When I was starting my musical journey, the thought of spending $500 or 500 of any currency on an amp was unthinkable. You could get a new car for that. But were the prices relative to today? Is it just as expensive for those whose journey is just beginning?
You can get a better deal today than you could then. Today there are some good amps around. And allowing for inflation and other factors, they are far less price-wise than what I paid in the mid-60s.
A 1962 Marshall 50-watt 2 x 12 combo was 600 UK pounds new. The equivalent price today would be 2970 UK pounds. Today, a new 50-watt Marshall combo would cost about $320, or 240 pounds UK. So, whenever you hear someone complaining about today’s prices, dangle that under their nose. Most young people buying today have no idea.
So finding the best guitar amplifiers under $500? Easy you might think, but no. If you want something good, you have to look around. So, let’s do just that, starting with the…
- 1 Top 10 Best Guitar Amplifiers Under $500 to Purchase in 2021 Reviews
- 1.1 1 Boss Katana-100/212 MkII – Best Built In Effects Guitar Amplifier Under $500
- 1.2 2 Fender Mustang LT-25 – Best Budget Guitar Amplifier Under $500
- 1.3 3 Fender Champion 100-watt – Best Value for the Money Guitar Amplifier Under $500
- 1.4 4 Orange Amps Amplifier Part (Crush35RT) – Best Sounding Guitar Amplifier Under $500
- 1.5 5 Marshall Code 50 – Best Digital Combo Guitar Amplifier Under $500
- 1.6 6 LyxPro 40 Watt – Best Portable Guitar Amplifier Under $500
- 1.7 7 Monoprice Combo Tube Amp (611815) – Best Guitar Valve Amplifier Under $500
- 1.8 8 Peavey Rage 258 – Best Practice Guitar Amplifier Under $500
- 1.9 9 Orange Amps Crush20RT – Best Orange Guitar Amplifier Under $500
- 1.10 10 Marshall Amps (M-MG50GFX-U) – Best Marshall Guitar Amplifier Under $500
- 2 Best Guitar Amplifiers Under $500 Buying Guide
- 3 Looking for Something Else?
- 4 What are the Best Guitar Amplifiers Under $500?
Top 10 Best Guitar Amplifiers Under $500 to Purchase in 2021 Reviews
1 Boss Katana-100/212 MkII – Best Built In Effects Guitar Amplifier Under $500
This is a company that needs no introduction to guitar players. Most have had at least one of their “indestructible” pedals on a pedalboard at some time. Their range of amplifiers, though, may not be so well-known.
The Katana Range
First released in 2016, they quickly established a reputation as Boss started their quest for the ultimate rock sound. It has to be said; they are not everyone’s cup of tea. But for those who like them, they are special. This is the 100-watt combo Mark II, an upgrade on the original.
One word usually describes Boss products – Tough. So it is with this amp. However, it is compact and measures just 18 by 14.5 by 9 inches. To help you carry it around, there is a sturdy handle on the top.
The controls are located on the top and allow you to make any changes during your performances quickly and easily. Controls include just about everything you need including a three-band EQ. Inside the robust cabinet are two 12-inch speakers.
Inside the box…
Boss has designed this amp to have variety. Therefore you get lots of sound options. It is going to fit with most genres of music. Some of the sound is inspired by the “Brown” sound from the well-liked Waza amp. There are five voices, this being one. Along with Clean, Lead, and Crunch and a dedicated channel for an acoustic-electric instrument.
Does Boss do effects?
Boss is not going to create a great amp without putting in some of their world-class effects. Everything you will need is loaded in, and you will get access to the Boss Tone studio. There you will find sixty of Boss’s most loved sounds.
You can edit all of the sounds and tones to what you want. With what is available in the amp and the Studio, there is no limit to what you can create. Therefore, you get one of the best sound shaping guitar amplifiers under $500 on the market.
If you don’t think there are enough options, you can add pedals and/or effects by placing them behind the preamp. Packed with sound options and at a reasonable price point, the value for money is staggering. As a result, this is one of the most versatile guitar amplifiers under $500 you can buy.
And for quiet practice, there is an option to reduce the volume using a cutout. You don’t lose the sound you have created; it is just quiet.
- Compact size with a strong build.
- Packed with Boss effects and access to the Boss Tone Studio.
- Perhaps a better modeling amp than a performance amp.
2 Fender Mustang LT-25 – Best Budget Guitar Amplifier Under $500
This amp has been included not because it is one of Fender’s new shining stars in amplification. It is here because a lot of people like Fender amps, and it is set at a decent price point. Anyone searching for one of the best cheap guitar amplifiers under $500 should keep this one in mind.
Made of wood, the quality of the build is okay. For those who like to know where their Fender guitars and amps are made these days, there was no information. Take your pick from about six countries.
This is a 25-watt amp with an eight-inch speaker. Controls are on top of the cabinet and feature a small color display. The controls are basic, volume, treble and bass, and a Gain. They have also included a master volume.
Connections are also located here with an instrument input and headphone output. As well as a USB port and a socket for a footswitch that isn’t provided.
There are 30 of them that give you a decent range of sounds and options. If you are looking for positive things to say about this amp, then that is that.
What is it all about?
We have been Fender guitar users for more years than we care to remember. But this? Oh, dear. For us, it is thrown together. This is the company that gave us the Strat and the Tele and, of course, the Precision Bass. The Showman and the Fender Twin.
Is this what they have come to? Does it even look like a Fender amp? It is dreadful, even down to the cheap control knobs they found in a second-hand shop somewhere. Someone sitting in their office on the 10th floor, getting paid a fortune, must have come up with this. Let’s make some cheap amps.
If Leo had been around, they’d have found whoever decided that one in the car park. Without using the lift. The best thing they can do is take the Fender label off the front and pretend it’s made by someone else. But in reality, it might be.
- Very few, but it has some nice presets.
- It’s cheap.
- Too many to list.
3 Fender Champion 100-watt – Best Value for the Money Guitar Amplifier Under $500
We have deliberately put this amp next up. The person who designed the Mustang must have been away from work. Here we have an amp that looks like a Fender. Yippee.
No Fender amp should leave the drawing board without representing what, at times, was a glorious past. This amp features black vinyl covering, vintage-style control knobs, and silver speaker cloth in “old-school” Blackface. One of the great Fender looks.
No, it isn’t a tube amp that is about to bite you like “The Twin.” But for a solid-state amp, it does well. Furthermore, it is one of the best fender guitar amplifiers under $500 currently available.
One hundred watts and a 2 by 12 specially-designed speaker setup is a good start. It’s loud, and the looks say it is very proud. It has a solid wood build with controls located on the traditional slightly sloping front fascia. Four very small feet and metal corners for the lower corners and the rear prepare this for life on the road. And why not?
It has two channels, the clean ‘Blackface’ channel and a channel for selectable voicing. Plenty of effects are built-in. You get the expected Reverb and Delay or Echo. And, of course, Chorus. Also added are Tremolo and Vibrato effects.
There is a tap control on the front fascia control panel to set the delay time or tremolo speed. There is also an effects loop facility to bring in your pedals. Therefore it’s one of the best built in delay guitar amplifiers under $500 you can buy.
With this amp, the footswitch has been included. It allows you to work between channels going from clean to rather noisy. And this can get noisy.
There is a ¼-inch instrument input and an ⅛-inch headphone socket. Also, a ⅛-inch Aux input for use with other devices to play along with playlists.
Not difficult to recommend this as one of the best guitar amplifiers under $500. Powerful, plenty of sound options and “the look.” Nothing cheap and nasty about this Fender, even though it is set at an attractive price point.
- Great look and good solid build quality.
- Plenty of sound options at a very good price point.
4 Orange Amps Amplifier Part (Crush35RT) – Best Sounding Guitar Amplifier Under $500
One thing we learned from those early Orange days in the late 60s is that they stand for no-nonsense. This is an amp that demonstrates all of that historic ear-shattering pedigree. The highly responsive overdrive and detailed saturation are all here.
This is a 35-watt amp with a 10-inch Orange “Voice of the World” speaker. Doesn’t sound a lot, does it? But then 35 watts from Orange is different from everyone else. It is one of the most powerful guitar amplifiers under $500 currently out there.
The cabinet is made from Birchwood and then given its bright Orange waterproof Tolex covering. It has that basketweave speaker covering.
The back is a closed design. Cliff Cooper always did like to project all the sound at the audience. He didn’t like it escaping from the back where it would do no good at all. It measures 11.8 x 20.5 x 19.1 inches and weighs 29 pounds. There are small feet and protectors on each corner.
The 4-stage preamp gives you a surprising range of different tones and sounds. It jogs your memory, for those that were there, about those deafening tube-driven days of the past.
Two channels can be operated by a footswitch. The footswitch is not included, which is a little disappointing. However, Reverb is built-in, and there is a low-impedance effects loop that is fully buffered to utilize your effects.
Stay in tune…
A nice touch is the addition of a chromatic tuner. There is a basic three-band EQ. Along with a ¼-inch instrument input and a ¼-inch headphone out. A great-looking amp by a company that hasn’t strayed too much from what people expect to see. It has a sound to match. A great little amp that must be one of the Best Guitar Amplifiers Under $500.
- Great looking, great sounding with all that Orange power.
- Well-built with a four-stage preamp giving you a variety of sounds.
- A footswitch would have been the icing on the cake.
5 Marshall Code 50 – Best Digital Combo Guitar Amplifier Under $500
From Marshall to Orange. At one time, just a short trip down the A40 from West to Central London. They have both moved on since those days, and some things have changed.
Just like the previous product from Orange, this is a solid-state amp. Marshall is one of those companies that need no introduction. Although, this amp is a little different from what you might usually expect.
Traveling new roads…
With this amp, Marshall has tried to create an amp for two purposes. They wanted it to be a modeling amp. Something for a little sound experimentation. But they also wanted it to be loud enough for stage performances.
This can do both. However, by doing so, it probably falls into the category of not fully achieving either. Sound modeling is a recent idea from the “Boys from Hanwell.” Maybe it isn’t quite their forte. That said, this is one of the best solid state guitar amplifiers under $500 on the market.
Plenty of options…
No one will complain about the varied sound options that are built-in. There are plenty. This is a 50-watt amp that measures 17.91 by 10.71 by 17.01 inches and weighs a bit less than 30 pounds. Easy enough to carry around. The sound is handled by a twelve-inch speaker.
What’s under the bonnet?
Four amp emulations, eight Marshall cabinets, and fourteen preamps. It houses digital recreations of some of the most loved Marshall sounds. The Plexi, JCM800, and the 1961 JTM45 Bluesbreaker. Marshall knows that you cannot digitally recreate tube-driven monsters. But they seem to have tried.
There are plenty of sound effects, twenty-four of them to be precise, with over 100 presets. You could throw your pedalboard away. Needless to say, there are powerful overdrive and distortion effects. But they also included a Phaser, Compressor, and Pitch-shifter. There is even a Wah effect.
Some very “un-Marshall” additions…
This amp has Bluetooth, an LED screen, and a USB port. It also has a change of design and style. They have managed to keep the logo the same, which is something.
Unfortunately, this amp isn’t going to take you back to the Ealing Jazz Club in the early 60s. It will, however, do a good job for those who prefer their sound digital.
Want to find out more? Then check out our in-depth Marshall Code 50W Review.
- Marshall power with a good strong build.
- Plenty of sound modeling options.
- Not quite the ticket, in our opinion.
6 LyxPro 40 Watt – Best Portable Guitar Amplifier Under $500
For those who may be on a budget, this amp is going to be of interest. It hasn’t got an awful lot to write home about by way of effects and extras. It is decent and a great option for the most affordable guitar amplifier under $500 you will find.
It has quite a stable and secure build measuring 18 by 14.5 by 9.5 inches and weighing just under 15 pounds. Easy then to carry around. The edges are given rubber protectors to prevent any damage to what are very vulnerable areas.
Likewise, there are four small rubber feet. It has an output of 40 watts with a five-and-a-half-inch speaker. On the rear is an air vent at the bottom of the cabinet.
Laid out quite well on the front with a sloping fascia. There are bass, mid, and treble controls with volume and gain. You also have time and repeat controls for the built-in delay effect.
There are inputs for a mic and separate inputs for passive and active instruments. You also have an Aux in to connect up your devices and a headphone out.
As we said, quite basic, but the three-band EQ gives you some options, and the delay is useful. You can apply some overdrive using gain control, of course.
One of the important issues with this amp is the price. This is why we have included it. We are familiar with these LyxPro amps, having reviewed others. And while they aren’t going to compete with the best, they are efficient and have a decent quality build.
Superb for beginners…
For one of the best starter guitar amplifiers under $500, it is a great buy. But they also do a job in small venues for gigs. Therefore, it takes its place among the best guitar amplifiers under $500.
- Nicely made and compact with easy-to-use controls.
- Some basic sound management at a very cost-effective price.
- Some will just need a better quality amp.
7 Monoprice Combo Tube Amp (611815) – Best Guitar Valve Amplifier Under $500
Monoprice, you might be forgiven for thinking, does sound a bit like a cheap amp you can pick up for virtually nothing. You might be a little surprised by this amp then.
We live in a music world that seems to be dominated by so-called innovation and digitally recreated sounds. But, in our view, the valve is still the boss. The ruler of the amplification world for guitars. You might then be surprised to find that this amp from Monoprice is a valve amp. And not just any old valve amp.
A legend under the bonnet…
Inside this amp are a pair of EL84s pumping out the power. And three 12AX7 tubes working the preamp and the Reverb. Turn it up.
It has a strong build with chrome corner protectors. It has an interesting synthetic leather look in a cream color. Seems to put you in mind of old 40s and 50s designs. Not sure how long it will stay clean if you gig it, but that is a side issue.
It has a cloth speaker grille and a tough leather handle on top. Furthermore, it features an open-back design. Rated at 15 watts; it sounds like it could be a bit more than that. Additionally, there is a twelve-inch Celestion speaker.
It has a nice spring reverb sound that can be controlled by a footswitch. The footswitch is unfortunately not included. However, there is an FX loop. This will let you put any effects pedals, especially delays and reverbs, between the preamp and the power amp.
A bit basic and not very glamorous in many ways. The off and on switch is an aluminum toggle, as an example. The dial controls rather cheap plastic rotating knobs. Still, what they have does the job. There is a bass, mid, treble, and tone EQ. Along with Volume and Gain. Also, a control for the amount of reverb you need.
Basic, yes. Impressive; actually, it is. And for the money, it gives you a real tube amp, not an attempted simulation. That means you can drive it a bit.
- Good value tube amp.
- A well-built and compact amp at a competitive price.
- A footswitch would have been useful.
8 Peavey Rage 258 – Best Practice Guitar Amplifier Under $500
Over the years, Peavey has produced some very good amps, as our Dutch friend who used one would testify. In some ways, they have always lived a little in the shadow of Marshall.
They arrived in 1965, but by then, Marshall had started converting the world. Soon after, Orange and HiWatt arrived. So in the UK, which is where it was all happening, they never really managed to break through. Nevertheless, they are still here and still making good amps.
The Peavey Rage 258…
Looking for a great practice amp? Or possibly an amp to mic up at performances? Then this is worth a look. This is one of the best value amps you will find. It has so much to offer that it belies its price tag. Let’s take a closer look.
Peavey amps always look like you could drop them, and they would just carry on. This is the same. It measures 17.87 by 10 by 15.62 inches and weighs just under 19 pounds. The corners have protective guards, which makes it a rugged little amp. It is a 25-watt amp with an eight-inch Blue Marvel speaker. It pumps out a considerable amount of volume.
There are two channels you can switch between, a Clean and Lead channel. The Clean channel has volume control and the Lead channel post and pre-gain controls. There is a three-position switch for different voicings and a three-band EQ.
Between them, the controls offer a range of sound, from clean to some serious overdrive. This packs a punch way above what Peavey gives it credit for. Nevertheless, it would only operate live in very small venues. A great little amp, especially for practice at a very attractive price.
- Well-built with a 25-watt output.
- Two channels to switch between with some powerful sound options.
- Underpowered for most live performances.
9 Orange Amps Crush20RT – Best Orange Guitar Amplifier Under $500
A last look at what Orange is putting out in smaller sizes with another from the Crush range. It’s a similar amp to the previous offering, but this one more of a practice amp.
Compact and ideal for carrying around with you if you need to. It measures just 7.87 by 13.78 by 15.75 inches and only weighs 15.65. Although, it is still capable of putting out a decent volume, and of course, an “Orange” sound.
It has a modest output of 20 watts that is pumped through an eight-inch “Voice of the World” speaker. That might not sound like a lot of volume, but you won’t have any complaints. However, the neighbors might if you let rip with it.
The design of the amp incorporates a closed-back design to ensure the sound is all pumped forward. It has all the looks and style of an Orange amp, as do all the options in this range.
It has two channels that will give you a great range of tones and sound options. There is a 3-band EQ with volume and gain control. It also has a built-in reverb. The controls are located on the top of the cabinet.
The channels can be operated by a footswitch, but the footswitch is not included. There is headphone/line output. It also has an onboard tuner which is always a nice addition.
Everyone loves an Orange…
For those who would love an Orange amp and everything it brings with it, this is a great option. Set at a very tempting price point, it is great value for money.
- Great Orange design and build quality.
- Plenty of sound options.
- Might be underpowered for some needs.
10 Marshall Amps (M-MG50GFX-U) – Best Marshall Guitar Amplifier Under $500
This is a Marshall that is slightly different from the previous amp we looked at. There have been no design changes. This looks like a Marshall. And to a degree, it sounds like one.
We say to a degree because it is a digital amp. And try as they might; it cannot sound the same as one of those treasured valve monsters. However, this amp isn’t pretending, and it does give you plenty of options to shape your sound.
There are four channels available. Clean, Crunch, and Overdrive 1 and 2. It puts out 50 watts through its custom-built 12-inch speaker. That is enough volume to work a medium or small venue.
There is a three-band EQ that gives you some tone-shaping options. There is also a choice of Spring or Studio Reverb, and Delay and other effects. These include Chorus and a Phaser, a Flanger and Vibe, and Octave options. And when you have found a sound you would like to keep, the settings can be stored.
A nice addition is a built-in tuner, and it has a switchable effects loop. This can be operated using the footswitch, which is included with the amp. This is an amp that is going to be at home on the stage or in the studio.
Typically Marshall, with a strong wood cabinet, it looks like it should. It measures 10.9 by 20.3 by 19.4 inches and weighs 35 and a half pounds. Controls are located on the front, and the partially-closed back has a small vent at the top. There’s a headphone socket that, when in use, mutes the sound from the speakers.
Let’s finish where we started in our introduction. If you had bought a Marshall 50 watt combo in 1962, it would have cost you 600 UK pounds. That is about $4000 today. Check the price point of this.
- Great Marshall look and build quality.
- Plenty of options for sound and tonal control.
Best Guitar Amplifiers Under $500 Buying Guide
Where will you use it?
If it is for practice at home, then all of the amps we have looked at will suffice. There will be some considerations, of course. How much space will it take up? If it is for playing live, then we are talking about a different thing.
What size of venue?
For a small to medium-sized venue, some will suffice. For anything larger, then you are going to be looking at more powerful amps. We have looked at some.
As most of these amps are solid-state, they have plenty of effects built-in. The amp then becomes a sound modeling device. Is that what you want? Or are you just looking for a plain old simple amp? Maybe you want to wake up the neighbors, and you would like a tube amp. They are available.
Looking for Something Else?
Our selection of music and audio equipment continues to grow. Check out our in-depth Fender Rumble 40 v3 Bass Combo Amplifier Review, our Roland VT-4 Review, and our review of the Best Bass Amps or Best Keyboard Amps you can buy in 2021.
Or, take a look at our comprehensive Best Tube Amps review, our Best Guitar Headphone Amps review, our Sony MDR-7506 Review, our Monolith M1060 Headphone Review, and our Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO Review for even more amazing audio products currently available.
What are the Best Guitar Amplifiers Under $500?
We would like a bit of oomph, so we would be looking for a decent volume level. That would probably mean ruling out the two Orange contenders. The all-valve Monoprice was also tempting. But we need a bit more volume. We would therefore pick the …
It looks like a Fender amp should, and it has plenty of volume and style.
So, until next time, rock on.