5 Best Guitar Amps Under $300 In 2020 (Something For Everyone)

So, you bought yourself an electric guitar.

Now you need a good amplifier so that you can actually hear what you’re playing.

Getting all the gear that you need doesn’t have to be expensive.

In fact, the options for amplifiers in the $200-$300 are seriously diverse.

Whether you are looking for an amp to take on stage or an amp to use while practicing at home, there is an option in this price range for you, and I’m here to help you choose.

Snapshot: Best Guitar Amps Under $300

  1. Boss Katana 50 Mk II Combo
  2. Marshall Origin 5W Combo
  3. Orange Terror Stamp
  4. Yamaha THR10 II
  5. Fender Mustang GT40

$300 Guitar Amps – Smaller Price Point? Smaller Sound?

Not exactly.

While it is true that looking into the $300 range isn’t likely to get you a classic all tube amplifier like you can in the $1,000 price range, it can still give you an amp that has great tone. What changes in this price range is that amplifiers often get built with certain applications in mind.

The most important thing to me when compiling this list was to make sure that every amp sounded good for whatever application the amp was built for.

Some amps on this list are meant to be on stage. Others are meant to say on your desk.

I tried to include something for the gigging musician, bedroom musician, and everywhere in between. I included an all valve amp (rare at this price point), amp modelers, and even an amp in pedal form. It just goes to show that amp builders today are exercising great creativity in order to bring guitarists the amps that they need at an attainable cost.

I’m amazed at just how versatile and well-built amplifiers in this price range can be.

Whatever your amplification needs are, there is an option on this list for you. If these are still out of your budget you could check out our post on the best guitar amps under $200.

Here are my top 5 guitar amps between under $300.

1. Boss Katana 50 Mk II (KTN50-2) Combo Review

BOSS KTN-50-2 Katana-50 MkII-50-watt 1x12 Guitar Combo Amp (KTN-50-MK2)
127 Reviews
BOSS KTN-50-2 Katana-50 MkII-50-watt 1x12 Guitar Combo Amp (KTN-50-MK2)
  • 50/525/0. 5W 1x12" Guitar Combo Amplifier with 5 Amp Voicings
  • Cab-emulated Headphone/Recd Output
  • 4 Tone Slots

The Katana amp from Boss has many shapes/sizes, some of which could have ranked in my best amps under $500 range. However, it was just barely outshined by the Nextone amps by the same company. Don’t let that steer you away, as I am completely floored with the Katana. When it comes to a high quality built, versatile, and user-friendly amplifier under $300, the Katana reigns supreme.

Build

At first glance that Katana looks like a typical, though admittedly sleek, little 1 x 12 combo amp. Once you dive deeper, you’ll realize that the Boss Katana is a secret weapon amplifier that punches above its weight class.  While the first iteration of the Katana had 5 amps, the mk II series has a variation for each of the 5 amplifier models, giving you a whopping 10 amps to choose from in one housing.

The Katana also has 65 built in effects, of which 5 can be used at any one time. These can be accessed from the Boss Tone Studio Editor for extensive tone tweaking. Then, you can save up to 4 of your favorite presets for quick access.

The Katana is a great investment for beginners, because if you decide to one day buy a standalone head amplifier, the Katana can be used as an extension cabinet. This gives the Katana life after you’ve outgrown it, if that’s even possible.

Controls

Boss Katana 50 Mk II Combo Controls

The Boss Katana Mk II manages to have ample controllability without being overwhelming. You won’t find any screens on this amp, just knobs. This makes the Katana feel like a traditional amplifier thought it has innovating design concepts inside it. Even if you choose to ignore the included software and its expansive added parameters, the onboard controls give ample versatility and usability that is easy to digest.

Start by choosing your amp type on the left, of which there are two variations. Each amp is powered by Boss’ Tube Logic, making the amps sound like real tube amps. The 3 Way EQ is smooth and functions well so you can dial in the exact tone you’re hearing.

The Effects section allows you to modify your modulation, delay, and reverb effects. Then the far right has your preset tone switches, as well as a master volume and a power control that lets you get high gain tones at low volumes. Leave it at the full 50W and this amp is ready to take on the stage.

Sound

As I mentioned before, this amp sounds like a quality tube amp. Each of the variations for the 5 amps give you just enough diversity to make it worth having. The Katana pulls of clean tones that have just the right amount of compressions. The lead tones sound rich with overtones. The fact that it can even be used with acoustic guitars in a pleasing way makes this thing worth buying on its own.

The effects are what you would expect from Boss. Just awesome. They have long been the standard of high-quality effects, and this amp gives you all of their best effects built in.

Spec Summary

  • Type: Solid State
  • Power: .5W, 25W, or 50W
  • Channels: Single
  • Speaker: Custom 12”
  • Features: Built in Boss Effects, Phones In/Rec Out, Cabinet Capability

The best amp in its price range for gigging musicians

Final Thoughts on the Boss Katana 50 Mk II (KTN50-2) Combo

When someone tries to uphold the argument that solid-state amps aren’t worth playing through, I show them the Boss Katana. This amp is the ideal solution to anyone looking to have an affordable and gig worthy amplifier.

If I lost my whole collection of amps and only had $300 to spend, this is the amp I would buy to get back on stage as quickly (and as tasty sounding) as possible.

2. Marshall Origin 5W Combo Review

Marshall Amps Marshall Origin 5W combo w FX loop and Boost (M-ORI5C-U)
4 Reviews
Marshall Amps Marshall Origin 5W combo w FX loop and Boost (M-ORI5C-U)
  • Single ended 5 Watt all valve combo
  • Switchable high & low power output section
  • Effects loop

If you’re wanting a gigantic Marshall Plexi tone in a small package, then the Marshall Origin 5W combo amp is the right amp for you. This amp also stands out amongst the crowd because it is the only amp on this list that is ALL tube powered. That’s right, a stellar valve amp for under $300.

Build

While many of the amps on this list aim to cram as many features in for your buck as possible, there is something refreshing about a simple valve amp that relies on its chore tonal character to work for you. The Marshall Origin 5W is a 1 x 8, single channel combo amp powered by two ECC83’s in the preamp and a single EL84 tube in the power amp.

At just 5 watts, the amp is best suited for the recording studio, but with a good mic on the single 8-inch Celestion speaker it could work on stage as well. It has a built-in effects loop, making your time-based effects still sound good even as the amp is in high gain territory.

Controls

Marshall Origin 5W Combo Controls

Just five knobs on this little amp. The Volume control increases your volume as well as your gain. The Boost is activated by pulling the knob out or can be activated using a foot control connected to the back panel. On the far right is an Output selector, giving you the option of a lower output setting or the full 5W high output setting.

The 3 Band EQ is pretty self-explanatory, but the Tilt makes things a bit interesting. Marshall amps often utilize Normal and Bright channels for you to plug into. These can even be jumped using a patch cable for a good blended tone. Marshall created the Tilt control to let you blend classic Normal and Bright channel voicings.

Sound

Within seconds of hearing this amp you know it’s a Marshall, even if it is only 5W. Since all that tone is coming out of an 8” speaker and a small combo housing, it does have a slightly boxier sound to it, but I find it to be a really charming tone. It reminds me of early Led Zeppelin tones with medium gain and classic Marshall bite.

This amp is perfectly suited for classic rock or blues. Like any good tube amp, it has a satisfying squish to the tone and is extremely touch sensitive.

For being a small tube amp that breaks up early, it is still a good pedal amp with the built-in effects loop. With this feature your delay and reverb effects will still come through clearly, making this a much more flexible amp than other high gain, small combo amps.

Spec Summary

  • Type: Tube (1 x EL84)
  • Power: 5W
  • Channels: Single
  • Speaker: 1 x 8” Celestion
  • Features: Effects Loop, Lower Power Output Selector, Tilt Control

A small Marshall is still a good Marshall

Final Thoughts on the Marshall Origin 5 Combo

Finding a good, all tube amplifier for under $300 is a bit of a challenge, but Marshall has created an excellent amplifier for the money. It has character bursting from it in terms of aesthetics and tone. I think the Tilt control is a really ingenious design that appropriately harkens the amp to its origins, but also pushes into the future with features like the effects loop. It’s not the most versatile amp, but it does what it does very well and is sure to make someone extremely pleased. I know I am!

3. Orange Terror Stamp Review

Orange Terror Stamp 20-watt Valve Hybrid Guitar Amp Pedal
4 Reviews
Orange Terror Stamp 20-watt Valve Hybrid Guitar Amp Pedal
  • 20W Hybrid Guitar Amplifier Head with Shape Control
  • Cab Sim Headphone Output
  • Speaker Output

Is that an effects pedal?

Nope. It’s an amplifier.

The Orange Terror Stamp takes tube amp sounds and crams it into a housing the size of a foot pedal. With two gain stages, cabinet simulation output, and 20W of power, the Orange Terror Stamp is a powerful little amplifier that you can keep on your cabinet or on your pedalboard.

Build

The Orange Terror Stamp is the most unique amp on this list in terms of its build. Orange has created an all analogue hybrid amp design in a foot pedal. It has an ECC83 (12AX7) preamp and a 20W Class AB solid state power amp, giving you all the organic feel you would expect out of a tube amp.

The Stamp has a buffered effects loop to help you combat long cable runs or as a place to put your effects. It also has a cab simulated headphone out jack that models an Orange flavored 4×12 cabinet that’s perfect for late night practices through headphones or for sending straight to a PA. It’s a simple, but well thought out little amplifier.

Controls

Orange Terror Stamp Controls

This amp keeps things simple, but effective. Volume 1 controls the amount of volume for the first gain stage, while Volume 2 controls the Boosted volume, which is switched by the single footswitch. This effectively gives you two volumes to work with. The Shape knob is where you get to shape midrange of your tone. Turn clockwise for a classic scooped sound or counterclockwise for a mid-forward voicing.

Gain is the overall distortion that your signal will have. 

Sound

While the Terror Stamp is deceivingly (or should I say terrifyingly?) simple in its design, the variety of tones you can get out of it are really expansive. The amp definitely has that foggy and uncompressed quality that Orange is known for. With the right control combination, you can get clean tones that keep up with a live band, classic rock grit, or modern metal saturation.

This is a great amp for bedroom practicing or live stage performances. The 4×12 cabinet simulation is convincing enough for a live situation. This makes it a great option for gigging musicians that want a backup amplifier that fits onto their pedalboard. If your main amp goes down, you can switch this on and get through the rest of your show with some really good sounds.

Spec Summary

  • Type: Pedal Hybrid (12AX7 preamp, solid stage class AB power)
  • Power: 20W
  • Channels: Single
  • Speaker: 4 x 12 cabinet simulation
  • Features: Buffered Effects Loop

A terrifyingly tiny amplifier at the tip of your toe

Final Thoughts on the Orange Terror Stamp

Orange is rolling into 2020 with a great little amplifier to add to their family. Pedal amplifiers are becoming more and more common for their portability and ample volume. It’s an innovative design that is perfect for practicing musicians, gigging musicians, or as a backup rig.

I’m really impressed with Orange’s latest offering.

4. Yamaha THR10II Review

Yamaha THR10II Desktop Amp
34 Reviews
Yamaha THR10II Desktop Amp
  • Realistic tube-amp tones and feel plus essential effects
  • 15 Guitar amps, 3 bass amps, 3 mic models for acoustic-electrics, and flat modes for everything else
  • Bluetooth support for audio playback, editing via the remote, and more

If you’ve ever owned a large amplifier before, you know how frustrating it can get to try and practice your electric guitar on it at home. The Yamaha THR10II is the perfect practice and recording amp solution.

Build

Yamaha advertises the THRII10 as the “Third Amp”. What this means is that everyone is familiar with amp/stacks for live scenarios and combo amps for small venues and rehearsals. What Yamaha has done with this amp is to create their own style of amplifier that caters to what guitarists need at home: a desktop amplifier.

The amp has 5 amplifier models, 1 acoustic, 1 bass, and 1 flat mode setting with many more available via the app. It’s a 20W amplifier going through two 3.1” full range speakers. It was designed to be on your desk and to sound good at low volumes. It also has built in effects, tuner, headphone jack, and Bluetooth capability.

Through the Bluetooth you can play your MP3 player, giving you the perfect practice companion. The big brothers to this amp also offer wireless capability, so check those out if that interests you.

Controls

Yamaha THR10 II Controls

The THR10II has 5 built in memory banks that can be accessed from the 5 buttons across the top. Below that is the amp selection switch. The additional amplifiers can be accessed from the accompanying app. You have the traditional tone controls like Gain, Master, and a 3 Band EQ.

The Effects and Echo/Rev controls allow you to select a modulation affect as well as a time-based effect and dial in how much of each you prefer. On the far right are the output controls that let you independently control the volume of your guitar or playback audio.

The amp is actually pretty straight forward and easy to use out of the box, but if you want more the app has a vast array of tweak ability while maintaining a user-friendly interface.

Sound

This amp has some of the best sounding, high fidelity, stereo sounds I’ve heard. It’s a great sounding practice amp that lets you plug in and play without having to worry about your neighbors hearing you. The amps sound like classic tube amps and the cabinets are really responsive.

It’s not quite loud enough for most live gigs and it is unable to power a proper cabinet, so this is most likely going to stay at home. But that’s what it was designed for. Yamaha obviously went to great lengths to make sure this thing sounded good at low volumes. I’m thoroughly impressed.

Spec Summary

  • Type: Solid State, Desktop Amp Modeler
  • Power: 20W
  • Channels: Single
  • Speakers: 2 x 3.1” Full Range
  • Features: Tuner, Built in effects, Bluetooth capability, MP3 Playback, Tap Tempo

The perfect practice amplifier for under $300

Final Thoughts on the Yamaha THR10II

The THR10II series of amps from Yamaha are well thought out desktop amplifiers that combine the best of amp modeling technology and bedroom friendly features. There’s no excuse for not practicing every day if you have an amp like this at home.

Whether you’re on the road or in your studio, it’ll keep your playing sharp and you’ll have fun while playing it.

5.  Fender Mustang GT40

Fender Mustang GT 40 Bluetooth Enabled Solid State Modeling Guitar Amplifier
313 Reviews
Fender Mustang GT 40 Bluetooth Enabled Solid State Modeling Guitar Amplifier
  • New and improved amp Modeling Technology
  • Wi-Fi equipped for easy updates, preset exchanges, and connectivity to the Fender tone app
  • Bluetooth streaming and control available from your mobile device

The most compact of the Fender Mustang family features all the modeling firepower of its big brothers, but at a manageable 40W. If you know that you are a fan of Fender style amps, but you can’t decide which one to go with, then this is a great way to find out.

Build

Even though it looks and sounds like a Fender, this is not your traditional Fender amplifier. This solid-state amp has new and improved amp modeling tech (as a result of Fender’s newest firmware, Mustang 2.0) to give you 17 amplifier models in one housing. 40 watts makes it more of a practice amp than a stage amp. 

I’d recommend looking into the 100W or 200W models if you need to take it on stage. There are plenty of studio options for listening on monitors or headphones while practicing.

The Mustang GT100 features a tap tempo delay, reverb, built in overdrives, modulation, and signal flow controllability. This amp practically gives you an entire rig in one combo amp. The amps inside are not just Fender ones as I initially figured would be the case. There are Vox, Marshall, and other amps too. You can check out the full list here.

Controls

Fender Mustang GT40 Controls

The Mustang has too much built into it to describe all of its parameters here, but there are a few good YouTube demos out there that will show you the ropes.

 The amp has the typical controls seen on most traditional amps in the form of knobs. These include Gain, Volume, Treble, Bass, and Master controls. If you’ve looked at the 100 and 200W models, you’ll notice this amp doesn’t have Mid or Reverb controls onboard. This is a little constricting, but these parameters can still be controlled via the app. These apply to all amp models inside the Mustang.

All other controls, such as presets, signal flow, delays, modulations, etc., are on the righthand side. They are accessible by a set of buttons and a dial that let you navigate the built-in interface. These can also be controlled via Bluetooth using the Tone app.

Sound

Having nearly 20 amps all rolled up into one isn’t going to be very useful if they don’t sound good. While version 1.0 of the Mustang firmware had its fair share of complaints from customers, Fender obviously listened up for version 2.0. All of the amp models in this have believable touch sensitivity and pay appropriate tribute to their real-life counterparts.

I think some of the models still sound a bit “hi-fi” and digital, so I wouldn’t personally lay this down in the studio if I had a proper tube powered fender next to it, but with some tweaking this would make a great gigging amp.

Spec Summary

  • Type: Combo Solid State Amp Modeler
  • Power: 40W
  • Presets: 109
  • Speakers: 2 x 6.5” Fender Special Design
  • Features: Bluetooth, 17 amplifier models, tap tempo delay, tuner, built in effects, Wi-Fi

This is no ordinary Fender Amp…

Final Thoughts on the Fender Mustang GT40

I’m a big fan of the Fender Mustang series. While the bigger Mustangs are more appropriate for the stage, the GT40 is a great option for those who just want a small, but powerful practice amp.

It’s also a great amp for those who want to explore different amp types for future purchases.

You Don’t Have to Spend More to Get More

As I work my way down into the lower price range of amplifiers, I am amazed at the amount of ingenuity and innovation that takes place. All the amps on this list could be the ideal solution for one kind of use or another.

What this list has shown me is that if you really know what you need, you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to get the right amp. If all you can afford is $300, then you can still afford a quality amp. Even if you can afford more, you don’t necessarily have to spend more.

Need to play on stage? There’s an amp on this list for that.

Need a practice amp? There’s an amp on this list for that.

What if you don’t know what you need? There’s an amp that can help you figure that out too.

Happy Guitar Playing!

Further Reading:

Last update on 2020-05-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

About Davis Bader

Davis Wilton Bader is a professional guitarist/writer based out of St. Louis, MO. He plays in the bands Lumet and The Outskirts.

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