These mini amplifiers are perfect for those with limited space
As all guitarists and bass players will understand, there’s nothing quite like plugging in to the loudest amp you can find and letting your guitar wail. However, your neighbours may disagree, especially if you decide to start busting out some serious riffage late at night. So what do you do when you need to be able to practice anywhere and at anytime without those pesky noise constraints dictating how loud you can go? Well, you turn to a glorious invention called the mini amplifier, that’s what! Every guitarist needs a mini amp in their rig. They’re inexpensive, give you an accurate representation of what you’re playing and best of all, you can play them through headphones! Here are our favourites…
Teeny Tiny Mini Amps
First up we have the absolutely awesome Vox amPlug Series 2 AC30. This tiny little amp emulator delivers a fully analogue amp sound that perfectly recreates the classic distortion of the ever popular Vox AC30. It’s a teeny tiny mini amp that is powered by 2 x AAA batteries and plugs directly into your guitar jack. Even though it fits snugly in the palm of your hand, this thing has a monster sound that VOX AC30 purists will instantly recognise. Simply plug it in and connect your headphones for silent playing and enjoy the host of onboard effects such as tremolo, reverb, and delay whilst you dial in your own gain, volume and tone to your requirements. You can even connect any audio source via the 3.5mm stereo jack – perfect for jamming along to your favourite music or any recordings you may have. You can even hook it up to an external speaker too! A perfect choice for those who want something unobtrusive and extremely easy to carry around – it’ll fit straight into your guitar case or bag.
Next up we have the very cool looking Marshall MS-2 Microamp Electric Guitar Amplifier which fans of the Marshall half stack will love. This 1 watt mini amplifier packs some serious punch, as well as a great deal of crunch. Standing at a very small 140 x 110 x 60 mm, this half stack MS-2 Microamp from Marshall is great for those guitarists who want the option of playing live rather than through a headphone jack when they need to. Although it’s only a 1 watt amp, the sounds you can get out of this little thing are impressive, especially when you engage the drive channel. Thanks to Marshall build quality the clean tone never sounds weak or tinny, and the crunch will make you feel like you’re playing Download festival main stage! It’s a versatile mini amp that is very easy to carry around too, as you can even jam whilst walking around thanks to the built-in belt clip. If you want the full stack experience, check out the Marshall MS-4 Micro Stack Electric Guitar Amplifier with the extension cab bolted on.
A Little Louder
For those who want their amps a little louder, but with the same amount or portability, another great mini amplifier that should be on your list to try out is the Orange Micro Crush Pix Guitar Amplifier. This is a 3 watt beast of an amp that is actually pretty loud! It’s perfect for those impromptu jams with your friends or for practicing at home thanks to the headphone jack. You’ll often see this amplifier backstage at gigs or on guitar tech rigs as it’s a perfect warm up amplifier that doesn’t take up too much room without sacrificing quality of sound. It has a built in chromatic tuner as well as strap holders on each side and the two channels with switchable overdrive make sure you have enough tone to play with. This is also a great mini amplifier for overdubs as you get a ferocious growl and beautiful glass like clean tones at the touch of a button.
Next up we have the Blackstar Fly 3 Amplifier, a mini amp which has taken the music world by storm thanks to the fact it features Blackstar’s patented ‘Infinite Shape Feature’ circuitry, offering almost unlimited tweaking of your sound. You have 2 channels to choose from: clean and overdrive as well as a gorgeous tape delay effect to play with, which quite frankly sounds amazing. Whether you want classic rock sounds or ethereal cleans, you can achieve it with the Blackstar Fly 3 as it responds beautifully to any intricacies in your playing. The headphone output is great for silent practice and the 3.5mm input means you can use it as an mp3 player as well. Don’t be fooled by its size as it is capable of some serious volume, especially when paired with the Fly 3 extension cab giving you 6 watts of pure Blackstar tone. A solid, portable option perfect for home use, backstage or even as a small gigging amp if you need a little extra volume.
Let’s Get A LOT Louder!
As previously stated, using a mini amplifier doesn’t mean you get a “mini” sound. There are a huge variety of portable mini amps that you can actually gig with. One such example, is the Orange Micro Terror amplifier and its heavy metal version the Orange Micro Dark. The Micro Terror 20 Watt guitar amplifier head, is one of the coolest amplifiers around, let alone one of the best mini amplifiers. Orange’s world renowned vintage British tube tone has been captured in this 135 x 165 x 95 mm head that weighs less than a kg and can power any 8 or 16 Ohm cab. It’s that gorgeous Orange tone you know and love in a tiny head that makes good use of a ECC83/12AX7 preamp valve to give you that tube amp sound you need with solid state reliability. Perfectly partnered with the Orange PPC108 Micro Terror Cabinet. For those who want a little more bite, the Micro Dark has a seriously brutal amount of gain and can be easily gigged or taken to practice.
The extremely popular Yamaha THR5 Amplifier has everything a musician could need from an amplifier. Not only do you get a realistic tube amp sound thanks to the fact it uses Yamaha’s impressive VCM technology, but you get 10 watts of pure power packaged alongside a host of onboard effects like Chorus, Flanger, Phaser and Tremolo, as well as some really cool Delay and Reverb effects to rival any pedals you may have. The onboard speaker system makes this amp a really great option for rehearsals along with those who need something to busk with, but perhaps the most interesting feature of this amp is the fact it can be used as an audio interface! Yep, the Yamaha THR5 comes bundled with a Cubase AI download code so you can start creating music straight away with a DAW. Crystal clear clean tones, super crunch and great effects all packed in an almost indestructible box that acts as a complete guitar recording studio – what more could you want?
Last but by no means least, we have the Fender Bassbreaker 007 Amplifier head. We’ve talked about practice amps, and mini amplifiers perfect for rehearsals or small gigs, but the Fender Bassbreaker is in a league of its own. Since it was released in 2016, the 007 has turned heads due to the fact it can keep up with the higher wattage amplifiers you would usually see at gigs, comfortably holding its own. This mini amplifier head, when coupled with either the ready made Fender Bassbreaker BB 112 Enclosure extension cab, or whatever you may have is capable of incredible amounts of volume thanks to the 12AX7 and EL84 tubes for a dynamic range of tone and power. Its extremely portable owing to the fact it’s about as big as a shoe box, lightweight and full of growl. Guitarists will love the built in treble boost effect for extra gain and harmonics which can be changed via footswitch (sold separately). A serious piece of kit for the serious musician who wants a mini amp to stand the test of time.
View a complete range of guitar amplifiers and mini amps over at the Dawsons website.