For every accomplished and for every would-be guitarist out there, it goes without saying that guitar amps are essential in helping craft that perfect tone. Guitar amps can make or break a guitarist’s sound — they are the foundation, and a bad foundation will bring the whole house down.
Because chasing good tone is a never-ending and expensive journey, throwing good money after bad on guitar amps will leave anyone feeling sore at that unnecessary hole in their pocket. Never fear! Some of the more benevolent guitar amp manufacturers out there have your hard-earned cash in mind without sacrificing quality. So here is a roundup of five of the best guitar amps for under 500 dollars.
PEAVEY VYPYR VIP 3
Peavey amps generally have a _love them or hate them_ quality to them — they do not cut back on quality, but tonally they are not for everyone. While that might be true for some Peavey amps, the Vypyr VIP 3 has every guitarist in mind without being a jack of all trades.
The Vypyr VIP 3 is a bass, acoustic and guitar amp in one package, so all bases are covered. Being an amp modeler, the Vypyr VIP 3 has 36 different amps to choose from. Of course, some are better than others, but for under 400 dollars, there are certainly enough quality models to make this amp worth every cent.
With 25 on-board effects the capability of replicating a baritone guitar and even a sitar, the Vypyr VIP 3 is not without bells and whistles too.
- Huge amount of amp models
- USB connectivity for direct digital recordings
- Some models are better than others.
- The controls can be tricky.
BOSS KATANA 50 MKII
It has been few years since the original Katana, but Boss amps have been a somewhat recent yet welcomed addition to the world of guitar amps.
Boss are renowned for their multitude of effects pedals — every guitarist has at least one Boss pedal. Although they are lesser known for their guitar amps, the Katana MkII is a shining example of their ability to create more than competent guitar amps.
With 60 on-board effects (when connected to the Boss software via USB), clearly Boss’ reputation for making guitar pedals is not lost on them. However, it is not all about the effects. Tonally the amp satisfies most walks of guitarists, with its five different models. The Katana MkII will not eat much of that 500 dollar budget too, so it is certainly worth the money.
- Great tone.
- Huge amount of effects.
- Might leave you thinking, “Should I have bought the 100 Watt version?”
ORANGE CRUSH 35RT
Historically, Orange have made high-quality amps, but they are undoubtedly tailored to a specific crowd of guitarists. Fuzzy, warm and centered around distortion, Orange mostly have the classic rockers in mind with their amps. There is nothing wrong with that, it is just something to be aware of before buying any Orange amp.
Harnessing 35 Watts, the Orange Crush 35RT is a bite-sized version of the bigger Orange amps, but it is still thoroughly Orange. Despite its size, the Orange Crush 35RT can still kick out some ear-piercing, fuzzy distorted goodness. With only an on-board tuner and reverb, there are not many additional extras, but the amp is happy to be a stripped-back solid-state amp with the classic Orange tone.
- Nice fuzzy distortion.
- Easy to use.
- Perhaps exclusive.
- Not many additional extras.
BUGERA V22 INFINIUM
Bugera’s V22 Infinium is a relatively small amp in terms of Wattage, but it still kicks out some incredible vintage sounding tones.
Because the Infinium V22 is a tube amp with classic blues rock leanings, although the tone sounds spectacular especially for an inexpensive amp, it does make the V22 somewhat exclusive. For fans of rock blues this is likely good news —tonally the V22 caters to the lover of vintage rock. While it is not impossible to run say a metal distortion pedal through this thing, the V22 is not really aimed at modern sounds.
It is all down to personal taste, but the V22 is more comfortable when playing something from the old school rather than the new school.
- Great vintage tone.
- Perhaps exclusive.
Another amp modeler, Vox’s VT40X is a hybrid all-rounder — that is tube, solid-state and digital, so all bases are officially covered.
Vox have always had consistency for making amps that suit everyone’s budget. High-end or low-end, the Vox logo is always a seal of good quality, so the VT40X is no different. Although Vox amps are generally designed for low-gain sounds, because the VT40X is modeler amp, there is a lot of tonal versatility on hand. The VT40X has 11 built-in amp models and 12 effects, but by using the USB and accessing Vox’s software, the models and effects can be customized or entirely new ones can be created.
With all the VT40X’s digital capabilities, that does mean that there is a learning curve to getting the hang of this amp. But for around 200 dollars, it is not a deal-breaker.
- Lots of customization capabilities.
- Takes some time getting used to.
- It does not look great.
For more information on all these amps check out this article for full reviews and more best affordable guitar amps.