You’ve got the electric guitar now all you need before starting down the road to Guitar God status is an amp. However, you have a dilemma. You have blown your entire budget on your new guitar and you don’t think your neighbours will be too happy with having their peace destroyed by your first faltering steps exploring the fretboard. The only answer is a budget practise amp and thankfully there is plenty to choose from.
So what are the best budget practise amps available?
Rockburn, it has to be said, are the EasyJet of the guitar world. If you have bought a budget guitar it is highly likely that it is a Rockburn. With Rockburn what you get is a decent no frills guitar at a budget price. But not happy with dominating the market in budget guitars they are also after the budget practice amp market too with a range of practice amps to choose from. But what are their practise amps like and are they worth buying.
First up is their 10 W budget practise amp and the question we have is does it rock or is it a dud?
With its traditional styling the Rockburn 10 W amp is armed with a 1 x 5 inch speaker, measures 24.2 x 22.2 x 10 cm and weighs in at 3 kg. This is a compact 10W amp which won’t take up much room and is easy to transport so good for the bedroom guitarist. As you can expect with a budget practise amp the Rockburn 10W amp is pretty basic. If you want all the bells and whistles this is not the amp for you. But if you are looking for a no nonsense amp you could do a lot worse. It is armed with an input and output jack and there are volume, bass and treble controls. With a guitar plugged in the amp sounds pretty good; it has a bright clear tone with plenty of volume for someone who wants to practise in their room. If you want some distortion from the amp you will have to increase the volume, which is perhaps not ideal, as there is no gain dial or distortion switch. However, for a little under £35 the Rockburn 10 W practise amp is not all that bad.
Verdict: For the bedroom guitarist this is a great little budget practise amp. It sounds good with sufficient volume to practise. The main drawbacks are that the only way to distort the amp is to crank it up which might not please your neighbours and the amp is not big enough and may well get drowned out when practising with a band.
If you like the look of the Rockburn 10W amp then check out these latest offers.
If you like the look of the Rockburn 10 W practise amp but want something a little meatier then Rockburn also do a 15W budget practise amp. It is worth stating that this is a practice amp for Bass guitars however, it is equally good with guitars of the six string variety and provides a little bit more beef than the 10W guitar amp.
The Rockburn 15W Bass amp, like its little guitar brother, is a compact amp. Measuring 30.5 x31.5 x 18.5 cm and weighing 5.6 kg it is designed for portability. The Rockburn 15 W bass amp has a master volume and four band equaliser allowing you to control your output tone. With high, mid high, mid low and low you can get everything from a very twangy punchy tone to a low down rumble. As it is designed for bass guitars the amp has a more heavy duty 6.5” bass speaker which really does give good clarity at high volume. This gives it more presence than the 10 W guitar amp which means it won’t be drowned out if you use it to practise with a band. With a rrp of just under £45 the Rockburn 15 W bass amp has lots to recommend it.
Verdict: If you want an amp with a bit more volume and presence the Rockburn 15W Bass Amp is a good choice. Don’t be put off by the fact that it says it is a Bass Amp. The 4 band equaliser and 6.5” bass speaker provide great tone and volume even at high volume meaning this amp stands up to other instruments and means you won’t get drowned out at band practise.
The Rockburn 15W is a great little amp so check out these latest offers.
What can we say about Marshall that hasn’t already been said before? They are the Amplification experts and for many guitarists Marshall is their amp of choice. It is therefore great that they have a budget practise amp in their range.
The Marshall MG10 CF Guitar Amplifier measures 29.6 x 31.4 x 17.5 cm and weighs in at 4.8 kg. Armed with a 6.5” speaker the MG10 has two channels and a single tone control. The two channels is a great thing to have in a budget practise amp allowing you to play clean or switch and play with distortion. The clean channel has just a volume control and the single contour tone control. The distorted channel has a volume and gain as well as the contour tone control. The clean channel sounds great and although there is only the single tone control this is good enough to allow reasonable scope for experimenting with your sound. The distortion channel is great. Turn up the volume and gain and you have that great Marshall over-drive sound pushing the 6.5” speaker to its limits. The MG10 also comes fitted with earphone socket and the ability to plug in your MP3 player so that you can play along with your favourite songs.
Verdict: If you want the Marshall sound in a budget practise amp then the MG10 is the amp for you. The two channels give you greater scope than the Rockburn amps and although only 10 W it is really more than loud enough for bedroom practise. The MG10 is a great budget practise amp at a fantastic price.
If you like the look of the Marshall then find the best price for this great amp.
Following on from the Marshall MG10 we have a budget offering from another elder statesman of guitar amplification – Vox. The Vox Pathfinder 10 oozes all the quality and style that we have come to associate with Vox. We published a full review of the Vox Pathfinder 10 back in February 2014 and back then we thought it was a great budget practise amp. Nothing has changed our initial assessment, this is still a great amp. The Vox measures 43.2 x 20.3 x 30.5 cm and weighs 6 kg. The styling is recognisably Vox, with the retro styling and robust build quality that you would expect from a Vox amp. The Pathfinder 10 is fitted with a Vox designed Bulldog 6.5″ speaker which provides powerful volume output for what is a small amp. All the controls are sited on the top of the amp and include treble, bass, volume and gain dials as well as a push button to switch from clean to distorted. The clean tone is impressive and with the tone controls you can easily access bright jangly or low and rumbling as well as anything in between. When you switch from clean to the distorted channel you can control the level of distortion by varying the gain. If you have it set low the distortion is warm and bluesy. Increase the gain and you can really start to rock. The Pathfinder gives you Vox sound quality at a budget price but with no compromises; this really is a good amp!
Verdict: The Vox Pathfinder 10 is a great amp with a lot of features packed into what is a very cheap amp. Although the price is set at bargain basement the Pathfinder is anything but bargain basement. The look, build quality and sound of the Pathfinder is difficult to fault, if they had added reverb this would be the perfect budget practise amp.
Fender are better known for their guitars but also do a decent line of amps and the Fender Frontman 10G could be seen as their entry level amp. Like all the amps so far the Frontman is a compact budget practise amp. It measures 36 x 29.8 x 17.8 cm and weighs 3 kg and comes with a 6″ speaker. The controls are basic, as you would expect, and, similar to the Vox, include volume, gain, bass and treble. The Frontman offers two channels, clean and distorted. Like the Vox there is a button to push to switch between the two channels. Played clean the Frontman is great, producing crystal clear notes. With the Bass and Treble dials you can easily experiment with your guitar tone moving from bright treble to rumbling bass. Engage the distortion channel and by varying the gain you can have very light distortion to screaming in your face distortion. The Frontman is a very versatile amp which should satisfy any taste and at less than £50 is a tempting proposition.
Verdict: The Fender Frontman 10G is a versatile amp with very little to fault it. From clean tones to screaming distortion the Frontman is a powerful enough amp to be used in a bedroom or practise room.
If you are interested in the Fender Frontman 10G then you can check out these latest offers.
We have mentioned the Marshall MG10, which is a great little amp, but if you are looking for something with a little bit more welly then the Marshall MG15CFR 15 Watt guitar amp is an ideal choice. Measuring in at 38.2 x 20.5 x 37.8 cm and a manageable 7 kg it is an amp which packs a punch for its size. As with its baby brother you get two channels, a clean channel and distorted channel for when you want to crank it up. The 3 band EQ covers the tonal side of the amp and there is the added bonus of the reverb. In terms of sound the amp is very accomplished. The volume is more than enough for bedroom practice right up to small venues. The clean channel is superb with amazing clean tones which sound even better with a bit of reverb. If you like a clean blues tone then this amp is certainly worth a look. The distortion is more than adequate covering everything from warm crunch to full on metal heaven and everything in between. All in all the Marshall MG15CFR is a great little amp.
Verdict: More powerful than its 10W baby brother the Marshall MG15CFR is an amp that will stay with you throughout your playing career. Shimmering clean tones and crunching distortion all enriched with the addition of reverb, this is a great amp.
If you like the sound of the Marshall MG15CFR then check out these latest offers.
Line 6 launched in 1996 and have become well known for their digital modelling guitar amplifiers. The Line 6 Spider IV 15W guitar amp is their entry level practise amp which, although more expensive than the amps we have covered already, can still be considered a budget practise amp.
The Line 6 Spider Classic 15 is bigger and heavier than the other practise amps we have reviewed but it is still a relatively compact unit. Measuring 25 x 66 x 48 cm and weighing in at 13 kg the Spider classic is a full 7 kg heavier than the next heaviest amp. However, much of this is down to the 8″ high performance speaker which makes it the most powerful of the amps we have reviewed so far. But you get more than just power with the Spider Classic! As well as the normal volume, gain and tone controls the Spider Classic features 4 amp models and 6 guitar effects. The Spider gives you four classic guitar amp models, including shimmering clean tones, classic crunch inspired by a 100-watt Marshall Plexi as well as punchy high-gain heaven inspired by a Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier. In terms of the guitar effects you get flange, phaser, tremolo, reverb, tape echo and sweep echo so no need to spend any more money on effects pedals. Often you find with a budget practise amp that has all the bells and whistles is that it promises a lot but doesn’t deliver on the basic of good sound quality and tone. Well don’t worry because Line 6 have not compromised on quality to cram in loads of features. Without any of the effects the basic amp has a great sound. From clean tones to crunchy distortion the amp doesn’t fail to impress.
Verdict: If you are looking for a practise amp that is powerful enough to be heard against other instruments but has a whole host of preset amp sounds and guitar effects then the Spider Classic is an excellent choice.
If you like the look of the Line 6 Spider Classic then check out these latest offers.
In terms of a budget practise amp there is plenty of choice available to satisfy even the most fussy guitarist. From the basic 10W simplicity of the Rockburn to the effect packed Spider IV there are options to fit any budget. We hope that you find the budget practise amp that will get your guitar playing off to a great start.