If you’re looking for the best harmonica amp on the market today, this is the review for you. In this guide, we explore a range of amplifiers that are ideal for use with harmonicas.
Harmonicas have an iconic sound that is heard across countless blues and folk classics. They are also one of the most popular busking instruments thanks to their high level of transportability.
The only real issue with harmonicas is that their acoustic sound is easily drowned out by louder instruments, particularly anything electronic. The solution – harmonica amplifiers! These work in a similar way to guitar amps but work with your harmonica instead.
Keep reading for our full list of the best harmonica amplifiers!
Table of Contents
- LyxPro 20 Watt Amplifier
- Danelectro Honeytone N-10 Guitar Mini Amp
- Donner 10 Guitar AMP DEA-1
- Orange Crush Mini Analogue Combo Amp
- Fender Frontman 10G
- Fender Champion 20 Guitar Amplifier
Why Would You Want To Amplify A Harmonica
There are several reasons you would want to amplify a harmonica.
The main reason is volume. Harmonicas are relatively quiet instruments, so amplification helps them to get up to a stage-worthy level.
A second reason to amplify a harmonica is to shape its sound. Most amplifiers have a few volume and tone knobs that let you sculpt the sound of the amp. This lets you get creative and experiment with new harmonica tones.
Another cool technique is using guitar pedals in the signal chain. This way you can process the sound of your harmonica using effects like reverbs, delay distortions, and choruses. Just plug the harmonica into a bunch of pedals, then into the amp and you’re good to go.
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How to amplify a harmonica
Because harmonicas are acoustic instruments, you will need to use some kind of microphone to connect them to an amplifier. Things can get complicated here because most microphones use XLR cables, whereas amplifiers use a ¼” TRS, so you may need to use an adaptor to plug it in.
You can either use a standard condenser or dynamic microphone, or even a clip-on mic.
I’d recommend using something like the Superlux D112 Harmonica Microphone. This comes with the right cable connection and is designed for use with harmonicas. You hold it in one hand, close to the back of the harmonica. Alternatively, you could use a dynamic mic like the Shure SM57, attached to a microphone stand
What you need to amplify a harmonica
- Harmonica Amplifier (keep reading)
- Harmonica Microphone – either Superlux D112, the No products found., or a Shure SM57
- Guitar cable – GLS guitar cable, or XLR cable
- Optional – No products found.
6 Best Harmonica Amps
These amps are listed in price order, starting with the most affordable and ending with the most expensive.
This affordable guitar amplifier is ideal for use with a harmonica. It features a simple design but includes all the basic controls you need to get a decent sound. The speaker quality isn’t fantastic, but it’s not the worst out there either. It’s small and light, making it easy to transport and suitable for small gigs and busking.
It features a standard ¼” guitar cable input, with an additional aux input to connect your phone or MP3 player for backing tracks. It features separate controls for gain and volume, so you can control the level of crunch, it even features a drive knob for boosting the distortion. It has a knob each for bass and treble levels, letting you shape the tone of the amp a little.
Pros and Cons
- Good features at an affordable price
- Include tone controls
- Small and portable
- Mediocre sound quality
Overall the Lyx Pro amp is a decent beginner model. It’s fairly limited in terms of creativity and doesn’t have the best sound, but it’s a good starting point for most players. The features are decent for use with a harmonica. If you’re looking for something cheap and basic, this is a good shot, but if you care about sound quality look elsewhere.
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The Danelectro Honeytone N-10 is a groovy mini amplifier with a belt clip. This small, battery-powered amplifier packs a surprising punch and offers a unique, retro tone.
This is one of the most portable amps we’ve seen today. This can easily be attached to any belt or pocket making it the perfect companion for busking harmonica players.
It’s not going to be as loud as larger amps, but it’s good enough for small performances and studio recording. It has that classic, nasal, bluesy tone that lends itself well to the sound of a harmonica. It uses a standard ¼” input so you can use it with electric guitars or harmonica microphones.
In terms of features, it offers 3 knobs – Volume, Tone, and Gain. Like the Lyx Pro above, this lets you dial in custom levels of overdrive by balancing the volume and gain. We thought this unit had a slightly better-sounding saturation quality, which sounded lush on a harmonica. The single-tone knob lets you control how bright or dark the sound is, so you can tweak it on demand.
Pros and Cons
- Unique, bluesy tone with nice crunch
- High portability – battery powered with belt clip
- Ideal for busking
- Limited volume and tone shaping
The Danelectro Honeytone is a fantastic choice for harmonica players. This amp seems to be designed for harmonica. It’s small and super basic but offers a decent tone that is ideal for the instrument. A great choice for busking and studio recording, but you might need something louder for larger performances.
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This 10-watt electric guitar amp from Donner is a decent mid-level choice. This amp is a little nicer than the most basic models but still comes at a super affordable price. If you’re looking for something with a little more volume and flexibility than cheaper amps, this Donner 10-watt is a great choice.
Whilst being low cost, it still offers a robust set of features. It comes with the ¼” input as normal.
It features a gain control with a boost button for squeezing out some extra loudness. The separate volume control lets you get correct gain staging mixed with distortion.
A nice feature of this amp is the three independent tone knobs – for Bass, Middle, and Treble. This lets you sculpt your tone with a little more accuracy.
It also comes with a small aux input for phones and external audio sources. An additional headphone output also makes it useful for practicing, although not that much use for harmonica.
Pros and Cons
- 3-band tone controls, good versatility
- Flexible sound
- Loud, albeit mediocre sound quality
- Affordable for provided features
This small guitar amp is a great choice for the budding harmonica player. It’s not quite professional quality but offers a decent experience and flexible tones. It has a loud sound, although we were a little let down by the speaker quality, which felt a little flat. This is compensated with the tone controls, although this does sometimes make it sound worse.
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This small boutique amp from legends Orange is a cute but monstrous addition to any harmonica player’s arsenal. Anyone in the music industry knows that Orange makes some of the nicest amplifiers around. This mini combo amp is a unique piece that is perfect for harmonica players.
Whilst selling at an affordable price, this orange amp offers a full set of features.
The controls feature a nice crunchy gain knob which supplies classic Orange saturation. You also get a volume control and a tone shaping knob which can be used for sculpting the frequencies. The controls are responsive and offer a decent amount of range.
A nifty feature of the Orange Crush amp is a chromatic built-in tuner, which is highly useful for pitch-based practice. Whilst you don’t need to tune most harmonicas, this is still a great tool for testing your abilities.
This amp packs a punch too and has a sound that competes with many larger models.
Pros and Cons
- Classic Orange style and tone
- Extensive feature set
- Clever design
- Loud for size, but still relatively quiet
- Respectable price, but expensive for size
This Orange amplifier sounds as cool as it looks. Capturing the classic fuzzy Orange tone, the Crush Mini Combo is an amp with a bark much larger than its size. It has all the pro features you need for a portable amplifier and is ideal for many situations. It is still small, so it won’t compete with larger amps, but it is loud for its size and offers excellent audio quality.
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The Frontman is a classic small amplifier from the iconic Fender brand. This electric guitar amp is a great choice for harmonica players thanks to its high-quality sound and flexible feature set. This amp packs in a large range of tones, and sings with glorious detail and clarity. The tone of this is particularly great for harmonicas and creates a retro bluesy tone.
It comes with the standard ¼’ input and separate gain and volume controls that include a boost circuit. This model also features an aux input and headphone output for expanded connectivity.
The main attraction of this amp is the sound quality. It competes much better than the amps listed above, and will not disappoint.
Pros and Cons
- Classic Fender amp tone at an affordable price
- Loud, clear tone
- Simple design
- Decent connectivity
- Relatively costly, but still a fair price
The Fender Frontman 10G is a solid choice for intermediate to experienced guitar players. This amp offers a fantastic sound with classic Fender features. If you’re looking for an old-school-style amplifier to use with a harmonica this is a sweet choice. It is a little slim one features, but with a sound like this, it works fine in most situations.
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The Fender Champion 20-watt is a fantastic choice for any harmonica player, from beginner to seasoned pro.
This amp provides a professional feature set and top-notch sound. For a harmonica amplifier, you won’t find much better than this. Anything larger would be overkill. This amp just has a tone that cuts through nicely with a harmonica.
It offers an extensive set of features and controls, and even includes a range of built-in effects.\
The controls include gain and volume, a Voice knob that switches between amp simulations, Treble and Bass tone controls, and an FX Level and FX Selection knob.
The controls here provide a nice level of flexibility, so you can sculpt a wide range of tones, all of which sound great. The added FX is a great bonus and lets you create more exciting sounds using tools like reverb, chorus, phasing, delay, and more.
Pros and Cons
- Huge feature set
- Built-in effects
- Professional sound in a small package
- Loudest, best sounding amp on the list
- Relatively expensive
- Not as portable as other models on this list
The Fender Champion 20 is probably the most perfect harmonica amplifier around, and it still comes at a decent price. This amp is super flexible, sounds fantastic, and enables users to get creative. If you want to invest in a comprehensive harmonica amp, the Fender Champion 20 will serve you well for years to come.
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Things to keep in mind when buying harmonica AMP
What to look for when buying a harmonica amplifier
Gain and volume
Having separate gain and volume controls lets you balance how distorted or clean the sound is. This can help to get a bit of extra crunch and saturation or keep it smooth.
Have a think about how important portability is for you. Some harmonica players like to have their amp literally clipped to their body, particularly buskers. In other situations medium-sized amps are appropriate, anywhere between 10 and 30 watts is usually a good size.
Tone controls are useful for shaping the sound of the guitar amp, making it brighter, darker, or more mid-range intensive. They aren’t essential, but tone controls enable players to fit the sound of their amp to blend better with the rest of their band. It also offers some room for creativity and tonal variety.
Only one amp on this list has effects, but they are a great feature for harmonica players. Effects help you to create more exciting tones by processing the sounds of the amplifiers.
Can I Play Harmonica Through a Guitar Amp?
Yes, if you have the right microphone and cable, you can play harmonica through any guitar amp. All you need to do is plug a mic into the amp and crank it up!
What are the best tubes for a harmonica amp?
What is the best harmonica amp setup?
For maximum creativity, the best harmonica setup involves the harmonica itself, a microphone (or two), a bunch of cool effects pedals, and a decent harmonica amplifier. Using this set of tools provides musicians with the most amount of creative potential, which can enhance the expressivity of their performance.
Overall, I thought the Fender Champion 20 was the best harmonica amp. It offers a premium tone and a bunch of included effects. This amp is a lot of fun to play with and has perfect sound and features for harmonica players!