Are you an aspiring guitarist who spends hours honing your skills in your bedroom at home? Maybe you’re just getting started playing modest gigs in local bars and clubs, or you’re a seasoned musician who writes and performs their own material. Either way, you’ll need a good quality amp to make your playing sound great and wow your audience.
Now, you may think that a modest budget simply won’t get you a decent guitar amp. Well, think again!
We’ve tracked down and reviewed 10 of the best small guitar amps that you can buy without breaking the bank.
Table of Contents
Fender Champion 20 – 20-Watt Electric Guitar Amplifier
Fender is an iconic brand that’s synonymous with great sound quality. Their Fender Champion 20 amp has a neat, highly portable design. There’s an impressive selection of dial-in effects for you to play around with, including digital reverbs, vibratone, delay, and chorus. And the EQ section (bass + treble) allows you to shape your tone and sound exactly as you want it.
A handy auxiliary input allows you to plug in your MP3 player so that you can jam along with your favorite tracks – an ideal feature for beginners learning the craft or gigging pros who need to get down new material. The headphone jack automatically mutes the speaker output so you can rock-out to your heart’s content, without annoying the neighbors!
These amps are ultra-reliable, but in case there are problems, Fender have included a lifetime limited warranty with this amp.
Whether you play jazz, rock, or country, this amp offers great value for money without compromising on quality.
- Shape your sound with the EQ section (Bass plus Treble) as well as dial in lush effects such as...
- Jam along with your favorite tracks by simply plugging your MP3 player into the Auxiliary input and...
- With a turn of a knob, choose from clean to mean tones from the 17 various amp models that will to...
Blackstar FLY3 Battery Powered Guitar Amplifier, 3W
The Blackstar FLY 3 packs plenty of punch for a 3 watt mini amp. Two combined channels with tape delay and Blackstar’s unique Infinite Shape Feature (ISF) are incorporated into a compact, easily transportable design.
The ISF allows for infinite sound and tone manipulation, even when you’re playing at very low volume.
The amp includes a built-in MP3 jack so you can connect the FLY 3 to your MP3 player, laptop, tablet, or smartphone and jam along with your favorite tunes. You can also use the amp with head phones for when you want to keep your practicing private.
The FLY 3 can also be run on long-lasting battery power; brilliant if you want to play under the stars in a wilderness where there are no power outlets!
- Refer the user manual below for troubleshooting
- Digital 'tape' delay effect; Patented ISF (Infinite Shape Feature)
- MP3/Line In for jamming along or listening to music
Marshall MG Series 10-Watt Guitar Combo Amp
The legendary Marshall brand has long been associated with great sound and iconic rock artists. And this small amp does not disappoint! Neat and easily portable, the MG series offers dual channels, 10 watts of power, and MP3 input functionality.
I like this amp’s tone, sound quality, and reliability. The only slight negative is that the amp doesn’t include reverb in its selection of features.
- Clean & overdrive channels
- Gain channel contour control
- Custom 6.5 inch speaker
Hotone Nano Legacy Mojo Diamond 5w Class AB Guitar Amplifier Head
The Mojo Diamond is the ultimate in portability and certainly packs a lot of features in to a very small unit!
Inspired by the sound of classic Fender Tweed amplifiers, this amp includes 3-bank EQ, gain and volume controls. There’s an aux-in MP3 jack so you can play along with your favorite artistes, and a headphone output jack for silent practice.
The inbuilt FX loop allows you to connect your favorite pedals and blend them to create your own unique sound. The Mojo diamond can be matched to any 4 to 16 speaker cabinet.
I like this amp for its sound quality (no annoying background hum) and the idea that you could choose your own speaker cabinet for it. One small negative is that the Mojo Diamond doesn’t have reverb.
- Sound inspired by Legendary Fender Tweed*
- 3-Band EQ
- Volume and Gain Controls
Fender Acoustasonic 15 – 15 Watt Acoustic Guitar Amplifier
The go-anywhere Fender Acoustasonic 15 is perfectly portable and compact, yet still delivers the tone and sound quality you’d expect from the brand.
With a built-in mic and lots of other great features, this amp is ideal for the acoustic performer who plays small gigs or gatherings, or the beginner practicing at home. The Acoustasonic 15’s instrument channel includes a chorus effect to give your playing extra ambient shimmer and depth.
The dual front panel has a standard instrument jack and an XLR input for your mic.
My only gripe is that for 6 string acoustics, the amp’s volume comes up a little on the low side. However, it’s perfect for ukuleles and 12 string acoustics.
- 6" Fender Special Design speaker with enhanced high-frequency response
- Two channels (instrument, mic) with individual volume controls
- Chorus effect on instrument channel
Orange Crush 12 – 12W 1×6″ Guitar Combo Amp
The Orange Crush 12 guitar combo amp boasts highly-responsive overdrive and off-the-scale levels of saturation. If you’re a rock guitarist looking for a practice amp, this one delivers – in spades, with wide-ranging tones and old-school “dirty” sound!
The Crush 12 has a headphone/line output feature too, so you can practice in silence (well, at least as far as the neighbors are concerned!). The single channel amp has a 3-band EQ, gain, and volume control.
If you fancy something a little more in-your-face in the looks department, you might want to choose the orange-cased version.
I like the clean sound, even when the amp was cranked up to 11. I also loved the responsive overdrive and spot-on gain control.
On the downside, there’s no tuner on the amp.
- Power: 12W (solid state)
- Single channel
- Speaker: 1x6" Orange Voice of the World
Monoprice 611705 5Watt, 1 x 8 Guitar Combo Tube Amplifier with Celestion Speaker
The Monoprice 611705 offers superior guitar tone in a small, comfortably portable 5-watt package. The amp is actually a tube amp and speaker combo, so you get the best of both worlds with this little guy. There’s a low and high input facility, with the low input attenuating the signal by around 50% and the high input being easy to overdrive.
I had plenty of praise for the rich harmonics produced by the tube amp and for the warm tone that the unit gives.
The main downsides appear to be a few minor quality control issues such as proud screws that hadn’t seated properly during the assembly process. Problems such as this are purely cosmetic and can be easily remedied without having to return the item.
- As the title indicates, this guitar amplifier features a 5-watt tube power amplifier and a Celestion...
- It uses a ECC83/12AX7 preamplification tube and a 6V6GT power tube for the amplifier section, plus a...
- The amplifier handles frequencies between 80Hz and 10kHz, with hum and noise -75dB below the rated...
Peavey Solo 12W Transtube Electric Guitar Amplifier
The Peavey Solo 12W is an understated piece of kit that boasts the legendary reliability of Peavey’s world-renowned brand.
This handy portable amp has all the features you need for home practice and for playing small, intimate gigs. The amp has clean and lead channels, 3-band passive EQ, CD input and direct output, and headphone jack ports.
The low damping factor makes for superb, lively tube power amp sound.
This is a great quality, good value for money practice amp. The distortion side is really impressive and the clean sound is also fine. The only downside (if there is one at all) is that the amp is not bristling with fancy effects. However, it’s perfect for rehearsals, for composing, or as a first amp for a beginner.
Pignose Industries 7-100SS Classic Guitar Combo Amplifier, Snakeskin
The Pignose Legendary 7-100SS is a revamped classic, now sporting a cool new snakeskin effect cover.
This is essentially a very good quality practice amp that would suit a beginner, although it can also be used for playing in quiet coffee shops and the like. The case opens to allow quick access to the amp’s speaker and other innards. There’s also a preamp out-jack so that you can plug the Pignose’s trademark dirty distortion sounds into an external power amp, recording console, or PA.
The Pignose can be powered via the mains or by 6 AA batteries.
I loved the limited edition snakeskin covering, rugged, top-quality build, ease of portability, and superior sound quality.
- New Simulated Snakeskin covering
- Power output: 5 watts
- Speaker: 5"
Why Buy a Small Guitar Amp?
In short, smaller amps have many advantages that their larger counterparts just don’t have.
For a start, a smaller amp is obviously more portable, which is essential for small newbie bands or solo performers playing small venues. And the sound quality from smaller amps is often much better when you’re playing in intimate venues with limited space where the acoustics can be tricky. Even established stadium bands use small amps for rehearsals and studio work so you’ll be in good company!
The first thing to know is that bigger isn’t necessary better when it comes to amps. Consider where you’re likely to be using the amp. If you’re playing at home, or if the gigs you have are all in bijou venues, a big amp won’t be the best choice.
Not only do they take up a lot of space, big amps also don’t work so well at low volume, period. Many guitars sound fantastic at low volume, but crank up the output through a big amp even just a little bit and you find yourself in feedback city with your carefully crafted tone flying out the window and your neighbors hammering on your door!
What to Look for in a Small Guitar Amp
For someone working to a budget, $100 is a lot of money. It’s therefore vital that you make the right choice when investing in a guitar amp. After all, you don’t want to have to buy twice. So, what features should you look for in a small guitar amp?
Aside from being compact, you want your amp to have a decent array of guitar effects to play around with. Although many of the bigger price ticket amps have a mind-boggling selection of effects, chances are that you’ll only use a few of them. So, look for an amp that just has a basic selection of effects and settings that will allow you to experiment.
As you can see from our list above, you absolutely can buy a really good quality guitar amp for under $100, including products from mega-brands such as Fender, Marshall, and Peavey.
Before making a purchase, consider what you what the amp for – home practice or local gigging in small venues. Check out the features offered by each amp and pay heed to the reviews left by players who have already invested in the product.
If you’re ready to step up, see our recommendations for amps under $200.
Last update on 2023-06-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API