Dirty-South Blues Harp forum: wail on! > Best battery powered/busking amp?
Best battery powered/busking amp?
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767 posts
Jun 13, 2011
5:54 PM
I am looking for the best battery powered/busking amp.

I am notoriously cheap, but would like to know all of the possibilities.

Anyone out there had success/ horror stories with their amp while busking?


Last Edited by on Jun 13, 2011 5:55 PM
1633 posts
Jun 13, 2011
7:13 PM
With a Duracell rechargeable power pack you can use any amp you want on the street all day long--they cost about $125, I think. . .
Always be yourself--unless you suck. . .
-Joss Whedon
2521 posts
Jun 13, 2011
7:43 PM

Wait a minute. Your post is blowing my mind. I went searching. Are you talking about the following unit?:


Will this unit really power, for example, a couple of small tube amps on the street for 4-5 hours? If so, the whole game has just changed.

Let me tell you why. I've been informed that the Kin Biscuit Festival in Helena will no longer allow buskers to plug in. This means that while I AM allowed to busk this October, I'll need to use my pair of Mouses.

That's not a bad thing, but still: wouldn't it be neat to have a battery powerpack that would let me use small tube amps?

If the unit I've put up on the screen is what you're talking about, please let me know! And if it's not, please let me know what unit you ARE talking about. Thanks.
768 posts
Jun 13, 2011
9:33 PM
Man, a low cost battery pack would be very nice! Be happy to use what I have already. I can't wait to hear either.

I'd still be happy to hear about other amps, but anxiously awaiting you Oldwailer!

44 posts
Jun 13, 2011
10:07 PM
Can it handle 4 hours of loud? I'm going to find out, I just ordered one for less than $120 delivered from Amazon.
1634 posts
Jun 13, 2011
10:18 PM
@kudzurunner and @KingoBad--Yep, that's the one!

I don't think I have ever had a tube amp plugged into the Duracell 600HD, since I only have a couple of solid state amps. So I don't really know about the performance with tube amps--especially if they draw more power than a SS amp. I got lucky and scored two of these things on the Home Shopping Network (Actually, my wife found them) for $50 each. I've been using them for about three years--you can leave them charging in storage--so they're always ready to go.

Here's what I do know--I have run a 50 watt generic guitar amp, with an 8-track mixer with lines out to 2 mics, one guitar, and four pick-ups in my foot drums for up to 5 hours (I forgot to turn it off on breaks).
I have never run it down. Another time, I used it to start my car in the winter. I also started a mobile home with it once.

Once I left one unplugged from charge for several months--when I went to check it, it was still fully charged and ready to go.

The thing is seriously worth a look--it comes with a charger that works from a cig lighter in your car--I car-camped and busked for 7 straight days last summer--used it for charging my phone and computer at night--and I never ran it down. I just kept it plugged in and charging whenever I was running the engine of the car. It also has a light and a radio--the light is handy if you're camping--the radio is pretty crappy.

When I first got the thing I carefully checked the output voltages before plugging anything of value in--it checked out fine. I have never damaged anything I plugged into it.

It works for me--but you should definitely test run it with tube amps first to make sure you don't get noise or something--I think it would work with any amp there is--it has three 120 volt plugs on the unit.

They are a bit heavy--but the handle makes them easy to tote around--at least as portable as any amp I ever owned.

@Gnarly--Yeah--they don't give a crap how loud you are!
Always be yourself--unless you suck. . .
-Joss Whedon

Last Edited by on Jun 13, 2011 10:23 PM
53 posts
Jun 14, 2011
8:55 AM
The doc on these chargers shows that they contain a "Sealed, non-spillable 28 amp hour AGM battery".

28 amp hours is quite a bit of juice. That means, theoretically, you can draw 1 amp for 28 hours. You would not want to discharge the battery that far, but depending on how much they actually draw, a 5 or 6 watt amp should go for a while. AGM (Absorbed Glass Matt) batteries are really good for this type of use.

Using this calculator:

It shows that 120 volts at 6 watts is 0.05 amps.

The amp gurus will have to weigh in on how much a 6 watt tube amp actually draws but I'm guessing it's not a lot more that the calculation shows. If you check the main fuse in your amp, let's say it is a 5 amp fuse, you know the amp can't possibly pull more than 5 amps or it would blow that fuse. You could then use that as a worst case scenario when figuring how long you can play.
826 posts
Jun 14, 2011
10:40 AM
Danny....I have a Pignose 7-100 battery powered amp and I really like it. It is a bit of a one trick pony and gives a good crunchy tone but you can alter this slightly by undoing the clips on the side and opening up the back. I have also owned a few of the battery powered fender and Marshall mini amps but I wouldn't recommend them for busking.
The pignose lasts a LONG time on 4 AA batteries.
I have played through a Roland battery powered amp which had lots of bells and whistles on it and sounded great but I can't remember the model number but I know some of the other members have them and I'm sure they'll tell you about them.

I paid £90 for the Pignose here in the UK but I know you can pick them up much cheaper than this in the US and even cheaper on ebay.They are a very robust little amp.

Last Edited by on Jun 14, 2011 10:43 AM
147 posts
Jun 14, 2011
10:46 AM
I use a Vox DA-20 which has 2x6.5" speakers and a bunch of digital models on it. I found an article on the Vox site that showed how to modify it to run at full power (10w) instead of 5w on batteries, by switching the D cells with an SLA battery. Then I doubled the time I could use it by adding a second SLA, as the digital modeling eats up the amp hours of the batteries. It now weighs a ton.

I have one of those jump starter batteries for my car, and I've always wondered how long I could run a small tube amp off of it. I've never tested it though, so I'd be interested to hear what the theory might be!
448 posts
Jun 14, 2011
11:27 AM
I just looked at 3 of my amps.

Epi Valve Jr. comsumes 35 watts. Watts divided by volts equals amps, .33

Champ 600, 33 watts. .28 amps

Blackheart little giant, comsumes 45VA?
45 posts
Jun 14, 2011
11:53 AM
I would say the battery pack thing is a great way to go! But since you said you are still interested.

I use a roland micro cube with 8 rechargable AA batteries. I have busked for 4 hours straight at about 1/2 volume which is loud enough to make a splash without getting complaints and not run out of juice yet. I use the effects on it to switch things up for songs and make it a bit more entertaining for folks that sit a listen for a while, like clean or overdriven.

Not as cool a sound as a tube amp but super light and easy to haul

hope that helps.

Jim Rumbaugh
516 posts
Jun 14, 2011
12:16 PM
This looks like a very nice gadget to have. I want one too.

I did read that the output is a modified sine wave. This usually means your will hear some buzz through the amp. That means turn down the treble and up the bass. That was my experince with other inverter power supplies used with a PA.

There are pure sine wave inverters. Our club has one that we use for parades. But pure sine inverters cost more, and I have never seen one bundled so conveintley with a battery.
The WV State Harmonica Championship at The Diamond Teeth Mary Blues Festival Aug 27th & 28th 2011, Huntington,WV
8 posts
Jun 14, 2011
12:21 PM
Hi there, I've been busking with a Roland Street Cube for the past four years. It is amazing - can put guitar and harp through simultaneously and I can guarantee that it will pay for itself; mine has many times over!
254 posts
Jun 14, 2011
1:59 PM
This website seems to have some information on batteries & inverters that might useful for anyone that wants to busk outside.
Miles Dewar
945 posts
Jun 14, 2011
4:03 PM
Lectrosonics Maxi Mouse SMT.

Saturday I saw a couple Japanese fellows Busking. They were using 2 orange jumper packs. That was the first time I had ever even thought of that. Duh!
---Go Chicago Bears!!!---
235 posts
Jun 14, 2011
6:40 PM
I highly recommend the Roland Micro Cube RX. It's not the same as the regular Roland Micro Cube, which is also a fine amp.

Roland Micro Cube RX

I have one. It has awesome tone and many functions, including 3 band equalizer, reverb, delay, chorus, flanger and much more. You can adjust the sound to be as clean or dirty as you like. You can plug in a mp3 player and play along with a back-up track.

It is plenty loud and will play for at least 10 hours at maximum volume on 6 AA batteries. I use NiMh re-chargeable AA batteries.

It is solidly built for hard outdoor use.

Check it out. You won't be disappointed.


Watch Jaybird play harp!

Last Edited by on Jun 16, 2011 5:39 AM
1337 posts
Jun 16, 2011
1:40 AM

This piece of kit looks amazing. Would it be worth having a permanent record of links to essential or desirable kit? Maybe Adam should approve everything first, otherwise I can see it degenerating into a list of 15,000 items that people think are vaguely interesting.

Those who are tardy do not get fruit cup.
104 posts
Oct 22, 2011
1:49 AM
Reporting back--
The Duracell battery pack gave me just over an hour of loud--next time I am going to run the main amp off its own battery, to save juice.
Mainly I have to have this kind of unit to run electronics . . . the main amp is a Carvin Stagemate, it runs on its own battery.
Hobostubs Ashlock
1556 posts
Oct 22, 2011
4:24 AM
My teacher at my online harmonica school,Tony Eyers from harmonica academy,has a artickle on busking and he has explained a way to build a busking amp setup,that might be cool to build,it basically is a car battery,and a car stereo amp,and speaker box,you need a amp that can be ran in brigded mode,he also has a 9 volt regulator running off the 12 volt battery for running a couple pedals and a battery powered mixer and eq ,he says it will run for about 4 hours and it and a spare battery can fit in a back pack,Im thinking of trying to build one.

Last Edited by on Oct 22, 2011 7:41 AM
Hobostubs Ashlock
1557 posts
Oct 22, 2011
4:37 AM
One question I cant firgure out and I just reread the artickle on building it,is how you get the mic to plug in to the setup.Its a interesting setup,but I still have questions myself on it.But some of the tec.guys on here might know.
1523 posts
Oct 22, 2011
5:14 AM
i like the roland street cube.
3 inputs (2 with effects).
you can plug in your mic and use some modeling and effects. plug in a mic for vocals and use some effects. and plug in an ipod for backing tracks.
it is light but rugged.
439 posts
Oct 22, 2011
5:24 AM
After Adam showed me his Maxi Mouse, I picked one up. I have several nice modern battery powered amps, Roland, Vox and Crate. The Mouse just sounds better than all of them and has two channels with separate volume and tone controls. Of course, they stopped making these in the 80's, but Letrosonic will work on them and they still sells the battery.
Miles Dewar
1136 posts
Oct 22, 2011
7:13 AM
Yes! The Lectrosonics Maxi Mouse SMT is a Fantastic amp! The ads were not lying when they said "The Mouse Roars". ;)

rbeetsme, where did you pick one up at?
440 posts
Oct 22, 2011
11:05 AM
I think I found it on eBay. It was in good shape, still charges fine. I was surprised how nice it sounds.

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