Finding the right place to practice can be a pain. If you’re lucky, you’ve got a garage or a basement you can commandeer for a few hours at night. Even so, you probably don’t live miles outside of civilization. Thus, there are other people around who won’t passively tolerate your dimed Marshall half-stack.
This brings us to the never-ending dynamic of balancing volume with sound quality and the unavoidable question: “What is the best amp to use for practice?”
Here’s the thing. You can technically use a 100-watt head, but practically, you won’t want to. Having to plug it into a cab makes the whole concept utterly loud, physically demanding, and limits the versatility of what you can practice. Even in a practice studio, that much volume may drown out your singer. Big, wonderful, classic tube amps are fantastic in many instances, but they don’t lend themselves to easy practice logistics.
That’s what practice amps are for.
These practice amps in particular have risen to the top as being the best practice amps money can buy — and a very reasonable amount of money at that. A great practice amp combines easy portability, appropriate volume, and versatile tonal options, so you can assure you cover all you practice bases. And as technology evolves an exponentially more rapid pace, the amps in this sphere just get better and better.
The Boss Katana Air is the pinnacle of practice capability. It can switch between 20 or 30 watts of power, which is the perfect range of volume for playing solo in your room or at band practice. The Katana Air sports six different amp type emulations including “Brown,” “Lead,” and “Acoustic.” It has a 3-band EQ, plus effects knobs for blending in a little delay, mod, or reverb. Best of all, this amp is battery powered and comes with a wireless transmitter for free-range practicing.
The Yamaha THR10II has a style all its own. The avant garde look is backed by decades of Yamaha musical expertise, which shines through as soon as you plug in. This heavy duty amp is 20-watts of tone-full power, sporting the sounds of 15 guitar amp, 3 bass amps, and 3 mic models. There’s also plug-and-play USB connectivity for recording and playback, plus Bluetooth support for audio playback, and editing via THR Remote.
Line 6’s Spider line will always come through when you need many different tones and effects. This 20-watt amp is stocked with artist presets and classic amp sounds, voiced by a renowned tube-amp maker. It also has the Spider standards like “Crunch,” “Chime,”” Insane,” and “Acoustic.” You can dial in some reverb and other FX with easy-to-use knobs. On top of all that, the free Spider V Remote app lets you tweak the onboard sounds to your heart’s content—plus unlock more than 200 additional amps, cabs, and effects.
As one of the oldest amp makers in the game, Fender knows what they’re doing when it comes to all manner of practice amps. Specialists in the combo amp realm, Fender has made some of the best combos in the business, and continues to make waves today with the Mustang V.2. The Mustang has 8 standard preset amp channels and 17 total with Fender Fuse upgrade. It also has built-in Delay/Reverb effects knobs, plus it’s connectable to Ableton Live Lite 8 – Fender Edition, for recording and editing.
If you want a nice, compact practice amp, with some authentically powerful rock tone, the Crush 20 suits you. The Crush 20 features an all-analog signal path to offer Orange’s legendarily responsive, uniquely lively tone. It has Clean and Dirty channels, which gives you two simplistic and riveting tonal options. The high-gain preamp design boasts four gain stages to deliver an outstanding range. The Crush 20 also features an Aux In, plus ¼” headphone jack, which gives you the option to practice silently or plug into a recording console, thanks to the Orange CabSim feature.
Practice Amps Make Perfect Amps
You know you have to practice. But if you don’t have the right amp, you know you won’t want to. If you want to be at your best, consider any of these awesome practice amps. They’ll give you great tone and versatile sound, without the drag of being too loud or heavy. They each have the capability to fly solo, but still retain enough power to play with a drummer. If you’re practicing as much as you should, you’ll be very happy to have one.