Though the Mini’s bass response was regularly impressive, the treble response didn’t always have quite as much bloom or complexity as they might in a larger, more powerful amp with increased headroom. Using a flatpick with both the Yamaha and the Taylor 312ce sometimes drove the amp toward fairly compressed territory in the higher frequencies. But it was easy to dial in a bit more dimension and life for the trebles with a touch of reverb. And a slight roll-off of the bass always seemed to even the compression effect across the EQ band.

Players given to strumming will find a lot to like about the Mini. In fact, it often seemed much more balanced in a strumming, high-volume environment where the slightly compressed highs made complex chords a little airier and better defined. A percussive take on the Who’s “Overture” from Tommy—which combines fast, heavy strums, flatpicked runs, and a delicate arpeggio section—revealed not only the Mini’s punch and definition when hit with a Townshendian flurry of strums, but its dynamic range as well. And the amp went from a relative roar to a hush without a significant loss of detail or tone.

To test the Mini’s full gigging potential, I plugged a vocal mic into the Mic channel and summoned a nicely balanced guitar and vocal blend—complete with a dollop of digital reverb for my voice—that would work well for a small, not-too-loud café or house concert. I even had some fun cranking the reverb and chorus on the Instrument channel and the reverb on the vocal mic to do a little Neil-Young-via-The-Twilight-Zone set in my living room. It’s probably not what Larry Fishman had in mind for the Mini, but the amp performed gloriously anyway—maintaining harmonic balance, tonal integrity, and that impressive bass bloom throughout my experiments with its digital effects.

The Verdict

If you’re an acoustic player who rarely gigs out of the comfy confines of a coffeehouse, small restaurant, or bookstore, the Fishman Loudbox Mini may be the only amp you need. It’s surprisingly loud, projects well, and responds to a dynamic touch at high or low volume. The amp’s bass response is exemplary. And though fingerpicking and flatpicking styles that emphasize single notes can highlight the amp’s tendency to compress high frequencies, that same tendency can work well for strumming and pounding out complex chords. Whatever your musical style, the Fishman Loudbox Mini is an exceptional acoustic amp that sounds bigger, richer, and more expensive than its size or price would suggest.
Buy if...
you play small venues and need a high-quality, rich-sounding acoustic amp for a rock-bottom price.
Skip if...
you jam with a loud band or play larger venues where you can’t count on a PA.

Street $300 - Fishman Transducers -