The global pandemic has grounded the majority of musicians with no gigs on the horizon. In order to keep playing, and not have the neighbors call the police, low-watt tube guitar amplifiers are the answer. With their lower power rating, you can get sound saturation much more quickly and produce the grit, drive and distortion that you want at much lower decibel levels.
Quick Links To Our Top Small Fender Amps Recommendations
- Fender Blues JR Limited C12N – My top choice!
- Fender ’57 Custom Champ 5W – The runner up!
- Fender Mustang LT25
- Fender Frontman 10G
- Fender Super Champ X2
- Fender Champion 20
In 2020 and into 2021, low-Watt tube amps have become many manufacturers’ best sellers. When it comes amps, there are few manufacturers as well known for the quality and sound of their amps as the storied Fender brand.
Best Small Fender Amplifier Reviews
The following are our recommendations for the best small Fender amp:
Fender Blues JR Limited C12N
The Blues JR Limited C12N takes Fender’s original 15W amp and gives it a vintage look with a tweed covering and a vintage-sounding 12″ Jensen speaker. Its warm tones are generated by using tubes in its design; specifically pair of EL84 tubes for output and three 12AX7 pre-amp tubes.
The Jensen C12N speaker is much better than stock speakers. Live players will notice more of their tone in the mix, as the speaker has a middle range boost built-in, which makes the player sound much louder to the listener. The speaker is made in Italy and really captures the classic American sound.
The amp also reproduces high frequencies well and while some may find this speaker a toppy, the Jensen is known to soften over time. This amp is good for all styles of music including blues, country, funk, rock and others.
When you add the famous Fender reverb, flexible controls and mid-range boost this is a great little amp that is as good looking as it sounds with a chrome panel, vintage-look power knobs and a lacquered tweed finish with pinstripe grille cloth.
Fender ’57 Custom Champ 5W
Despite the 80’s fashion for big stacks and 100-watt top amps, the small tweed Fender remained indispensable, and gave the tonal sound of countless hit singles. Fender has reissued the tweed amp in the Fender ’57 Custom Champ which is a close replica of its 1957 counterpart.
The amp features a cabinet made from solid pine, a cotton twill covering, a badge from its period and a leather handle. The chassis is made from steel that has been chrome-plated and it has a perforated side panel to improve ventilation. It has Chickenhead knobs adorning the panel that go up to 12.
The electronics inside are close to the original amp as well, with a black eyelet board used to support the components that features hand-wired valve bases and front and rear panel connections.
If you’re looking for a Fender vintage tweed amp that sounds just like the original (but built to modern quality standards) this is a great choice.
Fender Mustang LT25
Fender’s Mustang amps feature an impressive set of features, sound quality and ease of use. The Mustang LT25 is a modelling combo amp that features an eight-inch speaker, 20 amp models, 25 effects, USB connectivity and auxiliary input.
There are 30 on-board sound presets that come with the amp to get you playing quickly and to demonstrate its versatility. You can scroll through the options using the large encoder to the right of the screen.
When you want to change the preset, all you need to do is choose the encoder and scroll through the categories.
When you’re done, you can save your changes or just change to a different preset to discard your changes. The LT isn’t just about clean or pushed sounds, it offers some meaty higher-gain emulations which are just as impressive as the tones Fender is famous for.
The Mustang LT is squarely aimed at beginners and students. While the feature set doesn’t compare to some recent offerings, it does what is does very well. It’s simplicity and interesting presets make you want to keep playing and, at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. A standout in a competitive field, the Mustang is a great starter amp.
Fender Frontman 10G
The Fender Frontman 10G is a solid state, 10-Watt guitar amp that is made for practicing on your own or with another musician. It features a small speaker so the sound will not carry far or be loud enough to use in a band setting.
It has impressive features for a relatively inexpensive amp. It has only one channel with an over-drive switch so that you can play with a clean tone and then dial up the gain to give a bit of distortion; when you want more just hit the over-drive switch.
It has a headphone output (a must in a practice amp) and the addition of an AUX input means that you can plug in a music player and play along to your favorite songs.
It’s output is louder than you’d imagine, though at high levels, the small speaker will lose bass and depth of tone. The two band EQ gives you the ability to alter the tone, depending on the instrument you’re playing.
For the price and the size, it ticks all the boxes for a small practice amp. Fender is known for its quality so you won’t need to worry about it breaking or falling apart (unlike some options at this price point).
Fender Super Champ X2
Featuring a 15-Watt tube amplifier, it has two 6V6 tubes and one 12AX7 combined with a 10″ speaker that produces Fender’s signature clean tone on channel 1.
What makes this amp special, however, is the overdrive channel which has a Voice knob and digital effects settings. The Voice knob reproduces the sound of 16 different amps including the Blackface and Tweed models, along with a range of other amp tones.
The digital effects section features 15 essential effects including modulation, reverb, tremolo, delay and others.
While the amp’s hardware interface is fairly limited, you can expand its tone palette by connecting it via USB port to a computer and editing the amp voices and effects through provided editing software. You can also record while playing used the USB port.
The Fender Super Champ X2 is a popular choice and is favoured for its classic Fender clean tone. Many players consider this to be the best tube amplifier for the price and, considering its sound and features, it’s easy to see why. It is also admired for its simple overdrive and clean tones. When recording, the tones sound authentic and the reverb is smooth and detailed. Because it is portable it also works well as a stage amp for smaller gigs and recording sessions.
The Fender Super Champ X2 is a versatile tube amp that performs well for both practice and when performing.
Fender Champion 20
The Fender Champion 20 is a 20-Watt amp is a popular choice for players that want a small practice amp. Other amps in this price range do not come close to the features of this amp which include on-board effects, amp modelling and, of course, the Fender name on the front.
One of the most interesting features of the Fender Champion 20 is what is called ‘amp voicing’. This feature offers 4 settings on the Voice dial that correspond to different types of amp. Within the four zones you can move the dial through them and thus boost the particular voice you want which amounts to a total of 12 different amp voices. A light alternates between the colors of green and red near the Voice control to show which of the voices is activated within in each zone.
This amp impresses with the sheer volume of tones it can produce; it’s like having an effects unit at your control. For new musicians, or for practice, there are a huge array of tones you can use by working through the amp voices and on-board effects.
For an amp at this price, the Fender Champion 20 offers great features and value. It has the classic Fender sound and power, built-in effects, amp voicing, a headphone jack and an auxiliary input.
There’s something for everyone in this list of small amplifiers from Fender. Whether you’re looking for a small amp for practicing, a reproduction of some of the classic tube amps from Fender’s past, or modelling amps that allow you to change the voice and response of your amplifier to dozens of other styles of amp, Fender has an amp with the features to suit your needs at very competitive prices.
When you buy an amp with the Fender logo, you become part of the history of acclaimed artists and performers that use their amps and instruments and have made them a cultural icon.