I'm a guitarist and bassist with over 35 years of experience as a musician.
5 Affordable Guitar Amps
If you’re looking for a new guitar amp and only have $200 to spend you want to get the best value for your money. The good news is there are a lot of amps out there that fit into your budget and still sound great.
In that price range you are basically looking at small-wattage combos that will work well for practice, and maybe lower-volume rehearsals. To make the most of your available cash, consider amps with onboard effects so you don’t need to spend money on stomp boxes and pedals.
In this article I’ve whittled the options down to what I think are the five best guitar amps out there for under $200. I've chosen these amps based my research and past experience with each model. I also considered the value I expect they would bring for the average serious beginner, or advanced player looking for a practice amp.
I think every one of them is worth the asking price, but the one you choose will depend on your goals as a guitar player.
Fender Mustang LT25
Fender makes some great tube combo amps, and they are primarily known for their amazing clean sounds and bluesy overdrive. With the Mustang modeling amp series, Fender has created amplifiers that emulate popular Fender models and also branch out to some niches traditionally occupied by British and high-gain American amp makers.
The Fender Mustang LT25 is a small but feature-packed amp, and part of the newest generation of Fender Mustangs.
- 25 Watts
- 8” Speaker
- 20 Amp Models, 25 Effects, 50 Presets
- USB Connectivity
- Headphone jack for silent practice
Country, blues, jazz and classic rock players will dig this amp. The model emulations are spot-on, and you’re going to love what you hear. Of course it goes without saying that the clean sounds will be fantastic coming from a Fender amp. While the high-gain sounds are improved over earlier Mustang generations, metal players may wish to look elsewhere.
My Thoughts: I like Fender amps for clean tones and smooth overdrive, but I’ve never been impressed with Fender’s attempts at high-gain sounds. If you’re into metal this might not be for you. Otherwise, this is an incredible amplifier. If you play anything but extreme metal it’s worth a hard look.
Read my full Fender Mustang Series Review for more information on other amps in this series.
The Fender Mustang LT25
Peavey Vypyr VIP 1
Peavey gear is loud, bulletproof and, much of it, geared toward metal. So how does the Vypyr modeling amp series do when it comes to capturing the vibe of legendary Peavey amps? Pretty good, it turns out, and not too shabby with some other classic American and British amps either.
The Peavey Vypyr VIP I is the smallest member of the Vyvpyr Series, but it has a lot to offer for an amp under $200.
- 20 Watts
- 8” Speaker
- Electric guitar, acoustic guitar, and bass guitar compatible
- 36 amp models and 20 onboard effects
- USB computer interface
The VIP Vypyr series employs Peavey’s analog TransTube circuitry, not digital distortion. As solid-state distortion goes, the TransTube design is really good. But what’s most interesting about this amp is what Peavey calls the WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) design. Basically, it’s just an easy way to know exactly what you have dialed in just by looking at the instrument panel of the amplifier. This is a great feature for modeling amps that have a gazillion effects.
My Thoughts: I like this amp a lot. It offers such a wide range of possibilities and functions and it really is a groundbreaking amp. It will be invaluable for guitar players who need a bass amp, or something to plug their acoustic-electric into as well. Guitarists who don't play bass will still find an incredible array of sounds, but may prefer something more traditional such as the Fender above.
Read my Peavey Vypyr VIP Series Review for more information on other Vypyrs.
Check out the VIP 1
Line 6 Spider V 20
Line 6 is possibly the biggest name in modeling technology, and their Spider amplifiers are now legendary. They started out as pretty decent amps a few years back, but now are capable of sounds that are tough to tell apart from genuine tube amps. The incredible Spider V series comes in all shapes and sizes, from little combos to half-stacks.
The little Spider V 20 is an affordable version of this classic amp.
- 20 Watts
- 8” Speaker
- 101 effects models, 78 amps, 23 cabinets
- 16 Presets
- USB Connectivity
Line 6 has certainly carved a place for themselves in the guitar amplifier world, and the Spider V is a great little amp that offers a little bit of everything. They were pioneers, and there is good reason they are among the most popular amp brands today. The little Spider V 20 has a ton of features in a little package, making it a perfect choice as a practice amp or for jamming at home.
My Thoughts: I guess I’m old fashioned, but most Line 6 amps are a bit too much for me. They sound good, but the larger models have way too many bells and whistles, and the online interaction is much more than I want to deal with. But this little amp skips a lot of that malarkey and just gives you some very usable tones and effects. No matter what style of music you play, this thing could make a terrific practice amp.
To learn more about the amps in this series check out my full Spider Line 6 V Series Review.
The Line 6 Spider V 20
Everybody knows Marshall. These guys are the kings of the rock amplifier world, renowned for incredible high-end tube amps. Their MG Series lineup consists of affordable, solid-state amplifiers made for up-and-coming players and home hobbyists.
They rank from the big MG100 head and 4x12 cabinet, down to the wallet-friendly MG15GFX combo.
- 15 Watts
- 8” Speaker
- Phaser, Flanger, Delay, and Chorus effects
- Separate reverb control
- 3-band EQ
This amp will give you some great analog distortion tones and clean sounds, and it does have that Marshall vibe. If you’re looking for solid, classic tones this might be your amp. However, don’t expect it to compete with modeling amps when it comes to effects, and, while the overdrive is excellent, don’t look here for that modern-metal, high-gain sound.
My Thoughts: I love the tone and the simplicity of the Marshall MG15FGX It lives up to the Marshall name as a great rock amp. A larger speaker would be nice, though. This amp is best suited to players who love classic hard rock and metal sounds and don’t feel like fiddling with endless buttons and menus to find their tone.
You can learn more other amps in the series in Marshall MG Series Review.
More on the Marshall MG Gold Series
Vox Valvetronix VT20X
Vox is a British amp maker known for great classic overdrive sounds and smooth distortion. The Valvetronix Series has gotten a lot of attention for its great digital effects and authentic modeling of Vox amps as well as other well-known designs.
The VT20X is the little 20-watt version of the lineup.
- 20 Watts
- 8-inch Speaker
- Hybrid analog/digital technology
- Tone Room editor for customizing amps and effects
- 11 amp models, 33 preset programs, 13 onboard effects
The VT20X is actually a hybrid amp, incorporating a 12AX7 preamp tube. Whatever they have going on under the hood, it really nails that warm, crunchy British tone that Vox tube amps are known for.
You’ll get some great clean sounds too, from that glassy Fender-ish tone to a warmer “almost ready to break up” sound. It’s a versatile amp, capable of some really good tone.
My Thoughts: I love the warm overdrive sounds for blues and classic rock, and the high-gain sounds are greatly improved over earlier models. All in all, a great choice in a little practice amp, especially if you dig that warm, growly overdrive.
Check out the Vox VTX Series Review to find out about other amps in the series.
Hear the VT20X
How to Choose an Affordable Guitar Amp
If you are trying to choose a guitar amp for a beginner I think any of the amps in this review would be a solid option. They all sounds amazing, and each manufacturer packs incredible features into their amp.
I also think they make outstanding practice and home-use amps for veteran players, and that's what I've used them for.
Like I said in the beginning of this article, the one that is right for you will depend on your goals and style of music.
Here is where I think each amp shines:
- Best for Metal Amp Under $200: The Vypyr VIP 1. I am a big fan of Peavey’s TransTube circuitry, and in my mind it's tough to beat. The Vypyr idea in general is innovative setup and super easy to use. However,
- Best Plug and Play Amp: The Marshall MG15GX. I wish it had a 12-inch speaker, but it still sounds really good. It’s perfect for those who want some digital effects, but do not want the hassle of too much technology.
- Best All-Purpose Amp: Definitely the Spider V. Yeah, heavy rock players tend to gravitate to it, but I can’t imagine a genre that this amp couldn’t serve well.
- Best Amp in a Small Package: The Vox VT20X. It’s fairly loud, easy to use, and sounds good. I have an older version of this amp and I like it quite a bit, but the newer series is even better.
- Best Overall Guitar Amp Under $200: As much as I love the Peavey, I’ll give it to the Fender Mustang I. It really does sound great, but as a player who is into some heavier styles I’m not feeling it. However, it's getting great reviews, so unless you're into extreme metal think could be the amp for you.
Remember this is all based on my opinion. Be sure to check out the gear manufacturer's websites for the latest info on their gear. And, good luck finding the best small, affordable guitar amp for your needs.
Which is the best guitar amp for under $200?
Michael James (author) on October 11, 2016:
Hi Superman. Sorry, I don't know why that would be. Shops sometimes run discounts on gear when it is being discontinued but I don't think that is the case with the Vypyr. Why not ask the shop? Maybe you just found a great deal!
Michael James (author) on January 14, 2016:
Hi M42! Sorry you aren't digging the Mustang. Just wondering: Do you use a lot of high-gain settings? That was one of my issues with the Mustang Series, and non-tube Fender amps in general. Low to moderate distortion sounds great, but high gain is really not where they excel. (In my opinion, of course.)
M42 on January 13, 2016:
I bought the Mustang II at the recommendation of the sales rep, but it's been a big disappointment to me. The sound is muddy and I've read other reviews that describe the sound from this amp the same way. I've downloaded presets and tried to develop my own, but nothing I do helps.
Mark Edward Fitchett from Long Beach on May 05, 2014:
I like the Roland micro cube and the little Vox amps
Michael James (author) on May 05, 2014:
One vote for Pignose, one vote against! I think they are cool but I don't know that a Pignose would be my first choice in a battery-powered amp.
Mark Edward Fitchett from Long Beach on May 04, 2014:
Having owned Pignose amps I found them to be pretty awful sounding and easily distorted not in a good way. I really hated it but it was the only thing available back then.
Michael James (author) on May 03, 2014:
The Pignose is certainly a cool little amp, but I don't know that it's in the same league as these. I did talk about it in my portable guitar amp article, though:
If you're looking for something to lug around that sounds (and looks) cool the Pignose is a great choice.
fab on May 02, 2014:
For 100$... Just get a pignose... Sound is awesome .. Lots of great albums were recorded with a pignose... just search on the net... and trust me!
Michael James (author) on January 16, 2014:
Jean: That's so cool! Some of these little amps do a decent job of emulating classic Fender sounds, but you just can't beat a real Fender tube amp!
Jean Bakula from New Jersey on January 15, 2014:
Several Christmases ago, my son wanted a Fender Tube Amp, like his idol, Syd Barrett, had in Pink Floyd. I finally got one, but it cost about $1500.00. It kind of brings me back to the sound that I grew up with though.
Michael James (author) on January 14, 2014:
Thanks Act 3. I wish I did too!
chet thomas from Athens, GA on January 14, 2014:
Good hub and nice overview of these amps. Wish I had a spare $200 - or that I could justify spending $200 on an amp right now!