Best Lightweight Amps For Gigging

Lugging around equipment from practice to home, to gigs and back is a time-honored tradition that most guitarists would rather live without. Nothing comes in as backbreaking as trying to carry a 2×12 tube amp wherever you go. Let alone a stack! It’s no surprise, then, that many musicians find themselves on a quest for the ideal lightweight guitar amp for gigging.

Of course, in doing so, you have to be careful not to sacrifice the sound quality and punch of a great amp. Especially if you love the saturated distortion of a tube amp. Fortunately, in today’s market for gear, there are a few great options that can give you the sound you’re looking in an easy-to-carry guitar amplifier.

In this article, we’ll give you the 3 best lightweight amps for gigging.

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

The Quest For The Perfect Gig-Worthy Lightweight Amplifier

For myself, as a young guitar player growing up in the 90s, I often dreamt of having a wall of Marshall Full Stack Amplifiers lined up across the stage as I shredded a guitar solo that echoed across an ocean full of people. People crowd surfing as the explosive wind from the sheer volume of my speakers blew the shirts off girls in the front row.

Hey, everyone can dream, right? Well, in the meantime, I bought a Steve Vai Legacy Series combo amp by Carvin. It was a 2×12 combo and it weighed an absolute ton. It was also way louder than I needed it to be for rehearsal and small venues. But, it sounded great! (Man, I really do miss that amp)

That being said, as life experience would soon prove, for most of my scenarios, you only needed a 30 40 or 50 Watt Tube Amp. Even at larger venues, you’ll then be micing the amp through the PA anyway. But, solid-state amps are much lighter.

Wait, Solid State Amps For Gigging?

If you’re anything like me, you might love the luscious sound of tube saturation. Because of this, many people aren’t fans of solid-state amps. That being said, many great guitarists have put out some killer records using solid-state amplifiers.

Fortunately for us, we now have access to modeling amps that can adopt just about any sound you want to. You can even make a quality modeling amp sound just like a Tube amp. MAYBE, with A/B testing, YOU could tell the difference, but nobody in the audience will.

Sure, you might feel it directly in from of your amp, but by the time the amp is mic’d through a PA, or ran through the board of a studio, you’ve lost most of that anyway. And, either way, they sound great.

They’re also way more reliable than a tube amp and you never need to change the tubes. Oh, and most importantly, they make the perfect lightweight gigging amp.

You just might even save yourself thousands of dollars at the chiropractor!

1. Fender Tone Master Twin Reverb

33 lbs

Fender Tone Master Twin Reverb Guitar Amplifier, Black

🥇Editors Pick

Features

  • Models Fender’s iconic ’65 Tube Driven Twin Reverb
  • 200W
  • 2 x 12″ Cab
  • 5 attenuated settings
  • Cab simulation for recording and PA outputs

Pros

  • Excellent pedal platform
  • Massive sound perfect for gigging
  • Attenuation allows for low-volume play with excellent sound quality

Cons

  • Only 1 amp model
  • Built-in effects are limited to reverb and tremolo
  • No effects loop

Coming in at 33 lbs, Fender’s Tone Master Twin Reverb is a beast of a gigging amp. This is my #1 pick, because of its incredible ability to capture the authentic sound and feel of a ’65 Twin Reverb. This is the ideal pedal platform, it has enormous headroom, a growling low-end and sparkling top-end sound.

While it’s compatible with most genres of playing, Fender Twin combos have been famously used by Stevie Ray Vaughan, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, David Gilmour, Chuck Berry, Eric Clapton, The Beatles, Keith Richards, Joe Monamassa, Ted Nugent, Kurt Cobain and Jack White.

2. Boss Katana Artist MkII 1×12″

38 lbs

Boss Katana Artist MkII 1x12" 100-watt Combo Amp

Most Versatile

Features

  • 100W Combo Amp with Waza Craft G12W Speaker
  • 5 amp voicings including an acoustic amp setting
  • 60 Effects customizable with Boss Tone Studio
  • Cab-emulated outputs
  • Effects Loop

Pros

  • Great sounding effects and amp modeling
  • Handles pedals well
  • Available GA-FC foot controller

Cons

  • You’ll want to adjust EQ from preprogrammed effects for gigging
  • You’ll probably have to upgrade firmware to use with Boss Tone Studio

At 38 lbs, the Boss Katana Artist MKII is actually the heaviest amp on our list. But, it’s easily the most versatile amp and definitely lightweight enough for gigging. Especially when compared to its Tube driven counterparts.

With 5 amp voicings and a plethora of onboard effects, there aren’t many sounds you can’t get out of this amp all on its own. But, it’s also an excellent pedal platform if you prefer your own effects pedals. Speaking of which, it’s the only amp on our list with an effects loop.

I’d recommend grabbing the optional GA-FC foot controller to go with it if you’re planning to rely on the onboard effects. You can also add an expression pedal for Wah/Volume.

Lastly, make sure to follow the instructions carefully when updating the firmware. You can do damage to your amp by using the wrong model update or manually renaming the file.

3. Line 6 Spider V 120 MKII

30.8 lbs

Line 6 Spider V 120 MKII, Black

Best Budget Lightweight Amp

Features

  • 120W Combo Amp with 12″ speaker and tweeter
  • 78 Amp models, 24 cab models and over 100 effects
  • Built-in looper
  • Metronome and drum loops

Pros

  • Tons of built-in effects
  • Control effects with Spider Remote App
  • Compatible with FBV 3 Pedalboard
  • Great for practice

Cons

  • No effects loop
  • This sound thins out a little at louder volumes

The Line 6 Spider V 120 is not only the most affordable, but also the lightest gigging amp on our list. It’s also very versatile offering a plethora of features and impressive amp models, cabs and effects.

One notable feature that needs mentioning with the Spider V 120 is the bi-amped full-range speaker system, which includes a 12″ speaker and a tweeter. This is something you never really see in a guitar amplifier and is used to deliver clear and balanced sound, making it great for playing to jam tracks.

Another component that makes this amp great for gigging is its built-in wireless receiver. Add on the Line 6 Relay G10TII wireless transmitter and you don’t have to worry about tripping over your guitar cable.

Of course, the Spider V is compatible with Line 6’s FBV 3 Pedalboard which offers complete control over the amp, along with an expression pedal. You can even adjust your effect parameters with the Spider Remote App.

While the Spider V 120 offers impressive performance at moderate volumes, some users may notice traces of digital modeling affecting the amp’s response at higher performance levels. The editing process from the front panel may be a little challenging for some guitarists, but the Spider Remote app provides a user-friendly alternative.

Conclusion

Finding the perfect lightweight guitar amp for gigging doesn’t have to be hard. With the advancements in technology, there are some great combo amps available that can give you the sound you desire in a portable and easy-to-carry package.

Ultimately, your ideal lightweight guitar amp will depend on your personal preferences and needs. Consider factors such as sound quality, portability, versatility, and budget when making your decision. With the right amp, you can enjoy the convenience of easy transportation without compromising on the tone and performance you desire.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *