Top 9 Best Guitar Amplifiers Under $500 – Best of The Mid-Range Segment

The-Best-Amps-Under-500

Last Updated: Apr-26-2019
Since the last time we checked this page, there had been plenty of changes in the sub-$500 amp market. These were reflected in this latest update. We removed models like the older Blackstar HT-5R, and added three new amps. Topping the list was the Vox AC10C1 Combo, before the Orange CR60C and the versatile Katana KTN-100 from Boss.

Many of the guitar amplifiers you can find for under $500 are ranked among some of the most popular on the market. They offer stage-worthy power, are packed with cool features, and are affordable enough for both enthusiasts and professionals on a budget.

So, if your budget is in the region of $500, you’ve come to the right place! If it’s lower, don’t worry – perhaps check out our chart on the best $300 amps instead.

We are about to dive into a chart highlighting what we believe are some of the best guitar amplifiers under $500 at the moment. In the chart we have included combos and heads, as well as both tube and solid-state amps. Let’s get straight in and see which models made the cut.

Top 9 Best Guitar Amplifiers Under $500:

ImageGuitar Pedal / RatingSummaryCheck Price
+ - Vox AC10C1 Tube Combo Vox AC10C1 Tube Combo

Total of 4.47/5   4.5 out of 5 stars

A respected modern tribute to a classic tube amp.

+ - Orange Crush Pro CR60C Guitar Amp Orange Crush Pro CR60C Guitar Amp

Total of 4.70/5   4.7 out of 5 stars

A true performer’s amp from Orange for under $500.

+ - Boss Katana KTN-100 Boss Katana KTN-100

Total of 4.83/5   4.8 out of 5 stars

Flexible combo providing legendary Boss tone at an attractive price.

+ - Peavey Vypyr VIP 3 Peavey Vypyr VIP 3

Total of 4.83/5   4.8 out of 5 stars

One of the most versatile combo amps available on the market today.

+ - Boss Katana 100W Head Boss Katana 100W Head

Total of 4.78/5   4.8 out of 5 stars

A well-rounded amp, delivering just a perfect balance of power and versatility

+ - Vox AC4 Classic Limited Edition Vox AC4 Classic Limited Edition

Total of 4.80/5   4.8 out of 5 stars

The spirit and sound of AC30 packed into a compact practice amp.

+ - Fender Champion 100 Fender Champion 100

Total of 4.70/5   4.7 out of 5 stars

A legendary amp that keeps things simple.

+ - Orange Amplifiers Crush Pro CR120H Orange Amplifiers Crush Pro CR120H

Total of 4.78/5   4.8 out of 5 stars

This puppy is a true solid-state workhorse from a well-known British brand.

+ - Line 6 Spider V 240HC Line 6 Spider V 240HC

Total of 4.77/5   4.8 out of 5 stars

A whole lot of output combined with great versatility and built-in speakers.

Vox AC10C1 Tube Combo

Vox AC10C1 Tube Combo

Controls:4.3 out of 5 stars
Features:4.4 out of 5 stars
Performance:4.6 out of 5 stars
Value:4.6 out of 5 stars

Certain manufacturers have such a reputation, that parting with your hard-earned cash feels a little more satisfying – Vox is one of these. Whatever the price range, it's more than likely you will get your money's worth. In the sub-$500 range, the AC10C1 tube combo stands out.

As a tribute to the longtime discontinued AC10 tube amp, it certainly has a lot to live up to. It delivers the same vintage sound built on Vox's Top Boost tone circuit, while the built-in reverb is subtle and natural.

Overall, it's a lightweight, portable 10-watt tube amp, that’s just perfect for practicing at home or performing on smaller stages. Find out more in our full Vox AC10C1 Tube Combo review.

Orange Crush Pro CR60C Guitar Amp

Orange Crush Pro CR60C Guitar Amp

Controls:4.5 out of 5 stars
Features:4.7 out of 5 stars
Performance:4.8 out of 5 stars
Value:4.8 out of 5 stars

The Crush Pro range from Orange is, as you'd imagine, a step up from the regular Crush line. Make no mistakes, this 60-watt amp was built for serious players!

While packing plenty of power, it’s still very portable and easy to transport to gigs or rehearsals. The clarity of tone across the ranges is stunning and the 12" Voice of the World speaker will take anything you can throw at it.

Orange understands that guitarists are individuals and the addition of the buffered effects loop is a godsend. Take every effect pedal you have, cram them right in the middle of your chain and you still won't lose quality. Find out more about this stellar amp in our full Orange Crush Pro CR60C review.

Boss Katana KTN-100

Boss Katana KTN-100

Controls:4.7 out of 5 stars
Features:4.9 out of 5 stars
Performance:4.8 out of 5 stars
Value:4.9 out of 5 stars

Guitar amps in this sub-$500 range are often viewed as falling a little short compared to more expensive ‘pro-level’ models. The Katana KTN-100 combo from pedal masters Boss changes this perception completely.

Featuring five finely-crafted amp channels, along with a mind-blowing range of legendary Boss effects, guitarists of all genres will be able to dial in tones that are sure to impress. Lush acoustic bliss to full-on metal onslaught can be yours, all in the same convenient 100-watt package.

The level of flexibility that the KTN-100 offers is simply amazing for an amp at this price point. You can get all of the juicy details by checking out our full KTN-100 review.

Peavey Vypyr VIP 3

Peavey Vypyr VIP 3

Controls:4.9 out of 5 stars
Features:4.9 out of 5 stars
Performance:4.7 out of 5 stars
Value:4.8 out of 5 stars

Peavey's Vypyr series have been the source of versatile modeling amps for years. The one we’re looking at here is the sweet spot. Packing some 100 Watts of modeling power, it’s definitely loud enough for stage use as well as practice.

The amp comes with over 400 presets that include amps, cabs, effects and even instruments. That is the type of versatility you don’t get to see too often. It’s not without a fault, but the sheer amount of value you get for your money is overwhelming.

If you are looking for a decent combo that can be used both on stage and in your bedroom, Peavey Vypyr VIP 3 is among the top choices you have at the moment.

Boss Katana 100W Head

Boss Katana 100W Head

Controls:4.8 out of 5 stars
Features:4.7 out of 5 stars
Performance:4.7 out of 5 stars
Value:4.9 out of 5 stars

Boss, the brand that has given us reliable and quality guitar effects pedals for decades, also has a thing or two to show when it comes to amps. Their Katana series offer a perfect fusion of power, versatility and overall quality.

Katana Head we are looking at here is a 100 Watt unit packed with some of their best amp emulations and effects. Compact, easy to use and well priced, this is exactly the type of an amplifier a performing guitar player can use.

Especially if they are on a tight budget. On top of that, Katana also features an acoustic mode, allowing you to plug in your acoustic electric guitar and have a more than a decent quality of tone.

Vox AC4 Classic Limited Edition

Vox AC4 Classic Limited Edition

Controls:4.7 out of 5 stars
Features:4.6 out of 5 stars
Performance:5 out of 5 stars
Value:4.9 out of 5 stars

The shoes left behind by AC30 are quite hard to fill, especially when you are looking at a compact, 4 Watt amp such as the AC4 Classic Limited Edition. However, when it comes down to the pure tone, you will find that this amp offers a window back in time.

Vox has managed to pack the AC30's identity into a practice amp that costs a mere fraction of the price. With a 12 Inch custom voiced Celestion, you are looking at a decent output and quality of sound.

Everything about the AC4 Classic Limited Edition projects its no-nonsense nature. From a clean and simple control panel to its exterior design. It is a true piece of rock history on a budget.

Fender Champion 100

Fender Champion 100

Controls:4.6 out of 5 stars
Features:4.6 out of 5 stars
Performance:4.8 out of 5 stars
Value:4.8 out of 5 stars

Whether you are an amp buff or are just exploring the world of amps for the first time, Fender’s Champion Series is an instantly recognizable collection of amps, with great tone, no-nonsense controls, and good value.

The popular Champion 100 is the most powerful model in the series, with two 12” Fender Special Design speakers offering 100 watts of power, making it a great match for regularly gigging guitarists.

The controls are stripped down a little when compared to some of the more advanced combo amps, but the Champion 100 still offers a wide range of amp voicings and effects over two separate channels. Check out the full review for more on this classic amp.

Orange Amplifiers Crush Pro CR120H

Orange Amplifiers Crush Pro CR120H

Controls:4.8 out of 5 stars
Features:4.7 out of 5 stars
Performance:4.9 out of 5 stars
Value:4.7 out of 5 stars

Orange Amplifiers, a well-known British brand, has given us some of the wildest tube rigs we have today. However, their solid state series are not too far behind. Orange Amplifiers Crush Pro CR120H is a perfect example of what a proper head of this type should be like.

Loads of output, great quality of tone and great versatility are all features that define this unit. Those who are looking to get a reliable and durable head for gigging or studio practice can definitely find an answer in Crush Pro Cr120H.

All you have to do is find it a decent speaker cabinet to deliver the tone, and you are pretty much set. Finally, this head is very well priced.

Line 6 Spider V 240HC

Line 6 Spider V 240HC

Controls:4.8 out of 5 stars
Features:4.9 out of 5 stars
Performance:4.6 out of 5 stars
Value:4.8 out of 5 stars

When it comes to versatile solid state amps, only a few companies can even comeclose to Line 6. This type of amplifier is their bread and butter. Line 6 Spider V 240HC is a perfect example of what kind of power, innovation, and diversity this brand is capable of packing into a single package.

Not only does it come crammed with over 200 effects, amps and cab emulations, but they have also built in presets inspired by a variety of popular guitarists.

Those who don't have a speaker cab, or can't budget one at the moment, will appreciate the fact that this thing comes with built-in speakers. Bang for the buck, Spider V 240HC is a real bargain.

Why Spend $500 on an Amp?

A $500 amplifier sits pretty much in between an entry-level model and a pro-grade amp costing $1,000. So, while these $500 models aren’t going to be the best amps on the market, they are going to be pretty damn good!

When buying any amp, it’s worth considering what you are going to use it for – in what setting. Unlike budget amps (which are purely for practice) or premium amps (which are built for the stage), a $500 amplifier is the happy medium for most users. They tend to offer enough power for many venues, while still proving suitable for home use, should you wish. More often than not, they are also crammed with features that make experimenting, sound-shaping and recording great fun.

What Should I Get If I Gig Often?

It depends on where you are playing. Combo amps are very convenient for gigging, especially in smaller venues, providing the amp has enough power to fill the hall (or can be plugged into external speaker systems).

However, combos can be very heavy and a bit of a pain if you are regularly on the move. If you gig often or are playing in large venues, an amp head will probably suit you best. These heads are lighter than combo amps and therefore tend to be more practical to carry from gig to gig.

When hooked up to a decent cab, heads can offer huge power that a combo would struggle to beat.

The drawback of buying an amp head is the fact that, unless you are guaranteed a cab at the venue, you’ll need to buy one for yourself. This is an additional cost to factor into your budget and another thing to carry to and from gigs. If you thought carrying a combo amp was hard enough, try transporting a head and a cab!

The Final Word

Finding a good amp in the sub-$500 section isn’t that difficult – narrowing it down to one you truly can’t live without is the hardest part. But if you use our chart to inspire you as you shop around, you should end up with something that will last you for years and years of jamming, gigging and recording.


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Comments

  1. Jay says

    Did you review the Peavey Classic 20 Mini and Orange Tiny Terror as well? Just wondering what about them failed to get them on the list.

  2. Eric says

    Asie from the rest of the arrival, your recommendation to just buy a head is flawed. Get the combo and buy an amp stand. A 4×12 cab has half the speakers pointed at your calves and last time I checked that is not how we hear.

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