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I know how it is.
Money is tight.
You want a practice amp, but you know that if you buy the first cheap one you see, that it’s going to leave you quite frustrated.
You just know there is a perfect amplifier that blends affordability and function.
Well, I agree. And, there are actually several amps here that I want you to look at.
The key thing is to get an amplifier that encourages you to practice. Something that is easy to setup and has either enough bells and whistles to make you excited to play, or is simple enough a kid could use it. Your choice.
You also want it to sound good when you are playing it quietly. Too often, the tone is lost when these amps are turned down (But turn the amp up and the roommates are throwing you out! Not good, either).
Combo Amps Vs. PA Systems?
It’s assumed that you will not only use this amp for practice — you’ll probably also end up playing with friends and possibly doing a few gigs.
So the amplifier needs to be a little bit versatile, if possible.
However, you won’t be using it primarily for performing. And we need to find one that is affordable.
Because of that, a combo amplifier is probably your best bet. Combos have become very competitive in recent years. They are lightweight and offer excellent volume and tonality.
So we’ll definitely have some top picks from that category. Also, if you get a unit with “modeling” (digital processing) it will let you experiment with different sounds and start practicing your favorite songs even without some of the effects pedals.
Public Address systems are notoriously lacking for guitar playing. Overdrive pedals can kill them. They don’t represent the sound accurately.
There are just a lot of reason why not to go to with a PA system. However, there are a few people who will go with a low-power head and run it through a PA system for a versatile — albeit lacking — ampish type setup.
And, for this review, we’re staying away from the head/amp sets. I just find that they don’t offer as much bang for the buck.
For more expensive amps, we might spend more time discussing how the construction of the box and the different speaker materials affect the end sound. However, for the price point we are shopping in today, what is going to matter more is the end output and whether you are getting a top-notch sound.
Best of 2017: Our Review Roundup
Now that you know what type of amplifier you are wanting, take a minute before buying to read our synopsis of combined reviews below. We’ve taken our top 5 affordable amplifier picks and brought them to you with detailed descriptions of the best attributes of each of them! Enjoy!
1. The Fender Mustang I 20-Watt 1×8-Inch Guitar Combo Amplifier
Our top pick is this great little pile of power. The amp models that come with this piece provide sounds that are very interesting and very real – way more so than other modeling tools that you can find out there on the market.
They never sound processed or digital, but with the gain cranked up you can achieve a wonderful, overdriven sound. In particular, I like the Twin Reverb, the Bassman and the Deluxe for sounds that are full and strong.
It’s also the only modeling unit in this price range that offers really great vintage tones. It is the perfect choice for you if you play classic rock, rock, funk, blues, country, etc.
While you do have a few heavy and metal options with this setup, it does lack some of the chunk that diehard guitarists will be looking for. It is likely that more committed “metal heads” will be better satisfied with stuff from Line 6.
Another amazing feature on this piece is the ease it offers for tone tweaking with the amp controls. The controls clearly show you where you are and what you need for editing your tone. The Fuse software offers even more in-depth control as well as the many tones submitted by users to assist your sound shaping process.
With the Fuse software you can add almost any effect into your playing as well as tweak and alter them just like you could if you were using real pedals. It’s easy to use and yet much more in depth and detailed than many other pricey multi-effects units out there on the market.
Also included is the Ableton recording software that is fully usable without paying for upgrades. This software is very user-friendly. Additional features on this piece include a headphone jack and an AUX in.
Overall, this amp is very easy to use, looks great and produces high-quality sound. It has great volume range, allowing you to crank it up loud or back off and play quietly while still maintaining really great quality sound.
The sounds that come out of this choice selection sound much more like a tube amplifier, rather than a digital one.
Although not the best option for larger live performances this is a great option for practices or small gigs. The small size and light weight make it very portable and wonderful for travel.
2. Line 6 Spider IV
This is a wonderful little practice unit. It works best for beginners and private practices but you will find it also works well for slightly larger events such as band practice or a small venue.
It comes with a great selection of settings, ranging from clean to crunch to metal. Perfect for playing so many styles including blues, rock, deathcore, metal or country. Also, the volume on this piece is impressive for its size.
You will find that this amplifier comes with multiple different effects to choose from.
Those options include the Clean model for honey sweet sounds, the Insane model for dirtier sounds and the Crunch and Metal models which cover every electric guitar amplification sound you could possibly need.
These models provide a plenty thorough range of effects for any beginner, including reverb, tremolo, and delay as well as many, many more. All of these effects are also adjustable.
The sound can be cranked up easily while still maintaining great controllable tube-like feedback. Presets can be easily overwritten and you can also rewrite everything with a factory preset for a clean slate.
This piece provides you with three tone controls: bass, mid and treble. It also gives drive for adding distortion into the mix and has a channel volume as well as a master volume knob. You will also find a jack that is for headphones and also is a combo recording slot. This little amp tends to work better for steel instruments rather than instruments that use nylon strings.
This piece comes with a guitar tuner and allows you to hook up accessories such as foot pedals or an effect box. It also gives you the cool ability to take your practice sessions to an entirely new level by providing a jack that allows you to connect your cd, mp3 oriPodd.
All you will need is an audio cable to hook them up and you will be able to play along with your favorite songs on your device. This accessory is light and easy for hauling around between small gigs and practices.
This addition can make even a cheap guitar sound good, providing encouragement for beginners of all ages. Looks really great with a finish of black and chrome. Be sure to register your amp online to gain access to very helpful instructions and tips for utilizing the many features this piece offers.
3. The Classic VOX
This is a very simple little unit without a lot of bells and whistles. It is solid, albeit very small, amplifier with great sound and a classic look.
It is only designed to do a handful of things, but to do those few things very well, unlike so many others that offer countless options but tend to be jack of all trades and master of none.
This little path finder comes with input and output, volume button, gain button, overdrive button and two knobs for adjusting tone.
For a budget selection, this will blow other smaller amps such as the Peavey and the Fender Frontman out of the water. Keep in mind, though, that if you are wanting something for shredding purposes, you would be much better advised to look elsewhere.
Though it offers up some nice overdrive tones for such sounds as some blues, don’t expect anything too crazy out of it.
However, despite its bare-bones offerings, the sound that this baby puts out is absolutely fantastic. Add in a multi effects pedal to your mix and you will find yourself with a wonderful, portable little practice unit.
This piece is low wattage and therefore is best for home practice, but it still has a very full and rich tone despite the low wattage, smaller size (somewhere around the size of a large shoe box) and lighter weight. Has good volume, though remember that it won’t compete with the volume of a larger, higher wattage amp.
However, when looking for a practice amp within a competing price range, you will be hard pressed to find one with better sound and volume.
This little gem does a good job of recreating the tube sound that you would find in a bigger vox tube model and is a solid state amplifier with no tubes to replace.
On the downside, you will find that the onboard overdrive doesn’t do nearly as good of a job as the tube overdrives on the bigger options. However, you can just use the clean settings along with an effects processor, which are easy and inexpensive to find and easy to hook up to this amp.
Also, comes with a headphone jack and a line out port. For any beginners out there, or more advanced players looking for simplicity, great quality, and great sound, this little guy is exactly what you need.
4. Fender Frontman 10G
Are you looking for an amplifier that is inexpensive and yet will provide you with a good reliable sound performance for your practice sessions or for jamming out in a small space without annoying the neighbors? Or are you looking for a simple piece of equipment that is not bogged down with the usual multitude of built in effects?
This mini Fender just might be the perfect answer to your needs. Although small and lightweight, this amp accomplishes fairly loud volume for its size.
It has a great crisp, clean sound that can be dirtied up if you wish, by using the built-in overdrive and produces pleasingly warm tones. It can also be turned up loud enough for small time jamming.
This is a wonderful piece for a beginner or if you are looking for an every day, bedroom/ office/ small apartment practice unit for low volume practice.
It weighs in at around ten pounds making it easily portable and very user-friendly while it really packs a punch.
Portability is made even better by the strap found on top for holding while you carry it, and the Velcro attachment on the back that keeps the cable neatly in place once it is packed up.ou will find on this amp a 1/8 inch headphone jack, 1/8 inch input, overdrive on/ off button, gain dial and
As you explore options with this unit you will find on this amp a 1/8 inch headphone jack, 1/8 inch input, overdrive on/ off button, gain dial and aux port for easily hooking up mp3 player, stereo, iPod/ pad or phones to jam along with.
As far as size, it is only slightly bigger than a shoe box, making this handy dandy little thing easy to store on a shelf, under the bed or desk, or behind the couch while taking up hardly any space at all.
Metal lovers will not find this piece ideal for their craft. It is great for blues or if you are looking for that classic Fender crunch, but if you are looking for something that works with a metal pedal, look elsewhere, like maybe for a Peavey Rogue G10…or be prepared with a larger budget for a higher end amp.
This amp does an excellent job on exactly what it was designed for – basic amplification for practice or jamming in a small setting.
Sturdy, solid state build, with no tubes that will need replacement. It runs off ac power and other features include volume control and a simple to use treble/ bass equalizer.
5. Sawtooth 10-Watt Electric Amp
If you are looking for a good quality starter amp, look no further than this 10 watt Sawtooth. You would be hard pressed to find an equivalent selection out there for less than $50.
This little guy really is best for a practice setting or a very small gig or for a beginner needing a simple piece of equipment that will deliver solid quality sound. It is wonderful for running scales, practicing chords and just jamming out to your favorite songs.
Despite its small size and low wattage, it has impressive volume.
Although it may not serve well for performing in front of large crowds, it easily competes with amps that are in the $60 price range rather than the little 9-volt battery powered amps with the two-inch speakers that are typically what guitarist settle for.
This amp is very portable weighing 6.1 lbs with a 6.5-inch speaker so it will not take up a lot of space.
It comes with controls for mid, treble, bass and volume as well as an overdrive switch for shifting back and forth between clean sounds and overdrive.