You may not realize the importance of a nice, portable guitar amp unless you've performed live. In simplest terms, amplifiers strengthen your guitar's electrical signal to produce loud, full sound. If you've been wondering how an amplifier works or how to go about buying one, this article offers some clarity. The best portable amps will have easy-to-use equalizer controls, clear displays, and a lightweight feel. If you're a guitarist of any skill or experience level, you will benefit from a portable guitar amp. Keep reading to learn more about our team's picks of the best portable guitar amps in 2022.
While the sound quality of a portable amp is directly related to its size and weight, the build and quality are equally important. If a model can't stand the test of time, it isn't worth your money. The following guide was written with the needs of students, teachers, musicians, music engineers, and live performers in mind. It details what to look for in a quality portable gig amp and points out some of the most common problems encountered by consumers.
Tips When Shopping for a Portable Guitar Amp
If you're not sure where to start when shopping for a guitar amp, we've compiled some tips to help you find the right model for your needs.
Pick the amp based on your genre or musical tastes. If you want a stomping beat in your corner, go for something that's designed for that purpose.
Think about what type of sounds you are looking for. Do you have a specific style of music in mind? If so, think about which types of strings you prefer. A lot of guitar amplifiers are designed with a sound that is specifically meant to be played for that particular instrument, bass amp for instance.
Choose a model that fits your physical space. This will help avoid any issues with the amplifier overheating during longer performances. Consider how much space is available in the room where you plan to place your portable amp. Having a portable model in a corner of the rehearsal area will allow you to play it there while waiting for things to get going.
Know what kind of controls are on the model you decide to buy. The controls on a small portable amplifier might not provide the kind of control you need, so it's always worth checking out the controls before you buy.
Portable Guitar Amp Price Analysis
Portable guitar amplifiers range in price from less than $100 to more than $3,000. As with any instrument, you want to find something that does what you need it to do without breaking the bank. The more you spend though, the better quality and better sound the amp will have. Here’s what to expect at different price points:
For under $150, expect to get a portable amp. These are okay for beginners or light use, but they won't have much power. If you're just starting a band or want a basic amplifier for practice, a combo amp is probably a better choice.
If your band needs lots of power and big sound, we recommend spending between $300 and $450. For this price, your amp will probably sound decent, and you will get onboard effects for your guitar.
The most expensive portable guitar amps will cost more like $500 and beyond. They will be powerful enough to play and have onboard guitar effects. You'll also get all the onboard preamp/verb and effects you can imagine.
Features To Consider In Portable Amplifiers
Before buying a new portable amplifier for your musical needs; there a few things you must consider to make sure that it is the right one for the job. These features, together with the overall price, will help determine the suitable one out of the lot.
Before you go ahead and make the purchase, make sure that you check the specifications to see which model is most suitable for what you will be using your amplifier for in the future! You can look up the customer reviews and use them to identify what a certain model lacks or excels in.
The power source of your portable audio amplifier will determine the level of versatility it can offer. Some of these options include battery power, 12V DC power, or even built-in rechargeable batteries. An amp that can be powered through a power bank will prove to be highly portable. An amp with an AC power source will have a constant, low-volume buzz sound that you can only minimize, not eliminate.
Digital or Analog Inputs
This will play a significant role in your choice of amp and will depend on your intended use. The digital input of an amplifier determines how much data can be passed through to and from your guitar. In simple terms, digital inputs give you the ability to record and store samples of whatever it that the amplifier produces. Analog input on an amp, however, allows you to connect to a recording device or computer and load the digital sample directly into the effects processor.
In many cases, if you‘re buying an analog amplifier, you need a preamp output. Depending on which amp you choose, this can either be an XLR or TRS input and can provide you ample power for instruments that require a higher level than normal output.
We all have different instruments and preferences when it comes to playing. To make your life easier, get an option that allows for a huge range in input sensitivity. This will allow you to hit higher volumes without being too intense on your guitar!
If you're looking for a simple solution to the convenience and affordability of portable amps, then an inexpensive portable amp could be the best choice for you. Portable guitar amplifiers are fairly straightforward devices, with virtually most of them being powered by batteries. In addition to their batteries, some models also feature a power cord, and some even have an auxiliary input for keyboards. You can find basic models that are small enough to carry anywhere, have a stereo speaker, enough inputs and outputs for all your instruments, as well as a headphone jack, at a surprisingly low price. If you aren't looking to spend a lot of money on a guitar amp, this could also be a good option for your situation.
If all you want is a compact solution that “works for the most part,” then a small, lightweight, battery-powered amp may be your best bet. These amps tend to be quite compact, typically between 17 and 20 inches long, 14 and 15 inches wide, 5 and 6 inches high, which makes them quite portable. They also tend not to have as many effects and extra features as larger amps.
Portable Guitar Amp FAQ
Q: What is a portable guitar amp?
A: A portable amplifier is one that you plug into a USB port and can take anywhere. They are great for travel, rehearsal, impromptu playing, or small gathering gigs!
Q: What are the benefits of a battery powered portable gig amp for live music?
A: A battery-powered amp is also great if you have to travel with your band and you'll be needing a speaker to strum out some tunes while you're on the way. You can easily plug in your guitar while you're in the van so you can all jam along! It's really the 'most portable' you could go with an amp.
Q: Is it worth buying a preamp or a power amp when buying portable amps?
A: Preamps add unwanted distortion to your music and generally hinder the portability factor. If you want to add the full sound potential of an amp into your sound system, invest in a high-quality power amplifier. The power of any portable speaker system will vary, and you may only need to run the power cord out for a few feet. If you're just buying a portable amp so you can play your guitars around the house, there's really no need for a preamp. You'll only need a preamp if you're recording - to amplify low-signal levels to line level.
Jack has been a touring guitarist for almost 20 years, playing in a number of country music and rock bands. Jack loves the road and defines himself as a never-ending student of the guitar and other important instruments or tools that make a musician.