface

Reasons to avoid

-
Footswitch sold separately
-
Loud for home practice

Providing players with a plethora of sounds and effects, the Marshall Code 50 is an impeccably versatile modeling amplifier. Developed alongside tone scientists Softube, the amp tones here are as close to the real deal as you can get.

All the classic Marshall tones are present and accounted for, with staples like the Super Lead, JCM800, and the JTM45 painstakingly recreated. It’s not just British amps either, there are recreations of classic American amps too, ensuring you have all your bases covered.

The USB interface allows you to record these classic tones straight into your DAW, with 24 built-in effects for accentuating your sound. With everything from delay to modulation covered, this amp does a lot of different sounds extremely well.

Best guitar amps under $500: Bugera V22 Infinium

(Image credit: Bugera)

4. Bugera V22 Infinium

A versatile tube combo that’s fantastic value for money

Specifications

Type: Tube combo
Output: 22W
Speakers: 1x12
Channels: 2
Effects: Boost, Reverb
Weight: 19.05kg

Reasons to buy

+
Tube tone on a budget
+
Lovely sounding speaker

Reasons to avoid

-
Won’t do high gain
-
It’s heavy

Getting a 22-watt tube amp at this price hardly seems believable, but Bugera has really knocked it out of the park with the V22 Infinium. Packing a pair of EL84 power tubes with three 12AX7 preamp tubes you get a boutique tone on a budget.

The V22 Infinium offers two channels, clean and dirty, as well as two inputs for regular and bright voicings. The clean channel is clear and crisp whilst the dirty side benefits hugely from the presence control, really letting you push it into the sweet spot of tube breakup.

On the back panel, you’ve got an FX loop for running your time-based effects as well as an impedance switch for connecting to external cabinets. This means you can beef up the power whenever you need it, using the V22 as an amplifier head.

Best guitar amps under $500: Blackstar HT-1R MkII

(Image credit: Blackstar)

5. Blackstar HT-1R MkII

Outstanding sounds and features at an affordable price

Specifications

Type: Tube combo
Output: 1W
Speakers: 1x8
Channels: 2
Effects: Reverb
Weight: 5.5kg

Reasons to buy

+
Sounds bigger than it looks
+
Great variety of sounds

Reasons to avoid

-
Gets fizzy at high gain
-
Won’t do bigger gigs

The Blackstar HT-1R MkII is a great-looking tube combo that offers a wide variety of sounds and features. Building on the popular MkI version, this amp offers a revised look and additional features for a more powerful performance.

The HT-1R sounds much bigger than you’d expect from a small combo, filling the room with sound. Although the gain tones get a little fizzy at higher settings, in the low to medium range you get a delicious sound for blues, gloriously full and punchy.

Blackstar’s patented ISF feature gives you two different amplifier characteristics in one box, with American and British flavored tones available in the swoop of one knob. Combined with an emulated output for recording and MP3 line in, you get one versatile tube combo.

Best guitar amps under $500: Vox AC4C1

(Image credit: Vox)

6. Vox AC4C1

For those who want value for money classic British valve tone

Specifications

Type: Tube combo
Output: 4W
Speakers: 1x12
Channels: 1
Effects: N/A
Weight: 10.56kg

Reasons to buy

+
Classic Vox tones
+
Usable at low volume

Reasons to avoid

-
Needs EQ tweaking
-
Panel gets hot

The original version of this amp featured a 1x10 layout but with this latest iteration, the Vox AC4C1 gets a 12-inch speaker. Removing the less usual preamp tubes for the more reliable 12AX7, this classic amp has been given a thoroughly modern makeover.

The classic Vox amp chime that the brand is so well known for is very apparent from the moment you switch the amp on. It’s very trebly, which will require some dialing in but once you get there it’s pure Top Boost tone heaven.

It’s a fantastic-looking unit, giving you all that classic Vox aesthetic in a very portable package. An output on the back allows you to connect an external speaker and beef up the volume when you need to.

Best guitar amps under $500: Peavey Bandit 112

(Image credit: Peavey )

7. Peavey Bandit 112

A powerful amplifier that’s great for gigging

Specifications

Type: Solid-state combo
Output: 80W
Speakers: 1x12
Channels: 2
Effects: N/A
Weight: 18.14kg

Reasons to buy

+
Versatile sounds
+
Powerful enough for big gigs

Reasons to avoid

-
Reverb requires tweaking
-
No headphone out

Peavey Bandit amps have long been famous for their reliability, with many owners reporting them lasting decades thanks to their outstanding build quality. This modern iteration feels just as rugged and reliable, as well as delivering a more modern feature set.

The clean channel is nice and neutral, taking various fuzz and drive pedals very well. The gain channel offers plenty of versatility too, with a voicing switch for classic, modern, and high gain taking care of any style you can throw at it.

Interestingly the onboard boost is on a rotary control rather than a switch, allowing you to dial in the perfect amount of extra juice. A power attenuation switch lets you drop the wattage to 50 or 25 percent, making it great for practicing at home.

Best guitar amps under $500: Fender Mustang GTX 100

(Image credit: Fender)

8. Fender Mustang GTX 100

An all-encompassing modeling amp packed with features

Specifications

Type: Solid state combo
Output: 100W
Speakers: 1x12
Channels: 1
Effects: 73 effects
Weight: 10kg

Reasons to buy

+
Outstanding value for money
+
Great variety of tones

Reasons to avoid

-
UI not the most intuitive
-
Presets need tweaking

The Fender Mustang GTX100 offers players pretty much any amp tone they could want, from Twin Reverb to ‘59 Bassman. It’s not just Fender tones either, there are Orange and Marshall emulations too.

The amp tones are very convincing, with the Twin Reverb emulation giving you loads of power and clarity. Once you get past the Fender stable of amps there are some great British-flavored drive tones and an AC30 emulation that is done really well.

You also get a whole suite of Fender-designed effects, from swirls of reverb and delay to pitch shifting, giving you plenty to get creative with. The stereo line out and FX loop give you a lot of scope for recording or integrating your existing pedalboard.

Best guitar amps under $500: Line 6 Catalyst 200

(Image credit: Line 6)

9. Line 6 Catalyst 200

A versatile modeling amp with plenty of power for gigging

Specifications

Type: Solid-state combo
Output: 200W
Speakers: 2x12
Channels: 2
Effects: 18
Weight: 18.9kg

Reasons to buy

+
Supremely versatile
+
High-quality effects

Reasons to avoid

-
Only two effects at once
-
Needs app for deep editing

The Line 6 Catalyst 200 is a tempting option for players who want a wide variety of electric guitar tones. Widely credited as being the inventors of the modeling amp, Line 6’s latest offering delivers incredible quality effects alongside its gorgeous amp sounds.

There are six amp models available from boutique cleans to a high gain sonic assault. The amp tones capture the response and feel of a valve amp really well, particularly on the Boutique amp setting, which we found incredibly addictive.

The effects suite comes from the HX range of Line 6’s effects, delivering everything from guitar synth to swathes of reverb and delay. Two channels let you save your settings and you can dive much deeper with the included Catalyst Edit app. 

Best guitar amps under $500: Yamaha THR10IIW

(Image credit: Yamaha)

10. Yamaha THR10IIW

A compact combo amp that’s perfect for practice

Specifications

Type: Solid-state combo
Output: 20W
Speakers: 2x3.1
Channels: 5
Effects: Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, Delay, Reverb
Weight: 3.2kg

Reasons to buy

+
Versatile tones
+
Incredibly convenient

Reasons to avoid

-
Not for gigging
-
App needed for deep editing

The Yamaha THR10IIW offers a powerful solution for practicing and recording at home. Its small size combined with a versatile suite of effects and connectivity options makes it a great number two amp for seasoned guitarists, or a way for new players to explore a variety of sounds.

The quality and range of the sounds present are really quite impressive and despite its small size, it delivers a low end you’d expect from a bigger cabinet. There are some wonderful edge-of-breakup sounds, as well as clean and high gain tones on offer here.

The USB out allows for direct recording and you get a high-quality suite of effects that include delay, reverb, and modulation. The built-in tuner helps make this a proper all-rounder, and saveable presets let you recall your favorite tones instantly.

Best guitar amps under $500: Blackstar Silverline Standard

(Image credit: Blackstar)

11. Blackstar Silverline Standard

A digital modeling amp with tons of tonal choice

Specifications

Type: Solid-state combo
Output: 20W
Speakers: 1x10
Channels: 1
Effects: Delay, Modulation, Reverb
Weight: 11kg

Reasons to buy

+
Lots of tone choice
+
Great looking

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the loudest
-
Footswitch not included

The Blackstar Silverline Standard gives plenty of tonal variety with six amplifier tones and a full complement of effects. Housed in a gorgeous silver cabinet, it’s got enough power for gigs with great connectivity for home recording purposes.

The combination of six different amplifier tones with Blackstar’s ISF feature really lets you capture a huge array of sounds. Whether you want an AC30-like chime or the heft and grunt of a 6L6-style amp, pretty much any tone is within grasp here.

20 watts offers plenty of power for competing with a heavy-handed drummer, but you’ll probably need more for bigger gigs. The USB out for recording offers an excellent way to capture your ideas on the fly, making this amp a versatile companion.

Best guitar amps under $500: Buying advice

Close up of Yamaha THR10II

(Image credit: Yamaha)

How to choose the best sub-$500 guitar amp for you

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When purchasing at this price point you’ll have a lot of choices on your hands, so it’s key to take a step back and think about what it is you need. First up, solid-state or tube? We’re not going to tell you what’s better, it’s like a Strat versus a Les Paul – it all comes down to personal taste. However, a 120-watt tube amp will be a huge amount more expensive than its solid-state equivalent, so if volume is your goal, then the solid-state might be the way to go for the guitarist on a budget.

The feature set of the amp is also of critical importance. Are you planning on practicing or recording at home? Then power attenuation is key if you must have a tube amp, allowing you to get that sought-after tube tone at an acceptable volume. 

Solid-state amps often have much more built-in, such as different amp models and effects, so if variety is the spice of your life you’ll definitely need to consider this. Headphone-outs are pretty rare on tube amps, so silent practice is pretty much a no-go. They’re much more readily available on solid-state amps however, alongside direct-outs for silent recording, another feature that might be useful if you have close neighbors or you don’t want to annoy the family or wake up your youngest.

How heavy is too heavy?

Lastly, you’ll have to think about weight. If you’re going to be traveling to and from gigs and rehearsals, lugging that tube 2x12 around will get old quickly. Solid-state amps for the most part are pretty lightweight, which you’ll be thankful for when you encounter three flights of narrow stairs at your local venue. That said, there is a great selection of small tube amps that will compete with higher wattage solid-state amps in terms of pure volume, and small tube combos are all the rage right now for touring musicians, where for the most part guitar amplifiers are mic’d up for live use.