Guitar Practice Amp Selection Tips

The proper selection of a guitar practice amp can be a major asset when it comes to making progress in your guitar skills.

In order to make progress, you need to be able to make the most of the little time that most people have nowadays. The right practice amp for your guitar practice ranks very high on the priority list as far as investments in your training.

In order to feel good about your progress you not only need to hear the sounds that you have in mind, but be able to go back and listen to your performance a little while later to get a good grasp on how you are progressing.

What to look for in a Guitar Practice Amp

You're going to be spending allot of time practicing and honing your guitar skills. Here are some of the things that I find are going to help you make the most of your time practicing guitar

Guitar Practice AmpGuitar Practice Amp
  1. Sound - Will it produce the sound you are looking for? The whole line of contributors to your sound goes from what you have in your mind, to the condition of your body, to the type and condition of your guitar to the cable that you have heading into the effects that you have, what order they are in and finally into the type of amp you have. If the guitar practice amp is not up to the job, you will not hear what you expect to hear and your motivation will be challenged. With the proper setup, you will be biting at the bit and won't want to wait to practice and get better so you can take those skills to the world. Because you enjoy what you hear.
  2. Headphone Jack  - There is nothing like a good set of headphones to let you know first hand, how you are doing. It sounds so basic and it is. In order to protect others from learning experiences that are not quite there yet, you can't beat headphones. When it is obvious to you, take them off and try your new lick, riff or song in the open air. 
  3. Aux input -  A Auxilary input is a great way to send a metronome, drum machine or audio from a computer through you amp to play along with.
  4. Portability  - A good sounding guitar practice amp that is lightweight and portable will come in handy if you want to have an opportunity to practice in different locations. Lots of people, maybe you, are on the road and need to take your amp and guitar with you to wherever you are. There are some really nice portable amps out there that sound very good.
  5. Modeling and built-in effects - Modeling amps with built-in effects can simulate many different amplifiers and effects. This saves you from having to buy many expensive amps and pedals just to get the sound you are looking for. The danger is this: If you spend too much time with all the toys on a complicated amplifier when you should be practicing you are endangering your progress. The best amp for guitar practice should be simple enough to set up fast and get on with your skill building efforts.
  6. Drum Machine - This is a very handy thing to have on an amp for rhythm training and is found on only one amp that I know of and that is the Line 6 Spider Jam. This is where the aux input comes in handy. You can plug a drum machine right into your amp also.
  7. Looper - The ability to record a looping rhythm track is really great for learning to solo. Another feature of the Line 6 Spider Jam. You can also buy this as an add-on to any amp you wish in the form of a pedal.
  8. Recorder - A recorder built into the amp is amazing to have. Line 6 Spider Jam again.
  9. USB plug - There is only two amp that I know of that has this feature and that is a Peavey Valveking 2 and the Fender Mustang. You can hook right up to a computer and record right into your Audio software. I have not used this one, but it sounds like a really good thing to me.
  10. Tuner - Having a tuner built into the amp, that is easy to use, is a huge time saver and will help with training your ears.
  11. Battery Power - No plug-in? A battery powered amp you can take almost anywhere.
  12. Speaker Size - A larger speaker will have more ability to move air and sound better than a small speaker. Guitar Practice Amp speakers range from 6 to 12 inches. The bigger the speaker, the heavier the amp.

List of Recommended Guitar Practice Amps

There is no rule anywhere that says you can only have one practice amp for your guitar.

A battery powered amp could be the answer for one situation and a full tube stack amplifier might be the answer in another.

With that in mind here are, some amplifiers that I think would be great.

  1. Fender Mustang - A great sounding amp with a USB connection and software to your computer.
  2. Roland Cube - This is a whole line of really good sounding amps from small portable battery powered amps to a pretty hefty 80 watt amp for gigs. 
  3. Line 6 Spider Jam - built in drum machine, looper and recording capabilities.Unfortunately no way to hook it to a computer.

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