What to expect from a guitar amp for under $300?
Though it’s possible to get a great guitar amplifier for under $300, you should temper your expectations. Your satisfaction is really going to depend on what purpose you want your amp to serve. If you are looking for an amp to host a concert of 5,000 people, you’re going to want to invest more than $300 in a quality amp. However, if you are a musician that needs an amp for practice, small gigs, or medium-sized performances, you’re in the right place. In our guide, we have listed some great options for those needs, and you should be able to find multiple types of amps from tube amps, combo amps, head amps, acoustic amps, and more.
Features to consider while choosing a guitar amplifier
When you are starting the search for guitar amps, you should know ahead what features you are looking for in an amplifier. If you don’t know what you need from your amp, you run the risk of purchasing an amp that doesn’t serve your purposes. In that case, you’ll either be compromising the quality of your music or you’ll be forced to go through the hassle of returning the amp and finding one that does work for you. Keep all this in mind while you search for a guitar amp under $300.
Type and configuration
One of the first things you’ll have to identify when you start shopping for amplifiers is what amp type you need. Generally speaking, there are head amps and combo amps. A head amp, like the Fender Super Champ X2 on our list, is an amplifier itself, coming without a speaker, so you’ll need a cabinet to use it. A combo amp, as the name suggests, combines an amp and a cabinet hosting one or two speakers.
Most people prefer getting a combo amp, since it saves them a hassle to get a cabinet.
Guitar amps are also distinguished in whether they are tube or solid.
Tube amps, or valve amps, like the Monoprice 611815, use vacuum tubes in their construction and have been a choice of many serious musicians for many years. They give you this gorgeous old-school sounding. They are, however, costlier to maintain, as you’ll probably need to replace tubes from time to time. You’ll also need more time to get used to them.
Solid-state amps started taking over in the 1970s. They are usually more affordable and are much easier to maintain. They are also much lighter than tube amps, as well as less fragile. Most amplifiers on our list are solid-state.
There are also modeling amps, which can be programmed with simulated tones of different amplifier models. These amps are also light and easy to move around, since they are based on chips rather than tubes. But the major advantage of these amps is that they are versatile, offering you the opportunity to modify models and effects and get almost limitless sounding options. A good example of a modeling amp is our top pick Fender Champion 40.
Power and speakers
After you’ve identified the basic type of amplifier that you’re looking for, the next step is to look at the specific features of different amps. One of those features is going to be the power level and speaker quality of the amplifier. There’s a reason that they call them amplifiers – they are designed to amplify your sound and project it to an audience and allow you to customize your sound. Without quality speakers and plenty of power, this is going to be a little hard to achieve.
First, you want to determine the amount of power you want the amplifier to give out. You can get amps in a wide variety of watts, but the most common seems to be anywhere from 10 to 50 watts. How much power your amp has will contribute to how loud you’ll be able to broadcast your music. Loud music is great, but if it’s not coming out with high quality, the volume becomes useless. Therefore, you should pay attention to the quality of speakers on the amps that you are looking at. If you have a lot of power but low-quality speakers, the sound will come out fuzzy and bad. You can usually find out how good the speakers are by looking at past reviews for the amp.
Everyone needs to have the right type, power, and speakers for their amp, but the built-in effects are really what distinguishes one amplifier from another. It also separates musicians when shopping because each artist will have different needs. Built-in effects are things like audio settings, editing capabilities, and other technology that is included in the amp. Generally, more expensive and higher quality amps will have more of these features included while less expensive amps will be more straightforward. Basically, what these effects enable you to do is customize your sound to the exact point that you’d like it to be at. When using an amp with fewer options, you’ll be less able to achieve your exact sound, or you will have to spend much time trying to get what you need. You should always consider the built-in features of an amp and understand what exactly you’ll be getting.
The warranty of the products you buy isn’t often the centerpiece of your decision-making process, but it is an important thing to consider. Warranties are kind of insurance for your amplifiers and other products. If something does go wrong, you are guaranteed to receive assistance from the company in obtaining a new one to replace it or fix it. One thing that you do want to be careful of is some warranties only cover certain parts. For example, if you were buying an amplifier with a warranty, that company may only offer a warranty to cover the knobs on the amp and not anything else. You may be encouraged to see a warranty listed for the product, but you should always do a bit more reading and find out what the warranty covers.