Top 6 Amplifiers for Practice – The Sound That Works At Home
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Last Updated: November 19, 2019
To reflect recent changes in this market, we gave this practice amp chart a complete overhaul! We removed some older models including the Fender Frontman 10G and Line 6 Spider Classic 15. In their place, we added five new units! These comprised the Fender Mustang I V2, the Orange Crush 20RT and the tried-and-tested Fender Champion 20. We also added the cool Boss Katana Mini and the Peavey Solo 12W.
The old saying ‘practice makes perfect’ couldn't be more appropriate for guitar – the only way to get really good is to put in the hours at home.
Table Of Contents
The chart in this article highlights some of the best practice amps on the market today, in several price ranges and wattages. Let’s get right to it!
6 Best Practice Amps
|Image||Guitar Amplifier / Rating||Summary||Check Price|
|+ -|| Fender Mustang 1 V2 |
Total of 4.67/5
Impressive features for an above-average practice amp.
|+ -|| Orange Crush 20RT Guitar Amp |
Total of 4.58/5
Practice like a rock star without upsetting the neighbors.
|+ -|| Fender Champion 20 |
Total of 4.83/5
A classic Fender combo with dozens of built-in tones and effects.
|+ -|| Boss Katana Mini |
Total of 4.83/5
A compact but versatile powerhouse that’s perfect for practice.
|+ -|| Peavey Vypyr VIP 3 |
Total of 4.83/5
The epitome of modeling versatility great for home and limited stage use.
|+ -|| Blackstar ID: Core 10 V2 |
Total of 4.90/5
Blackstar's take on fully integrated modeling amps in the super compact segment.
|+ -|| Peavey Solo 12W |
Total of 4.73/5
A great practice amp with just enough features to be dangerous.
Fender Mustang 1 V2
Thanks to amps like this Mustang 1 V2, practice no longer has to be a dull affair! Fender has taken many of the features from their impressive Mustang collection of solid-state amps, and stuffed them into this compact unit.
The headlining feature is the collection of amp presets that range from classic Fender cleans to high-gain metal distortion, as well as a multitude of built-in effects. Supporting this is 20 watts of power and a quality Fender speaker. This means that this little beauty is a great amp for experienced guitarists looking for something to jam with, as well as beginners taking their first lessons.
Give our complete Mustang 1 V2 review a read to see how it rises above most of the competition.
Orange Crush 20RT Guitar Amp
If you want an amp small enough to practice anywhere, but still feel like a total rock star while doing it, then the 20RT is a worthy contender.
It features Orange’s respected Voice of the World 8” speaker, with a sound that has unbelievable depth for an amp of this size. Whatever your genre, you can find the perfect tone with the 20RT's 3-band EQ, which has great clarity across the board. Make your sound more vibrant and spacious with the built-in reverb without losing any of that clarity.
The CabSim feature perfectly emulates an Orange 4x12 cabinet, so you sound like you are playing an arena in your headphones, all without annoying the neighbors. Check out our full Orange Crush 20RT review for more.
Fender Champion 20
For players on a budget looking for a good-sounding and versatile amp, the Fender Champion 20 has all you need. This solid-state combo from the biggest name in guitars offers outstanding tones and unmatched versatility at this price.
The Champ 20 features 12 different amp models, including tweed, Blackface, British, and metal voicings. The three different voicings in each category give you the flexibility to nail whatever sound you’re looking for.
Beyond the voicings, this amp also offers effects from reverb and delay to wah, chorus, and tremolo. While they leave a little to be desired, they offer beginners an exceptional way to experiment with their sound at a low cost. For a more in-depth look, check out our full review of the Fender Champion 20.
Boss Katana Mini
What's important when practicing? Ultimately, it’s having an amp that has a nice tone, enough features to encourage creativity, and is compact enough to take anywhere. The Katana Mini ticks all of these boxes, which is why it is classed as one of the best practice amps around today.
It's a tiny amp with a big sound, largely thanks to its multi-stage analog gain circuit. Built-in delay adds warmth and depth to your tone and three switchable amp types mean this 7-watt amp is packed with versatility.
There's also a 3-band EQ section, so there's plenty of sound-shaping flexibility. We still can't believe all of this weighs under 3lbs! Check it out in our full Boss Katana Mini review.
Peavey Vypyr VIP 3
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.
Blackstar ID: Core 10 V2
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.
Peavey Solo 12W
Practice amps are dime a dozen nowadays, and it may be hard to find one that rises above the rest. The Peavey Solo 12W does exactly that – and it does it well while keeping things simple.
It’s small and easy to carry around, a breeze to control, and – thanks to the built-in TransTube tube emulation – a great sounding little monster! You may find yourself wondering how that much rock and roll goodness can come from a package so tiny.
The Peavey Solo 12W is – in our opinion – just about the perfect example of what a good practice amp can be. Take a look at our full review to get the whole scoop.
The Importance of Practice Amp
One of the main mistakes many beginners make is to spend their entire budget on an electric guitar, then ‘dry practice’ for a long time before grabbing an amp. However, it’s beneficial to plug into an amp from the first chord you play, as amplification will give you important feedback on your technique.
Another issue arises from dry practice. When you play with no amp, you are unknowingly forcing yourself to play more aggressively because unplugged electric guitar is very hard to hear. In some cases, this can result in bad habits, which will be hard to get rid of down the line.
This is why it’s well worth buying a small amp to practice with from the moment you start playing guitar. The good news – as you will have seen from the chart above – is that we live in a time where you can buy a great little combo amp at a dirt-cheap price.
These allow you to give your guitar a real voice, without breaking the bank. In most cases, these amps will last you a few years, until you start to outgrow them with ambitions of recording and performing.
What Makes a Good Practice Amp?
Any guitar amp you have at your disposal can be classed as a practice amp. For example, if you practice on a stack of 4×12 Marshall cabs, this is technically a practice amp. But it’s probably not the best one. Let’s take a quick look at what features a good practice amp will have:
As most guitar practice is usually done at home, the size of the practice amp matters. In an ideal world your practice amp will be compact enough that you can store it in a cupboard or under a bed if space is an issue, while being light enough to move it around quickly (for example, when your mom/your partner/the kids are out and you want to enjoy a quick session in your alone time!).
Blasting a 100-watt stack is a wonderful experience, but it’s not something you will want to do in your home on a daily basis – unless you enjoy frequent visits from the police. Thankfully, these small practice amps are rarely overpowered by design, giving you good tone without making the practice session uncomfortably loud.
Even with a small amp, there’s no need to compromise on versatility. All amps should offer volume and gain controls, as well as 2 or 3-band EQ. Depending on the price you spend, you can pick up an affordable amp worthy of practice that still offers an excellent range of amp models and built-in effects including delay, echo and chorus. While digital effects aren’t essential to practice sessions, they can help with experimentation and overall experience.
One of the best things about a practice amp is their price. Some models are more expensive than others, but rarely will you end up paying over the odds for something you keep under your desk. In fact, some amps come in at well under $100, which allows you to factor this price into your initial spending costs.
Tube or Solid State?
The majority of practice amps are solid-state models. Why? Because they tick all the boxes for what makes a good practice amp – affordable, lightweight and easy to use. For a complete beginner, a solid-state amp makes the most sense. However, if you are a more advanced guitarist, a small tube amp to practice on can really enhance your sessions.
With the advent of low power switches, tube amps are becoming more and more suitable for low-volume practice at home. Providing you are experienced enough to make the most of them – and that you can afford the cost – a tube practice amp can be a worthwhile choice.
Head or Combo?
Another variable worth considering is whether to go for an amp head or a combo amp. Of course, 95% of practice amps are combos because they are so convenient. You don’t need a separate speaker to be heard and they are much cheaper than heads.
However, don’t completely rule out heads as they tend to add some big versatility. For example, you can practice on it via headphones at home, then easily transport it to a venue, hook it up to a cab and gig with it.
The Final Word
Practice amps are the best way to properly develop your guitar skills – whether you are a complete beginner or an experienced shredder who continues to develop his chops.
Although our chart is by no means a comprehensive breakdown of all the practice amps out there, it will certainly give you a flavor of what’s hot and will hopefully have given you some inspiration.
James Pratt, III says
What’s the best guitar practice amp for sustain and feedback? I want my stretches on the fretboard to scream in octaves.