Whether you play blues, rock, or pop, every musician needs a practice amp. These amps can be large or portable, complex or simple. However, it can be hard to make the right call with so many industry icons to choose from.
Are you jamming at home or in a designated practice space? Does this change the kind of amp you need? Will the type of amp you choose depend on the music you play?
These are probably just a few of the burning questions running through your mind.
Thankfully, choosing the right amp doesn’t have to be a chore. Jamming is fun, so let us take the stress off your shoulders.
Are you looking for the best practice amps? Keep scrolling for our comprehensive list, buyers guide, and more.
Let’s kick things off with the Orange crush microamp. This 9V amplifier comes with a ⅛ “ aux input, 8 – ohm speaker output, and ⅛” headphone output.
The Orange crush mini amp requires one 9v battery (included), and it weighs a modest 1.99 pounds.
If you prefer to have your amp plugged directly into a socket, you can do this, but you’ll have to buy the plug separately. If you need a sturdy but portable amp, the orange crush mini is the ideal amplifier to bring to your practice jams.
When Orange called this a ‘mini’ amp, they weren’t lying. This amp is 3.27 x 5.91 5.71 inches. However, don’t be put off by its small dimensions.
This practice amp still looks and performs like most other large amps, and during testing, we were blown away by the amp’s attention to detail and quality.
The Orange crush mini only has one channel. If you’re after something simple to use, this amp is perfect.
This amp even has a built-in tuner and a wooden cabinet, which we loved. It gives off a nice vintage tone, and you can go from mostly clean to super high gain.
However, whatever volume you play at, there’s always a little ‘dirt’ or ‘buzz’ in the background. This is great if you want a more rugged tone, but it might not suit all players.
Although the amp is fully functional when powered by both batteries and a wall plug, we did feel there was more interference and humming when using the wall socket.
- Built-in Tuner: This is ideal for beginners or those in need of a quicker setup during practice sessions.
- Lightweight: If you’re bouncing between different locations, this is ideal.
- Battery and Socket Operated: This makes the Orange crush amp a versatile choice. You can practice in multiple locations.
- Interference with Wall Socket: Unfortunately, the orange crush amp seems to pick up more interference and hum when using the wall socket.
- Simple Controls: The simple controls give you access to all kinds of classic sounds. Crank up the Gain for heavy distortion or dial in clean and crunch tones by backing off the Gain and turning the Volume up. A quick tweak of the Shape control (anticlockwise for more mids, clockwise for more scooped) and you�re ready to rock
- Small and Lightweight: The Orange Crush Mini is designed to give you classic Orange tone in a small, lightweight package. Whether you�re jamming in your bedroom or warning up backstage, the Crush Mini is the perfect companion
- Speaker Output: Another exciting feature of the Crush Mini is the Speaker Output (8 Ohms minimum). Hook this up to pretty much any speaker cabinet and get ready for a surprisingly big sound
- Built-In Tuner and Headphone Output: The Crush Mini features a built-in tuner, as well as a headphone output that mutes the speaker for silent practice. You can also play along to your favourite tracks using the Aux In
- Power Source: Powered by a 9V battery (included) or an external 9V DC adapter (centre negative), the Crush Mini switches on automatically when you plug in your guitar
Next on our list is the Danelectro Honeytone N-10 mini amp. This 10-watt amp weighs just 0.95 pounds, and it comes with a headphone jack, leather handle, and belt clip.
During testing, we found that the honeytone produced some impressively clean and overdrive tones, even for a small amp!
This amp can either be powered by a 9-volt battery (included) or a DA-1 adapter.
When we tested this amp, we found the controls incredibly easy to use, too. This amp has just three main controls: volume, tone, and gain. However, we found these controls had a vast scope for tonal quality.
Despite being a small amp, the honeytone can produce an impressive variety of sounds.
Unfortunately, we did find a few issues with the amp. Although this amp works by either batteries or a wall socket, we found that the tonal quality is hit and miss when used with batteries.
If you use high-quality batteries, the performance is better. However, cheaper batteries can cause intermittent interference, and occasionally, the amp can cut out.
However, if you want a lightweight, pocket-sized amp that can still pack a punch, the honeytone is a great choice. Plus, it’s compatible with headphones, which makes it great for both bedroom jams, and more formal practice runs.
- Pocket-Sized: The honeytone amp is so small it can be attached to a belt and carried with you.
- Headphone Jack: This means you can play your instrument out loud or through your own headphones during private practice.
- Tonal Quality Hit and Miss: Unfortunately, the quality of this amp can vary depending on the batteries you use. High-quality batteries produce a cleaner sound, but low-quality batteries may produce more interference.
- Great clean and overdrive tones (Best with Polaroid 9V Batteries)
- Leather handle
- Belt clip
- Headphone jack
- Color: Black
Are you a heavy metal lover? Are you looking for the perfect practice amp to complement your style? Look no further than the Donner guitar headphone amp. This one may be small, but it definitely doesn’t compromise on quality.
The Donner guitar headphone amp comes with a 3.5mm jack, a ¼ “ input jack, and a built-in rechargeable lithium battery. This battery functions for 5 hours after a full charge and can be charged by USB (included with the amp).
When we tested this amp, we found the rechargeable battery very impressive. We didn’t have to worry about carrying around spare batteries in case it ran low, making this amp a versatile and unique contender.
Like most other portable amps, the options on this amp are limited: this amp includes volume, tone, and drive controls. However, these controls have a wide scope for tonal variation, meaning you can still create some powerful and impressive sounds.
The distortion isn’t lacking, and the sound of the harmonic pitches is fantastic.
Unfortunately, we found that the chorus effect isn’t as versatile as other controls during testing. It can be a little too punchy, and there’s little room to control it, which may not suit all players.
- Impressive Tonal Range: Despite limited controls, the amp can produce a remarkable range of sounds.
- Rechargeable Battery: This is convenient and saves money on new batteries.
- Lack of Chorus Control: Unfortunately, we found that the chorus control could be a little too overbearing. There’s a lack of control over this effect, and it may not suit all players.
- 1. Provides excellent experience of guitar playing, sound based on Soldano SLO100*.You can also turn on FX Fuction(Chorus)
- 2. Build-in recharge lithium battery, works for 5 hours after fully charged (USB charge cable included).
- 3. Very small size and you can put it in your pocket when you go out, plug and play.
- 4. 1/4" (3.5mm) Aux Input jack lets you play along with your CD/MP3 player.
- 5. No Risk, 30 Days Unconditional Money Back Guarantee Backed Up By Our Awesome Customer Support, you can rest assured to buy our products.
Now it’s time to take a look at an iconic name: it’s the VOX AP2BS headphone amplifier. This portable amp works with two AAA batteries and comes with a headphone out and aux in.
One important thing to note here is that this is a bass amplifier. This amp is designed to work specifically on bass guitars, so don’t expect the same outstanding quality when using this with an electric guitar or other instruments.
This is because the VOX portable amp is specifically designed for low frequencies. This amp includes three gain modes, nine rhythm patterns, and a foldable mechanism that can rotate 180 degrees.
The nine rhythm patterns include chorus x 3, delay x 3, and reverb x 3. One of these can even be tweaked to mimic a metronome.
This amp also has an auto power-off function, and during testing, we found that this greatly improved the convenience and ease of use of this amp.
During testing, we found the tone of this amp to be clean, rich, and incredibly high quality. This amp really packs a punch for a small portable amp (3.39 x 3.15 x 1.22 inches).
Unfortunately, we found that the volume maxed out with headphones plugged directly into the instrument and was barely loud enough to hear.
If you’re playing without headphones, this amp is certainly loud enough. However, the headphone quality is not as strong as it could be.
- Multiple Controls: This amplifier has an impressive range of controls for a portable amp. This makes the amplifier a versatile option for any musician.
- Auto Power-Off Function: If you’re about to enter a busy practice session, and you need an amp that can think for you, this auto power-off function on this amplifier makes this a convenient, reliable option.
- Questionable Headphone Quality: Unfortunately, when you use this amp with headphones, the volume isn’t as loud as it could be. This will deter some buyers.
- Connections: headphone out, aux in
- Power supply: AAA batteries x 2
- Dimensions: (W x D x H) 3.39 x 3.15 x 1.22” (86 x 80 x 31mm)
- English (Publication Language)
Last but not least, it’s time to take a look at the Fender frontman 10-watt amplifier. With a Fender amp in your arsenal, you’ll know straight off the bat you’re getting a reliable, high-quality product. This is exactly what our testing confirmed.
The Fender frontman may not be as portable as our other practice amps (5.75 x 10.25 x 11 inches), but it’s a compelling addition to any musician’s arsenal.
This amp weighs around 8.5 pounds and features a Fender special design speaker with one channel. This amp has a few more controls than our other practice amps, including gain, overdrive, select switch, volume, treble, and bass.
During testing, we found that these controls could deliver a clear, precise, and diverse range of sounds.
The amp also features a ¼” instrument input, 2-band EQ, ⅛” auxiliary input jack (great for media players or CD’s), and ⅛” headphone output jack so you can practice in silence if you need to.
You’ll have the power to shape high and low frequencies, and you can create thick, overdriven distortion with just the push of a button.
The only issue we found with this amp during testing was the overdrive. Considering this is a Fender amp, we expected a classic rock overdrive sound.
However, the sound was a little weaker and brittle than we expected. However, for practicing and learning, this amp can produce a clean sound that’s compatible with a range of genres.
- Wide Range of Controls: Compared to other practice amps, the Fender amp has a wide range of great controls for both beginners and experienced musicians.
- Large, but still Portable: If you’re not a fan of super-small amps, this one is large enough to feel like a ‘real’ amp but still small enough to carry around during practice sessions.
- Unpredictable Overdrive: The overdrive sound is not what we expected from a Fender amp. It’s not as ‘classic rock’ as Fender traditionally provides. However, it’s still a clean sound suitable for a range of genres.
- 10 Watts
- 1-6" Fender Special Design Speaker
- One Channel
- Controls: Gain, Over-Drive Select Switch, Volume, Treble, Bass
- Other Features: 1/4" Instrument Input, 2-Band EQ, 1/8" Auxiliary Input Jack for Jam-Along with Media Player or CD, 1/8" Headphone Output Jack for Silent Practice, Closed-Back Design for Heavier Bass Response
Now we’ve shown you some of the best practice amps on the market, let’s take a look at all the things you’ll need to consider before investing. Here are the most important things you should know before buying a new practice amp.
Size And Portability
As with any piece of equipment, your first consideration should be size and portability. We’ve included plenty of portable practice amps in our list, but the truth is, you may not need one. Everyone’s practice sessions look different.
If you’re a beginner musician, you may only need to practice in your room or designated practice space.
However, if you’re a more experienced musician, you’re in a band, or you play live gigs, you may need something more portable.
However, whatever your experience, we recommend opting for a mini practice amp rather than a large one. You never know when you might need to change location, and having something lightweight can make your life easier.
Smaller amps can also save on storage space, and in most cases, they’ll give you just as much power and volume as larger models.
Guitar Amp Wattage
Another factor to consider is the wattage of your amp. If you’re wondering why this matters, allow us to break it down for you.
There’s a LOT of misconception around wattage and what one is necessary for your amp. Most professional amps (usually the larger, bulkier type) range anywhere between 30 to 100 watts. Your average practice amp usually comes in at around 10 watts.
Wattage simply means how much power your amplifier is putting out. Wattage is NOT the same as volume. For example, a 30-watt amp is a meager 5 decibels quieter than a 100-watt amp.
If you’re playing live, a 30-watt minimum is a general rule. However, if you’re not playing live often, anything between 10-15 watts should be fine.
A 10-watt amp still packs a definitive punch, with an average sound power of 130 decibels. This is plenty of volume to fill your living space, bedroom, or practice area.
Tone And Effects
Another thing to look out for is tone and effects. The type of amp you buy will depend on the type of music you want to play.
To choose the right amp, you’ll need a basic understanding of the most common amp effects and how these influence your sound. So let’s take a look at the most common ones below.
Reverb is essentially a complex echo. However, the effect is slight, and you shouldn’t expect it to change your tone too drastically.
Instead, the reverb effect can make your guitar tone simulate almost any sized room, for a bouncy, ethereal effect that can complement almost any type of music, including rock and metal, to folk and acoustic.
Distortion is used to alter the sound of any amplified instrument. In simple terms, distortion can be achieved by increasing the gain of your amp or pedal, resulting in a more ‘gritty’ and ‘edgy’ tone. Distortion creates more sustain and audible overtones, and it works well with blues or rock music.
The treble effect on your amp can be used to adjust the high frequencies of your sound. Treble is essentially the opposite of bass, and it can produce tones that are ‘bright’ and ‘sparkly’; turning your treble up will make your tone sound clearer and more detailed, but turning it down will produce a more mellow effect.
One Channel Or Multi-Channel?
If you’ve looked at your list above, you’ll notice that most practice amps or portable amps only have one channel. But what exactly does this mean, and do you need a multi-channel amp instead? So let’s take a look.
A one-channel amp can’t switch to different distortion levels. These amps have just one signal source, and their tone relies more on how you dial your gain and volume knobs or EQ settings. A one-channel amp is ideal if you’re looking for clean or blues-driven tones.
Two-channel or multi-channel amps have different channels to create high-gain distortion, clean, or crunch sounds.
Essentially, you’ll have a little more control over your sound – in most cases, these amps will have dedicated channels to clean tones and other channels devoted to overdrive and distortion.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Use Pedals On A Practice Amp?
Yes, pedals can be used on a practice amp. If you’re using a practice amp with minimal settings, some pedals can make them sound even better.
Can You Practice Without An Amp?
Depending on the instrument, it’s possible to practice without an amp. However, if you want your practice session to involve finding the right tone and mix of effects, using an amp is best.
What Is The Point Of A Practice Amp?
Practice amps are usually small and portable, which means you can take them anywhere and everywhere. This is great if you need to bounce between practice spaces and reduce the weight you’re carrying.
Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or experienced musician, an amp is a must-have piece of equipment.
Your practice sessions are the places where your dreams come to life, and inspiration oozes from each riff or chord, so the right amp is paramount.
Thankfully, there are plenty of practice amps to choose from. Whether you need something portable or minimalistic or larger and more diverse, there’s something for everyone.