April 15, 2021 9 min read

Top 5 Practice Amps for Beginners 2021

Picking an amp can be hard, whether it’s your first amp or your twelfth. An amplifier plays one of the biggest parts in shaping a performer’s sound. When starting out, you may not be sure of where you will end up as a player. You’re testing the waters on genre, performance and sounds with your new instrument. So to help you out, we are going to share with you our top 5 recommendations based on the following criteria helpful to a beginner:Budget, Value, Sound, Looks, Versatility &Ease of Use.

Before we dive into our Top 5 Practice Amps for Beginners 2021 list, we want to make sure you have some knowledge of what we’re about to dive into. At Sky Music, we care about making sure you, as customers, are making informed and educated decisions so you are paired with the right product. Choosing the wrong product can be costly, while it can also turn beginners off entirely when they can’t find what they‘re looking for. We never want to see that happen and are always here to help! We want players on track with gear that excites and motivates them to be the next rockstar we know they can be!

The following is a glossary of some key terms we’ll be using throughout the article. You will see these words come up a lot, and we don’t want to confuse you by going into a massive history of amplifiers and how they work (we’ll save it for another article!) but let’s get you familiar with the terminology you need to know to make informed decisions on what you want.

Watts (w):The measurement of electric energy being supplied - overall power and consequent volume.

Solid State Amps:A solid-state amplifier uses transistor circuits to convert an electrical signal into an audio wave. They feature ‘Negative Feedback’ which quietens the amp and dampens the output to the speaker. They are sometimes used to emulate valve amps with modern circuitry and more affordable electronics. These units tend to be cheaper than valve amplifiers and are extremely helpful in low output settings.

Valve/Tube Amp:Vacuum Power Tube Technology was what powered televisions and radios in the early days of the technology. The circuit of a valve amplifier is powered by glass tubes that leave a particular sonic imprint on the circuit. The general consensus is that valves sound best when pushed hard, and this requires the amplifier overall to be very loud. Tube amps have a very unique and vintage tone that is widely loved by guitarists. They are heavier than solid state, the valves can be fragile. The trade off for tone is regular maintenance to ensure the tubes are operating as they should.

Speakers:A speaker is used to output the signal created and manipulated by an amplifier. Speakers come in different sizes, materials, power handling capabilities and impedance, all of which impact the sound. Unlike pro-audio systems, guitar amplifiers are specific in that they do not utilize extreme bass or treble frequencies as guitars simply don’t produce those frequencies.

Digital Amp:Guitar amplifiers that use digital algorithms to emulate the sound of a “real” amplifier, either tube or solid-state.

Orange is one of the most well known British amplifier companies in the present day. Instantly recognisable by their iconic bright orange tolex and tweed face, Orange feature their world-class aesthetic on all of their models, making this amp look just as beautiful as it’s top of the line siblings. The Crush range is a good introduction to the brand and features a lot of the company's attributes for a great price.

This is a 20W Solid State Amplifier that features 2 channels so you can switch from ‘Clean’ and ‘Dirty’. The amp features a built in chromatic tuner (super handy and money saving) as well as a built in reverb effect. The amp features an AUX input so you can run music or backing tracks through to play along with as well as a headphone jack (with built in speaker cabinet simulation) in case you want to play late at night without waking up the neighbours. The Orange Crush range is rather extensive and has smaller & cheaper or larger & louder amps to accommodate all player’s needs which makes this range so great for beginners. We recommend the RT models as the tuner and reverb are commonly used features that add a lot of value to this amp. The Crush amplifiers are also available with a black tolex for a very classy and more low key alternative.

For Fans Of: British rock, rock & roll, classic aesthetic, Plug In & Play features.

Budget - 9
Value - 6
Sound - 6
Looks - 10
Versatility - 6
Ease of Use - 10


Following on from Orange’s British sound, we have arguably the most well known rock & roll amplifier brand in the world, Marshall. Also hailing from the UK, you can really hear a similarity in Marshall and Oranges’s tonal qualities which has helped develop the sound of many of the world’s most famous and influential rock bands for generations.

The CODE is the first introduction of what we refer to as a digital amp, that features 100 presets of digitally-modelled and recreated classic tones within one box. These tones are built from some of the most famous Marshall sounds over time and are surprisingly accurate for the price, recreating amplifiers throughout the whole Marshall range for a fraction of the cost. The digital feature makes these amplifiers extremely versatile and good value despite being a bit more expensive. We always encourage beginners to be looking for value in their setups as an investment of an extra few hundred dollars is is where you really start to see value. Some extra features included in these amplifiers are Bluetooth connectivity as well as an AUX input for playing backing tracks and music, an app (Marshall Gateway App for iOS) you can use on your phone to help create new and exciting sounds, built-in chromatic tuner,24 different built-in effects (of which 5 can be used simultaneously) as well as room to save your personally built presets. These amps also feature a USB out which, when connected to a computer, allows it to run as its own recording interface and record directly into your recording program or DAW. This amplifier has 25W of power and similar to the Orange Crush, also has a headphone out for silent playing. This range also has a louder 50w big brother if you want to take this thing to the jam room!

For Fans Of: British rock, rock & roll, versatility, effects, home recording.

Budget - 7
Value - 8
Sound - 7
Looks - 6
Versatility - 7
Ease of Use - 6


We don’t think Fender need much of an introduction… 
With a brand and history as long as Fender’s, there is a clear reason why beginners far and wide feel such trust in the company, for good reason too! Something a lot of people don’t know about Fender is that Leo Fender made amplifiers before he started making guitars and it is astounding how far amplification technology has come in that time. I’m sure when reading about the Marshall CODE, there was a lot of WOW factor in all the features included in an amp under $500. Well, the Mustang LT25 is the more user-friendly Fender alternative, and may just be the perfect amp for you. Fender is an American company that shaped music across a broad range of genres throughout the world since the 50s and of course, continues to inspire artists worldwide to this day.

The Mustang LT25 is a 25W digital amplifier, housing 50 pre-loaded presets of some recreations of some of Fender’s most well known tones from across their range of history-making amplifiers (over 20 different amps inside this compact box). The LT25 has plenty of built-in effectsincluding multiple distortions, overdrives, compression, modulation, reverbs, delays and octave effects. We love seeing built-in effects in amps as it gives beginners a chance to try a wide range of effects without spending thousands of dollars on effects pedals. The Mustang LT25 also features USB connectivity to connect directly into your recording programs as well as an AUX input for playing backing tracks & stereo headphone out for silent playing. The Fender Mustang line features a bigger brother (50w) as well as an even more advanced range, the Mustang GTX packs even more features, for a slightly higher price.

For Fans Of: Variety of famous Fender amplifiers, a wide variety of genres, versatility, effects, home recording.

Budget - 9
Value - 9
Sound - 7
Looks - 7
Versatility - 8
Ease of Use - 8


The British really know how to make amplifiers that change the game. Vox really solidified themselves in the 60s with their AC30 model which was used by bands such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Queen and many, many more. An iconic quality in Vox amps was the beautiful “chime” that seems to cut through a mix in a lovely way, making the clean channel of these amps desirable for professional musicians. The Pathfinder 10 may be the entrance into Vox amplifiers, but they haven’t left any details out of making it feel any less welcome in the Vox arsenal, featuring the same vintage aesthetics and infamous Vox “chime”.

Just like Orange, Vox ensures that the looks that make their amplifiers iconic are present, even at their base level. The Pathfinder 10 comboincludes a basket-weave leather-look, distinctive diamond grille cloth and vox famous chicken head knobs. This amp is only 10W which means this is a real bedroom amplifier, but its small nature makes it extremely convenient as a practice amplifier. It may not have all those fancy bells and whistles some of its competitors do, but it does what it came here to do very well. It creates a vintage Vox vibe at this list's most competitive price point. It offers gain, treble, bass & volume knobs as well as a channel switch and headphone jack.

For Fans Of: Simplicity, chime-ey clean tones, The Beatles.

Budget - 10
Value - 4
Sound - 6
Looks - 9
Versatility - 4
Ease of Use - 10

BOSS Katana 50 MKII - RRP $439

In terms of companies who have heritage in building amps, BOSS is by far the infant in this list. But like any child born in the digital age, technological understanding and execution stands above it’s elders. BOSS is the most well-known guitar effects company on the planet. It is rare you will ever meet a guitarist who hasn’t owned a BOSS pedal at some point in their timeline. The company quickly became the industry standard for effects pedals and have created inspiration among players across the world. So when the first Katana came on the market, a solid state amplifier encompassing almost every effect pedal BOSS has made within the amplifier. Impressed? So are we!

This amplifier has so many features that we encourage you to come in store and see it for yourself, but we will try to get through a lot of the main features that we love without overwhelming you. This is the most powerful practice amp on our list, with a massive 50W, but as a solid-state amplifier it sounds the same at all volumes. The reason we put something this powerful in is because it’s something that will last you a lifetime. It’s loud enough to perform live with and has enough variation that you will be enjoying it for years and years. Despite 50W being very loud, there is a power control switch that lets you run the amp at either .5W, 20W or 50W, making it only a quick adjustment away from bedroom volume to gig volume without sacrificing your tone. The Katana features 5 unique amp types; Acoustic, Clean, Crunch, Lead and Brown (a more saturated, chunky sound based on Eddie Van Halen’s sound). You can pre-save 4 presets to recall with ease whilst using a huge arsenal of effects which are customizable using the free BOSS Tone Studio editor software. The USB & Headphones/Recording outputs include mic’d cabinet emulation for easy recording and exceptional headphone sound.

For Fans Of: Variety, famous effects, versatility, value, a life-time investment
Budget - 7
Value - 10
Sound - 9
Looks - 9
Versatility - 9
Ease of Use - 8



So there we have it, Sky Music’s Top 10 Practice Amps for Beginners. We’ve provided a range of different options to appeal to the values we see our customers looking for when purchasing their first amp. Some of these you may be aware of already, maybe some are new but all are excellent options when starting out. Remember, if you’re ever unsure or need to chat through what would make the best amp for you, your budget and your needs, we are always here to help!

Honourable Mentions:
Marshall MG10 - RRP $145
Line 6 Spider 20W - RRP $329
Roland Cube 10GX - RRP $289

For further help finding the right amp for you, give us a call or come in store!

4/2181 Princes Highway, Clayton VIC 3168
Phone: (03) 9546 0188
Email: info@skymusic.com.au