My Personal Recommendations
These are the amplifiers that I personally have and use ALL the time. As well as direct to a PA at times such as a Mackie Reach, Fishman SA Series , or house PA.
- AER Compact 60/3 —Light weight, portable and a great sound. This and the Fishman Loudbox amps are the first amps that I use that I could dial in the sound that I was looking for really fast without much effort. This is my (Curt) personal favorite.
- Henriksen The Bud •The Bud is the without question the smallest, TRULY GIGABLE guitar amplifier on the market with unmatched tone quality! At 9x9x9 inches, 17 pounds and 120 watts of analog power, you won’t believe the volume and tone coming from either your electric or acoustic guitar, or any stringed instrument with a pickup for that matter, and with a feature set that allows you the versatility to cover almost any kind of gig. Lil' Rev and Gerald Ross use this amp all the time.
- Fishman Loudbox Series • As a dealer for Fishman products at our family music store, Funky Frets in Boyertown, we carry the full line of Fishman Loudbox amplifiers. Fishman is a great, affordable choice. (2023 Update: Been using the Fishman Mini Charge on the last few gigs — so convenient and sounds amazing.)
- Yamaha THR Series • For ukulele I have and use the THR5A (SOLD), the acoustic modeling version. It sits right on my desk for quick access. Really nice to practice with in an amplified scenario like performing. Also great for ukulele meetups and jams when you are called on to take a solo. (2023 Update: The new THR-II Series looks and sounds amazing — something else for my wishlist ;-))
Beyond the LearningUkulele.com recommendations, other brands that offer acoustic amplifiers and portable PA systems are below.
Curt's Personal Favorite and Gigging Amp
AER Audio Electric Research
USA / Canada Distributor
325 Bouchard Blvd.
Canada H9S 1A9
Phone: +1 (866) 832-8679
Fax: +1 (800) 563-2948
from the AER Audio Electric Research web site
Hand-built in Germany, AER amps are widely considered to be the hallmark of acoustic amplification.
Since 1992, our company has used high-quality components, sophisticated circuit technology, and precision craftsmanship to convert their designs into melodious sound.
At AER, electronics still means a great deal of manual work. Measuring and simulation do not suffice. In the end, every single amp is played and checked for sound and function. A small, dedicated and extremely talented team of just over 20 employees are kept busy checking, equipping, documenting, installing, assembling, and checking all over again!
The Compact 60 has proven that there is an all-round, small, powerful and yet simple to use complete solution for stage, stu- dio and home use that works up to the highest demands and standards of acoustic players.
It has found many friends around the world with it's size smiled at in the beginning being it's second strongest side. It has be- come the standard equipment "the amp of choice" for those musicians who value sound, simplicity and independence. It has qualified for nearly all instruments and applications. 60 watts, dynamic control, (200 mm) twin cone speaker, Twin-channel, 3 and 2 band EQ, digital effects, 6,5 kg (14.3 lbs)
I use the AER Compact 60/3 for my ukulele, acoustic guitar, classical guitar as well as my seven string archtop guitar - even a bass. A pretty versatile amp to be able to cover all theses playing situations. Have even ran my tele through it with great success.
The Alpha defines the starting point of professional acoustic amplification at AER. Based on the success and the experience with the Compact 60 we developed an even smaller lightweight model that has no difficulties living up to the rigors of the road.
Open sounding and quick in response this amp masters different ranges and is thus not afraid of bigger instruments. 40 watts, dynamic control, 8ohm (200 mm) twin cone speaker, Single-channel, two inputs, digital reverb, 6,1 kg (13.5 lbs)
More information available on the AER Audio Electric Research's web site.
Even more information, discussion and comments on this listing below.
L. R. Baggs
We started this in a loft in downtown Los Angeles, California, with a hope and a dream, and no business sense whatsoever. The first L.R. Baggs product was our LB6 Series Pickup. We would like to thank Leo Kottke for his early support. Stores would call us and say, "Leo Kottke said he was using your pickup." We could literally track his touring route as the stores would order in his wake. Early endorsers were Steven Sheehan of the Judds, James Taylor and Kathy Mattea. These endorsers gave us the encouragement and support that sustained us when we had more enthusiasm than business sense. They spread the word and gradually our business grew.
The "Henriksen JazzAmp" was created in 2006 to satisfy a void in the marketplace for a jazz archtop guitar amplifier that produced a pure and true reproduction of the instrument's tone. After having purchased a number of amps, and trying out an even larger number purporting to be jazz friendly amplifiers, I saw a common flaw in the basic design of all of these amps, at least for playing jazz. To my way of looking at it, that common flaw was in the institution of tone circuitry. Why not, I thought, create an amp with no tone controls at all. That would leave "tone color" decisions as the exclusive province of the instrument. The presumption is made that a high quality jazz archtop inherently has built in the jazz tone desired which then only needs to be made louder. Time and market acceptance has proven this to be a valuable insight.
Fender Musical Instruments Corporation (FMIC)
Fender Musical Instruments Corporation (FMIC) is the world’s leading guitar manufacturer, and its name has become synonymous with all things rock ‘n’ roll. Iconic Fender® instruments such as the Telecaster®, Stratocaster®, Precision Bass® and Jazz Bass® guitars are known worldwide as the instruments that started the rock revolution, and they continue to be highly prized by today’s musicians and collectors.
Boss (Roland Corporation U.S.)
Known around the world as the company that put the “stomp” in “stompbox,” BOSS is the division of Roland Corporation most easily recognized for its legendary line of colorful guitar and bass effects pedals. But beyond these killer pedals, BOSS has pushed the envelope for over 30 years with innovative multi-effects, rhythm machines, personal digital studios and other easy-to-use instruments for musicians of all types. Put simply, BOSS gives you the great-sounding tools you need to spend less time tweaking and more time playing.
Orange Musical Electronic Company, Ltd.
With their bright colours, sci-fi controls and distinctive crest, Orange amps couldn’t have been born in any other decade or any other country. When Cliff Cooper opened a music shop and recording studio in the summer of 1968, he never imagined that from this near-derelict premises in the heart of swinging London, a sound and a brand would emerge that would still be going strong more than forty years later. The tone and expertise of a host of famous names went into the development of the first Orange amps. Guitar luminaries like Peter Green and Paul Kossoff plugged into early prototypes at the Orange Shop, and their feedback was baked into the amp circuitry. Orange has sounded like no one else since.
More than a quarter of a century ago, Trace Elliot redefined what bass guitar amplification is about and has been at the forefront of new developments ever since. Along the way Trace Elliot has been responsible for introducing and popularizing many features that are now industry standards. Continuing the evolution of this British designed brand, the company remains committed to its original philosophies of quality, flexibility and reliability.
Roland Corporation is a leading manufacturer and distributor of electronic musical instruments, including keyboards and synthesizers, guitar products, electronic percussion, digital recording equipment, amplifiers, and audio processing devices. With over 40 years of innovation that continues to shape the sound of modern music, Roland sets the standards in music technology for the world to follow.
Other Notable Acoustic Amp Manufactures
Sweatwater has a great article on the 10 Best Acoustic Guitar Amps (2202-07-10)
Here are a few more possibilities for the Ukulele:
- Acoustic Image
- Hughes & Kettner
- Positive Grid
- TC-Helicon Harmony
* I've (Curt) have had these amps in the past, pre-AER.