7 Reasons Why Low-Watt Amps Are Better

Modern players have modern needs, and things that not that many years ago were looked upon as beginner tools, nowadays are the centerpiece for the tone of a lot of professionals.

In the last decades, there was a noticeable shift towards smaller, quieter amps.

Perhaps this was because of the advent of bedroom players, or maybe the reason behind it is the modern ubiquity of PA systems.

The thing is that small amps are here to stay and one could argue that they are the better choice in many ways.

If you are just wondering if low-watt amps are just better, here is a quick answer:

Low-watt amps are better because they are a great alternative for practicing and even warming up before a show. They are also great for home recordings. When gigging, they can easily replace a bigger amp if there’s a PA system available. They sound and look great, are small, lightweight, and cheaper.

For those who want to stick for a bit longer with me, and dive deeper into this topic, in this article I will discuss 7 reasons that make these pieces of gear a better choice.

Of course, nothing is absolute, and you probably have the same or larger number of reasons in favor of bigger amps, but hey, this is the internet. We all can be wrong at the same time.

Without further to do, let’s get started with it.

1. Low watt amps for practicing

Low-watt amps are and have been for ages the go-to tool for novice players and for all of us who couldn’t afford to practice at “proper” volumes.

Even professionals use these kinds of amps in the backrooms to warm up.

More modern units, apart from many having the option to choose from different wattage settings, allowing the user to limit their volume even further, have also the benefit of sounding great.

And I’m not overstating this just to keep you engaged.

Have you ever played through a Boss Katana or a Blackstar Fly, or any other of these little beasts?

Great tones, versatility, and useable volumes are all any practitioner of the instrument could ever need.

2. Low-watt amps for recording

I know this is a controversial take after talking of mostly practice amps, but hear me out.

Low-watt amps are not just digital modelers with a solid-state power section.

There are tons of small 5-watt fully-fledged tube amps that sound amazing.

And, on top of that, their being low-powered units allow you to crank them to the maximum and get that sweet saturated power section tone at still very home-friendly volumes.

If you connect the dots here, what I’m telling you is that, at home recording situations, these small amps might be a silver bullet for achieving a great analog tone.

3. Low watt amps for gigging

Nowadays you don’t need an amp that can overpower a drumkit to play live. That’s a thing from the past.

With the ubiquity of good PA systems in venues of all sizes, one can easily just set up a rather quiet amp and just point a microphone into its cabinet.

As simple as that.

And as a plus, you will be getting the same tone that you get at home, with no need to be tweaking for half an hour a rented, battle-tested 100 watt Marshall amp.

4. The overall tone of low watt amps

Maybe this is an overstatement at this point but…

Have you heard how these amps sound?

I’m sorry, I can’t come out from my amazement.

When I started playing, some 20 years ago (and I know, for many of you might not be that much ago) practice or beginner amps just sounded horrible.

There was nothing to do about it.

But now, you can get a perfectly useable tone with similarly priced amps.

This is just great.

And again, setting practice amps apart, the paradigm shift of “crankable” 0.5, 1, or 5-watt tube amps has surely revitalized overdriven guitar tones for the newer generations.

5. The convenience of a low watt amp

These amps are small and lightweight. You can carry them in a backpack without having to go see a specialized doctor afterward.

If you are exclusively a bedroom player, this might not matter that much to you, but if you start meeting up with your band for rehearsals in the future, or even get a few gigs, you will understand what I’m saying here.

The convenience of just showing up with your amp in one hand and your guitar case in the other is priceless.

You know that people used to rent out trucks to move their big boy million-watt amps and Star-Trek-inspired effect racks back in the 80s right?

In this modern era, you might just need to worry about the logistics of getting a cabinet to the venue, and just set up a mic pointing to it.

Or maybe you can even get a small amp with a speaker simulated out.

6. The aesthetics of low watt amps

Ok, this is it.

This is the truly controversial one.

But don’t you think most low-watt amps look great?

I mean, lunchbox amps have a look of their own you like it or not.

And perhaps when sitting over a big 4×12 cabinet one of these tiny little amplifiers might look a bit out of place or even ridiculous.

But pair it with a cabinet their size, or even a standing 2×12 and you get a completely fine mini half-stack look that will be the envy of your Instagram feed.

7. The price differential of a low watt amp

A big reason for choosing one of these small cuties, after all, will be economics, for sure.

And you see, in most cases, I can think of, going for less power means a lower price.

I’m not saying that you could never find an example of a louder amp priced above a low-watt alternative.

What I say is that at comparable quality levels, a small amp will be cheaper.

Not that costs define prices, but they need a way smaller power section, and that savings from the manufacturer surely opens the possibility of marketing them at a lower price point.

I think it’s fair to pay extra for loudness, but still, be able to get the same (or very similar) great tones at a quieter volume.