Last Updated on August, 15th 2020
There’s no doubt about it—if you have an electric guitar, the best way to fully utilize that sound is to attach an amplifier. There are tons of different amplifiers available on the market, but sometimes, you need something a little less bulky and a little more portable.
Whether you need a mini amp for transporting from one place or the other, to conserve a little space, or to keep the neighbors happy during practice hours, mini amps are valuable additions to a guitarists’ arsenal.
These tiny amps make it possible to enjoy all the tonal benefits of larger amps without sacrificing room, portability, or quality.
Before you set out on getting your own mini amp, it might be helpful to look at the top-rated mini amps that are currently on the market. Our review will cover the best reasons to get a mini amp and different types of mini amps before providing a list of the best mini amps to consider investing in.
Why Choose a Mini Amp?
There are plenty of reasons why a mini amp might be more desirable than a full-size amp. For guitarists, a mini amp provides a wealth of benefits, including:
A mini amp makes it much easier to transport your amplifier from one place to the next. This is especially ideal for guitarists who have to travel for practice or rehearsal.
While larger amplifiers certainly come with volume controls, the benefit to using a mini amp is that they are meant to naturally operate at lower volumes.
For those who are practicing in a shared space—like a home or an apartment building—a mini amp is an ideal way to practice quietly without sacrificing tone quality.
It’s easy to think that choosing a mini amp means choosing a lesser quality amp, but this is certainly not the case. The best mini amps will come with comparable features of their full-size counterparts, like tone adjustments and gain adjustments.
Of course, with a smaller package and limited volume capabilities, it makes sense for mini amps to come at a lower price tag. A lower price is always a positive, particularly when considering the vast expenses that musicians face.
For some guitarists, purchasing a mini amp for practice makes the best financial sense, splurging on larger amplifiers for gigs or performances.
Buying Guide for Mini Amps
Amplifier technology has come a long way throughout the past few decades, and the emergence of the mini amp is certainly no exception.
Just as with standard amplifiers, there are a few general considerations to take when looking for the best mini amp. Structurally, these considerations range from the technology inside the mini amp itself to the size of the speaker cabinet.
For those who are looking to purchase their first mini amp, it may help to know how each of these components contributes to the overall sound and performance of the amplifier.
Types of Amplifier Technology
There are four different kinds of technology used when making mini amps:
Valve (Tube) Amps
This is the oldest type of amp design, and it uses vacuum tubes to amplify sound. This type of technology produces the warm, crisp tone that musicians typically look for in an amplifier. Look here for our tube amp review info.
Rather than using vacuum tubes, solid-state amps employ transistors for the power and pre-amp portions. This makes a clean sound more affordable and therefore more accessible to a greater range of musicians.
Just as the name suggests, these mini amps operate solely through digital technology. Rather than relying on vacuum tubes or transistors, the same classic tonality can be achieved through digital programming.
What makes these mini amps particularly desirable is that they can be programmed to match a variety of different tones.
For the best of both worlds, these are the most versatile mini amps to invest in.
They use a combination of valves, vacuum tubes, and digital programming to create an amp that can work with multiple instruments and be used in multiple roles.
Types of Amp Cabinets
Aside from technological differences, there are important constructional differences to consider when looking for amplifiers. Consider these structures:
These types of amps do not have a speaker cabinet, called head-only amps. Some of the most popular amps are head-only, mostly because these are the most powerful and are best suited for large venues.
That said, a head-only amp is most efficient when used in combination with a cabinet that has an equal amount of power.
A cabinet houses the speaker, and mini amps can either come with a speaker cabinet attached, or it can be purchased separately. Purchasing multiple cabinets is used to amplify sound for bigger venues.
Just as the name implies, a combo amplifier combines the head and the cabinet together in one package. The downfall is that the power is limited since musicians cannot add extra cabinets.
The plus side, however, is that combo amps are much more convenient and more affordable. When it comes to mini amps, you’ll likely find that combo mini amps dominate the market.
The Best Mini Amps
Now that you know all about the benefits of a mini amp, what they are used for, and the different types of amps, it’s time to dive into finding the best mini amps.
There are a ton of options available on the market today, which can make finding the best mini amps challenging. Luckily, we’ve done the research for you, so you don’t have to.
Each mini amp compiled on this list comes highly recommended, with exceptional performance, quality, and widespread acclaim from customer reviews.
1. Fender Mini Deluxe Electric Guitar Amp
- 1-watt power
- No electrical outlet required
- Headphone output jack
- Gain, Tone, and Volume controls
It’s no wonder that Fender is the first on our list, with the widespread acclaim and valued reputation that
the Fender name has amongst guitarists. When it comes to the best mini amp, the Fender Mini Deluxe is a fantastic option.
Because it runs on a 9-volt battery instead of electrical power, this mini amp takes portability to a whole new level. Rather than being restricted by outlet use, this mini amp forgoes them all together, making it easy to bring this amplifier nearly anywhere.
Those who love the full-size Fender models will be happy to know that this mini amp comes with many of the same features, including Gain, Tone, and Volume controls. Exclusively recommended for electric guitars, this is the best mini amp to consider for a fully portable, efficient, and lightweight amplifier.
2. EDITOR’S CHOICE – VOX MINI3G2CL Battery-Powered Modeling Amp
- AUX input jack
- Enhanced quality effects
- AC adaptor or 6 AA batteries
- VOX “Bassilator” circuit
With its compact construction and sophisticated design, the VOX Mini Amp is another in a long series of high-quality amplifiers. While its price is substantially higher than competing mini amps, its value is well worth the higher price tag.
This mini amp comes with an impressive list of features, not the least of which includes the enhanced quality effects. Guitarists can choose from compressor, chorus, flanger, reverb, delay, and tremolo. The wide range of effects puts it right on par with full-size amps, making it a competitive option amongst mini amps.
The “Bassilator” circuit provides a deep, heavy sound with ultra-low frequencies, ensuring that guitarists don’t have to sacrifice tone for a compact shape. With an included AC adaptor and the option to run off battery power, this is a versatile little mini amp that promises not to disappoint.
3. Blackstar FLY3 Battery Powered Guitar Amplifier
- 3 watts of power
- Patented Infinite Shape Feature
- MP3/ Line-In
- Tape delay effects
The Blackstar FLY 3 mini amp is a powerful amplifier designed to provide all the benefits of a full-size amp without the heavy, bulky shape. Even at low volumes, this mini amp maintains a full, impactful tone, making it a great option for guitarists on the go.
The Infinite Shape Feature is a key component of all Blackstar amps, and luckily, the mini amp version keeps to these company standards. This allows guitarists to model American & British sounds(1). The tape delay effects allow for resonation during play, including controls for both time and level.
Outside of practice, this mini amp can easily be connected to any electronic device through the MP3/ Line-in feature. With Clean and Overdrive channels, this is an incredibly versatile mini amp, suitable for use with an electric guitar or without.
4. Marshall MS4 Mini Micro Full Stack
- Gain, Volume, and Tone controls
- Pull-out stand in the back
- Headphone jack
- Signature Marshall tone quality
The Marshall MS4 Mini Micro Full Stack is the best way to get that classic Marshall sound without breaking the bank—or aggravating the neighbors. Although it’s much smaller than full-size Marshall amps, this mini amp provides the same tonal quality that made Marshall amps famous, providing tons of value in a tiny package.
For better control over sound in small spaces, this mini amp setup comes with a pull-out stand in the back, allowing guitarists to angle the amp to allow for fluid sound.
The headphone jack allows for guitarists to practice in silence, but it can also be used as a preamp jack to plug into a larger amp if needed. With a unique design and signature Marshall quality, this is certainly one of the best mini amps to consider using.
5. Danelectro N10B Honey Tone Mini Amp in Burgundy (Smallest Amp Available)
- Leather handle
- Clean & Overdrive settings
- Belt clip for easy traveling
- Powerful sound capability
For those who are looking for an exceptionally compact mini amp, the Danelectro Honey Tone is the perfect fit. Out of all the mini amps reviewed on this list, this is definitely the smallest.
In fact, the Honey Tone mini amp is so small that it comes with a belt clip. Not only does this make the amp much more portable, but it also makes it easy to move around while the amp is hooked in.
Although it’s much smaller than competing mini amps, it comes with a ton of power. The Honey Tone mini amp is powered with 10 watts, making for an impressive range of power. Along with Clean and Overdrive settings, the mini amp also comes with Volume, Tone, and Gain settings, allowing guitarists to customize their sound.
As an extremely compact, affordable mini amp—that doesn’t sacrifice one bit of power—this is a great mini amp to consider. It also comes with the option to purchase an accessories bundle which includes a power adapter and a guitar cable.
Editor’s Choice: VOX MINI3G2CL Battery-Powered Modeling Amp
While it might be a higher price tag than the rest of these best mini amps, the VOX Mini 3G2CL Amp is our pick for the Editor’s Choice. With tons of extra features and high-quality performance, this mini amp has certainly earned the right for a higher price tag.
The inclusion of compressor, chorus, flanger, reverb, delay, and tremolo effects puts it in the same league as full-size amps, making this mini amp well worth the investment. It also includes 11 amp tones, which is nearly unheard of amongst mini amps.
With 3 watts of power and a wide range of possibilities for customized sound, this mini amp is just as functional as many full-size amps—and available at a quarter of the price. Out of all the mini amps in this review, the VOX Mini 3G2CL amp stands out as the best choice for performance, portability, and overall value.
Our Final Thoughts on the Top Mini Amps for the Money
For those who are constantly on the go, or who need a more discrete way to practice, purchasing a mini amp is a great investment. Not only are they much more portable than full-size amps, but they operate on quieter volume while preserving tone quality.
Rather than sacrificing quality for size, the best mini amps allow guitarists to have the best of both worlds: a rich guitar tone and an amplifier that can follow them virtually anywhere. For more reviews, please check out our homepage.
- Best Guitar Amp
- Best Tube Amps
- Best Solid State Amp
- Best Bass Combo Amp
- Best Fender Amp
- Best Beginner Guitar Amp
- 1 Buying Guide for Mini Amps
- 1.1 Types of Amplifier Technology
- 1.2 Types of Amp Cabinets
- 1.3 1. Fender Mini Deluxe Electric Guitar Amp
- 1.4 2. EDITOR’S CHOICE – VOX MINI3G2CL Battery-Powered Modeling Amp
- 1.5 3. Blackstar FLY3 Battery Powered Guitar Amplifier
- 1.6 4. Marshall MS4 Mini Micro Full Stack
- 1.7 5. Danelectro N10B Honey Tone Mini Amp in Burgundy (Smallest Amp Available)
- 1.8 Editor’s Choice: VOX MINI3G2CL Battery-Powered Modeling Amp
- 1.9 Our Final Thoughts on the Top Mini Amps for the Money
- 2 Additional Reading