While it is nice to own a big rig for practice and gig sessions, it is not the most practical for most spontaneous situations – which is where a battery powered amp steps in.
As long as you have battery power available, you have the freedom to set up your equipment on the go, even in places where power is unavailable or unreliable.
As a guitarist, I have learnt that preparation is important because you never know when opportunities to show your skill may come by, or when inspiration suddenly strikes.
It also removes the hassle and unpredictability of having a heavy cumbersome setup, and caters to common situations you will likely find yourself in.
Any acoustic guitarist knows the inherent freedom of playing music without wires, but the disadvantage is the lack of volume – particularly outdoors. Having a small battery amp can make a major difference between being heard clearly vs. being drowned out.
Best battery-power guitar amps – Comparison Table
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Blackstar Electric guitar mini amplifier
6.6 x 5.0 x 4.0
6 x AA Batteries or DC
Yamaha THR5 mini acoustic guitar amplifier
10.7 x 6.5 x 4.7
8 x AA Batteries or DC
Marshall MS2 micro guitar amplifier
2.4 x 4.3 x 5.1
9 V battery
Danelectro Honeytone N-10 guitar mini amp
5.0 x 5.3 x 2.3
9 V battery/Danelectro DA-1 9V AC adapter
BOSS Katana Compact 7-watt amplifier
4.2 x 2.7 x 3.7
4 AA batteries
Best battery-power guitar amps – Top Picks Of 2021
This amp is among the picks that can work really well for a guitarist that seeks portability in their equipment without sacrificing on sound quality. Its size also allows it to function as a practice amp.
- Uses a power rating of 3 watts
- 3-inch speaker
- Battery life of 50 hours at lower volume
- Extension speaker and headphone output, 0.25-inch MP# input
- Power source is 6 x AA batteries or DC
Even though it is in a small size, it is versatile enough to allow for a variety of sound effects when you use it. Its packaging includes an emulated tape delay that you can use to stimulate reverb at lower levels, an Infinite Shape Feature (ISF) control to allow you to apply a variety of amp tones to suit the music you are playing, and an onboard overdrive.
It has two stereo mini-jack sockets – the input allows you to connect an MP3 player, tablet, laptop, or smartphone, while the output connects a headphone that places the guitar signals in a stereo field. However, this is not an amp to get if you want extensive controls; it keeps things as simple as possible, even on the top panel. The battery life goes up to 50 hours when you are using it at low volumes, but this significantly reduces to 4 hours when playing at maximum volume.
- It has good tonal quality and loud sound production
- Quite compact in size, even when compared to other mini amps
- The onboard effects are a massive plus
- Can function as a laptop or music player speaker
- Durability is hit-or-miss
This is a good choice of amplifier if you are looking forward to playing alongside a backing track, since it doubles as a speaker. It also works well as a desk or coffee table amp because of its onboard effects, though it will work much better in a home environment rather than outdoors. The more you accept the limits of a 3-watt amp, the less it will disappoint you.
This amp is more acoustic-focused compared to the other options on this list, and comes from an extensive series of THR amplifiers from Yamaha. What makes it different from its counterparts is the replacement of the varying amp models with mic models.
- Power use of 10 watts
- Battery life lasting 6 to 7 hours
- Power source is 8 x AA batteries or DC
- Headphone output; USB, AUX-IN, ¼-inch inputs
- Two speakers of 3-inches each
When you first see this amp, it looks more like a lunch box rather than an amplifier. It is entirely self-contained, as the unit includes 3-inch speakers and a set of LEDs that turn on when you switch it on. The biggest surprise though comes when you plug in and play, as the sound is powerful enough to fill an entire room even though it does not rival a high-power amp or full PA system.
The top panel hosts all the controls and inputs, which include the stereo aux input, a ¼-inch input jack, a power switch, and a headphone output. Additionally, it has a 5-position switch that allows selection of various mic models, which are a Clean Electric guitar mode, Nylon setting, Tube, Dynamic, and Condenser modes.
Something worth noting is the unusual effects controls, with a single knob controlling multiple effects. It takes some time to get used to, but it eventually works well in practice. This ultimately allows you to mix the direct piezo tone with simulated mic sounds to achieve a balance of body and attack.
- Sounds very good when recording acoustic guitar signals
- Very loud and powerful sound production
- Works well in live settings
- Variety of effects enhance your playing experience
- Lacks an XLR to help boost the sound volume
Acoustic guitars need amplifiers too, and this is a great solution to that. Aside from increasing the volume, it works well thanks to its in-built stereo effects and microphone models, resulting in increased excitement when you play your instrument.
While this is a small-size amp, it is most suited for practicing your instrument rather than using it in a party setting. The power output is only 1 watt, but this is enough for home or studio practice when you want some extra boost in your volume.
- Solid-state circuit systems
- Power consumption of 1 watt
- Input jack input, headphone output
The amp is not exactly full of features, as it is primarily meant to remain an ultra-portable amp that is not full of gizmos and gadgets. The control panel only has the Power LED indicator, Power OD/On/Off, Tone control, Volume control, and Input jack. The user experience increases due to the inclusion of a headphone jack that acts as the output, and its regular size allows you to use most headphones in it.
The main selling point of this amp is its simplicity – even a complete beginner to guitar amps will not have many issues trying to figure it out. The manufacturer also includes an instruction manual to provide more information when using the unit.
- Very sleek design
- Great option for practice sessions
- Does not work well in a professional gig setting
- Relatively expensive
If you take this amp for what it is, it will hardly disappoint your expectations. Many guitarists, especially those that love moving around with their gear, particularly enjoy it because of the convenience it offers.
This amp promises a belt clip and advanced design, despite its retro appearance. It is very portable due to tis compact size and belt clip, while offering a safe, hands-free user experience as you perform other tasks. Its design also makes it a great option for children when they want to listen to music without risking damage or loss of the entire accessory.
- Tone knob that balances the treble and bass
- Leather handle for easier transport, and integrated clip for your belt
- Eye-catching retro design
- 1 speaker of 2.5 inches
The leather handle is easily the standout feature of this amp – it is both easy to operate and soft on the hands. It allows for portability, and adds a touch of timeless beauty to the overall design (which is already quite beautiful).
The output is a sole headphone jack, ensuring a peaceful practice or music listening session without disturbing other people. The build is relatively simple as well, even in the control dials; all are very easy to operate, and only include three options: overdrive, tone, and volume.
- Value for your money
- Decent levels of sound output
- Runs on both AC and battery power
- The package does not include an AC adapter
If you want a clean overdriven sound that is suitable for your music endeavors on the go, then this is a great choice to keep in mind. It is ultra-portable and convenient to use in a variety of settings, and will satisfy the basic needs you require in your music journey.
The BOSS Katana series is well known among instrumental enthusiasts because of their well-designed amps that offer a variety of features. Despite this mini amp being smaller than most of their offerings, it still lives up to those standards.
- Three amp types – Clean, Crunch, and Brown
- Three-band analog tone stack and multi-stage analog gain circuit
- Recording/phone output with cabinet voicing
- Aux input for connecting your smartphone
- In-built tape-style delays to achieve warm ambience
This amplifier is great for modeling practice, delivering 7 watts of power (more than all the portable speakers on this list). Interestingly, it has 3 amp styles you can choose from to deliver different effects in the music (Clean: for natural sounds; Brown: for rock style lead guitar; and Crunch: a fat tone that responds to your playing technique and picking style), while the equalizer has a treble, middle, and bass output. The middle section of equalizers is not a common feature in most portable amps, so it is nice to see its inclusion here.
As with most options, there are onboard delay effects that you can control through a time knob (for the delay) and a level knob (for the volume). The Aux In port allows you to connect your smartphone when you want to jam to your favorite music quietly, while the output is through a cabinet simulator to help in retention of tonal quality.
You can power it through a battery (included in the package) or a power adapter (sold separately). The battery life lasts between 7 to 9 hours, and the power LED will start dimming when you need to replace them.
- Very easy to use
- High-quality sound
- Fantastic tonal qualities due to the different amp styles
- In-built delays
- Cabinet simulator when using headphones or recording
- Full 3-band equalizer
- Does not include a power adapter
- Lacks memory banks to save customized settings
- Small range of effects
This stands among the best options you can get if you want a practice amp. It allows you to experiment with a wide range of sounds thanks to the in-built delay and three amp styles, even though it does not boast a full range of effects.
What should you consider when buying a battery powered guitar amp?
Guitar amplifiers have come a long way, and technological improvements allow more manufacturers to create portable amps that still sound like the actual amps you would expect.
The usual scenario to expect when you want to use an amp is finding a power outlet that can support the power requirements of a regular amp, but having a portable version ensures you can use your guitar anywhere – such as when you are traveling.
Some factors to keep in mind when choosing a battery-powered amp include:
As the power rating (the wattage) and features of the amp increase, the less the battery life becomes.
Therefore, an amp that has plenty of features, such as model effects, will have a shorter battery life. Aside from this, the type and number of batteries in use also affects the lifespan.
Keep in mind that larger or more batteries will increase the overall weight of the amp, which makes it less convenient to travel with.
If you want to lengthen the battery life, then it is best to think about purchasing a rechargeable brand instead of the standard batteries you would find at your local store.
Regardless of whether they are AA, AAA, or 9-volt batteries, they will work as long as the amplifier can accommodate their capacity. Additionally, consider buying a normal adapter that will provide an extra power source.
Your usage of the amp
If the primary purpose of the amplifier is for a live recording session or performing in front of a crowd, you need to ensure the choice is proper for that specific setting.
In cases like these, you will need a battery-powered amp that has plenty of dials for tone, and those that cater for computer options are also a plus – live recordings are quite stressful, and they require a lot from your equipment to be successful.
The amp also needs to sound good whether or not you have a DC/AC cord. For home practice on the other hand, a simple amp is enough, as long as it sounds good.
If you fail to take your usage into account, then your tuning will suffer.
This is particularly important when you are looking for amps that children could use when learning guitar – the younger and more inexperienced they are, the simpler the amp setup should be.
Size of the speaker
The size plays a major role in your overall sound and tone.
The smaller the speakers, the more focused and brighter the guitar will sound, while larger speakers result in a warmer and fuller tone.
Plenty of battery powered amps have smaller speakers, but note that you will find some that have larger ones and they consequently produce very powerful and deep tones for their size.
Upgrading/buying replacement parts
In many cases, an amplifier is very similar to a used car – getting them means that acquiring replacement parts is also very easy.
However, it is always more beneficial to purchase new parts, because you know how long you expect them to last.
If you are good at putting parts together, then getting a soldering iron can be handy for altering the speakers or eliminating unwanted distortion and feedback that you may notice in some brands.
With that in mind, you should not attempt to make modifications without knowing all the details of the amp, so take it to a professional if you are unsure about its maintenance.
Regardless of the amp you are working with, its sound quality is essential to consider. As a general rule, the sound quality and tone reduces as the amplifier size reduces so check the size if that is a major concern for you.
There are plenty of options in the market when choosing a battery powered guitar amp, and making a decision is tough.
However, this guide should help you know where to begin when looking for one, and make a choice that works for you.
Is it possible to hook a battery powered amp to a grounded DC or AC adapter?
Yes, unless the manufacturer states otherwise.
The main disadvantage though is the lack of DC or AC cords in most amp packages, so you will need to factor in the costs of purchasing one separately.
Do battery powered amps produce a different sound quality compared to wired amps?
In most cases, yes – the sound quality when you plug them in is much better compared to when they run on battery power for some time. This is not an issue when you are playing on your own, but it can be an issue when playing for a crowd.
Can I use pedals with a battery powered amp?
This will really depend on the type of amp you are using and its features. If it comes with effect dials, then you will not need pedals as much.