It’s about time you had the best equipment to prep for your next gig, right? A practice amp that can get the job done is going to be your best friend along the way. What you need though, is an amp that has all the tools and features that you’re looking for. There are plenty of amps out, after all, so finding the one that’s really going to give you a great experience is hard. You spend hours scouring reviews and stats and then you’re still not sure you’ve got the right one. But I’ve found some of the best ones around.
Fender Champion 20 Electric Guitar Amplifier
With this amp you’re actually going to have several different types of effects that include digital reverb, chorus, delay and vibratome. Each of these are going to make it a whole lot easier for you to get the type of sound that you want and to create a unique match for your next gig.
If you’re looking to play different genres of music you want to have versatility and this amp actually gives you 17 different model options. That means you’re going to have no problem playing just about anything you want.
Peavey Bandit 112 TransTube Amplifier
If you’re looking for an amp that can really pack a punch then this is where you want to be because it has 80 watts. That’s definitely going to get you plenty of volume and plenty of power behind everything that you play.
Though this amp isn’t a true tube option it definitely sounds like one, which is how you’re going to save some money and still get all of the top quality features that you’re looking for. You don’t need to spend the money on a full tube system.
Bugera T50-INFINIUM Amplifier Head
If you want an amp that’s going to look really great sitting up there next to you this is the way to go. It doesn’t look like the basic amps you see all the time because the silver color is definitely made to stand out and attract attention.
This amp is going to get you a lot of sound and power and it’s going to do it with just about any type of music you might want too. You won’t have to worry about which type of songs you want to play or what gig you’re performing.
A practice amp is a lower powered amp that you can connect to your guitar to get ready for that next gig. When you really don’t need something top of the line or with the top features to prep you’re going to want one of these amps that has a little less power. Of course, you can get some that are a bit more intense. It’s all about what you’re planning to do with it and what you’re going to be doing when you get your full amp later on. Don’t underestimate the power and the purpose of a practice amp that will make sure you’re ready to go. Any of these amps are going to help you get that experience and a whole lot more.
Some people may not realize just how important it is to have a separate amp for practice rather than just their full amp for the gig. But that practice amp will help you get ready without wearing out your guitar or your gig amp. You just need to know what you’re looking for in terms of things like watts, size and more.
Choosing Your Amp
If you’re going to be playing gigs with your band or even working as a street performer, you want an amp that can help you produce the right sound. But choosing just what that means and figuring out how to make the right sound is going to take a little more effort, unless you take a look at these top features and questions first.
Combo vs. Guitar Amp Heads
Okay, so, you’re planning on playing some gigs, you need a great amp and you’re not quite sure how to go about it, right? You want to make sure you have the right tool and you may have seen something about combo amps and guitar amp heads. Do you know what those are? Well, they’re two different types of amps that are going to make it a little easier for you to play in different environments.
A combo amp is generally going to have less power. That means you’re going to do well enough playing in smaller areas or if you’re going to practice in your own home where it’s relatively quiet. You don’t want to use these in an area that’s too large because you could end up overwhelmed by all the other sounds and things that are going on. These are all in one systems so you don’t have to worry about buying anything else in order to get started playing, which can make them more convenient for those who are just getting started.
When it comes to guitar amp heads you’re actually getting separate pieces. That means you have to pay for each piece individually, but you’re going to have more power that way. Because everything doesn’t have to be crammed in together you’re definitely going to get more flexibility and you’ll be able to achieve a whole lot more. That’s definitely going to make things easier for you in larger areas or where you might be playing to a bigger (or noisier) audience. That way you’ll still be able to be heard over everything else that’s going on.
Solid State vs. Tube
The next thing you’re going to want to look at with your next amp is what type you want, a solid state or tube. Now, this is going to depend on a few things, namely your personal preference and your budget, but you definitely can get a great experience and a great performance out of either one. It’s all about finding the right specific amp, so take a moment even after you figure out which format you like best to look and compare different types within that category. You might be surprised at what kind of variety and options you have.
A solid state system has what’s called ‘clean power’ at a great price. These amps are generally going to help you save a little money because they use electronics to help amplify your signal. It’s going to give you a little more distortion however, which can affect the way that you think the sound is coming through. You may not actually hear it as being the same volume as a tube amp even if they’re actually the same volume. These amps are more durable and they’re also going to give you a more reliable and consistent sound.
When it comes to a tube amp you’re getting vacuum tubes that provide the sound. These tubes can be a little less reliable and they can be a little more fragile as well. You’re also going to pay a bit more for them, but they’re still going to give you a lot of great features. They’ll sound a bit louder and they’re definitely going to do great when you’re playing in just about any type of venue. These types of amps are generally going to be at their best when you can get a low wattage instead of getting a large wattage that’s too overwhelming.
To make things even more confusing, there’s actually a hybrid amp option as well. These hybrid amps generally have vacuum tubes that are used for the preamp stages of the system. They then have circuits and an electrical system that’s used for the power stage. What you’re going to get is a good amount of response and the levels of tonal warmth that you would expect from a tube amp, though they will be a little less pure than with a true tube amp. You’ll have a little bit of a discount in the pricing of these versus tube amps as well.
Understanding Modeling Amps
And now it gets even more confusing because a modeling amp is sort of like those hybrids, but also sort of different and in its own category. These are going to give you a wide range from something that’s great for practice to something that’s great for that huge gig you just booked. They give you all different kinds of tone and effects and they also give you amazing overdrive and clean rhythm. Basically, anything that you could possibly want your amp to do (and even things you’ve never thought of before) these are the types of amps that are going to get it done.
Choosing the Features That Matter
When it comes down to it there are several different features you need to consider with your amp. These include things like the tone, power, wattage, configuration and a whole lot more. Each of these features is going to help you narrow down the amp that you want from the thousands that are out there somewhere. After all, you really don’t want to spend a whole lot of time scouring around for the perfect amp, right? You just want to get one and get on with the stuff you want to do, playing.
The first part is the tone and that actually comes from the different style of amp that you choose (tube, solid state, hybrid or modeling). The tone is going to help you get the right type of sound and it’s definitely going to give you some overall balance. If you don’t have a good tone you’re definitely not going to have a good sound. You’re going to be all over the place and you likely won’t get booked for another gig. That’s why you have to consider just how each aspect of your amp contributes to the tone.
You want to be able to play to any crowd, right? Well, if you’re typically going to play to a small bar with 100 people in it you’re going to need a different amount of power than if you’re generally going to play for a huge stadium full of 10,000 people. The amount of power you need is going to depend on a range of different features and the way you get the power is going to depend on a few things as well. It’s about things like the wattage, configuration and speaker size.
The watts for your amp are going to depend on the type of amp you get. You might think you want the highest number of watts possible, but that’s actually not the case. An amp with higher wattage can make it difficult to get to the overdrive that you want without completely blowing away the people in your audience. So make sure you’re thinking about that when you pick something out. Plus, look at the solid state versus tube amp features. A tube amp is going to seem louder, even at a lower wattage level.
If you get a combo unit versus a separate system (as I talked about earlier) you’re going to have different power as well. A combo system gives you a bit more flexibility and they’re going to be easier to move around, but if you get separate pieces you’re going to ultimately have more power because the separate pieces are able to be stronger and more powerful on their own. That’s definitely going to make a big difference for you overall, and it’s something to consider when you’re deciding if you want to buy an all-in-one or jump right into the best pieces you can find.
The speakers themselves are going to be the final aspect of your power ratio. If you get a larger speaker you’re generally going to have an easier time with the bass notes. They’re going to sound loud and proud with each of those notes. On the other hand, a smaller speaker is going to give you a whole lot more when it comes to a high frequency. It depends on the type of music you’re going to be playing and the main focus of the notes that you use. With half stacks and full stacks you’re also going to have different amounts of cabinets, which is something to look at.
A half stack means you have 1 cabinet while a full stack means you have 2 or even more cabinets. They can be quite large and they’re definitely going to be heavy, which means you may use these at a gig or for practicing in a professional sound stage but they’re generally not going to be the systems that you use at home. After all, they’re going to take up a whole lot of space if you try to put one in at your home (plus they’re going to blow you away with the volume).
You want to make sure you have at least 2 channels on whatever amp you choose. While more channels is going to give you even more features and allow you to play even more styles, 2 should be the minimum you look for. That’s because the ones you’ll get on base models are clean mode and overdrive. These two things are going to give you the most common forms of sound that you might need, but the more that you can get the better you’re going to be. Still, with these 2 modes make sure you have dedicated equalizers to really up the capabilities.
Input and Output
You should be able to connect your amp to at least a few things while you’re playing. This is going to be important so you can get the right sound. You might want a footswitch, external speakers, different types of pedals, a mixer, a recorder or any number of other pieces. Make sure the amp that you’re looking at has the right type of input and output to help you get that perfect level of sound and the right mix of different effects while you’re at it.
When it comes to effects there are actually different ones based on the type of amp you have. Reverb and chorus are generally popular on a tube amp. Hybrid amps or solid state amps will generally have a range of different effects. If you really want to get the best of the best you want pedals that you can connect to the amp rather than effects built in, but you can still get a lot of versatility out of these amps and you can try out some different things while you’re at it.
Okay, no one really wants to talk about pricing as a reason you can’t get the amp that you want but it’s something you have to look at. You want to make sure you’re getting something that gives you the biggest bang for your buck and you definitely don’t want to break the bank, right? Well, some of the options I’ve found below are going to be in all different price ranges and you should know that just because one amp is a lot more money than another doesn’t mean that it’s not as good or at least comparable.
Choosing an Amp For Practice
Keep in mind the point of this exercise. We’re looking at amps you can practice with, not just an amp that you can take on a gig. That means you’re looking for something a little more versatile and definitely not as high powered. You might be looking to get something a little less expensive. Overall, there are a few features that you can cross off your list or that you can look at a little differently in order to get a practice amp rather than a full one that’s designed for your next big gig.
First, you probably don’t need anything that has more than 10 watts of power. Remember, in order to get to overdrive you need to fully immerse your sound and that is going to be harder with a higher wattage system. You don’t want to blow your eardrums out in your home. Next up, you can generally make it work with a solid state system, which is less expensive and provides you with a good amount of quality at the same time. That’s going to be a good balance and help you be more portable while you’re traveling around too. That’s more convenient for you.
Having a system that’s versatile and lets you play just about any type of music you want is going to be crucial. If you’re just getting started this is even more so because you may not have quite discovered your sound yet. You don’t want to get an amp that ties you down and makes you work with only one type of music when you might decide that you want to switch to something totally different. Although, speaking of being new, you may want some additional features that help you get into the swing of things, like amps that connect to your mp3 player and ones that have rhythm patterns built in to help you out.
1. Fender Champion 20 Electric Guitar Amplifier – Best All Around Choice
|Size||12.75” x 13.75” x 7.5”|
- Headphone output jack mutes speaker output
- 17 amp models for different power tones
- Five year warranty included
Who It’s Best For:
Someone who is looking for their very first practice amp and wants something simple but versatile is going to like this pick. It’s a low powered option that works for any style of music from rock and metal to country and jazz and everything else in between.
The best feature about this amplifier is actually the versatility. It’s designed to work for just about any type of music. That means no matter what type of music you like to play it can help you get the job done. You can also trade it out with others so they can practice, making it a great all around pick.
How Long Is the Power Cord?
The power cord is actually a full 5 feel long, so you’ll be able to get a good amount of distance from it while you practice.
What Happens if the Power Cord Breaks?
The power cord is actually fully removable, so you can take it off whenever you want. Then you can buy a new one to replace it.
What Devices Can I Use This With?
Anything that has a guitar style pickup can use this amp which makes it really versatile and definitely more useful for your needs.
This is a good pick for anyone who needs something small and easy to use but also very versatile for different purposes.
2. Peavey Bandit 112 TransTube Amplifier – Best High Wattage Option
|Size||20.875” x 23.25” x 11.25”|
- Sounds like the real tube amp
- High and low gain inputs
- 3 position EQ switch per channel
Who It’s Best For:
If you’re looking for a tube amp but you don’t want to spend the money on one for practice then you’re definitely the type of person that’s going to want this one. It’s a great option and it provides you with all the features you would expect.
Excellent tone that emulates a real tube amp is definitely going to be the top feature here and it’s going to make it easy for you to see why this is such a popular option. Rather than focusing on any of the other features, this one just concentrates on that quality tone.
What Is This Amp Best At?
This amp is going to be best for a range of different music styles but if you’re into metal then that’s where the sweet spot is.
Can I Use This Amp With Headphones?
There is no headphone jack with this amp, which means you’re going to need external features or you just have to listen externally.
Does This Have Separate Volume Controls for Gain and Clean?
There is only one set of volume controls used here so when you set up the pre-gain control you don’t have to worry about post-gain controls.
Anyone who has been looking for a great layout and a tube amp effect is going to have what they’re looking for here, plus a great piece for metal.
3. Bugera T50-INFINIUM Amplifier Head – Best Versatility Option
|Size||17.9” x 6.2” x 12.7”|
- Hand built guitar head
- Ultimate power amp voicing
- 2 channel preamp design
Who It’s Best For:
If you’re looking for a high quality amp that gets you versatility for all types of music then this is a great option to start with. It can do about anything from metal to blues to clean sounds and punk. You’re not going to miss much here.
The best feature you’re going to have is the power. It’s a strong amp that’s going to really help you push through absolutely anything you might want or need when it comes to playing at practice or even playing on your next gig.
Can I Use This Amp For a Gig?
There’s actually a lot of power built into this amp and it’s great for just about anything, including using it in a real gig.
Does This Amp Play Loud Enough for a Gig?
It’s definitely going to give you the volume you need for smaller space or quieter areas, but you might need more volume for a huge show.
What Kind of Channels Do You Get?
You’re going to have both a clean and a dirty channel here so you can get the right tone and the right type of sound for any music.
If you want to have a versatile amp that looks great and works for just about anything you throw at it then this is going to be a great pick.
4. Mark V 25-Watt Head – Best Low Wattage Option
|Size||8” x 14” x 8.75”|
- 6 style modes
- Highly portable
- Midrange crunch and aggression
Who It’s Best For:
Anyone who wants the hard tones and the crunch that comes with only a select few amps is going to like this one. It gives you plenty of the power that you need but still doesn’t sacrifice the sweet clean sounds you need a little less often.
The top feature you’re going to have here is a built in Cabclone that will give you internal amp load as well as a speaker simulator. You’ll have a speaker-emulated output that sounds a whole lot more like you’d expect (and like what you really want).
How Durable Is This Amp?
This amp is actually extremely durable and designed with a rugged exterior so it will last even with a little less than ideal care.
Can You Use the All-Tube Spring Reverb with Certain Channels?
The all-tube spring reverb is actually designed to be used with any channel and can be used independently in this way.
How Many Style Modes Do You Get?
You’ll have a total of 6 different style modes so you can examine the level of tone and the type of tone that you want.
This is a great choice for anyone who really wants to bump up their game. Whether you’re looking for a clean sound or something with a lot of crunch, you’ll find it here. That’s exactly what this amp is designed to give you.
5. Vox Pathfinder Combo – Best Combo Low Wattage
|Size||17” x 8” x 12”|
- Strong clean/overdrive switch
- Personalize the controls
- Classic look and design
Who It’s Best For:
Anyone who’s looking for the classic look and feel is going to love this amp, but it’s also about the sound that you would expect from this type of amp. The combination is definitely going to appeal to the right buyer for this pick.
When it comes to top features you’re definitely going to like the personal recording and private practice options. It has a filtered line output and a headphone out port that will provide you with these features and make it easier for you to get ready for that gig.
Is There Feedback When the Amp Isn’t Being Used but is Powered On?
There is no feedback and the amp itself won’t give you the buzzing or humming that you might notice with other amps.
What Type of Amp Is This?
This is actually a solid state amp rather than a tube amp, which means you’re going to save a little but still get excellent tone.
Can You Use This With Headphones and the Speaker?
You have to choose between the headphones or the speaker function rather than being able to use it for both at the same time.
With this amp you’re going to have some great features and you’re not going to have to spend a fortune in order to get them. That’s definitely going to make it a good choice for most people who want to get started on new gigs or who are looking for an inexpensive practice pick.
6. Orange Amps Amplifier Part Crush35RT – Best Hard Power Option
|Size||11.8” x 20.5” x 19.1”|
- Fully loaded combo amplifier
- 2 footswitchable channels
- Wide range of tones
Who It’s Best For:
If you’re looking for some really hard hitting tone then this is where you want to be. This amp is able to give you a whole lot of power and some great beats so you’re definitely going to have the match you need for those stronger types of music (like your favorite metal).
The best feature you’re going to have here is definitely going to be the balance of sound. It gives you detailed saturation and the hard hitting tones alongside some really responsive overdrive. All of this together means that you’re definitely going to have a great sound.
Does This Amp Work Well With Pedals?
You’ll get some great sound and great balance no matter what type of music you choose to play or what type of pedals you choose to add to it.
Is the Case For This System Closed?
It is a closed back for the amp so you don’t have to worry about dust and debris or anything else getting into it or the change of your tone.
Is This a Good Amp For Metal Music?
If you’re going to be playing in a gig this might not be quite loud enough for everyone to hear over the rest of the music with your band.
This is a great practice amp for anyone who really wants to hit the notes hard and to get a heavy sound to go along with it. Overall, it’s definitely going to be a great choice for most purposes, though it may not be loud enough for everyone.
7. Marshall Code 50-50 Digital Combo Amp – Best Programmable Option
|Size||17.91” x 10.71” x 17.01”|
- Fully programmable
- 14 MST preamps + 4 MST power amps
- Connects via Bluetooth
Who It’s Best For:
Anyone who wants full control over all of the specs of their amp is going to like this one. It’s completely programmable to fit your needs and it has plenty of different controls and settings. You’ll also have everything you need to make it fit any genre of music.
The best feature about this amp is definitely the fact that you can program it to fit whatever you like. Being able to model the tones you want and getting all of the audio software that you need is definitely going to make it a great choice for anyone who wants control and a great sound.
Is This Amp Good For Acoustic or Electric Guitars?
You can actually use this for both types of guitars with no problem and get some great control over all your features as well as the great tone that you’re looking for.
Does This Amp Work As a Regular Speaker?
It actually does work as a speaker and when you connect your device through the Bluetooth you’re going to have a great sound from that as well.
Can I Use This Amp to Play My Next Gig?
You’ll definitely have enough volume and the right amount of balance to get what your need for a gig as well as for your next practice session.
This is a great pick for anyone who really wants to control what’s going on with their amp and wants to customize the sounds that are coming out of your guitar, for any purpose.
8. Orange Rocker 15-15 Tube Combo – Best Power Scaling Option
|Size||22” x 19.8” x 14”|
- Versatile for all types of music
- Completely tube driven
- Power scaling for any purpose
Who It’s Best For:
If you want a tube amp that works all the way through your amp and gives you the high quality sound then this is definitely the way to go. It’s an inexpensive model that’s going to give you the features you’re looking for at the same time.
When it comes to a top feature for this amp you’re going to love the dynamic control. You can get the power that you want with the scaling feature, which means that you can play it loud and proud for the next gig or you can tone it down a little for practice or for home use.
What Type of Music Can I Play On This?
You can definitely play any kind of music you want here. It’s designed to give you plenty of control over the channels to make sure you get just the right amount and type of tone.
What Options Do I Have for Power Scaling?
The power scaling actually gives you four different settings. You can choose between 0.5, 1, 7 and 15 amps so you get the right balance of sound.
What Type of Guitar is This For?
This amp is definitely designed for an electric guitar and will give you the best possible sound when you connect it that way.
This is definitely going to be a powerful amp that gives you the control you’re looking for no matter what type of music you want to play. All you have to do is figure out what you like best, and what settings you need.
9. Line 6 Spider V 30 Modeling Amplifier – Best Modeling Option
|Size||8.2” x 15.4” x 15”|
- Several watt options
- 3x models of other amps in the class
- 128 custom presets
Who It’s Best For:
Anyone who wants to get a lot of power without having to pay the big bucks is definitely going to love this amp. It’s going to give you plenty of wattage options and it gives you all the presets you could possibly need, without charging you the same way you would for similar options anywhere else.
The best feature here is definitely going to be all the practice tools. You get drum loops, a metronome and a built-in tuner, which means you’ll have no problem getting yourself ready for that next gig. All you have to do is set it up for you and get started jamming out.
Can I Use This Amp With My Acoustic Guitar?
It’s definitely set up to use with an acoustic guitar so you won’t have to worry about how it’s going to sound or even how it’s going to improve your tone.
Can I Set This Up With Bluetooth?
It’s not designed to use with Bluetooth, which means you’re going to need a hardline in for any other device you want to connect to the amp.
Can I Use This As a Speaker?
You actually can connect a device and have it play music directly through the amp, which allows you to play along and practice even easier.
This amp is great for those who want all the presets and all the practice functions that are out there. You’ll be able to get the right balance and a whole lot more.
10. Blackstar FLY3BLUE Bluetooth Mini Amplifier – Best Budget Portable Option
|Size||7.6” x 5.6” x 4.3”|
- Easily portable
- Bluetooth connected
- Emulated line out
Who It’s Best For:
If you want to be able to practice no matter where you go and you want something simple and easy to take with you this is the way to go. It’s a small amp, but it’s still going to give you the basic features that you need to get some quality practice in and make sure you’re ready for anything.
The best feature here is definitely going to be the size. You can take this mini amp wherever you want to go and it’s not going to take up too much space. That’s really great if you’re going to be playing at a gig that’s a distance away or if you’re going to be traveling but still want to practice.
Can This Connect to an Additional Speaker?
You can connect to another speaker so you can get a louder sound and you’ll be able to improve the overall quality of your practice too.
Can You Get Plenty of Tone and Sound Out of This?
It’s a small speaker but it definitely gives you plenty of volume, a lot more than you would expect for the actual size of the thing.
Do You Get Bluetooth Here?
This speaker definitely has Bluetooth, which makes it a whole lot easier and more convenient for you to get the sound you’re looking for and play what you want.
This is going to be a great choice for anyone who wants to take their amp with them on the go and still wants all of the features and basic sound qualities that they would get with a slightly less portable version (read, a little larger).
Overall, you really won’t go wrong with any of these amps. Each one is going to give you the sound that you’re looking for and they’re all going to connect to your guitar in a way that really ramps up the tone and a whole lot more. They each have their own features to go along with it too, so all you need to do is decide which features are the most important to you between things like a wide range of presets, Bluetooth connectivity, speaker functions and much more. Only you can decide which one is going to be your new favorite and which ones you can easily relegate to the background.
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