The 10 Best Dorm Gifts for College Guitarists

Playing guitar is hard enough under the right conditions. Playing in a dorm room without annoying your roommate is impossible. It doesn’t have to be. The guitar gifts on this list are perfect for the college student. These gifts have to be small and usable in a college dorm room to make the list. Here are 10 of the best guitar gifts for the college student in your life.

Stocking Stuffers for Guitarists (under $20)

To make this part of the list the gift has to be less than $20 and offer some value. I don’t want some $5 guitar shaped key ring in my stocking, and neither does the guitar player in your life.

Guitar Cleaning Tool

The Music Nomad MN205 The Nomad String, Body, and Hardware Cleaning Tool is a handy tool made with premium washable microfiber pad cleans and cleans not only the top of the strings, but underneath as well. Useful for cleaning the dust and grime from the fretboard, bridge, pickups, saddles and all the parts of the guitar. Great for acoustic or electric guitars.

Guitar Humidifier

Acoustic guitars (and hollow body electrics) like to be humid because wood cracks when it dries. Guitars that are left to dry out can cause serious headaches and even costly repairs down the road. It starts with losing intonation and can end with a cracked body, warped neck or more. Read the full list of badness.

The D’Addario One-Way Acoustic Guitar Humidifier is an inexpensive safeguard.

Clip-on Tuner

The Snark SN5X Clip-On Tuner is cheap and one of the most accurate tuners. It’s a no brainer and an invaluable tool for any musician.


Novelty guitar picks are a great and cheap way to express your individual style. Besides, they get lost all on their own so it’s always good to have a few spares.

Guitar Strap

A guitar strap is another cheap way to show your style. Here are a few novelty guitar straps that are less than $20 and small enough for a stocking.


The Shubb Deluxe Series GC-30 (S1) capo is a beautifully designed capo that’s accurate and strong and gentle as a finger on the fretboard. It does exactly what a capo is supposed to do without sending the guitar out of tune. It’s stainless steel design makes it more resistant to wear and tear and it should last a good many years.

New strings

Whether your guitarist plays electric or acoustic guitar, he will need strings. We recommend the Ernie Ball slinky for electric and the Elixir 80/20 bronze for acoustics. They’re a nice bump up in quality, so it really is a nice gift.

Guitarist Gifts over $20

The next gifts on this part of the list are more than the stocking stuffers, but they are not necessarily larger.


A good pair of headphones are essential for keeping your skills on the electric guitar fresh without disturbing the peace. The AKG K 240 Semi-Open Studio Headphones are our choice for best headphone. They are studio headphones, which means you hear what the guitar and amp produce – no bass boost or EQ. This is extremely helpful for recording as it gives a more pure representation of the signal. EQ can then be  be tweaked after recording.

Headphone amp

Amplifiers just don’t get any more quiet or intimate than with headphones. The VOX AmPlug Headphone amp plugs straight into the input of an electric guitar and then the headphones plug into the AmPlug. That’s it.  It’s also silent to everyone without the headphones, so you don’t irk your roommate. Brilliant!


Multi effects pedal

Finally, a good multi-effects pedal is like a headphone amp on steroids. The Digitech Element XP is our choice for multi-effects pedal on this list. The Element XP is pricey, but worth the cost.

  • 58 effects (12 amps, 9 cabinets, 37 stomp boxes)
  • 100 factory presets
  • 20 tone/fx bank combinations
  • Built-in chromatic tuner
  • Built-in expression pedal – for Wah effect, volume swell, overdrive boost, etc..
  • 45 High quality drum patterns

That’s just a few of the features.


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Top 3 Best Bluetooth Speaker Guitar Amplifier Combos

Bluetooth speakers are not that new, and battery operated portable versions are everywhere. What is new is the blending of the bluetooth speaker and guitar amplifier. Most major amplifier brands have come to market with their own offerings. Here’s a list of our top 3 picks in the categories of best overall premium package, best portable package and best for the budget conscious consumer.

BEST PICK – Premium Bluetooth Speaker Guitar Amp Combo

Line 6 AMPLIFi

Up first on this list is the Line 6 AMPLIFi series. I think this is the clear leader in the new bluetooth speaker/guitar amplifier hybrid frontier. Here’s why…

It’s not often easy to be excel in different fields, but the AMPLIFi does and makes it look easy. It delivers great amp tone and features for the guitarist, and serious bluetooth speaker sound for the audiophile. It also looks unique and stylish as a home speaker – so much so that even my wife (who typically hates guitar gear and claims “it all looks like same”) is happy to have it in the family room entertainment center. That’s an award winning feat by itself, if you ask me!

Some amps being promoted as bluetooth speakers sound like, well your smartphone played through a guitar amp. Not so with AMPLIFi. Line 6 delivers a premium quality audio experience, and superior tone control.

In fact, it’s in the control that the AMPLIFi magic really shines.

The Line 6 mobile app, called AMPLIFi Remote, makes it a breeze to record and share your creations or tweak your tone. You can call up a multitude of professionally recorded jam tracks, or any song from your personal library to jam with or listen to whenever the mood strikes you.

But it gets better!

AMPLIFi Remote gives you the ability to automatically match your amp tone settings to the music you’re playing along with. Simply pull up your song of choice, and select the tone matching feature and AMPLIFi Remote will pull the preferred preset from thousands in the cloud. You can also dial up any legendary guitarist’s tone and automatically have their tone for a jam track, or solo work or just whatever you want.

And all of this is free!

Beyond the artist tone matching, AMPLIFi Remote allows you to tweak all the usual settings on a amp as well. AMPLIFi offers a choice of over 200 virtual models of guitar amp and speaker cabinet configurations.

Here’s a snapshot of what’s available:

  •  70+ amps
  •  100+ effects
  •  20+ speaker cabinets
  •  Remotely control all amp and effects parameters
  •  Automatic tone matching
  •  Access thousands of tones online

You can also share your own tones via Twitter and Facebook or rate existing ones on the cloud.

The Line 6 AMPLIFi comes in 30w, 75w and 150w variations and looks modern and stylish in your living room, or just about any room.

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BEST PICK – Portable Bluetooth Speaker Guitar Amp Combo

Vox Adio Air GT

Up next is the Vox Adio Air GT. The Adio is a 50W 2×3 bluetooth modeling guitar combo amplifier that is not nearly as fully featured as the AMPLIFi, but it has strengths that the Line 6 doesn’t have.

As an amplifier, the Adio Air GT provides everything you’d expect from Vox – classic cleans to AC30 and high-gain overdrive.

The Adio Air GT also delivers when it comes to performance as a bluetooth speaker. Adio provides the cabinet resonance of a guitar amp, with the high fidelity and spatiality and depth you expect from stereo speakers.

The uniquely designed cabinet provides an immersive listening experience when paired with your smartphone or tablet. The Adio features a bass reflex construction that uses a flair design to provide excellent low-frequency response, with minimal unwanted noise.

Like the Line 6 AMPLIFi, the Vox Adio Air GT models a wide range of amps (though not quite as many as the AMPLIFi). The Adio uses its VET (Virtual Elements Technology) to model the amp and effects components circuit design:

  •  11 built-in amp models (including the AC30 and a variety of high-gain and clean amps).
  •  The variety expands to 23 when using the Tone Room software.
  •  8 different built-in effects:
    •  4 modulation effects, such as chorus and tremolo
    •  4 ambience-type effects, like delay and reverb
  • 19 total effects available with Tone Room

Where the Vox Adio Air GT comes out ahead of the Line 6 AMPLIFi is in its portability. The Adio is a much smaller package, weighing only 6.39 lbs, and even runs up to 8 hours on 8 AA batteries.

Recording with the Adio is also fairly robust with the inclusion of a USB port and JamVOX III software.

The Vox Adio Air GT is the best pick for portable bluetooth speaker guitar amp combo.

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DEMO (Starts at 0:48)

BEST PICK – Budget Bluetooth Speaker Guitar Amp Combo

Blackstar FLY3BLUE

The FLY3BLUE is a 3w bluetooth version of the original, but the addition of bluetooth makes it the perfect take anywhere practice amp or MP3 speaker dock.

The FLY3BLUE features bluetooth connectivity as well as a line in jack, so it can be used with older MP3 players and smartphones and tablets.

Like the Vox Adio, the FLY3BLUE is a portable, battery powered amp (6 AA), but not as fully featured when it comes to modeling. They only effect available is Tape Delay.

You can also connect the FLY3BLUE to the FLY 103 official extension speaker for stereo setup, but again stereo sound is something available with both the AMPLIFi and Adio without the need for another speaker.

Where the FLY3BLUE comes out ahead though is in price. It’s a fraction of the price of either the Line 6 AMPLIFi or Vox Adio. It also makes the FLY3BLUE the best pick for budget bluetooth speaker guitar amp combo.

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Best Amps for Fender American Tone

If you’re looking for an affordable amp with classic American tones, you’re probably considering a Fender. Fender is synonymous with American tone because of their heavy reliance on 6V6 and 6LV tubes since they came on the scene in the 1950’s, but they’re not the only option. Here are a few of the more affordable Fender amps available today along with a few other brands with their own unique “Fender sound.”

Best American Tone Amps


The X2 is a 15w 1X10″ combo amp with two 6V6 output tubes and a single 12AX7 preamp tube. It’s equipped with a 10 inch Fender special design speaker, dual channel, USB out for speaker emulated recording.

What makes the Super Champ X2 different from other tube amps is that it is also a modeling amp. The X2 has a special “voicing” knob that lets you choose between 16 different amp types (Tweed, Blackface, British, Hot Rod, Metal and more). Also included are 15 effects with effects adjust control and a TAP tempo control for delay time/modulation rate adjustments.

For those who like even more control over their tonal possibilities, the X2 can be plugged into a compute via the USB port and you can then have full control over the amp voicing and effects defaults, effects parameters deep editing, with the Fender FUSE™ software.

The Fender Super Champ X2 currently sells for $379.99.


This reissue of the classic ‘68 Silverface amp sports both reverb and tremelo on both channels, and a tone stack circuit based on the popular Fender Bassman model amplifier. The ’68 Custom Deluxe Reverb reissue is an excellent amp for pedals and the new tone stack redesign reduces negative feedback that often plagued the original.

The ‘68 Custom Deluxe Reverb reissue has greater sensitivity and reaction to your playing, meaning you get a lot more out of the often neglected volume and tone knob on your guitar. Roll off the volume for a cleaner tone, crank it up for more breakup and crunching gain.

The ‘68 Custom Deluxe Reverb reissue features a 12″ Celestion G12V-70 speaker, comes with a fitted amplifier cover and 2-button footswitch and sells for $1049.99.


Much like the ‘68 Custom Deluxe, the Fender ’68 Princeton Reverb has gotten a custom overhaul. This reissue of the famous ’68 Princeton Reverb features a redesigned, modern tone circuit similar to the ’68 Custom Deluxe Reverb reissue. It’s great with pedals and very responsive.

This Princeton reissue is a bit smaller than the ‘68 Custom Deluxe Reverb: the Princeton is 12w with a 10″ Celestion TEN 30 speaker. A fitted amplifier cover and 2-button footswitch are included

Both the ‘68 Custom Deluxe Reverb and the ’68 Princeton Reverb feature Fender’s new (in 1968) silver and turquoise front panel and classy aluminum “drip edge” grille cloth trim look, with classic Fender 6V6 all tube tone.

The ‘68 Princeton Reverb reissue sells for $890.


Epiphone’s “Electar” is an 18w all tube combo amp with a cool vintage style all its own. It owes a lot of its unique style to the fact that this vintage look goes back to 1939 – far further than most “vintage” amps. But don’t let the look fool you, it’s all modern construction and guts inside.

The Electar is powered by two 6V6 output tubes and two 12AX7 preamp tubes, and has a 12″ speaker. Controls include a Master Volume with pull “boost” and a Master Tone. The boost is great for searing treble lead tones, and the Master volume lets you get better overdrive tones at lower volumes. It also has three inputs: Bright, Normal and Dark; which is unique. Also included is a output for a speaker extension to drive a larger configuration external cabinet.

The Epiphone Electar 1939 Century amplifier has the vibe of 1930’s Manhattan, with the modern Fender style tube tone all for only $372.


The VHT 12/20 Special is an all tube combo amp with great flexibility and features. For starters, it ships with a pair 6V6 output tubes but VHT Special 12/20 offers two output-power ranges:

safely located behind the rear panel, a special voltage range switch provides the proper voltages for 6V6 or EL84 output tubes (in 12-watt low-voltage/low-power mode). The high voltage 20-watt setting provides the ideal voltages for higher-power 6L6 or EL34 output tubes.

Beyond that, the Special 12/20 also has a variable Watt control that can reduce the maximum output power to less than one watt. This makes it very handy for home practice.

Lastly, the VHT 12/20 Special has 6V6 tube driven reverb (with variable control depth) and tremolo with slow/fast switch, all for only $750.


The VHT Special 6 is a great deal for anyone looking for an affordable, all tube amp with versatility and gain. It’s got the standard Overdrive and Clean inputs, overdrive, tone and volume controls.

What makes the VHT Special 6 Ultra different is that the volume control has a pull boost which acts as a mid-range gain. The Depth control allows you to vary the output tubes low frequency toll off point, which helps you to sculpt your sound the way you want it for various pickup and cabinet pairings. Also unique to the Ultra is the “Ultra” control knob which controls the level added gain to the output for maximum overdrive.

The VHT Special 6 Ultra also has a power-attenuating watts control which lets you dial in the output wattage from 0.5w all the way to 6w. This is an excellent feature for those looking for an all-tube practice amp that won’t shatter the windows in the bedroom.

Lastly, the VHT Special 6 Ultra features two speaker out lines and variable impedance for 4, 8 an 16 ohm speaker cabinets and a tube-drive effects loop.

Like its big brother (the Special 12/20), the Special 6 Ultra ships with a 6V6 output tube for sweet Fender like clean and rich overdrive tones and 2 12AX7 tubes in the preamp but it can accept a wide range of alternate output tubes as well.

The VHT Special 6 Ultra is quite an attractive all-tube amp and sells for only $399.99.

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The Best Amps for British Tone That Will Give You Vintage Marshall Crunch

Looking to get an amp with that classic British tone, but don’t need a full Marshall stack? Looking for that vintage EL84 tube tone at a price that won’t put you in the poor house? Look no further. Here are some of the best low watt EL84 tube amps on the market today.

You can’t talk about EL84 tubes without talking about Marshall Amplifiers, so what better place to start this list of the best than with Marshall amps?

Best British Tone Amps

Marshall DSL15C DSL Series

marshall_dsl15cThe DSL15C is Marshall’s 15w, all tube combo amp. It’s compact, but packs a punch with classic EL84 tube tone. The DSL15C has two 6L6 tubes in the power section, but the preamp is all EL84s.. three of them to be exact.

15 watts may not sound like a lot, but for a tube amp it’s plenty loud for practice or small gigs. In fact, one of the things that makes the DSL15C so cool is that it has a pentode/triode switch for selecting the full 15w or a half 7.5w of output. That’s a great bit of versatility, and long time readers of this blog know that versatility is a big deal here.

The DSL15C also features a foot switchable gain channel that lets you switch between classic gain and ultra gain. Also present is a “deep switch” that gives your tone a bit of a low end boost.

With all these features and a 12″ Celestial G12E speaker and built in reverb, the DSL15C captures the classic EL84 British sound in a tight little tone package for only $539.99.

Marshall Limited Edition DSL5CCW

Marshall-DSL5CNext up on the list is one of Marshall’s smallest tube amps: the DSL5CCW, 5w 1×10″ all tube guitar combo amplifier. The DSL5CCW is powered by 3 ECC83 tubes and 1 12BH7/ECC99 tube. It’s got 2 channels – classic gain and ultra, and like it’s big brother (the DSL15C) the channels are foot switchable.

Yes, it’s 5 watts of pure British tone but it’s decked out in a cool, limited edition brown Country Western vinyl covering and tan basketweave cloth. What?

This portable little honey is capable of everything from Plexi-style cleans to JCM800-esque snarl to all out high gain crunch for just $499.99.

Orange Tiny Terror 10

Orange amplifiers carry on the British tone heritage that began with Marshall and they do it well.

orange_tiny_terror_10The Tiny Terror 10 is a 15w, all tube 1×10 combo amplifier with wonderful harmonic clean tones and sweet distortion. This amp features gain, tone and volume controls and 3-stage gain with a single 10″ Celestian speaker. With its 2 12AX7 tubes in the preamp and 2 EL84 tubes in the power section, the Orange Tiny Terror 10 cranks out some serious British tone for the surprisingly low price of $519.

The Tiny Terror is a LOUD amp in a compact size and really pairs well with single coil guitars.

Blackstar HT1 Series

Blackstar-HT1RLastly, is the Blackstar HT1 1w, 1×8″ combo amp. Yes, you read that right – 1 watt. Don’t laugh because this little guy is perfect if you’re looking for an all tube practice amp you can actually get some good British crunch tone out of. Good overdrive is all about headroom. Lots of headroom means lots of great clean tone. Less headroom means your tone is going to break up sooner (ie.: at a lower volume). That’s what the Blackstar HT1 does so well.

The HT1 uses a dual-triode 12AU7, wired in a push-pull circuit, to produce the same kind of crunch and break-up characteristics you would find in a traditional 100w amp , but at a much lower volume. Paired with the ISF (Infinite Shape Feature) circuit, you get the ability to sculpt your overdrive tone from sparkly US tone to dark UK crunch and everything in between.

Features include volume, gain, and ISF tone control and overdrive switch. There is also a speaker/headphone output and MP3 line in.

Powered by a single ECC82 (12AU7) tube and a single ECC83 (12AX7) tube in the preamp, the Blackstar HT1 1×8 is the perfect all tube amplifier for recording or practicing.

Perhaps the best feature is the price – an incredible $249.


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Best Guitar Amplifiers Under $100

Whether you’re looking for the best practice amp you can get for your kids or yourself, or even looking for something new to play around with you’ve come to the right place.

Playing with different gear is a great way to get the creative juices flowing and break out of any rut you may find yourself in. There is perhaps no piece of gear that influences your tone and style more than the amplifier. Here are a few low cost amplifiers that should add a little spice to your practice.


Battery powered amps are about as small as you get for traditional solid state amplifiers. They’re not as portable as headphone amps (like the VOX amPlug), but battery powered amps are better for practicing with others. They’re the perfect fit right between the 10-20w practice amp and the headphone amp. And they’re conversation starters.


pignose-7-100The Pignose 7-100 is a unique looking and playing amplifier. It’s genius is its simplicity. It has a single knob that looks like a pig’s nose and is located on the front. That one knob controls the power, volume and distortion. It works with your guitar’s volume knob too, so the tonal possibilities are surprisingly diverse.

At a glance:

  • 5w amp with 5? speaker.
  • Runs on 6 AA batteries or an optional AC adapter.
  • About the size of a shoe box and weighs around 5lbs.
  • Hinged design and can be played either fully closed, wide open or at any point in between.
  • It also has an open space inside that can be used to store the AC adapter or guitar cable when not in use.
  • A preamp out jack which makes it possible to play the Pignose through a larger and more powerful amplifier (or PA) or straight into a mixing board.

The Pignose 7-100 has a distinctive look and sound that is like no other. It’s stylish and funky, and is definitely a conversation starter

The Legendary Pignose 7-100 sells for about $75


blackstar-fly3The Blackstar FLY 3 is a 3 watt mini amp that runs off battery or DC power.

The FLY 3 has standard MP3 / LINE IN jack and a headphone output jack. It’s 3 watts and features clean and overdrive channels and digital ‘tape’ delay effect.

It’s compact and portable and features Blackstar’s patented “Infinite Shape Feature (ISF)”, which lets you vary the tonal character of the amp.

When turned towards zero, it gives a tight, focused, percussive response, characteristic of American amplifiers. When turned towards 10, the response becomes woody, crunchy and warm, like traditional British amps.

The Blackstar FLY3 sells for $59.99


The VOX V9160 Pathfinder 10 Combo Amplifier

vox-v9106-10w-pathfinderThe Pathfinder 10 is like the classic VOX AC15’s little brother. You get classic VOX look and VOX tone at a great price. The Pathfinder 10 has a clean/overdrive switch which lets you choose tones ranging from VOX chime to creamy, warm overdrive.

With its 10 watts of power and custom 6.5 inch speaker the VOX Pathfinder 10 is a great amp for everything from clean leads to crunchy rock and blues. Also included are Bass and Treble EQ, and a lineout/headphone jack.

The Pathfinder 10 sells for $79.99


marshall-mg15cfThe MG15CF is pure Marshall tone in a compact 15 watt combo. It features clean and overdrive channels, 3 band EQ, and MP3/line in jack and a headphone jack. The MG15CF sports the modern Marshall look and is decked out in a bold carbon-fibre exterior.

The Marshall MG15CF sells for only $99


orange-crush-12The Orange Crush 12 is a 12w solid state amplifier with a 6 inch speaker. It also features 3 band EQ, volume and gain controls. The headphone out jack with the Orange CabSim circuit. This lets you emulate the sound of a 4×12″ cabinet through the headphone jack.. Sweet!

The Orange Crush 12 gives you great British crunch tone in a portable practice amp at an affordable price of only $99



The VOX MINI3 G2, Classic

The Vox MINI3 is a 3-Watt amplifier that runs on either 6 AA batteries for up to 30 hours, or an AC adapter. The MINI3 has the distinctive VOX look and great VOX tone.

features include:

  • 3 watts
  • 5″ speaker
  • Clean/Overdrive switch
  • Volume, Gain, Bass and Treble controls
  • Line-out/Headphone processed output
  • 8 editable effects:
    1. Compressor
    2. Chorus
    3. Flanger
    4. Tremelo
    5. Delay
    6. Echo
    7. Spring Reverb
    8. Room Reverb
  • 11 amp models:
    1. Fender Blackface 2×12
    2. Fender Tweed 4×12
    3. Vox AC15
    4. Vox AC30 (with treble boost)
    5. Marshall Plexi
    6. Marshall 80’s
    7. Orange
    8. Fender Supersonic
    9. US High gain
    10. Boutique Clean
    11. Direct line in for use with keyboards or straight guitar with no effects/models
  • Dedicated mic input, with dedicated reverb
  • Aux/mp3 line in

The Vox Mini3 might be the best battery powered amp on the market and sells for $99

Peavey Solo 12W Transtube

Peavey-Solo-12WPeavey’s Solo amplifier is a 12w amp with an 8″ Blue Marvel speaker.

What makes the Peavey Solo stand out from other more basic amps is Peavey’s TransTube technology. TransTube is
tube emulation circuitry that stem from the patented preamp and power amp designs:

The preamp section tailors gain to meet the need for any amount of drive, from crystal clear to thick, smooth sustain. The power amp reacts just like a tube output section by responding to the preamp with natural compression that increases as the amp gets louder. With TransTube, you get a killer amp with wide ranging dynamics and natural “grit,” just like a tube amp!

Other features:

  • Clean and Lead channels
  • 3 band passive EQ
  • ¼” stereo input
  • Direct Out jack
  • Low damping factor for lively tube power amp sound.
  • Headphone jack

The Peavey Solo sells for just $89.99

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Best Cheap Guitar Humidifiers

Acoustic guitars (and hollow body electrics) like to be humid, but not too humid. It’s a balance. Guitars that are left to dry out can cause serious headaches and even costly repairs down the road. It starts with losing intonation and can end with a cracked body, warped neck or more.

Some symptoms of dry guitar include:

• Sharp fret ends
• Neck bow (slight curve in guitar neck bringing the fretboard away from the strings)
• Sunken top
• Lifted bridge
• Lower string height, buzzing notes
• Cracking of the neck and/or guitar body
• Changes in the instruments tone

There are generally two types of humidifiers for guitars: One Way- the kind that adds moisture, and Two Way – the kind that adds and removes to balance overall moisture. The kind that only adds moisture is typically used in parts of the country that suffer dry air during part of the year. The Northeastern United States in the winter months is one example. The second kind can be used during humid seasons (again Northeastern United States in the summer) or humid locations, like Florida. This kind of humidifier will add moisture when it’s dry, and soak up excess moisture when it’s humid.

Here are two of the best of each type for under $20.

D’Addario One-Way Acoustic Guitar Humidifier

This D’Addario humidifier adds moisture to your guitar without damaging the finish because it is suspended by the strings and never touches the guitar body. There are no clips or fasteners and it’s easy to use.

To use this humidifier, simply place the moistened sponge inside the case and place the case between the 3rd and 4th strings. The humidifier just hangs in the sound hole of the guitar so it never touches the body of the instrument, and releases the moisture slowly and evenly keeping your guitar perfectly humidified.

The D’Addario One-Way Acoustic Guitar Humidifier sells for $8.95

D’Addario Two-Way Humidification System

daddario-two-way-humidification-systemThe two-way humidifier is just like the one way above, except that a special packet is used in place of a sponge. This packet maintains a constant 45%-50% relative humidity level within your instruments case. This system eliminates the guesswork of maintaining your guitar’s proper humidity level because it seeks to balance between 45-50% by adding or removing moisture

The D’Addario Two-Way Humidification System sells for $19.13

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The Best Small Body Acoustic Guitars Under $600 (Parlor and Concert)

Whether you’re looking for an acoustic parlor guitar that’s lightweight and easy to travel with, or just looking for a smaller body acoustic for fingerstyle playing you’ve come to the right place. The acoustic guitars on this list are small, durable, well made guitars that sound great, play great and cost less than $600 – and in many cases, just $300.

Small body guitars are great for fingerpickers in either blues, folk or even jazz styles. Their smaller body usually accentuates the higher end of the sound spectrum, making them “brighter” or more treble dominant. They’re great for keeping on hand around the house to help encourage more regular practice, or for traveling with. Great for songwriting too. What they’re not great for is playing gigs in bands, since they lack the body size to project enough sound to compete. Some can also sound “tinny” when strummed aggressively. Some are better than others in these regards though, as you will see.

These are all steel string small body acoustics (no nylon or classical guitars) made by quality builders. There are a few terms to get through before I give you my picks, so let’s get going…

HPL – High Pressure Laminate

As you look over this list of small body guitars you will notice many use something called HPL for the sides and some for the backs.

What is HPL and why should we care?

HPL is short for High Pressure Laminate. Just like furniture Laminate, HPL is formed by layering multiple, thin pieces together to form one stronger solid piece of wood. HPL is where these layers of wood are combined at higher pressure than normal (or LPL) laminate. The result is a more solid and durable composite wood.

What does all this mean for your guitar?

HPL is cheaper than solid wood, so manufacturers can keep the costs down, but it’s better than LPL, or traditional laminate (sometimes referred to as “plywood”). In short, HPL is a compromise to give you a better sounding, cheaper guitar.

In other words, solid wood is still the best but if you want a small body guitar for less than $1,000 you’ll be getting an HPL body guitar.

Besides the cheapness of HPL, it’s also more resistant to weather and climate changes, which means that your guitar is more resistant to the wood cracking or and won’t go out of tune as easily when the seasons change. It also produces a generally brighter sound that can present itself as a “crispness” and is less prone to become “muddy” sounding.

You’ll find some people love HPL guitars and others despise them and disparaginly call them “plywood guitars.”

For what it’s worth, I’ve been playing guitar for over 12 years and have both a solid wood body and a newer HPL body and I love them both. If anything, I find the HPL to be lighter and brighter and often prefer playing it to my solid wood body. The HPL also requires less adjustment and care when summer turns to winter.

12 vs 14 Fret Models

The next thing you will notice when searching for small body guitars is that they are oftentimes grouped into 14-fret and 12-fret models. This does not mean they have only that many frets, rather it’s the number of frets on the neck from the body to the nut.

So, what does the number of frets that clear the body have to do with anything?

Well, in general 12 fret models traditionally have a wider neck than the 14 fret models. They also typically have a shortened scale length (length from the saddle to the nut), which means less string tension which in turn makes for easier bending of the strings. This is one reason you see a lot of fingerstyle blues players with 12-fret models.

Some people say that this also gives 12-fret guitars a richer and fuller sound. This may be true, but I think the type of wood and the strings you use make more of a difference to the sound than the number of frets clear of the body.

Now that you have a basic understanding of the various aspects of small body guitars, we can on to the list. I’ve broken these down into 3 categories:

  • Parlor guitars
  • 12-fret models
  • 14-fret models

Best Parlor Acoustic Guitars Under $600

Parlor guitars were popular in the late 19th and early 20th century and they derive their name from the fact that they were quite small and typically played in the home parlor. These are about the smallest guitars out there, so they’re extrememly portable, light, great for finger picking but don’t project enough sound to fill a large, busy room. They’re ideal for practice, travel, or recording but not for playing in a gig.



Recording King R314KK

The R314KK is part of Washburn’s vintage series that attempts to capture the vibe of turn of the century (20th century, that is..) Washburn models. Basically, they’re built to look like 100 year old instruments, but they are made with modern techniques and modern materials and often sound better than the originals.

The R314KK features:

  • Spruce top
  • Trembesi back and sides
  • Ebony fingerboard
  • Abalone rosette.
  • Bone nut (for better intonation)
  • 24.75″ scale
  • “Distressed” open-gear tuners (to complete the vintage look)

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The WP11SENS is also based on designs Washburn used over 100 years ago, but this is a mahogany model.

It features

  • Mahogany back and sides
  • Pearl dot fingerboard inlays
  • 24.75” scale
  • Natural stain finish
  • Solid cedar top
  • Abalone rosette
  • Rosewood bridge
  • Bone nut
  • Gold open gear tuners

The Mahogany back an sides give it a warmer and more mellow tone than the R314KK.

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TWJP Acoustic Guitar


The Java TWJP is a lightweight, at only 3.8 pounds, but don’t let that fool you – it’s got a big sound for a parlor, reminiscent of a small-bodied flattop from the 1930s.

The TWJP is a classic 12-fret parlor design, with a slotted headstock. It’s well suited for fingerpicking, where it sounds tight and focused, but loses its clarity when strummed hard.


  • Solid cedar top
  • Amara and spalted mango back
  • Amara sides
  • Natural gloss finish
  • Nato neck with sonokeling fretboard
  • 25.5″ scale length
  • Open-back nickel tuners

The Tanglewood Java TWJP is designed in the United Kingdom and made in Indonesia

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Recording King may sound like a new name to some of you, but they actually got their start in the 1930’s as the Montgomery Ward house brand! The brand was discontinued during WWII and rediscovered in 2007. While they don’t have the kind of name and history of Martin, Taylor, Gibson and others they are a good quality manufacturer at reasonable prices.



First up from Recording King is the RPH-05 – their “Dirty Thirties”, dust-bowl inspired Single O.

The RPH-05 features a solid spruce top (though the back and sides are laminate) and makes a great guitar for singer-song writers or folk players. The vintage 30’s look is complete with aged binding and vintage tuners. It’s like stepping back in time!


  • Bone nut and saddle (for better intonation)
  • Satin sunburst finish
  • Vintage-inspired tuning keys
  • White Wood laminate back and sides
  • Rosewood fretboard
  • Nato neck
  • Solid Spruce top
  • 39 x 14 x 4 inches ; 7.5 pounds

The Recording King RPH-05 is a great way to get a vintage vibe and great sound for the budget conscious consumer.

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With the Parlor style guitars out of the way, we now come to the slightly larger small bodied acoustic guitars – the 12 and 14 fret models.

12 fret acoustic guitar models




While not as image conscious as the RPH-05, the ROS-06 is built with the same attention to detail. But what the ROS-06 lacks in vibe it makes up for in refined simplicity.


  • Solid Sitka Spruce Top
  • Mahogany Back & Sides
  • Tortoise shell binding
  • Slotted headstock with rosewood overlay
  • Butterbean tuning keys
  • Bone nut and saddle for better intonation
  • 25 1/4 ” scale

The Recording Kind ROS-06 is a classic 12th fret OOO design with a wide, flat neck is great for fingerstyle and delta blues players. It sounds good when strummed also, which makes it a great entry level guitar as well.

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14 fret acoustic guitar models

As the name suggests, these models have necks that are joined to the body at the 14th fret.



Martin LXM_x_1

The Martin LXM (Little Martin) is by far the most affordable Martin models available today.

LXM Features:

  • Spruce HPL Top
  • Herringbone Style Rosette
  • Mahogany HPL back and sides
  • Birch Laminate neck
  • 23” scale length
  • 1-11/16” white corian nut
  • compensated tusq saddle

While the Little Martin is all incredibly cheap for a Martin, it is made entirely of HPL (i.e. no solid top wood). This makes it very light and resistant to changes in climate (which is great for a travel guitar), but it also gives it a brighter sound than it would have if it was made with solid wood. But it is still made to Martin quality and you’d probably have to add a zero to the end of the price tag if it were a solid wood construction.

All in all, it’s great quality for what it is and the price makes it a little easier to take you Martin camping without worry.

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Martin 000X1AE

The Martin 000X1AE is a 14-fret 000 body acoustic-electric guitar with a smaller body design than the traditional Dreadnought, but a surprisingly full sound. Clarity of sound is provided by the solid Sitka spruce top married to the mahogany grained HPL back and sides. The 000X1AE features Fishman electronics, so you’re all set to plug in and play amplified.

The neck is a modified low oval shape and made of Birch laminate, and has a black Richlite fingerboard and 20 frets total. The Martin 000X1AE has a white Corian nut and compensated white Tusq saddle.

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The recording King RO-310 Classic Series 000 comes in at the top end of this list in terms of price. The RO-310 is a high quality, small body guitar and not just a “take anywhere” kind of guitar.

RO-310 Features:

  • Solid Adirondack Spruce Top
  • Solid Mahogany Back and Sides
  • Scalloped Forward X-Bracing
  • Deluxe Grover Rotomatic Tuners
  • Rosewood Fretboard
  • 1-3/4″ bone nut
  • bone saddle
  • Deluxe Grover tuners

The first thing you will likely notice is the use of solid wood for the top, back and sides. No HPL here! Of course, you’ll pay more for the privilege.

The RO-310’s solid Adirondack Spruce top gives it the clarity and projection to cut through the mix in a band setting, but it’s still a small body acoustic with all the portability and play-ability that comes with that style.

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Taylor guitars is one of the most active brands in the small body acoustic field. If they didn’t start the small body/parlor guitar revival, they were one of the makers who helped propel the style to the forefront of modern guitar styles with the Taylor Baby. The Big baby and gs-mini followed and they keep getting better. It will be interesting to see where Taylor goes next.

BT2 Baby Taylor


Taylor’s BT2 Baby is a 3/4-size Dreadnought acoustic that helped revitalize the small body acoustic guitar market. Sold a as travel guitar, it’s bigger than most guitars in that category today but still very portable. It’s the perfect size (and price-point) for beginning guitarists of all ages or seasoned players looking for something to take wherever they may go.

The Taylor baby features Layered Sapele back and sides, with mahogany top and neck and ebony fretboard. A Nubone (synthetic bone) nut and saddle and Die cast chrome tuners round out the rest of the package.

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As the name suggests, the Taylor Big Baby is the “upsized” version of the Baby. The Big Baby is almost a full-size Dreadnought (15/16 scale) that bridges the gap between the Baby and full size Dreadnought. This one features Layered Sapele back and sides with and Ebony fretboard (the same as the Baby) but Sitka Spruce for the top wood. Click the image for more info on the actual size so you can compare it with the Baby.

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Lastly, we come to one of my favorite small body acoustics available today: the Taylor GS-Mini.

The GS-Mini is the next step on the Taylor’s evolution of small body guitars. It’s the newest in their series; after the Big Baby, after the Baby. The Baby and Big Baby guitars are excellent instruments, but a good luthier is always learning new ways to do things and discovering all sorts of enhancements along the way. All that knowledge gleaned from earlier models has been put into practice on the GS-mini. The result is a small body guitar that sounds like a full body Grand Symphony guitar, and is fun as hell to play.

The Taylor GS-Mini features Layered Sapele back and sides, Sapele neck and Ebony fretboard and Nubone Nut & Saddle. It comes in a Mahogany or Sitka Spruce top wood.

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6 Best Camping guitars under $300

Camping season is upon us, at least it is here in the Northeast…

My family and I are avid campers, but we don’t backpack to remote locations in the mountains. We load up the family car and head off to a very nice, and somewhat secluded state park every year.

This means we have plenty of space for good food, beer and shelter. We don’t rough it, but we do sleep in tents and shield ourselves from the rain with a canopy tarp system.

We don’t have many rules when camping, but electronics are taboo. That means bringing any of the impressive amps that made my list of The 8 Best Portable Battery Powered Guitar Amps is out of the question, and it also means my beloved Pignose 7-100 Legendary Portable Amp stays at home on the shelf as well.

But that’s OK, because it lets me focus my playing on my acoustic guitar.

There’s just something organic and real about playing acoustic guitars in nature. I don’t know how else to explain it.

What makes a great camping guitar ?

Since you’re out in nature, there is a real chance of accidental damage due to sudden rain storm, or the occasional flaming hot coal springing out of the campfire, so you don’t want to be bringing your prized $1,000 acoustic guitar along.

That means the first criteria for a good camping guitar is a low price point. It turns out you don’t have to spend that much to get a good sounding, quality built acoustic guitar.

But low price point alone will likely get you a cheap piece of crap that doesn’t stay in tune or is uncomfortable and just no fun to play.

So that means that the second criteria is quality.

You want an acoustic guitar priced for beginners, with build quality that professionals and long time players expect from a guitar.

Some factors that go into build quality include: use of solid tonewood tops (no laminate!), an effective bracing pattern (bracing on an acoustic guitar strengthens the top against the tension of the strings and also serves to create the guitar’s tonal signature), and lightweight.

The weight is somewhat optional for me, since we pack all our stuff into the car. But if you’re concerned about weight, there are a few nice lightweight models on this list too.

6 of the best camping guitars under $300.

Epiphone DR-212 12-String Acoustic Guitar


The Epiphone DR-212 is a 12 string guitar and delivers great dreadnought sound and style.

This is an incredible buy for the price – the Epiphone DR-212 is not just a 6 string guitar with an extra 6 strings (as some cheaper made 12 string guitars out there), the Epiphone DR-212 is built to Epiphone standards and that means solid structural engineering.

The Epiphone DR-212 has the strength and body support to handle the additional tension of 12 strings, but it’s still fairly lightweight and delivers a balanced, yet crisp tone owing to the use of the all Spruce top.

The Epiphone DR-212 features a solid Spruce top and 25.5″ scale Mahogany SlimTaper neck with rosewood fingerboard with dot inlays.

The Epiphone DR-212 is one of the larger guitars on this list, but given its sound and quality and the fact that it’s a full fledged 12 string guitar, the size is still manageable for a camping guitar… just as long as you’re not backpacking.

Product Dimensions: 44 x 19 x 5.8 inches ; 8.5 pounds

The Epiphone DR-212 currently lists for over $300 but sells for only $199.

You probably won’t find a more versatile, better made 12 string at this price point.

Epiphone DR-100 Acoustic Guitar


The Epiphone DR-100 Acoustic Guitar is essentially the 6 string version of the DR-212. It’s a classic dreadnought body, which makes it well suited to just about everything from bluegrass, folk, rock, country and some blues.

The Epiphone DR-100 features a select spruce top, mahogany body, and neck with 25.5″ scale rosewood fingerboard.

It’s available in Ebony, Natural and Vintage Sunburst finish.

The Epiphone DR-100 sells for about $99 and at 8 pounds and 42 x 18.5 x 5.5 inches, it fits easily in the car or camper.

Epiphone AJ-220S Acoustic Guitar


The last camping entry from Epiphone is the AJ-220S Acoustic Guitar.

Its “bell-like” shape gives the AJ-220S a unique voice in the Epiphone family of Acoustic Jumbo guitars. The tone is strong, but balanced making it sound a whole lot more expensive than it is. The AJ-220S is built to stay in tune and be ready to play when you are.

The AJ-220S features solid Sitka Spruce top, mahogany body and 25.5″ scale rosewood fingerboard with dot fret markers.

The Epiphone AJ-220S Acoustic Guitar comes in Natural and Vintage Sunburst finish, is 43.2 x 18.8 x 5.8 inches , weighs about 7.7 pounds and sells for $199.

Yamaha FG730s


The Yamaha FG730s is at the top of the price range for this list of the best camping guitars under $300, coming in at $299, but it weighs a mere 4 and a half pounds. This makes it the lightest and most portable acoustic guitar on the list as well.

The Yamaha FG730s is built with a focus on bracing, which provides stability and precision and means it stays in tune better, so you can focus more on your playing and less on maintenance.

The Yamaha FG730s ultra-thin finish (only 0.25 mm thin) means more of the the natural resonance of the wood can shine through, and of course makes for a lighter guitar too!

The Yamaha FG730s features solid Sitka Spruce top, and Rosewood fingerboard, bridge, back and sides.

The result of all this great wood and lightweight technology is an acoustic guitar with a clear, balanced tone and incredible control, in a lightweight package.

Product Dimensions: 42.5 x 21 x 6 inches ; 4.5 pounds

Fender CD-140s Mahogany


Next up is the Fender CD-140s Mahogany. This is a dreadnought style acoustic guitar with a really sweet and mellow tone. It features all mahogany top and sides, multiple black/white body binding and is complemented by an elegant tortoiseshell pickguard and mother of pearl rosette design.

It’s much bigger than the Yamaha FG730s, but it’s a must for mahogany lovers, and is a steal at the price. It’s a Fender, so you know it’s made with quality and attention to tone.

If you’re looking for the full sound of a dreadnought at a good price, the Fender CD-140s Mahogany will not disappoint.

The Fender CD-140s Mahogany has a 20-fret rosewood fingerboard with small 3 mm dot inlays and sells for only $199.

Product Dimensions: 47 x 19.5 x 7.5 inches; 8.2 pounds

Ibanez AW400 Artwood


Lastly, we come to the Ibanez AW400 Artwood. This is another dreadnought style acoustic guitar that features a solid Sitka spruce top, mahogany neck (satin finish), back and sides, a rosewood fretboard and tortoiseshell body binding.

It’s part of the Ibanez Artwood series, which means it is a modern construction guitar, built in a traditional style – a “best of both worlds” approach.

The Ibanez AW400 Artwood comes with an upgraded bone nut and saddle instead of Tusq, found in most acoustic guitars at this price point.

The Ibanez AW400 Artwood sells for around $299 and is comparable in size and weight to the Yamaha FG730s.

42 x 19 x 6 inches Weight: 4lbs 5oz

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The 8 Best Battery Powered Guitar Amps Today!

Battery powered guitar amplifiers have come a long way. Technology has advanced to the point where you can now get classic Fender or Marshall tones in an amp about the size of a lunch box.

Better still- you can get classic Vox tones with a built-in beatbox for honing your rhythm chops anywhere you go. Or get virtually 11 different amps all in one, small portable battery powered amplifier.

The times, they are a changing but I think these changes are a good thing.

Here are 8 of the best battery powered guitar amplifiers on the market today, from big-name makers.

Marshall MS-4 Micro Stack Amp Review

The Marshall MS-4 Micro stack is what it sounds like – a miniaturized Marshall Stack.


It’s a 1w battery powered guitar amplifier featuring 2 independent speaker cabs – each with a single 3″ speaker – and an amp head with Gain, Volume and Tone controls. The Marshall MS-4 Micro stack is small and stands only 9 3/4″ tall.

The amp is switchable between Clean and Overdrive modes, and the single Tone control lets you adjust the balance between bass and treble. The Marshall MS-4 Is a playable little amp that is well suited for classic rock and blues, but not jazz or metal.

The Marshall MS-4 Micro stack is powered by a single 9v battery or optional AC power adapter.

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read more for a full review and demo of the Marshall MS-4 Micro stack.

Marshall MS-2

What a great time we live in!


Modern technology has now made it possible to grab the Marshall MS-2 Mini Amp and take that Marshall tone with you – anywhere.

The Marshall MS-2 Mini Amp has that classic Marshall look and crunch, with surprisingly loud volume for such a little thing. it’s just 5-3/4″ high and even includes a belt clip!

It features controls for overdrive, tone, and volume and is powered by one 9V battery.

The Marshall MS-2 Mini Amp is a 1w battery powered amp that makes a great and fun gift or a truly portable practice amp.

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Fender Mini Tone-Master

Last up on the mini Fender hit parade is the Fender Mini Tone-Master Amp. This is a miniaturized version of the classic Tone-Master. As with all amps mini, the Mini Tone-Master provides pretty nice tone – considering its tiny size.


Fender does another exceptional job of keeping true to the authentic Fender details here – cab corners, retro grille cloth, and vintage white control knobs.

The Fender Mini Tone-Master Amp is a small 1w battery powered amplifier that features two 2″ speakers, Gain, Volume, Tone and Power controls. It runs on a single 9V battery (included), or AC adapter and measures 6-1/2″ W x 6-1/8″ H x 2-1/4″ D

Unlike the Fender ’57 mini, the Fender Mini Tone-Master Amp is all plastic, but lightweight and small.

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Clean DEMO:

Distortion DEMO:

Fender ’57 Mini


The Fender Mini ’57 Twin Amp is for all the Fender Tweed fans out there. This is quite simply a battery powered, highly portable version of the original.

Measuring at just 2.8″ x 9″ x 8″ and weighing less than 2 lbs, this is a ’57 Twin for your desk or to just grab and go practice anytime!

The Fender Mini ’57 Twin Amp completely captures the vintage 50’s look from its miniature chicken head knobs, down to its tweed covering and brown grille.

It’s a bit more sturdy than many other battery powered guitar amplifiers out there, since the Fender Mini ’57 Twin is made of real wood and not plastic.

Beyond the vintage look, it’s a rocking little amp too. The Fender Mini ’57 Twin is a small 1w battery powered guitar amplifier with twin 2″ speakers, Built-in distortion, Power, volume, and tone controls. It runs on a single 9V battery or power adapter.

The Fender Mini ’57 Twin Amp would make a nice addition to a game room, or office or bedroom.

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read more for a full review and demo of the Fender Mini ’57 Twin Amp.

Fender Mini Deluxe


The Fender Mini Deluxe looks exactly like a shrunken Fender Hot Rod Deluxe. It even includes identical “dogbone” handle, chrome control plate, mini chicken-head knobs. It’s a 1w, battery powered guitar amplifier with a single 2″ speaker. The Fender Mini Deluxe runs on one 9v battery, and includes headphone out, Volume, Tone and Drive controls.

The Fender Mini Deluxe measures at 5.8″ x 6.2″ x 2.8″ and weighs in at just over 1 lb. It’s highly portable, and great for practice anywhere.

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read more for a full review and demo of the Fender Mini Deluxe.

VOX Mini3 G2 Modeling Guitar Amplifier Review

The VOX MINI3 G2 is quite possibly the ultimate portable modeling amp.


The VOX MINI3 G2, Ivory

It’s powerful and portable enough for street performances or picnics with the family or wherever.

Unlike some other battery powered amps, the VOX MINI3 G2 is not a toy. It’s a serious modeling amp based on the VOX Valvetronix family of amps and includes a new Bassilator circuit that provides richer low-end frequencies, which is great high-gain players looking for a deep metal tone.

The VOX MINI3 G2 features 8 editable effects, 11 amp models and a direct line connection for ultimate clean tone, or portable PA!

The VOX MINI3 G2 runs on 6-AA batteries or AC adapter, weighs 6.6 lbs (3 kg) and measures10.32″ (262mm) x 6.85″ (174 mm) x 8.78″ (223mm).

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read more for a full review and demo of the VOX MINI3 G2 .

Vox AC1 RhythmVOX Portable Practice Amp Review


The AC1 RhythmVOX is not just a great portable practice amp, but it’s a rhythm box too. The RhythmVOX features 66 Rhythm/Song Patterns for rhythm practice and experimentation. From straight forward metronome to song accompaniment with a host of song style beats, the AC1 RhythmVOX is a box of fun.

The quality of the beat patterns is excellent and the tempo and volume of each can be controlled in an intuitive way, so you can quickly dial in the settings you want.

Features include gain, tone, and volume controls, headphone jack, Aux In jack – to jam along with your CD or MP3 player and a pair of 3″ speakers.

Coming in at about the size of a lunchbox (7″W x 2-1/2″D x 5″H) and weighing about 1 lb, the Vox AC1 RhythmVOX is a truly portable battery powered amp, but also runs on AC adapter.

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read more for a full review and demo of the AC1 RhythmVOX.

Orange Micro Crush


The Orange Micro Crush CR3 a 3w battery powered amp from famed Orange Amplifiers. With a single 4″ speaker, overdrive channel, and tone control, this little guy can rock!

The Orange Micro Crush CR3 is all Orange, from the woven grill to rubber footstools and trademark Orange finish. it’s also wood, and not plastic.

The CR3 has a chromatic tuner, headphone jack and runs on a single 9v battery 9or AC adapter).

It may be small, but the Orange Micro Crush CR3 is all Orange and it’s a little beast.

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read more for a full review and demo of the Orange Micro Crush amp.

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