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Compare Cheap Guitar Amp Heads

A professional stage and studio setup needn't cost an arm and leg. These cheap guitar amp heads will provide you with all the power and tone you need for the big stage.

Yes, there are even tube amp heads featured on this page, for those with a more discerning ear willing to spend a little extra.

Read each review carefully, listen to the clips and use the comparison table at the foot of the page to decide which is best for your needs. Rest assured these are the top 3 budget guitar amp heads as rated by hundreds of users. Many of these users have been gigging for over 20 years and are comparing these to the "big boys" of the industry.

Best Cheap Guitar Amp Head for Overdrive

If cleans aren't the main ingredient in your playing, and you want that classic, overdriven Marshall JCM800 vibe, this all-tube 100 watt Peavey powerhouse will give you all the blues, hard rock and classic metal sounds you'll ever need. All the fire breathing dynamics of a hot tube amp for just $400

Update: Peavey have stopped making the Windsor Head! Keep an eye on the used market and left over stock at your local stores as this really is an amazing head. The only alternative for buying new is the Studio combo version.

Peavey Windsor Tube Amp Head - Discontinued

Peavey Windsor Tube Amp Head

Overall Rating

8 / 10

Forum Buzz
Key Features
  • 100 all-tube watts
  • Great classic rock distortion
  • Rich feature set including resonance and texture controls


100 Watts / Three 12AX7 preamp tubes / Four EL34 power amp tubes / Single channel / Footswitchable gain boost / Three-band EQ / Footswitchable effects loop / Master Volume / Patent-pending Texture control / Patented Resonance and Presence control / High and low inputs

What users say

A very simple yet versatile guitar amp head if you're willing to spend some time experimenting with the controls. 4 tubes drive a single channel with plenty of responsive tweaking options including resonance (for bass tightness), presence, texture and the standard 3 band EQ with master volume and pre-amp gain control. There's also input/output for your effects loop.

100 all tube watts makes the Windsor monstrously loud (you can even turn it up to 12...!) and considering it's a distortion amp it's certainly capable of giving you a domineering kind of presence at gigs. It's general flavour is classic British crunch and it does what it's seemingly limited to very well.

Many users compare the Windsor to the Marshall JCM800. In reality you're not buying a Marshall! It perhaps has a JCM (on steroids) vibe, that's all. Spend a good deal of time knob twiddling because there is so much variation that can be dialled in.

Users agreed that the Windsor will encourage you to make more use of your guitar or pedal board's volume. Roll back the preamp with this and you'll find some gorgeously deep, warm cleans which rasp as you strike the strings harder. You won't get Fender style glassy cleans, but if you wanted them you'd... buy a fender.

The sweet spot on this amp is with the master on 10 and the gain just at breaking point - let your guitar's volume pot do the rest. That gets you a balanced variation between rolled back cleans and bluesy crunch.

The resonance control responsively tightens up any low end sag on cleaner chord playing. The texture knob switches between smooth and snarly. Lot's of headroom mean the Windsor retains its character at higher volumes. Good for mid-heavy blues and rock (think AC/DC) but will also handle pre-amp hungry classic thrash.

Your pedals will take on a whole new fresh sound through the Windsor. Keep the pedal's volume down to let the amp's tone drive it rather than be swamped by it.

Cheap Guitar Amp Head - Best for Clean

A two channel, hand wired, all tube guitar amp head for under $400, with plenty of tone modification options and especially stunning cleans. If you want a taste of that classic boutique quality that will grace any cab, take a gander at the Bugera V55HD head.

Bugera V55HD Tube Amp Head - $360

Bugera V55HD Tube Amp Head

Overall Rating

8.5 / 10

Forum Buzz 
Key Features
  • 55 all-tube watts
  • 2 channels with reverb
  • Footswitch included
  • Rich, vibrant cleans


Hand-built 55 Watt guitar amp head / 2 x 6L6 valves / vintage look and feel / Authentic 2-channel preamp design with 3 x 12AX7 valves / Integrated high-class reverb with dedicated Reverb control / Vintage Equalizer section with dedicated Bass, Mid, Treble and Presence controls / Normal and Bright inputs / Multi-gain stage Lead channel with Pre Gain, Post Gain and Master controls / Mode switch to select between Triode or Pentode operation / Heavy-duty footswitch for Channel and Reverb function included / Impedance switch (4, 8 and 16 Ohms) to match virtually any speaker cabinet

What users say

Great feature set for the price. Two switchable channels (footswitch included) with shared reverb, normal/bright inputs and effects loop. The shared EQ includes bass, mid, treble and presence. Also onboard are Pre Gain, Post Gain and Master controls.

The backside mode switch allows you to choose between triode and pentode tube configuration (in plain English, that's softer vs more aggressive tone). This also helps to tighten/open up your tone and provide some initual output control for practice vs onstage playing. With such differing responses to this setting, depending on your guitar, this could well be the one feature that puts the icing on your tone cake.

55 all tube watts gives the V55HD plenty of power for larger venues.

More on tone... the general picture is that the Bugera shines on the clean channel.

Cleans sparkle with warm and jangly highs, full and rich bass and a natural but subtle tube driven compression that drip feeds through "endless" sustain. The resulting clean tones especially complement single coil pickups. Variation can be dialled in through the responsive EQ and by playing with master and preamp volume levels. There's enough individual character in the Bugera head to stand on its own without comparison being drawn with more costly classics (ahem! Fender).

Users haven't been as thrilled with the dirty channel, mainly because there's not as much range as with the cleans. Slightly fuzzy perhaps for those who like a bit more of a tight, bluesy crunch. However, for authentic, mid-gain, early hard rock and metal tones, the OD can be nicely smoothed out by tweaking the EQ and is highly responsive to the guitar's volume knob.

If you do end up craving beefier distortion, the V55HD provides the perfect platform for introducing your favourite pedals. The effects loop is missing a level control, but it's transparent and with no noticeable noise increase so it "does the job" for most players.

Compare Peavey Windsor Vs Bugera V55HD Head

Both heads fulfill very different needs, so which one is right for you? Compare them using the table below...

Peavey Windsor Bugera V55HD
Best For Guitarists who want powerful, responsive tube overdrive & distortion as their base. Guitarists who just want rich, sparkling cleans or have their own distortion pedals.
Defining Features Can get very loud. Resonance & texture controls. Powerful vintage overdrive & distortion. High/Low Gain inputs. 2 channels. Footswitch. Vibrant cleans. Mode switch for stronger output at low volumes. Normal/bright inputs.
Output 100 all-tube Watts 55 all-tube Watts
Channels 1 2
EQ 3 band + pre-amp + resonance + presence + texture 3 band + gain + clean + presence
Switches Gain Boost (footswitchable) Channel (footswitchable). Mid Boost. Mode (Triode/Pentode). Speaker (4, 8, 16 ohms).
Reverb No Yes
Additional Inputs/Outputs High/Low Gain Inputs. FX Send/Return. Footswitch. Parallel Speaker Out.
Normal/Bright Inputs. FX Send/Return. Footswitch. Parallel Speaker Out.
Price $400 $360
Buy Discontinued Click Here for More Info

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