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Pocket amplifiers are perfect for anyone who needs to hear the sound of their electric guitar but doesn’t need to fill any more space than a small room.
Bedroom guitarists may appreciate a mini amp for when they want to play late into the night without disturbing their neighbors. They are also perfect if you plan to travel with your electric guitar or just want some added sound without shaking the walls!
The best mini amplifiers and pocket amps for guitarists should be scaled-down versions of standard-sized amps. Though lightweight and discreet, they should have the same capabilities as larger models, including providing high volumes without distortion and at least two recording channels.
In this article, we’ll discuss six of the best mini amps and pocket amps for electric and electric-acoustic guitars, along with factors to consider before you buy. Let’s get started!
What are the Best Mini Amplifiers and Pocket Amps?
Guitar Mini Amplifiers Reviews
The Katana Mini is only a foot long and weighs just four pounds, but it packs huge power and awesome sonic capabilities. It has three different voicings for guitarists to plug into:
- Brown, for high-gain parts and metal-style solos
- Crunch, for a chugging rhythm guitar
- Clean, for a warm, dynamic range for pedals or an acoustic-electric guitar
The Katana Mini has virtually all the capabilities that larger amps have, including ones to control gains and delay. But most importantly, it delivers exceptional tones despite its compact size!
It operates off of six AA batteries and will work for seven straight hours. With its modest size, the Katana Mini is without a doubt one of the best portable guitar amps available.
I personally love its Crunch amp voicing, and I think it produces a powerful riffing tone with a wide dynamic range. I’ve also invested in the AC adapter so I can practice without relying on batteries.
- Amazing sounds despite its small size.
- Extremely light and portable.
- Offers three distinct voicings.
- Relies on batteries, which you must replace as they run out.
- More expensive than some others on this list.
The Blackstar Fly 3 is a 3-watt mini amp with two channels that you can connect to two separate speakers simultaneously, so you can get an even more punchy sound.
It also features Blackstar’s Infinite Shape Feature (ISF) control. The ISF dial shifts the amp’s tone stack response, making each control respond slightly differently. For example, you can set it down low for a percussive, “American” sound or up high for a warmer, crunchy, “British” sound.
Like the Katana Mini, it features a tape delay dial, allowing you to control the amp’s echo, as well as an audio line-in to play along with recorded tracks. It uses six AA batteries but only weighs two pounds.
- Lighter than most other mini amplifiers on this list.
- More tone control than other amplifiers with ISF.
- No need to plug into a power source.
- Functionality is more limited than some other amps on this list.
The Roland Micro Cube mini amp is one of the more powerful pocket amps I’ve used.
This compact combo amplifier won Best of Show at the NAMM show and comes with eight DSP effects and eight Composite Object Sound Modeling (COSM) amp models.
You can use it to mimic eight different tonal qualities, and it even has a built-in tuner.
It also includes an i-CUBE LINK input, which connects to iOS products, allowing you to play along with music on Apple products.
However, it’s also one of the slightly bigger amps on the list, weighing six pounds and standing five inches tall. So if you prioritize portability over volume or power, it may be too large for you.
However, it’s still one of the best mini amplifiers available, and it offers incredible volume in a small package.
- As powerful as a full-sized amp.
- Offers tons of control over what you sound like.
- Connects to music easily.
- Heavier than other options.
The Yamaha THR5 is a formidable battery-powered guitar amp. With an array of amp tones and onboard effects to choose from, you’ll be surprised at how good this thing sounds for bedroom practice or on-the-go performances.
It also can be paired with the free THR Editor software, which you can use to alter the effects settings on your amp (among others). Plug it into your laptop or home studio with its USB connection.
With a handle on top, the THR is great for players who want to take their electric guitar outside. Unfortunately, while it only weighs 4.5 pounds, it is one of the most expensive amps listed.
The THR5 runs off either the supplied AC adapter or eight AA batteries, so it can be played either plugged in or not. If not plugged in, the amp only runs for about six hours, but unlike other options listed, the included power supply is a bonus.
- Virtual Circuitry Modeling technology delivers an extremely realistic sound and feel.
- Simple controls and plug-ins that make editing your tone easy.
- Plugs into iPhones, MP3 players, and laptops.
- Requires more AA batteries than other options.
- Pretty expensive, but well worth it.
This is the newest mini amp on this list, so if you want the latest option with all of the bells and whistles, the Vox Mini Go 3 may be the best choice!
This amp is definitely one of the best travel amplifiers with a huge nine amps to choose from and eight effects models.
I also love that the Vox Mini Go 3 mini amp doesn’t run off of batteries, but instead, can connect to a wide range of compatible and rechargeable USB power banks to power it instead.
It weighs nearly eight pounds, so it’s one of the heavier options listed. However, heavy amps are more protective than lightweight ones, so while they’re less portable, they’re more likely to survive rough treatment.
The amp has 33 rhythm tracks that guitarists can play along to and a microphone output so you can hear yourself sing.
It also comes in several wattage varieties: 3-watt, 10-watt, and 50-watt. Of course, higher wattage will increase the power of your amp, but a 3-watt amp may be all you need for your miniature amplifier.
- Sturdy and durable outer shell that protects inner circuitry.
- Super versatile sonically to let you dial in your perfect tone.
- Uses rechargeable USB power so no need for batteries.
- Very heavy.
- Must be powered with an electricity source or third-party power bank.
This powerful Orange Crush Mini amp has a cool design with a white woven grille. It also comes in orange or black color, which you can choose between. It’s powered with one 9-volt battery or a standard 9-volt power supply.
It also has an onboard tuner, headphone output, and an AUX music input. So despite its “loud” appearance, it is perfect for practicing silently in a bedroom without causing issues with neighbors.
Unlike some other amps listed, this amplifier only weighs two pounds, so you can take it anywhere. You can bring this backpack amp to parties, hotel rooms, and even camping. Just be sure to bring a backup 9V battery!
- Awesome little amp with surprisingly nice sounds.
- Uses a single 9-volt battery.
- Lightweight design makes it ideal for transporting around.
- Not as powerful as other amps that aren't powered by batteries.
Mini Guitar Amp Buyer’s Guide
The best mini guitar amplifiers will compensate for their small size with power. Even the cheapest miniature guitar amplifiers nowadays generate so much energy that you may find yourself surprised.
So how do you pick out the right mini guitar amp for you? Here’s a quick rundown on what you should do to find the best mini guitar amp.
How To Choose the Best Mini Guitar Amp
Most mini amps will cost over $50, with some of the better choices being closer to $200. So, before you make the investment, think about the following factors.
Decide Where You’re Going To Play
To choose the best mini amp for yourself, you need first to decide where to play. The weight of the amp you choose will depend on where you want to take it.
For instance, if you’re going to take it camping, you’ll want a much lighter amp like the Boss Katana Mini and the Orange Crush Mini 3. But if you’ll be driving to a party, you could go for something heavier such as the Roland Micro Cube GX 3 or the Vox Mini Go 3.
Decide What You Want It To Look Like
Where you intend to play will influence what kind of style you’ll want to buy. If you plan to take it to parties, you might want an attractive design, while if you’re simply a bedroom guitarist, that probably doesn’t matter so much.
The Blackstar Fly is sleek, black, and very stylish. It would fit in in most situations and look great in pictures.
But if you want something a little more impressive, the Yamaha THR5 has a vintage look that will have people talking.
Look Into Capabilities and Add-Ons You Need
What kind of sound effects, like rhythm tracks, do you want to be included on your amp? Do you want a headphones output and an AUX input? Do you want to make sure that you have plenty of options to edit your tone? Research the answers to all these questions before buying your mini guitar amp.
How To Get the Best Sound Out of a Mini Amp
- Use a high-quality guitar cable: Cheap cables will give you fuzzy feedback and crackling noises as you play. Make sure to invest in a quality guitar cable.
- Buy a mini amp that plugs into a power adapter: Battery-powered amps are convenient, but they don’t have access to as much power as an adapter (at least not if they want to last more than a few hours). If you want a portable and powerful amp, buy an amp that can operate on both batteries and a power adapter.
- Practice before breaking out in public: Nothing is more embarrassing than plugging in at a party and hearing a burst of static or not being able to find the right guitar effect at the right time. So play around with your new mini amp before pulling it out at a party or coffee shop. Consider writing down the settings for your favorite tones as you find them.
These are the six best mini amplifiers for your electric guitar, as well as some handy tips on how to choose the best mini amp for you.
Luckily, none of these amps are as expensive as a full-sized amplifier, so you can get the right mini amplifier without having to break the bank!