Practicing guitar is the only way to get good at it. That is one of those universal truths. However, in order to properly practice guitar, you need to have a good practice amp at your side. These small, versatile guitar amplifiers are the best stools for beginners as well as advanced players.
Table Of Contents
|Image||Guitar Amplifier / Rating||Summary||Check Price|
|+ -|| Peavey Vypyr VIP 3 |
Total of 4.83/5
The epitome of modeling versatility great for home and limited stage use.
|+ -|| Marshall Code 50W |
Total of 4.80/5
Marshall's proof that tubes are not the only thing on the menu.
|+ -|| Orange Amplifiers Micro Dark |
Total of 4.67/5
A tiny, powerful and unusual head from one of the legendary brands.
|+ -|| Marshall MG Series MG15CFX |
Total of 4.78/5
Small, simple, powerful and full of that trademark Marshall tone we love.
|+ -|| Blackstar ID: Core 10 V2 |
Total of 4.90/5
Blackstar's take on fully integrated modeling amps in the super compact segment.
|+ -|| Vox Pathfinder 10 |
Total of 4.88/5
A piece of Vox history in a modern package that is affordable.
Peavey is the brand that has made some of the most popular guitar amplifiers we have today. When they are not spending time designing stage legends, they are known to produce explosive practice combos. Peavey Vypyr VIP3 is definitely the first such model that comes to mind. Filled to the brim with awesome features, emulations and effects, this modeling amp is the perfect answer for any practice sessions. The package we are looking at here brings a great combination of sound quality, volume and versatility. On top of that, the price makes it a bargain. If you are looking for a Swiss army knife of home guitar amplification, this pretty much as good as it gets in this price range.
Whenever Marshall is mentioned, most common things people imagine is a massive vintage Plexi sitting on a stage somewhere. However, Marshall's series of small combo amps is nothing to joke about either. Marshall Code 50W is a perfect match of modern solid state technology and power that is good enough for limited stage use. They obviously wanted to make something that would get you started on your journey, but also follow you as you play your first gig. In that sense, Code 50W is a complete success. The arsenal of effects and emulations this thing offers ensures that you won't need anything else but your guitar to start rocking out. On top of that, the quality of sound is impressive.
Micro Dark Hybrid breaks some of the rules most commonly associated with practice amplifiers. However, it gets the job done in its own way. Super compact, this is actually a hybrid amp with one tube to give that vintage vibe. There is no built in speaker, however Orange has implemented their cab emulation technology that allows you to plug in your headphones and get an awesome sound that way. Being a 20 Watt unit, you can easily hook it up to a decent speaker cabinet and rock out in a smaller venue. The sound of Orange Micro Dark Hybrid is exactly what you would expect. In other words, that classic Orange drive with a little bit of extra tube flavor.
Marshall's MG Series are a proof that solid state amps are still in business. This super compact combo doesn't come with all the bells and whistles that most modern modeling amps do, but it offers something much better than that. You get the epic Marshall tone in a slightly compressed version. Those who want to experiment with effects pedals and need a fairly neutral but good base, should definitely look into Marshall MG15CFX. To satisfy your overdrive/distortion appetite, Marshall has included three dirty channels similar to those you can find on their flagship models. With Crunch, OD1 and OD2, you have access to three different yet unique sound profiles. Add a very solid clean channel and you got perfection.
One of the more simple facts regarding practice amps is that size sometimes can be essential. Blackstar ID: Core 10 V2 is a very compact little combo that lacks nothing in terms of versatility nor performance. The effects suite you get is impressive all things considered. With that said, one of the best things about this amp is the price, which is extremely competitive. In essence, Blackstar' ID:Core 10 V2 is the perfect solution for guitar players who are working with a very tight budget. On top of that, you get full connectivity package that allows you to record music on your computer, program the amp and more. Overall, this is by far one most capable tiny amps available.
Vox still holds the reputation of being one of the most iconic amp brands in existence. Even though they are mostly known for their large stage units and the legendary AC30, they also offer some pretty interesting practice amps. Vox Pathfinder 10 is a super compact solid state amp that brings the core of what Vox is all about. It is a 10 Watt package with a built in speaker and a control interface that is simple but effective. While you won't find any of the effects we see on most modeling amps, we get a rendition of Vox's iconic sound at a very attractive price. At this price, you will have a hard time finding something better than this.
Practicing electric guitar is somewhat different than practicing with an acoustic one. One of the main mistakes many beginners make is to spend their entire budget on a guitar and then dry practicing for a long time before grabbing an amp. The deal with electric guitars is that you have to have some sort of feedback. In other words, you really need an amp. When you dry practice, you are unknowingly forcing yourself to play more aggressive because unplugged electric guitar is very hard to hear. In some cases, this can develop bad habits which will be hard to get rid of later on down the road.
With that said, there is really no reason not to own a practice amp. Back in the day when guitar amplification was still a fairly new thing, beginners had to be very resourceful. Not only were practice amps virtually non existent, but the only way to amplify your guitar was by getting a tube amp. That used to cost a lot of money, much like it does today. If you are interested in tube amplifiers, check out our guide that is dedicated to this type of amplification.
The times we live in right now are way different. You can get a great little combo at a dirt cheap price. Not to mention that most modern practice amps are just full of various effects, distortions and tone emulations. People who are getting into guitar now can use these amps for a long time before they ever start needing something better. To sum it all up, practice often but practice the right way and that includes an amp.
Defining a practice amp is not as easy as it sounds. Any guitar amp you have at your disposal can be a practice amp under right conditions. Even so, there are some features which can be used to define a decent practice amp these days. Let’s go over each one in depth.
Since most of guitar practice is usually done at home, size plays a major role in picking an amp for this purpose. There are two aspects of size that we would like to discuss. First one is mobility. Having a light, compact amplifier makes practicing guitar so much easier. For starters, you can keep it stored away somewhere and only pull it out when you want to work on your skill. On a similar note, small amps make it much easier to get together with your friends for a band session or just a group practice session.
The other aspect of size is power. Small and compact guitar amps are rarely overpowered by design. Blasting a 100 Watt head is an experience that has its perks, but one that you probably don’t want to replicate in your room on a daily basis. Compact combo amps are small and powerful enough to give you good feedback without making the entire practice session uncomfortable for your or others.
We have already mentioned the benefits of having a compact amp at your disposal. You could say that smaller size can count as versatility as well. However, the type of versatility we want to talk about has nothing to do with size, but rather performance.
The advent of solid state and modeling technology didn’t really have much impact on the high end segment of amp market. Where it made the most difference were small combos. Nowadays, you can get a practice amp that comes packed to the brim with effects, distortions and so many other features. Before these, you had to have a pretty extensive effects pedal rig if you wanted to get similar results. We have to drop in a small disclaimer here. Built in effects on modeling amps are generally not as good as standalone guitar effects pedals. That, however is besides the point.
When you are just starting out, chances are you won’t be able to notice much difference between an emulated overdrive and a TS9 Tube Screamer. Also, it is worth mentioning that the number of these effects is sometimes even in triple digits territory. Just having that kind of versatility at your disposal is bound to get you even more interested in the instrument you are learning how to play.Just ask all of the old timers what they would give to have that same opportunity.
Prices and budgets are things not many people enjoy talking about, but are ultimately a necessary factor in choosing an amp. With practice amps, one of their best advantages is their price. There are models which are expensive, but there are also models which can be had for a very small amount of money. The importance of this is pretty straight forward. When you are starting out, you can more easily factor in the price of an amp in your overall budget, thus starting with a setup that will serve you for a long time. Speaking of which, we strongly recommend that you always count in the amp when choosing a guitar. Ultimately, the decision is yours.
Answering this question can either be simple or extremely hard. Each of the mentioned types of amplifiers have their benefits and drawbacks. If we were talking unlimited budget, no niche application type of amp, we would recommend a tube model in a heartbeat. However, when you consider that we are asking this question from a perspective of someone who is looking for a practice amp, things change quite a bit.
Our first pick would definitely be a modeling amp. Reason for this is the simple fact that modeling technology gives you the absolute best bang for your buck. You have access to multiple effects, then there are recording capabilities and more.
Solid state amps are awesome for those who want something a bit more conservative, and plan on experimenting with effects pedals. Modern solid state amps have gone a long way compared to their original counterparts, making them a very solid choice.
Lastly we have practice amps which use tube technology. These are immensely popular these days and everything we have said about solid state amps applies to them as well. The main difference with tube amps is that vintage, organic tone this type of amp is known for. Practice tube amps are also fairly expensive, which impacts many potential users. In all honesty, we would recommend tube practice amps to more experienced players who are looking for a certain level of tone quality.
Heads are the least popular choice for practicing at home for obvious reasons. All of them require a speaker cabinet of some sort if you want to get any feedback from your guitar. The thing is that there are compact heads out there which bend the rules and can easily be used for practice purposes. One of them is on our list as well. The benefits of using a head instead of a combo mostly has to do with added versatility.
You can take your head to any venue and hook it up to a speaker cabinet. That way your practice amp serves as a gigging solution as well. Some of these heads even offer headphones out with cabinet emulation like the Orange model we have listed above. In other words, you can just plug your headphones in and tap into that sweet tone without ever needing a speaker cabinet. Again, it all comes down to your personal preferences and requirements. Just keep in mind that heads aren’t necessarily out of the equation.
At the end of the day, practice amps are the best and some might even say the only way to properly develop your guitar skills. We have covered some of the best practice amps available in our shortlist, even though there are so many more awesome models out there. The purpose of this guide was to eliminate some misconceptions about this type of amplifiers and to emphasize their importance as well. If you’re just starting out and haven’t figured out what kind of guitar you want to get, we strongly recommend that you cover a practice amp in your budget.