The Essential Guide to Finding the Best Practice Amp + Reviews
Our team did their best to help you find out everything you need to know in order to purchase the best practice amp. We have taken a close look at the market and after careful analysis, we found out that the Fender Champion 20 practice amp is the one you should look for first. It has some unique features, among which is the option to choose between 4 amp “voices”. You can also plug your MP3 into it and start playing alongside your favorite songs. It offers 20 watts of power, and that is more than enough for a practice amp. You can’t always find our first recommendation and if that’s the case, try the Marshall MG15CFX amp.
Our Top Choice
The feature that allows you to choose between 4 amp voices is certainly a highlight and something that makes this model have a unique style. You can plug in an MP3 to it and start playing following the riffs of your favorite song. With the 20 watts of power at your disposal, you will be able to get the volume you need.
The simple effect controls of this amplifier don’t let you have too many combinations and that limits you in terms of creativity.
For an amp of this size, this model offers great value. It has good power and a decent amount of effects.
This is a great choice if you are looking for a compact model to carry around with every occasion. The control layout is intuitive and this will help beginners get accustomed to it faster. Additionally, the effects that it offers are of great quality and you can really feel the difference with them. You can also use a footswitch with it.
Although quite natural, the clean sound is a bit bland and it gives the impression that the guitar isn’t connected.
It is a model that has good all-around capabilities and it offers enough volume and quality needed for its purpose.
What recommends this model, like any other VOX ones, is the vintage look and feel. Due to the 10 watts of power and the quality tone, it’s a good device if you’re looking to practice at home or record. The clean/overdrive switch is a nice addition as it lets you instantly change between the two. The controls are simple to use and efficient.
Having no AUX input, you will not be able to input sound from any device with a normal headphone socket. You cannot thus play over something.
The set of features provided by this amp and the quality of the tone ensure that this is a good choice for practicing.
11 Best Practice Amps (Reviews) in 2020
You will need a good guitar and probably an equally good practice amp to make the most out of your learning process. Speaking about that, maybe you’re also interested in a starter electric guitar, so check our guide on that. And even if you’re not a beginner, you still need enough volume, and a steady and reliable sound coming out of your practice amp. So here are some models that we think are a good choice for anyone.
- 1. Fender Champion 20 Combo
- 2. Marshall MG15CFX MG Series 15-Watt Guitar Combo Amp
- 3. VOX Pathfinder 10 – 10W Guitar Practice Amplifier Combo
- 4. Fender Frontman 10G Guitar Amp
- 5. Line 6 Spider Classic 15 Modeling Amplifier
- 6. Sawtooth ST-AMP-10-KIT Electric Guitar Amp with Pro Series Cable
- 7. Peavey Vypyr VIP 3-100 Watt Amplifier
- 8. Orange Crush 20 Dual Channel Guitar Amplifier
- 9. Roland Cube 10GX Guitar Amplifier
- 10. Fat Boy FBGA15 15 Watt Guitar Amp
- Yearly Guide & Report
- Best practice amp brands
1. Fender Champion 20 Combo
This model offers some unique characteristics. One of them is the voicing and this is a feature that lets you choose between 4 “voices” of the amp. Each of them gives a unique style to the end sound. You can choose the classic Fender sound or you can treat this model as a metal practice amp.
Additionally, you have the option to modify the gain, treble, bass or FX elements; you can add delay or reverb and make your instrument sound just as you want.
The speaker offers the possibility for you to plug some headphones into it and listen to the sounds using that. You can also jam to your favorite songs by plugging an MP3 player to the amp.
The open back cabinet will allow you to store extra cables, picks, whatever you need. Having 20 watts of power, the amp is capable of delivering the sound needed in your bedroom or living room.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($129.99)
2. Marshall MG15CFX MG Series 15-Watt Guitar Combo Amp
Proving that solid state amps are still a good choice, this model from Marshall is compact enough to fit well in every room and it delivers quality sound. It doesn’t come with all the characteristics that more modern models do, but it offers the Marshall tone that you would expect, even in this small format.
The sound that it pumps out is one neutral enough to let you experiment with different pedals and different music styles. Similar to the more powerful models, this one includes the knobs needed for distortion or overdrive.
Of course, the device lets you select the gain, modify the treble and the bass and decide how much reverb and FX you want in your sound.
You can plug your MP3 into it and play over prerecorded music. The feature that lets you choose between 4 programmable channels offers you enough versatility.
Buy from Amazon.com
3. VOX Pathfinder 10 – 10W Guitar Practice Amplifier Combo
Because this small amp packs a whopping 10 watts of power, you might say that it’s not so impressive. But the power is not the aspect that characterizes this little amp, but rather how good the produced sounds are. It’s a good choice if you want to practice at home, warm-up before a show and even record something.
The VOX practice amp has a switch that lets you choose between clean or overdrive so you can make that transition instantly. You can also adjust the tone from a clean one suitable for blues to one that has more reverb and it’s good for modern rock.
The 10 watts of power is delivered with a vintage tone, specific to the brand. In terms of controls, things are simple and they let you change the volume, treble or bass settings. Processing the output is a job that can be done through line or headphones. You can thus plug in your studio headphones for mixing and see how the raw product sounds.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($89.99)
4. Fender Frontman 10G Guitar Amp
This Fender practice amp benefits from a lot of features that make it a suitable choice for anyone. It has all the controls needed, the output is good enough and the tone is a quality one. Due to the 10 watts of power, you won’t be able to use it in gigs, but it’s a good choice for your home, where you practice alone.
Designed as a durable amp, it features a black case with a carrying handle and a grilled cloth front that sports the Fender logo. The sound offered is one that impresses, as it comes from such a small guitar amp.
The cleans are how you would need them to be, and when you change the gain settings you can get the roughness needed in harsher music styles.
As other models do, this one also lets you plug your MP3 into it and play along with your favorite songs.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($59.99)
5. Line 6 Spider Classic 15 Modeling Amplifier
The Line 6 Spider Classic model is one of the most versatile amps that you can find on the market and it’s small enough to be a good practice amp. New players might be having a hard time getting used to the knobs, as they are a bit different from other models. But once you understand how they work, you should have no issues.
You can change the bass, treble and even the middle settings. There are also two FX knobs and two volume and master volume ones. In terms of features, the FX settings allow you to do a lot of things, and this is the highlight of this model.
This little well-built box offers the sophisticated style that modern amps provide. As the name suggests, the device offers 15 watts of power and it has a single 8-inch speaker. There are 4 amp models that you can choose from to get the sound that you want.
Click to see the price on Amazon!
6. Sawtooth ST-AMP-10-KIT Electric Guitar Amp with Pro Series Cable
You know that the 10 watts of power aren’t too much, but in small rooms and in practice situations you don’t even need more than that. Having the possibility to use a compact device when you want to quickly practice something is what such an amp should offer.
Surprisingly, this model offers 3-band EQ capabilities, something that isn’t really found in models within this range. Because you sometimes want to use headphones in your home, you should know that the model offers that option too. Furthermore, you can plug more in it than just guitars – keyboards, vocals or anything that delivers a signal will work well.
The gain knob is a nice touch, but if you turn it up too much you will probably notice that it adds too much roughness to the sound. But if you want distortion, you can simply press the Drive Selector button and you will have it with no issue.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($46.44)
7. Peavey Vypyr VIP 3-100 Watt Amplifier
This is a combo amp, as it features both an amplifier and a speaker, and, as a result, it’s capable of delivering a lot more volume than other models in its category. So much volume in fact that it can get out up to 100 watts of power. That is enough to make the neighbors knock on your door.
You can choose to use this amp as a practice one and increase your skill due to the modeling capabilities that it offers. It has so many controls that you can adjust. A 3-band EQ and a gain knob will let you adjust the sound as you wish, along with all the classic knobs including volume, bass or treble modifiers.
Most importantly, it features a display under which you can find even more controls. It takes a while to get used to all these settings but the end result is satisfying.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($349.94)
8. Orange Crush 20 Dual Channel Guitar Amplifier
Smaller models from Orange don’t have the reverb and tuner functions that are present in this one. The amp has an impressive four stage pre-amp that lets you have a wide range of tones. You also benefit from four stages of gain. And if you don’t want any gain at all, you can turn it off using a switch.
The amp offers a great clean tone and you can achieve a natural sound using the switch knob or a footswitch (which is not included in the package, unfortunately). For the usual player, the 3-band EQ switch is more than enough to satisfy all the needs.
In terms of effects, the reverb feels very natural and warm and on top of that, you get a tuner that lets you get your guitar in the perfect form very fast. You also get a LED display to help with that.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($139)
9. Roland Cube 10GX Guitar Amplifier
This little amp shows that practice models don’t have to be boring, as they can also offer some fantastic features. This one in particular lets you customize it as you want using a mobile app. It’s easy to use and set up and so versatile to play. The power output is measured at 10 watts and the 8-inch speaker is the one to deliver that.
Having a closed back, the model enhances the bass lines of the songs. You can choose between a variety of clean and overdrive patterns using the knobs positioned on top.
The delay and reverb are variable and you can use them at the same time with an effect of your choice. On the back panel, you will find jacks that can be used for plugging in recording devices. You can also plug in your studio headphones and start practicing.
Because it’s so customizable, the model offers great sound, whatever the kind of music you play. Although the effects are basic ones, they sound great.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($139.84)
10. Fat Boy FBGA15 15 Watt Guitar Amp
Despite the fact that Fat Boy isn’t a brand that is known for its amplifiers, this model has the quality needed to be a great choice for those looking for a practice amp. You might say that the speaker is too small, measuring only 6.5 inches, but the total volume output benefits of a power of 15 watts.
You can use this amp with your guitar, but it’s flexible enough to be used as an amp for a bass player too. It’s a fairly simplistic device and it offers the basic functions that you need. You get the master volume knob and alongside that the knobs to control the bass, mids, and treble. You can add an octave pedal to the mix to make the treble sound better.
Furthermore, you can use the gain knob to adjust how rough your guitar sounds. The amp is durable enough and it does its job as you would expect.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($64.99)
11. Blackstar IDCORE10V2
Blackstar has made it one of its purposes to provide versatile designs and this one is a model that offers that in the shape of a practice amp. Comparing to other models, it offers a wide variety of controls that you can adjust to your pleasing. You can choose between six channels and work on the overdrive and fuzz as you wish.
If you like simple things, you can adjust the settings using the gain knob, the volume one and the single-band EQ. You can add a lot of layers to a tone, making it sound unique.
This Blackstar practice amp is impressive in itself and the company decided, on top of that, to make it even more customizable using a software suite. You can download music on the amp, or you can record on it and then play with the sounds that you created.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($109.99)
Yearly Guide & Report
A quality practice amp is hard to find, and in order to do that, you need to know how one works and what makes an amplifier good. Maybe you don’t have the time to look through all the practice amp reviews, and that’s why we thought it’s important for you to know how to choose the best guitar practice amp yourself, following some simple rules.
Let’s talk power
It’s in human nature to want bigger stuff, more power, and more sound volume, but when choosing the amp that you will use for practice, you should also take into consideration its applications. If you’re a beginner and the only thing that you need the amp for is to practice in your bedroom from time to time, you will surely not need a deafening machine that makes so much noise.
You will be better off with a simple and compact speaker capable of delivering 10 watts of power in a consistently good raw tone. And if you’re practicing alone you can as well plug your guitar or bass in a tiny amp and you will still do a good job.
Of course, if you look to rehearse with a drummer you will need more watts to cover the high volume of the drums. And you will need even more than that to hear yourself while gigging with your band.
However, always remember that the amp you are using is only for practice, and you shouldn’t think that the sound of your instrument is the same in a live performance where other speakers are used. You will generally need more than 80 watts to be heard over your drummer. 100 to be sure.
You can look for the amps in the range of 20 to 30 watts for practice sessions when you’re alone. If you’re a veteran, or if you enjoy providing a show at home from time to time, you can choose an amp between 30 and 80 watts of power.
Although fulfilling the same purpose and sounding almost the same, a tube amp and a solid state one function in totally different ways. In terms of engineering, the tube amp uses vacuum tubes to amplify the signal, while the solid one uses solid-state electronics such as diodes or transistors to do that.
They each have their advantages. Tube models are the older version, the technology being active for more than 100 years, and they are considered to be smoother in transition and more responsive than their counterparts. By adding high-gain pedals to the circuit you can have a great influence on how the final music sounds.
Essentially, tube amps are the ones that are better for more experienced players because every move or touch has a big influence on how the end sound is produced when using them. If you want to be in total control over the sound, you should choose them. But that comes with the risk of you sounding a bit off if you aren’t an experienced player.
Tube amps have the tendency to be louder than their listed wattage might show. A tube amp of 60 watts of power is louder than a solid state one with the same number. You can thus consider that this is an important aspect when you want to be heard over your drummer. But it doesn’t make a huge difference in a practice amp that you use in your home, practicing alone.
But the volume isn’t the only thing that a tube amp is better at. For a power of 60 watts, the tube amp is capable of having a better saturation than its counterpart. And that means that when pushed to its limits it can still provide an accurate sound.
Solid state amps
But solid state amps have their purpose and advantages too, so it’s worth looking at them as well. In the past, if you wanted all the features presented above you needed to get a tube amp. However, nowadays that has changed. Solid state amps are capable of delivering the same good sound like a tube amp.
Whether you can tell the difference or not is a matter of experience and preference. Anyway, you shouldn’t shy away from solid state amps as they still do a good job. Additionally, they are more reliable than their older brothers. Because tube amps use an older technology, they function like an old bulb, and with them, you never know when your device is going to break all of a sudden.
Additionally, tube amps are a lot more fragile and they require much more care than their counterparts. If you have the tendency to throw your amp around, you should choose a solid state model. This way you won’t face the situation in which you don’t know what caused your amp to stop functioning.
On top of it all, solid state amps are easier to maintain and cheaper as a result of all these factors. One quality model can go on in your life for years, maybe decades, without you having to worry about it.
When you start playing the guitar you might love a specific music style and you’ll look for an amp that can offer all the best things for that genre. Speaking about that, blues lovers, you might be interested in what we have to say about blues guitars in one of our other articles.
However, you shouldn’t limit yourself to that. Maybe in time, you’ll want to approach some different music styles and the best small practice amp will let you do that. You will, at the basic level, need to have a look at the guitar amps that have EQ (equalization) capabilities.
That will allow you to adjust the specific frequencies within a sound and add or subtract bass from it as you like. But you can also benefit from other features that advanced amps have. You can have switchable clean/gain channels or built-in effects that will make you sound just as you wish.
If you’re a person that likes to make use of different gadgets, you should know that some amps have built-in rhythm patterns that will let you jam to them when you have no drummer. You can also make use of loop effects to record something and then play over the recorded part, as you might want to do when you attempt a solo.
If you don’t have too many effects on your amp, you will need a guitar multi-effects pedal. Also, most models don’t come with a tuning function, and you will need a separate guitar tuner for that.
Best practice amp brands
Fender has been on the market since 1946 and it has touched nearly every style of music since then, from country to rock’n’roll. Most people that have ever played an instrument have at least used a Fender product in their lives. This is how the brand became a cultural icon.
The company mostly specializes in building guitars, and alongside that, it also provides the needed amps to work with the guitars. Rock musicians are mostly accustomed to the brand, and there are many models in the brand’s range to be used by different individual styles.
Some of the most beloved musicians have had a history of using a Marshall practice amp, including Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton or Slash. The brand name is associated with quality products and amps capable of delivering the best sound for professionals.
Initially, the company used to sell amps from other manufacturers but it soon started to make its own and managed to produce models that were way louder and better than the alternatives at the time. Although the company builds great amplifiers for professional use, it also has some series that are destined for amateur players.
The British music lovers will probably be accustomed to this name, as the company took flight in 1947 in England. Beloved bands like Queen, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones or U2 have used VOX amplifiers with great effect. Although predominantly a business that creates amplifiers, the company has also started making some instruments recently.
However, its focus is still on amps. The characteristics of VOX amps are a vintage look, along with a sound to match that. The newest additions to its collection are capable of delivering lots of power with a clean tone and a lot of headroom.
Founded in 1965 as a one-man-shop, this brand grew exponentially and is now one of the more recognized in the domain. Its activities include producing and delivering quality instruments, amps and professional audio systems across the globe. What makes the company unique is the vision that guides it – always being different and innovative.
Amongst the Peavey products, you can find different series of amps that you can choose from. Some of the most popular are the ones from the classic series and these are redesigned models that remind the player of past experiences with the brand.
This is one of the most recent appearances on the market. The company was founded by a group of bandmates that, in 2004, decided to take on a new adventure – to produce some of the best amps that can be found. The first products came out in 2007 in England. Although not a well-known brand, the company was helped by different artists to construct great amps.
There is a large range of products that the company offers and amongst these, you can find a Fly series that is particularly made for those that want to practice anywhere, anytime.
Produced in England, these amps are, as you would expect, orange. That certainly makes them stand out of the crowd. Although not a very popular brand, Orange has been making and selling amps since the 1960’s. Some products are made across the oceans, in China, but most of its amps are built on UK soil.
You can find a lot of series to choose from in its arsenal and each of them has its purpose. You will see that most of them offer two channels and the possibility to play with reverb and FX options.