There was a time when we used to practice with the amps we used on stage. Either that, or we might use an acoustic guitar. It depends on what instrument you played. Before effects became such an important element, there wasn’t a problem. Looking for the Best Practice Amps wasn’t an issue.
Nowadays, many guitar players need to practice using the sounds they will use in live performances. Understandable in an “effects-laden” world. This can be a challenge. With bass players, it can be even more of a challenge.
Until recently, there were no provisions made for them at all. Unless you wanted to blow up some inadequate speakers, and it just wasn’t possible or practical to drag in cabinets and an amp from the truck. So it was down to an acoustic six-string and a good imagination most of the time.
Plenty of choices…
Thankfully, things have changed, and there is a range of practice amps. Some small, with plenty of sound options and useful features. But for those that don’t need all the bells and whistles, there are some plain and simple amps. Let’s take a look at practice amps by starting with one of those…
- 1 Top 8 Best Practice Amps to Buy in 2021 Reviews
- 1.1 1 LyxPro Electric Guitar Amp 20 Watt – Best Budget Practice Amp
- 1.2 2 Fender Frontman 10 watt Guitar Amp – Best Iconic Looking Practice Amp
- 1.3 3 NUX Mighty Lite BT – Best Mini Practice Amp
- 1.4 4 VOX AP2AC amPlug 2 AC30 – Best Headphone Practice Amp
- 1.5 5 Donner M-10 – Best Built In Overdrive Practice Amp
- 1.6 6 Orange Crush Mini – Best Combo Practice Amp
- 1.7 7 Roland Micro Cube GX – Most Durable Practice Amp
- 1.8 8 Vox Pathfinder Combo (V9106) – Best Value for the Money Practice Amp
- 2 Best Practice Amps Buying Guide
- 3 Looking for more great amps or some headphones to go with your Practice Amp?
- 4 What are the Best Practice Amps?
Top 8 Best Practice Amps to Buy in 2021 Reviews
1 LyxPro Electric Guitar Amp 20 Watt – Best Budget Practice Amp
For those guitarists that don’t need endless effects built into their practice amp, this might suit you. If you are also looking for a practice amp that won’t cost an arm and a leg, then that is two reasons to keep on reading.
Nothing dramatic at all, a simple cabinet measuring just 11.2 by 4.1 by 11.6 inches, it weighs under six pounds. Easy then to keep at home and small enough to store away somewhere. It is one of the best compact practice amps on the market.
The build is quite secure, and it has corner edges protected by hard rubber. This gives it an element of strength in case it is accidentally knocked over. It is a 20-watt amp with a 5.5-inch speaker. That is more than enough for practice at home. It is a mains driven amp and has no batteries.
A single-channel amp with some basic controls. It has bass, treble, volume, and gain. There is a button that engages the Drive mode. This is an attempt to add a bit of power to the sound should you need it. We wouldn’t say it was overly successful or effective. However, it does give you a taste of overdrive, and that will be enough for some.
Some useful connections…
Besides the guitar input, there are other connections on the front panel. There is a ⅛-inch Aux in that will allow you to connect an MP3 or other device. There is also a ⅛-inch headphone socket. Finally, an off or on rocker switch.
As we said, nothing really to write home about. A plain and very simple practice amp with a decent volume that is built quite nicely. It is set at a very attractive price point. For those seeking one of the best basic practice amps, it is a good option.
- A decent build with some rubber protection on the corners.
- Basic to use controls with a 20-watt output at a very competitive price.
- Some will need better built-in features.
2 Fender Frontman 10 watt Guitar Amp – Best Iconic Looking Practice Amp
Fender is always a name that carries some weight in musical circles. They have been through times when they were the very best. But that was a long time ago.
These days the quality of what they produce doesn’t reach that level. Some things they do well, and at other times they are just terrible. This amp, though, sits in the doing quite well range.
Fender’s smallest amp…
The 10-watt Frontman is the smallest amp that Fender makes. It measures just 5.75 by 10.25 by 11 inches and weighs just over eight pounds. It is one of the best student practice amps on our list. But it has an appreciative following amongst those who see it as a decent practice amp.
If you are going to buy a Fender amp, then, in our opinion, it needs to look like one. That means it must be a Tweed, Silverface, or Blackface. Some of the new amp designs they employ make us wonder what on earth they are thinking. They are probably not thinking at all. Thankfully this has got the Blackface look. Iconic is the word to use.
The single-channel 10-watt output is handled by a six-inch speaker with a special design. The cabinet’s rear design is closed, which adds a little bottom end.
It is well-made with a black textured vinyl covering. That is complemented by the silver speaker cloth and the Blackface control panel. As we said, if you are going to buy a Fender amp, you want it to look like one. This does.
Fender has spent a little time getting this little amp right. They have custom-voiced the built-in Overdrive, and it certainly has a great tone. It has quite a wide variety of sounds.
Everything from Blues to Metal can be dragged out of this little amp. Plus, of course, it will give you that well-known Clean Tone. If you want one of the best Fender practice amps, this one is worth a closer look.
Not elaborate, just what is needed. One input and bass, treble, and volume controls. There is also a Gain. The Gain control is selectable and will give you everything from gentle distortion to the full works. Likewise, there is a selectable overdrive switch.
Also on the front are a ⅛-inch Aux input and a ⅛-inch socket for headphones. The Aux-in will let you connect up a device to play along with your music.
An easy-to-use amp that has an uncluttered operation. Good tones, user controls, and it looks the part. A very attractive price point as well. Well done Fender, this must be considered as one of the Best Practice Amps around.
- Great looking Fender Blackface amp with very good sound features built-in.
- Easy to use, compact amp at a great price.
3 NUX Mighty Lite BT – Best Mini Practice Amp
This NUX Mini Portable Modeling Guitar Amp is a new breed of amps that we are seeing. They certainly have their place in some situations. Known as mini-class low wattage amps, they offer new practice opportunities anywhere.
It is an amp that has been designed for you to take anywhere. It is small enough at 6.54 by 3.86 by 4.88 inches and only weighs 2.3 pounds. Therefore, it is one of the best portable practice amps you can buy.
It is made predominantly of plastic. So, it can be a bit vulnerable in certain situations. If you are carrying it around, just be careful with it, and it will be fine.
One feature we see more and more on these portable amps is the inclusion of a Bluetooth connection. This amp carries that connection and also an Aux line in. This lets you play along with music from websites or use your playlists.
Three power-up options…
It will run using six AA batteries or from a power bank using the USB port. It can also be powered by a 9-volt power adapter. This is not supplied with the amp and is a separate purchase. That said, it’s one of the best battery powered practice amps around.
Because it can be used with batteries or a power bank, that means you can take it anywhere for practice. Now you can see why we said at the beginning you can practice anywhere.
It only produces three watts of output, but that will be enough for some. It has three channels, Clean, Overdrive, and for when you want to let rip, Distortion. There is also a very useful Digital Delay and reverb built-in.
An added feature is the inclusion of a basic drum machine with nine different patterns. There is a tap tempo control. An excellent inclusion.
These are placed on the top in a recess. This is a user-friendly amp with basic and simple controls. There are rotating knobs for gain, volume, tone, delay, and reverb. Also, the controls for the drum machine, connections for the Aux-in, and headphone socket. The Nux website allows you to download the latest version of the Firmware.
A decent little amp with some nice features. However, it’s quite expensive given the power rating. And the fact that Nux is not the first name you think of in guitar amplification. But its portability makes it worthy of consideration.
- Very portable take anywhere desktop amp.
- Has some useful built-in sound and rhythm features.
- Quite expensive.
4 VOX AP2AC amPlug 2 AC30 – Best Headphone Practice Amp
Talking about practice amps you can take anywhere, how about this? In looking at practice amps, the keyword is practice. Most people will want to practice from time to time. Not everyone will have a suitable facility to do so. In an attempt to be as wide-ranging as possible for practice amps, we include this little beauty.
An immediately recognizable Vox design, it doesn’t need too much said about it. One of the most iconic stylings in rock music, it oozes its iconic status, even in a little amp that is so small.
This is a little headphone amp that you can carry around in your pocket. So, you can practice anywhere. There are a few of these on the market, but some have a problem that this doesn’t encounter.
The jack plug rotates 180 degrees. That means it will fit the plug socket of any guitar, including a Strat. Some headphone practice amps don’t do that. Unfortunately, there’s no rechargeable battery. It takes AA-size batteries. You should get about 15-17 hours of use from each battery change.
You will be hoping for a “Vox” sound, and you won’t be disappointed. As the circuits are analog, it is going to give you the sound. That “chimey” Vox sound is there as well as the tremolo effect the AC30 was famous for.
There are also Chorus, Reverb, and Delay built-in. Each with three sonic variations. That means you have nine different variations on the effects, plus tremolo. Not too bad for something that fits in your pocket.
If you are looking for a way to practice on the move. Or you are going to practice at home but don’t want a floor-standing amp. Then this is certainly an option. The guitar plugs straight into it, but you will either need headphones or earbuds.
As an alternative, we think it is a great idea. And doesn’t it just look the part? Set at an attractive price point, it is worth considering.
- Plenty of effects built-in and easy to use.
- That Vox look at a very attractive price point.
- It will be inconvenient for some people.
5 Donner M-10 – Best Built In Overdrive Practice Amp
Let’s return to a floor-standing amp; this an offering from Donner. They a Chinese company you won’t be surprised to hear and make a range of very cost-effective amps and effects pedals. Not built to compete with the “big boys” of the amp world, rather they are built to be easy to use and affordable. If you have a problem with Chinese products, it will be time to move on.
If you are looking for a decent amp, stay with us. The irony of that is around 75% of what we use is built there. We just don’t know it.
It has a sturdy and quite strong build quality. It measures 12.2 by 7.09 by 5.51 inches and weighs just under 11 pounds. The corners have metal protectors, and there are four feet, one at each corner.
There is a certain resemblance to a Fender amp with its black vinyl and silver speaker cloth. Perhaps imitating the Silver and Blackface designs. If so, that puts this amp ahead of Fender in looks when compared with some of the recent amps they have produced.
Only ten watts, but this is geared to those who like to make some noise. It delivers a range of sounds, but it is the heavyweight distortion where it does quite well. The result is one of the best overdrive practice amps currently available.
It is a single channel amp with treble and bass and volume control. There’s an overdrive control that piles it on as you rotate it. And there is an overdrive off and on switch. It has a 3.5mm input interface for an APP effector.
There is a ¼-inch instrument input as well as a ⅛ inch aux for connection to your devices, along with a ⅛-inch headphone jack socket. Therefore, you can play away without disturbing the neighbors to your playlists. A nice little amp with some useful effects. It is well-built and represents good value for money.
- Well-built at a cost-effective price.
- Some good effects, especially the overdrive.
- Some may need a bit more volume.
6 Orange Crush Mini – Best Combo Practice Amp
The first time we saw one of Cliff Cooper’s creations, it was a moment you could never forget. First, it was the look. The bright orange amp with black lettering. The cabinet, bright orange, with that basketweave speaker cloth. It looked great.
But then he turned it on. We had been used to our Marshall 100-watt amps which took your socks off. Cliff’s amp took your socks and your shoes. Half a dozen people in the studio looked at each other and nodded silently. No words were necessary. It was 1968, and there was a new kid on the block.
Standards haven’t changed…
Since then, Orange has maintained the standards of great quality and the look that says this is Orange. Unlike some, who shall be nameless, they haven’t messed around with color schemes or invented new logos. They do it the way we want it.
Can you have a 3-watt amp that has an attitude?
Don’t say no; it will get upset, and you don’t want that. This is a little monster. For those with the Orange obsession, this will satisfy you. It is powered by a 9-volt battery or standard 9-volt mains adapter. Please note the adapter is not supplied.
Simple but effective to use, it has Gain, EQ, and volume. There are connections for ⅛-inch Aux input for an MP3 or other device and a ⅛-inch headphone socket.
The Gain is fully adjustable and will take you from clean to that thundering Orange overdrive some of us remember. A nice little extra is that it has an onboard tuner controlled from the top panel.
Is a typical Orange quality. Ready for anything and tough as old boots. It is a compact little unit measuring just 5.9 by 5.7 by 3.26 inches and weighing under two pounds. Therefore, it’s one of the best lightweight practice amps currently on sale.
You get a bit extra thrown in with this amp. There is an instrument cable for the guitar and 24 picks, plus a cleaning cloth. A great little amp for practice at home, it is set at a reasonable price point.
- Great Orange build and look.
- Authentic Orange sounds from crispy clean to heavyweight overdrive.
- Some may feel they need more power.
7 Roland Micro Cube GX – Most Durable Practice Amp
From Roland’s Cube range comes the Micro Cube. Small it is, but it still packs a punch. When Roland makes their amps, especially models like the Cube series, they have a big advantage over other manufacturers.
In 1976 Roland introduced the Boss range of pedals and effects. We all know what that means. And when Roland makes an amp and needs effects, they have a ready-made product. One that other amp manufacturers cannot compete with. So. let’s look at what the Micro Cube is all about.
Compact is probably an understatement as it measures just 12 inches by 12 inches. And weighing only seven pounds, it is easy to carry around. Another element of Boss is included in the build. It is tough and ready for anything. A Boss trait with their pedals. And it also has a carrying handle.
It only puts out three watts but still has a five-inch speaker. And this three watts seems a bit of a conservative estimate. The speaker is more than capable of handling what it puts out and doesn’t break up as you increase the volume.
Has it got any special effects?
Just joking, it’s got plenty. To start with, it has seven amp settings you can call up. One of which is, guess what? Yep, probably Roland’s most famous amp, the JC-120 Jazz Chorus.
For effects, they have included Chorus, Reverb, Delay, Phaser, Flanger, and Tremolo. The controls for the delay and the reverb are included on a separate knob from the others. You also get a built-in tuner.
A reasonable number of effects and options. They are all controlled from the control panel situated on the top of the amp. With them are Gain, Volume, and Tone controls, and a tuner. Therefore, this is one of the most versatile practice amps you can buy.
Some extra connections…
There is a ⅛-inch socket for a headphone, and an interface with cable for linking to an iPod, iPad or iPhone. As a result, this is one of the best practice amps for apple users.
It runs off the AC adapter that is supplied or, if you prefer, six AA batteries. A great little amp. Perhaps a bit more expensive than some, but it is packed with goodies.
- Well-built with a rugged build. Compact and easy to carry around.
- Packed with features and effects.
- Some may find it expensive.
8 Vox Pathfinder Combo (V9106) – Best Value for the Money Practice Amp
We complete our look by taking in the 10-watt Vox Pathfinder Combo. One of those amps that when you see them, you know exactly what they are. And what they are about.
This is Vox, so it has got the look. A vintage authenticity is meticulously maintained in the design and presentation. One of the reasons it doesn’t need too much in the way of introductions. From the black vinyl to the diamond speaker cloth, it is an iconic look.
A carbon copy of its old relative, the AC30, this one measures just 17 by 8 by 12 inches and weighs 11 pounds. Easy enough to carry around if you need to. Easy enough to store away when you are not using it.
To help you carry it, the standard design Vox handle and four small feet to stand it on. It delivers 10 watts of sound through an excellent 6.5-inch speaker.
These are located at the top of the cabinet in a recess out of the way. They are basic but all you need. There is a treble, bass, and volume, and gain. Also, a push button that will take you between that historic Vox clean sound to some overdrive.
Applying the gain will take you into the higher realms of distortion. A million miles away from the “chimey” sounds on the clean setting. Furthermore, there’s a headphone/lineout jack socket. This has a filtered signal that allows you late-night practice or even direct recording.
When you see a Vox amp, you already know a little of what you are going to get. This amp is not loaded down with effects. You could argue it doesn’t need them. What it does have are classic Vox sounds. For many, that would be quite enough. A great little amp and certain to be considered as one of the best.
- Great build with an iconic look.
- Clean and Overdrive Vox sounds.
Best Practice Amps Buying Guide
What you choose will be strictly determined by how you will use it. We all need to practice. But just how and where do you practice?
At home? If so, then you have a choice of virtually all that we have looked at. There are a variety of sizes and even an amp you can keep in a desk drawer. If you are a little cramped for space, then the size will be an issue. But having said that, all of these amps will fit neatly away.
Practice on the move
Maybe you need something to travel with. If so, then the smaller amps are going to be best. But, be sure that the sound has mute if you are in a hotel room.
Some people need to have effects to create a similar sound to what they will be using. Others like to have some effects because you can have fun with them. Nothing wrong with either scenario.
However, you do need to ensure that the amp you choose has the effects you need onboard. Of course, you could use your pedalboard, but it may not always be to hand. Having them built-in would be something to consider.
Being able to mute the sound to let you practice at unsocial hours. So, make sure if you plug headphones in, it mutes the sound to the speakers.
They are all at reasonable prices. Some are cheaper than others for a variety of reasons. You shouldn’t have a problem finding what you need at a reasonable price.
Looking for more great amps or some headphones to go with your Practice Amp?
And if you are looking for a practice amp, you may need some headphones. So, don’t miss our Top 8 Best Headphones Under $100 review, our Audio Technica ATH M20X Review, our Sony MDR-7506 Review, our AKG K240 Studio Review, our Sennheiser PXC 550-II Review, and our Monolith M1060 Headphone Review for some amazing headphones currently available.
What are the Best Practice Amps?
Interesting decision for several reasons. We don’t need too much in the way of effects, which simplifies it a bit. We are also keen to have an amp with an iconic look, which again narrows it down a bit. For what we need, we would pick the…
The Fender is tempting, as is the Orange, but the Vox carries everything we need with some style. When it comes to practice amps, we consider it the best of the best.
Until next, may the music make you move.