Written by Bobby
Parent article: Best guitar amps
Updated by Sadie
Recently updated on July 6, 2020
Updated product links and checked product availability for all amps listed. Also made minor changes to copy and article format.
The Best Guitar Amp Under 200 Dollars: Our Top Pick
Orange Crush 20 (dual-channel) Combo Amp
The Crush 20 wins this price range with a better-than-average tone quality score, a multi-stage preamp, and two channels that are footswitchable. It doesn't have the bells and whistles of the Valvetronix or Mustang, but it's a great-sounding amp with a gold score in all the basics.
At the $200 price point there are certain features in a guitar amp we can expect to see and others that we definitely won't see. Of course, these conventions assume typical retail price and don't take into account used discounts or in-person deals. When the "new" tag is $200 or less, you need to set some expectations before you shop.
Here are a few things you won't see:
- Any sort of tube circuits or power
- High wattage output
- Multiple speakers (usually one in a combo amp)
- Line outs, effects loops, or additional speaker outs
That's the bad news. However, you'd be surprised at the good news for seekers of the best guitar amp under 200 dollars. You should expect to see some combination of the following features:
- Solid state circuits
- Onboard amp modeling
- Onboard effects
- Three-band EQ
- Multiple channels
- Headphone out
- MP3 input
Your best options under 200 dollars will have at least some of these features. You'll almost always see a solid state circuit (the only alternative to tube power), three-band EQ, and a headphone output for direct monitoring. Those three features make up what I would consider the "baseline" requirements for a guitar amp in this price range.
Read more: How to Use a Guitar Amp
I'd call the rest "bonus" options or features that sweeten the pot.
At the end of this product roundup, I'll talk more about features and concerns regarding amps in this price range. For now, let's get to the amps themselves.
Here's what I'll recommend:
Best Guitar Amps Under 200 Dollars: Top 8 Picks
Orange Crush 20 (Twin Channel)
VOX Valvetronix VT20
Fender Champion 20
Fender Mustang LT 25
Line 6 Spider V20
Orange Crush 12
VOX Pathfinder Combo
1. Orange Crush 20 Combo Amp
It's possible those looking for built-in effects and amp modeling might be better served by the Fender or VOX options. Yet, I would argue that the Crush 20 does the best job of providing a standard of tone and usability that those amps don't quite hit.
The Crush 20 has a great clean tone with a dirty channel that can handle both modern and vintage distortion sounds decently.
I've also given it points for supporting a footswitch and multiple channels.
Other features include the following:
- MP3 (AUX) Input
- Headphone Output
- Gain control
- Three-band EQ
Here's a simple graphic I put together that highlights all the functionality on the top panel:
In the end, it's the footswitch option that puts this one over the top. With a well-stocked pedalboard, it can produce a better-than-average guitar rig, even beyond what I would consider a beginner's amp setup.
Now, if you're prioritizing the effects and amp modeling, the Crush 20 certainly wouldn't be my first suggestion.
But, if you want a solid, reliable amp a with good clean tone, this is your first stop.
For way less than 200 bucks, it's really punchy.
Read more: Best Orange Amps
IDEAL FOR: All the basics
2. VOX Valvetronix VT20 Guitar Practice Amp
Part of the reason I don't score the Valvetronix higher is because of the higher price tag (it's significantly more expensive than the Crush 20). I would also say it doesn't sound quite as good as the Crush, despite having a vacuum tube running the preamp.
Having any kind of tube power is a rare occurrence in amps this cheap, so VOX definitely deserves some credit here.
Yet, the most value comes from the VT20's digital functionality.
Amp models and effects are plentiful.
This is evident by simply glancing at all the controls:
Again, you have a footswitch option that helps you control all this, along with presets that allow you to save your settings, similar to the Line 6 Spider series.
Most Ideal Fit for the Valvetronix
It's a great toolbox amp for those that want/need the variance in tones and effects. You might find it especially useful if you're not bringing your own pedalboard to the mix.
Some might argue it should score above the Crush 20, but I would again caution that feature count alone doesn't make a better amp.
The Valvetronix is also not a true tube amp with the generic vacuum tube at the preamp level.
For those that want to invest in the modeling aspect, it's a better choice than the Crush 20.
Otherwise, you're spending more money for variety that you ultimately won't use.
IDEAL FOR: Variety, effects, and amp modeling
3. Fender Champion 20 (combo amp)
The same recipe employed by the Orange Crush 20 is applied in this version of the Fender Champion. It's simple, sounds great, and doesn't cost much.
What I would consider the biggest drawback with the Champion 20 is the lack of a second channel or any kind of footswitch input. This means that you'll have to make changes by hand, which may or may not be an issue for you.
Fender also leaves out a mids knob, dropping you to a two-band EQ.
Read more: Best Fender amps
Ideal Fender Champion 20 Situation
Even with some drawbacks it's still a great beginner or practice amp, ideal for those who will primarily be playing while sitting down.
A headphone and MP3 jack are included, along with onboard FX and several amp models.
IDEAL FOR: Beginners and practicing
4. Peavey Vypyr VIP Modeling Amp
In addition to providing a bunch of different effects and digital amp models, the Peavey Vypyr actually has four different instrument modes:
- Electric 1
- Electric 2
This is ideal for those who play more than one instrument and want to use the amplifier for multiple scenarios. And like the Valvetronix, a lot of its value is found in the digitized functionality.
While I like the Vypyr's clean tones and some of the lower-gain settings, it's not as full or rich sounding when running heavier distortions. Also, the onboard effects are hit or miss. Some of them sound decent while others are nothing to write home about.
Still, if you're after variety, there are 36 different amp models for guitar alone.
The bass instrument type gives you six more to choose from.
It's essentially a little slice of the Garageband amp modeling software in combo box form.
The Ideal Vypyr User
The Vypyr is not an amp I would recommend to anyone other than beginners or someone that just wants a practice amp that will let them experiment with different sounds.
Within those confines, it's a versatile and affordable option.
IDEAL FOR: Practice and variety
5. Fender Mustang LT-25 Digital Guitar Amp
The newer Mustang series from Fender is a digital modeling amp that has a bunch of different presets and built-in effects. To make any major distinctions between the LT-25 and the Vypyr would require some serious hair-splitting.
It seemed like the Vypyr had a little more in terms of sounds and features to explore, but both are well-stocked in that department, so it didn't matter much to me.
For the price, they essentially serve the same purpose.
The Ideal Mustang User
Since Fender works a lot of their tube amp models into the Mustang's processor, I liked some of the tones I could get out of the LT-25. The bigger Mustangs with larger speakers sound even nicer and fuller. Yet, the role of an amp like the Mustang would still have to be limited to beginners and practice amps.
They're fun to play around with and they do sound decent, considering what you pay.
IDEAL FOR: Practice and Fender fans
6. Line 6 Spider V20 Modeling Amp
For a long time, I owned the Line 6 Spider IV 150 (the 150-watt version) and really liked it. The V20 is part of the next generation of Line 6 modeling amps, and has a similar feature set, albeit the under $200 version is only 20 watts and much smaller.
The premise is similar to the Valvetronix and Mustang. You get several channels with effects, amp models and an EQ to set whatever presets you want.
You have 16 total presets to work with.
One downside here is the limited EQ control, with only a single knob labeled "tone." This leaves out one of my basic requirements (being the three-band EQ) and severally limits your sound, despite the amp models and effects.
The Ideal Spider V20 User
Because I have experience with and have generally liked the Spider amps, I see some value here for beginners or those that want to focus on effects and amp modeling.
But the EQ issue is definitely a problem and I can't help but think the higher wattage (larger) Spider amps are far better options.
With amps this small, you've got to make cuts somewhere.
IDEAL FOR: Bedroom practice
Are tube amps better than solid state?
Even the best guitar amps in the $200 price range are unlikely to have any decent tube circuits. You might get one here or there - a generic "vacuum tube" in the preamp - but it's not the same as what we mean when we're referring to a genuinely good tube amp.
All that to say, if your price limit is 200 dollars, worrying about a tube amp is less important.
Solid state is where you're going to end up.
But, for the sake of providing good information, it's fair to say that in most cases, tube amps are better and more desirable than solid state amps for a variety of reasons, primarily the following:
- Tube amps produce a warmer, higher-quality clean tone
- Many guitar players believe tubes are a more organic and genuine form of guitar amplification
- There are more high-end tube amps than solid state
While some of this is subjective, most guitar players will say that tube amps are a "better" and more honest form of amplification. If you're talking about purely clean tone, I would agree. If you're talking about a more modern form of distortion, the answer would need a little more context.
For those of you with a $200 salary cap, it doesn't matter much anyways.
Do I need the effects and/or modeling features?
I would argue that digital effects and modeling in an amplifier are 100 percent a matter of preference and not a need or requirement. A lot of amps under $200 have these features because cheaper amps are often bought by beginners who just want to try out different sounds.
Amp modeling and effects allow you to do that easily and cheaply.
The trade-off is that you forgo overall sound quality for a smattering of sounds that you may or may not use.
I've found that modeling amps can be really helpful and useful in certain situations.
For a long time, that's what I used, even as a seasoned guitar player.
But, if effects and amp model tweaking doesn't really interest you, there's nothing wrong with going without them. In fact, you might even end up with a better amp, overall. Our top recommendation in this article, the Orange Crush, has no modeling or onboard effects whatsoever.
What kind of headphones should I use?
The best headphones for guitar amp use should be a larger, over-ear design. They'd be what you would consider studio headphones and not just a set of ear buds or, heaven forbid, your white iPhone headphones. Check the article I linked to above for suggestions.
Can you hook up a speaker cab to these amps?
The eight amps I've recommended here are all combo amps, meaning they have a speaker built into the box already. This also means you don't need an external speaker cab to play through them.
While some combo amps will still support what's called an "extended" speaker connection, I don't believe any of these amps have that capability.
When to Up Your Price Range
Remember what I was saying about tube amps?
If you really want a tube amp, expanding your salary cap is a must. You just can't get one this cheap. Think $400-$500 before you start getting into some good, high-value tube amp options.
Other reasons to up your price range should be based on your own interest in playing and where you play.
For example, if you're getting past the beginner stage and you want a more reliable amp that can support you in a live performance (even if it's just a small gig) upping your price range could be a good move.
Because these amps, though good for what you pay, aren't going to last you much beyond your beginner years. They're meant to get you started and give you a way to practice indoors. Anytime you need to get louder, play in an outdoor setting, or do any kind of serious recording, you would need a different setup.
Once you get to that point, upping your price limit is a good idea.
Practice VS Performance
With that in mind, here's a good question to ask when buying your amp:
Do I need an amp for practice or performance?
Even the best guitar amp under 200 dollars is still not going to be enough for a potential performer. That's why I would limit these recommendations to those looking exclusively for an indoors, non-studio solution.
In this price range, we're looking at beginner and practice amps. If that's what you need, these are some of the best options available.
Make sure you figure out how you want to prioritize effects and modeling.
If that's a feature you clearly do or don't want, it'll help you knock a few options off your list. Additionally, try to get the basic features we recommended earlier, namely the following:
- Three-band EQ
- Multiple channels
- Headphone out/MP3 in
Most of the amps in this list give you those core features. The ones that don't get them all make up for it with additional modeling or onboard effects. In my experience, these are the highest-value options possible at such a low price.
Questions about These Amps?
Do you have questions about these amps?
Perhaps you're unsure about whether you need a performance or practice guitar amp.
If that's you or if you have additional questions, feel free to get in touch via the comments section below and I'll be happy to help.