7 Best Combo Amps For Metal Under $500

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Your amp is obviously a massive part of your sound as a guitarist. And if you are going to play metal, you need to make sure the amp you get is up to the task. After all, not all amplifiers will work as metal amps. But what if you don’t want to break the bank in order to get a great sounding amp?

Feel free to also check out our guide on the best 2×12 Guitar Cabinets For Metal & High Gain.

What Are The Best Combo Amps For Metal Under $500?

In this article, I’ll go over the 7 best combo amps for metal under $500. Below you will find the amp that fits not only your budget but also the specific type of metal you play, along with other features that may appeal to you.

Without further ado, the best 7 combo amps for metal under $500 are:

  1. Peavey Bandit 112 Transtube (Best Overall)
  2. Fender Mustang LT25 (Best Value)
  3. Blackstar HT-5R MKII (Best Premium)
  4. BOSS Katana 100 MKII
  5. Marshall CODE50
  6. Orange Micro Dark
  7. Line 6 Spider V120 MKII

1. Peavey Bandit 112 Transtube

OUR PICK
Peavey Bandit 112 Guitar Combo Amp
$449.99

The Peavey Bandit 112 offers plenty of punch from 80 watts running through a bold 12-inch Blue Marvel speaker, while an external speaker jack lets you connect to a bigger cab if necessary.

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At the famous 1995 NAMM convention, people crammed into the Peavey booth for a demonstration. There were players, media, and dealers witnessing a blind A/B comparison between Peavey’s newly released solid-state amp TransTube Bandit and a real tube amp. According to Peavey, nobody was able to pick apart which amp was the tube one and which one was the solid-state. And that’s how the Bandit’s reputation started.

Features

  • 100 watts of Transtube power
  • Silky smooth cleans
  • Handles both vintage and modern tones
  • Peavey’s patented Transtube Circuitry
  • Solid weight, but portable

Review

Peavey’s engineers wanted to create a guitar amplifier that offered all the advantages of a solid-state amp but with the sound of a tube amp. And for 25 years the Bandit 112 Transtube has been a favorite among players that need a 100 Watt amp on a budget.

This amp features two channels, as well as Peavey’s exclusive TransTube technology, which emulates the sound of tube amplifiers with the convenience and reliability of a solid-state design. It also has a vintage/classic switch on the clean channel and a classic/modern high gain switch on the lead channel to change its tonal character.

It is considered by many to be the hottest little amp in this price range. It will give you a run for your money and deliver serious metal sound with a lot of power in a solid-state combo that sounds like a tube amp. This is our pick for the best choice among metal guitar amps under $500, especially for genres like metalcore.

2. Fender Mustang LT25

Fender Mustang LT-25 Guitar Amplifier
$149.99

Think of this tiny 25-watter as a "greatest hits" of the Mustang amp family, pre-loaded with 30 hand-selected presets spanning decades and continents of beloved amp tone.

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If budget is your main concern for your metal amp, look no further. The Fender Mustang LT25  is a modeling combo amp with USB connectivity that is one of the best choices for metal players that are cash-strapped. It is of course backed by Fender’s stellar reputation, so this is already a good sign.

Features

  • 25 Watts of power
  • 8″ Fender Special Design speaker
  • Versatile delay and modulation controls
  • 20 amp models, 25 effects, 50 presets
  • Light and easy to store

Review

The Mustang LT25 is Fender’s solution for the metal guitarist with a tight budget. This is one of the most affordable solid-state amps that will work wonders for metal guitarists. In addition, it is quite light, at just 14.9 lbs. That makes it very easy to store and carry.

It features 20 amp models, 25 watts of power, and 25 effects to help you reach your desired high gain tones. Given its compact size, the Mustang LT25 can be that handy amp that you take everywhere. This makes it one of the best guitar amps available for practice, busking, and gigging.

A headphone out and aux-in are also featured to make this amp usable with tracks, and at any time of the day or night, for practice and small gigs.

Overall, The Mustang LT25 is one of the best metal amps for those on a tight budget.

3. Blackstar HT-5R MKII

BEST PREMIUM
Blackstar HT5R MKII

The HT-5R MkII’s upgraded clean channel epitomizes the modern boutique tone, while its drive channel serves up a muscular array of distorted textures.

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Blackstar’s HT-5R MKII is a tube amplifier and the best premium option for a metal amp under $500. It is capable of a full sound even at low volumes. It features all the warmth and killer tones that we’ve come to expect from tube amps, but without the bulkiness and high price.

Features

  • 5 Watts of uncompromised tone
  • Full sound at low volumes
  • Blackstar’s power reduction circuit
  • Beautiful clean to screeching distortion
  • Onboard reverb

Review

Blackstar developed a premium guitar amp capable of screaming metal tones but to be used at all times and places. The HT-5R MkII tube combo amp features a power reduction circuit that takes your wattage down to a bedroom friendly 0.5 watts. All of this while keeping the crunch and break up characteristics of a traditional 100 W output.

This is one of the best guitar amps under 500, especially for those that don’t want to sacrifice tone and feel while practicing. It comes in a compact package and is light enough to carry around. You can jam, record, practice, and get a killer tone with ease with the HT-5R MKII.

You can count on this guitar amp to cover all your practicing and jam needs, whether you need to work on a clean part or one with screeching distortion. The HT-5R MkII also features onboard reverb, USB output, an effects loop, and more. This is one of the best metal amps for those that play classic metal, in the vein of Tommy Henriksen from Alice Cooper.

4. BOSS Katana-100 MkII

BEST ALL-ROUNDER
BOSS Katana 100 MKII Combo Amp
$369.99

Katana MkII takes the acclaimed Katana guitar amp series to the next level, turbocharging the core platform with more sounds, more effects, and more features. Newly voiced variations are now available for all five amp characters, doubling the tonal options.

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BOSS has been at the forefront of technology for decades. The Katana-100 MkII is the modeling guitar amp that is our best all-rounder for metal guitar amps under $500. This guitar amp features tons of options to shape your sound, including solid distortion tones that make it one of the best metal amps under $500.

Features

  • 100 Watts of power
  • 5 modeled amp voices
  • Vintage, Modern, and Deep cab resonances
  • 60 effects
  • Endless tone-shaping

Review

If you want seemingly unlimited possibilities, the Katana-100 MkII is your best option for a metal amp. It features five characters in clean, crunch, lead, brown, and acoustic. There are also newly voiced variations for each! In addition, this amp comes with five independent effects sections, each with three variations.

In other words, if you would like a world of options, this might be the best guitar amp for you. You can even select how many watts of power you want (0.5 w, 50 w, or 100 w). All of this without sacrificing sound, especially when it comes to aggressive distortion. If you’re looking for a guitar amp under $500, regardless of genre, it’s really hard to imagine better value in terms of features.

The Katana-100 MkII allows for dual amp setups and features a dedicated pedal FX for foot-controlled wah and pedal bend. In addition, it features three cab resonance options (Vintage, Modern, and Deep). The BOSS Katana-100 is one of the best options for black metal and nu-metal, or for anybody needing tons of options at a low price point.

5. Marshall CODE50

MOST VERSATILE
Marshall Code 50 Combo Amp
$319.99

Fully programmable, CODE combines authentic modelling of classic and contemporary Marshall tones with professional quality FX.

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You cannot talk about a list of the best metal amps under $500 without having Marshall in it. The CODE50 features a plethora of classic Marshall amp and cab combinations in over 100 presets. This modeling guitar amplifier combo is the perfect blend of tradition with modern technology, making it one the most versatile metal amps under $500.

Features

  • 50 Watts of power
  • Modeled British sound and quality
  • 14 Preamps, 4 Power Amps, 8 Speaker Cabs
  • 24 effects, 5 simultaneously
  • Optional remote control via the app

Review

The Marshall Code 50 is the British manufacturer’s take on a budget amp that is one of the best options for a metal amp at this price point. With 50 watts of power, this guitar amp offers any sound you might need, from sparkling clean to vintage Marshall crunch and high gain metal madness.

It features quite a variety of digital effects including reverb, chorus, overdrive, and more. Additionally, you can control the Code 50 remotely via the Marshall Gateway mobile app.

The Code 50 is a good choice if you are after that Kerry King Marshall tone that made Slayer one of the top metal bands in history. Overall, this is a fantastic choice for a combo amp under $500, with everything from old school sounds all the way to modern metal.

6. Orange Micro Dark

BEST VALUE
Orange Micro Dark Amp Head w/ Cabinet

The Micro Dark offers the same searing gain and tonal versatility as its big brothers but boasts the same tiny format as the Micro Terror.

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After the success that Orange had with their Dark Terror and Dual Dark amps, customers asked for a mini valve hybrid head version, and thus the Micro Dark was born. The result was so impressive that guitarist Nico Santora (Suicidal Tendencies) stated that the Micro Dark is a game-changer.

Features

  • 20 Watts of power
  • Orange’s CabSim Circuitry
  • Extremely portable and light
  • ECC83 (12AX7) valve
  • Pair it with an 8 – 16 Ohm cab

Review

The Micro Dark uses a tube/solid-state hybrid design to make the most of its small size. It’s also very lightweight at just 1.72 lbs. The preamp uses a single ECC83 (12AX7) valve and produces a wide range of tones with warm cleans, smooth overdrive, and crushing distortion, making it great for modern metal.

Thanks to its solid-state output section, the Micro Dark can be paired with any 8-16 Ohm cabinet. It also features a fully-buffered effects loop, a headphone output, and Orange’s CabSim circuitry.

The Micro Dark features a Shape control that varies the midrange response whilst interacting with the bass and treble. The effect of Shape becomes even more pronounced as you push the gain control. The Orange Micro Dark is a fantastic amp head and a solid choice, especially at this price range!

7. Line 6 Spider V 120 MkII

Line 6 Spider V 120 MKII
$429.99

Step onstage or in the studio with an amp that can deliver almost any tone your music demands.

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The Line 6 Spider V 120 MkII is a 1×12″ modeling guitar combo amp powerhouse. It comes loaded with amp models, a metronome, drum loops, and a 60-second looper. This is a great choice for metal guitarists looking for a guitar amp under $500 that offers tools to practice as well as live performance features.

Features

  • 120 Watts of power
  • 200 modeled presets
  • Mac/PC, iOS and Android connectivity
  • Over 100 effects models
  • 78 amp and 24 cab models

Review

The Line 6 Spider V MkII offers a myriad of choices to dial in your sound. You can also use it as a practice amp, for direct recording, miked or onstage.

It is loaded with over 200 presets that include classic rigs all the way to more experimental options. You can really dig into its models and options to find the tone you’re after.

This amplifier offers 78 modeled amps, 24 modeled cabs, and 4 modeled mics, with a 3-band EQ.  It is compatible with the Line 6 FBV control pedal and features Mac/PC, iOS, and Android connectivity. Overall, this is a good budget-choice for death metal in the vein of Alex Skolnick of Testament.

What To Look For In An Amp

Ultimately, the right amp is the one that covers all your needs and fits your budget at the same time. In the past, guitar players have heavily favored tube amps given their warmth, power, and force.

However, tube amps tend to be pricey, and there aren’t many available under the $500 mark. The good news is that technology has come a long way, and solid-state amps can now offer a similar experience to tube amps, but at a fraction of the cost.

Additionally, amp modeling has also improved drastically over the years, to the point that most won’t be able to tell the difference between tube and solid-state in a blind test. High-quality gear tends to be expensive, but with the right information, you can make the right choice for your own needs that doesn’t break the bank.

(Metalheads need to head on over to our roundup of the 7 Best Passive Pickups For Metal for more great guitar gear tips!)