Getting a new electric guitar also means getting an amplifier. Buying a new guitar can be an arduous task for any beginner guitar player, but another hurdle that you may or may not have seen coming is selecting an amp to go with it. These choices are about as numerous and can be even more complex in terms of technical specs and tonal qualities.
Getting the right amplifier really makes a huge difference in how you feel with your guitar and its sound. I know many people who are put off playing there first electric guitar because the amp they bought just wasn’t enough to keep them inspired. The following is a breakdown of what we believe to be the best amps to not only inspire you to play but also to help you practice and fall in love with the electric guitar.
So let’s get into the 10 best beginner guitar amps, starting with our winners and then getting into the detail.
The Positive Grid Spark 40 was the winner of Best Guitar Amp in January at NAMM 2020 by Guitar Magazine and Music Radar and for good reason. It is one of the first true Smart Amp’s and offers so much for the beginner right through to an advanced player. You can learn how to use over 10,000 tones in your own time without having to spend a fortune on pedals and modulators. This amp has garnered so much positive attention and cannot be ignored if you are in the market for a beginner guitar amp. I personally have just bought one and can’t recommend it enough.
- Will suit beginner through to advanced players and offer great resale value because of this.
- It can be used with Electric, Electroacoustic, and Bass guitar.
- Hands down the best practice amp due to Smart Jam and Auto Chords.
- Smart Jam works together to learn your style and feel, and then generates an authentic bass and drums to accompany you. It’s a smart virtual band.
- Auto chords transposes any song (deciphers and shows you the chords) straight from YouTube, Spotify or iTunes.
- Allow you to slow down a song’s tempo or loop a difficult section so you practice till you get it.
- Voice Commands so you can tell it to stream a rock song or a blues backing track, or ask for a virtual band to follow your playing.
- It is a USB audio interface so it can be connected with your computer and you can record your playing at home.
- Includes PreSonus Studio One (DAW)
- Over 10,000+ tones that you can dial in with the app.
- Create and share your own tones with the community using the Tone Cloud.
- It can be used as a standalone stereo speaker using Bluetooth.
- Compact size and good looks allow it to fit into most home decors without being obtrusive.
- At the time of writing only available on preorder (although at a discounted price and with free shipping worldwide)
- The App is for phones and tablets only, not for desktop.
- Price is slightly higher than a true budget guitar amp.
- It may seem like too many options when you first start but can be used simply. Later down the line, you will be glad you invested due to the number of features available.
Best All-Round Amp
Joint first or second, but only just, is the Boss Katana MKII (the spark is a better ‘practice amp’ for beginners in our opinion). A true titan in the amp market with many awards and highly recommended in the industry. It has a huge array of great features for the technophile, being able to load and store effects. It also works as an acoustic amplifier and can achieve a “cranked” tone at low volume levels.
- Pro-level amp at an entry-level price
- Best amp for live gig’s in our winner’s bracket.
- Excellent practice amp and a good studio amp
- Very customizable
- Supports up to 2 footswitches
- Excellent resale value
Best Amp Under $150
The Fender Champion 20 is an excellent budget option with its versatile sound, low price point, ease of use, and portability. There is a nice degree of customization to suit a range of different tastes and styles but without the complexity of a typical modeling amp.
A great first amp for the entry-level guitar player.
- Great Sound
- Easy to Tweak
- Simple controls to get the new guitar player started in no time.
- Amp modeling.
#10 – The Alternative You May Not Have Thought About
Behold, the headphone amp. These little guys just plug right into the guitar’s output jack. Plug your headphone into the tiny amp and you are ready to rock without disturbing your roommate, hotel neighbor, or wife.
The AC30 is a good place to start which gives you that basic boost you need to make your electric guitar sound like…an electric guitar. Several other models in the amPlug line include classic rock, metal, and blues. Best of all, they are cheap (Under $50).
Full List and Breakdown of the 10 Best Beginner Guitar Amps
Here’s the list in its entirety, including more detailed reviews and hand-picked videos that show you the most of what these amps can offer. This includes the top 3 mentioned above. Happy hunting!
Fender Champion 20 – Runner Up
The Fender Champion 20 is a 20-watt practice amp featuring onboard effects and amp modeling to achieve a variety of different tones. These features add a nice degree of customization to suit a range of different tastes and styles, but without the complexity of a typical modeling amp.
The controls are very basic: gain and volume for the output levels; the amp voicing selector which is the modeling feature; bass and treble adjustment; and a selection of effects with a level control for the effect.
The amp voicing and the effects features are what make this amp so incredibly versatile which is a boon to any beginner who is learning different styles and trying to find their own personal sound. The amp is very easy to tweak to get a tone that is preferable to the player which means less time fiddling with the knobs and more time playing the guitar.
The amp voicing function is a modeler that mimics the sound of four different types of amps: Tweed, Blackface, British, and Metal. Each of these has its own unique tone and level of intensity.
The effects include reverb, chorus, flange delay, wah, vibrato, and tremolo. An “FX Level” control determines how much of the effect is being heard. Along with that is a tap button which allows control over the timing of the delay effects.
An auxiliary input allows for an MP3 player or other devices to play along with, and a phones jack for headphones or earbuds for “silent” practice. And at 12 pounds, it’s light enough to tote just about anywhere.
The Blackstar ID: Core 20 Version 2 is an entry-level 20 watt amp with some cool bells and whistles, not the least of which is the programmable effects so you can save the sounds you really like. There are six different voicings ranging from clean to heavy overdrive. Also featured are twelve effects which can be shaped and molded to suit your desires.
Although there are many, many options in terms of sound and tone, it is still relatively simple and intuitive to navigate. The sounds can be further edited via Blackstar ISF software where one can build a library of sounds. Included with the amp is PreSonus Studio One recording software which is a really slick digital audio workstation for anyone looking into home recording.
Along with a typical MP3 input and headphone output is a USB connection for interacting with the ISF software and the Studio One DAW.
Boss Katana 50 MKII – Joint Winner / Runner Up
Boss has long been the king of guitar effects, so it shouldn’t be any surprise that an amp from Boss has a wide variety of sounds and effects. It packs a bigger punch than a lot of other beginner or practice amps, coming in at 50 watts and a larger 12” speaker compared to the typical 8”.
There are five different amp models including an acoustic mode. Five independent effects sections with three selectable variations for each one add an additional level of sound customization. For even more, there is the Boss Tone Studio software for further editing, uploading, and sharing, along with a library of over 60 effects.
The back of the amp has additional connections to support up to two footswitches, outboard effects, or an expression pedal (wah, volume, etc.).
This is an amp that is worth saving up a little extra for as it is sure to last beyond your beginner stage. With such a range of customization and the Boss software, this amp will take you through several years of playing and accommodate your needs as you grow as a guitarist.
This is the smallest of the full-format Crush amps and boasts a 6” speaker and weighs a little more than 10 pounds. It features a very simple layout with a basic three-band EQ, volume, gain, and overdrive controls.
The headphones/line out includes the CabSim feature which emulates the sound of a mic’d Orange 4×12 cabinet. That will give you that big cabinet sound from this little 12-watt cutie when plugging into a mixer.
Positive Grid Spark 40 – Winner of Best Beginner Guitar Amp 2020
The Positive Grid Spark Amp (Click here to Check Price) was showcased at NAMM 2020 in January and won two awards from Guitar Magazine and Music Radar. When you start to look at the detail and hear it, then it is clear to see why there is so much positive praise directed its way.
Here is an exhaustive list of what is available to you when you purchase this amp.
- 40 Watt
- Ships with a free copy of PreSonus One
- Top Panel Controls: See image below
- Gain, Bass, Mid, Treble, Master, Mod, Delay, Reverb
- Ouput Volume
- Music Volume
- Four Programmable Preset Buttons
- Tap / Tuner Button
- Onboard Effects
- 30 Amp Models
- 40 Effects (Noise Gate, Compressor, Distortion, Modulation, Delay, Reverb)
- Wired Connectivity
- 1/4″ Guitar Input
- 1/8″ Aux Input
- 1/8″ Headphone
- Wireless Connectivity
- Bluetooth Audio
- USB Audio
- USB Interface for Recording
- 2 In x 2 Out
- Mobile App – Spark App for iOS and Android
One of the few true ‘smart amps’ on the market right nowGuitar.com
At the time of writing this, the preorders have started to arrive and people are providing the first real insights into the amp. Here are some quick first reaction positives as well as negatives about this new amp
- Beautiful looking and better looking than the Yamaha THR10 (THR10 is not featured in our list due to price point)
- Solidly built
- Comes with USB cable
- The app is beautiful looking and super easy to navigate
- It sounds very good, full and rich
- Headphone volume knob a little small
- Built in tuner appears a little laggy
- Few app disconnections
The Vypyr VIP 2 is a modeling amp with a ton of tone options. For starters, there are electric guitar, bass guitar, and acoustic guitar amplifier models. There are also ten instrument models including 12-string, sitar, Baritone, and electric violin.
If that’s not enough there are 12 stompbox models, 16 presets, 36 amp models, 6 bass amp models, 6 acoustic amp models, a chromatic tuner, 26 onboard effects with a tap tempo, and can run up to 5 effects simultaneously. That’s a lot in one little package and could be overwhelming to some beginners. If you are gearhead who loves to play around with sounds, you will be entertained for eons.
Peavey’s Vypyr software is available for download where you can do even more tweaking and creating. Presets can be stored and uploaded with the software and there are also accessible guitar lessons and backing tracks for practice.
To make things a little easier in terms of navigation, it is recommended to get one of the two compatible footswitches. Those will run an extra $120 or $230.
Fender Frontman 10G – Most Affordable Amp Winner
This is the basic of the basics which is a perfect option for someone who doesn’t need anything but a kick of power for their electric guitar. The Frontman 10G is a 10-watt, 6” speaker with gain control and an overdrive switch and a distortion switch to add a little hair to your sound.
Also included are an auxiliary input and headphone output. That’s it. Simple and painless. You won’t even need an instruction manual for this one. It may be the smallest amp in the Fender line, but it still has that good quality Fender tone.
Vox Valvetronix VT20+ – The Only Tube Amp That Made the List
The “valve” in Valvetronix means this is the only amp on the list that is powered by a tube. You may hear the oldtimers talk about tube amps being king. They’re right. Nothing quite matches the warmth of a tube amp. With a 12AX7 at the power stage of the amp, some of that warmth is captured for this little beginner amp.
This is another amp with a lot of options in the area of effects and amp models. 33 amp models and 25 effects give way to some choices for your creative mind. The controls make it pretty easy to navigate, especially since the controls are on the top rather than the face.
This amp is no longer in production, so you will need to search the usual secondhand places like Reverb.com which means you can get a pretty robust modeling amp on the cheap.
The Pathfinder 10 is essentially the Vox version of the Fender Frontman. The only difference other than sound produced by a different speaker is there is no auxiliary input and the line out is a ¼” rather than a 3.5mm.
The output is controlled by a gain knob with switches for either overdrive and distortion. The cool thing about Vox is those chicken head knobs. They aren’t just cool-looking, but they provide an element of precision when dialing in your tone if you are “that guy” who can tell the difference between 50% and 49% bass.
Well, that’s it for our round-up of the 10 Best Beginner Guitar Amps.
Let us know your thoughts below.