Best Headphone Amps For Guitar 2024: Get The Sound Of A Fully Cooking Rig Without Making A Sound

Looking for a silent practice tool with a small footprint? Then you might want to consider using one of the best headphone amps for guitar. Simply plug into the unit as you would your regular amp, grab your favorite set of headphones and enjoy some great tones, without disturbing anyone else. 

The best headphone amps for guitar are perfect for those wanting to play late at night, or players that don’t want to disturb anyone else in the house. They’re not necessarily designed to replace your practice amp, but they do prove incredibly useful at home, or on the road. 

Most of the best headphone amps for guitar are also portable, so perfect if you’re away traveling and don’t want to forgo your practice routine. Grab an electric guitar, one of these and some headphones, and you’ve got quality amp tones, direct to your ears. 

Author bio Richard Blenkinsop
Richard Blenkinsop

After spending a decade in music retail, Richard is now a freelance writer for MusicRadar, Guitar Player, Guitar World and Reverb, specialising in electric and acoustic guitars, bass, and almost anything else you can make a tune with. When his head’s not buried in the best of modern and vintage gear, Richard runs a small company helping musicians with songwriting, production and performance, and plays bass in an alt-rock band. Otherwise, you'll probably find him out walking the dog!

Best headphone amps for guitar: Quick list

Want to cut to the chase and find out exactly which we think are the best headphone amps for guitar? Below, you’ll find a round-up of our top choices. You can jump to a more detailed review of every pick and better yet, our price comparison tool will help you find the best price. 

The best headphone amps for guitar available today

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Below you'll find detailed writeups and reviews of the very best headphone amps for guitar. All of our products are chosen by our experts based on years of real-life experience, so you can rely on our recommendations.

Best headphone amp overall

Best headphone amps for guitar: Boss Waza-Air

(Image credit: Boss)

1. Boss Waza-Air

The best all-round headphone amp for guitar

Specifications

Type: Modeling
Effects?: Y
Integrated Input?: Wireless jack included
Connections: Transmitter in jack, 1/4-inch TRS phone type, charging port (DC IN 5V), USB Micro-B type
Bluetooth?: Y
Power: Rechargeable lithium-ion battery

Reasons to buy

+
Amazing tones
+
Loads of choice
+
Good quality, comfortable headphones
+
Wireless jack

Reasons to avoid

-
Not everyone likes using their phone or tablet

Boss’s Waza Craft technology has made waves ever since it was introduced nearly 10 years ago. Touring and bedroom players alike have looked to the range for superb tone, classic Boss reliability and fantastic tweakability. The Boss Waza-Air headphones abide by all of this and more.

Using a wireless jack (included), the headphones connect directly and you control the sounds mostly via an app. Boss have managed to do some really special things with these headphones. It’s not a particularly direct sound – much more ‘in the room’, as it would be if you were playing a real amplifier driving full sized speakers. You can get a great range of tones, too. There’s a superb selection of clean, crunchy and distorted sounds, all of which are pretty convincing, like they are with the Katana range of amps. 

The actual headphones themselves are comfortable and deliver a superb sound quality, and you can get up to five hours’ play time with the built-in rechargeable battery. You can also use them as regular headphones and stream your music via Bluetooth.

Best on a budget

Best headphone amps for guitar: NUX Mighty Plug 3

(Image credit: NUX)

2. NUX Mighty Plug 3

Small but mighty indeed

Specifications

Type: Modeling
Effects?: Y
Integrated Input?: Y
Connections: USB-C, headphone out
Bluetooth?: Y
Power: Built-in rechargeable LiPo battery

Reasons to buy

+
Compact
+
Amp sounds are great
+
Light is handy for knowing what patch you’re on

Reasons to avoid

-
Not everyone will like the app

This little thing is a mighty plug indeed. Packed full of different amps, cabs and effects, you can dial up a wide range of sounds to suit any musical endeavor. Everything is controlled via an app on your phone or tablet, so if you prefer old fashioned knobs and buttons, then this might not be for you.

The sounds are great, and you can tweak them a lot to suit personal taste. You can save and dial up patches, plus the colored light on the side of the unit reflects what patch you’re on, which is handy. There’s even an acoustic simulator on board so you can get acoustic guitar-like tones using your electric guitar, via headphones.

There’s a USB-C output which serves as a charging port and can also be used to record into a computer. Should you wish to go cable-free, the Mighty Plug 3 can stream to Bluetooth headphones too.

Best for classic tones

Best headphone amps for guitar: Fender Mustang Micro

(Image credit: Fender)

3. Fender Mustang Micro

The best headphone amp for classic Fender cleans and more

Specifications

Type: Modeling
Effects?: Y
Integrated Input?: Y
Connections: USB-C, headphone out
Bluetooth?: Y
Power: Lithium ion battery rechargeable via USB-C

Reasons to buy

+
Houses some classic Fender tones
+
Does heavier sounds too
+
Use it as an interface
+
Everything controlled on the device itself

Reasons to avoid

-
The buttons are quite small

This is a great mid-level option. Small, light and portable, the Mustang Micro could well be your best friend if you’re out and about traveling or on the road. Like the rest of the Mustang range, this amp features a number of different amp models; from clean combos to overdriven stacks, plus a range of effects that can cover all bases.  

Everything is controlled by the buttons and knobs on the amp itself, so if you like something more tactile and don’t want to be using your phone or tablet, then the Mustang Micro is a great option. The quality of sounds is very good, and you get a pretty good level of touch sensitivity and responsiveness. You can also take a cable out of the USB-C port to record directly into a computer. If you want to wirelessly jam along to your favorite songs or backing tracks then you can do so via Bluetooth. 

Best pedal style amp

Best headphone amps for guitar: Palmer Pocket Amp PEPAMPMKII

(Image credit: Palmer)

4. Palmer Pocket Amp PEPAMPMKII

A compact, tactile headphone amp with a range of great sounds

Specifications

Type: Solid state
Effects?: N
Integrated Input?: N
Connections: XLR out, guitar in, headphone out (6.3 mm jack and 3.5 mm TRS), aux in
Bluetooth?: N
Power: 9v battery or 9v DC power supply

Reasons to buy

+
Brit, US and vintage modes
+
Three levels of gain
+
Classic pedal design
+
XLR and headphone output

Reasons to avoid

-
No effects

This is a good option for those that prefer something more tactile. There is no menu scrolling or digital displays. All sounds are chosen and tweaked using the switches and knobs – it’s all right there in front of you, like a pedal. 

In fact, it pretty much is an amp in a pedal form. You plug your guitar into this, then you can take a pair of headphones out of it and play with a range of great tones without disturbing anyone else. There is also an XLR output too, allowing you to take a feed to a PA system or interface – this means it’s also handy to have for live and/or recording use. 

The tones are fantastic too – you’ve got a selection of modes, vintage, Brit and US, each giving a different flavor of tone. You then pair any of these with a clean, crunch or heavy setting that gives you different levels of gain. You can get everything from clean tweed style amp tones to saturated metal high-gain stack sounds, making it suitable for any type of music. You even have a couple of options of virtual microphone placement, and a ground lift switch. 

Best for video use

Best headphone amps for guitar: Boss Pocket GT

(Image credit: Boss)

5. Boss Pocket GT

The best headphone amp for guitarists that like to use videos in their practice sessions

Specifications

Type: Modeling
Effects?: Y
Integrated Input?: N
Connections: Headphone out, guitar in, aux in, USB-C
Bluetooth?: N
Power: 2 x AAA batteries

Reasons to buy

+
Loads of high quality tones
+
Perfect for using with YouTube
+
Literally pocket sized

Reasons to avoid

-
Too much for some

This pocket sized device houses the Boss GT sound engine which has featured in some amazing multi-effects and modeling pedals over the past few years. You get over 100 different amps and effects, meaning you can craft any tone imaginable. The quality of sounds is exactly what you’d expect from Boss too; they’re excellent. 

Where the Pocket GT really comes into its own is when you pair it with a smartphone or tablet. Firstly, you can unlock loads more parameters with which to tweak your sounds, and set up patches etc, but it’s here where you can use the device as a really powerful practice and learning tool. You can use the Boss app to watch YouTube videos, and even set up markers and loops, so if there’s one section of a video or song that you want to run through a few times, you can do that. You can use the controls on the Pocket GT to control it too, rather than scrolling through on your phone screen. 

If you’re one for using videos to aid your playing or learning, then the Boss Pocket GT is probably the best headphone amp for you.

Best for classic rock

Best headphone amps for guitar: Vox amPlug 2 Brian May

(Image credit: Vox)

6. Vox amPlug 2 Brian May

The sound of Brian’s treble-boosted AC30s, with effects too!

Specifications

Type: Solid state
Effects?: Y
Integrated Input?: Y
Connections: Headphone out, aux in
Bluetooth?: N
Power: 2 x AAA batteries

Reasons to buy

+
Nail that classic Queen guitar sound
+
Onboard rhythms
+
Effects work well

Reasons to avoid

-
Doesn’t do a great deal else

Whilst this pocket-sized tone machine from Vox might not pack the same punch as Brian’s nine AC30s all turned up, you can still get great in-headphones sound from the Brian May signature amPlug. It’s very similar to the incredibly popular AC30 model, only it’s a little more, well, Brian May.

Built into this nifty little unit are two types of delay (including one where you can harmonize with yourself), chorus and phaser. There are also essentially two channels – a regular AC channel, and then a treble boosted channel, for that signature Brian May sound. It does a great job of replicating that classic chimey, jangly sound on the AC channel and then the more pushed, gainy tones on the boosted channel. 

There’s even a bunch of rhythms for you to play along to, making this a very useful piece of gear for practicing with, as well as being loads of fun. 

Best for pedalboards

Best headphone amps for guitar: Electro-Harmonix Headphone Amp

(Image credit: Electro-Harmonix)

7. Electro-Harmonix Headphone Amp

Perfect for pedalboard users

Specifications

Type: Solid state
Effects?: N
Integrated Input?: N
Connections: Guitar in, headphone out
Bluetooth?: N
Power: 1 x 9v battery

Reasons to buy

+
Super simple
+
Ideal pedal platform
+
Small

Reasons to avoid

-
Only has one sound

Here’s a fantastic option if you’re looking for a headphone amp to run your pedalboard through. The Electro-Harmonix Headphone Amp does away with any additional features and provides you with a simple, easy to use amp that can act perfectly as a blank canvas for your carefully curated selection of effects pedals. 

It’s powered with a regular 9v connection, so you can keep this on your board if it’s something you think you’ll use often. Simply put this at the end of your chain, as if you were running into the front of an amp, and take the headphones out of there, and away you go.

Best for high gain

Best headphone amps for guitar: Blackstar amPlug 2 FLY

(Image credit: Blackstar)

8. Blackstar amPlug 2 FLY

Three different channels, three effects and a sweepable midrange

Specifications

Type: Solid state
Effects?: Y
Integrated Input?: Y
Connections: Headphone out, aux in
Bluetooth?: N
Power: 2 x AAA batteries

Reasons to buy

+
Three great channels
+
Blackstar’s ISF control
+
Decent effects

Reasons to avoid

-
Doesn’t feel too sturdy

As you might guess by the design and name, this is very similar to Vox’s amPlug range, except it’s loaded with classic Blackstar tones. That is to say it’s super versatile and can cater for any playing style. The design sports the tried and tested built-in jack plug, so all you need to do is plug it into your guitar, insert some headphones, and you’re ready to go. 

This has three channels, clean, crunch and lead, as well as chorus, delay and reverb that can be used on any channel. It’s also got Blackstar’s patented ISF control, which lets you sweep the midrange for either a more British or American style voicing. All of these features combine to allow you to be able to dial in pretty much any sort of tone, from country to heavy metal. Some of the settings even add a touch of tube style compression resulting in a very, very good playing experience. 

Best headphone amps for guitar: Buyer's Advice

Best Headphone Amps For Guitar 2023: Get The Sound Of A Fully Cooking Rig Without Making A Sound

(Image credit: Future)

Tones

Our pick of the best headphone amps for guitar cover a wide range of bases. Some are modeling amps with loads of different tones built in, whereas some might be more basic, and have a more limited range of sounds. What’s right for you is completely personal of course.

Modeling amps will generally give you all sorts of clean, crunchy and distorted tones, along with some effects. There are even some headphone amps that give you the option of modeling different speaker cabinets. This gives you a huge scope for crafting your ideal sound, and they are great for those serious about using this as a silent practice tool. It does however mean that there are more options to scroll through, or dial in – or you might even have to use your phone or tablet to control it, depending on the model.

More straightforward units might be more limited in terms of the range of tones you can get out of them, but quite often, they’re easier to use. Old fashioned knobs and buttons control your EQ, volume and gain. Whilst you might not have various different modeled combos and stacks to browse through, you can get some fantastic sounds by using your ears and dialing it in.

Recording

Some of the best headphone amps for guitar can now be used as compact recording solutions. Gone are the days where the only way to record guitars was by using a big amp and mic’ing it up through a professional desk. If you’re looking to take advantage of this, then look for something that’s got a USB output – this way you can connect to a computer and use the headphone amp as an interface and your source of tone. 

Best Fit

Some headphone amps feature a jack built into the unit which plugs directly into the guitar. These are nearly always designed to fit universally, but just be wary if you’ve got a guitar featuring a barrel jack output recessed into the body. You’ll need to make sure there’s enough space for the jack plug to fit all the way in without catching the body. Headphone amps with the plug built in mean there’s one less cable to worry about, and so can be great if you’re trying to keep things as neat as possible.

Standalone units will mean you need to run a cable into them, and take your headphones from there. It might not be make or break, but it’s certainly something to consider.

How we select products

At Guitar Player, our team of writers aren't just music enthusiasts; we're real-life musicians. Our hands-on experience with acoustic guitar amps ensures that our reviews and recommendations are backed by practical knowledge and real-world testing.

When it comes to selecting the best headphone amps, we leave no stone unturned. Meticulously evaluating factors like tonal versatility, sonic character, build quality, and value for money, it's only after rigorous testing in a variety of playing scenarios do we choose products for our guides. We stand by our selections, ensuring that every amp we recommend is one we'd use ourselves.

Richard Blenkinsop

After spending a decade in music retail, I’m now a freelance writer for Guitar Player, Guitar World, MusicRadar and Reverb, specializing in electric and acoustic guitars bass, and almost anything else you can make a tune with. When my head’s not buried in the best of modern and vintage gear, I run a small company helping musicians with songwriting, production and performance, and I play bass in an alt-rock band.