Acoustic guitars are a ache within the ass to journey with. They’re greater, frailer, and sometimes costlier than their solid-body electrical guitar counterparts—and so they make us look lamer too. So why do many people lug them on airplanes or toss a tough case at the back of the SUV for a tenting journey? Volume. Ain’t no guitar amps in lodge rooms or the woods.
But, like … what if there have been? That’s the place the brand new Positive Grid Mini is available in. It’s an app-controlled Bluetooth speaker that allows you to play your favourite tunes and your favourite axe on the identical time. It has USB-C recharging for straightforward juice-ups, and it even comes with buttons for a guitar strap, do you have to wish to play on the transfer.
As far as moveable guitar apply, efficiency, and even recording goes, the Spark Mini is a one-stop store for non-studio jams. Bring alongside a beater solid-body electrical guitar (or bass) and an instrument cable, and you can also badly imitate Eddie Van Halen anyplace.
The Spark Mini has a ton of performance out there inside Positive Grid’s app, however the system itself could be very plug-and-play. Unbox the 6-inch dice, cost it up, and the small amp (which actually does appear like a shrink ray hit your favourite Marshall) is able to rock. Much like its predecessor, the full-size Spark (8/10, WIRED Recommends), it was designed for apply and recording use in bedrooms and small studios. This newer model is smaller and has a battery.
Press an influence button on the again and maintain the Bluetooth pairing button to hook up with your cellphone. Now you’ve obtained your self an incredible little stereo Bluetooth speaker, with quantity managed by a knob on high that is labeled “Music.” Plug your guitar into the quarter-inch jack on high, choose between one in all 4 amp presets, and you may play alongside to your tunes, utilizing a “Guitar” knob to match the music quantity. It’s a easy, elegant system that may have you ever taking part in in beneath a minute.
The little amp has toes to regular it and guitar strap holders on either side to tote it round, with something from a string to an precise leather-based strap. It is available in white or black, which is a pleasant contact for matchy-matchy folks with white guitars. You may even swap the usual gold and black speaker grill for a purple one if you’d like it to look a bit extra steel.
Beyond that, it doubles as a guitar interface for recording, through the USB-C port or line-out jacks on the again, which is vastly useful for sketching out tune concepts if you happen to’ve obtained a laptop computer in tow (see under for some primary recordings).
Ten watts of solid-state amplification push sound to 2 small angled drivers, aiming to present you respectable stereo results even whenever you’re sitting fairly near the amp. The 4 essential presets linked to the far left knob (Custom, Solo, Lead, and Rhythm) provide primary sounds with varied quantities of crunch, reverb, and delay, however you’ll actually have the ability to get essentially the most out of the Spark Mini through the use of the Positive Grid app and customizing your tones in there.
Inside the app, you possibly can select between (and edit) 1000’s of various presets, with tons of simulated amps and pedals, for actually any guitar tone beneath the solar. You can map new sounds to the preset knob, which makes it tremendous straightforward to change between rhythm guitar and lead tones for soloing. You simply want a free second to twist the knob. Positive Grid additionally makes a footswitch, however at $100, I’d save the money until I used to be taking part in reside quite a bit.
The app additionally allows you to play together with songs, and it could possibly even detect chords if you happen to’re struggling to determine tips on how to play one thing. These are options I do not actually use, however if you happen to’re a newbie they might be useful. It’s good that they are simply bundled without cost. You may also tune your guitar utilizing the lights on the preset knob, however to be trustworthy it is fairly troublesome, and it will not inform you if you happen to’re tuned to the fallacious be aware fully. Stick to a headstock tuner or an app in your cellphone.
I’m extra impressed with the sound itself. It’s superb how far guitar amp-style digital sign processing (DSP) has come previously decade, and the Spark Mini is a shining instance of the leading edge. I personal and commonly play via classic Fender and Roland guitar amps, and the Spark Mini does exceptionally nicely at replicating these tones—albeit with a bit much less oomph than I hear out of two 10- or 12-inch audio system.
Out and About
As the climate has been getting nicer right here in Portland, Oregon, I’ve taken to taking part in with the Spark Mini out on my patio towards the top of the day. It’s a welcome respite from the windowless room I normally apply in. A change of place can usually be the important thing to ending a tune I’m scuffling with, or for letting go after a protracted day on the keyboard. Having cool electrical guitar tones (and precise songs to play alongside to!) makes me really feel a lot much less like a poor man’s Jack Johnson.
Bass gamers will like that this can be a strong choice for them, too, although low finish from the small included woofer is considerably restricted. Still, it’s adequate to listen to your self (and has respectable tone at decrease volumes).
As an interface, it presents stereo outs, and the recording high quality is strong. For studio periods, I’d nonetheless attain for my Universal Audio OX and an actual tube amp, however lead traces or single-note stuff from the Spark Mini may completely make it onto a ultimate monitor. I’ve included a number of sound samples so you may get an thought of what I imply. (Pardon my noodly blues taking part in and out-of-tune barre chords, I’m a drummer first!)
For beneath $200, it’s actually powerful to call a guitar-playing device I like extra. I want that it obtained greater than eight hours of battery life, however in any other case I can’t discover a lot to not love. If you want taking part in electrical guitar alone (or with a small band) exterior of your bed room or studio, that is the best way to go.