Is there a really easy and small and cheap head that can be used as a backup amp?

I played a gig last night and the tone cut out on me. Very scary, as I didn't think it would make it through. I decided I can't be put in that position again. Is there a really cheap head that is really light weight (could even fit in the back of the amps pouch), and be there in case a tube cuts out.

Ideally something that could plug into the speaker of the original amp somehow...or plug direct into the PA. Doesn't need to be fancy, just really lightweight, and sound decent enough and reliable.


Well, something that is affordable enough that is likely flexible enough tonally and is loud enough and light enough is kind of tricky.

Boss Katana head?

The EHX 44 needs a preamp and sounds about as good as it looks...which is not great IMO (I've owned one).


Silver Supporting Member
I use a Fryette GP/DI. Affordable means different things to different people. But the Fryette is tiny, has a speaker sim so can go direct, and is loud for a 1 watt amp. I use a Power Station with my rig so if my main 100 watt head blows a tube I can just plug into the PS and be good to go.


DV Mark 50
Magnum 44, but you need a pre-amp.

Used both, the DV Mark is slightly less fuss on quick change over


Hotone Nano Legacy heads come in multiple voicings, drive a speaker cabinet, and have a headphone/line out. 100 bucks. They're only 5 watts, though.

I'd guess it would get decently loud if it was direct-in or amplified with a clean power amp. I've tried mine with my Peavey Bandit and it could get pretty loud without losing tone.


Gold Supporting Member
In terms of tone, IME the Micro 50 is light years ahead of anything in its class, including the Quilter.

I'm interested in the Micro 50 but can you tell me why you feel it is "light years" ahead of Quilter in terms of tone? Thanks.


I'm interested in the Micro 50 but can you tell me why you feel it is "light years" ahead of Quilter in terms of tone? Thanks.
I A/B'd both of them against Fender Bassman and a Marshall Plexi heads thru a 1960A cab loaded with 75 watt Celestions.
I used a variety of amp in a box pedals with both heads set for a clean tone.

The Quilter was always muddy sounding no matter what. I suppose its fine for jazz or bluesy stuff but just never got that aggressive edge even with the hi cut off and the tri q fully clockwise, regardless of the voice. It needs either a presence knob or a bright switch.

The DV Mark had no such issue and came much closer to the Fender and Marshall.

Bob T.

No mention of the Orange Micro Terror yet? I'm a bit surprised. I had one for a while, and it was stupid for me to get rid of it. 20 watts with a single preamp tube with a solid state power section. Good amount of volume if plugged into a larger cab (2x12 and up), and the preamp tube can be switched out for something with less gain if you need it cleaned up a bit. Great back up amp.
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I purchased a used Crate Power Block from GC last year and it is a great backup amp! It cost me about $100, and has great tone, and feel. I was really surprised when I first plugged it in and heard and felt the tone it put out.

if all you want is a small and portable backup amp, try the Crate Power Block first. They are not made any longer, but also, with NAMM but a couple of weeks away, you might want to wait and see what is coming out there.

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