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Cheap practice amp wanted

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by DIYJOE, Aug 12, 2017.



    Aug 11, 2017
    Hobart, Australia
    I'd like to buy a small, cheap, low power practice amp, which I will use in conjunction with a Boss RC-2 looping pedal. I mainly use the clean channel, so distortion is optional. It will need a phones output, for quiet listening. I live in Tasmania, Australia, and would prefer local availability, but online purchase is okay of course. Oh, yes - I want reverb too! Any suggestions??

  2. Milspec

    Milspec Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 15, 2016
    Is used okay? What kind of price range are we talking about?

    I really think the THR10 units are just so perfect for that kind of usage that I can't help but recommend them. They are a little pricey new though, but they can be had for half the price or better used all day long and have proven to be reliable.

  3. CK Dexter Haven

    CK Dexter Haven Friend of Leo's

    Jun 7, 2017
    I define "cheep" as $25 USD or less.

    These will get the job done..

    LIne 6 spider 15, any clean example will do. The II/III gen sell for $20-25 USD on Craigs List (our Gumtree) 30-35 in a shop. Some people (many whom have never played one) disparage these but I have found them to be quite reliable, with a decent clean sound, with lush reverb, & a nice trem (just don't engage in "insane" button ;-) The head phone sound is also decent.

    Peavey Blazer again any era will do as long as it is clean and functional, but the early TransTube w/ the silver stripe are a good combination of cheep without being too old, the newer versions with red trim some times are the same price and would be a safe buy. Head phone sound is not nearly as good as the Line 6. but they are dead simple to dial in.

    Marshall/Park the MG 15r is serviceable, but I like the two above better, also tends to be more $$ The old Lead series amps have become "collectable"; they are getting old and should be left to those folks.

    Fender IMHO this is not there forte, the Frontman 15r is Ok if very cheep, (say $20 Usd or less) You may also encounter "Sidekick" amps form the "80s, same deal as the "80s Marshalls.

    The small amps from Crate, Ibanez, Kustom and such tend to lead a rough life for some reason.They would be fine as a new purchase, I would avoid them used.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2017
    Believer likes this.

  4. rich815

    rich815 Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Aug 22, 2016
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Doggone it, C.K. Dexter Haven! Either I’m gonna sock you or you’re gonna sock me.

    (Sorry first time I saw your user name here so I just have to say it once...)

  5. LGOberean

    LGOberean Poster Extraordinaire

    May 31, 2008
    Corpus Christi, Texas
    Since I'm in Texas and you're in Australia, it's hard for me to know what qualifies as "cheap" down under. But assuming for the moment that whatever the Aussie dollar equivalent is to $120 in US dollars is within your budget, and if you don't mind discontinued, and you can actually find one...

    ...then I recommend the Vox Pathfinder 15R. It ticks most all of your boxes: small (15" x 14" x 7"), lightweight (19 lbs.), low wattage output (15 watts) and a headphone out on the rear panel. It's a one channel amp, but with a boost switch, which, when engaged, can give distortion. Otherwise, with the Gain knob at 9 o'clock or so, it will stay clean with the Volume up to around noon. It also has an out for an extension speaker and for a Line Out, as well as a footswitch input.

    Even without the phones, I can play quietly through the amp at late night. In fact, I just did, about a half an hour ago, with the Gain and Volume knobs both set at 9 o'clock. And I've gigged with mine: coffee shops, restaurants, etc.; and I've used the Line Out to a PA. it's a versatile little amp, and well worth it if you can find one.

    Oh, and since you want reverb, if you go this route, be sure to get the Pathfinder 15R. The "R" is for reverb, and there is an older model that was a 15, without the "R". Here's what the top panel and the rear panel looks like on the 15R...

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

  6. trev333

    trev333 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Check out Cash Converters or Gumtree local listings....... should be plenty of small practice amps going cheap....

  7. callasabra

    callasabra Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 11, 2016
    I just scored a fender frontman 25r on cl for 45$. Check them out.
    SolidSteak likes this.

  8. SolidSteak

    SolidSteak Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 27, 2016
    Frontman 25r is a great cheap option if you can find them where you live. Decent clean sound, good reverb, headphone out. With a better speaker you could even use it for small gigs.

    The Vox Pathfinder sounds way better though.
    studio1087 and LGOberean like this.

  9. LGOberean

    LGOberean Poster Extraordinaire

    May 31, 2008
    Corpus Christi, Texas
    Before I scored my first Vox Pathfinder 15R (a $40 score in a pawn shop), I test drove several lower wattage output SS amps: a Marshall (don't remember the model # of that one, it was my least favorite), an Orange Crush 20, and the Fender Frontman 25R. The Orange and the Frontman were pretty much equal to me; i liked them both okay, but wasn't wowed by either one. And that Orange Crush 20 didn't have reverb (I wasn't test driving the 20 RT), so in that sense the Frontman was the frontrunner of that bunch. However, I didn't pull the trigger. At the time, I owned Peavey Bandits, and so I took a chance on a Peavey Envoy 110 on ebay. That was a good amp, a lightweight alternative to a Peavey Bandit. I wound up buying another Envoy. One was older (late 80s-early 90s), the other the next generation, the first TransTube variety. the former was 35 watts, the latter 40. Both had spring reverb.

    So although I stand by my previous recommendation of a Pathfinder 15R, there are of course other options, ones that would also meet your stated requirements.

    The Envoy 110 is still in production from Peavey, so maybe that won't be too hard to find in Australia. But although it's reasonably priced for what you get, at $300 USD I wouldn't call that "cheap." The older models, are commonly differentiated from one another by the color of the "stripe" beneath the front panel: teal stripe, silver stripe TransTube, & red stripe TransTube. If I recall correctly (I no longer have it), that silver stripe didn't have a headphone out. Must've been a feature that was missed, because the red stripe and the current production versions both have it. (This is said from memory. Best check me on this.)

    The Frontman 25R is now discontinued as well, but if you find one used, I think it'll make a decent practice amp. They sold for $100 new, so used should be a bargain. If I were looking for a current production Fender amp option, I'd check out the Champion 20. It's got digital amp voicings and digital FX, including reverb, and a 1/8" out for headphones. I've only tried one once in a local Guitar Center, but it is equal to challenge of replacing the Frontman, IMO. And since it sells for $100 new, it's certainly equal in that way.

    The Orange Crush 20 RT has the low wattage, the small footprint, digital reverb and built-in tuner. Orange isn't known for their clean channels; seems most people think Orange when they want crunch. However, the Clean channel is fine. But the price tag is $190 new, so..."cheap"? Not in my book. There is a smaller version, the Orange Crush 12. My granddaughter has one of those. It has the headphone out, but no reverb, but it sells for $100 new.

    But once more for emphasis, my # 1 recommendation is the unfortunately now hard to find Vox Pathfinder 15R.

    Okay! :eek: I got a little carried away on this! :oops: Maybe that was more answer than you were looking for, but I hope it helps.
    Believer likes this.

  10. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

    Mar 2, 2003
    Lawndale CA
    What kind of music do you play, how loud will you run it, what guitar are you using, do you use any effects, what is your budget...

    Not enough info.

    Aren't there any music stores nearby? Recommendations here could be way off base. Better to try things out yourself.
    JustABluesGuy likes this.

  11. Area51

    Area51 Tele-Meister

    Nov 4, 2016
    New Mexico
    This is a tough question that's been asked many times here. There's a lot of different versions of small and cheap and low volume.

    For me I use a very small practice/grab to go the gf's house setup; a Marshall MG10Ct. It's very small, light, headphones, closed back, and a dedicated input for your music.

    I pretty much use only the clean channel. Running into it is a Zoom G1Xon which has a decent drum selection and a simple looper (my RC-3 was stolen:( ). The zoom can be used as a stand alone with a headphone. The Zoom also has an input you can run jam track into. I often run my tablet into this or the Marshall.

    It's a versatile setup that can be played under tv volume (meaning it sounds decent playing under a tv volume), and has many tones. Worked well the other night jamming with an un-mic'ed acoustic. Another player showed up with a small fender tube amp, not sure which one, but it sounded pretty bad at low volume and drowned us out at a decent sounding level. He pretty much sat out as it was a family gathering.

    YMMV, it comes down to what you consider small and what's acceptable to you. I'm OK with the compromises to be able to play at really low levels. I have an old tweed Bronco (Vibrochamp) that sounds great, but this is still a better low volume setup. Others will see it much different.

  12. Radspin

    Radspin Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Mar 7, 2008
    Long Island, NY
    I love my Vox DA5. It sounds good and has built in effects. Some of the sounds are cheesy though, but others are really good.

  13. tap4154

    tap4154 Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Apr 14, 2009
    Southern California
    The 25r also records great from the headphone jack to digital recorder.

  14. rich815

    rich815 Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Aug 22, 2016
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2017

  15. rich815

    rich815 Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Aug 22, 2016
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Roland Cube is a good sounding tiny amp that can also use batteries (beach, farmers market, busking, backyard) and can be found used for $70-80. Otherwise I recommend the Fender Mustang I. Got mine in mint condition off CL for $70 and I've seen them at GC for as little as $60-65. Very good sound and tons of modeling. But I will admit I pretty much only use my tube amps: a Monoprice 15watt I upgraded with a WGS Liberator speaker and a Blackstar HT-20 Studio, both of which are great bedroom practice amps.

  16. Count

    Count Friend of Leo's

    Just for curiosities sake I did a Gumtree search on used amps in Tassie, there's not a lot there that woudl suit you DIYJOE. You might have to look further afield or try one of the retailers selling small chinese made tube and SS amps. Firms like Strauss, Artist Guitars, Swamp etc. They do good cheap low powered amps which seem to be pretty good. e.g. the Joyo Sweet Baby 5 watttube amp has good write ups. Some of the "name" brands that are available for low dollars in the USA can be quite pricey in Australia. I'd endorse the Fender Frontman 25R commented on by others. it's a great little amp and quite loud, I have used mine for playing in smallish venues and it can hold it's own no trouble. No, I'm not selling mine before you ask.

  17. KnopflerStyle

    KnopflerStyle Tele-Holic

    Jun 22, 2005
    I had some SS and small amp to practice. Then i have realized that It dont work since the sound was not good enough and that didnt inspired me. My actual config is a small head and a Big amp. Small tube head for me is the best option if you Play cleans ( blues / country / rock etc). You Will get a sound like with your live amp. Today you have a lot of options in 1W / 5W Range. Also i prefer heads so i could use my Big amp speaker with them when headphones are not available. Small amps have 10 or 8" speaker and i dont like that.

  18. jklotz

    jklotz Tele-Afflicted

    Jan 10, 2012
    Atlanta, GA
    What about that brand new Boss Katana Mini? I think they are $99 here in the USA

  19. mad dog

    mad dog Friend of Leo's

    Jun 27, 2005
    Montclair, NJ
    "Cheap" covers a lot of territory. Aside from money, wattage and size are the critical factors. So many small, cheap amps can sound cool at home, useless with a drummer. One modest SS amp that's really impressing me is a Polytone Mini Brute. Mine is the II, from early 80s. They're around, not 100 dollars cheap but not exactly pricey either. Very big sound, good sound too, for a smaller amp.

  20. simond

    simond Tele-Meister

    Dec 26, 2011
    Put a call out on FB, Guitarist Sales Tasmania. Out of curiosity are you in the north or down south?

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