There are electric guitars all over my home office, but I seldom plug into an amp if I’m writing or practicing, because I simply like grabbing a guitar the moment inspiration hits and getting to it. No fuss. No searching for guitar cables. No moving amps around. After all, I’m just working out parts, right?
But there is one situation where an unplugged electric or an acoustic tone bugs me—when I’m trying to visualize how a riff would sound gloriously overdriven. And that’s where the Strum Buddy portable guitar amp ($69 street) can make me smile.
The stress-ball-sized Strum Buddy attaches to your guitar with its suction cup, and offers 6 watts of power, an onboard speaker, and three effects (chorus, reverb, crunch). The Lithium Ion rechargeable battery powers up via USB, and delivers more than three hours of semiquiet rocking per charge. The amp isn’t loud enough for busking on the street, but it’s adequate for jamming in your room, and the effects are actually quite good. For my aforementioned crunchy-riff workouts, the Strum Buddy passed my no-nuisance test. It’s small enough to keep on my desk, where I can grab it in a flash, plug it into a guitar, and feel the rage.
I did notice, however, that limited real estate on my Bigsby-equipped guitars meant sticking the device where it got in the way of my arm, and the raised black type on a black surface made it impossible to locate the Chorus, Reverb, and Crunch buttons in low light. But when lip-locked to the right guitar, the Strum Buddy is an inexpensive and ingenious little gizmo for making songwriting sessions hassle free and super fun. That’s worth $70 to me. Sold!
KUDOS Cute. Compact. Useful.
CONCERNS Optimum placement difficult on some guitars.