Years ago, in what we may refer to as the Before-Time, I had a sweet home office, a dedicated room that my desktop, various collectables and musical equipment all called home. Then, the addition of two kids took a noticeable toll on my once expansive private empire. Now my computer and podcasting rig has been relegated to a tiny corner of the den, many of my prize records and action figures moved to my work office and my music gear? Well, the less said about that unfortunate fate the better.
The simple truth is, like so many musical GeekDads, I have come to the conclusion that downsizing isn’t necessarily a dirty word. I don’t need a half stack. I don’t need a pegboard show wall. I don’t need a pedal board longer than my arm. When I make music I do it for my own enjoyment, and occasionally for the benefit of any family member or house pet that may be within earshot. Recently I’ve been doing these impromptu house shows using the Vox Mini3, a little practice amp with great big sound.
The Mini3 is best thought of as a smaller budget model of the Valvetronix series, and just like its bigger brothers it boasts the flexibility of Vox’s modeling technology. This 3-watt dynamo, with its unassuming five inch speaker, can ape any of 11 individual amp models. From a warm, bright clean channel to the smooth low-end of the Bassman-styled Tweed 4×10, the British Invasion jangle of the AC15/AC30 to the massive crunch of US hi-gain, this little guy cranks out practically any sound imaginable.
It supplements these offerings with a suite of four onboard effects – compression, chorus, flanger and tremolo – and a variable delay/reverb control that nicely smartens up acoustic-electrics. Add to this a dedicated microphone and auxiliary inputs (the former of which features independent trim controls), an in-line tuner and the option to go portable by popping in six AAA batteries, and you’ve got yourself a great companion for family barbecues and, at least in my case, the occasional round of drunken punk rock karaoke.
Selling for around $100 on Amazon, the Vox Mini3 provides amazing quality, inspired flexibility and surprising volume for the money. You do, however, make a few sacrifices for your frugality. With no footswitch option you’re forced to manually twiddle its mini-oven knobs to control effects, tone and amp modeling, which makes pulling off dynamic sound shifts mid-song nigh impossible. Likewise, the lack of a dedicated line-out means that for recording purposes you’re either relying on the 3.5mm headphone jack or, as my pal Jay so eloquently put it, “sticking an SM57 in front of the speaker.” Assuming, of course, that your Shures weren’t also lost to the four winds.
For practicing, noodling or the occasional casual, street corner-style strum-fest, the Vox Mini3 is tough to beat. With an expansive array of modeling options and a footprint that’s diminutive by any standard, it’s an ideal way to acknowledge the restrictions of fatherhood while still indulging your inner rocker.
Review materials provided by: Vox