In every guitarist’s life, be they guitar or bass guitar, they will realize they need a practice amp. Plonking around on an unamplified solid body isn’t going to cut it. That is when you need to start looking for the Best Practice Amps.
There are plenty of practice amps are around. Some are good, and some are not so good, as we shall see. Many from the top manufacturers and some others you may not be familiar with offer a variety of different options.
And the vast majority will even have built-in effects so you can create a basic ‘stage sound’ for your practice sessions. Often at volumes that are reasonable to the neighbors. And most at price points that are kind to your wallet.
So strap in, and let’s see what is on offer in the world of the practice amp, as we find the perfect one for your practice needs…
Top 8 Best Practice Amps On The Market In 2021 Review
1 Blackstar Electric Guitar Mini Amplifier, Black (FLY3) – Best Compact Practice Amp
Blackstar is a British company of amp manufacturers that were founded quite recently in 2007. They have a more than an interesting pedigree, as you will find out soon.
Small and battery-powered…
They are known to make amps of all sizes, but compact amps are what they are best known for. The Fly3 amp is one of their smallest but also one of their most popular.
It measures just 7.59 by 5.59 by 4.29 inches, and it is powered by six AA batteries. There is also the option of a mains connection if required. Weighing only two pounds and taking up so little space makes it an ideal practice amp for the bedroom.
There are Clean and Overdrive channels, and it has a three-inch speaker. Controls are located on the top and include the standard basic options. These include Gain, Volume and EQ, and also a Digital delay function.
Working with the EQ is ISF, a tone shaping option. This allows you extra options for editing the tonal color of the amp. It has an output of three watts.
Let’s get connected…
Connections are rather basic, with just a ¼ inch jack socket for the instrument and a line-in for an external device like an MP3. You can therefore play along to your playlists. Additionally, there is a line out if you want to use headphones.
Given that it is only rated at three watts, it is rather a surprise to hear how loud it actually is. It is a well-made little amp with a strong build and is perfect for carrying around with you. The tone-shaping options we mentioned increase its versatility.
Trained by the best…
So what was the interesting pedigree that Blackstar has? They were formed in a garden shed in Northamptonshire, England, where the first designs were created and built.
Those founders knew a thing about amps and what made them great. How do we know that? They used to work together down the road at Marshall. And Marshall does know what makes a great amp.
At an attractive price point, this amp is certainly worth a look.
- Very compact and lightweight with a strong build makes it good to carry around.
- Some nice tonal options at an attractive price.
- Some might want more power.
2 BOSS Katana 30-Watt Guitar Amplifier – Best Wireless Practice Amp
Many guitarists assume that wireless technology in amps was made for the stage. Of course, it is a great asset when used wisely. But we think that it is just as good when it is employed at home.
This is such an amp. The wireless BOSS Katana 30-Watt. Wireless and convenient it is, with plenty of features. But there is something else special about this amp that other practice amps do not offer.
Practice without wires…
The BOSS Katana 30-Watt has a transmitter giving you up to 12 hours of use at a time. Although, this might be a bit of an ambitious claim. It is suitable for connecting to any guitar, and it recharges when it is placed in its docking bay on the amp.
To give you the best battery life possible, and for convenience, it is motion activated. When you pick up your guitar, it turns itself on. The amp takes eight AA batteries though it can also be powered by a mains adapter.
When used with batteries, it will produce 20 watts of power. When used with a mains supply up to 30 watts. Controls are all placed on the top of the unit for convenience.
There is also a headphone out and the input jack socket. When the headphones are in use, it cancels the sound from the speakers. It is a compact size and weighs only five pounds, so is easy to carry with you.
So what is it that sets this apart over some others?
If we were to ask what are Boss most famous for in music, we would all know the answer to that. Guitar effects pedals. Inside this little amp, there are five different simulated amp options and fifty separate Boss effects. Every sound you might need from an extensive catalog is probably included in some form here.
Some are included on the amp, while others are accessed by the app. This also offers sound editing features for all the sounds giving you a wide variety of options. The app operates with both iOS and Android devices.
Versatile but expensive…
It all seems perfect, but there is a downside. We do feel that set at this price point; it is a little expensive for a small practice amp.
- Compact sized wireless amp with a transmitter.
- Packed with Boss sounds and features that can all be edited.
- It isn’t cheap.
3 Line 6 Spider V 240HC MKII – Most Powerful Practice Amp
This is an amp that is full of features. But if you are looking for a practice amp at home, it is a little confusing as a product.
Why do we say that?
It is difficult to see how certain features of this amp are a benefit for home practice. The power rating is an example. This amp is rated at 240 watts!
But how can you use that?
The short answer is, at home, you can’t. Who would ever need a 240-watt amp for practice? Unless you lived on another planet, no one. Also, this amp is just a head, so you are going to need a cabinet. In our opinion, practice amps are better when they are compact units.
So for us, the marketing plus of an amp that powerful for home practice is irrelevant. However, it has got some nice features built-in.
But there is also another downside. More on that when we have looked at the features.
Loaded with sound options…
There are lots of sound options built-in to this amp. For instance, there are seventy-plus different amp voicings, all of which can be adjusted. Plus, there are twenty plus cabinets. Quite a selection to choose from.
Some more features to keep you up all night include more than 100 effects options. Not actual effects, of course, variations on effects. For instance, there is a selection of delay, reverb, chorus, and EQ choices. There are presets so you can tune into sounds that have already been created and stored for your use. Or you can take the basic sounds and tweak them yourself.
Other presets go as far as to give you options depending upon which genre of music you are playing. Basic sounds for that genre will be selected for you.
They have thought of most things with the design. There is a headphone jack socket, which you would expect, of course. That is set up to mute the sound from the speakers. That might be useful.
But it also has a digital tuner, and even a metronome plus some basic drum loops and two XLR sends. These are all good additions, of course.
But, there’s a catch…
That is the price point. This amp is packed with features and good things. And some irrelevant things for home practice. But you still have to get a cabinet. And of course, find somewhere to put it.
It seems to us that this was a good idea that got a little out of control.
- Has some very good sound effects.
- Good options for sound shaping.
- Very expensive as it is just the head.
- 240 watts are not needed for home practice.
4 Orange Crush 20 Twin-Channel 20W Guitar Amplifier – Best Value for Your Money Practice Amp
Moving on now to one of ‘the names’ at the top table of amplifier manufacturers. Since their inception by Cliff Cooper in the 60s, they have always impressed. Even the biggest influence on rock music, Jim Marshall, made his appreciation known.
But what is it about Orange that is special? Stay with us, and you’ll find out.
Not too big, not too small…
This is an amp that must surely go on your list as one of the Best Practice Amps. It has everything going for it. To begin with, it looks the part with its black cabinet and Orange basket weave speaker cloth. It is a combo, so it is all inside and measures 14.67 by 12.8 by 7.75 inches.
Just the right size. Large enough to make an impact, small enough to fit easily in a bedroom. It weighs a substantial fifteen pounds but is still easy to carry around.
The eight-inch speaker pushes out 20 ‘orange’ watts. We say ‘orange’ watts because they are significantly louder than everyone else’s. Just the right power level. Not too much, but not too quiet.
It is a twin-channel amp, one clean and one dirty with a high-gain preamp. On the top are controls for EQ, and there is a headphone socket and aux in. There are separate gain controls for each channel.
The signal path is analog. It would be, wouldn’t it? On the rear panel, a socket for the optional footswitch, which is an extra.
So what is it about Orange that is so special?
They have always been about quality but with significant quantity. But they have never lost sight of what and who they are. Unlike some names, we could mention.
The look is the same; the powerful punch is the same; the tough build is the same. The price point is staggeringly attractive.
So to sum up, we can be brief. It’s Orange. That is all you need to say.
- Great build and look at an excellent price.
- Full of that Orange sound and tone.
5 Marshall Amps Guitar Combo Amplifier – Best Premium Practice Amp
Suddenly another ‘big boy’ arrives at the party. From one legend to another. All we need is HiWatt, and it will be like a reunion of the 60s when London ruled the music world. The manufacturers might have moved to the suburbs, but some would argue they still dominate.
How does this Marshall stack up when it comes to maintaining the legend? You are about to find out.
At home on the stage as well…
This is a 40-watt combo from ‘the boys.’ A power level at the very top end for what you need for a practice amp. Any more is wasted. Having said that, this amp is loud enough for most small rooms. Therefore, you could take your practice sounds straight onto the stage.
This combo with its 12-inch speaker goes a long way to reincarnating those early Marshall sounds. And of course, all the new ones. Especially of note is the emulation of a 60s cabinet.
Easy-to-use and set up…
It has two channels, and each has two modes. Clean and Crunch on one and Overdrive 1 and 2 on the other. The correct volume level for any setting is achieved through low and high power modes, so the neighbors can rest easy.
Built-in is an efficient EQ system and a very good quality reverb and resonance control. These give you a range of tones once you have set up which amp and cabinet you are going to use.
Crisp and clean sounds are mixed with some bone-shattering overdrive and all from the confines of your bedroom. Every Marshall sound you can imagine at your fingertips.
All the controls are located conveniently on the front of this combo. It measures 9.9 by 29 by 19.3 inches and weighs 30 pounds. On the rear is a bypassable effects loop. A nice touch is a 2-way footswitch, which is included.
Is there a catch?
There would have to be a downside to all this, of course. The only issue would be the price point. For a practice amp, this is not a cheap option. But if you are looking for an amp for practice that you can gig with, then it will suffice.
We asked the question: Does it maintain the legend? Of course, it does, but at a price.
- The usual strong Marshall build with plenty of tones.
- Lots of sound options and emulations built-in.
- Only the price, which might be too high for some.
6 Yamaha THR5 Mini Acoustic Guitar Amplifier with Cubase AI Production Software – Best Acoustic Practice Amp
Yamaha’s compact practice amps have been drawing attention for a while now. Measuring 13.23 by 8.31 by 9.65 inches and weighing only 4.5 pounds, they are compact and efficient.
But how best to use this?
For the gigging musician, there are often times when you are ready to go, but you need something. Maybe a chance to warm up, or perhaps remind yourself of a new part. It may even be to practice something new quietly on your own.
If that is what you need, then this could be the practice amp for you. Easy to carry around, and with everything you need, it makes a great little practice partner. And at this price point and what it is capable of, it could be one of the Best Practice Amps on the market.
So exactly what can it do?
Let’s look a bit closer…
It is set up for power being a 10-watt amp with two full-range 8 cm speakers. It has a variety of basic sound settings offering Clean, Lead, and Crunch. But an added bonus is the acoustic option.
There is a guitar in jack socket and aux input as well as a headphone out jack socket. Also, a USB connection.
Some nice effects features are built-in, including Delay and Reverb, Flanger, and Chorus. But also a Phaser and Tremolo. The Reverb includes settings for hall or spring reverb. With the THR editor, there are extra compression and noise gate options.
Yamaha has done with this amp what they do best. And that is to put all the basic requirements in and then added a few extras. There is a tap time facility and an onboard tuner. It also has access to Cubase A1 recording software. You may well be warming up, and a great idea pops into your head. You can save that for later.
It runs off batteries or AC power. It takes eight AA batteries, but they will only give you about an hour of use at any volume. The mains option might be best. The mains adapter is included.
A great little practice partner with plenty of very good features at an attractive price point. Yamaha scores heavily with this one.
- Compact, lightweight, and easy to carry around.
- Plenty of options for creating good sounds.
- Playing time on battery power is rather poor.
7 Yamaha THR10II WL Wireless Desktop Amp – Most Versatile Practice Amp
Another amp from the Yamaha THR range is this version, the THR10II. Similar in many ways to the THR5, it has one or two extra features. Especially concerning connections that give this practice amp alternative use options.
This amp is a little more powerful at 20 watts, and it has two three-inch speakers. So there is a little more volume available if you need it. It only has one channel, but in the case of practical use, that is not so important as we shall see. Built-in are some very good sound creation features.
Multiple presets and sound controls…
It has emulations of three bass amps and 15 tube amps. The built-in controls include a three-band EQ to allow some tone adjustments. There are also some effects included with reverb, echo, flanger, phaser, and chorus.
This amp includes storage for five of the settings you have created. This gives you instant access whenever you need it. It also includes recording software Cubase A1. It can be used either with a mains supply or through the onboard rechargeable batteries. One charge of the batteries should give you about six hours of playing time.
The build is rather different in that it has a metal casing. That gives it a certain strength if you happen to carry it around with you. At 14.49 by 5.5 by 7.2 inches and weighing just eight pounds, it is easy to transport.
So what about the connections…
This is Bluetooth compatible. It allows you to connect to compatible devices and use playlists or stream your music. There is a wireless receiver that is built-in and a headphone output.
It also opens up alternative uses. This is an ideal portable amp for the street performer. A good little amp but very expensive.
- Well-made, compact, and lightweight.
- Plenty of sound options.
- Very expensive.
8 Fender Mustang LT-25 – Digital Guitar Amplifier – Best Budget Practice Amp
If what you’re looking for is a cheap amp with a Fender logo on it, this will probably be of interest. And compared with some of the other quality Fender amps, it is cheap.
Has it got any saving graces? We can think of one, but we will talk about that a bit later.
This is a 25-watt combo with some features that are okay. There is a USB port and a color display panel on the top. Also on top are the controls featuring basic treble and bass controls, Gain and Volume.
It is made of wood, and there are no issues with the quality of the build. There are no distinguishing Fender designs, though, other than the logo. It is certainly not a Fender Champion, let alone a Twin.
An eight-inch speaker puts out the sound. Inside the box are 30 presets, giving you plenty of tonal options and sounds. Those combined with the controls on top of the amp do provide some nice tone creation opportunities.
Missing the Fender style…
Connections include a USB and headphone output, a jack socket for the instrument and a socket got a footswitch.
The design is generally bland, and it is no ‘Tweed’ or ‘Blackface.’ Even the control knobs are done on the cheap. It has some decent features, but basically, this is just a cheap Fender. Not something a company with their reputation should be involved with.
A saving grace?
The only thing we can think of, other than it is cheap is that it would be a good starter amp. For a youngster, it is fine, and it does bear the logo. Controls are decent, and it is easy to use.
We are afraid that is all.
- A cheap option for a starter.
- Some decent sound and tonal creation features.
- Not what you expect from a Fender amp.
Best Practice Amps Buying Guide
Practice makes perfect…
No, it doesn’t. That is a fallacy. Good practice makes perfect. Bad practice makes you worse.
What can help to make it good practice is enthusiasm, and that could come from being able to make a great sound. That is where the practice amp comes in.
What do you need the amp to do?
Do you want it to recreate sounds similar to what you might use on stage? If so, there are plenty of options available. Some with excellent sound shaping features.
Do you want it to be portable? Are you likely to want to carry it around with you? If so, it will need a strong build, be compact, and easy to carry. We have looked at those.
Where will you store it?
If you are going to keep it in your bedroom, then you want something with a small footprint. Amp heads will need cabinets, so that probably rules them out.
Will you need connections to Bluetooth and other devices to use playlists? What about access to recording software? That could be an interesting option for those that write songs.
And as an extra to that, do you think you will ever perform in the street using it? If so, it has to have a tough build, be portable, run off batteries, and give enough volume.
And finally, the budget…
What you have to spend may determine your choices somewhat. But there are some remarkable amps we have looked at that are very cost-effective.
Looking for some more superb amplifier options?
Then take a look at our in-depth reviews of the Best Battery Powered Guitar Amps, the Best Acoustic Guitar Amps, the Best Low Watt Tube Amps, the Best Modeling Amps, and the Best Tube Amps currently on the market.
So, what are the Best Practice Amps?
There are some super amps on that list and some big names. We like the Yamaha THR5 for its facilities, size, and options. Great to warm up before a gig. And on a list that includes Marshall, it is hard to discount them.
But we want an amp with a modest volume, a decent sound base, and a good build with some basic but nice features.
We have therefore chosen to pick the…
Great company, great sound, great looks, and everything we need for some great practice.
Until next time, may your music always make you merry.