7 Best Busking Amps (2023) – Top-Rated Amps for Street Performers

A good quality busking amp will allow you to hone your chops in front of a crowd and make money in the process. Naturally, there are some traits and features that these amps must have in order to make your busking experience successful.

There are plenty of choices for busking amps on the market today. You’ll need to balance the essential elements of portability with power. In other words, you need an amp that is loud enough but remains portable.

In this article, we help you find your way through the seven best amps for busking. Keep on reading to learn more!

Our Top 3

The Boss Katana Air is our Top Choice. It features a great-sounding stereo speaker operation and comes with five amp voicings, several effects, and a well-designed control panel on top. With this amp, you can dial in your tone in no time in an easy and streamlined fashion. 

The Roland MOBILE Cube AC is our Budget Choice. This amp produces 5 watts of stereo power and is a great choice for acoustic guitar players. With two 4-inch speakers and five total knobs on the control panel, you get simple operation and maximum portability.  

Finally, the Roland AC-33 is our Editor’s Choice. This amp is a great choice for folks seeking superior tone and functionality on a stereo acoustic guitar amp. With 30 watts when used with the attached power cord or 20 watts when powered by battery, this is a fantastic option for buskers looking for quality.


Individual Reviews

Top Choice

A fantastic wireless option that excels in convenience and tone.

The Katana Series of amps has become of Boss's most popular product lines. The Katana Air lets you dial in a useful variety of tones, and gives you maximum flexibility and versatility, making it a great choice for busking.

The Boss Katana Air comes with a great-sounding stereo speaker operation for a realistic tone. The first thing we loved about this amp is how versatile it is. With five amp voicings, several effects, and a well-designed control panel on top, we were excited to plug in our Strat for our tests.

We set the knob at the left of this unit on the Brown amp voicing and got an emphatic growl that was rich in harmonics, reminiscent of that legendary Eddie Van Halen sound. This amp voicing was ideal for shredding as well as powerful rock riffing, and we were impressed by how well it sounded given the diminutive size of the Katana Air.  

We then moved on to the Clean voicing, where we got a nice balance and forward tone, with that typical Strat bite and twang. Everything from open chords in the middle position to funky rhythms in position four sounded great. We also got a nice country twang while playing some chicken-picking on the neck position.  

One of the aspects we loved the most about Katana Air was its flexibility. When playing with a regular cable and powering the unit via the included power adapter, this Boss amp gave us 30 watts of power from speakers. 

We then played using the included wireless transmitter and the amp switched to 20 watt operation. Both gave us a good tone. Naturally, the option to use the wireless transmitter makes this amp excel in portability, so a fantastic option for busking. 

Other useful features include the Booster/Mod, Delay/FX, and Reverb controls, all of them providing valuable effects that helped us dial our tone just the way we wanted it. If you wish to go further, check out the Tone Studio app for customizable sounds. Here you can download a significant number of setups from the BOSS Tone Central website and also create and save your own. 

Verdict: The Boss Katana Air excels in convenience and features five amp voicings, as well as customizable effects. With nice versatility and the ability to dial any imaginable tone, this amp delivers Boss quality with outstanding portability. Ultimately, we found this to be a versatile, portable, and great-sounding amp for busking in just about any style.


Best Budget

A slick little amp with Roland tone.

This amp is a great option for folks that want a busking amplifier that is inexpensive and ideal for acoustic guitar. With a simple interface, small form factor, and Roland sound and quality, the Mobile Cube AC delivers on all fronts.

The Roland MOBILE Cube AC delivers 5 watts of stereo operation and was made specifically for acoustic guitar. The first thing we liked about it was the minimalistic design, with two 4-inch speakers and five total knobs on the control panel. 

We plugged in our Takamine acoustic to discover a surprisingly big stereo tone from this little amp. Our tone had a nice balance to it, with all frequencies adequately represented. The sound and feel will make any songwriter feel right at home. We also liked the addition of the Chorus, Reverb, and Wide effects, which added some depth to our tone. 

Additionally, we liked how simple the control panel was. With a 3-channel mixer and dedicated volume knobs for microphone, guitar, and audio input, we found this amp to be very easy to use. We even ventured a bit further and plugged in a mic to test how it blended with the guitar. Thanks to the separate volume controls, we dialed in the right mix for us in no time. 

One of our favorite features on the Roland Mobile Cube AC is that it gives the user 15 hours of use with 6 AA alkaline batteries. This makes it a perfect companion for busking for hours on end. And at just 5.56 pounds, this amp is extremely convenient and easy to transport, free of hassles.

Verdict: The Roland MOBILE Cube AC offers the user 5 watts of stereo sound and was designed for acoustic guitar, while adding a mic and aux input. Each of these inputs has its own dedicated volume knob for ideal blending, and with two 4-inch speakers, this amp is a convenient and affordable solution for busking. We found it to be a fantastic little amp for acoustic guitars that gives you that legendary Roland tone and quality, all for a low price. 


Editor's Choice

Superior tone and features.

This amp delivers top-notch Roland sound and quality, with an array of impressive features to take your busking to the next level. Despite all the capabilities of this amp, it features simple and intuitive operation, ideal for on-the-fly adjustments.

The Roland AC-33 delivers solid stereo acoustic guitar sound and a variety of useful features. With 30 watts when used with the attached power cord or 20 watts when powered via battery power, this is a fantastic option for buskers wanting optimal sound. 

The first thing we loved about this amp is its complete yet streamlined and intuitive control panel. With a dual-channel configuration (one for a mic or aux-in and the other for guitar), this amp provided us with an easy operating experience throughout. We loved that each of the channels is near identical, with an EQ section and independent chorus control switch. 

We plugged in our trusty Takamine acoustic and got a warm and present tone that was punchy. To add a bit of ambiance, we dialed in the Reverb by placing its dedicated knob at around 4 o’clock. 

Another fantastic feature we loved on this amp was the phrase looper, which provided us with 40 seconds of recording time and allowed us to build some layers on the fly. Additionally, the AC-33 comes with auxiliary input, so you also have the option to play with some backing tracks.

And because this is an ideal amp for busking, it comes with a built-in tilt-back stand, perfect for directing the sound in a more upwards direction. We loved this as it allowed us to hear our sound better. 

Verdict: The Roland AC-33 provides stereo acoustic guitar sound on two independent channels. With either 30 watts (via included power cord) or 20 watts (via battery power), this is a wonderful option for buskers who are willing to go the extra mile for superior sound quality. This was a powerful but simple-to-use amp that is a great choice for busking with quality tone and useful features. 


Also Consider

Two channels and tons of volume for your busking.

If you are a singer-songwriter or just a guitarist looking for a loud busking experience, then the Acoustic Junior Go is a great choice. With an impressive 100 watts of power and rechargeable battery operation, you get a great blend of power and convenience with this Fender amp.

The Fender Acoustic Junior Go comes with plenty of useful features and delivers tons of volume with two channels: guitar and voice. 

The first thing we loved about this amp was its convenient I/O. It comes with two combo XLR-1/4″ inputs, as well as a 1/8″ aux. In other words, you can plug anything from electric and acoustic guitars, microphones, etc, in any possible combination, for a total of two instrument/mic inputs.

We plugged in our trusty Takamine and were able to dial our desired tone using the 3-band EQ while adding ambiance via the onboard digital effects. We got a beefy tone, and preferred it with the mid frequencies dialed up to the 7 o’clock position while the highs and lows stayed below noon. 

One of our favorite features on this amp was its Bluetooth connectivity. This allows the user to play with backing tracks, and can also prove useful at gigs so you can play music while you’re on break. Another feature that is quite handy was the USB output which enables seamless recording to a computer.

The Fender Acoustic Junior Go also comes with a built-in rechargeable battery. We charged it and played for quite a while at full volume, and even moved the amp around a bit to other areas of our house. You get a total of 5 hours of playing time and 12 hours at moderate volumes.

Verdict: The Fender Acoustic Junior Go comes with a rechargeable battery for great convenience and two independent channels. With an 8-inch woofer that delivers 100 watts of power, this is a good amp for busking and even some indoor gigs where a lot of volume is needed. This is a great amp that excels in convenience and portability, with good tone. We did find that the effect section on the control panel didn’t give us intuitive operation, so you’d have to spend some time with it before taking it on a busking gig. 


Also Consider

A grab-and-go option with great features.

The LT40S belongs to the popular Mustang line of Fender amps. With great portability and solid build quality, this amp gives you 40 watts and useful features to dial in your desired tone in an uncomplicated and seamless fashion.

The Fender Mustang LT40S comes with two 4-inch speakers and offers nice flexibility by providing 20 amplifier models and 60 presets. All of these are easily monitored thanks to the full-color display, and we loved the easy yet complete layout of the top control panel.

For our tests, we used our Gibson Les Paul and started to try the onboard effects. While on clean, we liked how good-sounding and useful the delay, reverb, and modulation effects were. Although we found these to be quite useful and user-friendly, Fender also gives the user the option to download the free Tone LT Desktop app. This app allows you to save and edit your presets while connecting to the LT40S’s top-mounted USB port. 

We then moved on to try the distorted sounds. Although they were useful, we found this amp does better with clean tones. Then again, at 200 dollars, we can’t really expect a full-stack type of distortion. 

One of our favorite traits on this amp is how light it is, at just 12.5 lbs. This makes it a good option for busking, as we were able to comfortably move it around and quickly dial our tone. Additional features like an onboard tuner and a tap tempo feature complete the package. 

Together, all of these features minimize any need for external pedals or gear.

Verdict: The Fender Mustang LT40S is a nice choice for folks looking for an affordable busking amplifier. It features two 4-inch speakers and plenty of amp models and effects. With good convenience and flexibility, this amp is a good choice for beginners wanting to take their music to the streets. We found that this amp offered great portability and flexibility for busking. 


Also Consider

A convenient and ergonomic amp for buskers.

This is a battery-powered amp that delivers an organic amplified acoustic tone while incorporating a tilted design. This gives the user better projection and access to the control panel, which comes with useful features like EQ, effects, and more.

The Fishman Loudbox Mini Charge offers 60 watts of quality-acoustic tone, with two channels of this company’s popular preamp design. We plugged in our trusty Takamine acoustic and got a warm and balanced tone, in line with what we expect from Fishman.

To add a bit of ambiance, we dialed in a bit of this amp’s included digital reverb and got a great tone for both busking or other indoor acoustic gigs. The Loudbox Mini Charge also features a good-sounding chorus effect, which gave us yet another tonal dimension, great for certain songs or parts that require more of a lush sonic treatment. 

Another great aspect of this amp is the Bluetooth wireless connectivity. We paired our smartphone with the Loudbox Mini Charge and played over a few backing tracks, while the 6.5″ speaker gave us a nice response. And in case you need to plug into a PA or larger system, this amp also features a balanced XLR DI output.

This 60-watt amp can provide up to four hours of battery life at full volume. Thanks to its two independent inputs (guitar and mic) this Fishman amp is a good choice for acoustic guitarists, singer-songwriters, or guitarists working with the singer.

Well-built and sturdy, the Loudbox Mini Charge is a good amp for busking. At 21.1 pounds, it isn’t among the lightest on the market, but it does sound better than most. 

Verdict: The Fishman Loudbox Mini Charge delivers 60 watts of acoustic tone, with two channels that excel in quality. With a design that can be tilted backward at two different angles for better monitoring, this amp is a good choice for buskers looking for good sound and ease of use.


Also Consider

Portability and slick design.

This amp belongs to Roland's popular CUBE series. It packs a punch and delivers 50 watts of power on a small footprint, with renowned Roland tones and effects. Additionally, its tilted design makes it great for monitoring yourself properly while busking or playing smaller gigs.

The Roland CUBE Street EX comes with a pair of 8″ speakers, as well as a pair of 2″ speakers for handling the higher frequencies. With two independent inputs, this amp was made to plug in anything from guitars and mics all the way to keyboards and drum machines. In other words, this amp will likely accommodate any type of busking guitarist and their needs. 

We plugged in our Fender Strat in order to run some tests. We got that punchy Roland sound with a clean tone that reminded us of the legendary JC-120 amp. Running our Strat through our pedal board, we found the Cube Street took pedals well.

One of our favorite features on this amp is that it can run for up to 20 hours on eight AA alkaline batteries. We tried it with batteries as well as with the included 13V DC power supply. In both instances, we got a good tone and a nice response while playing our Strat. 

The two included inputs are divided into mic/instrument and mic/guitar, both with XLR-1/4″ input combo jacks for greater flexibility and versatility. Besides a 3-band EQ, the mic/guitar input also comes with COSM effects. Here we got four voices, with our favorite two being Lead and Clean. 

The great thing about the inclusion of these effects is that you don’t depend on having a pedalboard. Even though this amp takes pedals well, we also got a nice punchy distortion on the Lead voice. On the other hand, Clean delivered a balanced voice, and we loved the tone we got with a bit of Reverb and Delay added from the amp’s mic/guitar channel.

Verdict: The Roland CUBE Street EX delivers a good tone on a combo of two 8″ speakers and two 2″ speakers. With two independent inputs, battery operation, and quality effects, it is a great choice for busking and coffee-shop scenarios.


How to Choose the Right Amp for You

Choosing the right amp for busking is crucial for enhancing your performance. If you can’t be heard, your performance will be lost. Also, you need an amp that you can easily carry and that doesn’t require a power cord to operate. 

Additionally, if you have an amp that isn’t appropriate and sounds bad, the audience will blame it squarely on you, not the amp. This is why choosing the right amp for busking can have a massive influence on the type of gig you have and on how much money you make busking.

Below we list some of the most essential traits to consider when shopping for your ideal busking amp.

Portability

One of the central traits to consider in a busking amp is portability. You need an amp that is lightweight, compact, and easy to carry around. Otherwise, busking may become unappealing quite soon if you have to log a double Marshall stack around.

Look for amplifiers that offer a balance between size and power output, ensuring it’s not too bulky but still delivers a sufficient volume to reach your audience effectively. Opt for amps with built-in handles or a shoulder strap to aid in transportation, allowing you to move swiftly between busking spots.

Battery-Powered Operation

A good busking amp should have a battery-powered option. Nothing worse than finding a great area with tons of people, but no way to power your amp. 

Pick an amp equipped with rechargeable batteries that offer a long playtime, allowing you to perform for extended periods without worrying about power sources. Even better, get an amp with a power indicator so you know how much juice you have left. 

Durability and Weather Resistance

Busking will undoubtedly subject your equipment to various weather conditions, such as rain, humidity, or intense sunlight. A good busking amp should be able to handle these challenges on a consistent basis. 

Try to pick an amp with rugged construction, solid materials, and weather-resistant features to ensure longevity and durability. Features like rubberized or reinforced corners, water-resistant coatings, and sturdy control knobs can make a big difference in the lifespan of your amp and to the success of your busking. 

Power and Volume

Your busking amp must have sufficient power and volume capabilities to reach bystanders. Evaluate the wattage of the amplifier, as that determines the overall loudness and headroom. Higher-wattage amps provide more volume and better projection, allowing your music to cut through the ambient noise and reach a larger audience. You’ll want to balance this with portability, as excessively high wattage can lead to bulkier and heavier amps.

Versatility and Tone Options

Here, the neverending reality of asking yourself what you need the amp for rears its head once again. Do you need to plug in another instrument or a mic? Then make sure the amp has at least two channels. Do you play with tracks? Then look for an amp with Bluetooth connectivity or at least an Aux input.

Also, aim for keeping your rig truly portable. This means doing away with a pedalboard. Built-in effects such as reverb, delay, and chorus can enhance your sound and add depth to your performance while curbing the need to carry heavy pedals around. 

Also, consider tone-shaping features like EQ and gain adjustments, so you can dial in your sound conveniently.


Final Thoughts

Busking can be a great way to improve your chops and make some money while at it. Naturally, for either to happen, you need proper equipment, and it all starts with a good busking amp.

To recap our top choices, the Boss Katana Air is our Top Choice. With five amp voicings, several effects, and a well-designed control panel, this amp delivers good tone and portability. The Roland MOBILE Cube AC is our Budget Choice. It gives you 5 watts of stereo operation, simple use, and maximum portability for acoustic guitar. Finally, the Roland AC-33 is our Editor’s Choice for its fantastic tone and functionality on 30 watts with the attached power cord or 20 watts when powered via battery, a great option for buskers looking for quality. 

Author

  • Rodrigo Sanchez

    Rodrigo is an award-winning songwriter (Best Popular Song Of 2018 for Ibermúsicas), and has worked with the prestigious EMI Music Publishing Latin America. He has production credits on artists such as Descemer Bueno, and has also composed alongside Grammy and ASCAP award-winners such as Sebastián De Peyrecave and José Luis Morín.