The 5 Best Guitar Amps For Home Use and Small Gigs (UPDATeD)
Are there really decent guitar amps that can be used for both home and gigging use? Yes. And we've found 5 of the best for you.
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It's hard. Trying to find a small guitar amp that's perfect for playing at home that you could also gig with, that is.
You don't want to look like an unprofessional clown tipping up to the venue with a small micro amp, but you also don't want to look like a Slash wannabe lugging in a 100-watt six-foot high Marshall stack.
Luckily, with modern amp technology and PA sound systems, you can get stunning results from the most modest-sized amps these days.
We've found 5 of the very best low to mid-range combo guitar amps that don't take up too much room and are the solution if you're after a practice amp you can also gig and record with.
Let's get to them.
1. Fender Blues Junior Amp
Love the warmth of valves? The all-valve tone of the ever-popular Fender Blues Junior combo amp delivers crisp, clear, clean sounds. And as a result, this amp is a blues and jazz guitarist's dream.
More of a rock guy or gal? No problem. The Blues Junior is also an outstanding pedal amp. Just plug in your pedalboard, and the lush, smooth undertones complement your pedals from the amp.
With the classic Fender tweed design found on its big brother, the Blues Deluxe, the Blues Junior is simplicity personified. You don't need bells and whistles with this 15-watt amp. You get a single clean channel with Master, Middle, Treble, Bass and Volume controls. Moreover, the "Fat" and Reverb controls give your sound that extra radiance.
You'll Love: The stunning retro lacquered tweed design that'll without fail turn heads.
Also Consider: Fender Acoustasonic 40 Amplifier for those of you looking for a dedicated acoustic guitar amp cut out for home playing and live gigs.
2. Boss Katana 50 Combo Amplifier
With its 12 inch speaker, 55 customisable effects, 15 pedal fx and 5 amp sound settings, the Boss Katana 50 watt amp is one of the most popular small gig and home practice amp choices for a good reason.
You get an impressive array of powerful tones that are perfect to suit every type of guitarist's taste. And thanks to its clever Power Control that allows you to push the amps sound even at low volumes, the Katana 50 gives you flawless cranked-amp tone and is superb for home practice.
Whether you're after a classic rock, shredding metal or smooth blues sound, you're not going to be disappointed because the Katana 50 oodles of amp sounds and effects.
You'll Love: The ridiculously cheap as chips price tag on the amp. Seriously, you'll be amazed when you check it out.
Also Consider: Boss Katana 100 for those of you who just can't help yourselves...
3. VOX AC15VR Valve Reactor Combo Amp
If you're after that classic Vox tone but don't want to fork out a month's wages to get it, the Vox AC15VR will suit you down to the ground.
This diminutive twin channel guitar amp features a 1x 12-inch VX 12 Celestion custom made speaker and optional Vox VFS2A dual footswitch input.
The AC15VR can deliver those typical Vox Beatles and Byrds-esqe tones from the chimey Normal channel or growling rock tone from the Overdrive channel.
In all, the Vox Valve Reactor is a great amp choice for anyone playing in medium-sized venues, jamming at home, practising with bandmates or playing worship at church.
You'll Love: The impressively loud sound when cranked up that'll have you double checking it's actually not more than the 15 watts advertised.
Also Consider: Vox AP2AC AC30 for those of you are sick of being told to shut up playing by your other half.
- Wattage -15 Watt
- Amp Type - VOX Valve Reactor (VR) Circuitry Hybrid
- Controls - Power, Master Volume, Reverb, Normal, Overdrive
- Weight: 16.4 kg
4. Blackstar ID40 Combo Amp
Packed full of sounds with spot o quality, Blackstar's ID Core 40 is the perfect amp for home noodling or practise room jamming. The cabinet houses two Blackstar 6.5" drivers with 20W sent to each.
The amp has the obligatory 1/4" inputs you can plug in your guitar and a footswitch, and it also has a USB mini-B input you can record and edit via the Architecture software.
And thanks to the ID40's six different channels, including Clean Warm, Clean Bright, Crunch, Super Crunch and 2 x OD, the amp delivers crystal clear sound with super tube emulation.
Whatever your brand of guitar, the Blackstar ID40 will clearly bring out the tone of your pickups.
We recommend this bad boy if you're:
a) Looking for an amp that's lightweight in comparison to a tube amp.
b) You like the diversity a modelling amp gives you.
c) You're planning on playing outside your front room.
You'll love: The editing capabilities and online patch storing facilitated by the free Blackstar Insider GUI software.
Also Consider: Blackstar HT Club 40 MKII if you're one of those dudes who loves the warmth of a tube amp.
- Wattage - 40 Watt
- Amp Type - Modelling Solid State
- Controls - Power, Master, Gain, Volume, Amp Type, Effects, 3 band EQ
- Weight: 6.2 kg
5. Marshall MG30GFX Combo Amp
If you're looking for an entry-level amplifier that's either your first ever amp or a backup home practice rig, the Marshall MG30GFX will suit your needs.
The Marshall 30 watt MG30 has four programmable channels and digital effects, including delay, flanger, and reverb.
This cracking little amp is solidly built and won't cost you an arm and a leg. The timeless Marshall styling of this black & gold model looks like a class act as a bonus.
Don't expect this Marshall offering to drown out your drummer unless you mic it up through the PA; do expect it to compliment your home practice needs.
You'll Love: The MP3/Line In and Headphone Output which means you can play along to that latest song you're learning in private.
Also Consider: Marshall 50W for those of you who want to go hard or go home.
- Wattage - 30 Watt
- Amp Type - Solid State
- Controls - Power, Master, Gain, Volume, Tuner, Effects, 3 band EQ
- Weight: 12.6 kg
Summing it Up
If you think about it, it doesn't make sense to buy only a tiny micro amp if you're planning to play live.
But it also doesn't make sense to buy a monster of an amp that'll quickly get you uninvited to Jim and Sue's next-doors annual summer BBQ.
Thankfully now you can achieve the lushest of all-valve sounds in even a 10-watt modern amp, as we've shown in the above list of 5 best amps for home use and gigs.
Which amp do you use currently use for practising the guitar? Tell us what you love about it and what you don't dig in the comments below.