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
- Boss Katana 50 Mk II Combo
- Marshall Origin 5W Combo
- Orange Terror Stamp
- Yamaha THR10 II
- Fender Mustang GT40
$300 Guitar Amps – Smaller Price Point? Smaller Sound?
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 and the even these cheaper guitar amps.
Here are my top 5 guitar amps between under $300.
The 5 Best Guitar Amps Under $300
1. Boss Katana 50 Mk II (KTN50-2) Combo Review
- 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.
You will be hard pressed to find a 50 Watt, 1 x 12 combo amplifier that sounds better than the Boss Katana MkII. The Katana 50 is always my first recommendation to anyone looking for serious functionality on a budget. You’re getting 10 built in amp models and 65 effects for under $300.
The amp also has jacks in the back for expression pedals so you can control your volume or effect level from your feet. Even more impressive is that if you decide to use other amplifiers, the Katana can function as a power cab, meaning that this amp is built to last in your arsenal of guitar gear.
The amp is split into four sections for controls: Amplifier, EQ, Effects, and Power. The Amplifier section has knobs that let you choose between one of the 5 amps ranging in gain from Acoustic, to Brown for heaving metal tones. Wait, that’s only 5 amps. Didn’t I say this has 10? This is where the Variation button comes into play. With the flip of this button you get a varied design of the amp that you choose, effectively doubling your amp voicings.
The dials for Gain, Volume, Bass, Middle, and Treble apply to whatever amp voice you select. This allows you to modify the amps to fit your playing style or guitar choice. There are controls for the Effects section that allow you to use up to 5 of the 65 onboard effects at once. Once your selection of effects has been chosen you can save it using the Tone Settings buttons.
My favorite aspect of this amp is the Power Control knob. This allows you to run the amp at the full 50W, half power 25W, all the way down to just a half a watt. With this you can keep your tone at any volume whether you are practicing in your bedroom or playing at a bar.
The amp sounds so good because it uses Roland’s Tube Logic technology, which makes this solid state amp sound and react to your playing like a tube amp would. This is some seriously powerful technology and is sure to give Tube amp manufacturers a run for their money. The Katana is an organic and natural sounding amplifier no matter what setting you have it in.
Even the acoustic setting sounds great if you need to play a quick acoustic gig at a slightly higher volume, or if you want to add a subtle chorus effect to your signal. This amp is worthy of being taken out by any working musician or even in the studio if you are looking for a unique sound that your normal rig doesn’t have.
It can be loud enough for the stage or cooperative enough at low volumes to make it a serious studio tool. In short, it sounds really good.
- Type: Solid State
- Power: .5W, 25W, or 50W
- Channels: Single
- Speaker: Custom 12”
- Features: Built in Boss Effects, Phones In/Rec Out, Cabinet Capability
Final Thoughts on the Boss Katana 50 Mk II (KTN50-2) Combo
The Boss Katana is a solid state amp that sounds like a great tube amp. 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
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
- Type: Tube (1 x EL84)
- Power: 5W
- Channels: Single
- Speaker: 1 x 8” Celestion
- Features: Effects Loop, Lower Power Output Selector, Tilt Control
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
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
- Type: Pedal Hybrid (12AX7 preamp, solid stage class AB power)
- Power: 20W
- Channels: Single
- Speaker: 4 x 12 cabinet simulation
- Features: Buffered Effects Loop
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
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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
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 Review
- 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.
Even though the Fender Mustang GT40 sports the classic Fender logo, this amp is a far cry from Fender amps of old. This is Fender’s leap into the world of amp modeling, and for costing under $300 there is a lot of value here. Most of the value comes from Fender’s upgraded firmware: Mustang 2.0.
The Mustang GT40 is a 40 watt combo amp that includes 17 amp models in which Fender Classics are heavily represented, as well as artist presets from famous musicians. What makes the Mustang GT40 special compared to other amp modelers in its price range is the ability to manipulate your signal chain, giving you control over every aspect of your sound.
The two 6.5” speakers give the amp a lower profile, making it a great amp for traveling as well.
The Mustang GT40 is a dense amp with loads of features. For the purposes of this article I will be focusing on the onboard controls.
One of the aspects of this amp design that I appreciate is the fact that the traditional amp controls are present in knob form. This way, if you need to change the way your amp sounds on the fly, you don’t have to go navigating through a menu to do so.
This controls include Gain, Volume, Treble, Bass, and Master Volume. The rest of the features like amp choice, effects, etc. are all controlled on the right hand side of the amp. Using either the buttons and the wheel, or the Mustang app, you can tweek just about every aspect of your amp tone.
Though I can’t say that every amp model in here sounds exactly like a Fender tube amp, they do make a striking resemblance worthy of taking onto a small stage or for practicing at home. The amp models can sound a bit immediate in their attack and hi-fi in tonal delivery.
That being said, the sounds are still pleasant and worth well beyond the money you pay for the amp. This is a great amp for those who are indecisive or that need to work on a wide array of genres. If you are wanting to play gigs regularly, I would recommend upgrading for just a couple hundred dollars more to the 100W or 200W versions of this amp.
The two 6.5” speakers and 40W are just a little small sounding for regular gigging use.
- 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
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!
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Davis Wilton Bader is a professional guitarist/writer based out of St. Louis, MO. He plays in the bands Lumet and The Outskirts.