Updated: Aug 9, 2020
Hi. I am Josh Levine...and this is my 10 Best Guitar Amps Under $500! If you are already a fan of my posts or YouTube channel, Josh Levine Speaks, you know I do my best to write & build shows / series around things I hope you find interesting. And, if you know me, you already know....I LOVE GUITARS....I’ve played since the age of 4, toured professionally, owned and operated a music store for 10 years and have given guitar lessons for even more...
So, in this post, I am going offer my opinion of the 10 Best Guitar Amps Under $500 plus give you the links below, where you can find them. I want you to know what to look for, for yourself and your needs, explain power, discuss size and capabilities, tube vs solid state and so much more.... I also have a $500 Electric Guitar Post and a $500 Acoustic Guitar Post if you are shopping for those too. You, like me, may have all sorts of unforeseen free time on your hands as of late. So why not take up a hobby.
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So, what should you look for when buying a guitar amp under $500?
Today, $500 goes a lot further with Amps than it did 10-15 years ago. There is a ton of versatility out there. I know it can be tough to know exactly what is right for you, especially if you are just starting out. Heck, even if your seasoned and looking for a practice amp, it can still be challenging. When I played professionally, I used to swap out amps, like underwear as I was always searching for perfect tone. Believe me I get it, but I am jealous. Today, you can dial up just about anything with many of the super cool models out there today.
You can jump down below to amps, but Before I get started, and so it all makes sense, here's the "crash course" checklist of things to keep in mind when you are amp shopping. Most of this applies to the pricier models in your future too!
Let's Talk Power!
How much power are you going to need? 88 million gigawatts? No, I mean in your everyday practice. If it is going to be practice amp, there are still a lot of options, even in this price point. Do you know what type of music you will be playing? The setting? In doors, outdoors, in the garage? When you answer all of these, you will be much closer to a decision.
Are you planning to play mostly at home? Will there be other jamming along? (Is that dated to say?) Are you in a band and will you be gigging with this new amp?
The rule of thumb has always been.... if you an at home player, 10-50 watts will be more than adequate.
If you are playing out or practice with a full band, you should have 50-100 watts. Gotta keep up with the Jones. And by Jones, I mean that bass player with a giant rig or drummer that plays full throttle.
How portable is really the question to be answered. When I had roadies, I did not care, but when I was back in the original band, bar scene, huffing my own gear again, I did. You home amps are generally smaller and don't move around too much, unless the family is chasing you from room to room. The more portable the amp is, the less power typically, but not always so. There are smaller amps these days that will give you plenty of power to keep up with the band. You don't need a 1/2 stack but keep the output in mind, as well as what you can comfortably move around on a regular basis. Musicians get hernias too.
Versatility: Clean or Mean?
Do you mostly play acoustic or clean with no effects? Are you a blues man or woman? Do you plan to be ripping heads off and need serious shred power? Crazy effects can be fun & when you get the hang of them you truly can create some really unique sounds. However, they are not always necessary and for some, just become a gadget you do not use. If you just need a great clean channel with no effects, a simple, single channel amp model will be fine. Might even give you a little more "power budget." And remember, you can always add effects later. But if you are experimental, make sure to test out one of the new modeling amps. The effect capabilities are insane.
The Age-Old Amp Question: Tube vs Solid State
In the under $500 amps, I only have one tube amp on the list. The tube amps generally cost more as their manufacturing costs are greater. Purists and Audiophiles love all things tube. The sound is different. Tube amps typically have a warmer sound. I find they perform best "opened up" or Turned up and this makes for angry neighbors. I just do not think of them as practice amps for the most part. Solid state amps can produce a wider range of effects and capabilities at lower "practice" volumes. If you want the BIG and RAW sound of a classic tube amp, then, by all means, step up, but I am telling you. For the money, this new class of amps, is the next best thing.
Budget: Need vs Want!
With great power, comes responsibility.... oh wait, I mean more expense. More power is typically more money & we all know, music can become an expensive habit / hobby. Like being a local race car driver. Will you need effects pedals in the future to get the sound you are really looking for? Be sure to figure out exactly what you want before making the "amp" decision. You may save a lot in the long run by going with a modeling amp or one with all the bells and whistles built in. But maybe you want to slowly build your arsenal. Pedals are awesome too.
Now that you have digested all of that. The only other thing is to wade thru the sea of options available. This is where I come in and give you my "list" or buyers guide. So here is my ever so humble, 10 best guitar amps under $500 of 2020. I truly hope this helps you make a confident decision.
1. Fender Champion 100 - (PRICE FINDER)
This is plug and play ready. Fender makes a great amp. With two 12" speakers, crystal clear tones, power, and amazing overdrive. I don't know why it doesn't come stock with the footswitch, but channel switching can be done by hand.
The auxiliary input is cool if you want to jam to MP3s. This is a powerful practice amp and completely handle jamming with friends in a loud space.
Most Notable: Excellent sound quality, built tough, aux input, Two 12" speakers, Fender's Rep
Perfect for acoustic and electric guitars. The clean channel's sound is bright and crisp and overdrive channel rips. Very versatile and easy to use.
2. Peavey Vypyr VIP 2 - (PRICE FINDER)
Peavey makes everything and they quite are good at it. Guitar amps, bass amps and stage speakers. The Vypyr VIP 2, they have decided that having an amp that can handle bass frequencies in a guitar amp is a good way to go. As a guitar player, having these bass frequencies available is kind of unique. And super versatile, as you can play an acoustic guitar, electric guitar, or bass guitar through it. Its 40-watts, great for recording, practice, or smaller live gigs. It does not quite have the power, as a stand-alone, to make it to the back of the room, but when mic'd up, no sweat. Along with the extra frequency capabilities, did I mention it has the modeling technology? There are tons of different presets & it has a tuner too.
Most Notable: Modeling technology, Bass capabilities, 40-watt, Lightweight, Versatile effects
Truly one of the most capable amps under $500. So many different tonal presets to play with. The fact that you can play a bass through it is kind of nuts. This would kill the speaker on most amps. This is new technology and great for players who like to pick up different types of guitars, i.e. 7 strings and Baritones.
3. Fender Mustang GT 100 - (PRICE FINDER)
Another 100-watt amp that will give you more than enough power. For an amp under $500, you get tons of features. It's in the "modeling amp" classification which just means it is packed with built-in effects. You can even download more via The Fender Tone app and Wi-Fi! Imagine custom settings, just for you, designed Fender artists and uploaded directly to your amps database. Totally nuts. Everything is controllable via Bluetooth and LED screen. This amp is loud enough to keep up with any jam session.
Most Notable: Modeling technology, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, Fender Tone app, 100-watt power
Having most of your favorite artists sounds available at the touch of a button is a lot of fun.
4. Marshall Acoustic Soloist AS50D - (PRICE FINDER)
Marshall typically has a metal and hard rock reputation, but they make other amazing products like this! The Acoustic Soloist is really warm and very versatile. Do not let the funky retro look fool you, with its two channels, clean & overdrive, the 50-watts of power through two 8" speakers might just be what you need. Chorus and reverb effects are built in too. If you are looking for a reliable amp for around the house with juice, the Acoustic Soloist will impress.
Most Notable: 50-watt, Chorus/reverb, Marshall quality, XLR input, Retro design
Great product! A powerful practice amp with style and performance.
5. Fender Acoustasonic 90 - (PRICE FINDER)
This amp is 90-watts of crystal clear and crisp tone. Takes the authentic tones of your acoustic guitar and crank them up with ease. Two separate channels will allow you to plug in a microphone as well. Sing baby!
Practice your vocals and playing at any volume. An auxiliary input also allows you to listen and play along to your favorites. Also includes a feedback elimination circuit. Did I tell you it’s only 19 pounds? That’s super lightweight and portable for all that power. Great for the home or gigs.
Most Notable: Light Weight, 90-watts of power, Acoustic Tones, Aux & XLR inputs
A very powerful acoustic amp for under $500 is amazing.
6. Monoprice 611815 15-Watt - (PRICE FINDER)
Beyond easy to move around and takes up virtually no space at all. The Monoprice 611815 15-watt amp has that warm, deep tube amplifier sound. Tube amps are typically in much bigger and heavy. It's nice to have all that tone in a small package. Simply design & straight forward EQ.
A 12" celestial speaker and spring reverb makes it a classic. There is an FX loop located between the pre and power amp if you see a pedal board in your future. This is a great home practice amp. Call it a no-nonsense, tube tone, compact classic!
Most Notable: Durable and light, Tube power amp, 15-Watt, Spring reverb, Celestial speaker
Simple practice amp with great tone. Clean guitar tones and expandable versatility with the fx loop. A great practice or beginner amp.
7. Fender Mustang GT 40 - (PRICE FINDER)
The 40-watt Brother of the Mustang GT 100, this amp has the tones you want, just in a smaller case. 40-watts is still a nice amount of power, but this Bluetooth enabled, solid state amp is best suited for around the house as your practice amp. In a jam setting, it will keep up if you are not playing with knuckle heads. Features all the presets available through that amazing Fender Tone app. All the versatility, without the weight.
Most Notable: Lightweight, Modeling presets, Great tone, Fender Tone app, 40-watts
A compact version of the Mustang GT 100...just more portable and takes up less space. The presets are the same.
8. Fender Frontman 10G
This is what I remember a practice amp to look like. Extremely basic and easy to use. Clean and overdrive, aux input and 10-watts of power. Perfect for an in-home beginning guitar player.