Great Small Amps for recording guitar


Full Time Dreamer

Hi guys,
I'm looking for suggestions on great sounding small guitar amps specifically for recording. I'd like to pick up a couple cool small amps to have around that dont take up much space, nothing bigger than a single 12 inch speaker.

Versatility of sounds from the amp itself would be a plus, but i've also aquired alot of pretty cool pedals over the years, (distortion pedals, Univibe, Diaz tremelo, delays etc...) so i can front load the sound as well.

So anyone have any good reccomendations?
Full Time Dreamer


Well I'm not sure about single speaker units that I have had experience with but I can give you a whole list of combo amps with two speakers that are great.

What is your price range?
Just about any midrange Fender amp is versatile,
pretty much depends on the music I'm really into blues so small Fender amps are of course the choice picks for me. I have also had alot of luck with a Mesa Heartbreaker great little amp for tracking. You pretty much have to just go to the music store and decide for yourself. Vox makes great amps also.

Full Time Dreamer

Hi Chris,
yeah, eventually i'll be hitting every music store around in search of, but i mostly wanna go to the store independent stores loaded with used amps hoping to find a few gems, I just wanna know what to look for so i dont have to play 20 amps in each store.
I'm pretty up on all the bigger amps, heads, and the mid sized combo's, have recorded hundreds of them over the years. What i usually dont see is little amps that sound great. Guys always come in with their half stacks or fender twins or bassmans. I got to work with Cesar Diaz and he taught me alot about amps and guitars. What i'm looking for is something i can record in my home studio that i dont have to blow the neighbors out with volume and that wont take up too much room.
I found a small 20 watt Ampeg Reverb Rocket. Anyone in love with those? havent bought it yet. Little fenders, I have to try more of them, is any one in particular really great?
Price range. I'd definitely like to keep it in the $300 to $500 range, although that 20 watt reverb rocket was only $250.
Thanks ya'll


Well-Known Member
Jul 21, 2002
The absolute coolest small amp I ever owned was a Trace Elliot Velocette...15/7.5 watt 1-12 Celestion...3 knobs (volume, tone, reverb)...

Sold it to a live player few years ago, been kicking myself in the butt ever since...Haven't heard the Gibson version...

Seems THE amp to have is a Princeton Reverb...everybody and their brother is using them this week.


Well-Known Member
Dec 27, 2002
Try to find a nice tube tweed Fender Champ from the 50's. It's a great little amp to record with. A lot of the new small amps with EL84 tubes sound good.


Well-Known Member
Mar 31, 2002
You have to check out the Fender Blues JR.

This is a new amp. It is a simple 30 wattish all tube design.

This is the best sounding amp (clean to a little crunch) I have heard in years. It gives a full bodied classic tone that kicks my old princeton reverb's but.

The opening clean gtr on this track was recorded through a Blues Jr with a Earthworks M30 mic about 3 feat away.


K-Sound Studios

Fender Pinceton Reverb (1x10") .. great amp but costs WAY too much .. look for an old Ampeg Gemini I or II (1x12" and 1x15").. these are great for jazz at low volume, and fantastic reverb, plus they'll break up well for blues as you crank them up. Oddly (to some), we also use a Peavey Bandit-65 amp, which is solid state, but we put an older Altec 12" in it, and it has a very nice tone and distortion .. the reverb is useless. Fender Vibrolux reverb is also a great choice (2x10"), as would a Fender Pro-Reverb (2x12"). The Ampegs are in the $300-400 range and are, IMO, the best buy and have great tone.. they do not travel the road well, but are great in the studio. You can also find some of the old MuiscMan amps out there at a afforable price, and they can be a great amp. There would also have to be a vote somewhere for a Mesa Boggie too...

As a side note, I tracked a 6 string Tobias bass through the Princeton and it was huge sounding, which makes sense if you consider how air moves at a low volume with a small efficent speaker.

As for bass, I have both an old Ampeg B-15 and B-18 that always do the job. We also sometimes will use the B-15 for guitar .. in particular a Fender Strat or Jazzmaster.


Well-Known Member
Dec 10, 2001
Pacific NW
The Blues Jr. is 15 watt all tube design.It uses el-84 tubes in the is single channel and has a master and a channel has treble middle bass and presence as well as 'fat' has a sound that is a cross between a fender deluxe and a vox is by far the best amp for the money one can can drive the crap out of it or make it shimmery and sweet.

Sound Diagnosis

I am in possession of a 4-tube, 8 watt (I think) Fender "vibro-champ" (circa 70's)that apparently is used in some top studios for recording. (I did a little web searching on GOOGLE in regards to this amp that my late dad was using for his little Baldwin electric piano, and a lot of studio equipment lists came up). This thing was going for 450 bucks on one site! I am going to bring it in to a local store for an evaluation. If you are interested in this baby, let me know. I really don't think I could use it with a Kurzweil workstation/synth! LOL Lemme know ~~~Lee

P.S. you get a wholesale price from me....'specially since you are a New Yawka. :tu:


I think that the 50 watt JCM 800 combos are the best thing since sliced bread. They don't make them anymore, but you can find them on ebay regularly for about the price you are looking for. Great clean, great all tube distortion. Simply the best.


I've got a 1966 Ampeg ReverbRocket II. Twenty watts. Got it for $300. It's a great amp but no one liked it until I had it rebuilt for approx $225. It is clean clean clean.

I'm also surprised that no one has mentioned the Fender Deluxe Reverb.


Tom Hicks

My "little old amp" is a 1958 Gibson GA6 w/ 2 6L6s (18 watts?)and 2 12AX7s. It was their version of the Deluxe and will go from clean to scream at living room volume levels. Old Gibbys don't have the "vintage" cachet that Leo's stuff commands today and can be picked up for more reasonable prices. I paid $40 for mine approx 15 years ago. I pulled the stock blue Jenson (which is worth some considerable bucks by itself) and put in an EV12L, recapped it etc.

Full Time Dreamer

Hey guys,
thanks for all the great info and recommendations!!!! Now i can go "in search of" with alot more of an idea of what i'm looking for. If anyone has anything else to add, i'd appreciate it, and if i do come up with a purchase, i'll let ya'll know.
over and out
-Ken Lewis


Originally posted by John Grimm (Vintage Studios):
I think the keyword here was "small guitar amp"
Actually, the JCM800 combo that Jaredbyline was referring to *is* a small amp. It's a single 12" speaker combo. They sound monstrous. Great little amp. I'm also a fan of the Blues Junior; affordable, all-tube, and tone for days. They're harder to find, but the Naylor SuperClub 30s came in a single 12" combo format. I love this amp. It does clean to crunch w/ no bad sounds in between, and it loves stompboxes. I haven't had a chance to test one in the studio, but the Gibson GA-15RV 1x12 Goldtone (the Gibby version of Trace Vellocette) sounded verrrry sweet when I played one in a store recently. The kind of smooth, creamy break-up that makes your knees weak.


Well-Known Member
Mar 28, 2001
Originally posted by Tom Hicks:
My "little old amp" is a 1958 Gibson GA6 w/ 2 6L6s (18 watts?)and 2 12AX7s. It was their version of the Deluxe and will go from clean to scream at living room volume levels. Old Gibbys don't have the "vintage" cachet that Leo's stuff commands today and can be picked up for more reasonable prices. I paid $40 for mine approx 15 years ago. I pulled the stock blue Jenson (which is worth some considerable bucks by itself) and put in an EV12L, recapped it etc.
excellant little amp...
here's my choices...give me a good set of these and I can cut anything (with the matching player & gtrs)

Fender:all pre ' least
Deluxe, Bassman, Twin (Bandmaster's are nice too)

AC30 TopBoost head w/ cabinet

67 plexi w 4x12 cab
Mesa Boogie Dual (or triple) rectifier (for modern heavey distortion)

for solo's....
small (15-30watt) amps by:
Fender, Gibson, Airplane, Supro...ect.


Well-Known Member
Nov 3, 2001
... and don't forget the li'l pignose.. frank zappa has cut a few solos on that

i've also got me an 50's airline amp which sounds beaut (all valve, inc rectifier)

on my record, i'm using the above two amps plus a vox ac-15 for rhythm, and it's good

hope it helps,
paris, france

Kid Klash

IMHO, if you want a great-sounding small guitar amp, check out the new Roland Cube 30. It's a 30 watt two channel switching amp with built in digital effects and amp modeling. It has one 10" speaker and weighs only 19 lbs. Street price is around $225. This little guy is butt-ugly, but it makes up for it's homely looks by sounding better than anything even remotely close to it in size and price... try one out and you'll know what I mean.