Performing in front of a crowd is not an easy task, what more with a large open area with limitless space. That’s why buskers need an amp that does its job exceptionally well.
Great volume, decent playing hours, and robust construction—those are just some qualities best amps for busking should have.
In this post, we’ll show the best busking amps in 2023.
We’ll also show the factors you need to consider when buying a busking amp. Shall we start?
Here are the best busking amplifiers
- Roland CUBE Street EX
- Yamaha THR10 Guitar Amplifier
- Fishman Loudbox Mini
- Roland CUBE GXR
- VOX Mini5 Modeling Amplifier
- BEHRINGER EUROPORT PA System
- Fender Passport Mini Portable PA System
Roland CUBE Street EX
The Roland CUBE Street EX is one of the most popular busking amplifiers out there. Have it powered by an AC or eight AA batteries, it will still sound amazing either way. At 50 watts, the CUBE Street EX has four independent channels with reverb and 3-band EQ which can be used for vocals, instruments, or devices, making it you’re busking must-have.
The CUBE Street EX also lets you two singers perform with it at once as it has two XLR mic inputs. Designed with an angled back, you can also use it as a stage monitor.
The CUBE Street EX is both versatile, portable, and can be used up to 20 hours. Featuring a COSM modelling, it features different tones for electric guitars and preamp for acoustics.
- LED for checking of the batteries
- Dedicated volumes for each input
- Easy to use
- One input channel only has reverb and no delay
- Relatively expensive for a busking amp
Yamaha THR10 Guitar Amplifier
Featuring a wide range of effects processing, the Yamaha THR10 Desktop Guitar Amplifier and Interface has your back when it comes to performing live in front of the crowd. The THR10 is sure to sweep everyone’s feet with its crisp and clean tone.
With the THR10, you’ll get numerous on-board effect, 3-band EQ, and USB connectivity for recording, playback, and editing purposes.
You can plug it on an outlet or take it anywhere as the THR10 is very portable, battery powered using eight AA batteries and will fit perfectly inside your carry-on if you plan to take it overseas. The sky is the limit with the THR10, as you can also record your performance straight to a complimentary copy of Cubase AI software.
And, thanks to the THR Editor Software, you can create your own preset by simply pairing it with your computer.
- Has 3D sound
- Simple yet impressive design
- Amazing sound quality
- Casing could do better
- Speakers are small
Fishman Loudbox Mini
Portable, functional, and powerful—those are three words that best describe the Fishman Loudbox Mini. With its loud and natural acoustic tone, the Mini Charge has two channels featuring Fishman’s famous preamp and tone control.
Displaying an elegant design with a vintage feel, this portable amp displays its controls in a way that it’s easy for you to control, read, and modify.
Make every performance count by incorporating your favorite tunes using its bluetooth 4.0 wireless connectivity. The Loudbox Mini Charge also features an auxiliary input and balanced XLR DI output. Its incredibly powerful sound is brought by a rechargeable battery with an estimated playing time of 4-18 hours.
- Portable and large volume
- Long battery life
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Hum problems
- Reverb and chorus not footswitchable
Roland CUBE GXR
If you’ve been searching for one of the best amplifiers for busking, you probably stumbled upon this name. The Roland CUBE Street GXR is a battery powered compact amplifier that comes with dual-channel architecture with Guitar and Mic inputs. Consisting two high quality neodymium speakers, the CUBE produces excellent sound quality even at high volume.
With a running time of up to 15 hours, this portable and lightweight amp is the ultimate companion to every street and on-the-go performers. Its COSM design allows the CUBE to be an eight-in-one amp which gives you the choice of 6 digital effects.
To make your performance easier and reach its full potential, this portable amp features a built-in chrome tuner, XLR mic input, and two digital effects processors.
- Compact and portable
- Great quality
- Lots of excellent effects
- Not enough power for very large crowd
- Relatively thick sound
VOX Mini5 Modeling Amplifier
Stand out from the crowd with the VOX Mini5 Rhythm Battery Powered Amplifier. Whether it runs on an AC power or just AA batteries, the Mini 5 Rhythm still has great tones that are meant to flaunt in front of a crowd.
You’ll also have the option to choose from its guitar amp emulations—from boutique clean to US high gain to AC30 and a lot more.
The Mini 5 Rhythm also has a lot of great effects and almost a hundred built-in rhythm tracks in 10 different genres for an all-out jamming experience. Strutting a compact body, the Mini 5 Rhythm packs plenty of additional functionality such as a mic input, AUX input, and a dedicated E-string tuner.
- Decent low-end
- Clean tones
- Good battery life
- Not enough high gains
- Unprogressive buttons for reverb and delay
BEHRINGER EUROPORT PA System
Packed with Bluetooth connectivity, portability, great features, and a rich tone, you could say that the BEHRINGER EUROPORT MPA40BT-PRO has it all. This very lightweight portable amp system runs at 40 watts with a Class-D amplifier and premium 2-way speaker system. Every performance of yours is truly made easy and better with the MPA40BT-PRO.
This also features a built-in 2-channel mixer with the same ultra-low noise, high-headroom mic preamps, and 2-band equalizer. With an easy-to-setup system, you can jam with your go-to playlist or stream your favorite playlist using Bluetooth connectivity.
It would look like the MPA40BT-PRO is made for the streets with a retractable handle and built-in wheels, making your transport and on-the-go performances easier and hassle-free.
- Easy to set up and use
- Bluetooth connectivity
- All-in-one system
- Has short battery life
- Bluetooth connection is inconsistent
Fender Passport Mini Portable PA System
Whether you pair it with your guitar, a microphone, or both, the Fender Passport Mini is known as one of the best amplifiers for busking. Made for the crowd, the Passport Mini can be powered by an AC or batteries.
You can connect your instrument and microphone to it as it features two channels, with eight presets for the instrument channel.
It does not only serve as a sound system, as you can also do playbacks or use it as a recording interface with its numerous effects and different reverbs. Featuring USB connectivity, the Passport Mini allows you to record audio directly to your computer.
And thanks to the complimentary FUSE software, you can edit it with different effects for more tonal options.
- Available presets and effects for both acoustic and electric guitars
- Offers tone and reverb for the vocal channel
- Relatively complicated to use
- Uses C rather than AA batteries
Factors To Consider When Buying a Busking Amp
Not all amplifiers are great for busking. Do yourself a favor and avoid buying the wrong one. When buying an amplifier for busking, you need to consider these three things first.
It’s Battery Powered
I think this is the first and most important feature you need to check. Buying an amplifier that’s simply not battery-operated will only be a hassle because you’d have to look for a spot that’s near an outlet. You wouldn’t want to splurge more and buy a portable generator, would you?
The best amplifiers for busking should be battery powered because if not, you’ll find it really hard to operate in the street or in places that don’t have an outlet. There are amps that can both be powered by an AC or batteries.
Obviously, the amplifier you should use for busking should be portable, easy to transport, and able to withstand any situation you could possibly face. How your gear looks like won’t matter to the audience since people will most probably pass by you nonchalantly.
That’s why, it’s important to have an amplifier that does its job greatly and would serve you right. You need to look for a reliable amp that is strong enough to get through the hardships in the streets.
The amp also needs to be lightweight because you’ll probably be travelling with it for a long time. Since we’re talking about busking, we’re also pretty much talking about open areas and large crowd. And as a busker, you need to be informed about watts, volume, and how they affect each other.
A 50-watt amp does not necessarily mean it’s twice as loud as a 25-watt amp. Even an amp with 100 watts only has 3 decibels louder than a 50-watt amp. It’s louder, but not to a high extent. An amp’s wattage shouldn’t be thought of as how loud the amp can get.
Point is, getting an amp for busking needs to produce loud and clear sounds. With that being said, you should choose an amp that has enough wattage so you can be clearly heard in an open area.
What is the best amp for busking?
The best amp for busking is Roland CUBE Street EX Amplifier. It’s got a 20-hour power time, perfect for those who wants to busk for longer period. It also is lightweight, and portable.
What amps do buskers use?
Buskers use all kinds of different amplifiers – transistor, tube (valve), or hybrid type that contains both tubes and transistors.
They do run into problems with broken amps though; it’s not easy lugging around an amp weighing several kilos when you’re moving from one spot to another in a hurry.
Heavy Tube Amps also tend to get too hot which can be very annoying when trying to perform for hours under the intense heat of the sun.
Transistor amps are best for busker guitars, especially for street performers who perform in different locations every day. Japanese manufacturers like Roland, Korg, and Yamaha make some nice transistor amps with small enough wattage to be able to run on batteries (e.g. the Roland Cube 20X or 30X).
These usually deliver a very punchy sound which is quite popular among street performers.
Tube combos also tend to be used by buskers but instead of taking their chances carrying them around, they use something called an amp/speaker stand that you can find at Music Store Live.
This allows the musician to just carry their guitar and nothing else while keeping their hands free for playing.
How many watts do you need for busking?
Many buskers tend to prefer smaller amps with a max wattage of 20 or 30 watts. It’s much easier to haul around a small amp when moving from one location to another, and the quality of the sound you get from these is usually much better than bigger amps which pump out 200 – 400 watts or more.
There are exceptions, however; casters who play in outdoor locations that have high volumes of traffic, for example. For them, a 100-watt amp can be useful since it works well even when playing at lower levels because of the high volume drowning everything else out.
The best solution for most people though is an amp with around 25-30 watts max power output. This type of wattage will allow you to turn your amp up loud enough to drown out the noise from traffic and passersby, but not so loud as to damage your ears.
This is a good wattage for buskers who perform in a large variety of locations with different levels of noise.
Can you busk with an amp?
Yes, you can busk with an amp if your amp is small enough to not disturb other people. If your speaker isn’t that powerful it won’t matter too much because you could always join the band anyway.
However, if people are going to notice your music from a distance and be annoyed by it then you’ll need to turn down or find yourself another location.
How do you power an amp while busking?
Buskers will often use something called an “amp/speaker stand” which is a tripod with a platform to place your amp on.
Since the wattage of the amps used by street performers is considerably lower than those used by bands, you can simply power your amp using batteries or plug it into the mains (wall socket).
There are also some powered speakers that you can buy that have built-in amplifiers, allowing you to plug in your guitar and start playing without having to deal with pesky batteries or complicated power cables.
Do I need an amp for busking?
This really depends on how you want to perform and be heard. If you’re just starting, not using an amp is okay.
Although, if you think that performing in public is your passion, then it might be worth to invest in a good busking amp. It doesn’t need to be expensive, though.
The best amplifier for busking is the Roland CUBE Street EX Amplifier. With its amazing sound and great volume, busking won’t be as hard. Featuring user-friendly features, buskers will have a hassle-free time on the street.
It has eight different amp models through its COSM technology for buskers to have optimum performance.
Not just an amp, but also a mini PA, the CUBE Street lets you sing and play your guitar through its dual-channel architecture and mic input.
Hi Charles, thanks for the info. I’m new to all this, but reviewed the Bose S1 Pro which looks really cool: lightweight, battery powered, 2 XLR or 1/4 in. inputs, a 3.5 mm input and Bluetooth capable. Are there reasons it didn’t make your top five? Cheers
Thanks for your suggestion, we’re considering it. This article is really due for updating, and we’ll check and compare if it’ll make the list. Do you have a link to your review? We’d love to read it! Cheers, and stay safe!
Really very informative and a wide range of choices. So if I wanted to play my Sax with some decent backing tracks and wanted to do it for 2 hours at a time. I guess the Cube would be good enough. I need a line for my Tracks ( preferably blue tooth ) so I can pick my tracks with out getting into cords and then I need a line to either sing or Mic up my Sax to play along.. The EUROPORT make me think…so I might give this some more thought. New items come out every year.
Yes I will try out the Roland you say is the top portable busking amp,I hopes better off than the bose portable I got! That has in board battery to charge it! In fact I don’t like the led light to watch to count how much the bose is fully charge! So,the ( Roland Cube Street 50 watts compared to the bose battery amp I’d have to ad another speaker to get fifty watts! Which is too much of a hassle to hook up with extra cord and speaker to run the bose with hook up with mic. So,I hope the Roland will do greater than the bose I will trade in for the Roland ! Thanks for the information to know better! Joe Chow ( Solo Joe )