6 Reasons to Get a Practice Amp

Whether you are a seasoned pro or a beginner looking to buy your first amp, here are 6 reasons to go and get yourself a practice amp.

Ultimate Guitar
The humble practice amp may not get as much airtime as the usual wall of amps, but they play the critical role of letting us sharpen our chops. Whether you are a seasoned pro or a beginner looking to buy your first amp, here are 6 reasons to go and get yourself a practice amp.

1. Convenient

Inspiration and motivation are fragile states of mind that can easily be lost by having to spend time setting up your regular rig. So if you do not want to lose a potential hit song or you want to keep your practice right on schedule, a small practice amp lets you conveniently and quickly plug-in and play. Newer practice amps even come with a myriad of modeled amps and effects that you can easily access, keeping your practice interesting without having to waste much of your precious time on tweaking. Even big name artists who use truckloads of gear when recording and performing confess that they can get acceptable tones out of their practice amps with minimal setup.

2. Portable

Because practice amps are compact, they are easy to carry around, allowing you to play the guitar "wherever" you are motivated or inspired to play. Professionals and big name guitar players know this all too well, many of them have a backstage practice amp for warm up routines before performing, while others have their practice amps on their tour bus, to play with new musical ideas for their next hit song while on tour. For musicians who love the great outdoors, there are modern practice amps that can be taken anywhere that are powered by batteries. Portability is an important need that practice amps are excellent at satisfying.

3. Quiet

Since not all of us have acoustic treated rooms for playing with loud amps, the lower volume levels provided by practice amps become a practical advantage. This is especially important when you live in an apartment and you don't want to be on bad terms with your landlord or neighbors. Although it won't have the "feel" of a powerful amp moving the air, practice amps provide acceptable tone that you can use to improve your skills or to simply have fun, all without making your family or neighbors mad. In situations where you share a room with someone or if inspiration strikes late at night, many of the practice amps today will let you plug-in your headphones for quiet practice time.

4. Efficient

The compact design of practice amps make them inherently efficient, but manufacturers have taken it to the next level by adding even more practice friendly features. Most, if not all, practice amps will let you plugin your music player via an aux in port so you can play along with your favorite tracks. Modern amps even come with built-in backing tracks, allowing you to jam with a virtual band that cover a variety of musical styles. Although nothing beats playing with a real band, jamming with a track greatly improves the efficiency of your practice time. It helps improve your sense of time, feel and groove - all without having to worry about your band members not showing up for practice. Some practice amps even come with a built-in metronome which is a critical element of practice that some players tend to ignore.

5. Connected

The popularity of practice amps resulted in tight competition among manufacturers, this competition results in ever increasing features that at the end of the day will benefit us players. One notable feature found on modern practice amps is USB connectivity, which turns your amp into a fully functional audio interface. With this feature, you can conveniently capture your guitar playing directly to your computer - increasing the value that you are getting for your money. You can use it to record, or to apply a number of software based effects to your signal right on your computer. Aside from audio interfacing capability, some amps let you tweak the settings through your computer, and they allow you to "update" the amp via firmware upgrades.

6. Affordable

This is easily the main reason why practice amps are selling like crazy. For less than $150 you can get yourself some of the best practice amps on the market with impressive features. With so many great practice amps available, there is simply no excuse for not owning one. The only downside is that the amplifier market is currently saturated with a large pool of practice amps, which can be confusing for beginners who are looking to pick one that's right for them. To help with this, check out a practice amp roundup to narrow down the list of possibilities to a select few, like this one from GuitarSite.

43 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Roland cubes are the best for the price range.
    I have a Cube60, and I third this. Excellent amps. The damn things are built like tanks, a nice set of built-in effects, several excellent amp modelers standard, and just an all-around good buy.
    Totally agree, coming in a close second are the Line6 spiders, both cracking amps for the price
    Line 6 Spider practice-amps are just shrunk-down pro-gear. Boss/Roland and Line 6 are the two biggest reasons why I haven't totally written-off amp-modeling. They sound good, end of story.
    Yeah totally agree on that.I bought a Roland 40xl then a few months later a Roland 20xl cube bass.Well built,good built in effects,easy to use,decent sound and my boss fs foot switches will work with both amps.Only £100 each.Amazing value for money.
    its either a Roland or a Vox pathfinder. I dont know what it is about the Vox pf, but it has to be one of the best at its range.
    I don't know about all of you but the Peavy Vyper is a good first amp, you can tinker with so many different effects.
    VOX AC4TV 4 watt tube combo is enough for home practice.
    Nero Galon
    I have the Peavey Vypyr 15W, my first amp as recommended by most people I asked here when I first joined. I can't really compare it to other amps as i've never used another but it does a decent job. It's a cool looking thing but it's not exactly portable as it's actually pretty big and heavy. It can also get pretty damn loud. Sounding like a review now but ah well. It has a built in tuner which is nice and has a variety of settings and effects which can keep you busy testing out.
    My little Vox ADVT15 works great for me, I lug it every where and it gives me lots of tone options.
    Word! I loved my AD15 so much I went out and scored a used AD30VT for peanuts. I get compliments on its tone each time I bring it to practice! Gets over drums too provided the drummers not killing it.
    i got a line 6 spider 4 15w as my first amp.. should've gotten one of those peaveys or rolands, my buddy has a nice practice roland amp and i still went line 6
    Roland cubes sicken me. It's impossible to get a nice tone. The 'metal' setting isnt gritty enough, while the 'rectifier' setting has such a huge mid scoop, it kills dynamics and makes for a muddy sound. If you know how to use your eq properly, marshall mg amps are the shit.
    Rob Chappers thinks otherwise, I've seen him play a Cube and the tones he got out of it were killer.
    Um...what? I get a perfectly nice tone on the 60. Yes, I know that I get a better tone on larger amps. But if you really want a nice tone, don't get a practice amp. That's the downside; in general, practice amps have a shittier tone. Oh, and I owned a small Marshall briefly. It was all right, but nothing too special.
    Jeff Loomis uses a micro cube (
    ) And you cannot deny the tone on that thing. I have a Cube 30X and the metal I can get off of it is great. Same for acoustic sound and some minor blues stuff.
    that tone isn't very good. I don't have an opinion either way as I've actually never tried a cube. As a metal fan, I hate that type of distortion. I hate the tone of a Mesa Triple Rectifier, too, they just sound silly to me (too scooped, clean tone is terrible, HUGE differences in the volume between channels causing difficulty getting a good balance, nearly impossible to get a good tone when mic'ed)). From what I've seen and played, I do enjoy the Marshall tone better, though the MG series, especially the redesign in 2010 I believe, aren't very good. And I know from experience (even pre-redesign), are not very durable. I would say the Cube is better in the long run, just don't let anybody hear you play it. Classic sounding amps work way better, i find, for metal, and are way more versatile.
    I totally agree with you there. The only reason I sold my MG15FX is because I got a used ValveKing for cheap. Yeah, you heard me, my practice amp is a 100W tube combo 8)
    I tried out a Marshall MG and it was terrible. Now believe me, I love Marshall amps but I could not get a good tone out of this thing.
    I really enjoy my Fender G-Dec. In my opinion this has a better sound than the Roland Cube which I previously owned.
    I find the Cube very good for experimenting / writing because of the variety of tones on offer. You can get an approximation of the perfect tone for a song and then make it better with your main amp. And it's built like a ****in tank.
    i got korg pandora mini. it's not really an amp because it doesn't have a speaker. however there're lot of presets and it's really portable (fits into pocket).
    In my house, my Vypyr 15 gets more play than my 6505 or my Orange TH30. It's convenient, it's quiet, and it sounds pretty decent for a cheap amp. I usually only crank up my tube amps if I'm jamming with other people, or just in the mood to be really loud
    Danjo's Guitar
    If you just leave your stuff set up you don't have to worry about that. And you don't have to turn up super loud. I practice on my Mesa Stiletto Ace all the time and I live in an apartment.
    Me after years of hauling heavy amps I bought a nice little Fender Hot Rod Deluxe with 1x12" speaker.. ..light, portable, sound good.. ..I don't think i'll ever use anything larger in the future..
    A nice little HRD? I wouldn't say it's that small. And it's definitely not a practice amp - it's a gigging amp (of course you can use it for practicing too but still, it's not a practice amp). OK, if your definition for a normal amp is "half stack", then HRD may be pretty light and portable compared to it. But it's actually pretty heavy (20 kg - I would say that's pretty heavy) if you compare it to the real portable amps like Roland Cube (that are what the article is talking about). I have a Laney VC30 (1x12) - same size as a HRD - and it's definitely not light or portable. My definition for portable is that you can take it anywhere with you.
    Fender Frontman 15w ftw
    I had one of the 25w, and it was horrible. Spend the money and get the marshall 15w, it's more money sure but the 50 extra bucks really does make a difference in sound
    Bad Kharmel
    frontmans aren't that bad (their clean sound is fine), you just have to run through a modeling pedal, or some other distortion
    Roland cubes sicken me. It's impossible to get a nice tone. The 'metal' setting isnt gritty enough, while the 'rectifier' setting has such a huge mid scoop, it kills dynamics and makes for a muddy sound. If you know how to use your eq properly, marshall mg amps are the shit.