14 Combo Amps Under $500

14 Combo Guitar Amplifiers Under $500

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Check out 14 guitar combos to help you achieve serious sound without breaking the bank.

Guitar amplifiers have been around since the 1930s, but early designs weren’t very powerful and offered little tone control. With the growing popularity of electric guitars in the 1950s, amps grew louder and offered better tone controls plus built-in effects—usually tremolo or reverb. With the varied sounds demanded by modern guitarists plus the appearance of huge concert venues, guitar amps have continued to evolve. Weekend warriors and garage band guitarists have benefited from this evolution as modern amp technology has grown increasingly more powerful and affordable, with expanded tone-shaping capability, built-in effects and more. Whether you're looking for a do-it-all modeling amp or a classic tube-based design, Musician's Friend has something for every guitarist.

Let’s take a look at 14 top-selling guitar combos that earn praise from gear critics and budget-challenged guitarists alike.

Boss Katana 50 1x12" Guitar Combo Amplifier

BOSS Katana 50 Guitar Combo Amplifier

The Katana KTN-50 from BOSS is incredibly versatile with 5 different amp types and 55 built-in BOSS effects.

Originally born of the R&D behind BOSS' acclaimed Waza guitar amp, the Katana line of amps feature proprietary circuit designs and meticulous tuning, ensuring great sound and performance. The KTN-50 packs 50 watts of power pushed through a custom 12" speaker, and is perfect for your home, your studio or your stage. With 55 BOSS effects on-tap, which are customizable using the free BOSS Tone Studio editor software, and five base amplifier types (Brown, Lead, Crunch, Clean and Acoustic), there's plenty of room for you to dial in the sound you need.

Take a tour of the Katana guitar amps and all their 21st-century capabilities.

Fender Mustang GT 100 - 100 Watts of Modeling Power

Fender Mustang GT 100 Guitar Amplifier

The Mustang GT 100 offers plenty of tonal variation with 21 classic amplifier models and 46 different effects to choose from.

Coming in at 100 watts—enough for larger venues and louder bands, the Fender Mustang GT 100 is an ideal choice for someone looking for a versatile amp to gig with. Loaded with 21 different guitar amp models and 46 different effects, Mustang GT 100 should cover all the classic sounds your playing demands, while offering a broad platform to create new sounds. Controllable via Bluetooth and the Fender Tone app, the Mustang GT 100 brings guitar playing into the 21st century, giving you total control of your tone. 

Fender's Mustang GT series offers classic sounds across the sonic spectrum, with plenty of amp and effect models to choose from.

VOX AC4C1-12: A little tube combo with classic UK tones

Vox AC4C1 12

Crank the all-tube Vox AC4C1 up and it’ll go from classic Vox clean chime to grittier crunch tones.

With tonal heritage straight out of the iconic Vox AC30—the amp that drove the British Invasion—the Vox AC4C1-12 is the latest in a line of great little 1x12 combos from Vox that are ideal for practice and recording. The 4-watt output stage has a single EL84 tube and gets plenty loud for practice. (As tube amp purists know, they’re much louder than solid-state combos with equivalent wattage.) Yet it’s still easy to get into overdrive territory without blowing the roof off your home studio. A 12” Celestion speaker translates everything the preamp with its dual 12AX7 tubes and your guitar tone settings throws at it. From sparkling clean classic chime to warmer, distorted sounds the AC4C1 will do your bidding.

VOX AC10C1: Vintage VOX tone in a portable package

VOX AC10C1 Guitar Amplifier

The VOX AC10C1 offers 10 watts of classic VOX chime courtesy of an EL84 power section and custom 10" VX10 speaker made by Celestion.

If you're looking for more of that classic VOX sound but need a little more juice than the AC4 can offer, we'd encourage you to check out the 10 watt AC10C1 combo amp. VOX's revered Top Boost circuit, on-board reverb and a master volume make the AC10 an ideal choice for any guitarist looking for classic EL84 tone with a good amount of volume, but without all of the weight and size associated with the larger AC15 and AC30 models. Unlike the smaller AC4, the AC10 features dual EL84s to deliver that distinctive VOX chime with a bit more power behind it.

Fishman Loudbox Mini PRO: Hi-fi acoustic guitar amplification

Fishman Loudbox Mini PRO-LBX-500

The Fishman Loudbox Mini PRO-LBX-500 is ideal for singers who perform with acoustic guitars in intimate settings.

Unlike most other models in this roundup, the Fishman Loudbox Mini PRO targets the acoustic guitarist. It’s a super-portable sub-20 lb. 2-channel rig that lets you plug in a guitar plus mic using its XLR connector. Designed for accurate, uncolored sound, it has a 6.5” woofer/midrange driver and 1” tweeter. With a chorus effect on the guitar channel and reverbs for both guitar and mic channels, you can dial in a little vocal drama while adding shimmer to your instrument’s natural sound. Fishman’s smart feedback-fighting technology keeps a lid on embarrassing squeals without compromising your sound. When you’re playing a bigger room with a PA, the XLR output lets you plug in without needing a DI box.

Take a video tour covering all the performance-friendly features on the Loudbox Mini PRO.

Orange Amplifiers Crush 35RT: Serious British rawk on a budget

Orange Crush 35RT

Orange knows the harder regions of rock—its Crush 35RT is a sweet entry-level guitar combo with a full range of practice and performance features.

Orange has long been a force in the world of hard-rock amplification, spawning a line of tube heads and combos that show up in the backlines of some of rock’s biggest guitarists. The solid-state Orange Amplifiers Crush 35RT delivers that heritage in a more affordable practice-amp size. A 10” Voice of the World speaker is driven to serious levels by the 35W power stage. Practice with headphones and CabSim technology that serves up realistic 4x12 cabinet tone. Two channels, a buffered effects loop, 3-band EQ plus a Gain knob to get you into overdriven sounds combine to make this more than a mere practice amp.

We caught up with Orange designer Adrian Emsley at NAMM 2015 where he walked us through some of the cool features built into his updated Crush designs.

Acoustic A1000: A complete PA in a single, retro-styled cab

Acoustic A1000

Part acoustic guitar amp, part PA, the Acoustic A1000 is a complete solution for acoustic solo and duo acts.

With two independent channels, each with effects processors, 3-band EQs with sweepable mids, and 100W total output, the Acoustic A1000 Stereo Acoustic Guitar Combo Amp is a big fix in a portable package. Two 8” neodymium-magnet speakers deliver full-range sound while helping keep total weight to an remarkable 42 lb. 20 preset/user programs allow you to smoothly segue between sounds. Dual inputs with ¼”/XLR jacks plus an XLR direct output with multiple setting choices make the A1000 a versatile performer in many different settings. Built-in feedback elimination makes setup and placement a breeze. Bluetooth compatibility allows painless syncing and playback of your Bluetooth devices—use them for break music or backing tracks. The logically laid out control panel with independent channel status displays is housed in a vintage-styled cabinet.

Blackstar ID:60: Dial in the those tube tones you crave

Blackstar ID:60

The Blackstar ID:60 packs a lot of cutting-edge amp technology including a MIDI input into its compact cabinet, making it a tone-tweakers dream rig.

On its surface, the Blackstar ID:60 1x12 Combo looks pretty typical of practice and small gigging amps. But beneath that plain-Jane exterior, this thing is loaded with amp models that take a different tack from the Line 6 approach. True Valve Power technology models the sound of specific power- and preamp-stage tubes to reproduce a huge range of quintessential amp tones from round and brown to bright and twangy with all stops in-between. The Voice knob accesses six channels that go from clean to crunch to overdrive. A patented ISF control works in conjunction with the EQ section to massively broaden that tonal universe. The ID:60 has 128 user-storable patch locations plus 12 more you can assign to a front panel knob—a nice touch in performance.

 

Talk’s cheap. Give a listen to what you can program and play with the ID:60!

Orange Amplifiers Crush Pro CR60C Guitar Amp 

Orange Amplifiers Crush Pro CR60C

The Orange Amplifiers Crush Pro CR60C is a 60 watt solid-state amp that offers a wide range of Orange sounds at an attractive price.

The Crush Pro 60C from Orange offers 60 watts of solid-state sound through a 12" Voice Of The World speaker. The two-channel design covers the cleanest of cleans and plenty of modern overdrive and distortion sounds. Built-in digital reverb offers three different choices: spring, hall, or plate while an effects loop allows for easy hook-up with your guitar pedals of choice. This model is available in orange or black tolex.

Ibanez TSA15: The legendary OD stomp—now in an all-tube combo

Ibanez TSA15 Tube Screamer

The Ibanez TSA15 Tube Screamer Combo is a powerful little all-tube performer that gets insanely good when you kick in the onboard sound of that seasick-green stomp you find on countless pedalboards.

Aside from the iconic stomp sound built into the Ibanez TSA15 combo, this is a full-fledged little tone machine that gets its hair from a pair of 12AX7s in the preamp and dual 6V power tubes pushing out 15W of Class A goodness. All that tube-generated crunch is delivered through a 12” Celestion Seventy 80 speaker that can reproduce a broad range of overdriven, distorted and clean tones. A Pentode/Triode setting lets you select either 15W or 5W operation. The latter mode is ideal for getting big distorted tones without a whole lot of volume—a perfect scenario when recording.

Marshall MG50CFX: Sweet practice combo in a new box

Marshall MG50CFX

From one of the most respected names in the business, the best-selling Marshall MG50CFX Guitar Combo Amp pairs versatility and portability.

The compact Marshall MG Series MG50CFX 50W 1x12 Guitar Combo Amp is ideal for practice or more intimate performances. The rugged carbon fiber cabinet is loaded with a well-matched 12” speaker and 50W power amp plus a slew of digital effects. Four channels with patch storage locations give you turn-on-a-dime tone shifts using the included footswitch. At under 17 pounds the MG50CFX goes easy on both your back and wallet. An MP3 line in, effects loop and emulated speaker headphone output are all worthy practice features.

The MG Series MG50CFX combo may be a Marshall of another color, but it sonically embodies classic Marshall tone and a whole lot more.

Peavey Envoy 110: Dual footswitchable channels with tonal dexterity

Peavey Envoy 110

The Peavey Envoy 110 sounds far bigger than its 40 watts and dishes up a lot of tone options.

Among weekend warriors who count on their modestly priced gear to hold up week after week, Peavey’s rep is sterling. The company loads a 10” Super Duty Blue Marvel speaker in the 40W Envoy 110 to churn out plenty of volume—enough for smaller venues. But the magic of this top-rated amp lies in its two footswitchable channels, each equipped with independent 3-band EQs and 3 tone variations per channel. A Classic/High Gain/Warm switch on the lead channel invites tweaking. A little experimentation will dial up pretty much anything you want from glassy cleans to filthy metal tones to modern overdrive angst. High- and low-gain inputs let you tailor the amp to various guitars and pickup types. At just 21 lb, the Envoy 110 is one powerful and portable amp.

Blackstar ID:Core 100: Plenty of Tonal Versatility In A Stage-Ready Package

Blackstar ID:Core 100 Guitar Amp

The Blackstar ID:Core Stereo 100 is a 100 watt beast, ready to rock any stage it finds.

Looking to satisfy the gigging guitarist, Blackstar unleashed the ID:Core Stereo 100 100W combo. Offering all of the same tonal variety and performance as the smaller members of the ID:Core series, but with the added benefits of a built-in looper with 30 seconds of record time, octaver, the ID:Core 100 is truly a stage-worthy amp. Powered by dual 10" speakers, offers 6 distinct Blackstar voices and 12 vintage-style effects.

Additional features include USB connectivity for direct recording into your computer an an emulated output for an analog connection. ID:Core Stereo 100 also connects to Blackstar's INSIDER software, which allows you to create, upload and download other user's patches into your amp. Finally, an on-board MP3 line input makes connecting your external audio device a cinch. 

Tech 21 Trademark TM30: Create amps to match the tones in your head

Tech 21 Trademark 30

The Tech 21 Trademark 30 Combo contains a modded version of the famous SansAmp GT2 pedal circuit.

Tech 21 took the legendary core of its SansAmp GT2 pedal technology and married it with a throaty, 30 watt combo in the Tech 21 Trademark 30. Where the Trademark 30 really shines is in tone construction. You dial in your sound by choosing amp gain structure and speaker type, then tweak the results with 3-band active EQ controls for precision tone shaping.

A professional-quality Accutronics 3-spring reverb, effects loop, and XLR output are all housed in this 14-lb. powerhouse.

Confused by all the specs and features? See our Instrument Amplifier Buying Guide.

Get more help!

That’s a lot of amps! Still got questions about what’s right for you? Call a Musician’s Friend Gear Head at 877-880-5907 for expert, friendly help from players who live and breathe this gear.

Tags: Electric Guitars Amplifiers

Comments  

# Miguel medina 2016-07-21 15:04
Where's the peavey vypyr vip 1,2,3 I own the vip2 and it has in my opinion waaaay better sound than line 6
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