This article is about the best small guitar amp for gigs and why you should get one too.
Recently a friend of mine stopped over and wanted to record some new guitar tracks. How,ever I didn’t realize we were going to record on a mini guitar amp. He said, just wait until you hear it you’re going to love it! It’s you’re recording I said, and I hope you’re right!
I put two Shure SM 57’s on the amp slightly angled to the left and to the right. We began the session and as we went along I was amazed by not only the tone being a nice overdrive with a full bottom-end shape that really brought out wonderful unique guitar sound.
What I loved about this was the fact that this is small guitar amp that has just reproduced a large Fender twin sound on the recording. If you read more below I go into some really cool detail about the world of recording small amplifiers from bands like Cake and the Grateful dead.
But first I HAD to get one. So I asked Bob, what the was the he liked? This one obviously, referring to what we just used for the recording! HAHA, you’re right but I want to come up with a list for the website of the top 5 TOP ones. He agreed and Below you’ll see our recommendations.
BEST SMALL GUITAR AMP FOR GIGS AND RECORDING
Advantages of a smaller amp
- Portable – Well using a mini amplifier takes the load off your back. Being an average of 15 pounds these can easily be carried to the practice, the gig downtown or where ever it needs to be. Lite as a feather.
- Affordable – The price really is reasonable for a guitar amp. The cheapest one listed above is around $50 and the highest is $120. But they all average around $70 dollars for a decent amp.
- Sounds Great – Don’t think because they are smaller than a normal sized amp that the sound quality isn’t the same. I’m not saying there the same, but to be honest the sound on the recording are pretty darn good. The deal is, you’re not going to lose sound quality you’re going to just not be as loud. Which comes to my next point.
- Are they loud? – They actually are loud. Will they work with drums and a full band? Possibly, here is why. If you’re going to be playing a gig, most modern PA systems can mic the amp and it will sound great thru the system. I’ve seen it before actually. But to be honest, these are just great amps for practice and recording.
Small Amp, Big Sound
Not sure the exact date of this picture, but I’m assuming it dates to late 60’s to early 70’s. This is Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead playing on a what looks like the fender champ. A great little amp with solid tone. Using only a 6″ speaker and tubes, this little amp had a whole 5 watts of power!
Now it’s not of my knowledge at the moment, but I am trying to research more. The rumor is, this amp and even smaller amps were part of the American Beauty album.
And it’s no wonder, using a smaller amp with the natural guitar sound slightly distorted, just has a wonderful tone to it.
Have you ever heard of the band Cake, and their first album fashion nugget? Take a listen to that interesting guitar sound. Now, i’m not saying that’s what yours needs to sound like. But it sure is interesting how the used that amp and recorded it in such an interesting way. The sound seems as if the amp is surely a smaller one but they also have it panned like 3/4 to the left. Overall, a great recording and unique techniques used to get that sound.
BEST SMALL GUITAR AMP FOR GIGS REVIEWS
This is the Fender Mustang I V2 Combo amp. A very impressive sound for it size and added bonus that I’ve never really seen before, it has a USB port so you can plug-in to your computer or laptop.
Here are some great features:
- 20-watts weighing 16 pounds
- Built-in presets of different sounds for almost any genre of music
- Plug-in your MP3 player and jam along
- USB – MAC or PC, plug this in and start to record your guitar tracks. Comes with software.
- 5 year warranty
A great practice amp, small gig amp and even recording sessions. A true value for what you get. The body is built really solid. I like the bright LED lights that light up the top of the fender. The control knobs are big and easy to use. It may be small the but you still get that rich deep sound as any other amp. I haven’t tried connecting it to the computer yet, but Bob says that’s when you can truly find some great tones using the FUSE software.
I have always loved the sound of the Orange amps. A simple to use guitar head that has only a few knobs. Here Orange has given us a downs-sized version of their bigger models The orange crush amp is fun, check out these features:
- TWIN CHANNEL COMBO GUITAR AMP
- HIGH GAIN PREAMP, 3 BAND EQ, AUX IN & HEADPHONES OUTPUT
- 20 – WATTS OF POWER WEIGHING 16 POUNDS
- FOOTSWITCH JACK (FOOTSWITCH OPTIONAL)
- VINTAGE SOUND
I really like this little amp, I would personally use this for small gigs. It works really well for recording, getting those vintage highs and balanced lows and mids. Practice with the rest of the band, this sucker is pretty loud, now it’s not a half-stack but it would work.
Small but sound great. You have a few options for tone. Like that classic bluesy sound, or over-drive to make that crunchy hard rock sound. You can crank the amp and the ultra high-gain to get full on heavy metal distortion. Using the foot pedal you can go back and forth to clean and dirty. I really like this amp for being portable but maintaining that Orange amp sound.
- 10 – watts weighing 12 pounds
- Gain, Treble, Bass, Volume, Clean/Overdrive Switch, Power On/Off
- Vox Bulldog x 1 (6.5″, 8 ohm)
- Solid State combo amp
- Used for guitar and bass
- Outputs: Headphone/Line Out Jack
This is just a mini version of those bigger VOX amps we love. 10 watts of power and this sucker is bright. Built in solid wood box with that classic leather and basket-weave look. What I loved about what VOX did here is, they took that big sound and knew if they were going to make mini version that they could not just make small amp, they needed to replicate it. I believe they did just that, the all analog solid state design is responsive and vintage sounding, just like it should be.
Line 6 has been making some great products using digital converters to reproduce classic camp sounds for bass and guitar. That is why for the guitar player, this is a fun amp with lots of great features check them out:
- 15 -watts weight 17 pounds
- 4 amp models or create and save your own sound
- 6 stompbox and studio effects; tangy Chorus/Flange, swirly Phaser, expressive Tremolo, beautiful Tape and Sweep Echoes, and syrupy Reverb – you can use 2 at a time
- Built-in tuner
- Headphone out
- Use MP3 or CD player to play along
- Foot controller, for effects pedal like wah-wah-or distortion
This is a really fun amp that is under $100 and you really get your monies worth. It really looks sharp and comes with more bells and whistles than any other small guitar amp. Everything and more this has it. Why not have an amp that has a tuner all the effects you need and even plug-in and play along with your favorite song that you’re trying to figure out.
I think this amp is perfect for the young guitar student to the middle-aged executive rocker. It is just the perfect practice amp or use for recording and small gigs!
Another great amplifier from Fender. This is the Fender Champion 20-watt. A pretty simple straightforward amp. The sound is excellent and it’s LOUD! For its size it had me concerned but once I plugged in and starting playing, I couldn’t put it down for hours!
Here are some of the great features:
- 20 – watts weighing 15 pounds
- Built-in Effects. Turn the knob to get 17 amp models of almost all genres of music
- Classic features, body, knobs, inputs
- Headphone output (practice loud where no one can hear you!)
- 5-year warranty
Overall, the tone of this amp is really great, with lots of volume for clubs. It sounds great mic’d for live or recording. It’s very easy to use amp. For under $100 this is a very affordable and portable amp. You can’t go wrong with a Fender.
Since Bob and I recorded using his mini amp, I have been hooked on that sound. But it’s not just the sound I love, It’s the size and price. Seriously, it’s not a bad thing to add to your home studio or if you just need an amp to practice guitar.
Are mini(small) guitar amps good and are they worth it? Absolutely, I mean what is the hardest part about going over to your friend’s place to jam? Lugging all this equipment over. Just imagine for less $100 dollars you can be playing a new smaller amp without losing quality.
These aren’t some cheap sucker amps. The technology is impressive and makes things smaller sound bigger and better. So, now what do you think is a great smaller amplifier? Tell us which is the best small guitar amp out there.