Every guitarist is likely to need a practice amp at some point, so here’s a guide to 5 of the best:
Sadly, practicing playing the guitar through a full stack, or mighty valve combo is not a practical option for most players, and so a practice amp is the only option. For the uninitiated, the practice amp is a guitar amp that is low in power, but often equipped with features that are ideal for rehearsal at low levels.
These days, the practice amp can be anything from an amp modelling equipped combo to a low-power, full valve amp that is ideal for recording, too.
Here we outline some of the best practice amp models on the market right now.
The Fender Bassbreaker series was hailed by some of the worlds best musicians as the amplifier that they have been waiting all their lives for. With members from The Strokes, Biffy Clyro and Blink 182, to name a but a few of the artists in love with this amp, discussing how rich and warm the tones are, how versatile these amplifiers can be and just how impressive the harsher, growlier tones can get, it certainly piqued the interest of musicians everywhere. Upon release, the Bassbreaker series did not disappoint and a stand out item was the Bassbreaker 007 Combo.
Yes it’s a practice amp, but this 7 watt monster is capable of touring on the live circuit thanks to a 10 inch Celestion ten thirty driver as well as 12AX7 and EL84 tubes. Safe to say it packs a punch. It’s small enough to carry to practice but loud enough to hold its own against a drum kit in the practice room. The treble boost effect circuit which can be activated by a footswitch adds more punch to your tone and the addition of a master volume means you can drive the gain without annoying the neighbours. Definitely one to check out if you have limited room, or want to use a professional amplifier in many settings without throwing your back out every time you pick it up!
The Yamaha THR range appeared out of nowhere, seemingly, but made a huge impact when they did. Billed by Yamaha as ‘your third amp’, the THR5 makes a really great practice amp.
With 5 VCM amp models, extended stereo technology, which makes this stereo amp sound far ‘bigger’ than it is, USB connectivity for recording onto a computer, and the ability to be powered via battery or PSU, this 5W amp really is a mini powerhouse.
The retro styling wouldn’t look out of place in a living room, either…
Although not the most feature-packed amp on this list, the Blackstar Fly 3 is more than capable for those who need an affordable and high-quality practice amp at home. You get 2 channels, clean and overdrive, patented Blackstar ISF EQ control, an aux input for playback of external sources such as an audio player or smartphone, and a surprising audible output considering the 3w power rating. Need a little more from your practice amp? Take a look at the Blackstar Fly 3 Pack, which includes a power supply and extra speaker, doubling the output to 6w.
The Fender Mustang range of amps has established itself as one of the most popular practice amp choices in the world. The Mustang was Fender’s first foray into the World of amp modelling, and it took full advantage of its legendary back-catalogue of amps to do it. The results were impressive.
With 17 excellent amp models and 24 onboard effects packed into the 40W Mustang II V2, it’s clear that it delivers plenty of ‘bang for the buck’. With an onboard USB interface, and software editing and preset sharing via Fender FUSE technology, it’s clear just why the range is so popular.
For those for whom only tubes will do, the Orange Micro Terror 20 Watt Guitar Amplifier is a great option if you need a practice amp that’s small and capable of producing rich, warm valve tones. Due to its small size – it clocks in at 135 x 165 x 95 mm (around the size of a lunchbox) it may fool you into thinking the amp can’t stand up against some of the bigger contenders. However, it’s capable of some seriously loud sounds! The combination of the ECC83/12AX7 preamp valve and solid state technology ensure you have that warm valve tone, with solid state reliability – and weight relief! It’s a portable, easy to carry option to take to the studio and to practice, and can power any 8 or 16 Ohm cab. But the sound out of this thing is impressive to say the least.
It’s very simple to use, with the tone, volume and gain knobs providing all the sound shaping you’ll need. The cool thing about this amp is that you can drive the gain hard and get that classic valve tone at lower volumes. You can also use the MP3/aux input to play along to your favourite tracks or even hook up a backing track to play through the amp. Anther great feature comes in the form of the headphones input, which allows you to enjoy all the beautiful tones on offer without waking the neighbours. Beautiful cleans and creamy distortions in a very small package that weighs less than a kilogram – as far as practice amps go, this is a great option.
View a complete range of guitar amps over at the Dawsons Website.