Of course, your best guitar sound can only happen with the aid of your favourite amp and a stack of pedals, but let’s face it: it’s not always necessary. Say you just want to practise some riffs or noodle around with some scales in your living room. Why would you need, or even want, to lug in a sofa-sized amplifier? Especially since there are so many super-compact solutions out there to help shrink down your rig and set you up with a neat rehearsal setup. Here, we take a look at seven of them.
- Headphone Practise Amplifiers
- Multi-Effect Pedals
- Suction-Cup Speaker
- Compact Combos
- Virtual Rigs
- Shrink Your Guitar
- See also…
#1. Headphone Practise Amplifiers
An absolute classic, headphone practise amplifiers have come a long way in the last decade or so. These days, most of these tiny amplifiers can be plugged directly into your guitar or are small enough to slot in your back pocket – plug your headphones in and you’re done. Some models take another step further by building the amplifier into a set of headphones, and depending on the model you’re looking at, you’ll probably get a few extras on the side, including classic amp emulations or even built in effects like overdrive and reverb.
While some guitarists might dismiss them as toy-like aberrations, other guitarists swear by them: mini-amplifiers. Definitely a nice tool for rehearsing at home, these little amps simply produce more volume than an unplugged electric guitar and often come with some built-in effects – which is always nice. They can also look pretty cool.
#3. Multi-Effect Pedals
Since the dawn of the multi-effect pedal, it’s been impossible to think about a guitar-world without it. Even some of the most well-known guitarists on the planet have replaced their mile-long effect chains with these all-in-one monsters and swapped pedal-based tap dancing for one-shot effect triggering. As well as tour-ready models, you can also get super-compact models complete with a headphone output so you can basically set up an extensive mini-rig in the comfort of your bedroom. All you need is a jack lead and the nearest power socket.
#4. Suction-Cup Speaker
Ok, because there’s only one company that actually makes these, it’s not exactly a category in its own right. But the Fluid Audio Strum Buddy is definitely worth a big shout out. Simply stick the suction-cup speaker to the body of your guitar, plug it into the jack port and you’re ready to go. While it’s not exactly loud, the sound is surprisingly good – and certainly good enough for home practice sessions and jamming with mates. It’s also easily recharged via USB.
#5. Compact Combos
If you definitely want something compact but can’t quite stomach a mini-amplifier, or you want a little more volume than a suction-cup speaker can handle, then maybe just go for a compact combo amplifier loaded with a 3 inch to 5 inch speaker? They’re light and easy to move about; they’ll give you decent sound at a decent volume level; some models will feature built-in effects; and some models will even come with a rechargeable battery.
#6. Virtual Rigs
To set up a virtual rig, you’ll need a laptop, tablet or even a smartphone, a small guitar interface and some guitar software. A good example of guitar software is Guitar Rig by Native Instruments (also part of Komplete), or IK Multimedia Amplitube. Both are compatible with Windows and Mac operating systems and grant access to the most extensive library of realistic amplifier and effect emulations. Some interfaces will come with entry-level or even fully-fledged software included, and there’s also an endless list of guitar apps available for iOS and Android devices. If you’re picking out a guitar interface, just always make sure that it’s compatible with your laptop, tablet or phone by checking the specifications.
#7. Shrink Your Guitar
Our final solution is to simply shrink your guitar. How? Well, there are plenty of affordable electric travel guitars out there. You could either get a ready-made and purpose designed travel guitar, where the body and even the headstock has been cut right down, or go for a smaller, literally shrunken ¾-sized model. As well as providing a light and manageable practice buddy at home, either version will fit seamlessly in the back of the car and can even be taken on the train with minimum fuss.
» Headphone Practise Amplifiers
» Mini Amplifiers
» Multi-Effect Pedals
» Fluid Audio Strum Buddy
» Combo Guitar Amplifiers with 3″ to 5″ Speakers
» Guitar Interfaces
» Guitar Software for Windows and Mac
» Electric Travel Guitars