When it comes to portability, guitar and bass amps aren’t usually the first thing that comes to mind.
They are often big, bulky, and heavy. Not something that you can just pick up, throw in a backpack, and off you go.
But that is where battery powered amps come in.
These are designed to be lightweight, compact, and don’t need external power. They are designed for ultimate portability and as the perfect busking gear.
Here are four of the best battery powered amps that you can easily take with you anywhere you go.
Best Battery Powered Bass Amps
The Boss Dual Cube LX is an absolutely incredible little amp. There is so much going on in such a small, compact package.
Right off the bat, I was blown away by just how many features are on this amp. Usually with these portable amps you will get some basic EQ, volume, gain, maybe an extra effect.
The Cube LX is simply stacked. Full 3-band EQ, multiple effects, multiple gain types, multiple rhythms (with variations), and even a looper. At the back you even get a stereo line out.
On top of all these features, the amp also still sounds great. Bass sounds great through this amp. The cleans are clear and crisp, and even the distortion sounds great.
For busking, the Cube LX has multiple connection options. You can either connect with USB or Aux, and it even has Bluetooth if you don’t want to mess around with extra cables.
You are going to need some extra batteries. The Cube LX uses 8 AA batteries. I am sure the extra batteries are to compensate for the added features, and I didn’t notice it running out of power faster than other amps.
The big downside here is the price. The Cube LX is quite a bit more expensive than other battery powered amps.
But the price makes sense considering everything it does. I also feel like it is more than worth it. The looper alone justifies the price for me.
Blackstar is an outstanding amp company. While many other manufacturers have focused on making their larger amps more practice-friendly, Blackstar has gone in the opposite direction to try and make their small practice amps more powerful.
The Blackstar Fly 3 shows that this endeavour has certainly worked. For a little 3-watt amp, the Fly 3 is loud. It also sounds fantastic.
But that isn’t too surprising. Blackstar amps are known for their incredible sound, but even for its small size, the Fly 3 stacks up quite well against its larger cousins.
Bass sounds great through this. There is more than enough low end here so that your bass doesn’t sound thin.
In terms of features, the Fly 3 is fairly bare bones. You get volume, gain, EQ, and compression. Considering this is meant as a practice amp, I think you are getting all the controls you will likely need.
A really cool feature on this amp that I like is the SUB control. This adjusts the level of the octave below what you are playing. Basically, this control beefs up your bass sound, giving you more low end.
This amp is just overall fantastic. It works as a great practice amp, but is equally great for busking, taking it with you on holiday, whatever.
Its compact size and light weight makes it extremely portable. You can easily throw this amp in a backpack to take it anywhere.
And all of this for less than $100. What more could you want?
The JOYO Mini Bass is quite the interesting little amp. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of other battery powered amps, but what it does have is quite good.
The first thing that caught my eye with this amp is its design. It has a very sleek, ultra-modern look. The aesthetic of it is quite minimal, something that I am a bit of a fan of.
That minimalist design carries over to its controls. You are only getting volume, tone, and gain. You also get a headphone and aux input, along with a normal/drive switch.
The amp sounds pretty good for its size and price. The tone is great both clean and overdriven. You aren’t getting an overly vibrant bass tone here, but it isn’t dull and flat either.
The tone control also doesn’t add too much variety. I ended up keeping it somewhere just over half way.
Volume is perhaps the biggest let down. This is a 10-watt amp, so it has a decent amount of volume. But there are 5- and even 3-watt amps out there that blow this amp out of the water.
I do like that you can attach a regular guitar strap onto this amp. This lets you walk around with the amp while playing.
It is fairly lightweight, so the added weight isn’t a problem. What I did find was a problem was the amp’s size. It tends to get in the way or slips to the back, making it harder to here. I was constantly adjusting the amp while carrying it. You also need a spare strap since the amp doesn’t come with one.
Laney is no stranger when it comes to making exceptional amps. Their Mini Bass NX takes that high quality and puts it into a small, portable practice amp.
The Mini Bass NX is a very well made, cool looking little amp. It feels solid and has a sleek, almost unassuming look.
The sound is also quite decent, but does fall a bit short for me. I noticed a bit of boxiness when the tone and tilt is set flat. Turning up the tilt does clean up the sound a bit, and rounds out the tone quite nicely. I would recommend setting the tone and tilt high, then dialing them back to get a fuller bass sound.
What is really cool about this amp is the LSI connection. This allows you to connect the amp to a smartphone or tablet with the included LSI cable.
This effectively turns the amp into a modeling amp. You can then use the Tonebridge app to change the sound of the amp from a selection of thousands of bass tone.
Say you want to practice a specific Red Hot Chili Peppers or Metallica song, you just need to search for it on the app, and voila, the correct bass tone. I really appreciate features like this since they make practicing so much easier.
This is definitely a practice amp only. The amp has quite a bit of volume, but I think you might have a hard time with it busking on a busy street.
Choosing the Right Battery Powered Bass Amp
When considering to get a battery powered amp, there are a few things you should consider.
Of course, this is probably going to be your top priority. The point of a battery powered amp is to be as portable as possible, considering how large and unwieldy bass amps can be.
Luckily, most battery powered amps are portable enough. Most are small and lightweight enough that you can put them in a backpack or case along with everything else you need (cables, pedalboard, etc.)
While some battery powered bass amps are going to be a bit more portable than others, they are all more portable than a standard bass amp. They are the ideal amps to use for busking.
Volume and Versatility
This will be up to what you want to use the amp for. If you are just going to use it for practice, then you won’t need something too loud with a whole bunch of features.
The Laney Mini Bass NX and JOYO Mini Bass are both fantastic practice amps that you can keep on your desk or backstage. They aren’t very loud, but are perfect for warming up or practicing.
If you are planning on using the amp for busking as well, then you will need something with more volume and features. The Boss Dual Cube LX would certainly be my choice for this purpose. It is super loud for its size and packed with great features. A very versatile amp.
The type and amount of batteries the amp uses doesn’t matter too much in my opinion, but can affect how convenient you think it is.
Most amps will need 6 AA batteries, but some can need more or less. This will determine how many batteries you need to carry with you (you always need spares).
Some amps, however, use rechargeable battery packs. This are much more convenient, but can sometimes not be replaced or are difficult to replace.
These days you can also find amps that run on USB battery banks, the same ones used to charge smartphones. These are probably the most convenient since most of us already have battery banks lying around, but they are also fairly cheap and easy to replace.
Battery powered amps are fantastic. They are highly portable and more than capable as practice amps and even busking amps.
If you are looking for something portable and convenient, a battery powered amp is a great investment.