WE ROUND UP 11 OF THE BEST MINI AMPS THAT DELIVER A BIG SOUND WHEN YOU NEED IT! HERE’S 11 OF OUR FAVOURITE MICRO AMPS THAT DON'T SUCK
When you haven’t got a lot of room around the house or you need a portable amplifier to practice with on the road or the dressing room, mini amps or micro guitar amps are a great choice. These portable amplifiers provide a huge range of tones at impressive volumes making them a great way to practice riffs, write music and jam with your mates without blowing the windows out! We’ve compiled a selection of mini amps ranging from around £20 which make them great gifts for musicians to around £400 which are aimed at the tone purists and collectors out there who might want to downgrade in size, but not in quality or sound.
Now, we wouldn’t recommend these amps for rehearsal sessions as they’re not likely to keep up with a drummer, but they’ll certainly do the job if you want to mic them up and record with them or just sit at home and jam. So today, we’re going to look at 11 of the best mini amps that money can buy, ranging from the budget-friendly options that make some of the best gifts for guitarists to the pro-level amps that tone snobs will really love.
1. BOSS KATANA-MINI GUITAR AMPLIFIER
First up we have one of the best mini amps to be released in the past 10 years – the BOSS Katana-Mini Guitar Amplifier. This impressive amplifier hails from the Katana series of amplifiers which has taken the guitar world by storm thanks to the impressive tones on offer. This mini amp takes a selection of the best features from the Katana amp series and condenses it into a highly portable amplifier you can take anywhere.
There are three amp models built-in including the Brown, Crunch and Clean sounds, a built-in tape style delay effect with dedicated time and level knobs, independent Gain and Volume knobs as well as an Aux input for jamming along to tracks or just listening to music. You can also run it on 6 x AA batteries and use the headphones in as a recording out complete with cabinet voicing. A tiny amp that will provide hours upon hours of enjoyment and the high quality tone you need.
2. Blackstar ID Core 10 V2 Guitar Amplifier Combo, Black
The selection of Blackstar mini amps such as the ID Core, and Beam are widely regarded as some of the best small, portable practice amps around. The Blackstar ID Core 10 V2 Guitar Amplifier Combo, Black has been expertly crafted to provide the tone snobs out there with a great deal of options, and a great sounding amplifier that you’ll actually enjoy using.
The Blackstar ID Core 10 V2 Guitar Amplifier Combo, Black is a desktop amp with two three-watt speakers that push around some serious air and hit you with that undeniably addictive Blackstar tone! You have 6 channels; Clean Warm, Clean Bright, Crunch, Super Crunch, OD 1 and OD 2, with Gain, Volume and EQ knobs to dial in your perfect tone as well as a built in Modulation, Delay and Reverb effects to add an extra dynamic to your sound.
There’s also the Blackstar SF Control (Infinite Shape Feature) which allows you flick between the classic American high Gain tone and more British orientated tonal option.
The MP3/Line In and Heaphones socket allow you to play music through the amp and jam along to tracks whilst the headphones socket means you can practice in silence. This also makes a great gift for a musician and guitarist as it’s just over £100 – ideal for gifts at Christmas, Birthdays and for yourself too!
3. ORANGE CRUSH MINI 3 WATT GUITAR COMBO AMP
When it comes to mini amps, the Orange Crush Mini 3 Watt Guitar Combo Amp is an industry standard option used by guitarists everywhere who need something to practice on before gigs and even guitar technicians (roadies) tuning up and getting guitars ready backstage. It’s small enough to fit in your backpack or case but packs a huge punch that’ll take you by surprise considering it’s only 3 watts. You’ll have loads of fun riding the Gain control into distortion-heaven as you get that classic Orange crunch at lower volumes and should you want to go louder there’s even an 8 Ohm Speaker Output socket so you can plug in an external speaker and use it in rehearsal! At just over £40, you can’t really go wrong - a small amp that makes a great gift for musicians and one of the best mini amps on the market today.
4. MARSHALL MS-2 MICRO AMP IN BLACK
The Marshall MS-2 Micro Amp is a mini amp with a lot of growl! Somehow Marshall have managed to cram the classic Marshall tone into this tiny amplifier that’s about the size of a piece of bread and make us a small amp that sounds a lot louder than you’d expect. This 1 watt amplifier is a perfect desktop amp that features a Clean channel as well as an Overdrive channel so you have somewhere to go should you need some crunch! A simple Volume and Tone knob makes sculpting your sound easy without any fuss. This is a great little amp that you can use for silent practice too due to the headphone out and power via a 9V battery or 9V power supply. Sounds great for recording too! Expect to see this on many Christmas gifts for musicians lists!
The selection of Laney Mini amps released in 2018 have been expertly crafted to provide the tone snobs out there with a great deal of options, and great sounding practice amps that you’ll actually enjoy using. The Laney Mini-ST-Lion Battery Powered Stereo Amplifier is a desktop amp with two three-watt speakers that push around some serious air and hit you with that undeniably British tone! You have 2 channels, Clean and Drive, with Gain, Level and Tone knobs to dial in your perfect tone as well as a built in Delay effect to add an extra dynamic to your sound.
There’s also the Laney Smart Insert socket which allows you to plug in your Android or iOS device where you can connect the Tonebridge App and generate any one of thousands of available guitar tone presets. Best of all, you get a free 3-month subscription to Ultimate Guitar Pro which opens up a world of different settings. The AUX In and Heaphones Out socket allow you to play music through the amp and jam along to tracks whilst the headphones socket means you can practice in silence. This also makes a great gift for a musician and guitarist as it’s just over £50 – ideal for gifts too!
6. Fender Mini 57 Twin-amp
If you prefer the look of the Fender tweed and twin style amps, this one’s for you! The Fender Mini 57 Twin-amp is a 1-watt amp with two 2” speakers that mimic the look and feel of the Fender Twin amps complete with Volume, Tone and Drive knobs so you can sculpt your sound. This small amp has a massive sound that is instant “Fender”, able to provide crystal clear clean tones and hard and heavy crunch. You can power it via a 9 Volt battery or 9V adaptor and even enjoy silent practice thanks to the quarter-inch headphone jack.
The amp is also built with genuine tweed and a wood enclosure - it's essentially the FenderTwin sound in the palm of your hand.
7. VOX AMPLUG2 AC-30 GUITAR HEADPHONE AMPLIFIER
The VOX AmPlug2 AC-30 Guitar Headphone Amplifier is an essential mini amp for guitarists who need to be able to practice in silence and hone their parts. You can’t hear this without headphones as there’s no speaker, but that’s the whole point – it’s a practice amp! The 180-degree rotating jack makes it easy to plug into any electric guitar or bass and the Reverb, Chorus & Delay Effects built-in make it a great option for sculpting interesting tracks.
There’s really easy to operate Gain, Tone and Volume controls and the Aux in jack even allows you to hook up an external sound source that then plays through the unit whilst you play guitar! This is ideal for jamming over any tracks you have in silence. If you’re a late-night guitarist and you want to be able to play anytime, anywhere, this is fantastic! At around £40, it’s also a great gift and an essential piece of kit.
8. VOX MINI SUPERBEETLE 50W GUITAR AMPLIFIER
If you’re like me and you actually like having your amps displayed around the home, you want them to look good. The Vox Mini Superbeetle 50W Guitar Amplifier not only sounds stunning, but it also looks beautiful too. This limited-edition amplifier has been designed to take us back to the Golden Age of Rock and Roll with its iconic VOX mini-stack design – it also sounds just like it’s been taken off a stage that John, Paul, George and Ringo have just stepped off, too.
The NuTube technology accurately recreates the sound of a vintage AC30 amplifier thanks to the all-new vacuum tube design which offers all the benefits of vintage tube technology but in a much smaller and far more reliable package. It’s like taking a step back in time and picking up an AC30 from the 60s! There’s a built-in tremolo effect, a digital reverb and a separate Gain circuit that allows you to drive the amp into some classic British crunch sounds and really enjoy everything this 50 watt amp can do.
We think this is one of the best mini amps Vox have ever created thanks to the fact the head is entirely portable and the open-backed cabinet equipped with one 10-inch Celestion speaker really pushes some air around. You can hear this thing loud and clear! A beautiful looking and sounding amp that guitar enthusiasts will love to use for practice and rehearsal.
9. BLACKSTAR FLY 3 MINI GUITAR AMPLIFIER
It’s under £50, it’s got two channels a tape delay and the Blackstar patented Infinite Shape feature - the Blackstar FLY 3 Mini Guitar Amplifier makes our best mini amps list with ease. This lunchbox sized amplifier is consistently relied upon by both professional and beginner guitarists alike thanks to it’s lush sound and portability. Straight out of the box you have 3 watts to play with as well as both Clean and Overdrive channels that provide an impressive array of sounds. Combine those sounds with the IFS feature which allows you to go from classic USA sound to more of a British rock tone as well as the built-in tape delay and you’ve got a world of sounds at your disposal.
Not only is this a great practice amp and desktop amplifier thanks to the smaller size and MP3/Line input but its also a great amplifier to record with as you can use the Emulated Line Out which allows you to record direct to your computer or hook straight up to a PA when your big touring rig is out of action! It can be battery or DC powered and you can add the Blackstar FLY 103 3" Extension Speaker Cabinet to turn your FLY 3 into a 6 watt stereo amp! If you’re fan of streaming your music to a speaker through Bluetooth, there’s also the Blackstar Fly 3 Bluetooth Mini amp for those who want to stream music direct to their amp and jam along.
10. ROLAND CUBE-STREET EX BATTERY-POWERED STEREO AMPLIFIER
Now this is slightly bigger than the rest of our mini amps in this blog, but the Roland Cube-Street EX is still entirely portable. So portable in fact, that these amps are consistently relied upon by live street performers all over the world and one of the best amps for buskers thanks to the smaller design and the fact you can power it via 8 x AA batteries for 5-10 hours of clear, concise sound. The wedge design makes it a great option for solo performers as you can hear what you’re playing, whilst the 50 watt sound coming at you through the dual 8” woofers ensure you can hear the subtle nuances of your guitar/line level instrument or microphone.
There are dedicated COSM tones for your electric guitar including Clean, Crunch, and Lead as well as a preamp specifically designed for acoustic guitar and a host of effects including dedicated Reverb, Delay and Chorus effects that you can mix into your guitar signal. A perfect choice for live performers in need of a small amplifier that won’t break the bank or their back! Check out our video below.
11. BOSS KATANA AIR GUITAR AMPLIFIER
Last but not least, we have the Boss Katana Air Guitar Amplifier – a new addition to the world of mini amps and the worlds first completely wireless guitar amplifier. This is about as portable as you can get as the amp can be powered by eight AA-size batteries or AC adaptor that comes with it and the included wireless transmitter that fits into any electric guitar means you never have to take a guitar cable with you anywhere! Just like the rest of the Katana series, you have five unique amp characters to choose from and access to over 50 world-class BOSS effects via the BOSS Tone Studio app.
There’s even six onboard memories to store your favourite amp and effects set ups so you can instantly blast out your favourite riffs and take full advantage of the stereo speaker system and 30 watts of power. An Aux in allows you to connect external sound sources, the Bluetooth technology allows you to stream music through the amp wireless and the headphones/recording out means you can enjoy silent practice and record straight to your computer utilising the amp as an audio interface.
Check out our video below
Check out a full range of mini amps and small amplifiers over at PMT Online, all of which make great gifts for musicians and ideal practice amps for those on the move or with limited space. Or why not call in to your local PMT store today and try one out for yourself!