When you choose an amplifier, you're not just buying another musical tool - you're investing in the right sound. The amplifier you select will help define the unique sound you want. Your selection also influences the music you make and the way your voice carries.
Simply put, your whole passion for music will be directly affected by the amp you choose!
It's an important decision, so we have put together a list of the best portable guitar amplifiers online. In this discussion, we're going to discuss each product's pros and cons and then consider some of the value of each purchase.
Let's start by reviewing our number one selection: the Yahama THR10C.
Top 11 Best Portable Guitar Amplifiers Review
Best Overall Amp
The Yamaha THR10C is an ultra-responsive personal amp that uses VCM (Virtual Circuity Modeling) to recreate a better and more sensitive response. I've always admired THR10C for delivering high fidelity sound. Most beginners like it for the effects that enhance feeling.
Reverbs and delays are strong and help to improve the quality of your music. The unique design of the THR10C offers you the best selection in tone for guitar and track. Thanks to Extended Stereo technology, you can produce a full and wide sound even from your desk, and all without shaking the walls of your office.
The versatile THR10C has a three-band EQ and has full modeling. The result is a powerful 10-watt combo product that offers speakers and a software suite for recording to your computer via USB. Whether you need guitar amping or even bass guitar and acoustic guitar profiles, THR10C is a top performer.
- Amp types of Deluxe, Class A, US Blues, Brit Blues, Mini, Bass, Acoustic and Flat
- VCM effects processors reach the same level as professional audio mixers
- Multiple effects and controller options from chorus, tape echo or flanger effects, to Bass, Treble, Guitar, and many other modes
- Experts complain of sound problems due to smaller speakers
Best Practice Amp
The Marshall MS-2 Mini Am is one of many products from Marshall, but this is an ultra-mobile micro-sized amp that is amazing for its compactness and performance.
Controls are limited, but Marshall makes up for it with the build quality, a built-in speaker, and a great quality of tone. The MS-2 offers the standard Marshall overdrive, which means you get full performance, twangs, and a high volume that will please beginners. The product is especially impressive for a micro-size amplifier and ideal for practicing on a new guitar.
- Mini-EQ (equalization controls) to boost or alter the volume of your frequency
- Overdrive, tone and volume adjustments
- So portable you can clip it to your belt
- Better for practice, not recording or doing a gig
- Distortion occurs at extremely high volumes
Most Versatile Sounds
The Roland Cube Street Combo Amp brings both portability and versatility to the table, operating by battery but sounding loud and powerful. Dual digital power amps and two high-quality speakers make the Roland one of the best amps for volume.
The Roland Cube also comes with six built-in effects, eight COSM amps, and a built-in chromatic tuner. Customers can even choose from tube-driven blues style to metal stacks of today. Nuances of each amp setting make your gigs easier, while two digital effects processors make things fast.
The Roland Cube has more features than products twice its size.
- Amp and a mini-PA system, given its power
- Eight amps and six effects to choose from
- Lightweight stereo amplifier with two 6.5 neodymium speakers
- Lacks some advanced settings options, like drive and delay-level control
Best Carry-On Amp
The Fender Mini '57 Twin-Amp is a miniature version of the vintage Fender Twin Amp, with its own distinct vibe and a powerful sound, thanks to the twin speakers.
With built-in distortion and easy portability (fitting in your hand), it's ideal for an office or personal cave for jam sessions. The best feature is the carry-on quality, not to mention a vintage look and tweed-covered wood cab with leather handles.
The 57 Mini also offers high power and tone control. One watt of power and dual 2-2" speakers are enough to power it up. You can practice in silence with a headphone jack or use a variety of sounds by adjusting controls on chicken head knobs. If you're on the go like musicians tend to be, this is a good looking amp that's easy to carry and use.
- Will appeal to fans of Fender, since it's a recreation of the vintage 57 style
- Toggle between clean channel and distortion
- Two speakers and one watt powered volume, despite the small size
- A limited selection of controls; volume, power, and tone
- Received some complaints about durability
Most Durable System
The Pignose Legendary 7-100 is a tough and yet portable amp. Even with metal corner protectors and a six-inch durable speaker for power, the 7-100 is surprisingly lightweight and runs on batteries or AC.
Guitarists can expect a highly responsive system, capable of following changes on either the amp volume or guitar. The system plays clean even with low volume, and at high volume, distortion comes through very well. The look of the amp is distinct, the material tough and ready to travel, and the design has a nice vintage quality. Grab this and one of the best travel guitars with acoustic-electric options for a specific lifestyle!
- Includes a PA system for recording options
- Can be connected to a larger speaker
- Tube-like amp quality, with twang and chime-like effects
- Open the cabinet back up to 180 degrees and directly affect the sound
- Lack of extra controls, no tone shaping with the amp
- No digital connectivity, such as EQ or Bluetooth
Best Experimental Amp
The VOX MINI3 G2 Modeling Amp is a compact but full-modeling amp with plenty of next-generation features. As someone who enjoys playing with different sounds, the Vox Mini is a personal favorite.
The Bassilator is the special circuit capable of delivering a complex tone with solid lows. With three watts, the combo system offers eleven different models with enhanced effects.
Despite its portability, you get an onboard tuner, a five-inch speaker, a wide range of tones, and flexibility with a variety of instruments. The mic input has a separate volume switch and controls for reverb and delay. This lightweight medium-sized portable amp is all about the options.
- 11 amp models and eight effects types
- Options for compressor, delay, reverb, flanger, tremolo or chorus
- Built-in chromatic tuner
- Three watts with 5-inch speaker
- No USB or internet connectivity
Great Technical Sound Quality
The Boss Katana Mini is a guitarist's favorite because of its high-quality sound, and I am not one to disagree. Musicians get onboard effects and a small portable package, but the sound quality is among the best for their class.
The multi-stage analog gain circuit allows for dramatic sounds, while the analog EQ and tape-style delay give you options in altering tone and fullness. A custom speaker with seven watts of power gives the amp great volume.
Meanwhile, you can choose three classic sound settings. I like the Katana Mini because it has a quick and interactive feel, with high-gain tones and easy distortion control. Whether I'm doing a solo performance or big riff, the harmonics are there. The three-band analog tone stack also lets you customize the sound, whether you want to adjust bass, treble or time, and level.
- A small and energy-efficient design with the power of a larger system
- Choose amp styles: Brown, Crunch or Clean or use the tape-style delay feature
- Cabinet voicing with recording output
- Only seven hours of continuous operation, due to the power of the system
Best Sound Shaping Amp
The Blackstar Fly 3 Mini Amp is ideal for shaping sound, thanks to the company's Infinite Shape Feature. ISF lets you choose multiple tonal choices to shape the sound to your preferences.
In addition to tape delay and two channels, buyers get three watts of big tones, even when the volume is low.
The line-in jack lets you play MP3 while the emulated headphone output allows for silent performance if you have company. You can also connect a smartphone, laptop, or tablet. The amp sounds excellent, offers high flexibility for sound, and travels lightly.
- One of a kind Infinite Shape Feature, even among other amps
- 2 channels for clean and overdrive options
- 3 watts of power along with tape delay effect for better resonance
- Time isn’t the friendliest to this model, which suggests that a warranty plan might be wise
Most Powerful Portable Amp
When it comes to pure power, very few can match the Orange Terror. The Orange Micro Terror MT20 Amp Head is a smaller micro-sized version of the Orange Terror series, with a minimalist orange visual style and a highly portable system.
The high tensile steel case is built to the same specs as other Terror models and offers a whopping 20 watts of power. I was able to have control over volume, tone, and gain.
The 12AX7 preamp tube-based richness is also unique and beyond the capacity for some of the other systems reviewed here. The 12AX7 gives your sound enough warmth for any occasion. The MT20 delivers the same classic performance as the genuine Orange amp, and that says a lot for such a small device.
- 20 watts of power
- 8-inch ohm extension cab, but can also power bigger cabs 4-16 ohms
- Classic British tones like chimey cleans and intense overdrive
- Some customers complain of headphone output problems
Top Choice for Beginners
In terms of versatility, I like that you can play with four electric guitar sounds, from clean to crunch, metal and insane, acoustic, and six Smart Control effects for superior tone. The chromatic tuner also has a note-name display for convenience.
But the real discovery is the Line 6 Micro Spider Amp is a fine learning tool for guitar students and one I would use to teach, especially for the added software. Spider Online offers interactive web training videos in multiple guitar genres, which is ideal for beginners.
- Access to Spider Online, featuring 500 guitar lessons, amp tones and tracks to play
- Six effect types, such as Chorus, Phaser, Tremolo, Sweep Echo Tape Echo and Reverb
- POD 2.0 gives you direct output for all studio recording needs
- Some headphone issues and complaints about sound quality with the speaker
Most Affordable and Quirky Choice
The Danelectro Honeytone N-10 Mini Guitar Amp is a popular brand and top seller, renowned for its clean and overdrive tones. With 1.5 watts and 9-volt battery power, it's not as big a device as competitors.
You do get plenty of play and performance out of it though, and for a budget price for a good amp, that's a good deal for a beginner. The built-in speaker and headphone outlet give you the option of high volume or silent practice, while you also can alter bass and treble and tone.
The retro look here is the most charming feature, not to mention the controls that are located right on top of the amp and within finger-reach. It makes it easier for me when I'm playing!
- Easy to use rotary controls for power, tone, and overdrive
- Retro 50s look with a suitcase-style plastic case available in three colors
- More affordable than most and fits in a suitcase
- Practice amp power compared to other models, doesn't play loud with bands or in larger rooms
What an Amplifier Does for Your Music
A quality amplifier enhances your music. Any instrument has a limited range of sound since it only produces a weak signal by itself. Sometimes that signal is hardly enough to fill a room.
An amplifier boosts that signal and "drives" the speakers to project a louder and fuller sound to an audience, or in some cases, recording software.
Most guitarists agree that investing in a quality amplifier is just as important as selecting your first real guitar. Compromising the amp's quality, while choosing a great guitar, might be self-defeating. You want to practice in style, but you also want to project your music so others can comfortably hear it.
A beginner will find that portable and lower-powered amplifiers serve their needs well, especially for practicing on the go. When you start shopping, you're looking for a balance of sound quality options and simplicity in controls, and budget.
The Advantages of a Portable Amp?
Portable amps are affordable compared to mega-powered guitar amplifiers and also easy to carry around and store. You can put them on a desk or even on your belt, for some micro-sized models.
In contrast, large amplifying systems (which may include a full rig with effects pedals, cabinets, heads, and microphones) are a chore to set up and store. For practicing, these stationary units aren't practical.
Portable amps not only micro-size the hardware but also replace big rigs with software and digital amp simulators. Many of the products reviewed on our list can connect to smartphones, laptops, tablets, and other devices for a "portable" approach to altering effects and sound quality.
Does a Beginning Guitarist Need an Amplifier?
For practicing, you don't. However, as you advance in technique and ability you might naturally grow to the point where you want one. You only "need" a portable amplifier if and when your source's maximum output is lower than your headphones' capacity. An amp increases the output of your source to the desired level.
If you are working with an acoustic guitar, you may not need an amp right away, as long as you are practicing. Eventually, you may want to invest in an amp so you can hear the difference and enjoy the resonance of the music you create.
Some believe that to play an electric guitar, an amplifier is a must. Without it, the electric guitar won't have much of a sound. But this isn’t necessarily true, because playing "unplugged" may actually help you develop better technique and build on a foundation of tone knowledge.
The test comes later when you need an amp to play in front of a fairly large audience. Remember also, that amps sometimes "overcompensate" for some guitarists who struggle with technique. Simple answer? Playing either with or without an amp can help you grow your talent.
According to Dummies, you can amplify an electric guitar even without an amp, by using headphones or a home stereo system.
Types of Amps
References to amp types refer to either Tube, Modeling, Hybrid, or Solid-State. According to EDM, many guitarists prefer tube-amps or valve amps because of the higher sound quality. However, they tend to be pricey, heavy, and not long-lasting.
Solid-state lamps are lightweight, long-lasting, and make clear tones. Solid-state is the default of most beginner's amps. Modeling or digital amps use modern technology to replicate tones and get new sound effects. Hybrid amps mix tube amps with solid-state amps, and usually have a wider selection of unique tones.
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Variations of Tone, Volume and Effects
Understanding tone and effects will guide you to the right kind of amp for your first purchase.
Equalization controls change treble, mid, and bass. Alter the tone of your sound so that you can sound good in various settings and rooms.
Distortion setting, usually adjustable by a knob, lets you control the distortion in the sound. For example, when you go from light to heavy metal or something in between.
Reverb makes the echo effect, a favorite for practicing and filling a bigger room.
Experiment with a wavering effect by adjusting tremolo, which rapidly repeats the note.
These built-in features let you experiment with sound changes without the need for pedals. Digital effects are a nice touch for the beginner who can't afford pedals right away.
Switch between channels to find a different sound variation. For larger setups, a footswitch may change the channel.
Standby silences your amp without turning the whole system off, which may be necessary at gigs or when rehearsing with a band.
Overdrive compresses the sound and also adds distortion to produce new sounds, such as growling or fuzzy, terms often used by electric guitarists.
After a comprehensive evaluation, the Yamaha THR10C made it to the top of our rankings for its power, range of options, and outstanding technical design. Other products excelled in specific categories, like budget, practice, and beginner's guitar training courses.
However, the THR10C combined the best in every category, along with a groundbreaking Virtual Circuitry Modeling for responsiveness, and Extended Stereo for sound quality. The Yahama THR10C even comes with recording AI software for the best experience in practice, exhibition, and recording.
Your first amp might not be your final purchase, as you will have different needs as you reach new milestones in your musical hobby/career. However, these outstanding selections will help you to grow and keep you challenged and entertained as you fully explore your musical talent.
As the Head Editor and Writer at Music Grotto, Liam helps write and edit content produced from professional music/media journalists and other contributing writers. He works closely with journalists and other staff to format and publish music content for the Music Grotto website. Liam is also the founding member of Music Grotto and is passionate in disseminating editorial content to its readers.
Liam’s lifelong love for music makes his role at Music Grotto such a rewarding one. He loves researching, writing and editing music content for Music Grotto.