5 Best Busking Amps

The tradition of busking has been around since the 11th century. In its earliest forms, busking was an acoustic or acapella performance accompanied by a box or hat to drop tips in. That’s a far cry from the Venmo links buskers can use today!

Times have certainly changed. Whether busking to hone performance skills, gain exposure, or make some extra cash, buskers have to compete with a world lousy with noise.

Modern busking often requires amplification to rise above these cacophonous surroundings and make themselves heard.

Considerations For Busking Amps

Versatility is a significant factor when choosing an amp for busking. In addition, there are performer-specific considerations to take into account when looking at busking amps.

These transcend a performer’s purpose or genre. Consider these the essential elements of the best busking amps.

Battery Operated

A battery-operated amp is non-negotiable for busking. The last thing a performer should be worried about when setting up is their proximity to a power source. Amps that have a battery option are the most versatile. Flexibility in a busking setup means more possibilities for playing.

Portability

Busking will often find a performer in a lot of different places. From farmer’s markets to street corners, busking amps need portability and the ability to adapt to different space configurations.

The size, shape, and weight all play a factor in this. The best busking amps will easily accommodate most scenarios.

Sound

Serenading the people as they pass by is the beautiful aspect of busking. Filling the outside world with art is an admirable and appreciated act.

Busking will accentuate an outdoor experience, not overwhelm it. For this reason, busking amps will not require high wattage. No matter how tempting it may be, a busking amp will never need to “turn up to eleven.”

Functionality

Different types of performances will require distinct functionality from their busking amp. When choosing an amp, buskers must consider their unique performance needs.

These needs could include whether they require onboard effects, blue tooth capabilities, or multiple instrument inputs. An amplifier is a tool. Make sure it is the right one for the job before buying.

5 Best Busking Amps

After accounting for all the essential elements of a busking amp, we’ve narrowed the field to the five best. Whether playing keyboards in a town square or guitar in an outdoor mall, these are the five best busking amps.

Roland Micro CUBE

You have probably seen the Roland Micro CUBE before. It’s the classic grab-and-go option for those with minimal needs and tight budgets. The CUBE still manages to fill a space with its 5-watt speaker and allows for some creativity with different amp and effects settings.

Players should keep in mind the Roland Micro CUBE only has a single quarter-inch input. Essentially, this amp is best suited for a single instrument. In instances where a busker is playing instruments without a natural acoustic output or needs vocal amplification, the CUBE will cover you.

Pros

  • Compact size and light-weight
  • Onboard amp board and effects
  • 20-hour battery life

Cons

  • Low wattage
  • Only a single quarter-inch input

Boss CUBE Street II

The next level up from the Roland Micro Cube is the rebranded Boss CUBE Street II. The amp features an aesthetically pleasing shape that optimizes its twin 5-watt speakers, making it a monitor option for small stages. Underscoring this versatility is the onboard, 3-band EQ.

The Boss CUBE Street II maintains the features that made the Micro CUBE a great busking amp but with added options. The addition of a second quarter-inch input makes this amp perfect for a duo, while the Bluetooth adaptor allows accompaniment from a phone or tablet.

All told, the CUBE Street II is versatile enough to cover most busking needs.

Pros

  • High-quality sound
  • Optimum shape for monitor or sound projection
  • Optional Bluetooth Audio MIDI adaptor

Cons

  • 10-hour battery life
  • Only two quarter-inch inputs

Vox Mini5 Rhythm

The Vox Mini5 Rhythm falls into the same light-weight and lower-wattage category as the Micro CUBE but with several distinct advantages. As an all-in-one tool for performance, the Mini5’s 99 rhythm patterns are hard to beat.

This could be especially advantageous for a busker that is more of a player than a songwriter. You’ll be able to riff along with various beats at variable tempos all day.

Of particular note for those obsessed with tone is the 11 amp models built-in, all based on classic Vox amps. Vox has been manufacturing amps for a long time, and they’ve made some of the best. The earliest sounds of rock and roll, especially the British Invasion, came out of Vox amplifiers.

Simply put: if it’s good enough for the Beatles, it’s good enough for me.

Pros

  • Light-weight
  • 99 rhythm patterns for accompaniment
  • 11 amp models based on classic Vox amps

Cons

  • Low wattage
  • No wireless connectivity

Bose S1

Bose is known for the highest quality in sound and speakers, and the Bose S1 is no different. Marketed less for performance and more for all-around use, the S1 still boasts multiple inputs that allow for a duo or mic and instrument solo acts.

The triangular design is beautiful and versatile. Buskers will be able to nestle the speaker in any corner or perfectly balance it in a tilting position to project its sound. The wireless Bluetooth connection functions from up to 30 feet away, allowing flexibility in setting up accompaniment from a tablet or phone.

The S1 is versatile in a lifestyle sense, as well. After busking, it could be carried to any party and used as a small PA without missing a beat.

Pros

  • High-quality sound
  • Bluetooth capabilities
  • Great Design

Cons

  • The rechargeable lithium-ion battery is sold separately
  • It’s a heavier option at 15 pounds

Fishman Loudbox Mini Charge

The Fishman Loudbox Mini Charge weighs in on the heavier side at twenty pounds, but for acoustic musicians that want an amp that can go from the street corner to the stage, the Loudbox is the amp for you.

The Loudbox is as loud as it advertises. The amp is the most powerful on our list, boasting a 60-watt speaker. This power makes it the perfect option for those that busk in bigger cities and louder locales.

Despite the high wattage, the Loudbox offers in-depth sound control. With a separate EQ channel for each input, this amp gives a busker more control over the individual pieces of their performance.

The amp also features Bluetooth connectivity and is one of the better-looking amps on the list. Though some will argue looks don’t matter, musicians know that a head-turning piece of gear can be the difference between someone stopping to listen or walking on by. Buskers will get noticed with their Fishman.

Pros

  • Powerful speaker at 60-watts
  • 18-hour rechargeable battery power
  • Bluetooth connectivity

Cons

  • Bulky and heavy at 20 pounds
  • Limited onboard effects and no tuner

The Final Word on Busking Amps

The world is a better place with music in it. Busking is part of a long tradition of street performing that enhances daily life in cities the world over. Artists decide to busk for many reasons, from practice to promotion. Regardless of their goal, everyone benefits from exposure to creative expression.

As any busker can attest to, there’s a lot of noise out there. Choosing a versatile and portable amplifier is essential when looking for a busking amp. A good amp will help a performance rise above the hustle and bustle of modern life and ensure that the songs and performers stand out.