Music Industry How To is supported by readers. When you buy via a link on our site, we’ll possibly earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you.
Ever find yourself in a situation that would be ideal if you could bring an electric guitar and amplifier? Sometimes, even a vacation would be more relaxing if you could bring along your trusty guitar to aid in relaxation.
Luckily, mini guitar amps aim to provide amplification for any casual situation you might find yourself in. As you’ll soon see, there are many worthwhile mini guitar amps, all at varying prices with reflecting features.
Boss Katana Mini – Best Overall
By now, you’ve probably heard some talk about the Boss Katana amp lineup, famous for its amp-modeling capabilities. The Katana Mini actually does not have that massive range of amplifier emulation that the lineup is known for.
With that being said, the Katana Mini has its own tricks up its sleeve. At its basic function, the Katana Mini is a 7W amplifier with a 4” speaker, with 3 different modes, including:
Right away, the Katana Mini allows you to control the amount of clipping present in the tone. Further capabilities for the shaping of tone are provided with a 3-band EQ and some built-in delay.
You’ll be able to take the Katana Mini with you anywhere, as it can be powered by 6x AA batteries. An AC adapter can be purchased to run the Katana Mini off of electricity instead.
While its basic function is quite excellent, the extra features help pack in the amplifier’s value. An auxiliary input is provided so you can practice and play along with all of your favorite songs.
Furthermore, you can use the Katana Mini as a sort of audio interface for a guitar’s signal. The amplifier can be used in conjunction with a DAW to record guitar parts.
Plus, if you wanted, you could easily play using headphones. The amplifier has cab simulation to ensure that your tone will be aurally pleasing.
This really is an invaluable practice tool with capabilities far beyond what is typically found with mini amps. It isn’t often that you can digitally transmit a guitar signal to a DAW without spending more than this.
Positive Grid Spark Mini – Best Premium
You might be surprised to find out that not all mini guitar amps are inexpensive or totally equal. The Positive Grid Spark Mini (see price on Sweetwater, Amazon) has consistently destroyed expectations by over-delivering the goods.
Out of all of the miniature amps on the market, the Spark Mini has quickly become a favorite. The primary reason for this popularity is that the guitar amp just sounds extremely amazing.
In fact, it’s hard to put into words just how mind-blowing this amp actually sounds in relation to its size. If you’re a busker, the Spark Mini will allow you to shine and stop crowds on the sidewalk.
At the core, the Spark Mini is a 10W solid-state amplifier. However, one thing that makes it great is that it actually has stereo construction with a pair of 2” speakers.
The amp’s frame has a circular hole in the bottom to allow a more pristine representation of bass frequencies. This provides a more full and natural sound and alleviates that mid-range focus often heard with mini guitar amps.
Already, the Spark Mini is almost unlike anything else you’ll likely find on the market. The majority of the mini guitar amps on the market rely on 1 single speaker to provide sound.
This amplifier goes above and beyond standard amplification by offering a massive list of features which include:
- 33 amp models
- 43 different effects (with varieties from all subset families of effects)
- Headphone output
- Auxiliary input
The Spark Mini is also equipped with 4 different preset modes which affect the tone’s gain staging. This is controllable by a dedicated knob, with options including:
Interestingly enough, you can also pipe in audio from an external source using its Bluetooth connectivity. A USB-C connection is also provided for easy connectivity with a computer device and easy recording within a DAW.
If you use Positive Grid’s mobile application, the benefits and value soar above and beyond what’s already been listed. You’ll be able to utilize a number of different tools, including:
- A real-time virtual band for improvised jam practice
- Multi-track recording
- Ability to slow songs down and isolate parts for practice
- Generate chord sheets for songs imported from a music library
The Spark Mini is more than what is typically recommended one should spend on a mini guitar amp. But it is one of the few occasions where the cost is actually justified by both its offerings and performance.
This is more than just a simple mini guitar amp. The Spark Mini can be utilized as an effective tool for practice and skill growth.
Danelectro Honeytone N-10 – Best Budget
This is about as simple of a mini guitar amp as you might be able to find. However, it has the necessary essentials and has a degree of portability due to its overall size.
For starters, the Honeytone N-10 is a 1.5W solid-state amplifier with a single 2.5” speaker. This guitar amplifier's tone is quite surprising for how inexpensive it costs.
You’ll find the Honeytone N-10’s interface to be simplistic and easy to navigate. The amplifier’s volume knob doubles as both a volume control and an on/off function switch.
There is also a single knob available to control the EQ of the amp’s sound. This is somewhat similar to the tone knob you’d find on an overdrive pedal.
Speaking of overdrive, the Honeytone N-10 has a dedicated knob for overdrive clipping levels. This adds extra gain and boost and helps the guitar not sound flat like some clean tones can be.
Overall, if you don’t want to spend much for an amplified tone, this is one of your best bets. You’ll have a functional tone that sounds extra cool coming from its retro plastic housing design.
Fender Mustang Micro
By alternative, it’s important to note that the Mustang Micro isn’t exactly a mini guitar amp in the traditional sense. This is a mini guitar amp in the sense that it’s actually a headphone amplifier designed for silent practice.
With that being said, the Mustang Micro has a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and loads of features, including:
- 12 amp models
- 13 different effects
- Easy EQ control
- Bluetooth capabilities
A USB connection even lets you connect to a DAW to record guitar tracks.
You will need to have a dedicated set of hard-wired headphones to use the Mustang Micro.
The Mustang Micro is a little pricey for some budgets but it offers some excellent functions in a small package. You’ll have no issues slipping this into a small pocket for easy transportation.
Fender Frontman 10G
Let’s be honest, some mini guitar amps can be incredibly small. This, in turn, doesn’t always equate to the best tone or the most volume possible.
The Frontman 10G is actually more akin to a typical used practice amp that you’d find in a pawn shop. It’s a 10W solid-state amplifier with a 6” speaker that is focused primarily on simple amplification.
This amp comes equipped with a 2-band EQ, a headphone jack, and an auxiliary input. Plus, it comes decked out in that classic Fender amplifier aesthetic.
So, while it might not be a traditional mini guitar amp in overall size, its inclusion here serves a purpose. For roughly the same price as some other amps, slightly larger amplifiers can be found.
The Frontman 10G is an incredibly simplistic amplifier but comes with some essential features. It might not have USB connectivity, but it does ensure you can practice your favorite tracks.
Plus, you can even plug in the headphones so that you don’t annoy your neighbors by practicing at 2 AM.
Out of all the mini guitar amps, none is as iconic as the Marshall MS-4 (see price on Sweetwater, Amazon). This is usually the first mini guitar amplifier that guitarists come across when surveying the market’s offerings.
Part of what makes it so famous has to do with the iconic legacy and symbology of the Marshall full-stack. These are the amplifiers of the arena rock era and will forever be considered legendary.
The MS-4 doesn’t sound nearly as large due to its obvious size discrepancy. However, it is one mini guitar amp that is often highly recommended because of how excellent it sounds.
This is a 1W solid-state amplifier driving a pair of 2” speakers. Where this amplifier shines is in providing a surprisingly rich overdrive distortion sound.
The amp itself has a control knob for:
You can power the amp by using either a 9V battery or a standard 9V AC power supply. The AC power supply will need to be purchased separately.
This mini guitar amp brings a classic aesthetic with surprisingly tasteful tones. Plus, you can even plug in some headphones to rock out silently.
Orange Crush Mini
Orange is especially famous for packing in massive sound and volume in small sizes. The company actually has a range of small amplifiers designed to provide portable, quality tones on a budget.
With the Crush Mini, you’re getting a 3W solid-state combo amplifier driving a 4” speaker. The amplifier itself has features such as:
- Tone shape control
- Gain control
- Headphone output
- Auxiliary input
- Built-in tuner
A speaker output allows you to connect an 8-ohm speaker and use the Crush Mini as an amplifier head. This is especially useful for anyone as it means you only need a speaker cabinet for live performance situations.
Orange is a brand that is especially noted for making the most of solid-state technology. This is worthy of anyone needing a utility amp that can double down as a live rig component if necessary.
Fender Mini '57 Twin-Amp
As you would expect, this amplifier has that iconic blonde-colored tweed telex and red-brown grill cover. The amp is a perfectly scaled-down version of the original, offering 1W of power driving a pair of 2” speakers.
This inclusion of 2 speakers in stereo does help add more definition to the guitar’s overall tone. To shape the tone, Fender has provided a single knob each for:
- On/Off power
The Mini ’57 Twin-Amp does have distortion that you can use to saturate your tone to a heavily overdriven sound. You can even use the amp with headphones or plug it into an external speaker if desired.
This is a solid amp with extreme portability (running off a 9V battery or power supply) at a reasonable price.
Blackstar FLY 3 Acoustic
This mini Blackstar amp comes in a crisp off-white color that is sure to look professional in any coffee shop. Yes, it’s true, you could almost use this in semi-professional and casual performance settings.
The FLY 3 is a 3W solid-state amplifier driving a single 3” speaker. On the interface, you’ll find a decent amount of features being offered for the price, including:
- 2-band EQ (knobs for bass and treble)
- Volume level
- Built-in echo delay/reverb effect with controllable level
This amp is also equipped with a headphone jack, as well as an auxiliary input jack. Playing along with your favorite songs while remaining quiet in the room is a reality with this amp.
The FLY 3 has some of the best battery life capabilities on the market. With 6x AA batteries, the FLY 3 is rated to operate at full capacity for up to 55 hours.
Fender Mini '65 Twin
Another popular mini guitar amp in the community is the Fender Mini ’65 Twin (see price on Sweetwater, Amazon). It has all of that classic aesthetic vibe that can help to keep you inspired while practicing.
The amp has a 1W power rating, which drives a pair of 3” speakers, giving a nice and crisp tone. Controls on the amps interface include single knobs for:
- On/Off power
- Tonal EQ focus range
- Overall volume level
- Amount of gain in the signal
With enough gain, you can definitely get some tasty crunch and squealing overtones. The amp even comes with a stand, allowing you to tilt it toward your face like with a full-size amp.
If you wanted, you can even strap the Mini ’65 Twin to your belt for extreme portability. This might be the mini amp of choice for any parade march you might find yourself in.
Silent playing is also possible with its headphone output. A 9V battery or power adapter can be used for power.
There’s no denying the iconic symbology of a Marshall full-stack. However, even just a Marshall half-stack is just as iconic in its own right.
The Marshall MS-2 (see price on Sweetwater, Amazon) is a fun, miniaturized replica of a Marshall half-stack. This 1W amp dives a single 2” speaker, and, as you might expect, really delivers if you want some crunch.
Marshall makes it incredibly easy and straightforward to get set up and ready to play. A knob is available to turn the amp on to either normal mode or an overdrive mode with increased gain.
From there, Marshall provides a knob for volume and a knob for tone. This means less time fiddling with knob settings and more time playing.
Plus, it’s slightly more affordable and portable than its miniature full-stack sibling. Just a single 9V battery and an instrument cable are all you need to get rocking.
Fender Mini Tonemaster
The Fender Mini Tonemaster (see price on Sweetwater, Amazon) is very similar to the other Fender mini amplifiers. However, this amp is actually more affordable, and, in some aspects, built with more features.
The Mini Tonemaster is a 1W solid-state amplifier driving a pair of 2” speakers. It’s one of the most affordable mini amps offering a stereo speaker setup while remaining quite durable.
Control knobs on the Mini Tonemaster control parameters such as:
- Power (On/Off)
This generally tends to have a pleasant mid-range tone that can sound quite surprising with some gain in the mix. A kickstand is provided for angling the amplifier, as is a headphone output.
The Mini Tonemaster requires either a 9V battery or a 9V power supply.
Vox amPlug 2 AC30
This headphone amplifier, powered by 2x AA batteries, is based on the actual AC30 circuit. It comes with a trio of modes along with 9 different built-in effects and supports Aux-in capabilities.
If silent playing is your primary goal, this is highly worth considering. It’s one of the most affordable options to be found in this article.
Sounding good while using headphones can be a challenge, which is why so many are turned off by them. This helps to provide that iconic British chime, ensuring you stay inspired while practicing on the go.
What To Look For When Buying A Mini Guitar Amp
Like anything that you spend money on, it’s best to know a few things regarding mini guitar amps. Having the basic knowledge will make the most of your money when you do purchase a mini guitar amp.
Because let’s face it, nobody wants to waste their money, no matter how inexpensive a purchase might be. Or, if money was to be wasted, perhaps it could be allocated to a more enjoyable form of expenditure.
As you might guess, much of what is important when buying a mini guitar amp comes down to you personally. The following paragraphs will help you to get an idea of what your own specific needs are.
If you’re purchasing a mini guitar amp as a gift, you might be even more perplexed. However, you can be assured that you can still make an informed purchase by putting yourself in the guitarist’s shoes.
Manage Your Expectations
Before we get any further, there is one very important thing you will need to realize about mini guitar amps. However, whether it is an actual shocking surprise to you will depend completely on your expectations.
These mini guitar amps are not going to sound exactly like the godliest tones you’ve ever heard recorded. They will not sound like a true, authentic full-stack of cabinets pulsing out sonic glory at maximum volume.
Some people (though probably a small percentage) do get their hopes dashed when the rubber of reality meets the road. These amplifiers were never designed with the intention of performing in front of an audience at Madison Square Garden.
It might be cruel, but the shattering of illusions is often required to get to the truth. With that being said, as long as you’re fully aware of this, you can be more realistic about your purchase.
Do All Mini Guitar Amps Sound Terrible?
Just because a mini guitar amp won’t sound like a full-size amplifier does not imply that it sounds bad. After all, taste and the judgment of whether something is good or not is completely subjective to each individual person.
Trust your ears when you listen to the sound that a mini guitar amp produces when trying it out. If it sounds good and pleasing to you, chances are that it might sound good to others, too.
Mini guitar amps are built with extremely small speakers (compared to the common 10” and 12” speakers in full-size amps). Because of this, the tone takes on a focus in the mid-range frequencies with a hint of more treble.
These types of amplifiers are also prone to creating a clipping sound similar to an overdrive pedal. This effect gets much more pronounced if the amp has a setting for high-gain operation.
There are actually a number of professional musicians that have taken a liking to the distorted mini amp’s sound. Bands such as The Black Keys and Queens of the Stone Age have used these in recordings.
Depending on your purpose for a mini guitar amp, sounding “good” might not be a necessity. If so, this is one of the few times when it’s actually okay to place function over the quality of sound.
You probably never would have thought to hear that there are some situations where a disregard for tone is okay. Believe it, there are times when such cares are completely unrealistic, and this can be one of them.
For What Purpose Do You Need The Mini Guitar Amp?
Now that you understand that mini amps aren’t a professional solution, it’s time to dial in your intentions. How do you wish to use the mini guitar amp, and what can it provide to your guitar life?
Mini guitar amps are built to provide a level of convenience and portability that doesn’t exist with traditional amps. You could easily fit these amplifiers into a large pocket or a backpack for travel and play anywhere.
Because of this, they make an obvious candidate for any situation that involves travel. Whether hiking a trail or going on vacation, a mini guitar amp will ensure you can amplify an electric guitar.
However, it must not be overlooked that mini guitar amps can also be quite useful for daily practice. They aren’t the best platform for pedals, but they are more than suitable enough for simple dexterity and scale exercises.
Maybe you’re looking for something that can do all of the aforementioned tasks and more. Take your time when sifting the market and pay attention to both the overall size and the number of features.
Although mini guitar amps are quite small, some of them are a little more portable than others. Also, extra features are nice but do not always equate to a superior product.
Because of the overall size, some of the features might be poorly executed (though well-intentioned). You’ll need to try each out for yourself to determine if the extra features are worth the bump in cost.
More often than not, you’re probably better off going with something that provides straightforward amplification with an additional gain setting. However, if you need extra features, there are some models that perform quite well (as previously mentioned in this article).
However, some mini guitar amps are relatively suitable for sidewalk busking situations. If this is you, be prepared to spend a little more money to have this beyond-average capability.
One of the things that play into how cool a mini amp can be is its aesthetics. More often than not, these are designed to replicate miniature versions of classic amplifiers.
Again, keep in mind, they probably won’t sound exactly like the amplifier that they are replicating in form. Rather, this is just a decorative function of the amp but you’d be surprised at how influential it can be.
Think about it, your environment and the things that surround you play a role in your overall mood and attitude. Surround yourself with positive things and you might be more inspired creatively.
Something else to consider with mini guitar amps is whether there is an alternative available that is more logical overall. There were several alternatives mentioned in this article that still fall under the umbrella of a mini amp.
While still earning the designation, these types of mini amps have different construction and methodology altogether. For instance, a headphone amplifier could very well meet all of your personal needs with the benefit of silent play.
Again, much of this will be completely dependent upon your own specific needs and the intended purpose of the amp.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, you will need to give serious thought to your budget. The products in this article should have illustrated that mini guitar amps come at a wide range of prices.
As you would expect, the features and benefits that come with each amp are usually reflected in the price. For the most basic mini guitar amp on the market, you could easily spend less than $30.
A good majority of the average mini guitar amps on the market range from about $50 to $80. These will usually have classic aesthetics and are able to crank out sufficient tones for personal enjoyment.
Could you spend more than that on a mini guitar amp? You certainly could, and you could also easily spend nearly $300 if you wanted to.
But when you seriously consider that price, it’s important to consider if your money is being well-spent. You could easily purchase a larger solid-state amplifier for that kind of money.
Heck, you could even go to your local pawn shop to see if they have any used practice amps available. More often than not, you could walk away with a feasible mini guitar amp for $20 or less.
Again, much of it will depend on your needs, which is why it is important to know what you need.
Only need something to amplify a signal when your guitar is on the workbench? The cheapest mini amp available will probably be sufficient enough.
If you want a mini amp that packs in utility for situations beyond personal entertainment, you’ll pay a premium.
Don’t be afraid to take your time and weigh all your options against one another. If possible, make sure you try each one to ensure you’re getting your money’s worth.
Best Brands For Mini Guitar Amps
Not sure what brand is worth your time when it comes to mini guitar amps? If you’re unsure of reputable brands, you could easily waste your money on something borderline unusable.
Take a chance on mini amps from the following brands if you’re in doubt or unsure. The miniature amplifiers crafted by these companies are all relatively well-received in the guitar community.
Fender is one of the most widely-recognized guitar companies worldwide. The company’s guitar, bass, and amplifier model lines have created some of the greatest music ever recorded.
Fender produces a massive range of miniature amplifiers ranging in price, utility, and aesthetic. Many of these models are miniature replications of some of the most iconic amplifiers in history.
Marshall is undoubtedly one of the most well-known name brands in guitar amplification. If you’ve seen pictures of guitarists from 1960-1980 on stage, chances are likely that a Marshall stack was involved.
These British amplifiers are responsible for helping to amplify guitars in arenas and large clubs. The company’s miniature amplifiers are fun little replicas that actually produce plenty of tasteful tones.
Best Mini Guitar Amps, Final Thoughts
Mini guitar amps might not be a necessary accessory, but they can add convenience and enjoyment to your life. These tiny little amplifiers allow you to plug in and crank out the sonic gold, no matter where you are.
Plus, they make for excellent gift ideas, especially for the guitarist in your life who is difficult to shop for. Make sure all of your guitar-playing friends have one so that everyone can jam anywhere at a moment’s notice.