Practice amps are an essential tool for any guitarist. There’s a negative connotation attached to the word “practice” that makes some people believe they’re inferior amps. Perhaps they’re poor quality or are for beginners only.
Nothing could be further from the truth! Practice amps are used by guitarists of all levels, up to and including just about every rock star.
Practice amps are great for practicing at home, obviously, but are perfectly capable of gigs at small venues. They’re also superior to bigger amps for recording in some cases – proper mic’ing makes the volume irrelevant.
Not to mention they’re cheap and portable! While a beginner should absolutely start with a practice amp, there’s no reason to avoid one if you’re further along in your journey.
With that in mind, we picked out 12 of the absolute best guitar practice amps so you can jam out in your bedroom, garage, or local bar.
Orange Crush 35 RT
The Orange Crush is a great amp for more than just its name and color. It packs a lot of punch in a relatively small frame and has enough customization to satisfy anyone. Orange as a brand has a corner on the brassy, bluesy sound. The Crush follows the trend with a precise gain distortion that is a joy to hear. It’s a twin channel amp, and each channel has its own volume knob. You can switch between the clean and dirty channels via a switch on the box, or an optional foot pedal.
With a built-in tuner and an effects loop to get your pedals onboard, this amp is perfect for rehearsals as well as solo-jamming. 35 watts should be able to be heard over your drummer, no matter how obnoxious they are.
Vox VX II Modelling Guitar Amp
Yeah, this is a practice amp – but it’s also one of the most faithful recreations of classic Vox sound.
Famous for their amps that rocked the world in the hands of legendary musicians like Paul McCartney, Vox perfected the tube amp. These days, the technology has advanced, and most manufacturers favor solid state amps.
However, there is a tonal difference between tube and solid state. An intangible quality that’s reminiscent of the glory days of rock and roll.
The Vox VX II Modelling amp is as close as you can get to the original without being a tube amp. It can emulate the mythical Vox AC130, as well as a host of other classic sounds, through an easy-to-use interface. It’s an excellent choice for beginners and veterans alike.
Line 6 AMPLIFi 75
It’s an unconventional entry, to be sure, but this Line 6 amp has earned its place on the list by combining exciting tech with solid sounds.
The first thing you’ll notice about AMPLIFi 75 is that it looks like a contemporary Bluetooth speaker. That’s because, well, it is.
It’s not unheard of for amps to be capable of playing MP3 files through a direct connection via audio jack. Some amps connect to your phone with a proprietary app so that you can save and change configurations on the fly.
This amp does all of that, and more. Yes, it does have standard input/output for those of us who just want to plug in the guitar. You don’t have to mess with all the fancy stuff.
At 75 watts distributed between 5 speakers, this is a powerful tool for playing gigs (and hosting them!).
Blackstar FLY 3 Mini Guitar Amplifier
Bringing an acoustic to a bonfire or camping trip is a classic experience. If you’re the kind of metalhead who doesn’t own a single acoustic instrument but still want to bring you guitar, well, this one is for you.
The Blackstar Fly 3 Mini is an incredible amp, frankly. It’s so tiny that it easily fits in any bag. It’s also pretty cheap for a Blackstar product. It can use batteries on a DC adapter to plug in.
The thing that makes it extraordinary, however, is that it doesn’t sacrifice any sound quality to fit in that tiny box. It sounds comparable to other, normally-sized 25-watt practice amps despite only having 3 watts to its name.
And finally, when you realize that no one wants to listen to another Metallica song at this picnic, it doubles as an MP3 player with a line in jack.
Marshall MS-2C Micro Amp
This is a micro amp, so-named for obvious reasons. That stock image is practically life sized!
What’s the deal with micro amps? The main draw is the portability. Electric guitars are usually tethered and generally immobile. Micro Amps like this one run on battery, so you can take your electric anywhere.
It’s quiet, too; make no mistake. It’ll be unusable around other musicians, so jam sessions are out of the question. Honestly, a determined acoustic guitar could drown you out.
It is cheap, though. It’s also Marshall, so you know it’s a good piece of equipment.
Yamaha THR10X Valve Modelling Guitar Amplifier Combo
Yeah, it looks like it came from a military surplus store. To be fair, it does share some characteristics of such items. The Yamaha THR10X is sturdy, loud, old-fashioned, and green.
From the image alone, you can tell that it has many, many tone configuration options. That number of dials is intimidating, frankly. Especially when you discover how hard it is to hear tonal differences over the intense, gritty distortion.
The Yamaha THR series has several models actually. This one, the THR10X is a 10-watt amp mainly used by metal and rock players. The THR10C, on the other hand, is perfect for jazz and blues. Check out the 5-watt versions if you don’t intend to bring it to rehearsals or gigs.
Fender ’57 Custom Champ
Here’s a fun one – the Fender Champ. This tube amp is as almost an identical recreation of the Champ amp Fender produced in the 50s. It even uses original parts - old capacitors, the original 5F1 circuit – to perfectly replicate the original.
This was the amp that propelled the likes of Eric Clapton and Joe Walsh to fame. Yes, they used a 5-watt amp for studio recordings. And why shouldn’t they? Volume isn’t important when you can place microphones strategically.
This replica is so realistic it even uses Fender’s old logo font and real leather for the handle. It’s also so realistic that it has but a single knob – just one for volume. Hope you have a nice set of pedals. The only thing that’s not realistic? The price.
You really can’t go wrong with a Marshall. This one is a two-channel amp with a “Classic Gain” channel and an “Ultra Gain” channel. The former is a charged, driven sort of gain; the latter is more of a toned-down Marshall sound any veteran will recognize.
It has some fun features on top of those normal config options you’d expect. There’s a button that puts some extra “oomph” on your lower end – the Deep Button turns the bass up even more. If you need to dial down the music because the neighbors are complaining, you can drop from 5 watts to 1 watt via a switch on the back.
It features a whopping 10-inch speaker, MP3 player audio port, a headphone line out, and (uniquely) an FX loop. The Marshall DSL5C has some of the lowest tones of any practice amp, but a superb mid and upper range as well.
Roland Micro Cube GX
This micro amp runs off of 6 AA batteries, which is pretty standard for amps of this size. However, it can last for 25 hours of uninterrupted play time – an impressive feat!
That long battery life makes this amp especially suited to practice on the road. Travelling and practicing simultaneously isn’t easy by any means, but the Roland Micro Cube takes a bit of the stress out of it.
It doesn’t have a huge range of tone modification options. That’s okay though, it does have an in-built chromatic tuner. One less thing to bring!
Just as the name implies, this Blackstar is a 1-watt tube amp. Why 1 watt? Why tube? Well, you wouldn’t be asking those questions if this amp was for you. It’s purposefully designed to cater to the crowd who loathes the sound of modern solid-state amps and yearns for the tubes and valves of the old days.
It’s only 1 watt because that’s all you need for a decent home recording studio. It doesn’t have too much in the way of FX options, so you’ll need to be satisfied with the (admittedly excellent) gain or have an extensive pedal board.
Due to the low wattage, it won’t be the best amp for rehearsal (though 1-watt tube is louder than 1-watt solid state). It has a headphone jack for noodling on your guitar solo, just the way you like it.
Boss Katana Mini Amplifier
While no one has ever questioned the quality and integrity of a Boss product, it’s understandable to be hesitant about a new product line. The Katana put those fears to rest.
Boss Katana amps have rapidly built a stellar reputation since their launch in 2016. Every installment is rife with tone configuration options, crystal clear highs and dirty, gritty overdrives. This mini amp comes with three modes: Crunch, Clean, and Brown so you can experience the whole gamut of sound options.
With a 4-inch speaker this amp packs a lot of punch into its small frame.
Marshall MG10CF Practice Amp
We finish up this list with the quintessential practice amp. It ticks all the boxes: small, portable, cheap, versatile.
It doesn’t have lots of useless configuration options you’ll never use. It’s got clean and overdrive channels. It has your standard range of FX knobs. That’s pretty much it. Very practical and very deliberate.
As with any good practice amp, it has a jack for connecting an MP3 player or phone. It also has a headphone jack, so you can practice silently backstage. Ten watts through a 6.5-inch speaker is nothing to sneeze at, either. The MG10CF is one of the best all-around practice amps.
Practice amps are an incredibly useful tool. They can be used for more than simply practicing in your bedroom without bothering neighbors. Most can be used with a headphone for silent practice anywhere. Most have the volume for practicing with your garage band. Some are even feasible for small gigs like bars or coffeeshops.
Considering the low price tag on many practice amps, it’s a worthy investment without much risk.
What is your favorite practice amp? Why? Tell us below in the comments!