Best mini amps: 6 tiny amplifiers for lockdown guitar practice
How to practise your riffs without driving your neighbours mad
All around the world guitar players are stuck at home on lockdown. Practise guitar, yes! Annoy everyone else in the household? Not so much. So we’ve scouted around for some budget practise amps and come up with a list of six models that should be on your radar.
Practise makes perfect
Here we’ll be taking a look at my favourite budget practise amps for guitarists. Like many of you, I’m currently stuck indoors a lot, so I know what it’s like to want to practise playing my guitar! But other people living here often have something to say about me turning up my full stack at home. So here is my list of some of the best practise amps around that won’t break the bank. I’ve covered the price range from about 25 to 175 quid here to give you some options across various price points.
Blackstar Fly 3 Mini Amp
This little amp is one I own myself, and I’ve found that for the money it offers a lot of useful features. The Blackstar Fly 3 Mini Amp * ticks a lot of boxes, with two channels, a built-in delay effect and 3 Watts of power. Plus, you can use it easily with a set of headphones for silent practise and it has recording output with speaker simulation too.
I also like that you can buy an optional extension cab * for it that gives it a fuller sound. So if you do want to share your riffs with the neighbours, then it will have a bit more oomph!
RRP – Blackstar Fly 3 GBP 55 and Fly Extension Cab GBP 21.90
Marshall MS-2 & MS-4
The Marshall MS-2 * model isn’t quite as refined as the Blackstar Fly 3 above, but it is super cheap and so it needs to be on this list. I also own one of these and for the money I’d say it offers a quite a lot. It even has a belt clip so you can wander around the house while you’re playing. There’s also a headphone socket for silent practise.
It has Clean & Overdrive modes with a basic tone control to dial in your sound. Yes, it is basic but if placed well it can sound great.
If you want a slightly larger sound then for a little extra you can go for the bigger brother, the Marshall MS-4 *, with two speaker cabinets and a stand to angle the sound upwards.
RRP – Marshall MS-2 GBP 24.90 and Marshall MS-4 GBP 35
Boss Katana Mini
At the higher end of the budget scale there is the Boss Katana Mini *. This little practise amp has three amplifier types, namely Brown/Crunch/Clean. It uses a multi-stage analogue gain circuit with a three-band analog EQ. Out of all the amps listed here, this one probably has the most control over your guitar tone.
There is also a handy built-in delay effect like the Blackstar Fly 3. This little amp has 7 Watts of power, though, so is potentially a little fuller sounding. It has an AUX in as well as a headphone and recording outputs as well.
RRP – GBP 92
Orange Crush Mini
The brightly coloured Orange Crush Mini * amp is in the same vein as the Marshall MS-2 amp above. But this one has a bit more power, rated at 3 Watts. It also has a handy built-in tuner.
You get controls for Gain, Tone, Volume and a headphone out as well, plus an AUX input. This model will also power an external speaker if needed.
RRP – GBP 54
If you’re looking for something with a bit more to offer, check out the Yamaha THR5A *. It includes five amp simulations and a selection of onboard effects. This really pushes the price up, but you do get a great-sounding mini practise amp. Two 8 cm full-range loudspeakers are onboard, plus connections for Headphones, AUX in and USB. The means you can use it as an audio interface into your DAW.
It comes also with a bundled version of Cubase AI and can run from either batteries or the external power supply that is included in the price point.
RRP – GBP 185
Fender Mini ’57 Twin Amp
The vintage tweed amp looks of the Fender Mini ’57 Twin Amp * certainly make it look the part. This miniature tweed actually has two 2″ speakers and so really is a twin amp. You also get a headphone output and a whole 1 Watt of power, so it shouldn’t bother your neighbours.
RRP – GBP 45
- Blackstar FLY 3 Mini Amp: Thomann
- Marshall MS-2: Thomann
- Marshall MS-4: Thomann
- Boss Katana Mini: Thomann
- Orange Crush Mini: Thomann
- Yamaha THR5A: Thomann
- Fender Mini '57 Twin Amp: Thomann
Is the THR5A still available? I thought they updated that line of products and replaced it? I have one, it’s very good – though no master volume is a bit of a let down (included on the THR10, which I wish I’d bought instead).
The Mini Twin (own) and Marshall (have tested) are novelties; they look great but in my opinion neither sound any good. Like wasps in jars when you try to drive them a bit.
I can’t speak to any experience with the others.
Looks like the THR10 has been replaced by version II but the original 5 is still available.
Hey! Just wanted to point out that the THR5A is for acoustic guitar. Great amp, though! There is one without the A which is a smaller version on the 10.
Yeah, I know. I have the THR10C myself. Just we needed to cover all basses, as some of our readers play acoustic
Have you thought of publishing the frequency response for each of these amps? Seems like a 2-inch speaker would really struggle to reproduce lower notes (ie 80 Hz).