The blues is all about emotional expression. If you are planning to try your hand at this genre, then make sure that you are able to get that rich sound and impressive dynamics that define it. Pair your electric guitar with the right amp to make sweet music.
Quick Links To My Top Small Blues Amp Recommendations
- Fender ’57 Custom Champ – OUR TOP CHOICE! This combo guitar amp’s sound and tone is perfect for blues with tons of features! Many other guitarists would agree!
- Vox AC4 – our runner up guitar amplifier choice.
- Marshall Amps Marshall Origin 5W
- ’68 Custom Princeton Reverb
- Blackstar STUDIO 10 EL34 Studio 10W
- Fender Blues Junior IV
- Orange Crush 12W
- Fender Pro Junior IV
- Supro Blues King 5-Watt
- Marshall Studio Classic SC20C
Start with a small blues amp that will provide that distinct tone with enough volume for practicing solo, jamming with friends, recording in a studio, or playing in a modest venue. In this article, we present ten of the best small blues amp from some of the most recognizable brands in the industry.
- Quick Links To My Top Small Blues Amp Recommendations
- Our Small Blues Guitar Amplifier Reviews
- What To Look For In A Small Blues Guitar Amp
- Small Blues Amplifier Conclusion
Our Small Blues Guitar Amplifier Reviews
Fender ’57 Custom Champ
The Fender Champ is a classic amp with excellent staying power. It’s a great example of what tube amps can do when made with high quality materials and intelligent design. It has a sound that most are familiar with even if they don’t realize it yet. After all, this was a favorite for the Rolling Stones and other bands of that era. If you like the tone of early electric blues, then this is the one to go for. The 1957 model has been reissued in stylish retro tweed. This version is not a 100% copy of the original but it is true to the spirit and the tone of its predecessor.
Grab the Fender ’57 Custom Champ if you like a dependable companion while you make your guitar weep. This 5W little monster can go from crisp clean tones to expressive overdrive responses. You can push this baby without worries. The distortion sounds so much better than any pedal can provide. It is easy to use with a single knob so beginners will not be intimidated by the controls. The 8-inch Alnico speaker handles high volume like the champ that it is. You might think that a tiny and lightweight amp like this would struggle with so little power but it is one capable piece of equipment.
- Loud and clear tone.
- Great for blues.
- Versatile tone controls.
- The speaker is only 8″ in diameter, which makes it somewhat harder to produce the lower frequencies that are characteristic of a powerful sound. Some users have reported that it sounds “thin”.
The Vox AC4 is another lightweight contender that feels like a heavyweight in terms of performance. It sports the brand’s characteristic retro design with textured exteriors, diamond grill cloth, and briefcase handle. You can find a red limited edition version that looks as gorgeous as a compact amp can be. It weighs just under 20lbs with dimensions of 13.7″ x 14.7″ x 8.4″. Take it anywhere with you and get ready to answer a lot of questions about this head-turning gear.
This is a 4W tube amp with a single 10-inch Celestion VX10 speaker. At the top, there are more controls than you would find in the Champ. More experienced users may welcome the presence of gain, treble, and bass knobs in addition to the master volume dial. Vox is known for providing its signature tone that musicians can’t get enough of. With the AC4 C1RD, the brand delivers a knockout combination of warm sounds and iconic styling in a highly portable package.
- A great amp for beginners.
- It has an excellent clean sound.
- Not very expensive at all.
- The amp’s only downfall would be that it does not have many features to mess around with.
Marshall Amps Marshall Origin 5W
No list of amplifier options is complete without mentioning a few entries from Marshall. The brand has a capable small blues amp is the form of the Marshall Origin 5W. Just like the Champ and the AC4, this one is also a tube amp with twin ECC83 preamp tubes and one EL84 power tube. Although it only has an 8-inch speaker, you won’t have a problem getting heard in a small venue. As for getting crunchy tones at low volumes, you can always depend on the boost to push the tubes right where they need to be.
This is an all valve combo amp with a switchable high and low power output section. This is handy during times when you want to practice in your apartment without getting the ire of your neighbors. Just switch it the other way if you are getting ready to rock out on stage. There is also an effects loop to make it pedal-friendly. You can easily connect any of your other gear and experiment with the sounds. You could also change the tone using the tilt control settings. This is exactly what you need to craft your own signature sound.
- This amp does not have a load of features and is great for beginners.
- The power may not be enough if you are looking for a heavier sound. It will only go to 5W. -If the amp is cranked, it can produce feedback.
’68 Custom Princeton Reverb
Fender has another entry on this list with the ’68 Custom Princeton Reverb. This amp is more powerful than the previous models discussed with 12W of power coming out of a 10-inch Celestion Ten 30 speaker. The late 1960s saw Fender embracing a more modern aesthetic with a silver front panel, turquoise branding, and an aluminum drip edge grille cloth trim. The fresh design language was a welcome change, especially since it was still supported by the same build quality and performance that people have come to expect. You get knobs for volume, treble, bass, reverb, speed, and intensity to get a great blend.
This reissue of the silverface amp adheres close to the original. However, has a modified tone circuit that allows the use of pedals while improving sensitivity and overdrive response. This is more expensive compared to Mustang product line but it will give you incredible sound with an unmistakable blues vibe. Beginners might not yet have the ears to appreciate the difference but experienced guitar players will understand the value. You can also check the ’65 reissue to see if you like that as well. You will find the ’68 Princeton darker with a fuller sound thanks to stronger bass and mid frequencies.
- Great sound.
- Amazing amp for blues or rock music.
- Very versatile amp that is able to be used in a variety of different settings and get the desired sound.
- Price. This amp does not come cheap, but it is well worth the money if you are looking for a great sounding pedal that will work with your musicianship and playing style.
Blackstar STUDIO 10 EL34 Studio 10W
Blackstar may not be a household name but it is a highly respected brand that is doing amazing things with their products. For the Studio 10 series, the company has pushed the boundaries of what can be done with single-ended amps. Just because they’re small doesn’t mean their sound is trivial. In fact, a lot of the best songs ever recorded have used tiny practice amps.
This EL34 model is a 10W amp distinguished by its black vinyl and horizontal pattern grille cloth. This all-tube rockstar has one 12-inch speaker with an effects loop and three external speaker outputs at the back. A button lets the user switch from clean to boost which is handy for the blues. There is a single input port and knobs for the gain, tone, master, and reverb at the top. The dynamics are excellent as to be expected from Blackstar.
- Very Affordable.
- Can be played in stereo with 10 watts of power and a 12 inch Celestion Blue speaker.
- Dual channels (each with 2 inputs) for a variety of sound qualities.
- Only has one input for an instrument and needs to be switched to a different channel when you want to play it and use that amplification channel as well.
Fender Blues Junior IV
The name makes it clear for everyone. This amp was designed to sing the blues in a nice little package. It does so incredibly well. With 15W of power, it has enough oomph to make its presence felt on stage. Its 12-inch Celestion speaker is more than capable even at high volume. Despite the beefed up performance, Fender manages to keep the amp relatively small at just 16 x 9.2 x 18 inches. The weight is a modest 31lbs. This is a great option for touring with the brand’s reputation for build quality and reliability, particularly with the steel-reinforced handle.
Knock it out of the park every night with gear that maximizes your potential. You’ll get a balanced tone that full, smooth, and clear no matter how loud it gets. You can even add a pedal for a quick boost. As for the looks, this one does not deviate from the classic understated design of Fender amps. It’s a rather basic black box with a pre-aged grill cloth that protects the speakers. The controls are at the top near the back edge. You have one input port and knobs for volume, treble, bass, middle, master, and reverb.
- Decent headroom.
- The tone may be too bright for blues guitarists who prefer a darker sound.
Orange Crush 12W
The big brands can produce big sound. However, they can also put a massive drain on finances with their expensive products. It’s a good thing that there are always alternatives with decent quality and affordable prices. For example, the Orange Crush 12W manages to provide remarkable tone despite being less than half the price of its competitors. You do give up tube amp overdrive since this is a solid state amp. However, the circuits and the 6-inch speaker are more than ready for your solo practice and recordings. It can even output to a headphone so as not to disturb anyone else.
Despite the name, this model actually comes in black as well as orange. Choose the color based on your appetite for attention. The controls feature a 3-band equalizer so you can mix your sound on the fly and a dedicated overdrive control so you can shift from clean to dirty in a snap. Unfortunately, there is no option to use a pedal for switching. Buyers are happy with the thick crunchy sound that you might not expect with the low price tag. It’s also highly portable at only 12.1 pounds so your shoulder won’t ache carrying this around.
- Sturdy build quality.
- Switching between clean and overdrive channels is instant.
- A bit too much bass and some people might prefer this model because it’s not as bright as others.
Fender Pro Junior IV
This model shares a lot of similarities with the Fender Blues Junior IV with a few aesthetic and performance tweaks that make it a compelling option. This also packs 15 watts of power. However, they traded the typical Celestion speakers for a 10-inch Jensen P10R. The volume circuit has also been modified to introduce a more gradual breakup when turning it up. You will also notice better bass when pushed into overdrive. Enjoy the fuller sound that provides more depth and character to your notes. It also has a re-voiced overdrive circuit for better clarity.
Unlike most Fender amps, this one sports tweed covering with a vintage grille and leather handle. The chrome control panel has a mirrored finish. There are only two knobs for the volume and tone. You will be proud to take this with you on stage or in the studio. It looks cool and it sounds even better. The amp can do everything from rock to blues. However, some owners have voiced their concerns about the quality of the product. Some issues have come up regarding the tubes, knobs, and the output jack, although the company has remedied most of these issues when owners called their attention.
- Practice amp can be used for live applications with a mic or as a monitor.
- The included small speaker is not terribly loud, but the amp does push out 10 watts per channel into that speaker nicely.
Supro Blues King 5-Watt
If you are looking for a blues amp, then you should definitely consider a contender with a name that screams for your attention. The Supro Blues King is a diminutive 5W amp with a 10-inch custom speaker. The company has been making amplifiers for a long time with this model being inspired by the their classic combos from the 1950s. They tried to reproduce the tube amp tone in a modern package. You can try it to hear what you might find in a typical studio 70 years ago. It features a traditional 12AX7 preamp and a boost function that can give the signal an extra push.
This amp even has a FAT DRIVE mode with a CMOS circuit that emulates the behaviors of a tube. It can add more gain to the signal and introduce greater distortion which may be appropriate so your songs. Both the BOOST and the DRIVE can be accessed via footswitch or the top switches. As for the main controls, you have volume, reverb, master, and a 2-band EQ. All of these are in stylish dark gray cabinet made from poplar wood with white trims and a leather handle. The vintage design echoes the Supro Comet from the mid-50s. If you love retro styling that looks great in any era, then this is an awesome find.
- Needs minimal break-in time.
- Decent tone right out of the box.
- Portable and lightweight – easy to lug around to jams or rehearsals.
- Fairly affordable, considering how good it is!
- It doesn’t have much low end (should be expected for a 5 watt amp)
Marshall Studio Classic SC20C
For the largest one on this list, we have a 20W amp from Marshall. This combo amp features a 10-inch Celestion V-type speaker, high/low sensitivity inputs, pre-amp volume, master volume, EQ knobs, 5W/20W power switch, FX loop, and multiple outputs at the back. It’s an incredibly capable and versatile piece of gear that advanced users will love to have in their kit.
This takes inspiration from the popular Marshall JCM800 2203 which came out in the 1980s. It became a favorite among heavy rock musicians and was instrumental in defining the sound of that era. Now it has been engineered into a smaller package as the Studio Classic SC20C for greater portability while keeping the famous tone.
You can switch it down to 5W for home practice or turn it up to 20W for an all-out stage performance. Tweak the settings so that you can get the kind of sound that you are aiming for. You can even use pedals to add effects. It’s possible to get a clean output or a gritty metal sound. Of course, you can modify this to achieve the signature blues sound as well. If you have a lot of cash to spare, then this one is an amazing option.
- Allows for taming of the amp’s sound via the built-in EQ.
- Compact, portable size – good for gigs.
- Easy to use.
- Not very loud for bigger venues. Takes a lot to get things past 10 on volume knob.
What To Look For In A Small Blues Guitar Amp
Blues guitar playing is historically associated with the heavy sound of a small and loud tube amp. The first amps from the 1930s were very small and could be carried into clubs or bars, then set on top of the piano, which would supply the bass tones. To capture that original sound, you’ll need an amp that can go very loud with little distortion (so you don’t have to turn up the volume too far) and has lots of twangy overtones. But what if you want something small?
Features you want to see in a small blues guitar amp:
- Quiet, low-distortion sound with a vintage tone. (So you can hear the fuzzy overtones from the well-worn tubes without having to crank up the volume too far.)
- Easy to carry on stage or in the car. (I can’t count how many times I’ve wanted to play blues but had to leave my club amp in the bar when we left, or set it on top of a piano we never got around to playing. When you’re ready to play, you want your amp right there.)
- Something that can take a beating. Blues players are on the road and in the bar more than anyone. If you’re gigging hard, your amp has to be able to take a few falls. You don’t want something delicate that will pop like an over-enthusiastic balloon if it gets bumped or knocked over.
- Reasonable price – Yeah, it’s just an amp. But when you’re playing blues, it might be the most important thing in your life. You don’t want to have to worry about breaking down or having a breakdown.
- Good tone – Blues players need to be able to hear the treble and bass frequencies accurately, and not too hot. You’ll also want a clean sound with lots of volume, but just enough distortion so the overtones can come out as intended.
Small Blues Amplifier Conclusion
The best small blues amp can help you get the sound you want so that you can focus on playing the blues. You don’t need a massive amplifier just to get the most out of your electric guitar. It’s all about skill and expression. Infuse your songs with emotion that rings rue to you. Let your guitar be head loud and clear. The ones featured on this list either have tubes or clever circuits that provide that thick and expressive tone that bluesmen love. Some are good for beginners while others are meant for experienced users. Choose a model that caters to your needs, budget, and abilities.
If none of these suit you, take a look at these small tube amps as well.