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Despite what you might think, a budget or beginner amp doesn't have to be terrible! No matter how much you have to spend, you can find an amp that you'll love.
Take a look at our recommendations for the 5 best budget/beginner amps for under $500. Of these 5, we've featured our 3 highest-rated amps below for those of you in a hurry. If you prefer to go into more detail, then keep reading and you'll find links to full reviews, as well as links to your favorite retailers to check the most current prices.
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Vox Valvetronix VT20X 20 Watt Hybrid Combo Amp With great built-in effects and amp modeling capabilities, the Vox VT20X is an extremely versatile hybrid amp for not much money.
If you're looking for the whole package, you've found it. With 50 watts of power, unheard-of customizability, and an insane 58 built-in effects, the Boss Katana cuts down the competition.
The Fender Super Champ X2 masterfully combines 15 watts of hybrid tube power, 16 voicings, and 15 built-in effects to create one heck of a value.
Don't let its size fool you - the Orange Crush12 is a tone monster. Orange's 50 years of amp-building experience shine through in this simple, functional amp. It's perfect for the bedroom guitarist or players who don't want to lug around a 40-pound head/cabinet stack with them everywhere. There are a total of 6 knobs on the Crush12: the familiar EQ controls, a volume and gain knob, and, finally, a built-in overdrive that will kick your distortion up to the next level. It's super simple to dial in any tone you can think of. From jazz sounds to extreme heavy metal, you'll be able to play it all. Not bad for such a small amp!
With only 12 watts of power and a fairly small 6" speaker, the solid-state Crush12 won't cause any earthquakes, but it will rock your living room or bedroom. If you envision yourself eventually joining a band and playing with a drummer, you'll definitely need something with a bit more oomph. Check out our higher-powered recommendations below. However, even if you upgrade to a more powerful amp in the future, the Crush12 will still serve you loyally as an awesome bedroom practice amp.
For more information, check out our full review of the Orange Crush 12 amp.
Don't think you can afford real tube distortion? Think again! The Vox VT20X is a hybrid amp, built with a real tube preamp for natural distortion that every guitarist wants. With 20 watts of power, it's perfect for small gigs and at-home practice. The VT20X even comes with a headphone jack for when you need to be extra quiet. You'll love the built-in attenuator, allowing you to squeeze all the best possible tones out of the amp at any volume you set it.
With 11 amp models, 13 built-in effects, and a 3-band EQ, you'll be able to play anything from jazz to metal. By connecting to your computer with USB, you can unlock even more amp models and effects using Vox Tone Room software. This amp even comes with a built-in tuner, so you can save some space on your pedalboard and avoid having to hassle with an external tuner. With a headphone jack and auxiliary input, you can practice at any time of the day. The Vox Valvetronix VT20X is the perfect beginner amp at an amazing price.
Check out our full review of the Vox Valvetronix VT20X.
This modern beast of an amp comes from one of the most trusted brands in guitar gear. The Boss Katana is solid-state, so tube-enthusiasts may roll their eyes. But don't let that fool you - this amp sounds killer! Combined with 3 different overdrive and distortion circuits, along with 5 amp voicings, you can get almost any sound you dream of. You can even use it with an acoustic-electric guitar. With 50 watts of power, you can get loud!
Boss, well-known for their quality effects pedals, have included a whopping 58 effects for you to mess around with. You can chain up to 15 effects at a time by using the included software. 50 watts can be too much power for playing at home. Luckily, the Katana includes a built-in attenuator, allowing you to chop the power in half to 25 watts, and even further down to just half a watt - perfect for bedroom practice. It also comes with a headphone jack for when you need to be completely silent. This is our Top Choice for the best beginner amp you can buy for the price.
For a full examination of the Katana, check out our full Boss Katana KTN-50 review.
The Yamaha THR10 is the ultimate amp for the on-the-go guitarist. At only 6 and a quarter pounds, you can take it anywhere. If you're nowhere near an outlet, you can get up to 6 hours of play time by using AA batteries. Rated at only 10 watts, it's not really that loud, so don't expect to melt any faces. It comes with two built-in 3" speakers, as well as 5 different tube amp models to choose from. 8 onboard effects give you even more tonal options without having to carry around any extra equipment.
This amp won't be good for gigging or playing in a band because of its tiny 3" speakers, but it's great for small gatherings or bedroom practicing. You can even use it for recording thanks to the USB jack. By connecting to a computer, the Yamaha THR Editor software allows you to create your own custom presets using the built-in models and effects! It also has a headphone jack and auxiliary input for practicing and recording at any time of the day. If you don't see yourself joining a band and will only need an amp for bedroom practice/recording, then this amp is perfect for you. If you need more volume, you always have the option of miking this amp at a venue. For the musician who plays gigs occasionally, you'll enjoy the light weight and not have to dread carrying around a 30-pound combo amp.
For an in-depth look at the THR10, as well as sound samples, go to our Yamaha THR10 Modeling Combo Amp full review.
The Fender Super Champ X2 is for the beginner who wants versatility and real tube distortion. You can sound like anything or anyone you dream of thanks to its 16 voicings. From famous Fender cleans to crunchy blues to modern heavy metal, this two-channel hybrid monster can do it all. If you're looking to record your own covers or music, the USB jack will make you sound like a professional.
As if all of this wasn't enough, the Super Champ gives you a choice of 15 built-in effects! You can also customize just about every control on the amp by using the Fender Fuse software. Plug-in to your phone or computer and you have unparalleled control over recording, EQ, tones, and effects options. Will all these features and more, the Fender Super Champ X2 is one of our absolute favorite amps of all time.
Check out sound samples and more at our full review of the Fender Super Champ X2.