Getting some practice with your guitar is important. However, you don’t want to have the noise up too much when you begin with your sessions. Thus, you need the best small guitar amp for home use.
And yeah, we’re well aware of the fact that these practice amps are far from the dream rigs with 100-watt tubes which you’ve been dreaming about since you started playing.
Still, if you want to get to a decent level — you will need to set up your guitar in a way that’s convenient for everyone.
Naturally, all of us like the immense sonic assault which you get by using huge amps when you’re playing. However, if you’re looking for an amp for home usage; you will find that this kind of volume is unneeded.
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And let’s face it — your parents or roommates will probably say the same. Considering this, we will take a look at the best small guitar amps for home use — and give you some handy advice for picking the best products in this niche!
Positive Grid Spark 40
The app that comes with this Amp makes the Spark one of the finest experiences you can have in its niche; this will prove to be a game-changer in your guitar amplification.
We’ll start off this list with our very best pick — the Positive Grid Spark 40.
It has plenty of features that will make it worth your while, from the excellent jamming app integration, dozens of different effects, and Bluetooth capabilities — to the four different programmable presets and Auto Chord options.
What we liked about Positive Grid Spark 40
So, when we have to take a look at the Positive Grid Spark 40 — we certainly won’t run out of positive things to say; all pun intended. The only thing it doesn’t do is make your lunch.
And apart from that, pretty much every single essential feature is present; with a couple of other interesting ones on the side.
Firstly, we do have to mention that the modeling tech based on the BIAS Tone Engine is excellent — letting you create a sizable library of amp models.
There are 30 different amp models that you are free to pick from with this guitar amp — and forty different effects. Even if we just look at this numbers-wise, you will find that it’s more than satisfactory in terms of amp functionality.
There’s also the handy Smart Jam option — giving you the option to play a riff or some chords and let the amp itself generate your backing track; with this, you won’t need friends that are free to practice with you at all times.
Heck, you can even use the app to stream any music from your smartphone or tablet to the Spark; the device will immediately perform chord transposition and allow you to play along. If you need the amp for practice and learning, you won’t find a much better one out there.
Furthermore, you will find that the device has plenty of outputs you need for silent practice and recording. Okay, it is digital — but you’ll be surprised at just how analog it will seem.
Plus, it provides incredible sound at low volumes — which is something the best small guitar amp for home use needs to have. And if you do decide to crank up this amp, its speaker setup will do wonders for filling the room with incredibly three-dimensional sound.
The only issue that users of the Positive Grid Spark have reported is that the initial release of this amp was riddled with huge shipping delays; however, it seems that this situation has improved immensely in the intervening period.
How we chose the best small guitar amp for home use
Now, while the Positive Grid Spark is a great choice for the best small guitar amp for home use; it should be noted that it’s far from the only one that we’ve reviewed here.
However, before we move onto the other choices on this list, we want to make sure that you’ve got a handle on the different factors that we’ve taken into account while selecting the best choices here.
While we will get into what makes a great guitar amp in our buying guide below — we also want to tell you what our main priorities were when we chose the best pick above as our favorite.
So, home practice amps are differentiated by the number of effects they offer, the pricing, and the quality of sound.
Naturally, someone who’s buying a small guitar amp for their home probably doesn’t want to spend thousands of dollars on this piece of equipment; which is why you need to work within a limited budget that everyone sets for themselves.
Though, on the bright side — while your budget is more limited, so are your needs. After all, the Spark won’t set you back more than a couple of hundred bucks; which is why you shouldn’t expect it to sound like a $2,000 guitar amp. But for your home practice needs — that’s not something you really need.
Instead, your main focus here is something that allows you to get up and start playing whenever you want, without much fuss or rummaging about. Basically, it needs to allow you to plug in your guitar, while also retaining some semblance of control over how the guitar sounds.
As you might imagine, every single guitarist out there has some sort of idea about what they want out of their instrument — and of their amps as well.
And that’s where you’re lucky as well — because the contemporary practice guitar amps are light years ahead of what you were dealing with just a couple of decades ago. Today, you won’t have to pay a fortune to deal with a gain channel that doesn’t remind you of a bunch of wasps.
And as we’ve shortly mentioned above — apart from pricing and quality of sound, there are also the effects to think about. Even home guitar amps have a decent selection of various effects these days, along with the option to manipulate the sound parameters using your phone or tablet.
And, of course, the option to record your guitar sound directly into your computer.
It should also be noted that not all home guitar amps are equally excellent for all kinds of guitarists. The amp that you’ll choose depends on what kind of genre or style of music you play — or if you’re a beginner, what you’re learning to play.
All in all, you need to get something that will cater to the particular needs of your genre.
Yamaha THR30 II
When you ignore all of the other bells and whistles, you’re certainly left with a high-quality amp model which is perfectly capable of giving you usable sounds even at lower volumes; all of this underlines the utility of this specific amp when it comes to home practice.
Next up on our lists of the best small guitar amps, we’ve got a true portable wonder! With the Yamaha THR30 II Wireless amp, you’ll be able to get everything you need out of a tiny guitar amp.
It comes with complete wireless capabilities, the Cubase AI, a remote app made by THR, as well as plenty of great effects, models and channels. Once we dig into the specifics, you’ll find that there’s quite a lot to like here!
What we liked about Yamaha THR30 II Wireless
Yamaha is definitely one of the foremost manufacturers when it comes to the best small guitar amps for home use. And the first THR10 that they created back in 2011 was something of a middle ground in its niche; it wasn’t the smallest recording combo you could find, but it wasn’t a huge amp for gigs either.
Instead, it was one of the best desktop apps for household use — realistically, the place where even the most active players will spend the majority of their free time.
This line of amps is a trailblazing one — after the initial 2011 model, plenty of other companies sought to replicate the success of Yamaha’s first desktop amp.
However, they’ve rarely managed to create that sort of lightning in a bottle. And that’s what makes this follow-up to the original Yamaha product all the more important.
It should be noted right away that this THRII model represents a huge improvement over the original; for one, it provides players with three times more sounds, regardless of whether you’re using bass, acoustic, or an electric guitar.
Just like its predecessor, this model very much wants to fit into the sound, aesthetic, and space of the players’ homes. Its primary feature is its incredibly compact design; one that lets a player put it on their desktop or even on a nearby bookshelf.
And all the while you’ve got incredibly easy access via the remote app.
This series now has three different varieties that you can buy — the wireless 30-watt model is the flagship product here. There are plenty of ways in which the amp was upgraded — it has 3.5-inch speakers that are more than able to surprise you, considering the toaster-sized amp that we’re talking about.
Indeed, stereo spread and bass enhancements were made over the years — which is why the chassis of the product is somewhat bigger than it was in 2011’s model.
When it comes to the performance of the model, there’s not a lot to complain about here. The guitar amp has three basic modes of operation, for every one of the five voices you can use — clean, crunch, lead, gain, and special.
Also, you will have access to three acoustic and three bass models — making this amp one of the most versatile products in the niche.
Plus, there are all sorts of small touches which make you even more assured that you’re dealing with one of the most professional manufacturers in the business; for instance, the LED panels’ colors change in accordance with what mode you’re using.
So, the LED will shine blue with the boutique mode, green if you use the modern mode, and red in the case of the classic one. And the rest of the controls should be nothing unfamiliar to even the most amateur players; there’s treble, mid, bass, volume, and gain.
In addition, there are two more controls that you can use to select the sound effects.
Among these, the tremolo and reverb are particularly noticeable with the cutting-edge stereo technology utilized in the making of the amp. You certainly won’t expect the kind of stereo depth that this product gives out of such a small amp.
When it comes to the back of the product, you will find line outs, a power socket, and a USB port — pretty much the standard fare in these kinds of amps.
And instead of using the power socket, there’s also a perfectly useful rechargeable internal battery that comes with this device. When fully charged, it will last you for about five hours.
This guitar amp boasts some impressive wireless capabilities, as it’s compatible with certain wireless transmitters that you can buy separately.
Furthermore, the remote app that you can install on tablets and phones will allow you to freely edit the parameters and control settings of the amp without reaching for it; the product is fully Bluetooth compatible.
A lot of this is not necessary for people who simply want the option to plug their guitar in and immediately begin playing, but it’s still nice to have. And we do have to mention that the sound quality of this excellent amp is its main selling point by far.
With all of the praises that we’ve sung for this Yamaha desktop amp, you’re right to wonder — is it the perfect product? And if so, why wasn’t this our top pick on this list?
Well, as good as this amp is, there are certain downsides that prevent it from reaching its true potential.
Firstly, while the aesthetics of the product were certainly well-thought-out, and they make a neat addition to most interiors. That being said — you don’t get a lot of choices when it comes to how the amp will look, and you can’t choose between different color options.
Compared to the other selections on our list, this isn’t ideal — seeing as most of them give you at least a couple of different colors to pick from.
Plus, the priceyness of the amp does leave somewhat of a bad taste in your mouth — while its quality can’t be denied, its cost-effectiveness leaves something to be desired compared to its competition.
All in all, while Yamaha has managed to create an excellent improvement to their first iteration of desktop amps — we can’t help but feel that they haven’t had a proper feel for the market since 2011.
Back then, their THR amp reigned supreme because it was a rare breed, and they could dictate their prices with far more freedom. However, a decade later — there are more desktop amps to pick from.
Blackstar Silverline Deluxe Head
The Silverline amp from Blackstar conclusively contains its fair share of tonal flexibility; certainly enough to enable budding guitarists to explore a variety of musical genres.
Our next-to-last pick on the list of the best small guitar amps for home use is an intriguing boutique version of the technology for digital amps.
Indeed, signal processors have become increasingly powerful in a previous couple of years; prompting amp manufacturers to explore their wider and wider range of options.
What we liked about Blackstar Silverline
When it comes to affordable guitar amps for home use — Blackstar is certainly one of the heaviest hitters in the lower price range.
Seeing as the manufacturers have proven their worth when it comes to both digital, solid-state, and valve tech — they’re more than capable of putting out a decent desktop guitar amp. And that’s something that this product certainly proves.
That’s why this Silverine Deluxe promises to be a more than tempting offering for anyone looking for a cheap yet high-quality home amp. One thing is clear — it manages to capture the authentic spirit of actual amp valves.
When it comes to the looks of this model, you shouldn’t have a hard time distinguishing it from others — both in the Blackstar catalog and beyond. Indeed, the Silverine series retains its greyish vinyl coating and a silver and black grille cloth that it’s become known for.
And this time around, it also comes with a neat silver badge — providing a more serious look compared to the plastic logo of previous iterations.
As for the cabinet of the amp itself — we’re talking about a steel chassis filled with the PCB electronics that you’d expect. And here we also see the determination to maintain the aesthetic of a valve amp — the dimensions are pretty much typical for such an amplifier, barring the weight which is understandably lighter because there are no actual valves inside.
Once you take a look at the control panel in the front, you’ll be greeted by a familiar sight if you’ve ever had the pleasure of using a product from the ID Blackstar series.
There’s a rotary switch with six different positions, allowing you to control the bass treble and mid, as well as gain — naturally, the volume control is there as well.
Nearby, you’ll find another unique feature patented by Blackstar — the True Valve Power switch. It’s another rotary selector which gives you access to different responses which were created according to the most commonly used valve output stages.
Following that, there’s a knob and three buttons controlling the digital effects of this Silverline product. Unfortunately, this is also the main issue that stops this Blackstar product from reaching the top of our list — the effects you can choose from are pretty basic.
The rear panel of the amp is certainly sparsely populated — you won’t find anything more than a couple of speaker jacks, MIDI sockets, and a socket for a footswitch. Apart from them, there’s a line-in and line-out jack — you can use the Insider app from Blackstar to reconfigure these as you see fit.
As for the voices, the Blackstar amplifier contains updates on the usual proprietary voices from its other ID series — two lead voices, super crunch, crunch, and clean warm.
In combination with the TVP switch and other controls, we do have to note that you’ve quite a lot of flexibility when it comes to tone shaping.
And the wide range of controls won’t be anything too difficult for anyone who’s had experience with amplifiers before — it’s all been arranged quite intuitively.
All in all, it’s not difficult to notice that guitar amplification is moving on and leaving the electron valve behind. And this product is one of the prime examples of the innovation in industrial design that Blackstar has achieved.
If this is what the digital era will be like, then we can look forward to what the future will hold. It seems like digital amplifiers such as this are more than capable of giving you an affordable yet thrilling guitar tone; without any of the pesky shortcomings of the valve.
Now, while the onboard effects are more than satisfactory — they’re not as amazingly varied as the ones that we’ve seen from the competition.
Indeed, it’s quite easy to notice that the combination of reverbs and delays in concert with the modulations won’t produce as rich of an effect offering as you might find with the other products in this niche.
However, this is something that may very well be fixed with firmware updates down the line; possibly containing more effect bundles.
Boss Katana Artist MkII
One of the best things about this amp is that, while it’s not the most feature-heavy on this list — for a digital type of amplifier, its front panel gives off a simplistic and reassuring vibe.
Our final choice is a great choice among the best small guitar amps that come from Boss — the newest entry in the Katana series. And make no mistake, this is one of the biggest successes in music hardware that Boss has had.
They’ve managed to make smaller versions of their excellent amp models, provide them with tons of contemporary features and onboard effects — finishing off all of this with interestingly accessible prices.
The Artist MKII is the flagship product in the Katana series; boasting heightened MIDI functionalities along with a better version of the company’s Waza Craft speaker, this product certainly has its share of selling points.
It’s a five-channel model, but with each model containing two modes which mightily expand your options in terms of tone. The product both sounds and looks convincing — and though there aren’t too many onboard effects, they’re certainly capable of holding your attention.
Compared to the other options that we’ve mentioned above, this product is simply too simplistic and feature-light.
However, if you’re a beginner in the world of guitars and amplifiers — this might be just what the doctor ordered.
Things to consider before buying a guitar amp
Naturally, once you begin looking for the best small guitar amp for home use — the last thing you want is to simply buy the first product that you plug your guitar into.
While you may run into a great fit right away — we recommend taking your time and browsing everything until you’re certain that you’ve made the best possible choice.
Of course, if you haven’t bought many (or any) guitar amps in your time — you may not be certain as to what kind of product you need. In that case — we’ve put together a nifty buyers’ guide for any amateur guitarists out there!
Take Your Own Guitar
First things first — you need to think about an important practical part of buying a guitar amp. And that’s not making the mistake of not taking your home guitar with you!
Sure, the music store where you’re browsing amps may stock your guitar model as well; but you don’t want to try amps out with anything other than your specific guitar.
You can never be sure about the sound differences between your guitar and an unfamiliar one; what if the latter has a sound that’s brighter, distorting your experience with an amplifier?
Once you get home, you might find that an amplifier that seems quite lively and sparkly simply doesn’t suit your guitar — producing an annoyingly dull sound.
Types of Amp
Before you buy a specific amp, you probably want to know what kind of options you have. For instance — there are plenty of places where tube technology is found to be the most dependable when it comes to amps.
That being said — digital amps and solid-state tech have certainly come a long way, providing you with a more than adequate tone for an affordable price; not to mention a lot less maintenance than tube models.
Still, if you ask many of the older top players — they will probably tell you that tube tone can’t be matched. But don’t let that discourage you when you’re buying a home amp! Digital amps will do just fine for this.
Size is Important
One of the biggest things that you need to think about while buying a guitar amp for home use is the size. You may find that 100-watt stacks don’t correspond well with living in an apartment building; if you don’t want to use this specific amp for anything else than recording at home, go with something more modest.
Naturally, you shouldn’t go too far in the other direction either — a guitarist in a heavy metal band with killer drums won’t necessarily be happy with 10 watts even in a home environment. So, go with the amp that’s suitable for your primary use.
Bear in mind that a majority of amplifiers will sound their best if you don’t turn them up all the way. Instead, they will provide the best sound quality around halfway.
And if your amp has never been above 3 — chances are that a smaller amplifier would serve you just as well, especially in a home environment. Always make sure that your speakers are in line with the power levels of your amplifier.
So, as you pick your speaker configuration — there are two main factors that you need to think about. Those would be the impedance and the amp wattage.
Playing at home is different
When you’re picking the best small guitar amp for home use — you need to remember that you’re not looking for a gig amplifier here.
Considering that, you probably won’t require an amp that’s powered by above 20 watts in your home. If that seems like it’s too little — think of your amplifier as if it were your car.
When you buy a car, you always think about how and where you’ll primarily be driving it. With that in mind — you probably wouldn’t buy a race car if all you’ll be doing is shopping for groceries, right?
The same is true for your amplifier. If you need a small one for home practicing — high wattage will probably not be a necessity.
The same is true for the size of the amp as well. A majority of home practice amps don’t have much more than a single speaker — and it’s got 12 inches in diameter at most.
After all, you won’t be turning up your volume to unreasonable heights — the point of this amp is to get some practice done, not blow the roof off your house or apartment. There is a time and a place for huge stage amps — and that’s, well, the stage.
Effects and Tone
We’ve already talked about how the type of music that you play has a major effect on the type of guitar amp that you’ll end up purchasing.
This is why we recommend you familiarize yourself with the most basic facts about amp effects and tones before you buy one; that will allow you to reach the most informed decision.
Generally, pretty much every amp out there comes with some kind of equalization settings built-in. We’re talking about controls with labels such as bass, mid, and treble.
And all of them serve one specific purpose — to help you get the kind of tone you want. This is an incredibly crucial aspect of any amp; seeing as such controls allows you to achieve a proper sound regardless of the environment you’re in. In this case, those would be the acoustics of your home.
And that’s the beauty of the EQ — if they’re properly designed, they let you shape the exact frequencies of your amplifier to become accustomed to your room. Apart from that, pretty much every amplifier also contains a gain knob.
This knob is how you control how much distortion your sound comes with. If you’re going to play punk or heavy metal — you will probably be looking for plenty of distortion in your tone.
Next up, there’s the reverb — a pretty standard amp effect that makes you sound like you’re creating an echo in a spacious empty room. Not all amps out there have reverb options — but most home amps that we’ve reviewed here contain them.
One of the features that more contemporary guitar amps contain are digital effects — however, we do need to mention that most beginners shouldn’t concern themselves with such things right away.
At some point, though, most modern guitarists find that they need them. There are amps that give you a wide array of on-board digital effects for you to peruse — we’ve selected some of them in our reviews above.
When it comes to professional players, expect them to play with pedalboards that are combined with a couple of different effects pedals.
But while that may be more true to the format — if you have an amp with built-in digital effects, you skip a lot of the hassle that comes with buying various pedals.
This has another advantage — after this sort of experimentation at home, you will know exactly what you’re looking for when you pick a bigger amplifier for venues later on.
Multitude of Channels
Speaking of excellent features — some practice amps for your guitar also give you the option of making seamless switches between a couple of channels that produce different kinds of sound.
You can do this via a footswitch that’s used for toggling between these different channels.
At the end of the day, you need to think about the flexibility of your guitar amp as well. If you’ll be buying a cheaper one, you can freely get something inflexible and switch it out when it becomes too constraining.
However, if you want to make a serious investment in your home amp — you want something that’s not a one-trick-pony. Instead, get something with enough room for experimentation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now that we’ve gone over all of the things that you should consider while buying the best small guitar amp for home use; we will tackle some of the questions about this process that we’ve run into the most often!
Many people do not realize the benefits of smaller amps. But in reality, the only thing that huge amps have going for them is the loudness that you can achieve.
And when you’re buying an amp exclusively for your household, that’s not an important aspect; you’re more likely than not to use your headphones with the amp. So, stage volume as a feature doesn’t matter.
If you’re thinking of just getting any amp — that’s probably a bad idea. Instead, do some lite research and see what will go with your amplifier the best.
For instance, a bass guitar generates incredibly low frequencies which aren’t easy for a guitar amp to reproduce; conversely, bass amps regularly make other guitars seem dull and lifeless. That’s why you need an amp specific to your guitar model.
Mini amps can be an excellent solution for a home environment — but remember that their bigger brothers are likely to have a wider set of features.
With a mini amp, you don’t get much more than a belt clip and a headphone jack.
If you’re dead set on making a weird pairing between a guitar and an unfitting amp — you technically won’t be hurting your guitar or damaging it, and the amp will most likely work.
Heck, there are plenty of artists that have used acoustic guitars with electric amps. That being said — this is not the way to achieve the purest possible sound!
As you may have realized, it’s not the easiest thing in the world to choose the best small guitar amp for home use. However, once you get through a wide range of models and study our buyers’ guide — you will find that it’s not difficult to make an informed choice!