Travel Amp / Temporary Quiet Practice

Charlie westside

Country Gent
Jul 27, 2018
1,633
Sylmar Califirnia
Entering a two-phase new-job period where the first part will include hotel stays while I interview, followed by some kind of temporary apartment living between the new job start time and when we get into a new house and my wife joins me in the new town. I'm going to need a way to play my guitar through headphones.

Right now, when I have to buy the item, I'm unemployed....so keeping cost reasonable is a concern.
After I start the new job, and before we get a permanent place (where I can have all my toys and be loud) I'm probably going to be playing quite a bit - as there will not be much else to do by myself in the new town....so something that sounds good is a concern.

Right now, I'm leaning heavily toward the Fender Mustang Micro. I like what I've seen on review videos, and I like that it has USB audio-interface capability so I can experiment with some recording while I'm idle and don't have all my normal recording gear.

Anyone been in a situation like this? What do you use?
I own the positive grid Spark. Truly an amazing Practice amp. It truly has everything I need to practice with at a reasonable price. With or without the easy to use app that I dowloaded onto my cell phone. I have never enjoyed practicing so much and I recommend it.
 

radd

Friend of Fred
Dec 27, 2017
5,633
Santa Cruz
I use a Yamaha THR10 at night so as to not disturb the family. It has a decent range of effects, bluetooth capability to pair with my apple music backing tracks, headphones jack of course, and it has a usb out for recording. Comes in a good padded travel case. Ticks all my boxes.

I have one, stunning little amp. I use it like you do, so I don’t bug the rest of the household when I play
 

Highroller

Country Gent
Jun 11, 2015
1,912
Portland, OR
Wife got me a Mustang Micro as a gift about 6 months ago. I think it's the coolest little gizmo to come down the pike in a long while. First off, try to remember this thing only costs $100, so keep your expectations in the right place.

I started out using it with good headphones. Excellent clean tones, surprisingly lush reverbs, you can get a half decent rockabilly slapback without too much effort. After a while I got a bit lazy and started using it with some run-of-the-mill Apple earbuds and for practice purposes, it still didn't sound bad.

Of course, if you're looking for super quiet practice, using it with a hollowbody kinda defeats the purpose, so I generally stick with solid bodies - my SG, my Tele, an LP and a Dano DC59 (yeah, both the LP and the Dano are actually chambered, but they're quiet guitars acoustically)

What I've found is that they all sound pretty good thru it, however... depending on where the input jack is on the guitar, the unit itself can be a little problematic to plug in. With the SG especially, it just barely clears the control knobs. You have to position it in just the right way to work. Guitars with jacks on the side fare much better, but that puts the controls in a harder to reach spot. And those control buttons are really, really SMALL! It can take a few tries to hit the right one if you're trying to do it by feel.

My only other complaints are that (1) the LCD indicators turn themselves off as a battery saving feature, which means sometimes you don't know what setting you're using, and (2) the battery itself will just cut off when depleted - no warning. You can be mid-song and "poof" - the thing goes dead.

So there you have it. Despite a few minor gripes, I think it's a great little unit and love that I can plug in any time day or night without disturbing anybody.

And no amp to haul around, which should interest anybody already carrying luggage and a guitar. I'd think it's probably an excellent solution to the "playing in a hotel room" situation.

Good luck with it.
 
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Chet Harrison

Gretschie
Apr 27, 2020
220
USA
I would go with a Strymon Iridium. Everything you need and nothing you don’t. I would discard any suggestions in this thread that don’t include a speaker simulation. Stereo sound and room reverb are HUGE positives for headphone playing. Strymon stuff holds its value very well, so you are unlikely to take a hit if you choose to sell it when you don’t need it anymore.
 

bluenote23

Country Gent
Oct 17, 2009
1,647
Montreal, Canada
The perfect but too many, too expensive solution is the Waza Air. Just a pair of headphones but a the most satisfying guitar playing headphone experience you'll ever have. Kind of like surround sound but more impressive, you really feel like you're playing the electric guitar through these.

Now the price. On ebay right now, there is a used pair for $335. If that's too much, there is an auction going on with one pretty low price bidder that you can try your luck on. These are expensive new and at least for me, they were well worth it. At these used prices, they might be in your range.
 

Lucky Jim

Gretschie
Oct 16, 2020
148
Kent, England
+1 for the Blackstar Fly 3. I use one when travelling because it tucks easily into a bag, has decent sound through the small speaker but also a headphone output. Built-in delay and an input to connect a MP3 player (or cell phone) to jam along with tracks if you wish. I wouldn't want to be taking anything larger with me.
 

bluenote23

Country Gent
Oct 17, 2009
1,647
Montreal, Canada
Not OP.

Wow. Very neat. I just looked at them on Sweetwoand they're... yeah. A little pricey but highly regarded. One thing I did notice though is the plug. How would that work on a front/top mount jack like a Strat?
Works fine on a Fender strat. The plug is designed to fit as long as it is oriented correctly.
 

tmcq65

Gretschie
Nov 10, 2021
127
Eastern Tennessee
This is my 100th post!

Thanks everyone for the great suggestions. While I appreciate all, I realize now, that no one else is inside my head as I'm making a request for suggestions, and I realize I didn't clarify my parameters very well. The Fender Mustang Micro that I stated I was leaning toward, was already a bit more than I would have liked to spend at $120 for this need....but I felt that the Vox Amplug and other similar less expensive headphone plug-ins may end up not giving me a sound I like - and thus, end up being a waste. Also, I really don't want a "practice amp" with a speaker - unless it gives me something I could continue to benefit from beyond this job transition (I really don't expect to be much of a business traveler after this move - it's been my experience that quality engineers don't travel very much). Now, that being said, I could see myself grabbing a Spark or a Roland Cube to jam with friends around a fire pit or something....unfortunately, those were both more than I'd like to spend on this need.

I experimented today with my audio interface, my PC, and the Presonus Studio One software I have on the PC, and decided, for now at least, to add nothing. I'll try it out this coming week when I travel for some interviews and see how it works - holding out for maybe one of those solutions that address a future need as well.
 

Bertotti

Friend of Fred
Jul 20, 2017
9,101
South Dakota
This is my 100th post!

Thanks everyone for the great suggestions. While I appreciate all, I realize now, that no one else is inside my head as I'm making a request for suggestions, and I realize I didn't clarify my parameters very well. The Fender Mustang Micro that I stated I was leaning toward, was already a bit more than I would have liked to spend at $120 for this need....but I felt that the Vox Amplug and other similar less expensive headphone plug-ins may end up not giving me a sound I like - and thus, end up being a waste. Also, I really don't want a "practice amp" with a speaker - unless it gives me something I could continue to benefit from beyond this job transition (I really don't expect to be much of a business traveler after this move - it's been my experience that quality engineers don't travel very much). Now, that being said, I could see myself grabbing a Spark or a Roland Cube to jam with friends around a fire pit or something....unfortunately, those were both more than I'd like to spend on this need.

I experimented today with my audio interface, my PC, and the Presonus Studio One software I have on the PC, and decided, for now at least, to add nothing. I'll try it out this coming week when I travel for some interviews and see how it works - holding out for maybe one of those solutions that address a future need as well.
It is amazing what you can get out of these programs. I think my logic worked really well but I’m also a tone snob so when I want a speaker it is a tube amp if I want light weight travel it might be a micro dark or atomic, or just the stuff in my daw. It’s fine for practice and a lot of people run it to record. You do you and tweak it till it works for you then if you still seek tube bliss start saving now.
 

dspellman

Gretschie
Jul 4, 2020
259
Los Angeles
Entering a two-phase new-job period where the first part will include hotel stays while I interview, followed by some kind of temporary apartment living between the new job start time and when we get into a new house and my wife joins me in the new town. I'm going to need a way to play my guitar through headphones.


Anyone been in a situation like this? What do you use?

When I first encountered this, I actually needed something battery powered. So I picked up a Korg Pandora PX3D, which is the size of a pack of cigarillos and has amps/cabs/FX built in, as well as practice tools like a tuner, metronome, bass lines, drum lines, a slower-downer, a pitch shifter, etc. I've also got a later model - the PX5D, that came with recording software as well. Works off a few AA batteries. And, of course, there's a headphone jack as well.

Later, I tried out a Line 6 Pod XT "bean," which will work with an FBV Express or Shortboard foot pedal, and which also has a built-in tuner, user presets, etc. The "bean" version is actually a desktop unit and pretty small (it won't quite fit into the accessory pocket on my cases). These days, the XT version can be had for about $85 used, and the Express foot pedal (connects to the XT with an ethernet cable) is available used for around $50. Amps, cabs, FX, etc., as well as headphones and the ability to run out to a mixer for recording, etc.

You can do a lot of this via computer-based software, these days, but if you figure in the cost of the computer and an interface, it's just a PIA (and fairly expensive) to set up when you can pick up a standalone unit for $125 including cables.
 

tmcq65

Gretschie
Nov 10, 2021
127
Eastern Tennessee
It is amazing what you can get out of these programs. I think my logic worked really well but I’m also a tone snob so when I want a speaker it is a tube amp if I want light weight travel it might be a micro dark or atomic, or just the stuff in my daw. It’s fine for practice and a lot of people run it to record. You do you and tweak it till it works for you then if you still seek tube bliss start saving now.
The tube bliss is what I'm enjoying now, and will be looking forward to enjoying again when we finally buy a new house and get to use all my stuff again.

Perhaps what I'll end up with here is a new pair of headphones (I have good tracking headphones, but not great mixing/monitoring headphones) or a new pair of studio monitors. We'll see.....it's an adventure, and I have no idea what the next few months will look like.
 

tmcq65

Gretschie
Nov 10, 2021
127
Eastern Tennessee
Update Time:
I'm on the first of my trips - and tried to do the computer-based amp emulator thing. I get a fairly good sound, but the inconvenience of carrying the audio interface, cable from the guitar, cable to the headphones, just all made it very clear that what I needed was a plug-in style headphone amp. I went into Guitar Center today (in the middle of the trip) and bought the Mustang Micro. After some initial goofing around, I am convinced this was the way to go. The sounds are great - really great, and it's one cable, basically from the guitar to my head - so I am completely free of the tangles. I'm looking forward to trying to record with it. But for now - and for apartment living when we're looking for a house, this will be perfect.
 


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