5 Best Practice Guitar Amps

The best practice guitar amp is the Fender Mustang GTX50 for its versatile tone, workable volume range, and array of extra features.

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A good practice amp can bring your riffs to life whether it’s in the afternoon or at 3 am when everyone in the house is asleep. Practice amps sound good at low volumes. They also provide headphone ports for you to practice without making noise, and some offer extra features like digital modeling or Bluetooth connection for backing tracks.

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While you might own one an instrument from one of the best electric guitar brands, the right amp can take your practice to another level. In this article, I’ll give you five of my top picks for the best practice guitar amps on the market today.

Brogan’s Quick Take

The best guitar amp for practice is subjective and depends on your specific needs and budget. Consider factors like amp portability and budget, and look for affordable options that don’t compromise on sound quality. A compact, lightweight amp will serve you best, allowing you to practice wherever you’re comfortable, whether that’s your bedroom, garage, or a friend’s house. Remember, it’s about honing your skills, not impressing an audience just yet.

5 Best Practice Amps

My top picks for the best practice guitar amps are:
  • Fender Mustang GTX50
  • Blackstar Fly 3
  • Boss Katana-50 MkII
  • Yamaha THR30II
  • Roland CUBE 10GX

And below you can compare my top picks side-by-side:

FeatureFender Mustang GTX50Blackstar Fly 3Boss Katana-50 MkIIYamaha THR30IIRoland CUBE 10GX
Power50 watts3 watts50 watts30 watts10 watts
Speaker(s)One 12″ CelestionOne 3″One 12″Two 3.5″One 8″
Amp Models402 (Clean, Overdrive)5 with 10 variations15 guitar, 3 acoustic, 3 bass3 (Clean, Crunch, Lead)
EffectsDozens (Stompbox/
Delay/Reverb/
Modulation)
Delay5 categories (Booster, Mod, FX, Delay, Reverb)8 (Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, Tremolo, Spring, Hall, Tape Echo, Echo/Reverb)4 (Chorus, Delay, Reverb, Spring)
User Presets200N/A4 Tone SettingsN/AN/A
ConnectivityUSB, XLR, 1/8″ Aux, 1/8″ HeadphoneMP3/Line Input, HeadphoneUSB, Power Amp InUSB, Bluetooth, 1/4″ Line Out, 1/4″ Headphone1/4″ Input, 1/8″ Aux, 1/8″ Headphone/Rec Out
WirelessN/AN/AN/ABuilt-in receiver (transmitter separate)N/A
Battery PowerNoNoNoYes (rechargeable)No
Weight19.5 lbs (8.84 kg)1.98 lbs (0.9 kg)Not specifiedNot specifiedNot specified

1. Fender Mustang GTX50: Most Versatile Combo Amp

The Fender Mustang GTX50 is an excellent choice for a practice guitar amplifier. It delivers impressive sound quality and versatility in a compact package. The Mustang GTX50 packs 50 watts of power into a lightweight, portable cabinet, making it easy to move from room to room or take to rehearsals and gigs.

Key features of the Fender Mustang GTX50 include:

  • 40 amp models and dozens of effects, providing a wide range of tones
  • 200 user presets for storing your favorite sounds
  • 12″ Celestion G12FSD-80 speaker for rich, full-bodied tone
  • Stereo XLR and headphone outputs for silent practice or recording
  • Stereo effects loop for integrating external effects pedals
  • Aux input for playing along with backing tracks or music from your phone or tablet

Pros and Cons of the Fender Mustang GTX50:

ProsCons
Versatile amp modeling and effectsNo footswitch included
Lightweight and portableLimited to one channel
Celestion speaker delivers great toneMay be too powerful for some small spaces
Stereo outputs and effects loopRequires time to learn and dial in sounds
Aux input for playing along with tracks

The Fender Mustang GTX50 is an ideal practice amplifier for guitarists who want a wide range of tones and effects in a compact, portable package. It’s well-suited for home use, rehearsals, and even small gigs. The amp’s versatility makes it a great choice for players of all skill levels, from beginners exploring different sounds to experienced guitarists looking for a reliable practice and recording tool.

2. Blackstar Fly 3: Best Cheap Battery-Powered Guitar Practice Amp

The Blackstar Fly 3 is a fantastic practice guitar amplifier for guitarists seeking portability and great tone in a compact package. Despite its small size, the Fly 3 delivers impressive sound quality and features that make it perfect for practicing at home or on the go.

Key features of the Blackstar Fly 3 include:

  • 3 watts of power in a lightweight, portable design
  • Two channels: clean and overdrive, for versatile tones
  • Patented Infinite Shape Feature (ISF) EQ control for fine-tuning your sound
  • Built-in delay effect for added ambiance and depth
  • MP3/line input for jamming along with your favorite tracks
  • Speaker emulated output for silent practice or recording

Pros and Cons of the Blackstar Fly 3:

ProsCons
Extremely portable and lightweightLimited volume due to 3-watt power rating
Versatile clean and overdrive channelsSmall 3″ speaker may lack bass response
ISF EQ control for dialing in your toneNo built-in reverb effect
Built-in delay effect for added dimension
MP3/line input for playing along with tracks

The Blackstar Fly 3 is an ideal practice amplifier for guitarists who prioritize portability and convenience without sacrificing tone quality. It’s perfect for beginners learning the basics, as well as experienced players looking for a reliable, compact amp for practicing at home or while traveling. The Fly 3’s versatile features, such as the clean and overdrive channels, ISF EQ control, and built-in delay effect, allow players to explore a range of tones and styles in a small, affordable package.

3. Boss Katana-50 MkII: Best Practice Amp for Tone Variety

The Boss Katana-50 MkII offers great versatility, tone, and features. Building upon the success of the original Katana series, the MkII version takes things to the next level, providing guitarists with a wide range of tones and effects in a compact, gig-worthy package.

Key features of the Boss Katana-50 MkII include:

  • Five amp characters with ten variations, offering a diverse palette of tones
  • Five simultaneous effects categories (Booster, Mod, FX, Delay, and Reverb) for crafting your perfect sound
  • Power Control for achieving cranked-amp tones at any volume
  • Power Amp In jack for using the Katana-50 MkII as a powered cabinet with external gear
  • Four Tone Setting memories for storing and recalling custom setups

Pros and Cons of the Boss Katana-50 MkII:

ProsCons
Versatile amp characters and effectsLimited to four Tone Setting memories
Power Control for great tone at any volumeNo built-in looper or drum machine
Integrates with external gear via Power Amp InMay require additional footswitches for hands-free control
Tone Setting memories for recalling custom sounds
Compact and portable design

The Boss Katana-50 MkII is an ideal practice amplifier for guitarists of all skill levels who demand a wide range of high-quality tones and effects. Its versatility makes it perfect for exploring different musical styles, while the Power Control feature allows you to achieve cranked-amp tones at bedroom-friendly volumes.

The Katana-50 MkII is also an excellent choice for gigging musicians looking for a reliable, portable amp that can handle a variety of live performance situations. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, the Boss Katana-50 MkII is a fantastic tool for honing your skills and crafting your signature sound.

4. Yamaha THR30II: Best Wireless Bluetooth Practice Amp

The Yamaha THR30II is a desktop practice guitar amplifier that combines versatility, portability, and impressive sound quality. With its wide range of features and tonal options, the THR30II is a top choice for guitarists looking for a powerful, all-in-one practice solution.

Key features of the Yamaha THR30II include:

  • 30 watts of power delivered through two 3.5″ speakers for rich stereo sound
  • Built-in LINE 6 G10 Wireless receiver for cable-free playing (transmitter sold separately)
  • 15 amp models, 3 acoustic-electric, 3 bass amp, and 3 flat voicings for tonal versatility
  • 8 on-board effects (Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, Tremolo, Spring Reverb, Hall Reverb, Tape Echo, Echo/Reverb) for crafting your perfect sound
  • Stereo 1/4″ line outputs for connecting to larger speakers or a PA system
  • Built-in chromatic tuner, easily accessible from the top of the amplifier
  • Tap Tempo control for real-time delay manipulation
  • AUX input with dedicated volume control for playing along with backing tracks or songs
  • 1/4″ headphone output for silent practice
  • Bluetooth connectivity for streaming audio
  • USB connectivity for using the THR30II as an audio interface for direct computer recording
  • Rechargeable battery for portable use

Pros and Cons of the Yamaha THR30II:

ProsCons
Versatile amp models and effectsWireless transmitter sold separately
Built-in wireless receiver for cable-free playingLimited to 30 watts of power
Rechargeable battery for portabilityNo dedicated footswitch input
USB and Bluetooth connectivity for recording and audio streaming
Stereo speakers and line outputs for expanded sound

The Yamaha THR30II is an ideal practice amplifier for guitarists who demand versatility, portability, and exceptional sound quality. Its wide range of amp models and effects make it perfect for exploring various musical styles and genres, while the built-in wireless receiver and rechargeable battery allow for cable-free, on-the-go playing.

The THR30II is also an excellent choice for home recording enthusiasts, thanks to its USB connectivity and ability to function as an audio interface. Whether you’re a beginner looking for a feature-packed practice amp or a seasoned player seeking a portable, all-in-one solution, the Yamaha THR30II is a top-tier option that delivers on all fronts.

5. Roland CUBE 10GX: Most Rugged Practice Amp

Last on my list of the best practice guitar amps is the Roland CUBE 10GX, a classic compact powerhouse that’s got a lot to offer. This amp is perfect for beginners and experienced guitarists alike who are looking for a reliable, versatile, and affordable practice solution.

Key features of the Roland CUBE 10GX include:

  • 10 watts of power delivered through an 8-inch speaker
  • Three amp types: Clean, Crunch, and Lead, each with its own distinct character
  • Four built-in effects: Chorus, Delay, Reverb, and Spring Reverb, controllable via a dedicated knob
  • Aux input for jamming along with your favorite tracks or backing music
  • Rec Out/Phones jack for silent practice or recording your playing
  • Compact and lightweight design, making it easy to transport or store

Pros and Cons of the Roland CUBE 10GX:

ProsCons
Versatile amp types and built-in effectsLimited power output (10 watts)
Compact and portable designNo built-in tuner
Affordable price pointNo footswitch input for hands-free control
Aux input for playing along with tracks
Rec Out/Phones jack for silent practice and recording

The Roland CUBE 10GX is an ideal practice amplifier for guitarists who value simplicity, portability, and affordability without sacrificing sound quality. Its three amp types and four built-in effects provide a wide range of tonal options, making it suitable for various musical styles and genres.

The CUBE 10GX is perfect for beginners who are just starting their guitar journey, as it offers a user-friendly interface and essential features to help them develop their skills. It’s also an excellent choice for more experienced players who need a reliable, compact amp for practicing at home or on the go. With its combination of versatility, portability, and affordability, the Roland CUBE 10GX is a top contender in the practice amplifier market.

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How Much Does a Practice Amp Cost?

Depending on the brand and features, you’re looking at anywhere from $50 to several hundreds of dollars for a decent amplifier. How much does a practice amp cost? It varies widely. Your best budget depends on what you’re looking for in terms of power rating, speaker size, gain control, output power, power supply, and quality effects.

If you’re new to the scene, you might not want to put too much money down. You might be pleasantly surprised at the availability under $100. These best practice guitar amps don’t skimp on essential features. They have a modest power rating, perfect for home use, with enough gain control to shape your sound.

Budget Practice Amps

For those on a tighter budget, the Vox Pathfinder and the Fender Mustang Micro are worth taking a look at. These amps provide a solid performance without breaking the bank. Also, the Fender Mustang Micro’s USB recording feature makes it a perfect practice tool for those wishing to record and review their sessions.

Higher-End Practice Amps

In the realm of more premium options, the Supro Delta King and the Marshall DSL1CR get rave reviews. The Delta King, a tube combo amp, offers a unique blend of power and finesse plus a vintage design that looks killer. Its watt amp capability, combined with quality HX effects, can create a sonic soundscape that will transport you to the heart of a live concert. The Marshall DSL1CR allows for precise sound shaping, making it an excellent choice for seasoned players.

Remember, the best practice amplifiers are not just about the price; they’re about finding the right fit for your specific needs and preferences. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player, there’s an amp out there that’s perfect for you. So, read the full gear guides, choose wisely, and let the music play.

Understanding the Basics of a Practice Guitar Amp

Amp construction plays a big part in the sound, as well. It’s not just about the look, but how it’s built affects the sound quality. Solid-state amps are durable, with a clear tone, while tube amps offer warm, vintage sounds but require more maintenance. Hybrid amps combine the best of both.

Amps can also be closed- or open-back. Closed-back amps focus the sound and provide a punchier tone toward the direct of the cone. On the other hand, open-back amps can fill a room better and might sound more natural.

Amp placement also has a huge impact on your sound. Positioning it off the floor can reduce bass, while corner placement will amplify it.

Solid State Amps vs Amp Modelers vs Tube Amps for Practice

Guitar amps initially used vacuum tube technology to amplify the signal from the guitar, which is known for its warm, fat and round tone. However, with advancements in technology, solid-state amps were introduced, which used transistors instead of tubes, offering more reliability, less maintenance, and a cleaner tone at a cheaper price. Most recently, digital modeling amps have emerged, which use digital signal processing to emulate the sounds of different classic amplifiers, providing a plethora of tones and effects in a single unit.

Tube Amps

Revered for their rich, warm tone, tube amps use vacuum tubes to amplify the sound. The magic of these amps lies in their harmonic distortion that gives the sound a uniquely musical quality. The louder they get, the more they distort, lending a natural, dynamic response. They’re the classic choice, carrying a sense of nostalgia and authenticity. But, they are delicate, require more maintenance, and are usually more expensive. These amps are also very heavy and loud, so the best tube amp for performance might not be the best for practice.

The choice is a matter of personal preference, shaped by the tones you seek, the music you play, and the volume you need.

Solid State

A solid state amp uses transistors for its preamp and power sections, creating a clean, precise tone. The sound is consistent, regardless of the volume, making it an excellent choice for those who crave control and consistency. It’s a solid – no pun intended – choice for practicing guitar, but does it hold the depth and warmth of tube? Maybe not. That said, practicing in your bedroom might not necessitate tube tone anyway.

Amp Modeling

Now we come to amp modelers, the modern marvels of technology. These amps carry an entire library of sounds within them, mimicking the tones of various classic amps. Want the growl of a vintage Fender or the crunch of a classic Marshall? The amp modeler can deliver. The sheer variety of tones and effects they offer is mind-boggling. But while they provide an impressive range of sounds and tones, some may argue that they lack the organic warmth of other amps.

Can You Use Digital Modeling Software for a Practice Amp?

Another option is to use digital software on your computer (or an app on your phone) for a practice amp. This requires a few components. If you use a computer, you’ll need an audio interface to plug your guitar into your computer. Cheap ones start under $100. Then, you’ll need recording software like Logic or ProTools. Personally, I use Reaper because it’s free.

Lastly, you’ll need digital amp modeling software. You can find many free options that sound OK by searching Google for “free VST guitar amp” or something similar. Of course, a better sound requires some investment of $100 or more. For example, Neural DSP offers some amazing amp plugins that the pros rave about.

Finally, you’ll need some decent headphones or even a set of monitors to complete the setup.

If you want to use your phone, you’ll need to get a mobile interface like an iRig Pro. I have an iRig Pro Duo and I’ve used it to record dual mics on a classical guitar and an amp before. It works great, and you can record to your phone’s video app, voice recordings, or music apps like GarageBand.

How To Find the Best Guitar Amp for Practice

When you’re on the hunt for a new piece of equipment, it’s important to consider specific features to ensure it’ll meet your needs. For a practice guitar amp, amp portability and budget considerations are two must-consider factors.

You’re going to want an amp that’s easy to move around. After all, you’re practicing, not setting up for a stadium gig. A compact, lightweight amp will serve you best. It lets you practice wherever you’re comfortable, whether that’s your bedroom, garage, or a friend’s house.

Budget considerations are equally important. You don’t need to break the bank for a practice amp. Look for affordable options that don’t compromise on sound quality. Remember, it’s about honing your skills, not impressing an audience just yet.

How to Properly Maintain Your Practice Amp

Knowing how to correctly take care of your guitar amp for practice to ensure it lasts long and performs at its best. Amp troubleshooting becomes easier when you’re familiar with your gear. Always check your cables and knobs for any faults. If there’s a buzz, try using a different power outlet.

Amp customization is a great option to enhance the efficiency of your compact amp. By tweaking the settings, you can achieve a huge range of tones and sound quality. You may even consider upgrading certain parts, like the 12ax7 preamp or speaker, to boost performance. However, improper customization can lead to damage. So, it’s always best to refer to your user manual or consult an expert. Remember, a well-maintained amp not only sounds great but also serves as one of the best practice tools for any guitar and bass enthusiast.

My Experience With Practice Guitar Amps

I started playing guitar 20 years ago and began with a cheap electric guitar and practice amp set. It wasn’t exactly the best guitar amp for practice. It did the job for a while until the speaker decided to quit, so I’d recommend spending a little more than the basic entry-level price for an amp.

Here are four key tips to keep in mind:

  1. Know Your Gear: Understand your equipment’s capabilities. Amps vary in their tonal capacity and volume levels.
  2. Pedal Compatibility: Not all pedals work well with every amp or in any place in the signal chain. Research and test to find the best match.
  3. Professional Preferences: Learn from the pros. They’ve honed their craft and know what works best for them. You can look at Rig Rundown videos to see what amps others are using.
  4. Experiment: Don’t be afraid to try different configurations and amp placements. Putting it up on a chair is one quick way to cut the bass if the amp sounds too boomy.

Conclusion: Best Guitar Amp for Practice

In wrapping up, don’t let your practice sessions fall flat. A good amp can electrify your skills, turning them from a quiet hum to a resounding roar.

It’s not just about volume, but the quality of your sound. So, invest wisely in a practice amp, care for it and let it amplify your musical journey.

Guitar Practice Amps: FAQ

Below are a few frequently asked questions about practice guitar amps.

What is a guitar practice amp?

A guitar practice amp is a compact and portable amplifier designed for personal use. They are typically quieter than regular amps, making them ideal for practice sessions at home or in small spaces.

Why would I need a guitar practice amp?

Guitar practice amps are perfect for musicians who want to improve their playing skills without disturbing others. They allow you to listen to your music clearly and make necessary adjustments to your technique.

Can I use a guitar practice amp for performances?

While guitar practice amps are primarily designed for personal use, some models can be used for small performances. However, they might not provide the volume needed for larger venues.

Are guitar practice amps expensive?

The pricing of guitar practice amps varies greatly. It depends on the brand, type, and features of the amp. However, there are many affordable options available that are great for beginners.

Does the size of the guitar practice amp matter?

Yes, the size of the amp does matter. Smaller amps are more portable and convenient for traveling musicians, while larger amps may offer more power and features.

Can I connect my guitar practice amp to my computer?

Some guitar practice amps come with a USB output, allowing you to connect them to a computer. This feature can be useful for recording or using digital effects.

Are there different types of guitar practice amps?

Yes, there are numerous types of guitar practice amps. Some are tube amps, which provide a warm and vintage sound. Others are solid-state amps, known for their reliability and clean sound. Digital modeling amps can mimic the sound of other amps and effects, offering a wide range of tonal possibilities.

Do guitar amps come with cables?

Guitar amps don’t usually come with cables unless you get a package deal from a music store. However, beginner amps that come in a set with a beginner electric guitar do come with cables.

Do guitar amps use a lot of electricity?

Amps use varying amounts of electricity though they usually use a similar amount as an OLED TV.

Further Reading