Best practice amps for guitarists in 2023: 10 great options for easy at-home playing
Need to play along at home? There are plenty of great options out there.
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Are you a beginner looking to dip a toe into learning guitar? Or are you a seasoned player who just doesn’t want to have to power up a 100-watt full-stack to run through your scale exercises? For the sake of your ears, neighbours and guitar playing, a good practice amp is what you need. Let’s take a look at the best.
The best practice amps to buy in 2023
- Boss Katana 50 MkII
- UAFX Dream 65
- Fender Mustang Micro
- Yamaha THR10 II Wireless
- Blackstar Fly 3
- Fender Mini ’65 Twin 1W
- Positive Grid Spark GO
- Fender Mustang LT25
- Walrus Audio ACS1
- Supro Delta King
Boss Katana 50 MkII
With this second generation of amps, the Boss Katana remains to be one of the most impressive takes on the modelling format around. The on-board amp models give everything from high-gain silliness to restrained vintage crunch a fair shake, and the built-in effects flex Boss’ stompbox mastery to provide everything you really need. And most importantly for practice, there’s a good headphone output, and the ability to both play along with an aux connection and kick the output down to a quarter-watt for quiet bedroom playing.
Today’s best deals on the Boss Katana 50 MkII
UAFX Dream 65
The UAFX Dream ‘65, you might notice, looks a lot like a pedal rather than an amplifier. But in this little box you’ll find an exacting digital replica of a 1960s black-panel Fender combo amplifier, complete with tremolo and reverb, a preamp boost and some incredibly precise speaker simulations.
The Dream ‘65 is perhaps not an ideal practice solution for a beginner: converting the pedal’s dual-quarter-inch jacks to a stereo headphone connection requires either an audio interface or a bespoke converter, there’s no auxiliary input, and for the price, you’re getting just one amplifier model. But if you’re a tube amp aficionado, and know exactly what sounds you want, and need them accessible via a small, portable box with stereo outputs and Universal Audio’s brilliant speaker simulation, there’s no better solution.
Today’s best deals on the UAFX Dream 65
Fender Mustang Micro
The Mustang Micro is the most modern reinterpretation of the pure “headphone amp” concept: like those that came before it, its form factor is a small unit that connects directly into your output socket. You can then connect a set of headphones for silent practice. But that’s about where the similarities end, as the Mustang Micro sounds a lot better than basically every other unit of this style, offering a range of digital amp models and effects borrowed from the Mustang GTX combo amplifiers.
Connectivity is very modern, too – alongside a headphone jack, there’s a USB-C port to charge and record directly from the unit, and bluetooth connectivity rather than an AUX jack for backing tracks, especially handy in this case as it reduces the number of wires dangling straight off your guitar.
Today’s best deals on the Fender Mustang Micro
Yamaha THR10 II
When considering do-it-all practice amplifiers, few can trump the features offered by Yamaha’s THR10 II . The 20-watt amp arms you with 15 guitar tube amp models, three bass amp models and three mic models for your acoustic electric. The THR10 II Wireless also comes with modulation effects, echoes, reverbs and a three-band EQ for further tone-tweaking. And perhaps most importantly for practice, you can play your own music through the THR10 II via Bluetooth.
Today’s best deals on the Yamaha THR10 II Wireless
Blackstar Fly 3
Quite possibly the most value-for-money option on this list, the Blackstar Fly 3 is a three-watt mini combo that features two channels, an emulated tape delay, an MP3 / Line In and the brand’s patented Infinite Shape Feature (ISF) tech. The latter gives you access to both British and American voicings, while the MP3 / Line In is perfect for guitarists who want to jam along to their favourite tracks. In terms of power, the Fly 3 takes six AA batteries or DC, if bought as a Stereo Pack (comes with a FLY 103 extension cabinet and power supply).
Today’s best deals on the Blackstar Fly 3
Fender Mini ’65 Twin 1W
A classic in the mini-amplifier category, this affordable unit offers an easy way to get Fender tones on the go – and it looks the part, too. With two three-inch speakers and a headphone jack, you can easily practise either silently or at low volume. You also have the choice of powering it with a 9V power adapter or a battery, so you can either set it up on your desk or sling it in a gig bag and take it to the park!
Today’s best deals on the Fender Mini ’65 Twin 1W
Positive Grid Spark GO
Making the best use of the same tech that’s made portable bluetooth speakers so great recently, the Spark GO is a truly portable powerhouse with a huge breadth of features and sounds. It’s perfect for practising on the go, but despite its size it can get really quite loud if you need it to. There’s also extensive connectivity and control options via the accompanying Spark app.
Today’s best deals on the Positive Grid Spark GO
Fender Mustang LT25
A little beefier than a mini-amp, but not quite as full-powered as something like the Katana 50, the Mustang LT25 still offers a wide range of different amplifier voices and digital effects, as well as options for silent practising. Its compact design incorporates a single eight-inch speaker, making it a good compact coffee table amp.
Today’s best deals on the Fender Mustang LT25
Walrus Audio ACS1
The third entry in the Mako series from Walrus Audio, the ACS1’s name helpfully stands for Amp and Cab Simulator. It packs a lot of the core features of a pedalboard amp into a tiny enclosure, no bigger than your average Tube Screamer. There’s a selection of three amps inspired by three stalwarts of the guitar world: Fullerton for Fender-y cleans, Dartford for some AC30 bite and London for some Marshall roar. For practice, there’s an on-board headphone jack, or just a regular quarter-inch if you want to go straight into an interface to mix in your own tracks.
Today’s best deals on the Walrus Audio ACS1
Supro Delta King
Look, we get it – not everyone wants to give up tubes and go fully digital just for the sake of practice. If you really need that natural tube breakup at volumes that won’t scare the neighbours, this little amp has one watt of tube power driving an eight-inch speaker – perfect for sofa jamming and home noodling, without blasting out any windows.