Battery powered guitar amplifiers have come a long way. Technology has made amazing advances in amps possible. You can now get classic Fender or Marshall tones in an amp the size of a lunch box.
Even better – you can get classic Vox tones in a practice amp and beatbox combined! Hone your rhythm chops anywhere you go with virtually 11 different amps in one small, portable battery powered amplifier.
The times, they are a changing but these changes are a good thing.
Here is a review of 8 of the best battery powered guitar amplifiers on the market today, from big-name makers.
Mini Amps by Marshall
Marshall MS-4 Micro Stack Amp
The Marshall MS-4 Micro stack is Marshall’s entry into the battery powered portable guitar amplifier realm. In keeping with the path set down by other amplifier makers, the Marshall MS-4 Micro stack is like a Marshall stack that’s been hit with a shrink ray.
It’s a 1 watt battery powered guitar amp head with Gain, Volume, Tone controls and 2 independent speaker cabs
(each with a single 3″ speaker). Each cabinet houses a single 3″ speaker.
The Marshall MS-4 Micro stack is truly a micro stack and stands only 9 3/4″ tall.
The MS-4 Micro stack is switchable between Clean and Overdrive modes. The single Tone control lets you adjust the balance between bass and treble. The Marshall Micro stack is powered by a single 9v battery or optional AC power adapter.
This mini amp is switchable between Clean and Overdrive modes. The single Tone control lets you adjust the balance between bass and treble. The Marshall MS-4 Is a playable little amp that is well suited for classic rock and blues, but not jazz or metal.
Marshall plugs the amp as being, “Powerful enough to blow the windows out of a doll house!”.
Maybe, if doll houses had windows. Then again, maybe not.
While it does pack a punch for a 1-watt amp, it has relatively weak distortion and poor cleans compared with similar portable battery powered amplifiers.
Marshall states the Marshall MS-4 Micro stack features a “Smokin’ stack design” and “Screamin’ stack sound,” but it’s plastic construction and weaker tone are its downside.
It’s a playable little amp that is well suited for classic rock and blues, but not jazz or metal. The Marshall MS-4 Micro stack definitely nails the Marshal stack look, but in the end it’s more style than substance.
But still, the idea of having a Marshall stack on your desk at the office is pretty sweet, right?
The Marshall MS-4 Micro stack mini amp sell for about $69.99.
” This thing sounds like playing through a super loud clock radio. Just like you should expect from something so tiny and powered by a 9 volt. This isn’t a bad thing, though, it’s perfect for what it is.-Eric B.
If you want thicker distortion, just plug in a pedal. I plug my Pod X3 Live into this thing and it rocks.
The tone isn’t fantastic, you’re not going to play a concert with it, but for practice (where you have no space or are away from your home set up) or busking, it is just the thing. “
Check out the Demo:
What a great time we live in!
Modern technology has now made it possible to grab the Marshall MS-2 Mini Amp and take that Marshall tone with you – anywhere.
The Marshall MS-2 Mini Amp has that classic Marshall look and crunch, with surprisingly loud volume for such a little thing. it’s just 5-3/4″ high and even includes a belt clip!
It features controls for overdrive, tone, and volume and is powered by one 9V battery.
The Marshall MS-2 Mini Amp is a 1 watt battery powered amp that makes a great and fun gift or a truly portable practice amp.
Mini Amps by Vox
Vox AC2 RhythmVOX
The AC2 RhythmVOX ups the ante on small battery powered mini amps. It’s a great portable practice amp, but the beauty of the RhythmVOX lies in the 66 Rhythm/Song Patterns. This seemingly simple feature provides for hours of fun.
I honestly don’t know why more manufacturers don’t include this feature.
You can use the RhythmVOX mini amp as a straight forward metronome for practice, or song accompaniment with a host of song style beats.
It’s about the size of a lunchbox and weighs less than 2 lbs.
Don’t let that fool you though, because the AC2 RhythmVOX is a little monster that can rock!
At the heart of the AC2 beats a rhythm box. Sure, the RhythmVOX is a great little amp, but it’s more than that. What makes it stand apart from the rest of the battery powered mini amps are the Rhythm Features.
Rhythm specs at a glance:
- Includes a total of 66 built-in Rhythm/Song Patterns
- Tempo range: 40-240bpm
- One extended-length additional song pattern
The Vox AC2 includes 10 basic rhythm patterns. These patterns range from standard metronome beats to more advanced style-based patterns. You can dial in 4, 8 and 16 beat metronome ticks or a song style beat like blues, funk, dance, reggae and jazz.
Add to these patterns, the ability to select 6 different variations of each and you get a total of 66 rhythm parts to chose from! Also included is an extended, multi-measure drum part.
The quality of these beat patterns is excellent. You can control The tempo and volume of each in an intuitive way, so you can quickly dial in the settings you want.
The RhythmVOX is much more than just a rhythm box, it’s also a rocking mini amp.
Here are a few of the amp features:
- gain, tone, and volume controls
- A pair of 3″ speakers delivers a full-bodied sound
- A dedicated E-string tuner
- headphone jack (essential for private practice)
- 3 mm Aux In jack – to jam along with MP3 player (or smartphone)
- Optional AC power adapter
The AC2 utilizes the same analog circuitry as the Vox amPlug series of headphone amps. It recreates that classic Vox sound wonderfully.
It has 3 input modes – Clean, Crunch and Lead.
The RhythmVOX is a truly portable battery powered mini amp that runs off 6 AA batteries for up to 26 hours of play. There is also an AC power adapter available, if you don’t want the hassle of batteries.
Whether you’re looking to work on your timing or break out of your practice rut, this little guy delivers the goods.
AC2 RhythmVOX is impressive for a portable battery powered practice amp. It has a full compliment of tone shaping possibilities and is quite loud for its size. It’s plenty loud for home practice or busking, but won’t keep up with a drummer.
The Vox AC2 is also a great little beatbox, destined to send you down a host of new playing possibilities
The AC2 RhythmVOX currently sells for $59.99.
“This thing is an awesome tone monster! Not an AC30, but surprisingly loud. Not only does it have clean, crunch and distortion channels, but also reverb and chorus effects. This is not only an outstanding practice amp, but a quality recording amp as well.”
VOX Mini3 G2 Modeling Guitar Mini Amp
The VOX MINI3 G2 is quite possibly the ultimate portable modeling amp.
It’s powerful and portable enough for street performances or picnics with the family or wherever.
Unlike some other battery powered amps, the VOX MINI3 G2 is not a toy. It’s a serious modeling amp based on the VOX Valvetronix family of amps and includes a new Bassilator circuit that provides richer low-end frequencies, which is great high-gain players looking for a deep metal tone.
The VOX MINI3 G2 features 8 editable effects, 11 amp models and a direct line connection for ultimate clean tone, or portable PA!
The VOX MINI3 G2 runs on 6-AA batteries or AC adapter, weighs 6.6 lbs (3 kg) and measures10.32″ (262mm) x 6.85″ (174 mm) x 8.78″ (223mm).
The VOX MINI3 G2 is not only proof that great things can sometimes come in small packages, but is also possibly the ultimate portable modeling mini amp.
It’s powerful, portable and extremely versatile – what’s not to love?
In fact, the VOX MINI3 G2 Modeling Guitar Amplifier is portable and powerful enough to take out for street performances or picnics with the family or wherever.
What’s different in the G2 from the MINI3?
As you may have noticed, this review is for the VOX MINI3 G2, so you may be wondering: just what’s different between the VOX MINI3 (first generation) and the G2 (second generation)?
The bulk of the differences boil down to two things:
- The Bassilator Circuit
- Improved sound effects
The Bassilator Circuit
The VOX Bassilator is a newly designed circuit that provides richer low-end frequencies, beyond what is available by EQ alone. This is a big plus for high-gain players looking for a deep metal tone.
The effect of the Bassilator circuit can be heard at low level volumes as well, and really rounds out the sound.
Improved sound effects
The VOX MINI3 G2 features revamped on-board effects that are less digital sounding and easier to use than the first generation MINI3.
VOX MINI3 G2 Features at a Glance
- Direct line connection for a keyboard or other source that is
clean and free of distortion.
- New Bassilator circuit – delivers a rich low end, especially
with high-gain models
- Built-in tuner
- AUX input (ideal for connecting an MP3 player)
- AC or battery powered portability (6-AA batteries)
- Dedicated mic input with separate volume and reverb/delay
controls – ideal for vocals
- 11 amp models
- Detachable shoulder-type carry strap for transporting your
MINI3 with ease.
- Audio Inputs: INPUT , MIC IN , AUX IN
- Audio Outputs: Headphones
- Speaker: 1×5 inch; 4Ω
- Signal processing: A/D conversion = 24-bit, D/A conversion =
24-bit, sampling frequency =44.1 KHz
11 Amp models
The VOX MINI3 G2 provides 11 different amp models, across a wide range of genres. This is the heart of its versatility. It nails the British VOX tone (as one would hope! ;-) ), but also classic vintage through modern high-gain – and even rare boutique amps!
The VOX MINI3 G2 uses the same Valvetronix software that has earned VOX much acclaim for its warm, natural tube modeled tones.
There is also a Clean model that can be used with virtually any instrument you’d care to plug into, making it usable with not just electric guitar, but acoustic-electric guitar and even keyboards.
Here’s a run down of the amp models available on the VOX MINI3 G2:
- BTQ CLEAN
- BLACK 2×12
- TWEED 4×10
- UK ’70S
- UK ’80S
- UK ’90S
- CALI METAL
- US HIGAIN
As mentioned above, the VOX MINI3 G2 features improved effects that are even easier to use than the first generation. And for reverb fans out there, the VOX MINI3 G2 features a dedicated reverb and delay effects section!
Extra care and attention have been given to the VOX MINI3 G2 effect interface to make it even easier for you to not only select, but also configure each effect. The tap tempo button, for instance, makes it simple to synchronize the delay time to the temp you wish to play.
Each effect is also editable, which means that once you have the effect set to where you like it, you can save it and go back to it with the twist of a knob anytime you like.
Here’s a list of the effects provided by the VOX MINI3 G2:
- Tape echo
The VOX MINI3 G2 is a battery powered portable amplifier.
The VOX MINI3 G2 is ultra portable, weighing in at 6.6 lbs (3 kg) and measuring 10.32″ (262mm) x 6.85″ (174 mm) x 8.78″ (223mm). It runs run 6-AA batteries, or an optional AC power adapter. The battery run time varies with style of play, but VOX states you should get up to 10 hours of play on a single set of AA batteries.
There’s also a detachable strap, so you can carry your VOX MINI3 G2 by hand or over the shoulder.
The VOX MINI3 G2 is versatile!
With 11 amp models and 8 customizable on-board effects, the VOX MINI3 G2 is a highly versatile portable guitar amplifier – but it’s even more versatile than that!
You see, the VOX MINI3 G2 is not just a great little guitar amp. It’s “LINE” model of amp, is pure clean tone that makes it ideal for acoustic-electric guitar, keyboard or even mp3 which makes it an excellent, portable PA system!
The VOX MINI3 G2also has a separate mic input with its own dedicated volume and reverb/delay controls.
This make the VOX MINI3 G2 HUGE for busking or on-the-fly performances wherever you may be.
The VOX MINI3 G2 is pure VOX.
The VOX MINI3 G2 is a great portable, battery powered guitar amp that’s capable of so much more, but it also keeps to the VOX tradition. From the trademark diamond grill design to the “chimey VOX cleans” and British Crunch, the VOX MINI3 G2 is pure VOX quality and design.
The VOX MINI3 G2 sells for about $150 and comes in 3 color variations:
Mini Amps by Fender
Fender Mini Tone-Master
Last up on the mini Fender hit parade is the Fender Mini Tone-Master Amp. This is a miniaturized version of the classic Tone-Master. As with all amps mini, the Mini Tone-Master provides pretty nice tone – considering its tiny size.
Fender does an exceptional job of keeping true to the authentic Fender details here. The cab corners, retro grille cloth, and vintage white control knobs look like the original.
The Fender Mini Tone-Master Amp is a small 1w battery powered amplifier that features two 2″ speakers, Gain, Volume, Tone and Power controls. It runs on a single 9V battery (included), or AC adapter and measures 6-1/2″ W x 6-1/8″ H x 2-1/4″ D
Unlike the Fender ’57 mini, the Fender Mini Tone-Master Amp is all plastic, but lightweight and small.
Fender ’57 Mini
The Fender Mini ’57 Twin Amp is for all the Fender Tweed fans out there. This is quite simply a battery powered, highly portable version of the original.
Measuring at just 2.8″ x 9″ x 8″ and weighing less than 2 lbs, this is a ’57 Twin for your desk or to just grab and go practice anytime!
The Fender Mini ’57 Twin Amp completely captures the vintage 50’s look from its miniature chicken head knobs, down to its tweed covering and brown grille.
It’s a bit more sturdy than many other battery powered guitar amplifiers out there, since the Fender Mini ’57 Twin is made of real wood and not plastic.
Beyond the vintage look, it’s a rocking little amp too. The Fender Mini ’57 Twin is a small 1w battery powered guitar amplifier with twin 2″ speakers, Built-in distortion, Power, volume, and tone controls. It runs on a single 9V battery or power adapter.
Whether you want to practice at night without waking the wife/kids/neighbors, or just want to grab an amp and go when you have a few extra minutes, the Mini ’57 Twin is a great choice.
Fender Mini ’57 Twin Features
- Super-realistic look
- 1 watt
- Twin 2″ speakers
- Tweed-covered wood cab
- Built-in distortion
- Power, volume, and tone controls
- 9V power adapter jack
- 1/4″ headphone jack
The Mini ’57 Twin is a great little amp for the size. It’s quite capable of putting out a decent volume on overdrive, and but clean enough to play quietly too.
It runs off of a single 9v Battery or AC power adapter (not included). The Planet Waves 9V Power Adapter is recommended, and available for less than $10.
Sure it’s small, but that’s the point. This puppy oozes vintage style, and can produce some decent tones. Actually, pretty remarkable tones for its size.
The Fender ’57 Mini amp nails the vintage 1957 tweed look, and proves that great things sometimes do come in small packages. It’s the perfect gift for the Fender fan in your family.
” Let’s first get this out of the way: This is a MINI AMP you play around with. A lot of people seem to have unrealistic expectations of these kinds of amps and rate them poorly because of those expectations. They are good as practice amps that won’t have the neighbors complaining and save a lot of space but they aren’t actual amps you could use in actual gigs except the smallest of crowds. That said, this Fender is a wonderful little bugger. “-Oscar C.
The Fender Mini ’57 Twin mini Amp sells for about $43, and would make a nice addition to a game room, or office or bedroom. It’s a truly vintage looking conversation piece that rocks.
Mini Twin Demo:
Fender Mini Deluxe
Honey, I shrunk the Hot Rod Deluxe!
The Fender Mini Deluxe looks exactly like a shrunken Fender Hot Rod Deluxe. It even includes identical “dogbone” handle, chrome control plate, mini chicken-head knobs. It’s a 1w, battery powered guitar amplifier with a single 2″ speaker. The Fender Mini Deluxe runs on one 9v battery, and includes headphone out, Volume, Tone and Drive controls.
The Fender Mini Deluxe measures at 5.8″ x 6.2″ x 2.8″ and weighs in at just over 1 lb. It’s highly portable, and great for practice anywhere.
OK, so it’s not as powerful as that, but this little puppy can still rock – for its size!
The Fender Mini Deluxe has Fender tone too (just a bit less of it than it’s 40w, tube powered big brother)!
Fender Mini Deluxe Features
This is where I usually state the “features at a glance”, but to be honest – the Fender Mini Deluxe is a really simple battery powered amp and there isn’t a lot of room for bells and whistles. These pretty much are the features:
- One watt of power
- Single 8 ohm, two-inch speaker
- 9V battery-powered
- Headphone out
- simple controls: Volume, Tone, Drive
This is the big debate.
People who love the Fender Mini Deluxe say it’s the real deal, while people who bought it expecting a “real” amp say it’s a toy you’d expect to buy at Walmart.
The truth is somewhere in the middle.
The Fender Mini Deluxe is pretty awesome for its size and price, but it will not compare to a traditional practice amp. It is surprisingly loud for its size, but it won’t rattle any windows.
Yes the Fender Mini Deluxe is a bit of a novelty, but it’s a rocking novelty well suited for late-night, dorm or apartment practice. And selling for around $35, the Fender Mini Deluxe Amp is a very well priced novelty at that.
Besides, the damn thing is just so cute!
Mini Amps by Orange
Orange Micro Crush (CR3)
The Orange Micro Crush CR3 a 3w battery powered amp from famed Orange Amplifiers. With a single 4″ speaker, overdrive channel, and tone control, this little guy can rock!
The Orange Micro Crush CR3 is all Orange, from the woven grill to rubber footstools and trademark Orange finish. it’s also wood, and not plastic.
It may be small, but the Orange Micro Crush CR3 is all Orange and it’s a little beast.
The Orange Micro Crush CR3 is Orange Amplifiers entry into the portable battery powered amplifier market and it’s a worthy addition.
Orange Micro Crush CR3 Features at a glance
The Orange Micro Crush CR3 is a pretty basic combo mini amp. You won’t find any bells and whistles (ie: effects like tremolo and reverb) on most battery powered amplifiers, but the Orange Micro Crush has the following features:
- An integrated chromatic tuner with a row of LED’s for every note (including sharps).
- 1/4″ headphone jack
- Overdrive channel
- Standard tone and volume controls.
- 4″ speaker
- 3w of power
- 9v battery, or AC adapter
The Orange Micro Crush is not plastic – it’s wood and metal construction makes it a bit more durable than some other mini amps.
The Orange Micro Crush CR3 Amp is a solid entry into the battery powered portable amplifier market and sells for $79 (with power adapter!).
You don’t get any effects, but that’s common with mini amps. What you do get is a very portable little practice amp and a good taste of Orange tone.
The clean tone is a bit on the light side, but the overdrive is incredible for such a little thing. I’d call it a Tiny Terror, except that name is already taken. Let’s say it’s a Micro Terror, or Tiny Beast. ;-)
It’s an excellent amp for rock and metal, but you will probably want to pass on it if you’re looking for a good clean tone in such a small package. If you’re looking for good clean tone in a mini-amp, check out the Fender Mini Deluxe.
The Orange Micro Crush makes a great addition to the office or living room for those times when you just want to plug in an play.
“I purchased a mini amp several years ago and returned it, sounded like I was playing through a tin can. This orange amp cost more than I originally intended to spend, but I am absolutely ecstatic that I did. The sound coming out of this little Orange amp is very close to my 50 watt hybrid tube modeling amp at a lower volume. Even with just 3 watts my significant other tells me to lower the volume. “-Jo
Orange Micro Crush Demo: