Which practice amp should you get? With so many options available, picking the one that is right for you can be a daunting task.
Well, help is at hand! We’ve read hundreds of reviews, talked to a load of musicians, and listened to hours of riffs. It was fun, but also all so that we can tell you that the Line 6 AMPLIFi 75 Modeling Amp is the best practice guitar amp around at the moment. It sounds great, delivers more than enough power for most guitar players and situations, and comes with a great range of added features. If you are looking for a practice amp that will deliver quality sound for years to come, this is the one to get.
- 1 Line 6 AMPLIFi 75 Modeling Amp
- 2 VHT I-Series I-16
- 3 Epiphone Electar
- 4 Marshall MG10CF
- 5 Vox Valvetronix VT20X
- 6 Our Practice Amp Reviews
- 7 Our Final Thoughts on the Top Practice Amps for the Money
Editor’s Pick – Top Pick
Line 6 AMPLIFi 75 Modeling Amp
Wow. Line 6 have been building excellent amps for quite a while now, and their latest line of practice amps is ...
User Rating: ( votes)
VHT I-Series I-16
This is simply a great practice amp, and represents amazing value. With 16W of power, it is more than powerful ...
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An absolute classic, re—imagined for the modern age. The gorgeous styling of this amp is what makes it stand ...
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Marshall are a legend amongst musicians, having built an enviable reputation over the years. This amp continues in ...
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Vox Valvetronix VT20X
This is simply a great modeling amp, which is perfect for playing around with sounds in the practice room. Like ...
User Rating: ( votes)
Best Practice Amps for the Money
|Line 6 AMPLIFi 75 Modeling Amp||17.5 x 12.7 x 8 in||21 pounds||75W|
|VHT I-Series I-16||18 x 12 x 20 inches||19 pounds||75W|
|Epiphone Electar||6 x 44 x 19 in||11 pounds||18W|
|Marshall MG10CF||6.89 x 11.65 x 12.36 in||10.58 pounds||10W|
|Vox Valvetronix VT20X||9.8 x 19.7 x 16.9 in||18.7 pounds||20W|
What is a Practice Amp?
Sometimes, you don’t want to carry a huge stack to and from band practice. No only do you have to load it in and out of your car, but in most cases the hundreds of watts of power that full guitar amps deliver is wasted in the practice room.
What you need is an amp that is powerful enough to be heard, but small enough to racy around easily. That is where a practice amp comes in.
It helps, of course, if your practice amp offers a variety of effects and sounds, because when you are writing that killer song you want it to sound just right, even in the practice room. In addition, many amps today offer many connectivity options, and can integrate with your computer, tablet, or even your phone.
These amps are also really useful for beginners. They typically cost a lot less than a full-blown amp, but offer many of the same features, perfect for new players who are still finding their own sound.
Even the professional musicians we talked to for this review had a few practice amps – it is simply unnecessary to play through a bulky, extremely loud amp all the time, as much of the power will be wasted. So, even if you already have a huge, impressive amp system that you can play stadiums with, getting a practice amp will nonetheless save you a lot of time and effort.
Our Practice Amp Reviews
What kind of practice amp you need, and the features you want it to have, depend on how you’re going to use it. An amp for practicing in your room is quite a different beast to one you can tour huge venues with.
Some of the things to look for in amp stay the same, though:
- Power. A lot of people talk a lot about power, as though it was a measure of how good an amp is. Certainly, if you are playing huge venues, or outside, you will need a powerful amp. However, for practice, a 5W amplifier will easily deal with the task. It will still go incredibly loud, so don’t worry about not being heard!
- Speakers. A common set-up for guitar amps is a 12” woofer coupled with a smaller tweeter, typically 1”. Some amps come with an additional mid-range horn as well, which can potentially improve frequency response and definition.
- Inputs and outputs. It might sound obvious, but make sure the amp you are looking at has the correct type of inputs, and enough of them, to accommodate all the gear you want to plug in.
Ultimately, there is no substitute for hearing these amps yourself. Everybody has different preferences when it comes to how they want their amp to sound. But you could do worse than checking out these ones. For a quick guide to amp setups check out this great WikiHow Article.
1. Editor’s Pick: Line 6 AMPLIFi 75 Modeling Amp
Wow. Line 6 have been building excellent amps for quite a while now, and their latest line of practice amps is outstanding.
This kind of modeling amp makes use of the most advanced digital technology to reproduce the sounds of classic amps. Whilst there has long been criticism of amps like this from purists, who claim that it is impossible to get the kind of vintage sound you get from a tube amp, the newest breed of modeling amps sound so close to classic amps that most players will find it difficult to tell the difference.
The advantages of this kind of modeling amp also more than make up for some perceived lack of “purity”. It is possible to simulate many great amps of the past, and even create your own effects, meaning that getting a modeling amp can come in as significantly cheaper than buying many, many separate items.
In addition, this amp comes with great connectivity. Line 6 describe it as a “guitar amp build for the living room”, because the adaptability of the amp is outstanding. The clean lines and subtle styling also look great, and we are confident that it will fit in with any décor.
Of course, in addition to the incredible sound, this amp comes with a range of great extra features:
- The amp has more than enough power to deliver great sound, even when pushed to the limit. At 75W, this is the most powerful amp that we reviewed today, and it is really, really loud. You can play even large halls with this amp, and not worried about being heard.
- The Bluetooth functions of this amp make it stand out from the crowd. It offers wireless streaming over Bluetooth, and you can use your iOS or Android device to change the amp’s settings. Forget about fiddling around with hundreds of different knobs – with this amp, all the settings you need are easily displayed and changed from your device.
- The ease of use of this amp really pays dividends when it comes to practicing. With such a wide range of options to explore, and with such fine control over the sound you want, you will find that you practice more than ever, just to see what the amp can do.
- Every AMPLIFi amp has a USB audio interface, which is an amazing and innovative feature. A huge advantage of this is that it makes recording very easy – just load up your favorite recording software, tell it to accept input from the amp, and get playing. There is no need for plugins, no latency, and your sounds are recorded just as you programmed them.
- Of course, you can also use this amp to listen to your music, or even plug in your guitar at the same time and play along. Balancing your guitar against the music is quick and easy, and practicing like this is perfect for beginners.
- In truth, none. It is very hard to beat this amp at the price, and the value it represents is outstanding.
2. VHT I-Series I-16
This is simply a great practice amp, and represents amazing value.
With 16W of power, it is more than powerful enough for practice sessions, and some people we talked to for this review reported that they had even used it for small gigs.
The focus here is on integrating a real tube tone with the latest technology. The amp will easily combine with your favorite amp modeling software, and then add warm, bright tube amplification. As a result, it sounds great – there is no beating the combination of flexibility and vintage sound that this amp offers.
This is because the amp offers dedicated circuitry which actually enhances the tones produced by your favorite modeling software, adding a gorgeous analog sound to digitally enhanced effects. This is a really innovative feature, which we think will be standard within a few years, so if you want to stay one step ahead of your band mates, then get this amp.
In addition, is has these great features:
- The small size of this amp makes it perfect for practice sessions. You can easily chuck it into your truck, and carry it around all day, without your back complaining. Whilst you may want a bit more power to play stadium shows, adding this amp to your collection will really pay dividends.
- Sometimes, even the best modeling software can sound a but synthetic. There is nothing worse than carefully designing a sound on garage band, only to hear it destroyed when you project it at proper volume. There is no such worry with this amp, which adds a classic all-tube amplification to your effects.
- For beginners, who are just starting to learn how to set up an amp, this one is perfect. Small enough to be carried around easily, yet still delivering a powerful sound, the effect options are also just complicated enough to provide a huge range of effects without confusing the amateur.
- The build quality of this amp also makes it stand out from the competition. VHT have built an excellent reputation amongst gigging musicians, who value the fact that their larger amps will put up with even the longest tours. This amp replicates that great quality in a small device, and we are sure that it will provide years of reliable service.
- None, for the price. If you are looking for a gorgeous sounding practice amp that will give years and years of service, this is the one to go for.
3. Epiphone Electar
An absolute classic, re—imagined for the modern age.
The gorgeous styling of this amp is what makes it stand out. The Deco styling, combined with the gloriously vintage wood finish, means that it looks the best out of any of the amps we have tested. Your band mates will be instantly jealous when you show up to band practice with this amp.
All that vintage styling does not mean, however, that the amp sounds old. The electronics of this amp have been thoroughly updated. It offers all-tube amplification at an impressive 18W, making is more than loud enough for even the most raucous practice session.
This combination of vintage cabinet with modern electronics makes the amp sound incredible. There is nothing quite like all-tube amplification, especially if you are playing blues or jazz, and even when this amp is pushed to its limits it sounds clear and bright, with that warm sound that everybody associates with vacuum tube amplification.
In addition, this amp comes with some great features:
- The no-nonsense design of this amp is a great advantage. With some guitar amps, manufacturers feel obliged to pack the front panel with as many controls and features as possible. Whilst great for some musicians, the majority simply want an amp that will reproduce their sound accurately, and let the guitar do the work.
- This amp has all the power you need. Whilst you may want a slightly bigger amp to play in large venues, the 18W offered here is more than enough for a practice amp. And, if you really want to keep the gorgeous vintage sound when you go out gigging, simply plug this amp into a PA system and get playing.
- The push/pull boost on this amp is a great feature. It offers super high gain amplification, and sounds amazing. The distortion produced by this amp is difficult to sum up in words, but we are confident that if you go down to your nearest guitar shop and give it a try, you will be an instant convert.
- It is hard to beat the sound of tube amplification. Even the most advanced amp simulators available today are not quite able to match the warm, vintage sound of tubes. If you are looking for an amp to reproduce classic 60s sounds, then this is the one.
- Very few. If you break a tube, they can be difficult to replace, but be careful and this amp will give years of reliable service!
4. Marshall MG10CF
Marshall are a legend amongst musicians, having built an enviable reputation over the years. This amp continues in that proud line, and is an extremely solid device that will give years of reliable service.
The no-nonsense design of this amp suits beginners really well. Too often with amps, manufacturers feel obliged to pack the front panel with hundreds of dials and knobs, most of which have no relevance at all to the beginner. With this amp, you have access to just the options you need, meaning you can focus on the important thing – playing the guitar.
That said, the MP3 input is a great feature. You can plug in your computer, phone, or other device, and play music directly through the amp. For beginners, this is a really handy feature, as playing along with your favorite track will quickly build confidence, and increase your motivation to practice.
In addition, this amp has several big advantages:
- It delivers more than enough power for most players. With 10W of noise, it is perfect for the practice room. If you are playing larger venues, it will easily connect to PA systems.
- The build quality of this amp is something else. From the moment you receive this amp, you will be impressed with how solid it feels, and we are confident that it will put up with years of abuse without complaining.
- This ruggedness extends to the circuitry inside. The amplification here is solid-state, and whilst some purists may complain that only tube amps give the warm, bright sound that everyone is after, nothing beats the hardiness of solid state amplifiers. You don’t have to worry about breaking, and then replacing, tubes, meaning you can chuck this amp in the back of your car and not worry that it is going to break.
- Despite the fact that this is a solid state amplifier, Marshall have done a great job replicating their signature sound. Nothing sounds quite like a Marshall amp, and this practice amp is a really good example of that iconic sound.
- Very few. Some purists will never be happy with the sound of a solid-state amplifier, but we think that the differences they hear might just be in their own heads! If you are looking for an solid amp that will last for years, this is the one to go for!
5. Vox Valvetronix VT20X
This is simply a great modeling amp, which is perfect for playing around with sounds in the practice room.
Like all the amps in the Valvetronix line, this amp cleverly combines the latest technology with vintage technology. It incorporates a vacuum tube multi-stage amplification circuit, meaning that the amplification here sounds great.
In addition, this amp offers an almost unlimited range of effects and amp models. Combining all this technology with tube amplification is a really innovative feature of this range of amplifiers, and means that even beginners will be easily able to find that perfect tone.
Of course, this amp also has several more advantages:
- It delivers more than enough power for most players. With 20W of noise, it is perfect for either the practice room or small gigs. If you are playing larger venues, it will easily connect to PA systems.
- The Virtual Elements Technology in this amp, a innovation made by Vox themselves, delivers stunning sound quality. No matter what style of music you play, tones are just how you want them.
- The amp models offered by this amp are wide-ranging. It can simulate 11 different amps, offers 13 on-board effects, and 33 preset programs. The people we spoke to for this review reported that they had spent many happy hours just playing around with the sheer range of options available on this amp, before finding the perfect sound!
- Whilst it includes all the latest technology, Vox have cleverly integrated vintage elements into this amp. The Valvetronix pre-amp uses vacuum tubes to deliver that Vox signature sound, so the base amplification of this amp is as traditional as they come.
- Very few. This may be the best modeling amp available at the moment, cleverly combining the latest tech with vintage amplification. If you are a pro, the almost endless variety of tones will allow you to tweak your sound so it is just right. If you are a beginner, this is an amp that will guide you through the first stages of playing, and then carry on giving reliable service for ages.
Our Final Thoughts on the Top Practice Amps for the Money
So which to choose?
Well, your choice of practice amp is yours alone, of course. Nothing can beat hearing these amps in the flesh, and finding one that perfectly matches the sound you want to achieve. All of the amps we reviewed today offer incredible sound that we are confident will please even the most discerning player.
One major consideration when buying a practice amp should be the difference between a modeling amp and a more traditional design. Whilst it is great to have all the options afforded by modeling amps, sometimes all you want is an amp that sounds great, and allow you to get on with what really matters – playing.
Our choice, though, is the Line 6 AMPLIFi 75 Modeling Amp. This modeling amp is the best practice guitar amp around at the moment. It sounds great, delivers more than enough power for most guitar players and situations, and comes with a great range of added features. If you are looking for a practice amp that will deliver quality sound for years to come, this is the one to get. Even if you are just beginning, this amp is a great investment, because as you develop as a player the amp will continue to offer new possibilities.