If you're looking for a compact solution to practice, the best mini amps for guitar will deliver great sound without costing the earth, or taking up too much space. Perhaps you’re looking for something small to sit at your desk when the inspiration to noodle strikes, or maybe you just want something compact and portable for warm-ups before a show. Whichever it is, we've got a great selection of small guitar amps for you.
Mini guitar amps have come a long way in recent years, going from the sort of thing your aunt would buy you at Christmas, to great amps for home practice in their own right. Thanks to major advances in technology the best small guitar amps no longer fizz like a wasp in a jar but instead offer a character that’s just as good as any full-sized offering. We’ve seen more and more major manufacturers join the micro amplifier gang, so we figured it was time to put all of these amazing amps in one place.
If you’re new to guitar amplifiers, or just want to learn more about mini amps themselves, check out our buying advice section at the end of this article. If you’re ready to pull the trigger on a miniature practice solution, keep scrolling to see our top picks.
Best mini amps for guitar: Guitar World's choice
Coming in at number one for us, it just had to be the Positive Grid Spark Mini. Bagging itself four and a half stars in our review, this 10-watt mini amp sounds a lot louder than you’d expect, with a fantastically intuitive app that features plenty of practice tools and loads of flexibility when dialing in your dream guitar tone. Simply superb.
Coming in a close second, we’ve gone for the Blackstar Fly 3, partly due to its great sound, and partly because it's incredible value for money. The drive channel is fantastic and it’s got a lovely built-in delay too. When you consider the price, you’re getting a lot of amplifier for your hard-earned cash.
Best mini amps for guitar: Product guide
We’ve had one of these amps sitting on our desk for the last few months now, and it really does live up to the hype. The Positive Grid Spark Mini is the perfect practice or writing companion, simple enough to dive into quickly, yet with enough depth to keep you coming back for more.
The sounds are outstanding quality and whether clean or high gain, this amp delivers such an incredibly vibrant and clear tone you’ll forget it’s coming from a tiny cabinet. Thanks to the passive radiator located on the underside, this thing is stupendously loud. Seriously though – turn it up over halfway with a humbucker-equipped guitar and watch the complaints come in from partners and family members.
It’s not just got great sound either, the companion Spark App is truly useful, providing a way to sculpt exacting guitar tones, or just download user-made presets. It also features a tuner and metronome, as well as some incredible practice tools like Smart Jam, which gives you a full band to play with that responds to your playing dynamics.
Read the full Positive Grid Spark Mini review
The Blackstar Fly 3 has been around for a while now, but it’s still one of the best mini amps in the game. Combining ultimate portability with an incredibly loud sound, this battery-powered beast delivers fantastic tone on the go.
It’s got clean and overdrive channels, a built-in digital delay, and Blackstar’s patented ISF feature for tone sculpting. There’s a lot of play in the gain control on both settings, allowing you to dial in a great sound whether you’re a single-coil or humbucker kind of player.
The built-in delay is really usable, and whilst the delay time isn’t as long as what you might get on a bespoke pedal, it adds an excellent sense of space to your tone that’s perfect for practice. It’s also available for bass and acoustic guitar, so has got every type of guitar player covered.
Featuring Boss’ renowned Waza technology, the Boss Katana-Mini delivers searing rock tones in a tiny format. Weighing in at just north of a kilo and able to be powered by batteries, this mini amp is a fantastic way to practice on the go.
It excels at distorted tones and we absolutely loved the ‘brown’ setting on it, which is perfect for classic rock and metal. It’s clear and articulate, with bags of sustain considering the size of the amplifier. The clean tones are perfectly usable, but we found them to be a little boxy compared to some others on this list.
On battery life, it’ll last between 6 and 8 hours depending on the setting but it doesn’t come with a power adapter so we’d recommend getting some rechargeable batteries for it. Considering the cost and the quality of the sound, the Katana-Mini is a hell of a lot of amplifier for your money.
Read the full Boss Katana-Mini review
If you’re looking for a great practice amp to use with your existing pedalboard, or you just want top-tier sound without having to download any apps, then you should definitely check out the Orange Crush Mini.
The clean tone is a little on the quiet side, but dial in some gain and you’ll soon find this mini amp’s full voice. The single EQ knob adjusts the midrange content, giving you everything from super scooped to a lovely, heady guitar tone. Combined with your guitar’s tone and volume controls, you can dial in pretty much any sound you can think of.
It’s got a built-in tuner, an aux-in, and interestingly, an 8ohm speaker out for connecting to a larger cabinet. This makes the Orange Crush Mini a fantastic, no-frills mini amp for practice at home or on the move.
Combining retro styling with phenomenal clean tones, the Laney Mini-ST Lion offers a massive sound thanks to its stereo speaker setup and excellent connectivity options. Considering the cost of this amp, you’re getting a lot for your money.
The clean tones are really quite nice here, giving you excellent clarity and articulation with a variety of playing styles. The onboard delay works excellently to accentuate your licks and riffs, and although the drive channel is a little flabby at higher volumes, it does the job well enough for a practice amp.
To get the utmost out of this amp it really needs to be paired with the Ultimate Guitar ‘ToneBridge’ app, which allows you to instantly dial in famous guitar tones and play along with their respective guitar tabs. You’ll have to pay after the first three months, but for the guitarist who needs a small practice amp, we’d say it’s worth it.
The Yamaha THR5 is the smallest of the Japanese giant’s modeling range of amplifiers. Despite its size, it still provides all the excellent sounds we’ve come to expect from the THR range, matching realistically modeled amps with some excellent effects.
There are five amp sounds on offer here, ranging from pristine and clean to modern high gain. We found the crunch tone to be particularly addictive, delivering a lovely saturated tone that’s not a million miles away from a full-fat tube amplifier. The modern high gain setting is super fun as well, great for lead work and heavy riffs.
One of the best things about the THR series is the quality of the effects, and this is present on this mini amp as well. There’s a real sense of stereo space on some of the delays and reverbs, even though the speakers are only small, the fact that they are full-range makes for an amazing depth of sound.
The Vox Go Mini definitely flies under the radar when it comes to the best small guitar amps. Despite this, it’s really quite good, and definitely worth your consideration if you’re after an amplifier with lots of tone and practice options.
With amp models based on the popular Vox Cambridge series, you get a nice selection of tones from Fender-inspired clean amps right through to Mesa/Boogie style high gain sounds. The sound quality is fantastic considering the size of the speaker, with all the tones providing an excellent platform for practice, no matter what your playing style.
It’s got loads of other great features too, with a built-in rhythm machine to jam along to, a mic input for practicing your vocal lines, and some really high-quality effects. An aux-in and headphone out allow for jamming along to your own tunes or silent practice, rounding out this mini amplifier’s complete feature set.
This two-channel mini amp has been around for a while now but still remains popular thanks to its excellent value for money and two-channel operation. The Marshall MS-2 has that classic Marshall black and gold look, with the benefit of a belt clip for playing on the go.
We love the clean tone on this thing, which stays clean no matter the volume and has a nice variety used in conjunction with the tone knob. There’s a bit of boxiness to the drive channel, which is inevitable considering the size of the cabinet, but we still felt it captured the majority of that Marshall mojo, perfect for hard rock riffing.
It definitely sounds better with the volume cranked and it’s deceptively loud, so if you’re planning on playing while walking around the house with it, be warned you will get noise complaints! Thankfully it also features a headphone jack so you can practice silently.
As far as vintage cool goes, the Danelectro Honeytone has got you covered if you want a small guitar amp that looks great. Combining excellent tone with its retro-inspired design, this amp is perfect for practicing at home and looking great whilst doing it.
The clean tone on this is really nice, sounding very articulate and full. It’s your classic solid-state clean tone, but for a practice amp more than capable of doing the job. The overdrive can be dialed in to taste and gets a little fizzy at higher settings, but it adds nicely to the overall versatility.
It’s not got tonnes of features compared to some others on this list, but you do get a headphone out, and the ability to run it on a 9V battery if you wish. Considering its size it’s very loud too, so you won’t have any problems hearing yourself.
The Fender Mini ‘65 Twin-Amp sees one of the world’s most popular, and most weighty, amps get the miniaturized treatment. Of course, it’s not as excessively loud as its full-size counterpart, but considering it is just one watt, it still packs a hefty punch.
It’s all about the clean tone on this amp, which as you’d expect from Fender is excellent. It’s nice and clear without ever getting shrill and sounds really full for an amp this size. Dialing in the gain offers a tone that’s usable, but it’s not going to blow you away compared to some of the other offerings here.
A headphone out and belt clip round out this amplifier’s features, making it a simple and easy-to-use affair. We will say it looks absolutely amazing though and is sure to win the affection of other guitar players when they spot it on your shelf or desk.
Best mini amps for guitar: Buying advice
What is a mini amp?
A mini amp is just like a regular guitar amp, but smaller. Due to the smaller size, you’ll find they have less overall volume and fewer features as the speakers and cabinet need to be smaller in order for them to fit into your living space. That doesn’t mean you can’t get great sound out of them, many mini guitar amps use technologies like passive radiators to increase the volume, resulting in an amplifier that’s deceptively loud.
What are the benefits of using a mini amp?
Most guitarists turn to small guitar amps when they need something to practice with whilst either saving space, or being easy to transport with them. We use a mini amp on our desk, as it’s super easy to plug in and play when inspiration strikes. Many of the best small guitar amps feature recording outs, which means you can either use it as an audio interface in its own right or plug it into your existing rig. Many mini amps also come with practice apps, which can include backing tracks to play along to, access to more effects or amp sounds, as well as tuners and metronomes.
Rather than having to set up your whole rig each time you want to play, a mini amp lets you quickly plug in and get a great sound. They’re also much lower in volume, so less chance of annoying your neighbors or family trying than cranking your regular 2x12 tube amp. If you find that you do need more volume and have a little more room to play with, take a look at our pick of the best desktop amps.
Are there any mini amps with effects?
Most mini amps come with either a single effect or none. Usually you’ll find digital delay onboard, and sometimes an overdrive switch but as technology has advanced more modern offerings like the Spark Mini, Yamaha THR5, and Vox Mini GO 3 have started to include both amp models and effects. Mini amps with effects are typically more expensive, whereas those without can often come in around or below the $/£50 mark. It all depends on what you need for your practice regimen, so if you don’t use effects with your regular rig, you probably won’t miss them with your practice amp.
Can I use a mini amp for live performances?
Unfortunately, a mini amp isn’t likely to have enough power for a live performance. Most of the small guitar amps on this list come in under 10 watts, which is nowhere near enough to shine onstage. These amps are designed for use at home, and some of them will sound very loud in smaller spaces. Put a mini amp in a proper venue though and it’ll soon get swallowed up by the drums, bass, PA system, and other guitars. If you need an amp on the cheap, have a look at our best budget guitar amps under $500 for some bargain buys that are gig ready.
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