Roland Micro Cube. It weighs in somewhere between 7 and 8 pounds, and it sounds pretty good.
It only puts out 2 watts RMS, so the amp will not give the fullness of a 50 watt Marshall Stack. But for bedroom playing or even miking the amp to play at small functions, it is super.
The amp comes with five amplifier models, which include JC Clean (modeled after a Roland JC 120 amp), Black Panel (modeled after a Fender Twin Reverb), Brit Combo (modeled after an overdriving Vox AC30), Classic Stack (modeled after a Marshall JMP amplifier) and the R-Fier (modeled after a Mesa Boogie Rectifier amp).
Additionally the amp has an Acoustic simulator setting that produces a sound similar to a Boss Acoustic Simulator pedal. The amp also has a vocal preamp setting, which sounds extremely dry and flat when playing guitar. I would think few people use this feature.
The amps two watt output is fed into a five inch Roland speaker. Most folks find the stock speaker to be flabby and at times it rattles. Replacing the speaker is a fairly simple task. Electrovoice makes a nice 30 watt-five inch model that sells for around $30 US.
The Micro Cube comes with several effects that are based on the companies Digitech/Boss line of pedals. This includes a potentiometer for either delay or reverb and another for Flanger, Phaser, Chorus, and Tremolo. The amp comes with an output knob and a gain knob. On the downside it has only a single tone control.
Roland has built this amp to be nearly indestructible. The speaker grill is made of honey-coned metal and the chassis is solid wood.
The Micro Cube runs on six AA batteries or the wall-wart style transformer that comes with the amp. It also has a nice, but small guitar-strap style handle that hooks on to the two guitar strap buttons on the amp’s opposite sides. A new Micro Cube will set you back $129 US.
Vox took on Roland and came out with a more powerful amp, 5 watts, with a few more sounds.
This amp had 11 sound options, including an acoustic simulation. It also came with 11 built-in effects, which include phaser, chorus, flanger, tremolo, rotary speaker simulation, auto-way, compressor, delay and reverb. By mixing these effects, a player can come up with 11 different sounds. A tap button allows the player to set the speed of the effects modulation. It also has a noise reduction circuit.
Like the Roland, the Vox DA5 runs on six AA batteries or a transformer, which is included. It also comes with an audio input jack so you can connect a CD or MP3 player. There is also a microphone input. The headphone/line out jack allows you to connect to a mixer for PA and recording work.
The Vox Mini 3 comes with 11 amplifier models, that include, boutique clean, tweed, California metal, U.S. high gain, AC30, AC15, UK ‘70’s, UK ‘80’s, UK ‘90’s as well as others.
This one channel amp has input for guitar, plus one mic input and an auxiliary input. The headphone jack doubles as a line out.
Like most of the other miniature modeling amps, this one weighs in at around 7 and ¾ pounds and comes with a carrying strap. The speaker is a Vox 5” model.
It was Line 6 that started amplifier modeling and they offer the Line 6 Micro Spider. It is a 6 watt amp with a 6.5” speaker. (Can you see a theme of manufacturers adding on bells and whistles and louder wattage, from what the original Roland amp offered?)
The Micro Spider offers four guitar sounds, Crunch, Metal, Insane plus an acoustic guitar sound.
Additionally it comes with six Smart Control effects including Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, Tremolo, Sweep Echo (with tap tempo), Tape Echo (with tap tempo) and Reverb. The amp includes an integrated chromatic tuner, mic input and trim knob.
This little guy is powered by six C batteries or through its wall transformer.
One advantage of owning a Line 6 Micro Spider is access to “Spider Online”, which is a free web resource for registered Spider amplifier owners. This site offers over 300 lessons, 100 jam tracks played by top L.A. and Nashville session musicians and hundreds of tones that download into some of the Spider amps that support USB connectivity and on-screen display for those amps that do not have that feature.
The Micro Spider sells for $134.99, which is 5 bucks cheaper than the Roland Micro Cube.
Mustang Mini guitar amp. It runs on an AC power supply or six C batteries.
This little power house features eight built-in amplifier models and twelve onboard effects. However the amps eight effects can be modded to provide 24 preset sounds.
The amp has an onboard chromatic tuner and resembles a small version of the other amps in Fender’s Mustang line. The metal handle can be used as a tilt-back stand.
Aside from these miniature digital amplifiers, there are a few analog amplifiers worth mentioning.
There are two guitar strap buttons on this amp, so you can wear it over your shoulder while playing.
Pignose Industries offers the Hog 20 and the Hog 30 amplifiers. Each comes with larger speakers and rechargeable batteries and more tone options.
Smokey Amps were invented by guitar builder Bruce Zinky. Zinky worked at Fender and struck out on his own. He fashioned a cheap amplifier that sold for around $25 that fit inside an empty cigarette pack.
You can plug headphones into the Smokey, play it through it’s built in 1” speaker or use it to power a double stack of Marshall Cabinets. The price of the Smokey is $32, but street price is around $28.
Electro Harmonix 22 Caliber amplifier looks like a guitar pedal. However this is a 22 watt solid state amplifier that can power any size speaker cabinet. This amplifier features a single volume control and a tone switch to give you a normal/flat setting or bright/top end boost.
The 22 watt model is powered by an 18 volt power supply that comes with the amplifier, while the 44 watt model uses a 24 watt power supply.
Both are small enough to fit in a guitar case or gig bag.
Finally the good folks at Danelectro have come out with a couple of small amplifiers that are worth mentioning.
Hodad DH1 is a miniature battery powered amplifier that comes with twin two inch speakers and a tremolo and echo effect.
Hodad DH2 is similar, but comes with tone, gain and an on/off volume control. Both amps emit one watt of power.