If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, Rolling Stone may receive an affiliate commission.
Portability doesn’t have to mean sacrificing sound quality, especially when it comes to guitar amps. While even the biggest guitar amps for electric or acoustic models still have handles that make it easy to take on the road, most still aren’t ideal for commutes to the studio or a venue. The good news is that you can still find plenty of new portable guitar amps that feature a more lightweight, travel-friendly design with all the functions you’ll need. Whether you occasionally play an open mic, or just want a great-sounding amp that’s ready to hit the road when you are, we found a range of the best portable guitar amps for every situation.
If you’re planning on taking your amp on the go, you’ll need something that’s easy to carry that won’t weigh you down. At the same time, you’ll want to make sure the amp is large enough to produce the volume and sound quality you need. But how do you know which one is right for you? Read on for our guide to buying the best portable guitar amps online right now.
Portable Guitar Amp Buying Guide
Here’s what to look for in a powerful, portable guitar amp:
Amp Type: When you’re shopping for the best portable guitar amp for you, you’ll likely find two main options out there: solid state and tube. Solid state amps use transistors to amplify the signal, while tube amps use vacuum tubes. Generally, solid state amps tend to be more reliable and less expensive, but many guitarists prefer the warmer, more natural sound of tube amps.
Power: If you’re playing small gigs or practicing at home, a lower-wattage amp will likely suffice. However, if you’re playing larger venues or need more volume, you’ll want to look for a higher-wattage amp to reach the back row. An amp that’s 40 watts should be powerful enough to get loud for a good-sized crowd, while 20 watts and under will keep the coffeehouse patrons happy.
Inputs: You’ll also want to think about the number and variety of inputs and outputs the amp has. Some have multiple inputs, allowing you to connect more instruments or even use the amp as a mixer. Outputs such as headphone jacks and line outs can also be useful for practicing quietly, or sending the signal to a larger PA system.
Effects: Reverb, delay, and distortion are just a few to think about, as well as tone-shaping controls like EQ and gain. These can be useful for shaping your sound and adding extra dimension to your playing, and if possible, we recommend going for an amp that has at least these options on it. Other extras can include a built-in drum machine, and the ability to control everything from an app via Bluetooth.
What Are the Best Portable Guitar Amps?
Here are our favorite portable guitar amps for both playing on the road and practicing alike.
Mark Five: 25 Guitar Combo Amp
This combo amp has the power to get seriously loud, while still being light enough to stay portable. The Mark Five: 25 contains a total of six preamp tubes and two power tubes inside, with two channels, two inputs, and 10/25W of switchable kick. Controls like presence, reverb, and even a footswitch are included, while there’s plenty of equalization opportunities to play with to get your perfect sound and volume set for any small to mid-sized performance.
Fender Mustang Micro
If pure portability is what you’re striving for, it’s tough to find a more pocket-friendly unit than the Fender Mustang Micro. Plug this into your guitar, hook up your headphones in the jack or connect them via Bluetooth, and you’ve got an entire array of 25 amps and effects to choose from that lets you practice anywhere. This is endlessly fun to experiment with as you play along to your favorite tracks. When you’re ready to record, simply connect it up to your laptop or device with a simple USB cable to capture what you’ve composed.
Fender Mustang LT40S
The bigger brother of the Micro, Fender’s Mustang brings all the fun and experimentation into an amp that’s about half the size of other portables and still powerful (and light) at 40 watts with 4″ speakers inside. The user interface is easy to get the hang of, with a screen and plenty of effects and settings to explore. An added bonus: You can save your favorites with the Fender app. Use the built-in tuner to get started, tap your desired tempo, and crank this light-but-loud unit all the way up.
Yamaha THR10II 10W 2×3 Guitar Combo Amp
Compared side-by-side with the others in the bunch, Yamaha’s THR10II looks like it’s from another time, maybe even another planet. But it sounds great, and portability wasn’t lost in the design of this rectangular little powerhouse. At 15 watts, it’s still plenty loud for solo practice, and provides the option of emulating realistic tube-amp tones along with 15 guitar amps, three bass amps, three mic models for acoustic-electrics, and flat modes for everything else. It’s Bluetooth and USB compatible for headphones and desktops/laptops for when you’re ready to record.