The world is full of amps. It is so full of them in fact that it is somehow hard to choose not because there is not enough good ones, but too many of them. Which is very unfortunate, as it raises the entry level requirement for understanding what you are buying. This means that a whole lot of people get intimidated when trying to pick an amp. Like if they want a mini amp that they would want to carry with them when they go somewhere. Which is why I sat myself down the other day, bargaining all the while, and compiled a list of the best small guitar amps, for the sake of all the big musicians trying to play them. Hopefully at least some of you will find it more or less useful, since I had to categorize these according to price, sound quality, tone quality, comfort of use and even the general usefulness. What I am trying to say is, it was a lot of work.
Top 10 Best Small Guitar Amps
I would like to start off the list of the best small guitar amps by talking about one of the best small guitar amps out there, which unfortunately dedicated the entirety of its existence to being used for the purposes of laying acoustic guitars. Unfortunately, because I would love to have one of these to work with my electric guitars. On the other hand, the fact that the amp works with acoustic guitars best, means that those of you looking for a mini amp for your acoustic guitar are in luck. Fishman Loudbox mini does a great job of amplifying the sound of an acoustic guitar, keeping it clean and clear of any kind of electric distortion, so that if there was no increase in volume, nobody would understand the point of the pick up. While small, the pick up is still on the larger side as compared to the rest on the list. The design is vintage and cool, so that the guitar is enjoyable to look at for everyone.
- Separate channel for the microphone
- Has a phase switch which eliminates the feedback
- Tailored for acoustic guitars
- Does not have the headphone jack for silence practice
- Does not offer a wide range of features (just in case that is a deal-breaker for you)
There is enough acoustic guitars in the world to rock it to sleep, with a peaceful feeling of Spanish legends to it. On the other hand there are enough electric guitars in the world to guarantee that it will never go to sleep, because there is always an electric guitar playing somewhere in the world. Which is exciting and which also causes the prices for electric guitar amps to be lower than for the amps of acoustic guitars, while retaining the same level of quality. The Roland Micro Cube Guitar Amplifier is a tiny little angel in the form of metal and plastic combined. It is small enough to be easy to carry around and store wherever, but it is also powerful enough to attract the attention of anyone passing you in the street, sitting in the bar, or otherwise hanging out in your vicinity. With a punkish style and a punk attitude, it is the perfect little helper for any musician, beginner or otherwise.
- Extremely portable and lightweight
- Quite loud for its size
- Gives you the option to tune your instrument with three keys
- Effects are not as good as on bigger stacks or individual pedals
Speaking of tiny little helpers that could fit anyone, let me introduce to another seemingly impossible amalgamation of great sound and great look. The Line 6 Micro Spider 6-Watt Battery Powered guitar amplifier has a whole lot of qualities that make it the favorite small amplifier of so many musicians who are constantly on the go or don’t have too much space. With its small form and light body it can be easily transported anywhere you go, while its battery negates the need to be constantly plugged into an outlet and hoping that you have some kind of source of energy. The best part of the amp is of course the sound of the guitar, which is quite outstanding for the price it is offered up at. One of the best options of small guitar amplifiers available for you that I want you to remember when you start attempting to make a decision on buying one. Great stuff to have, really.
- Decent sound
- Amp models are stored in separate channels
- You can record your own presets
- On-board tuner
- The quality of this one is not that great
- Might have some noise issues
Let me tell you about the vintage look at why it is favored among so many musicians and aestheticians around the world. Well, I won’t be able to tell you much about the vintage look in this short text, but what I can tell you is the fact that some of the best looking items out there, and best sounding, are entirely vintage. Well the Vox MINI3G2CL Battery Powered Modeling Amp is one of the vintage looking but entirely modern technology employing amps that produce a great sound while looking positively scrumptious. This small amp avoids the problem of weak low tones that so many other amp have by incorporating a bass boost technology into its construction. As a result we get a small, portable amp with a handsome look and an incredibly well rounded sound, with expressive lows and expressive high both present. And the price point relative to some of the other options on this list makes it a required purchase, unless something else catches your eye that is.
- Fancy, vintage chassis that catches your eye
- Improves the bass response by attenuating lower tones
- Can produce the signature sounds of VOX
- Aux input does not have a volume control
Let us move from the best amplifiers among the mid range priced small amplifiers to the more affordable ones. The gap between affordable and less affordable has never been felt this much, in terms of money of course. In terms of quality, the gap is not that noticeable, especially not when you have a contender like the Orange Amplifier Micro Crush PiX 3 Watt 9-Volt mini amp. This little orange cube of happiness provides the side of the person it spends it time at, with a whole lot of brightness and a seeming ray of light. Whether it is because of the bright coloring of the amp, or because it is actually a great sound being amplified from it. Whatever it is, I really do enjoy this little piece of vocal citrus, especially since it has the best combination of so many important qualities for an amp. It sounds good, it looks good and it is so easy to maintain and carry with you wherever you go.
- Equipped with analog circuitry
- Way louder than one would expect
- Great-sounding subtle overdrive
- Bass response is not that great
- Battery operation lasts only 5-6 hours
While we are on the subject of cute little things, I want you to consider the idea of a small amplifier with a cute name but with the looks of Marlon Brando in his early years. Wait, no, that is incredibly freaky and not something anyone wants to imagine. I mean how would you even connect your guitar to that? What I mean is imagine an incredibly handsome amplifier. Well, now that you have, let me ruin your dreams by directing your attention at the Pignose 7-100 legendary portable amplifier, which is an actually rather handsome piece of equipment. The great thing about this beautiful box is that it also has a great sound, comparable to that of its betters (read: of the more expensive models). Being very light and fun to possess, it is highly portable and loud enough to captivate audiences. A great, affordable small amplifier that does not look Marlon Brando in any way, and thank god for that.
- Sounds amazing
- Can be used on its own or as a recording device
- Extremely simple to use and tweak
- You might want to pass if you are looking for versatile features
The beauty of an affordable small amp is that it can be high quality without the sacrifice of anything. I mean yeah some people say that the low tones disappear a little when the amplifier gets small, but don’t listen to them too much. Unless your low tones are being drowned out by some loud person screaming into the microphone so hard that the system starts screeching, even the smallest of amps can produce a respectable low tone. The small amplifiers are there to be portable and easy to have, so that you never have to deal with a back hurting (unless your instrument is heavy) or your arms being tired from anything other than playing the guitar too much. Which is why the Blackstar Fly 3 Battery Powered Guitar Amplifier is a great piece of equipment to have in your artillery. Portable, small and powerful in sound, what else could anyone ever want?
- One of the best amps for the price
- Amazing distortion
- Great overall sound
- A lot of versatility due to ISF feature
- Does not include the power adapter in the package
- Not the best choice for bass guitar
Some of the smaller amplifiers that I like to talk so much about are not really that small. I mean, the Marshall MS4 Mini Micro Full Stack Battery Amplifier is anything but small, in terms of sound at least. It has a powerful volume output that is hard to ignore for anyone, be it in some bar or in the street or at some gig. The tall tower like shape of the guitar is exceptional in design and yes, while the stack is a little on the big side, the affordable price of it and the quality of tone and volume is definitely worth the little bit of a size problem. Definitely worth your consideration!
- Great practice tool
- Has that Marshall character
- Offers both clean and overdriven sounds
- Pretty damn loud
- Bass response is not the best
- The distortion is not too crazy
After a certain point of decreasing the price on the amplifier systems you are offering to the buyers, you get a return in the shape of an increasing size of the amplifiers themselves. Which is not really that much of a problem, especially when the Fender speaking you are talking about look vintage and sounds like it could be from the future. The Fender Mini Tonemaster Battery Powered Electric guitar amp is a little on the big side among smaller amps, in terms of size and in terms of sound. While it might be a little tiring to carry with you, the sound you are going to produce for the price of almost nothing is going to feel worth it, every second of the song.
- Can be loud if needed
- Can go from clean to overdrive quite easily
- Simple to use and nail
- Feels a bit cheap
- Has an audible rattle at certain settings
Some of the most impressive pieces of equipment come in small packages and in the shape of an item you would not expect to be as good as it is. The proof of this is the deceptively simple looking Mugig Portable Amplifier for Electric guitar, with 10W of power. This piece of equipment is on the big side of small, but is perfect in every single aspect of it, other than the size. The design is simple and understanded, the ease of transport is guaranteed, while the sound takes over the mind and heart of the musician and the crowd instantly. It is possibly the best electric guitar amp that I have gotten to mention on this list.
- Great sustain
- Amazing build and sound quality
- Useful EQ
- Works with electric, bass and acoustic guitars
- Cannot handle the cleans of Burstbucker pros
Why get a small guitar amp?
So what is the point of getting a small guitar amp? I mean you can get a whole lot of sound out of a medium sized amp without all of the sound issues that the small amps have. And yeah they are more ungainly and harder to lug around, but at least they have the sound and power required to handle a live performance and even band practice. Plus you can turn down the sound and practice at home just as well, right?’
Well, it is not that you are wrong, though if you know me, you know that I am about to say that you are sort of wrong. You see you don’t need a large or even a mid sized amp to play with your band live or in a practice session. What you do need is a higher quality small amplifier, and you are set. Why? Well, hear this out.
Small guitar amps, contrary to popular belief, have the ability to produce a very powerful sound. You don’t need a whole lot of surface area to have an impressive sound, as so many chihuahuas have proven by keeping up their owners nights on end with their barking. The small amplifiers, the best of them, have sound comparable to the sounds of the larger amplifiers. This has been proven many a time, especially by the band called Annihilator. The guitar player for the band has a very specific set up for himself, with a relatively small amp being one of the main parts of the set up. While his is not as small as some of the ones here, it just goes to show that a live performance does not need a large amp for good quality sound.
Usually what a lot of people complain about when they say a small amp has a lack of power, they mean that the lower tones feel a little lacking. Well, picking the right amp, and placing it right, should allow the lead guitar to shine with the high tones, while also being powerful with the low tones. Yes a smaller amp will; forever have issues with low tone, but correct construction, presence of vacuum tubes, and even simply the correct placement can all solve these problems during small gigs.
On the other hand, practicing with your band should allow you a bit more flexibility with sound. You can ask the rest of the band to accommodate for you a little, lowering the sound on their own instruments (ask the drummer to be nice to the drums). Even during an all out practice session a small amp might be able to keep up with the rest of the band’s volume, if powerful and high quality enough.
Finally the ease and portability of the small amp will allow you so much more flexibility with when and where you can practice. Just weighing a couple of pounds is already a great advantage over the rest of the amps available on the market. And being able to take it on road trips, travel trips, backpacking trips (for a bit of extra buck, we all have thought of doing it) means you can practice anywhere, any time. Small storage requirement means a great storing capability where you don’t have to worry about taking up too much space in your tiny room or apartment. It is great stuff, honestly.
There are so many great things about the small guitar amps that we miss out on. While it is no shame to admit that some issues persist in the sound and ability of smaller amps, it is also worth saying that they have a whole lot of benefits that might be the reason some people decide to pick them up. I have had many amps over the years and my small amp is possibly my favorite piece of equipment (other than all the guitars on their own). I have taken it on many a trip when I had to stay somewhere that was not my home, and it has helped me keep my workout hours up to the standard that I had gotten used to. One of the very first amps I ever had was actually a small amp, nestled in my tiny little room in between my bed and my wardrobe inside which my guitar stood. My point is, whether you are just starting out or you have been playing for a while, you will find a use for your small guitar amp, especially if it is one of the best available on the market.