Are you looking for a guitar amp but don't want to break the bank buying it? Or are you tight on space and want something small and compact? The good news is there are some great little amps available that are compact in size and won't cost the earth.
The even better news? I'm going to show you the best, battery powered mini guitar amplifiers out there.
- At a Glance: Our Choice Of The 5 Best Mini Guitar Amplifiers On The Market
- 5 Best Mini Guitar Amplifiers
- So which battery powered guitar amp should I buy?
At a Glance: Our Choice Of The 5 Best Mini Guitar Amplifiers On The Market
Orange Micro Crush CR3 (Editor's Choice)
Fender Ampli Mini Twin - Amp '57 (Budget Choice)
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Buyer's Tips: What to look for when buying mini guitar amps
Anyone that has sat down to play an electric guitar knows that it doesn't sound quite as good without a bit of power supplied to it via an amp. The problem with mainstream amps is they can be a little bulky and well, let's face it, a pain to carry to your mate's house.
This is where mini guitar amps come in useful, they are tiny, battery-powered versions of their big brother.
The main advantage of using a battery powered guitar amp is all about the size. We've all heard that size matters and in this case, it does.
Mini amps are perfect for guitar players on the go, whether this being a gig player or even to have a blast around your friend's house. You can grab with one hand and throw into your backpack.
This makes playing an electric guitar a lot simpler and easier to do. Yes, they may not be as powerful as bigger amps, but sometimes convenience is a priority. Mini amps are also small enough to fit pretty much anywhere, under your desk, on a shelf, on the shoe rack.
What exactly am I looking for?
With any battery powered guitar amp you're looking for around 1-3 Watt, battery powered with maybe a couple of controls to adjust the volume.
The speaker size will generally not be above a few inches, so don't be disappointed when you turn the volume to it's highest point and expect clarity (a mistake I made).
Reliability is a big source of contention for me. After buying my mini amp, I was gutted when it broke after a few months. My biggest regret is not doing the research and seeing many negative reviews online about breakages. Always research your mini amps to get an idea of how other customers have found them.
What do I absolutely have to know before buying a mini amp?
Foremost, the most important thing to know about buying a mini amp, it will not make you a better player. When first teaching my niece how to play, she listened to herself on the amp and thought she was awesome. Wrong!
Yes, a seven year old rocking away is pretty cool, but my ears hurt afterwards. Pay attention to your actual playing before getting obsessed with how the amp sounds.You also don't need to spend a great deal of money getting the fanciest looking machine out there, or the one with the most functions. For example, watch this short video of a guy really enjoying a simple mini amp.
Another function I found useful is the fact that many amps include a power supply which is great if you don't want to keep going to the shops to stock up on batteries.Some mini amps will also include the option to jack in your media device, meaning the amp can act as a speaker for your music.
5 Best Mini Guitar Amplifiers
Ok let's look at each product in more detail. To make things easier for you, we've added pros and cons for each one, as well as a video demonstration so you can see them in action. So without further ado, let’s take a look...
1. Marshall MS2 Micro Amp
Whenever you hear people talking about battery powered guitar amps, the Marshall range will most certainly come up. This mini amp has the classic style of the Marshall but in a bite size package. This is the ultimate portable, battery powered machine for when you want the ease of a kitten but the roar of a lion!
- The Marshall is one of the more affordable mini amps, meaning it will suit any budget for the budding player.
- The switchable overdrive capabilities allows for some proper power to be given to the sound. You can sound like a rockstar in no time.
- 1-Watt but packs a powerful punch, this amp also comes with a headphone jack for when you need to give others a break from your playing.
- Can start to produce a slight buzzing sound when used often.
- Very basic model, only has a few limited functions which could annoy a more professional player
- Distortion setting did sound a bit 'tinny', not as clean and crisp as you'd find with more expensive models
2. Stagg 10AA USA 10W Guitar Amplifier
For a starter amp or those who wish to have a simple machine to practice in their bedroom, this could be the mini amp for you. Slightly bigger and heavier than most mini amps, the Stagg does however put out some power. At 10-Watts, this little machine is almost as powerful as some of the bigger players.
- The Stagg is powerful but you pay for that.
- Designed purely for the beginner player, this is a great mini amp for a teenager starting out or someone who just wants to practice.
- Very simple sound, it has one channel and a simple EQ.
- Sound is rather disappointing considering it is 10-Watts. Can sound quiet and tinny if the volume is turned up high.
- The price I think is rather high considering its lower sound and limited playing opportunities.
- Heavy and cumbersome compared to other mini amps. This isn't one to just throw into a bag and carry around.
This video is in a different language, however I found it to give a great idea on how the Stagg sounds when played.
3. Orange Micro Crush CR3 (Editor's Choice)
This bright burst of sunshine looks cool and is quite a funky little amp at the same time. It has two channels and 3-Watts, but its main feature is certainly how it looks. Looking like it could fit right into a retro record store, this amp is perfect for those who like a little flare with their playing. Yes, it may be a very simple amp with limited functions, however this mini amp is the first I ever owned and will always remain special to me.
- The orange crush can start a relationship with any budget
- Very portable, this is the definition of a mini amp and can be tugged back and fro between places
- A warm sound, the orange crush gives a beautiful quality sound to your playing
- Its limited functions and overall weakness might be a pain to those wishing for some proper power
- The battery on this amp is quite bad, I found myself going through batteries like tic tacs
- The bright colour may be off putting for some
4. Fender Ampli Mini Twin - Amp '57 (Budget Choice)
Like the Marshall, no-one can talk about amps without a kind mention to the Fenders. The Ampli Mini Twin is one of my personal favourites, purely because of its vintage look. Don't sue me, I have a thing for vintage! With its tweed covered wood cab, its simple look and only 1-Watt, this amp oozes style and class.
- At it's price, the Fender is one of the cheaper models which is great for any budding player who likes the look of their amps
- Quite light, this amp feels like it is made of good quality materials
- A great, warm sound. This amp feels, looks and sounds great all round
- Once past the nostaglia of its vintage looks, this amp is quite a weak machine and doesn't produce the loudest or cleanest sound
- The distortion feature is not great, if this effect is what you want, I would pay for a different amp
- For the price, the sound quality isn't the best. The Fender is more a cool looking amp rather than a practical one
5. Roland Micro Cube GX
This is probably the most compact, portable guitar mini amp you will ever find. The Cube has a power of 3-Watts with a 5 inch speaker with 8 effects and a built in chromatic tuner. It looks neat, smart and for it's price, this is one of the most expensive mini amps I have come across.
- Very easy to use, even beginner players will have no trouble figuring out how to maximise the power the Cube can give
- The range of tones and effects are fantastic. I smiled constantly while playing with this little guy
- iCube link allows for connectivity with iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch
- PRICE! This is the amp you buy when given some Christmas money (thanks Mum). Not affordable or even advisable for beginner players who just want something to mess around with
- The package deal doesn't come with an AC adapter which means added expense
- Lacks the dynamic control that other amps, especially larger ones, provide
So which battery powered guitar amp should I buy?
Although all of these mini guitar amplifiers are great for various reasons, there are two which stand out as my favourites. The Orange Crush is the one I would recommend to beginner players or those who have children that wish for an amp. Its price, cool looks and simple set up make it perfect for those wanting to have a bit of power without too much to worry about.
On the other end of the spectrum, for the wannabe professionals, if you can afford it, go for the Roland Cube. Its power, advanced settings and portability make this one of the best mini guitar amplifiers out there for the seasoned player.
Ged is Founder and Editor-in-chief at Zing Instruments. He’s a guitarist for London based gypsy jazz band ‘Djangology’ and when he’s not ripping up and down the fretboard, he’s tinkering with his Campervan.