Guitar amps in the mid-price range are just about the most popular on the market. Amateur enthusiasts and seasoned musos with a modest budget can afford them, and you’ll be amazed and delighted at the power and extra features you can get for your money that you just can’t find in amps for $300 or less.

There are actually two good reasons why buying a guitar amp for around $500 might be a better choice for you than scrimping and scraping to save up $1000. First of all, your financial circumstances might mean that you have to wait forever to save that much money, leaving you frustrated and amp-less for far too long.

Secondly, today’s technological advancements mean that most amps in this price bracket will give most musos everything they need for home practice, recording, and local gigging. It is the happy medium, whereas a $1000 one might just be overkill and an unnecessary expense that you can’t really afford.

Marshall Amps DSL Guitar Amplifier Head

No list of guitar amps would be complete without a representative from the legendary Marshall brand! And this offering is one of the next generation Marshall DSL series.

This neat amp head weighs-in at just 26 pounds, making it the ultimate in portability and giving you the freedom to choose your own preferred cabinet. DSLs are packed full of classic Marshall tone, functionality, and features that will delight novice players and pros alike.

Each of the two channels has dedicated volume and gain controls. Choose sparkling clean sounds via the Classic Gain channel or the more aggressive break-up of a Marshall JCM800 amp. The Ultra Gain channel gives even more distortion for those looking for high gain tone.

The amp gives you reverb and has high and low power settings, as well as dedicated resonance control. The Marshall DSL has equipped with Softube emulated output, 3 x ECC83 and 2 x EL34 valves, giving you the full, rich tone of a valve amp in a more portable and compact format.

I have nothing but praise for the DSL’s full, clean tone, classic Marshall crunch, and ease of use. The effects loop also went down well, as did the unit’s portability. On the negative side, you might think that the amp sounds “fuzzy”, but that could be down to personal preference. Marshall fans will undoubtedly love this classic amp head!

Marshall Amps Guitar Combo Amplifier (M-DSL1CR-U)
  • Adjustable power output. Softube Emulated output
  • Reverb
  • Celestion eight 15 speaker

Orange Crush CR60C

Orange Crush have produced this high-power, solid state amp for the purist!

This piece of kit is not overloaded with myriad fancy features – most of which you wouldn’t use anyway. They’ve kept it simple and classic. What you have here is an analogue, solid state amp with two channels – dirty and clean – based on their classic and prestigious Rockerverb range, volume, and reverb.

The dirty channel gives you four stages of gain and a three band EQ, giving you an astounding range of distorted and overdriven sounds. The dirty channel is based on a two-band, two-stage EQ design, which provides you with a clean yet warm sound that breaks up nicely when you crank up the volume, just like the old-school Rockerverb!

This amp knocks a tube amp out of the park in terms of tone and sound quality! My main gripe was that the amp is rather on the heavy side to be easily portable for gigging – so, get a roadie or a gym membership!

Orange CR60C Crush Pro 60 Guitar Combo Amplifier Bundle with Instrument Cable and Austin Bazaar Polishing Cloth
  • All analogue signal path
  • Twin channel, high gain preamp design
  • Buffered effects loop

Roland AC-60 – 30W Stereo Acoustic Amp

At the top of our price bracket sits Roland’s AC-60 Acoustic Chorus amp. This amp is small enough to be portable, but also packs enough punch to be used for gigging at venues of a modest size.

Roland’s 30 watt stereo amp uses digital signal processing to produce the brand’s signature rich, natural tone and crisp sound. Maximize your own sound with the lush stereo/multiband chorus, and wow your audience with effects such as wide mode-plus delay/reverb with footswitch control.

Rid your performance of the nails-down-blackboard effect via the clever Auto Anti-Feedback control, even when you crank the volume dial up to the max.

The amp has a 2-channel mic/guitar input line design and is configured to be stand-mountable for convenience, excellent projection, and space-saving in small venues.

Singers love this amp, praising the sound quality and its ease of use. However, a small gripe I have is that the unit seems much heavier than the 29 pounds it’s supposed to weigh. Also, the carrying handle is much too tight to the unit to be useable, even if you have really small hands!

Roland AC-60 Acoustic Chorus Guitar Amplifier with Dual 30-Watt 6.5-inch Speakers, Rosewood
  • Compact stereo acoustic amplifier with pure, natural tone and excellent projection
  • 2-Channel design: Guitar input and Mic/Line input with Phantom Power
  • Stereo 30-watt/dual 6. 5-inch speaker configuration loud enough for club gigs and small PA...

Roland CUBE Street EX Battery Powered Amplifier

For those who play al-fresco at outdoor gigs, festivals, weddings etc, where there’s no mains power source, you really do need Roland’s CUBE Street EX!

The CUBE runs off just 8 AA batteries, yet still produces an awesome 50 watts of power. This amp is designed with the ultimate portability in mind, and it can also be stand-mounted for greater projection when required. The angled-back design makes this amp perfect for use on stage.

The amp is equipped with 2 x 8” woofers and 2 x 2” tweeters that will pump out plenty of volume for home rehearsals and small venue gigging.

The CUBE gives you 4 independent channels for connecting instruments, mics, and audio devices. If you perform as a duo, you won’t have to share a mic! The amp has 2 XLR mic inputs!

COSM tones are provided for your electric guitar, including crunch, clean, and lead. Acoustic players will love the clean, natural sound that the CUBE gives you.

I have plenty of praise for this amp, including its super-clean sound and versatility. I love all the connection options – you can pretty much plug in a whole band and play at a beach wedding! The dedicated volume control for each input is voted a big positive too.

One thing that’s a bummer is the lack of a dedicated effects dial for mixing. However, the overall feeling is that this a surprisingly powerful battery amp that produces a great sound!

Roland CUBE Street EX 2x8" 50-watt Battery Powered Combo Amp
  • 50-watt 4-channel 2x8" Battery Powered Guitar Combo Amplifier PA
  • with 2 x Mic/Instrument Inputs
  • Built-in Tuner - Black

What’s the best choice of amp for gigging?

Once you move out of your garage and venture out onto the road, you’ll want an amp that’s practically portable. For this reason, many musicians who gig professionally prefer an amp head. A head is much lighter and more easily transportable than a combo. Also, many venues have their own speaker cabs so all you’ll need to do is bring the head.

However, this a matter of personal choice. And if you’re a fan of a particular make, you might prefer to have their badge front and center on your on-stage kit.

Take aways

Every one of the amps we’ve reviewed here will give you the power and features that you need to rock-out any venue! If you can stretch your budget a bit to buy your new amp, you can take the next step on the ladder from home practice towards building a seriously good sound rig.

Last update on 2024-05-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API