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Best Practice Amps 2022: The 10 Best Amps For Guitar Practice

Laney practice amp on wooden floor
(Image credit: Future)

We all love the sound of a cranked tube amp, but it’s not always convenient to let rip on our unassuming family members with the full force of its sonic fury. It’s not like they’d appreciate the harmonically rich saturation or dynamic range anyway. If you’ve found yourself in this conundrum, then what you need is one of the best practice amps. 

These amps will allow you to endlessly rehearse songs, hone your solo licks, and nail those chord changes without irritating those you share your home with. You’re in luck as well, because nowadays practice amps offer a variety of tones, effects and connectivity options for relatively little outlay.

Best practice amps: Guitar Player’s choice

Yeah, we know you’re sick of hearing about the Boss Katana MKII (opens in new tab). The problem is it’s just so damn good, especially considering its low cost. Five realistic tube amp tones, a whole suite of studio-quality effects, USB recording capabilities, and intuitive software that allows you to download tones created by professional guitarists all add up to make this the best practice amp out there.

If you just can’t do without the real deal then don’t worry, we’ve got you. The Blackstar HT-1R MKII (opens in new tab) offers proper tube tones with an itty bitty 1-watt output to make sure there are no complaints from the neighbors.

Best practice amps: product guide

Best practice amps: Boss Katana MKII 50

(Image credit: Boss)

1. Boss Katana MKII 50

One of the best practice amps in the world

Specifications

Type: Digital modeling amp
Output: 50W
Number of channels: 2
Effects: 60
Tubes: N/A
Speakers: 1 x 12”
Weight: 11.6kg

Reasons to buy

+
Great selection of amp sounds
+
Studio quality Boss effects
+
USB recording capabilities

Reasons to avoid

-
Not much at this price!

The Boss Katana MKII 50 has been the king of modeling guitar amps for a while now. Mixing a traditional amp interface with the modern capabilities of digital modeling makes it one serious practice tool. It’s also got enough grunt to hang with a drummer at practice and even do small live shows.

A nicely rounded selection of amp models goes from classic Country clean to hard rock crunch, right through to all-out metal mayhem. This MKII version features a variation switch for each of the five amp models too, doubling your money when it comes to quality amp tones.

Nearly every guitar player out there uses or has used some type of Boss effect, and the Katana gives you a choice of five simultaneously, essentially allowing you to build your own pedalboard. Add in the intuitive Boss Tone Studio, where you can download pro guitar players’ tones and record to your DAW, and you have an amplifier that can do it all.

Best practice amp: Blackstar HT-1R Combo

(Image credit: Blackstar)

2. Blackstar HT-1R Combo

The perfect practice amp for those who can’t do without tubes

Specifications

Type: Tube combo
Output: 1W
Number of channels: 2
Effects: Digital reverb
Tubes: 1 x ECC83, 1x ECC82
Speakers: 1 x 8”
Weight: 5.6kg

Reasons to buy

+
Tube amp tone at low volume
+
Compact size
+
Great looks

Reasons to avoid

-
Gets a bit fizzy at high gain

The Blackstar HT-1R is a great little tube amp for the guitar player who must have the real deal. It’s got some brilliant connectivity options that make it a perfect companion for the home, as well as an excellent tonal palette.

The HT-1R features two channels, each with its own switchable voice, giving you an option for both American and British flavored sounds. If you do decide to turn it up it, sounds much bigger than you’d expect – but you can still get great tube tones at lower volumes.

A headphone out lets you practice silently, while a USB recording option is just the thing for getting your ideas down or recording your progress. The built-in reverb sounds absolutely phenomenal, rounding out this amazing little amplifier.

Best practice amps: Strymon Iridium

(Image credit: Strymon)

3. Strymon Iridium

A great sounding amplifier you can fit on your pedalboard

Specifications

Type: Modeling amp
Output: Line level
Number of channels: 3
Effects: N/A
Tubes: N/A
Speakers: N/A
Weight: 0.6kg

Reasons to buy

+
Compact form factor
+
Superb amp sounds
+
Load your own cab IRs

Reasons to avoid

-
Needs a computer or headphones

Okay so you’re probably thinking ‘that’s not an amp!’ and you’re half-right. The Strymon Iridium is one of those newfangled pedalboard amplifiers that are all the rage right now. Whilst it’s not an amp in the traditional sense, the range of tones on offer here is simply too good to ignore.

For a player who can’t do without a tube amp but needs that warm saturation, the Strymon Iridium is one of the most convincing recreations we’ve heard thus far. Everything from Vox-like chime to Fender Tweed is available with this amazing little unit, and there’s a great selection of cabinets too, with 1x12, 2x10, 2x12, and even a 4x12 option.

What makes this such a great practice amp is its headphone input, allowing you to capture these gloriously recreated amp models without upsetting anyone else in the house. Stick it at the end of your pedalboard and you can use your live rig at home with all your usual pedals. It’s so good you might find it replaces your regular amp at your live shows too!

Best practice amps: Marshall CODE 50

(Image credit: Marshall)

4. Marshall CODE 50

For those who need to practice with Marshall crunch

Specifications

Type: Modeling amp
Output: 50W
Number of channels: 1
Effects: 24
Tubes: N/A
Speakers: 1 x 12”
Weight: 13kg

Reasons to buy

+
Insane amount of sounds
+
Great depth of control
+
Classic Marshall tones

Reasons to avoid

-
Requires tweaking

The Marshall CODE 50 sees this classic British amp builder collaborate with Softube, a company renowned for their analog gear recreations. It features a whole host of deliciously recreated vintage Marshall amps, giving you a selection of some of the best guitar tones at your fingertips.

If you ever lusted for a classic Marshall amp, chances are it’s here. The Super Lead, JTM45, and JCM800 are all present and accounted for. Alongside these great British greats, you also get some recreations of classic American amps too.

A total of 24 built-in effects offer everything from delay to modulation, letting you augment your tones with ease. A headphone out offers a silent practice option, whilst the USB recording out lets you add these classic amp tones to your own creations.

Best practice amps: Orange Crush 20

(Image credit: Orange)

5. Orange Crush 20

The best practice amp for players who like to keep it simple

Specifications

Type: Solid state amp
Output: 20W
Number of channels: 2
Effects: N/A
Tubes: N/A
Speakers: 1 x 8”
Weight: 7.15kg

Reasons to buy

+
Fantastic drive sounds
+
Brilliant cab simulation
+
Easy to use

Reasons to avoid

-
No built-in effects

The Orange Crush 20 is a brilliant little practice amp that allows you to get that highly sought after Orange tone at a reasonable volume, and price. Available in classic orange or a nice little black number, the Crush 20 can do a surprising amount for a mere practice amp.

Despite being a solid-state amp, the clean tone doesn’t stay clean when you crank it, giving you that tube-like natural breakup at higher settings. The dirty channel sounds phenomenal too, thanks to the four preamp stages, taking you from buttery overdrive to gnarled high gain tones.

That headphone out has more to it than meets the eye, too. Plug in and you get an Orange cab sim, emulating a 4x12 stack with Orange’s renowned Voice of the World speakers. An aux input lets you jam along to your favorite tunes, making this a perfect practice amp.

Best practice amps: Yamaha THR10II Wireless

(Image credit: Yamaha)

6. Yamaha THR10II Wireless

The original desktop amp that spawned a whole genre of imitators

Specifications

Type: Modeling amp
Output: 20W
Number of channels: 5
Effects: 10
Tubes: N/A
Speakers: 2 x 3.1”
Weight: 3.2kg

Reasons to buy

+
Doesn’t take up much room
+
Versatile array of sounds
+
Distinctive look

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive for a practice amp

The Yamaha THR10II Wireless may look like some kind of fancy candle holder but it’s actually packing a whole bunch of tasty amplifier models. Despite its unusual look and speaker configuration, it’s spawned a whole new genre of amplifier since its initial release around 10 years ago.

It’s got a huge range of realistic amplifier sounds, from clean to edge of breakup, and right on through to high gain. The touch response is fantastic, accurately emulating the dynamics of an actual tube amp. Add some high-quality effects like delay, reverb and modulation into the mix and you’ve got yourself a brilliant practice solution.

Once you’re done sculpting your perfect tone, you can save it to five user memory slots for instant recall. A USB recording out lets you create demos or listen back to your playing. With a headphone out and wireless capability using the optional Line 6 Relay G10T, this great little unit is a perfect practice amp.

Best practice amps: Fender Mustang Micro

(Image credit: Fender)

7. Fender Mustang Micro

A compact option for silent practice at home or on the go

Specifications

Type: Modeling amp
Output: Line level
Number of channels: 1
Effects: 12
Tubes: N/A
Speakers: 12
Weight: 0.04kg

Reasons to buy

+
Fender amp tones in your pocket
+
Great selection of effects
+
Recording capabilities

Reasons to avoid

-
No gain control

The Fender Mustang Micro may not look like much, but it’s actually a brilliant practice tool for the guitarist on the go. Small enough to fit in your backpack or gig bag, it’s packed with usable tones and a range of top-quality effects.

The amp sounds emulate some of the most iconic amps of all time, starting at the Fender ‘65 Twin for your ultra clean sound, going right through to a Bogner Uberschall emulation for those heavy, drop-tuned riffs. A whole range of effects gives you spring reverb, 2290-style delay, and a swirling sine chorus amongst many others.

It’s wireless, so you can walk around the house with your headphones in, oblivious to anything other than your great guitar tone. The USB-C out serves as a charge point as well as offering USB recording options too, meaning you can plug it into your phone or laptop and record your ideas whenever inspiration strikes.

Best practice amps: Positive Grid Spark Mini

(Image credit: Positive Grid)

8. Positive Grid Spark Mini

The ever-popular smart-amp returns with a smaller footprint

Specifications

Type: Modeling amp
Output: 10W
Number of channels: 1
Effects: 43
Tubes: N/A
Speakers: 2 x12”
Weight: 1.5kg

Reasons to buy

+
Compact form
+
Great selection of sounds
+
Amazing practice tools

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the loudest

Everything’s ‘smart’ nowadays, from smartphones to smart lightbulbs to smart clip-on tuners, even the guitar world isn’t immune from the traipse of technology. The Positive Grid Spark Mini is touted as a ‘smart amplifier’, mixing the analog sound of the old with the tech of the modern era.

It certainly looks like an amp with its black Tolex and gold piping, but there’s a huge amount of depth under the hood. With 30 different amp types you get sounds from boutique clean through to modern high gain, all painstakingly modeled to deliver an incredible sound. It’s got a surprising amount of low-end as well, despite its small size.

Its tiny size means that it only has three controls, but thankfully there’s an accompanying Spark app. Load up songs to jam along with from Spotify or YouTube, or use the Smart Jam feature, which listens to eight bars of your playing and generates a custom backing track for you. How’s that for smart?

Read our full Positive Grid Spark Mini review

Best practice amps: Line 6 Catalyst 60

(Image credit: Line 6)

9. Line 6 Catalyst 60

A powerful practice tool that you can take to gigs

Specifications

Type: Modeling amp
Output: 60W
Number of channels: 2
Effects: 18
Tubes: N/A
Speakers: 1 x 12”
Weight: 11.8kg

Reasons to buy

+
Quality HX effects suite
+
Great amp sounds
+
Deep editing with app

Reasons to avoid

-
Only two effects at a time

With its modeling amp heritage, it’s little surprise to find the Line 6 Catalyst making this list of best practice amps. Combining a powerful range of amp sounds with some high-quality Line 6 HX effects, you’ve got everything you need to create the perfect practice rig.

The amp models feature a surprising slant towards clean and edge of breakup considering the history of Line 6 amps. There are some really nice vintage amp recreations on offer, as well as a single high-gain offering for when you want to get heavy.

To get the most out of the 18 staggering quality effects, you really need to use the Catalyst Edit app which allows for deeper editing of the parameters. You also get a USB recording out, an FX loop for using your own time-based effects, and a headphone out for silent practice.

Best practice amps: Laney CUB SUPER12

(Image credit: Laney)

10. Laney CUB SUPER12

A proper tube amp with power attenuation for practice at home

Specifications

Type: Tube amp
Output: 15W, switchable to 1W
Number of channels: 1
Effects: Reverb
Tubes: 3 x 12AX7, 2 x EL84
Speakers: 1 x 12”
Weight: 11.7kg

Reasons to buy

+
Boutique tube tone
+
Stunning good looks
+
Excellent value for money

Reasons to avoid

-
No headphone out

The Laney CUB SUPER12 doesn’t look like a practice amp. It’s got the bourgeois look and sound of a boutique tube amp, but what makes it a brilliant practice amp is the handy power attenuation switch that lets you knock the output down to 1 watt

It’s got a warm and wide-ranging clean tone, handling country picking and fusion legato licks with ease. Dial up the gain and you can go all the way from a beautiful blues tone to hard rock crunch. The boost function lets you drive it harder, although it won’t quite do a high-gain sound.

There are two input jacks for the full 15 watts or a dialed down 1-watt option. It’s the latter that’s going to serve you well at home, offering up those great tube tones without noise complaints. An external speaker jack lets you dial up the volume when gigging, and an FX loop adds further functionality.

The best practice amps: Buyer’s advice

Positive Grid Spark Mini control panel

(Image credit: Future)

If you’re looking for an amp that’s purely for practice, chances are you’re already the owner of some kind of higher wattage amp that’s not realistic for quiet practice. With that in mind, we’ve put together some buying advice that will ensure you’re able to select the best practice amp for your needs.

Power And Portability

Wattage is undoubtedly the deciding factor when purchasing a practice amp. You want something that isn’t going to blow the doors off but still has enough punch to cut through if you ever want to jam with a friend at home. For a solid state or modeling amp, something in the region of 20 to 50 watts will be plenty for home practice. If you need it, a 50-watt would do some small gigs too.

If it’s a tube amp then you’ll need much less wattage as their perceived volume is much louder. Realistically anything below the 12-watt mark is going to be plenty for home use. If you’re using a tube amp at home you may also want to invest in a boost pedal, which will allow you to drive the amp harder at a lower volume to get that delicious tube breakup without deafening anyone.

The size of the amplifier is also something that needs to be taken into consideration. Will it fit into that box room acting as a pseudo office, or alongside all the clutter in your garage/workshop? As these are small wattage amplifiers we’re dealing with, the majority should be small enough to fit into the majority of homes, but if you’re really strapped for space there are some great ‘desktop amps’ on this list that will easily fit on your average Swedish-made shelving unit.

Tube Vs Solid State

Now, there’s a reason that the majority of pro guitar players use tube amps but they’re just not practical for home use, so the majority of amps you’ll find in this guide are solid state. Before you roll your eyes, if you’ve not played a modern solid state amp, you’ll find they’ve come a long way since the supposed digital revolution. For the most part, they’re not even called solid state anymore, but are more likely to be referred to as modeling amps. This is because they aim to emulate the sought-after tube tone. And when you try one, you’ll find they’ve gotten surprisingly good at doing so.

The other great thing about solid state and modeling amps is that they often include effects alongside their amp models. This means you can get a pseudo-pedalboard to aid with your practice. As well as being a great songwriting tool, you might surprise yourself and find something you want for your regular rig!

Connectivity Options

If silent practice is a must, then make sure your practice amp has a headphone out. If you like to jam along with your favorite tunes to hone your timing and learn new licks, then a line-in or Bluetooth connectivity will be a necessity. Many of the best practice amps also give you options for recording, either via a line out or USB. Recording yourself and listening back is one of the best ways to improve your playing, so if you’re wanting to monitor your progress, having this option on your practice amp can be a potential game changer.

Read more on how we test gear and services at Guitar Player