The Best Mini Amplifiers for Guitar

By Jodie Chiffey | Amps

Last Updated on

If you’re a guitarist who is not playing on stage, a mini amplifier can be a good choice. Even if you already have the main amplifier, the best mini amplifiers for guitar can work as your additional amplification support for performances that require lower volume or mere doodling around with the guitar. They’re especially a great choice for practice sessions that require ample hard work and clear sound on low volumes.

In our guide to best mini amplifiers for guitar, we’ll cover a variety of topics related to guitar mini amplifiers such as their importance, how to pick the right product, and so on. We’ll also list the best mini amplifiers for guitar on the market currently and review each product in detail. By the end of this guide, you’ll know which mini amplifier would suit your requirement the best.

What makes a great mini amplifier?

A mini amplifier for guitar, also known as a practice amp, comes with several useful features that make it perfect for guitar practice session or performances that demand low volume. These include:

Sound clarity at low volume

The most striking feature of a mini amplifier is excellent sound quality at low volume. While you can use an amp of any wattage during your practice sessions, if you ask any guitar expert, they’ll recommend mini amps will lower wattage. The reason for this is that lower watt mini amps sound much better at lower volumes. Yes, that’s true. You can buy an expensive 100-watt amp, and even use it for your practice sessions, but what’s the use? It will distort the sound quality at low volume, and you’ll have to struggle for sound clarity.

Size and portability

Mini amplifiers, as the name suggests, are smaller in size. They typically come in two size variants:

Compact or micro mini amplifier

These mini amps often resemble children’s toys. Some are so small that they can even fit in your palm. They’re portable and are usually below 10-watts. The minimum wattage a micro mini amp can have is 1-watt.

Bigger or macro mini amps

Macro mini amps are louder than micro mini amps and comparatively bigger in size. They fall in the 10-20 watts range and provide guitarists with great sound quality at lower volumes.

Weight

Since mini amps are smaller in size, they’re lightweight. So, if you’re looking for a guitar amp that’s lightweight and easy to carry around, get a practice amp. Mini amps can be found in a myriad of weights and sizes.

Usage

While mini amps are highly suitable for guitar practice sessions, they also come with some additional benefits that you may not see with bigger amps. They often comprise different amp modeling options which come in handy if you don’t like to use pedals. Many mini amps also come with headphone outputs and other connectivity options.

What are the benefits of a mini amp?

Apart from providing excellent sound quality at low volumes during practice sessions, there are 3 additional benefits of using mini amplifiers. These include:

Recording

Almost all guitar experts use mini amps for studio recordings. If you think Jeff Beck used a huge guitar amp for recording Frankie’s House; you’re absolutely wrong. Guitar gurus such as Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Joe Walsh, etc., prefer mini amps for high-quality studio recordings. The great guitarist Eric Clapton recorded Layla using the 10-watt 57 Super Champ.

Backstage warm-up sessions

Mini amps work brilliantly for pre-show backstage warm-up sessions. Whether you’re practicing in your dressing room or the loo, you can make the most of practice amps to warm-up before the actual performance. A mini amp can provide you with sufficient volume to practice some solos, chord progressions, etc.

On the spot jamming

Micro mini amps (less than 10-watts) come with a huge advantage that’s missing in the case of the bigger amps – they’re battery powered. Therefore, they can help you a great deal during impromptu jamming sessions while you’re traveling or camping with your loved ones.

Things to consider while looking for the best mini amplifiers for guitar

Before we move on to the list of the best mini amplifiers for guitar on the market, let’s look at some important things to consider when purchasing a mini amp.

Portability

The first and one of the most important things to consider is portability of the mini amp. If you want to jam quickly during a bonfire with friends, a mini amp is all you need. Most mini amps are battery-operated and do not come with any wires. You can easily carry them from one room to another.

Amp modeling and built-in effects

If you’re someone who loves digitally-generated tones, don’t forget to check the built-in effects (reverb, chorus, etc.) and amp modeling (present that allow you to pick a predefined amp at the mere turn of a dial). However, if you’re not too fond of digitalized stuff, you can buy an amp devoid of built-in effects and amp modeling.

If you like playing a mix of tunes driven by high-gain and clear tones, you’ll certainly love a mini amp with built-in effects.

Pedals

Are you planning to use pedals? If you have a collection of pedals or plan to buy pedals, you’ll certainly need an amp that supports pedals. Bigger amps work well with pedals since there’s a lot of headroom. Mini amps hardly have any headroom so, it becomes really difficult to use pedals with them. Therefore, if you’re planning to add pedals to your amp, go for bigger amps (50-100 watts).

The best mini amplifiers for guitar – Our top 5 picks

 So, you’ve gone through the list of factors you need to consider before purchasing a mini amp for your guitar. The guitar experts on our panel used the same factors and hundreds of reviews and ratings from existing customers to put together the list of the 5 best mini amplifiers for guitar on the market. Let’s look at them one by one.

Vox Pathfinder Combo

General specifications

Product dimensions

17 x 8 x 12 inches (43.18 x 20.32 x 30.48 cm)

Product weight

11.9 lbs. (5397 g)

Model no.

V9106

Amp type

Solid State

Output

10-watts

Headphone Jack

Yes

Battery Powered

No

Suitable for

Guitarists looking for vintage Vox tones for occasional practice

Rating

4.4 out of 5 stars

Price

$89.99

Vox V9106 Pathfinder Combo Mini Amp is a perfect blend of style and great tones. You’ll be surprised to see the amount of punch and kick provided by the twin-channel Vox microamp. By toggling the Clean/Overdrive button, you can switch from crystal clear sound to a deep distortion tone or from crispy blues to a high-gain tone.

The distinctive Vox look is very appealing, and the classic diamond grille design provides the mini amp with a unique aspect. You can use the headphone jack for late night private practice and the filtered line output for individual recording.

Notable features

  • Great Vox tone and characteristic Vox looks
  • 10-watts output and 6.5-inch speaker
  • Controls – Gain, volume, bass, and treble
  • Headphone/lineout processed output

Pros and cons

Pros

Cons

Mini amp with a vintage look

Not battery powered

Twin channels for clean and crunchy tones

No built-in effects

Value for money

Perfect for private practice sessions and personal recording

Small and lightweight

Provides great sound clarity

Overdrive is enough for jamming

Excellent mini amp for beginners

Roland Micro Cube GX

General specifications

Product dimensions

12 x 9.1 x 12.5 inches (30.48 x 23.11 x 31.75 cm)

Product weight

7.7 lbs. (3492 g)

Model no.

M-CUBE-GX

Amp type

Solid State

Output

3-watt

Headphone Jack

Yes

Battery Powered

Yes

Suitable for

Those who’re looking for a lightweight and portable mini amp with amp modeling and great built-in effects

Rating

4.5 out of 5 stars

Price

$149.52

Roland Micro Cube GX is one of the most sought-after micro amps for guitar on the market. It’s a complete package with a lot of punch. Unlike the Vox Mini Amp listed above, Roland Micro Cube GX is an amp modeler. It comes with 8 COSM amp tones and 8 DSP effects such as reverb, delay, etc.

The mini amp’s build is sturdy, and it’s made of a rugged plastic material that cannot be destroyed or damaged. You’ll also get extra gadgets such as an onboard tuner i-Cube link which allows you to connect the mini amp with your iPad, iPhone, etc.

Notable features

  • Custom-designed speaker
  • 8 COSM amp tones
  • Ultra-heavy Extreme amp tone included
  • 8 DSP effects
  • Heavy Octave effect included
  • i-Cube link to connect the amp with Apple gadgets
  • Memory functionality to save your favorite effects and amp settings
  • Battery powered

Pros and cons

Pros

Cons

Battery powered

A bit expensive

Sturdy build

Some customers have mentioned that the input jack is made of low-quality plastic

Comes with amp modeling and built-in effects

Perfect for private practice sessions

Great sound clarity

Portable and easy to use

Versatile

Can be connected to Apple devices using i-Cube link

Fender Frontman 10G

General specifications

Product dimensions

5.8 x 10.2 x 11 inches (14.7 x 25.9 x 27.94 cm)

Product weight

8.5 lbs. (3855 g)

Model no.

2311000000

Amp type

Solid State

Output

10-watts

Headphone Jack

Yes

Battery Powered

No

Suitable for

Best for beginner electric guitarists

Rating

4.4 out of 5 stars

Price

$59.99

The Frontman 10G is a 10-watt mini amp from Fender. It’s somewhat heavier than Vox and comes with only one channel. So, if you’re looking for a simple and easy-to-use amplifier, the Frontman 10G can be an ideal pick. From explosive tones to intuitive controls, you’ll find everything in Frontman 10G.

The Clean/Overdrive Switch on the front panel allows you to control the thick overdriven distortion. Thanks to the 1/8-inch headphone jack, you can practice whenever you want without disturbing anyone around you.

The vintage look comprising a silver grille cloth, Fender amplifier logo, and skirted amp knobs is something that makes Fender Frontman 10G visually appealing. The only thing lacking in this mini amp is that it is not battery-powered.

Notable features

  • 10-watts mini amp
  • 6-inch Fender speaker with a unique design
  • Single channel
  • Controls – Volume, Bass, Treble, Gain
  • ¼-inch instrument input
  • 2-Band EQ
  • 1/8-inch headphone jack for private practice
  • Covered-back design for better bass response
  • 1/8-inch auxiliary input for jamming using CD or media player

Pros and cons

Pros

Cons

Value for money

Not battery powered

Robust construction

Single channel only

Better bass response

Some customers have mentioned that there is a constant buzzing sound that creates a disturbance while practicing or recording

Selectable gain control

Full-strength distortion with ultra-saturation

Better for silent practicing and individual recording

Blackstar HT-1R

General specifications

Product dimensions

14.9 x 9.5 x 13.9 inches (37.8 x 24.13 x 35.3 cm)

Product weight

13.85 lbs. (6282 g)

Model no.

HT1R

Amp type

Tube

Output

1-watt

Headphone Jack

Yes

Battery Powered

No

Suitable for

Those who’re looking for a compact mini amp with valve amp tones, metal enthusiasts

Rating

4.4 out of 5 stars

Price

$260

If you’re a metal enthusiast, Blackstar HT-1R can be a perfect pick for you. It is a micro tube amp. At 1 watt, it’s indeed an amp with the lowest power on our list. Nevertheless, don’t get fooled by the power; even at 1-watt, it’s pretty powerful for elaborate practice sessions.

Since it is a tube amp, it works well at low volumes. While reading the reviews of existing customers, we came across one review which mentions that you’ll get the breakup and crunch of a 100-watt amp at hardly any volume. Sounds interesting, right?

Some additional features that make it one of the best mini amplifiers for guitar are onboard effects, an aux-in for playing your supporting tracks, an emulated headphone socket, and patented ISF controls.

Notable features

  • 1-watt speaker
  • 8-inch combo amplifier with reverb
  • Controls – Volume, ISF-Tones, Gain, Overdrive Switch
  • Emulated headphone/speaker out
  • Line output

Pros and cons

Pros

Cons

Compact tube amp

A little expensive

Provides excellent sound quality at low volume

Not battery powered

Innovative amp combo

Great for recording and practice

Lightweight

Easy to use

Provide nice and warm tones

Overdrive button allows you to explore a variety of distorted tones

Good build quality

Strap on the top to carry the amp

Bugera V5 Infinium

General specifications

Product dimensions

13.9 x 8.6 x 14 inches (35.3 x 21.8 x 35.5 cm)

Product weight

22.1 lbs. (10024 g)

Model no.

V5INFINIUM

Amp type

Tube

Output

5-watt

Headphone Jack

Yes

Battery Powered

No

Suitable for

Beginners and expert guitarists

Rating

4.6 out of 5 stars

Price

$199

If you’re looking for a mini amp at a reasonable price for short jamming sessions, private practices, and recordings, the Bugera V5 Infinium Mini Amp can be an ideal pick. It comes with a plethora of useful features that you’ll not find with high-end mini amps. The headphone output allows you to practice while your family is asleep or jam in silence.

The built-in power attenuator allows you to reduce the output from 5-watts to 1-watt so you can achieve an overdriven sound at a fairly low volume. What’s even better, you can detach the built-in speaker and connect an external cabinet speaker to convert the mini amp into a head unit.

Overall, the Bugera tube amp is value for money.

Notable features

  • Vintage look and feel
  • British-engineered 8-inch TURBOSOUND speaker
  • State-of-the-art INFINIUM Tube Life Multiplier Technology
  • Hand-built mini amp

Pros and cons

Pros

Cons

Comes with built-in attenuator

Not versatile enough

Value for money

Loose bass

Digital reverb, master volume, and independent gain

Not battery powered

Great for impromptu jam sessions

Speaker sounds like an open-back 8-inch speaker

Jack to unhook the built-in speaker and add an external speaker cabinet

Favors dark bluesy sounds

The tone knob is a useful feature

Ideal for private practice sessions

Final thoughts on the best mini amplifiers for guitar

So, we’ve covered a lot of ground in our guide to the best mini amplifiers for guitar, and your head is probably crowded with options. However, your choice would completely depend on your requirement.

If you’re looking for cool sound, the Vox Pathfinder Combo would be a good option. More of a Fender fan? You can buy Fender Frontman 10G since it’s a budget-friendly mini amp with great performance and ratings. If you’re looking for a super-quiet mini amp, you can try Blackstar HT-1R at just 1-watt. And, if nothing else but value for money is the concern, you can go for Bugera V5 Infinium. All the mini amps listed in this guide are top-rated products.

Nevertheless, if you still insist on one winner out of the lot, we would say that Roland Micro Cube GX is a good all-round option. It’s a compact package with excellent kick and punch. The product can be a good choice for beginners, expert guitarists, metal-lovers, and Apple geeks.

If you’re looking for a surefire way to add enjoyment to your exhausting practice sessions and studio recordings, the best way to add more fun is to buy a mini amp for your guitar. A portable mini amp makes practicing at low volumes a wonderful experience. Mini amp models with at least 5 and 10-watts are best for generating a presentable and realistic guitar tone.

We hope you found the guide helpful. If you are still confused about the best mini amplifier for guitar, give yourself some more time and explore other options too. If there are any other guitar-related products that you would like us to review, please let us know. Our experts are forever ready to help you. Stay tuned for more informative and engaging posts on guitars and guitar-related products.

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