The 10 Best Mini Guitar Amps (2023)
Mini guitar amps have gained popularity for their portability, convenience, and sound quality without sacrificing performance. They are ideal for gigging musicians, travelers, and quiet practice. Many of these compact amps offer plenty of features to suit different styles and genres.
My main recommended portable guitar amp is Orange Crush Mini Amp, which is a lightweight mini amp with simple controls but with that classic Orange appeal.
For a second option, I recommend the Fender Mini 65 Twin, which is a small version of Fender’s iconic Twin Reverb amps and offers excellent tonal quality.
Mini guitar amps are excellent for really small gigs and practice sessions. Despite their small size, they deliver in terms of sound quality, also making them ideal for impromptu jam sessions or quick recordings on the go.
The Best Mini Guitar Amps (2023) – At a Glance
Let’s move on to the full list:
1. Orange Crush Mini Amp
The Crush Mini Amp’s simple controls make it very easy to use for both new and seasoned guitarists. With simple gain and volume adjustments, you can explore a variety of classic sounds, giving you lots of flexibility and creative options.
- Well-known Orange sound
- Lightweight and portable
- Simple controls
- Built-in tuner and headphone output
- Can be battery or DC adapter powered
- Clean tones may not be optimal
- 9V DC adapter not included
- Lacks controls
I really like the portability and affordable price of this mini amp. Its compact design is perfect for practicing in your room or warming up before a show. The only downside of this mini amp is its lack of controls which makes it harder to set a good clean tone.
Who can argue the aesthetic appeal of the Orange amplifier? Since they stormed the gates, they have been a staple in the music industry and the Crush Mini is no different. Naturally, they are known for their distinct sound quality which is unmatchable.
2. Fender Mini 65 Twin
The Fender Mini ‘65 Twin Amp is perfect for musicians who want control over their sound, with adjustments for gain, volume, and tone. It’s versatile, suitable for practice, and recording, and caters to a range of musical styles and skill levels.
- Compact and portable
- Good for beginners
- Decent sound quality for its size
- A tilt-back kickstand and belt clip
- Dedicated gain, volume, and tone controls
- Rather short battery life
It’s ideal for musicians on the go without losing sound quality. I enjoyed the big sound coming from such a compact amp. With one watt of power and a single channel, it’s a great choice for practice and portable use.
The 1/8-inch headphone output allows you to play without disturbing others. The tilt-back stand and belt clip adds to its portability and improves the experience during live shows and practice, making it a valuable tool for musicians everywhere. Considering the price, it packs a lot of value in such a small package.
3. Yamaha THR5 Amp
The Yamaha THR5 Amp offers a variety of classic tones from its five amp models, which are inspired by historic amplifiers. These models cater to different musical styles, and I am impressed by the great stereo sound and effects it provides for playing.
- Great sound quality even at low volume
- Comes with Cubase AI
- Wide range of built-in effects
- Suitable for various genres and tones
- Lightweight and portable
- Not the cheapest mini amp
- Short battery life when battery-powered
The THR5 comes with Cubase AI and built-in effects, such as chorus, flanger, tremolo, echo, and reverb. I really like being able to adjust the sound to suit my preferences, and the compact size of the amp means I can experiment without lacking any key features.
The THR5 Amp is perfect for musicians who need portable equipment for practicing on the go. It can be plugged into an outlet or run on batteries. The flexibility and convenience of this small but powerful amp make it a serious option that is worth considering.
4. Positive Grid Spark MINI
The Spark MINI is a compact powerhouse that delivers an impressive 10-watt output, producing amazing sound despite its size. Its portability and adaptability make it ideal for musicians on the move or those seeking a subtle yet powerful addition to their equipment.
- Great sound quality for its size
- Versatile with a variety of tones and effects
- Versatile Spark app for tone customization
- Works as a USB audio interface
- Comes with Presonus Studio One
- Can be used as a Bluetooth speaker
- No gain knob
- The headphone volume could be louder
The Spark app comes with 33 amplifiers and 43 effects. Additionally, you can download thousands of tones from the ToneCloud community, or create your own. With the Smart Jam Live feature, you can create custom bass and drum backing tracks suited to your personal playing style.
This versatile mini amplifier allows you to use electric, acoustic, and bass guitars. Although the headphone volume can be improved. Naturally, with all that it offers, it stands on the pricier side of mini amps.
5. Blackstar FLY3
The Infinite Shape Feature (ISF) is one of the highlights of this fantastic mini amplifier. This advanced tool lets you fully control your tone and easily adjust the sound to match your personal taste. I appreciate its excellent sound quality, as it can adapt its character to your unique style instead of settling for a generic amp sound.
- Great sound quality for a small amp
- Good value for money
- Versatile with clean and overdrive channels
- Patented Infinite Shape Feature (ISF) for customizable tone
- MP3/Line In for jamming along with music
- Long battery life
- Limited distortion tones
- AC adapter not included
Additionally, this amp has a two-channel layout with Clean and Overdrive options, making it ideal for musicians seeking versatility. You can easily switch between channels to create the perfect tone. Whether you want a smooth clean sound or powerful overdrive, it has you covered.
It has a long battery life and runs on 6 AA batteries and has an MP3/Line-in port to play along with your favorite music, showing that it may be small but has a lot to offer. However, the AC adaptor is sold separately.
6. Marshall MS2 Amplifier
The Marshall MS2 is a highly portable mini amp designed with Marshall’s classic aesthetic. It can be powered by batteries or an AC adaptor and comes with a headphone jack for silent or on-the-go practice.
- Very portable and lightweight
- Classic Marshall Sound
- Switchable Clean and Overdrive channels
- Headphone jack included
- Inexpensive, good value for money
- Easy to use
- Does not handle low-frequencies too well
- Feels somewhat like a toy rather than a serious practice amp
This portable mini amp has an extremely striking aesthetic appeal. Plus, it has some interesting features despite its compact size. It comes with a clean and overdrive channel. It’s not the loudest or best sounding mini amp considering it’s a 1-watt amplifier but it does the job.
Not to mention, hailing from such a strong and reputable brand name, you get that classic Marshall sound packed in such a small amp. It is incredibly affordable so there is no price debate and it is very straightforward to use.
7. Vox MINIGO3
The Vox MINIGO3 is a 3-watt modeling amp that is a great mix of power and flexibility, perfect for practicing, and small performances. The small size and light weight make it ideal for musicians on the move. Also, its battery-powered design and ability to work with any compatible portable USB battery add extra convenience and portability.
- Good sound quality
- Built-in drum machine
- Build-in tuner
- 11 amp models and 8 effects
- Battery-powered option
- Build quality could be better
What I liked the most was the great sound and the fantastic value for money, thanks to the multi-functional effects panel and drum machine feature. Improved amp models and effects make the MINIGO3 stand out.
A unique vocoder and octave effect further enhance your sound, opening up more creative options. Easy USB connectivity also lets you quickly connect to different devices, making collaboration or recording simple. However, the build quality could be a bit better, in my opinion.
8. Boss Katana Mini
This mini guitar amp is impressive due to its highly portable design. A strong feature is the variety of tonal options it provides. Despite its size, it offers 7 watts of output and a 3-band EQ for customized sound. It comes with a clean, crunch, and brown channel, making it versatile for different styles.
- Portable and lightweight
- Great sound for its size
- Long battery life
- Multiple sound settings
- Simple to use
- Not extremely loud
- Brown setting can be noisy
The built-in tape-style delay adds depth to the sound, making it rich and engaging for both players and listeners. Whether practicing alone or performing live, this feature helps create a unique sound effortlessly.
Considering the overall tonal quality, portability, durability, ease of use, and aesthetic appeal, this mini amp offers great value for money and is suitable for beginner and seasoned players alike.
9. Roland MICRO CUBE GX
The Roland Micro Cube is one of the most popular mini amplifiers on the market. The great sound quality comes from Roland’s powerful COSM technology that provides strong audio and clear output. With eight different amp options and built-in DSP effects, musicians can experiment with various styles and genres.
- Great sound
- Versatile with 8 COSM amp tones and DSP effects
- Memory function for saving settings
- Built-in chromatic tuner
- Long battery life
- A bit tinny-sounding
The Micro Cube GX pays special attention to compatibility and adaptability with its i-CUBE LINK feature. This creative addition allows for easy audio and power connection with Apple devices, perfect for practice, recording, and even live shows.
The main thing about the MICRO CUBE GX is the intuitive controls. You have a gain, volume, and tone knob right next to the Master Volume, and you can choose your Amp Types, Effects, and dial in a preferred Reverb or Delay. Plus, you have an onboard tuner which is always a plus.
10. Fender Frontman 10G Amplifier
The Frontman 10G is an excellent practice amp for both beginners and experienced players. Its user-friendliness is one of the highlights, and the inclusion of a two-band equalizer provides more tone adjustment capabilities than typically found in a compact amp.
- Compact and affordable
- Good quality sound
- Easy-to-use controls
- 10-watt power with 6″ Fender Special Design speaker
- Includes gain, volume, treble, and bass controls; overdrive switch
- Closed-back construction for better sound projection
- Unimpressive gain sound
- Higher feedback than anticipated
You can adjust gain, volume, treble, and bass, and use the overdrive toggle to switch between clean and distorted tones. All this is packed in a very aesthetic package for that classic Fender appeal.
In addition to its decent sound and variety of controls, this amp offers several practical features. It includes an Audio In function, allowing you to practice with your favorite tracks, as well as a headphone jack for silent practice sessions.
1. Types of Mini Guitar Amps
Any small amp can be classified as a mini amp, but there are a few differences between these tiny units.
Tabletop amps are amps that are compact enough to be used on a table, hence the name. Wearable amps are even smaller so they can be carried anywhere and are either powered by batteries or an adaptor. Headphone amps don’t have built-in speakers so you need to use headphones to get sound from it.
2. Size and Portability
One of the key advantages of mini guitar amps is their compact size and portability, allowing musicians to easily carry their gear for practices, gigs, or even impromptu jam sessions. All the mini amps on this list vary in size but are portable enough to travel around with.
3. Volume and Wattage
The output wattage of your mini guitar amp will determine its overall volume. It is something to consider when selecting the right amp for home practice or live performances. Options like the Marshall MS-2 (1 watt) and Vox MINIGO3 (3 watts) provide ample volume for practice sessions, while the Fender Frontman 10G (10 watts) offers extra output for small performances.
4. Tone and Sound Quality
Another crucial aspect is the amp’s tone and sound quality. Ensure that the mini guitar amp you choose is compatible with the music genre you play and offers enough customization for your playing style. Features like the Blackstar Fly 3’s Infinite Shape Feature (ISF) and the Composite Object Sound Modeling (COSM) of Roland’s Micro Cube GX can offer the versatility needed for different styles.
5. Channels and Controls
Multiple channels and controls on mini guitar amps allow for increased customization and a range of tones. Options like the switchable clean and overdrive channels on the Marshall MS-2 or advanced controls on the Roland MICRO CUBE GX accommodate a variety of tastes and preferences.
6. Amp Modeling and Built-in Effects
Features like amp models and built-in effects add versatility and variety to your mini guitar amp. For example, the Positive Grid Spark Mini is loaded with 33 amp models and 43 effects. Conversely, the Orange Crush Mini does not have added amp models and effects. Just a gain knob to add distortion to the clean signal.
Price is another factor in choosing a mini guitar amp, with options ranging from budget-friendly to relatively expensive. Balancing affordability with desired features is key. For a feature-rich, higher-end option, consider the Yamaha THR5, while the Blackstar Fly 3 offers affordability without compromising quality.
8. Trying Before Buying
Finally, no guide to choosing a mini guitar amp would be complete without emphasizing the importance of trying out amps before making a purchase. While online reviews and recommendations can be helpful, nothing compares to the personal experience of trying out an amp in a guitar store. This helps ensure that you’re satisfied with the tone, features, and overall performance of your chosen amp.
1. Can mini guitar amps produce the same sound quality as larger amps?
While technology has allowed them to get closer in sound quality, portable guitar amps may not provide the same quality as larger amps. No mini amp can completely replicate a large tube amp, but many have settings that emulate their sound.
2. How do I choose the right mini guitar amp for my needs?
Consider factors like intended use, tone, portability, and features. If you mainly want to practice on the go, an affordable tabletop amp like the Marshall MS-2 may be best. On the other hand, if you intend to use it for small live performances, you should choose a higher-end mini amp like Positive Grid Spark Mini or the Roland Micro Cube GX.
3. What should I look for in terms of features when buying a mini guitar amp?
Consider features such as EQ controls, amp models, digital effects, a headphone jack, and an auxiliary input.
4. Can mini guitar amps connect to other speakers?
Yes, many mini amps can connect to external speakers, so you can use the amp as a preamp and drive more power to a larger speaker to get a fuller sound. Some have a headphone jack and a line out, allowing you to record your playing or connect to a mixer or PA system.
There are loads of mini amps available on the market today and most major brands offer quality models to choose from. To make the best choice, simply determine your preferences and requirements.
For overall quality and versatility, my main recommended portable guitar amp is the Orange Crush Mini Amp. It doesn’t have many controls and effects but the tonal quality and overall aesthetic appeal are like no other.
As an alternative, consider the Fender Mini 65 Twin which is the small version of Fender’s iconic Twin Reverb amp. It has great sound quality, good aesthetics, and it’s very portable.
Featured Image Credit (Left fender image: “Mini-amplifier and headphones” by dgoomany is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)