The best desktop guitar amps are affordable, compact, and come loaded with features - some don't even have to sit on a desk.
It wasn't too long ago that the humble practice amp was a fairly basic unit only used as a means to keep the volume down. Today desktop amps are jam-packed with studio-quality guitar tones and high-tech features that make practicing the guitar fun!
To say the desktop amp market is crowded is an understatement. Almost every manufacturer has some form of table-top amp, and some even offer mini versions of classic amplifiers. With so many options available, it can be overwhelming. Luckily for you, we've put together this handy guide to the best desktop guitar amps you can buy right now. So sit back and allow us to guide you through the process of choosing your new amp.
- These are the best guitar amps for all budgets
- Best guitar audio interfaces: record your guitar at home
Best desktop guitar amps: Our top picks
It's hard to deny the popularity of the Positive Grid Spark. If you’re looking for an all-singing, all-dancing desktop guitar amp that makes practicing the guitar fun, then this is the amp for you. Perhaps you're not too keen on using mobile apps to control your new amp? Well, in that case, we highly recommend the Yamaha THR30II. This amp not only looks great on any desk or shelf but sounds excellent straight out of the box.
For the player looking for the smallest option available, then look no further than the Laney Lionheart Mini. This nifty little amp comes alive when using the Tonebridge app and sounds fantastic - not to mention it's cheaper than most guitar pedals!
Best desktop guitar amps: Product guide
Unless you've been living under a rock for the last couple of years, you've heard of the Positive Grid Spark. This innovative smart amp took the guitar world by storm and created demand, the likes of which we've never seen before for a desktop practice amp.
On the surface, the Spark is a 40-watt practice amp powered by the highly revered BIAS tone engine - but in reality, it's far more than that. When used in conjunction with the Spark app, the amp transforms into the ultimate practice companion.
Listening to a song and want to jam along? Simply use the 'auto chords' feature to figure out the chords in any song from Spotify, Apple Music, or Youtube. Perhaps you want to jam or write songs? Well, the 'smart jam' feature carefully analyses the notes you're playing and creates a backing track in a style of your choice - how cool is that?! If all of this wasn't enough for you, the app also gives you access to over 10,000 tone presets.
This clever little amp offers incredible value for money and may just change the future of practice amps forever.
Read our full Positive Grid Spark review
The Yamaha THR series doesn't look much like a guitar amplifier, and that's the idea. Styled after home audio equipment, the THR30II can sit anywhere in the home, and the non-guitarists can stream music to it via Bluetooth.
The guitarists, however, are in for a real treat, because this is a serious desktop amp from the pioneers of desktops amps. With convincing onboard modulation, reverb and delay effects, 15 amp tones courtesy of Yamaha’s Virtual Circuitry Modeling, there is a whole lotta tone here. A pair of 1/4" line outputs make it a great option for home recording.
Blackstar’s BEAM (Bass, Electric, Acoustic and Music) is a popular desktop solution. It’s compact, so it’s great where space is limited, and it features the familiar range of Blackstar clean and overdrive sounds, together with studio-quality modulation, delay and reverb effects.
You can stream music via Bluetooth, although you’ll need a USB cable to get into deep editing with Blackstar’s Insider software. What the BEAM lacks in features and models it more than makes up for by being simple, fun and great value for money to boot.
The Katana amps have been a big success story, with Roland adding its digital might to make them a popular choice for guitarists wanting to jump to digital. The Katana-Air’s boast is that it was the first fully wireless amp of its type, bundled with a Boss guitar transmitter.
There are just five amp models, but they’re truly awesome and you can access over 50 Boss effects. Audio streaming and editing via Bluetooth is standard, and the Katana can run on batteries. Power output is a respectable 30 watts (2x 15 watts) when plugged into the mains adaptor.
The Fender Mustang range is synonymous with excellent quality practice solutions for guitar players, and with the release of the Mustang LT25, modeling amps just got simpler. The LT25 takes what we loved about the previous iterations of the Mustang and condenses them into a portable amplifier that fits perfectly on your desk or coffee table.
The simple user interface and 1.8" color display make this an ideal amp for beginners or the guitarist new to amp modeling. This powerhouse of an amp comes fully loaded with 20 amp models, 25 studio-quality effects, and 30 presets, with another 20 banks reserved for user presets. So no matter the sound you’re searching for, you'll find it with the Fender Mustang LT25.
Read our full Fender Mustang LT25 review
The market is awash with mini versions of famous amps. Although the Laney may not be the most recognizable, it may be the best. This petite 3-watt amp delivers a big sound that is more than enough for at-home practice, and the rather attractive navy exterior and blue and beige grill cloth means it looks great as well.
What sets this amp apart from the competition is the Laney Smart Interface socket (LSI). This nifty addition allows you to connect the amp to your smart device and use third-party apps to access new and wonderful sounds. Laney recommends using your new amp with the Tonebridge app, and all Laney mini amps come with a free 3-month full subscription to get you started.
This is a strong player in the desktop amp field, helped by Vox’s partnership with another giant in the digital music field, Korg. It has a powerful 50-watt (2x 25-watt) power output, 17 amp models and up to 19 effects. The Adio can do audio streaming and remote editing via Bluetooth using Vox’s Tone Room app, and it can run on alkaline or rechargeable batteries.
The Adio is also bundled with the popular Jamvox app. There’s no guitar wireless, but you can buy one of several popular transmitter/receiver kits to use with the Adio Air.
As far as portable, battery-powered practice amps go, the Blackstar Fly may be the most popular one out there. This tiny 3W amp not only delivers two channels (clean/ overdrive) but also ‘tape delay’.
Blackstar offers a Fly Stereo pack (or separate FLY 103 extension cab) which turns this mighty little amp into a 6W stereo rig. This sounds great for guitar but even better for music playback or even PC monitors.
The Fly is portable, loud, and best of all extremely affordable!
Not quite a desktop amp but still a potent rival, Marshall’s CODE25 has a cracking remote editing app that really makes the amp come alive. Again, the CODE streams audio via Bluetooth making it a great play-along tool. No stereo here, but a beefy 10-inch loudspeaker makes it more of a ‘proper’ guitar amp, capable of handling the odd small gig with ease.
There are 14 preamp models, four power amps and eight cabs, with 24 effects – you can use up to five simultaneously. Best news is the price: at $340 MSRP, and available at heavy discounts across the web, the CODE25 is amazing value.
Best desktop guitar amps: Buying advice
It may sound obvious, but the most important thing to think about when choosing the right desktop amp is the sound. Unfortunately, not every setting on these multi-channel amps is of equal quality.
Think about the tone you will use 90% of the time and find an amp that can reproduce that. If you're a blues player, you may want to look for an amp with an authentic low gain sound and a nice spring reverb. For us, the Yamaha THR30II does a great job at achieving this sound. If metal is your thing, then make sure the amp you choose has a solid high-gain setting. The Blackstar BEAM, Katana-Air, and Positive Grid Spark handle the high-gain sounds very well in our opinion.
Next, we need to consider effects. Each amp on this list comes with access to multiple guitar effects, from delay to reverb, compression to chorus, and many more. Playing around with effects can get a little confusing - especially for beginners. The Fender Mustang LT25 has a very simplified layout and is very beginner-friendly. If you find yourself wanting to experiment with effects, then look at the amplifiers with integrated apps, as usually, this means you can download extra effects and presets whenever you want to try out new sounds.
Each amp on this list has more than enough power for home practice, although this can vary significantly. Most mini battery-powered amps come in at 3W, and the larger options go up to 40W. So make sure you consider the wattage carefully.