Cool small amps


I’ve been recording with this for the fun of it the last few days - and it sounds darn good! Got it about 20 years ago for a practice amp, loaned it out and it disappeared for a few years, finally made its way back, you know how that goes - anyway, it’s kind of groovy to put the nice Rode NTK on a 20 dollar amp - so, tell me, what cool small amps have you guys found useful?

our local guitar shop used to sell these tiny little battery powered novelty practice amps… the whole thing was only about 6" wide or so… oh i can hear the tone now. never recorded one though.

kinda similar to this, but not a marshall:–MSHMS2

How about an old CRAIG (remember them?) 8-Track recording deck? I used to run my guitar into one line input and dime the record level knob. Of course the corresponding line-out went to our Kustom POS PA head. I did not own a guitar amp. That thing made the grungiest, nastiest distortion… you should’a seen the poor Vu meter while I was flailing away… :D :D Ah, the memories… ah to heck with 'em! I like my Carvin TOOB amp MUCH, MUCH better…

Sorry CRAIG, endorsement deal is off…


EDIT** I forgot… seems like the guitar went through an old transistor phono pre-amp… THEN through the 8-Track… I was h#!! on dads patch cords what with stealing them all the time…

As far as I know… and they are still used in the Tracking Studios… Everywhere… They are called “PigNose” amps… There seems to be several ways to use them…

1 Use a Lo-Powered battery eliminator for POWER…

2 Use almost DEAD Battries for power… Those Camps say that Battry eliminators are Noisy… ?? well…

I think they work on 6Volts… normally… But the circuit will work on higher voltages… So… power them with 12-18 volt adaptors… The resolves for Guitar Tracks never ends… But they all agree… You stick an SM-57 in front of it…

I used to remember the guys comming into the shop… wanting their PigNose Amps fixed… I think they powered them with two 12 volt Motor cycle Battries in series… The circuit didn’t like 24 volts… lol… :O :laugh:


Where would all “US Bed Trackers” be, without all these “TuddY” Guitar Track overdubbers? ??? :O :p

Among other things I´ve got this old 60´s italian amp called Geloso. I think it´s 15 watts and originally intended for hifi. Right now I´m using it with a 5" speaker installed in a wine cabinet. Sounds just great - as long as i don´t crank it up. I also have a Teisco head that´s very Vox-like. I use a Musicyo battery amp when things get too pretty - that´ll prevent this ???

The original Thomas Organ Company manufactured Vox Pathfinders are cool. I haven’t played the newer ones, but the old ones have a great buzzy tone when driven hard.

the Silvertone guitar case amps totally rock. Never pass one of these by if they’re cheap. Easy to fix, easy to learn something about tube circuits on. In fact, any of the small Silvertones (the “Meteor” is another good one…) are fun and very usable.

Anything made by Valco. Mostly these are small, low powered tube amps built in the late 50’s and early 60’s for Silvertone, Gretsch, Supro, and some other companies. Again, easy to fix and great sounding with good tubes and new caps. I must have had 5 or 6 of these in the studio over the years and all have been very nice.

the Fender pro Junior is modern, and kinda pricey new, but also sounds wonderful. It’s got a PCB mounted input jack which sux, but it’s not hard to change to a real jack.

We have an old portable Sony 1/4" reel machine that has built in speakers. The heads are shot so it won’t record, but the electronics work and you get that nice discreet transistor overdrive going on with it.

actually the Pignose (7-100 model) amp works at nine volts - I checked, mine has six 1.5 volt AA batteries inside…

As you said, they’re great, great recording amps. They even let you select between open back and closed cabinet!:p

Hi Mwah:
You’re probably right… It seemed to me that the early ones that I remember seemed to have a battery clip that held “C” or “D” sized cells… If I remember, when it was loaded with battries and you picked it up, it had a nice hefty feel to it… Whatever sized speaker it had… It was great looking speaker, for it’s size… A good magnet structure… If I remember, they weren’t cheap… They were 59-69 bucks, back then… Most of the guitar players, that were up-and-down the road, had one of them… When they were in the motel rooms or in the studios they used them… On the BarRoom Stages they had these BIG StaCKS… They needed a Step Ladder to Twist-the-Knobs, on the AMP… :p


Heres couple of cool ones…first a Peavey Bravo literally a stack in a box for 2bills or less, and a very obscure one…I’m a school teacher and most schools are pack rats. I saw some of those OLD record players that are an all in one deal. you lift the lid and it has an on/off and maybe one tone knob. Well some of the older ones were 80 watt tube amps in there and with a little bit of work you could bypass an unneeded circuit because the schematic was glued into the lid then you could isolate the amp only. some are solid state but the real old ones were tube. straight class A tube! So go to your local school and in the atticks I bet you can still find them.


Yes, Bill, the Pignose speaker is wonderful.

I actually bought the thing to live use, when I was playing in a theater production. The two first acts were outside and the only electricity was coming through dimmers to the small lightning rig, so mains power was no go. We musicians (me with the guitar and a djembe player) had our own stage behind the audience (we had roof but the actors didn’t, because the djembe had a real skin head that would have gone bad with any rain). Our stage had a piece of veneer as a back wall, so I put the Pignose near the wall and away we went… with the amp in full power, the volume was just right for the show.

The third act was indoors (in an old stable) and we had a small PA hidden behind the scenery. I used a ART mic pre between the guitar and the PA amp.

What a great story…POST…

It’s rare, for musicians to have the oppertunity to play for Theatre Work… It should be a requirment for kids comming up , to have to do that type of work… It’d teach them some disipline… Well…

What do I know… ???


I got one of the silvertone amps, but not where you would expect - it was in one of those vacuum cleaner motor powered organs. 25 bucks at a resale shop - the organ was shot, but it worked by stsicking two really bad mics above the reeds and sending them to what turned out to be a silvertone amp. So I pulled the amp, it is now hooked up to an EV coronet speaker - which I found at rummage sale, paired with a KLH model 6 all for 35 cents! Oh, the mics from the “organ” are also rather cool, sound like really cheap “green bullet” replacements. :)

Yeah, Bill, I liked the theatre gig. Been a few years, that last one (an adaptation of Yukio Mishima’s Madame de Sade) was pretty hard project for the director so he moved to other fields and haven’t directed since.

A theatre gig has all the good things of being in the band (like the companionship in a talented group, the spirit and the creativity), plus the fact that all the gigs are booked beforehand, and it won’t drag on forever, but ends in a predetermined date. :blues:


Small amps are great for recording!

Though not quite in the same league as the other posts, I got some great tone from a little Peavey Backstage 20 practice amp, back in the late 70’s early 80’s. I was playing some of those old tapes for a friend – a very talented guitarist – a couple years ago and he was dying to know how I got the killer tone on the lead guitar!

It was just a cheap National Les Paul copy through an MXR DynaComp to the Peavey, miked with an ATM830 (inexpensive battery-powered medium diaphram condenser), and then a little Roland Chorus Echo. In an untreated bedroom (college era living quarters …)

Those Peavey Backstage 20 Amps became as Standard as a Fender Delux Amp… Some of the guitar players used two of them… With an active foot-switch… For No-Noise switching… One amp set-up for Vocal Backing… and the other amp setup for Lead-Fill work… Lottsa repro possibilites, from two tracks… It created good track continituity, by doing the tracks, that way… They could do all their lines with One Take… A BOSS Overdrive…(Yellow) peddle on one amp. and a Boss Chorus (Blue) peddle, on the other amp… with the amps faceing each-other and two SM 57 mics… But… I’ve seen LD dual cartridge mics, set in a Figure-8 pattern… for tracking…


The backstage amps - with the “saturation” on them - you can get a very cool lead sound out of those - hmmm… :D

Hey Guys,

As we speak, I am looking for a little amp ( maybe practice amp ) to give my electric a decent tone for recording. I tried going direct and doin the effects, eq , reverb thing but it aint happenin. I sold my old guitar amp years ago, so I am without for now.
Have any of yall tried the little fender, mashall, etc , 8 inch speaker things ?
It wont be used live, just for recording. The cheaper the better , but I need a decent tone.


If you want to be able to record quietly, you might consider an amp/cab sim like Line 6 Pod, Johnson J-Station, Digitech Genesis3, or Behringer V-Amp. They don’t sound as good as a real amp but you can record on the quiet, you don’t have to sweat the acoustics in your studio, and they’re extremely versatile.

There are also software solutions. Someone recently posted a free one that looked interesting – anyone remember where that was?

Not that you shouldn’t get a small amp. Just an alternative to consider.

Thanks Lear,

I think I am committed to the amp route. I played a little Marshall 15 watt today that was pretty sweet. It also had a line out on it that might be decent enough to run in direct if I need to bypass my room acoustics. I didnt have a chance to try the line out feature in the store though.
I appreciate the feedback, thanks