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Best mini guitar amps: Power meets portability

While they used to be a novelty at best, mini guitar amps have come a long way in recent years. They now offer features like stereo cabinets, on-board digital effects, and some can even be externally routed for use with recording gear, additional cabinets, or mixing consoles.

It’s important to keep in mind that with the small speakers that mini amps have there won’t be a lot of solid low end in the sound. But mini guitar amps provide a lot of value. They’re great for practicing at low volumes, warming up before a show or rehearsal, and in some cases can even be killer for recording or even used live!

Previously, we’ve gone over the best guitar amps under $1,000, but if you’re looking for something even more economical, mini amps are a great start. The term “mini guitar amps” is a little ambiguous, so let’s define the scope here. We’re talking about small, affordable amps that are perfect for fitting into your gig bag, backpack, or guitar case.

Best mini guitar amp overall: Orange Crush Mini

orange crush mini
Best mini guitar amp overall
Orange Crush Mini
Get all of that great British sound everyone loves. With a good amount of gain, an onboard tuner, and auxiliary input this Orange packs a punch.
Pros
8ohm output for connecting to external speaker cab
Aux input for jamming along to tracks
Tuner
Cons
Best for gain sounds, not the best clean tone

Choosing a selection for the “best overall” category can be a challenge. The definition is unique to each player. The reason the Orange Crush Mini made our cut here is due to two factors – it’s versatile and it sounds great. It might not have some next-generation features that some of the other options do, but in keeping with the Orange tradition of making rock-solid amplifiers that bring their timeless British midrange crunch, you can’t go wrong.

It’s got a lot of utility, so it’s great for a pre-show warm up, bedroom woodshedding, or if you’d like to get saucy – playing live via the 8ohm output that can signal an external cab! Like most mini amps it has a three-knob control scheme of gain, shape (EQ), and output volume.

The gain knob is what really helps to define the sound. Pulling it back while pushing volume gives you the familiar Orange crunch, and vice versa can give you high-gain liquid lead sounds. The shape control focuses the midrange going from fat and warm to scooped metal sounds.

Two more cool features are the on-board tuner and aux input for jamming along to your favorite tracks. The headphone output lets you play silently, because this thing can get pretty loud for being only 3W in a 1×4” speaker setup.

Best mini guitar amp for clean sounds: Fender Mini ’57 Twin

fender mini 57 twin amp
Best mini guitar amp for clean sounds
Fender Mini ’57 Twin
If you’re looking for the timeless clean tone of a Fender Twin this is the perfect choice. Dual speakers and a DI output give you options of your signal goes.
Pros
Classic Fender clean sounds
Dual speakers
DI output
Cons
Only 1 watt

The Mini ’57 gives you the classic Fender Tweed looks and glassy clean sounds in a 1W amp with 2×2” speaker configuration. It has built-in distortion, volume, tone, and power controls. It runs on 9V AC power.

Even though the 1W plays out a reasonable volume, there is a ¼” headphone jack for silent use. What’s more, the output can also be used to DI the signal to recording gear or sound console making it possible to use live if you want.

Best mini guitar amp for high gain: EVH 5150III Micro Stack EL34

EVH 5150III Micro Stack
Best mini guitar amp for high gain
EVH 5150III Micro Stack EL34
This mini amp packs all the classic tone of the 5150 into an easily portable amp with a kickstands that helps it project better.
Pros
One of the best mini amps for high gain
Kickstand helps with projection
Cons
Only 1 watt
Might be too high gain for some players

Just like its big, EL34-driven brother, when you play an EVH amp you know what sound you want. This single channel mini amp has simple controls – just gain, volume, and tone. This means you can dial in everything from cleans to face melting drive.

The kickstand lets you tilt it for better projection and the headphone out means you can get as nasty as you want with it without disturbing anyone. Its classic looks makes it a great addition to any space.

Best mini guitar amp for recording: BOSS Katana Compact 7

boss katana mini 7
Best mini guitar amp for recording
BOSS Katana Compact 7
With a preamp designed to respond more like a tube amp than a solid-state, this option from BOSS has three tone settings, tape delay, and cabinet voicing on the output.
Pros
Multi-stage analog gain structure responds more like a tube amp
Onboard tape delay
Output has speaker cabinet voicing
Cons
Some might prefer reverb (not included) over tape delay


You might find yourself in a studio situation where a mini amp might be the perfect tool for the job. The reason that the Katana Compact 7 is for recording is because it is designed to function and respond much like a tube amp.

It has a multi-staged analog gain structure along with a 3-band EQ. It’s also highly portable, which is great if you’re bouncing from session to session. It offers three types of tones – clean, brown, and crunch.

BOSS chose to forego the standard spring reverb for an onboard tape-style delay to add ambience. And the aux input means you can pump your jam tracks through it for playing along. You might find the coolest feature to be the headphone/recording output with cabinet voicing – perfect for going direct. The Katana Compact 7 runs on six AA batteries or AC power.

Best mini guitar amp for overdrive: Marshall MS2

marshall ms-2 mini guitar amp
Best mini guitar amp for overdrive
Marshall MS2
The MS2 gives you clean and overdrive sounds through a single volume control. It can output to a power amp for use with an external cab.
Pros
Clean and overdrive sounds
Can output to external power amp
Cons
Only one EQ control
No gain control

Aesthetically the MS2 looks just like a classic Marshall. Via the input switch you can choose between clean or overdrive sounds. The single-band EQ handles adding in high end, and there is a side headphone output that can also power an external power amp.

There is no way to control the amount of gain other than the overall volume. It’s battery powered with a belt clip for playing on-the-go, great for busking. And at just 1W it’s perfect if volume is a concern but still cranks out plenty of sound to get the job done.

Best mini guitar amp for travel: Vox Mini Go 3

vox mini go
Best mini guitar amp for travel
Vox Mini Go 3
With onboard British and American amp sounds the Mini Go 3 is perfect for travel. And it includes an AC30 emulation!
Pros
AC30 emulation
Can nail British and American sounds
Comes in multiple wattage models
Includes practice patterns
Cons
A little pricey for a mini amp

Each entrance in the Mini Go series offers emulation of Vox’s classic AC30 as well as a number of other British and American sounds. The rhythm function gives you access to 33 patterns for practice.

It operates on battery power and can even be run with a USB battery (with the proper output specs) so you can use it anywhere – even in the car! The Mini Go series comes in 3W, 10W, and 50W models.

Most versatile mini guitar amp: Blackstar ID:Core V3

blackstar id core v3
Most versatile mini guitar amp
Blackstar ID:Core V3
This 10W stereo amp with smartphone integration includes six different voicings and 12 stereo effects.
Pros
10W
Six amp voices
12 stereo effects
Editing software lets you customize sounds
Cons
Smallest wattage version is 10W

The smallest entry in the Core series fits 10W and a lot of features into a small cabinet with 2×3” speaker configuration. There are six unique voices and 12 stereo effects. Blackstar’s Cab Rig software lets you control things like cabinet response and room sound.

It comes with editing software for further control over sound parameters and even has smartphone integration via TRRS. Overall, this option provides some of the most useful features you’ll find in a mini guitar amp.

Best mini guitar amp under $25: Danelectro Honeytone N-10

danelectro honeytone
Best mini guitar amp under $25
Danelectro Honeytone N-10
Keeping in tradition with Danelectro’s retro vibe this affordable mini amp offers a to-the-point, no-frills sound.
Pros
Really affordable
Clean and overdrive sounds
Nice retro look
Cons
Might be too cheap for some

You’re unlikely to find any mini amps at this price point. For how small it is the Honeytone has solid clean and overdrive sounds. It has three controls for overdrive, volume, and tone and can be powered by a 9V battery or wall adapter.

On pace with Danelectro’s throwback aesthetic it comes in three different colors straight out of the 60s. It doesn’t have additional features, but at just over $20 what do you have to lose?

FAQ

What is the best mini guitar amp?

It depends on what you’re looking for, but we have a few top choices. Overall we went with the Orange Crush Mini. It’s got great British tone. The Blackstar id:CORE V3 features multiple voices and stereo effects. Fender’s mini amps have great cleans.

Are micro amps any good?

They are what they are. Some are better than others, but they’re really meant to be a practice tool or something that’s easily portable. Don’t expect thousands of dollars of sound to come out of a 1W amp with a 3″ speaker!

What are mini amps?

Mini amps are small, low wattage solid-state amps meant for practicing mostly. Some have line outs and can power external speaker cabs, but generally they’re a novelty item best meant for being able to plug in to something quickly.

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