Best Small Combo Amps

Best Small Combo Amps

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The best small combo amps make a great practice companion, whether you’re at home or on the go. All of them are lightweight and allow you to choose between solid-state or tube options. So in this article, we’ll show you the best options available on the market.

Quick answer: We consider the Fender ’57 Custom Champ as the top choice for great tone and low-noise in a stylish and classic design. Also take a look at the Yamaha THR5A for being top quality at a reasonable price, as well as the Bugera V5 Infinium for is similar reasonable price.


Table of Contents


About Our Top Choices

Fender ’57 Custom Champ

Fender '57 Custom Champ
See price @ Amazon / @ Sweetwater

More details…

The Fender ’57 Custom Champ is a premium combo amp with a great design and a famous Fender heritage. It has the best tone if you want that classic tweed sound. It’s also a reimagined version of one of the most popular vintage amplifiers but with modern reliability and built quality.

Pros
  • Classic
  • Stylish
  • Great tone
  • Low-noise
Cons
  • Not exactly versatile
  • Isn’t for every budget

Yamaha THR5A

Yamaha THR5A
See price @ Amazon / @ Sweetwater

More details…

The Yamaha THR5A is an acoustic guitar amplifier that very efficiently implements digital modeling technology, which makes it the best for tone if you, first and foremost, prefer versatility. It’s also very compact and can be powered with batteries.

Pros
  • Reasonably-priced
  • Top-quality
  • Sturdy
Cons
  • Some may lack 3-band EQ

Bugera V5 Infinium

See price @ Amazon / @ Sweetwater

More details…

The Bugera V5 Infinium is a gorgeous amplifier with a classic and very recognizable tube tone and a very stylish design. It is one of the best budget options available on the market due to its more than reasonable price, and a sound quality that can easily compete with more high-end amplifiers.

Pros
  • Reasonably-priced
  • Intuitive
  • Great-sounding
Cons
  • Limited heavy tones

Top 7 Best Small Combo Amps

  1. Fender ’57 Custom Champ
  2. Yamaha THR5A
  3. Bugera V5 Infinium
  4. Boss Katana Mini
  5. Fender Frontman 10G
  6. Marshall MS-2
  7. Vox Pathfinder 10

Best Small Combo Amps Reviews


Fender ’57 Custom Champ

Fender '57 Custom Champ

Pros
  • Classic
  • Stylish
  • Great tone
  • Low-noise
Cons
  • Not exactly versatile
  • Isn’t for every budget
See price @ Amazon / @ Sweetwater

The Fender ’57 Custom Champ is a premium combo amp with a great design and a famous Fender heritage. It has the best tone if you want that classic tweed sound. It’s also a reimagined version of one of the most popular vintage amplifiers but with modern reliability and built quality.

Best features and specs

The ’57 Custom Champ is a 5-watt tube combo amp that is known for its incredibly cozy and warm low-end and clear highs. It is powered by only one volume knob, which depending on the position, can give you more in terms of tone. Also, this amp has the same design from the 50’s and sturdy build quality.

User impressions

Users are quite impressed with the Champ because this amp is able to teach you how to produce tones naturally, and you will be amazed by the result and don’t have to crank it up to get clear tones.

What we think

The ’57 Custom is truly one of the best amps money can buy, but it is kind of a one-trick pony. It sounds simply amazing, but at the same time, it lacks versatility and variation, which might be a problem considering its cost.

Bottomline

The Fender ’57 Custom Champ is a great choice for someone who is looking for a top-quality 5-watt tube combo amp that carries the legacy of the 50’s model to modern times.


Yamaha THR5A

Yamaha THR5A

Pros
  • Reasonably-priced
  • Top-quality
  • Sturdy
Cons
  • Some may lack 3-band EQ
See price @ Amazon / @ Sweetwater

The Yamaha THR5A is an acoustic guitar amplifier that very efficiently implements digital modeling technology, which makes it the best for tone if you, first and foremost, prefer versatility. It is also very compact and can be powered by batteries.

Best features and specs

The THR5A is a 10-watt acoustic modeling combo amp that is loaded up with features to push your creativity beyond limits. This amp has lots of stunning microphone simulations built-in, such as nylon, tube, dynamic, and condenser. Also, this amp has a built-in variety of modulation effects, reverbs, and delays. VCM technology is responsible for giving you ultra-realistic sound and vibe. You can use this amp while being connected to the socket through a power adapter or insert 8 AA batteries and enjoy it wherever you want without the need to look for an electricity source.

User impressions

Users like the THR5A because of its amazing versatility, USB connectivity, and lots of sound-shaping possibilities. Some users add that this amp is powerful enough to be used in intimate size venues.

What we think

Although the Yamaha THR5A is an acoustic guitar amplifier, using it with an electric guitar isn’t a far-fetched idea. The results might be rather unconventional but, at the same time, very listenable and, at times, even interesting.

Bottomline

The Yamaha THR5A is a great choice for someone who is looking for a 10-watt solid-state acoustic modeling combo amp that is capable of broadening one’s creative horizons and presenting decent sound.


Bugera V5 Infinium

Bugera V5 Infinium

Pros
  • Reasonably-priced
  • Intuitive
  • Great-sounding
Cons
  • Limited heavy tones
See price @ Amazon / @ Sweetwater

The Bugera V5 Infinium is a gorgeous amplifier with a classic and very recognizable tube tone and a very stylish design. It is one of the best budget options available on the market due to its more than reasonable price and the sound quality that can easily compete with more high-end amplifiers.

Best features and specs

The Bugera V5 Infinium is a tube combo amp that lets you switch between 0.1 watts, 1 watt, and 5 watts, depending on the case. This amp has a built-in reverb that makes the sound harmonically pleasant and adds a lush finishing touch. Infinium Tube Life Multiplier technology ensures the health and longevity of the tubes. And British-engineered Turbosound speaker presents you with top-notch sonic quality.

User impressions

Users are quite impressed with the Bugera V5 Infinium because it’s really a no-brainer when it comes to practicing at home based on many reasons, such as being a tube, affordable, great-sounding, insanely compact, and lightweight.

What we think

What’s really staggering about the Bugera V5 Infinium is how low its price is, considering its quality and impressive versatility. It’s amazing that nothing suggests that it is a budget amp except its price.

Bottomline

The Bugera V5 Infinium is a great choice for someone who is looking for a 5-watt tube combo amp that gives you an opportunity to switch between 0.1-watt, 1-watt, and 5-watt modes easily. If you’re looking for a natural and warm tone, that’s definitely worth looking at.


Boss Katana Mini

Boss Katana Mini

Pros
  • Intuitive
  • Loud
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Cleans sound boxy and dull
See price @ Amazon / @ Sweetwater

The Boss Katana Mini is one of the most versatile amps you can find on the market today. It offers you a very great variety of tones on top of stellar practicality and a sleek modern design.

Best features and specs

The Boss Katana Mini is a 7-watt combo amplifier that has 3 unique voicings, such as brown, crunch, and clean. It has 3-band EQ and built-in delay effects that let you easily shape and control the sound. Also, thanks to the speaker-emulated output, you can record directly from this amp and also practice in complete silence. This amp can be operated on 6 AA batteries that easily give you 7 hours of continuous playing, or you can use it while plugged into the socket through the adapter.

User impressions

Users like the Boss Katana Mini because it’s insanely versatile, gets easily loud, and is built like a tank. Also, users praise the sound quite a lot as all frequency range sounds really good, despite sometimes cleans tend to sound rather muddy and dull. Users emphasize that having 3-band EQ and built-in delay really helped them a lot to experiment with their music.

What we think

Although the Boss Katana Mini offers you very versatile and high-quality sound, at times, it seems a bit artificial. This really isn’t a problem in our day and age, but still, some might feel a bit discouraged. But then again, nothing is perfect, isn’t it?

Bottomline

The Boss Katana Mini is a great choice for someone who is looking for a 7-watt solid-state combo amp that gives you much in terms of versatility and is very loud despite being very compact. You have enough room for experimentation, considering this amp’s 3 voicings.


Fender Frontman 10G

Fender Frontman 10G

Pros
  • Affordable
  • Intuitive
  • Loud
Cons
  • Muddy distorted tones
See price @ Amazon / @ Sweetwater

The Fender Frontman 10G is a very loud and mighty beast that offers you a classic Fender design and an even more famous approach to tone shaping. And all of that is contained in a very lightweight and compact body which makes it a very practical amp both for beginners and seasoned players.

Best features and specs

The Fender Frontman 10G is a solid-state 10-watt combo amplifier that provides you with a highly recognizable Fender tone. It features a specially designed 6″ Fender speaker and easily switchable normal and drive channels. Also, you get a 2-band EQ and 4 knobs to control and shape the sound any way you see fit. You can connect headphones through a dedicated headphone jack and CD, drum machine, or tape through AUX input.

User impressions

Users agree that the Fender Frontman 10G is absolutely great for beginners, and it works no less than excellent. Users are extremely pleased with the size of this amp and the fact that it’s lightweight, so it’s effortless to carry around. Also, several users noted that this amp gets really loud despite being very compact.

What we think

The Fender Frontman 10G is a solid-state amplifier which means you would be disappointed if you expect it to produce warm and vintage tube tones. That being said, not everybody desires that particular type of sound.

Bottomline

The Fender Frontman 10G is a great choice for someone who is looking for a 10-watt solid-state combo amp that gives you the tone that most would die for. It delivers lots of sound shaping options and plenty in terms of connectivity.


Marshall MS-2

Marshall MS-2

Pros
  • Affordable
  • Intuitive
  • Great-sounding
Cons
  • Low battery life
See price @ Amazon / @ Sweetwater

The Marshall MS-2 offers you an unmistakably recognizable classic Marshal tone in an extremely compact and lightweight body. It is also very affordable and offers you a lot of useful features.

Best features and specs

The Marshall MS-2 is an unbelievably compact and incredibly easy-to-use 1-watt combo amp that, despite its size, still is able to provide you with classic Marshall sound. With this amp, you get just three knobs that control volume, tone, and clean and overdrive settings. You can use this amp while being connected to the socket through a power adapter or insert batteries and enjoy it wherever you want without the need to look for an electricity source.

User impressions

Users like Marshall MS-2 because it’s really fun to play with, it is loud, and it gives the desired Marshall sound. Some users suggest using shorter cables to get clean sound because longer ones tend to distort the sound extensively. Also, this amp sounds good enough at lower volumes, but it sounds creamier and richer when you set the tone around 2 o’clock.

What we think

It is hard to imagine that you would do any serious projects using The Marshall MS-2 but safe to say that finding a better home practice amp would be a rather challenging task.

Bottomline

The Marshall MS-2 is a great choice for someone who is looking for a 1-watt combo amp that is the best option if you’re constantly on the move or prefer traveling light. Understandably, it’s not that versatile, and the batteries quickly drain power.


Vox Pathfinder 10

Vox Pathfinder 10

Pros
  • Sturdy
  • Intuitive
  • Stylish
Cons
  • Metal tones sound disappointing
See price @ Amazon / @ Sweetwater

The Vox Pathfinder 10 offers you a very recognizable classic VOX design on top of a legendary solid-state tone with a power output that is completely safe and, at the same time, sufficient for home practice and small rehearsals.

Best features and specs

The Vox Pathfinder 10 is a very good-looking loud 10-watt combo amplifier that has a clean-to-overdrive switch that lets you choose between dirty and clean sounds quickly. Also, while keeping the headphones plugged in the headphone/line-out jack, you can practice whenever you see fit because no one around you will hear a thing.

User impressions

Users like the Vox Pathfinder 10 because this amp is really great in everything that it does. Users note that due to this amp being very compact and lightweight, it’s insanely easy to travel with it. Also, many users praise this amp’s classic Vox sound, which is crunchy and sweet at the same time.

What we think

The Vox Pathfinder 10 might not be the best amp there is, but it is most certainly versatile enough to at least compete for that place. That being said, its versatility also has its limits.

Bottomline

The Vox Pathfinder 10 is a great choice for someone who is looking for a 10-watt solid-state combo amp that gives you a famous VOX tone on top of its stylish look. You may be a bit disappointed in its versatility and the fact that metal tones do sound not exactly promising.


Small Combo Amps Buying Guide

What is a small combo amp?

A small combo amp is a head amp and the speaker united but compact in size and with a limited wattage, precisely no more than 10 watts.

Why would you need a small combo amp?

There are a couple of reasons why you need a small combo amp, such as to rehearse or play at a home studio, if you are limited in free space, and if you are on a tight budget.

Important features

When choosing a small combo amp, you should figure out whether you need a solid-state or tube amp and which built-in effects you lack.

Tube or Solid state

Tube amps are favored by many users because they sound more natural and always have a unique tone. But at the same time, tube amps are less versatile, a bit difficult to use, and far more expensive.

Solid-state amps are way more versatile, tend to have several channels, are more compact and lightweight, and are much more budget-friendly. But at the same time, some music producers say that solid-state amps sound a bit artificial.

Built-in effects

The majority of the amps on the list offer you a bunch of built-in effects, among which are reverb, EQ, and delay.

How to choose the right one for you?

When you are choosing the best small combo amps, you should already know whether you seek natural sounding but somewhat limited tube amp, you opt for a far more versatile, lightweight, budget-friendly, but a bit artificially-sounding solid-state amp.