The best practice amps for pedals

Deciding on a practice amp can be a challenging decision with so many options and features available in today’s market. Especially with the added dilemma of trying to decide which practice amps you can use with your pedals.

Including your pedalboard in your practice routine can be an important factor, so that you also develop the subconscious instinct to quickly find your tone and make adjustments on the fly. In a performance setting, just as your guitar should become an extension of you, so should your effects pedals.

We have found that the best guitar practice amps for use with pedals include the Laney CUB-SUPER10, the Blackstar HD-20R MKII, and the Vox AC10C1. Small, low-watt valve amps such as these are ideal for use as a pedal platform due to their good headroom, good tone at low volumes, and overall versatility. 

Whatever your choice, a good practice amp should have a solid clean tone, plenty of headroom, and adequate EQ capabilities. But the trick is having all that, and still being able to play at low volumes.

These make up the minimum, baseline criteria to look for when adding additional effects, especially drive or distortion.

With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at three of the best practice amplifiers for use with guitar pedals. 

(Also, check out The Best Lightweight Guitar Amps For Gigging)

Laney CUB-SUPER10

(View price on Amazon)

Laney Electric Guitar Power Amplifier, Black (CUB-SUPER10)

Features:

  • 6 Watt output
  • 10-inch custom speaker
  • Built-in FX loop
  • 2x preamp valves
  • 1x power amp valve
  • Dedicated line out
  • 3-band EQ tone stack
  • Footswitch compatibility
  • Watt attenuation down to 1 Watt

The Laney CUB-SUPER10 is not only a great little amplifier, but it also happens to be our #1 recommended practice amp for using with pedals. Laney has been making some of the best tube amplifiers in the world since the ‘60s, and they are a go-to brand for many guitarists, especially for practice amplifiers. 

The CUB-SUPER10 is a 6 Watt tube amp that has a unique valve configuration. This amp has two preamp valves and one power amp valve but is set up to be in a Class A configuration, which means the valves are driven at constant maximum output. 

This configuration combined with only 6 Watts of output means that this amp produces a solid yet vibrant clean tone with plenty of natural tube compression. This Laney has Watt attenuation down to 1 Watt, which makes it a great platform for guitar pedals and practicing at low volumes. These features make the CUB-SUPER10 one of the best-sounding practice amps available. 

The nature of small tube amps is such that they work very well with guitar pedals, and this remains true for the Laney CUB-SUPER10, as it has a lot of useable headroom and significant output performance for a small amp. 

This amp also has a built-in FX loop that allows guitar pedals to run in between the preamp valves and power amp valves, granting you the ability to run effects pedals in different stages of amplification. 

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Blackstar HD-20R MKII

(View price on Amazon)

Blackstar HT-20R MkII 20-Watt Guitar Combo Amplifier Bundle with Gearlux Instrument Cable, Picks, and Austin Bazaar Polishing Cloth

Features:

  • 20 Watt output
  • 2x preamp valves
  • 2x power amp valves
  • 1×12 output speaker
  • Clean channel with 2 voicings
  • Overdrive channel with 2 voicings
  • Built-in effects loop
  • Footswitch included
  • Attenuation down to 2 Watts
  • USB audio recording out
  • Direct Output via XLR
  • Built-in digital reverb with independent control

The Blackstar HD-20R MKII is among the best practice amps available right now. This 20W tube combo amplifier is ideal for practice, but it boasts an impressive tone and a great set of features, making it highly versatile as well. 

This amp has two overall channels, one for clean tones and the other for overdriven tones. Each channel is equipped with two voices that change the EQ and gain balance to generate different tones within the same channel. 

The good range of audio outputs makes the HD-20R MKII ideal for use as a practice amp, as it can be used as a direct-out for recording via USB directly into a DAW or via XLR into an interface.

The feature that makes this amp great for use with guitar pedals is the ability to attenuate down to 2 Watts. This ability means that the amp can be used with powerful overdrive and distortion pedals to generate a fantastic tone without being too loud for use in a small practice room. 

Vox AC10 Custom (AC10C1)

(View price on Amazon)

VOX AC10C1 Guitar Amplifier Head

Features:

  • 10 Watt output
  • 2x preamp valves
  • 2x power amp valves
  • 1×10” Celestion VX10 speaker
  • 2-band EQ control
  • External speaker send
  • Built-in reverb
  • Built-in gain control

The Vox AC10C1 is a simple yet iconic amplifier. This is a modern take on the original Vox AC10, which was discontinued in the ‘60s and serves as an improvement on Vox’s original practice valve amp. 

The AC10C1 is an amplifier that you have to experience to believe. The patented Vox Top Boost tone circuit provides this amp with a unique tone that compliments the classic British tone that this amp is designed for

This amp features two preamp valves, two power amp valves, a Celestion VX10 1×10 driver that delivers a crisp and clear tone, 2-band EQ controls built-in gain and reverb, and a healthy portion of classic British style. 

This practice amp from Vox does not have the same wide feature set as other amps in its class, but the tone capabilities of this amplifier, combined with its ability to receive guitar pedals with excellence, make it a fantastic option for anyone who enjoys true tube tone

Using pedals with this amp is simple yet highly effective. The speaker in this amp, combined with the unique wiring system and the responsiveness of the valves, means that there are very few amplifiers that can receive a full pedal rig with the same results

Conclusion

There are many fantastic practice amplifiers, but many of them aren’t built to withstand external effects, especially in the gain stage. The best pedal amps for practice are small, versatile tube amps with enough head room to handle pedals, but are still capable of playing at low volumes.

All of the guitar amps on this list are ideal for any musical style and can be paired with whatever pedal combination you might throw at them. We consider these to be of the highest quality, while remaining pretty affordable.

Consider the features in a practice amp that are right for you before making any purchases, and you will be well on your way the perfect rig!

Also, check out our list of best pedal platform tube amps..

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