Tips for Buying a Beginner Guitar Amp

Learn about the quality beginners guitar amp that offer great sound, reliable performance at a reasonable price

Beginner Guitar Amplifier Buying Tips

If you’re on your first journey into playing guitar you need the perspective of a person who needs simply decent equipment to learn. Buying super expensive or uber powerful gear is not only unnecessary but also a bit foolish.

Relative to guitar amps for beginners, you need something for home practice (your not going to be on a stage, right?). Ideally it won’t be too largeor heavy, and will be easy on power consumption. It’s very desireable to get an amp that sounds rich at lower volumes, and has a headphone jack for silent practice. Fortunately, there are many amps that meet these needs.

Are you feeling truly serious about playing guitar? If you’re in it for the long haul you may want to spend $150-$250 and get an amp that that will serve you well as you develop. If you’re not that certain you can come in just over $100 for a decent starter amp.

If you want to chase quality and save money, you can sometimes get a decent buy on websites like Facebook Marketplace. If you buy used, try it out to make sure it works properly. If your used amp has even a minor problem such as need to replace a jack, the amp repair can cost $75-$150 for parts and labor. You can get a used amp in good condition for $35-$75 and sometimes score some cables with it.

Solid-State vs. Tube Amp

Sure, you’ve heard that tube amps are the only way to go. What you may not have heard is a beginner doesn’t need this power (loudness). You also need to know that a tube amp is far more expensive than a solid-state amp. Solid-state amps will have problems at some point. Sometimes the cost to repair a solid-state amp is more money than the value of the amp. Even if you buy 2-3 solid-state amps it’s almost certain that it will be cheaper than buying one tube amp. And yes, even if you buy a tube-amp it will need pricey service. Our recommendation is to buy a quality solid-state amp until you’ve developed into a good guitar player.

Top 10 Beginner Guitar Amps

The following list gives you a good selection of guitar amps with proven performance and good customer reviews. The music genre you like, and the tone you’re chasing should influence your decison. Use this list as a place to start finding the best beginner amp for you.

  1. Fender Champion 20, priced at about $130, is a 20-watt solid-state combo amp with a single 8″ speaker. It has a plethora of built-in effects with an easy to use set of controls. The amp has a single input jack, stereo auxillary input, and stereo headphone jack. Dimensionally it is 13″ tall, 14″ wide and 8″ deep, with a weight of 12 pounds.
  2. Blackstar ID:Core 10 V2, priced at about $110, is a highly recommended beginner guitar amp. For a 10-watt amp with only two 3″ speakers it is an excellent choice for home practice. It comes with an input jack, headphone jack, auxillary input and USB output jack. In terms of available tones, you can quickly enjoy clean warm, crunch or super crunch, clean bright and two aggressive overdrive settings. Add in the effects options for modulation, delay and reverb and you can’t beat it for performance around $100. Dimensionally it is 11″ tall, 13″ wide and 7″ deep, with a weight of 8 pounds.
  3. BOSS Katana 50 Mark II, priced at about $230, is an excellnt choice for a beginner with a larger budget. This 50-watt amp has a single 12″ speaker that can deliver powerful sound and very pleasing tones. The real value proposition is the 5 amp voicings, 60 effects, and tone shaping controls for gain, EQ and override. Features include a single input jack, headphone jack, USB port, and footswitch jack. Dimesionally it is 16″ tall, 19″ wide and 9″ deep, with a weight of 26 pounds.
  4. Marshall MG15GFX, priced at about $170, is aneasy-to-use 15-watt amp with a single 10″ speaker. While the quality of Marshall’s top line amps, the MG series amps are definitely quality amps. Effects include phaser, flanger, delay and chorus. A 3-band EQ with clean, crunch, OD-1, and OD-2 channels give you even more sound-shaping control. Dimensionally it is 15″ tall, 15″ wide and 8″ deep, with a weight of 17 pounds.
  5. Orange Crush 20, priced at about $170, is a 20-watt solid-state combo amp with a single 8″ speaker. It has a 4-stage preamp that provides very acceptable decent tonal range and sound output. It has standard input jack, headphone jack and footswitch jack. Dimensionally it is 13″ tall, 15″ wide and 8″ deep, with a weight of 15.8 pounds.
  6. Ibanez IBZ15GR , priced at about $100, is a decent 15-watt beginner amp that is lightweight, compact and well-built. It includes one input jack, auxillary jack, headphone jack and a front-facing power switch. The controls are very easy to use, and include volume, gain, bass, middle, treble, reverb. Dimensionally it is 14″ tall, 14″ wide and 9″ deep, with a weight of 12 pounds.
  7. Vox VT20X, priced at about $170, is a well-built 20-watt amp with a single 8″ speaker. This modeling amp utilizes robust digital technology with analog circuitry with tune power amp to deliver a powerful sound. The Tone Room editor/librarian software empowers you with the ability to customize sounds and effects. With preset programs and the ability to save your own, this amp is a top performer for a beginner amp. Dimensionally it is 14″ tall, 16″ wide and 9″ deep, with a weight of 16 pounds.
  8. Line 6 Spider Classic 15, priced at about $120, is a popular 15-watt modeling amp with a single 8″ speaker. Line 6 amps are known to have strong volume output, but personally we think the sound is not as good as the top 4 amps listed here. Compared to similar beginner amps it’s a little on the heavy side. While it’s simple enough to plugin and get started, managing the controls can be a daunting task for new players. Dimensionally it is 16″ tall, 15″ wide and 9″ deep, with a weight of 17 pounds.
  9. Fender Rumble 25, priced at about $100, is a solid 25-watt beginner bass amp with a single 8″ speaker. This well-built combo amp has excellent sound-shaping with a 3-band EQ and built-in overdrive. Dimensionally it is 15″ tall, 15″ wide and 11″ deep, with a weight of 21 pounds.
  10. Yamaha THR5 Desktop, priced at about $200, is a 10-watt modeling combo amp with two 3″ speakers. This amp offers a lot of functionality, decent sound and a battery-powered mode for portability. It has one input jack, auxillary jack, headphone jack, USB connection, and a built-in tuner. It has standard volume and tone controls with four modulation effects and four delay/reverb effects. Dimensionally it is 7″ tall, 11″ wide and 5″ deep, with a weight of 5 pounds.

Some other beginner amps you may find that we do not recommend are Aslin Dane, Behringer, Crate, Danelectro, Drive, Esteban, Johnson, Laney, Roland, Rougue, Silvertone, and Squier.

Feel free to leave comments below to share your experiences with brands and models of beginner guitar amps.