A practice amp that you can just plug in to and have 10,000+ tones at your disposal.

This 40-Watt practice amp is super easy to set up and use straight out of the box. All you really need to do is connect the power supply, plug in your guitar, switch it on and you’re ready to go.

The first thing that stood out to me is the Spark looks like a real amplifier albeit a small one. It’s not overly heavy, but it has enough of a weighted feeling that makes it feel like a solid amplifier and construction-wise, it’s quite pleasant to look at.

While the Spark amp does not require the use of the accompanying smartphone app (it has dials for volume, tone, amps and more as you would expect), you definitely want to pair this thing via Bluetooth to your phone.

The process was super easy. I turned the amp on, opened up the app and it found the amp and paired with it. That is all there is to it. If you don’t want to bother with the app initially, you don’t have to set anything up except what sounds you want.

I think it is worth focusing on the accompanying Spark app that you install on your phone and/or tablet and use to interact with the amp. If you’re expecting an interface that offers the same level of customization as the standalone Bias FX software, taper your expectations now. Compared to the standalone software, you have a more limited selection.

But still there are thousands and thousands of tones that you can experiment with and download for free.

I love the app’s interface and it’s incredibly responsive on my Galaxy S22+ & Note 10 tablet. Cycle through the different sounds categorized by genre and select one, it’s instantaneous as the amp switches over to the newly selected tone.

Feel free to add distortion, reverb, delay, etc. You’ll easily spend hours just tinkering around.

Keep in mind though… this is sold as a practice amp, not a studio amplifier and recording tool you can use to create endless sounds. It’s meant to be good enough you can use it when you need something to practice or as you will learn, use in different settings.

Positive Grid Spark 40

While 40 watts may not seem like a lot to some, it’s a lot for an amp of this size and especially given that it’s a practice amp.

The reality is no one has space soundproof enough where they can crank an amp to its full volume. If you’re using this in a small setting (like home for example), you’re only going to leverage a fraction of the volume this thing has anyway.

As a test, despite living in the suburbs, I did crank this amp to its highest volume (for research purposes of course) and I was surprised how loud it really was. You could easily use this amp for casual/ small performances. If you wanted to use it for larger performances, you could mic it up and run it into a PA system no problem.

Now, in terms of tonality, I found some of the sounds I played around with a little hit and miss. There are a lot of great clean tones, some awesome gritty rock/blues tones, but when it comes to hi-gain territory, things get interesting.

Playing some of the heavier amp models and sounds, I found the sound to be very bass-heavy through the speaker and using headphones kind of solved the problem. Look, it’s a lot to ask for an amp of this size to be able to go toe-to-toe with the bigger amps (especially tube ones).

Oddly enough, I did discover that some of the sound selections go through what I would call a “burn in” phase where once you choose a sound, if you wait a few seconds, the bass levels seem to come down. I don’t know if this is a bug or maybe just my ears adjusting to the sound change, but it was noticeable.

You’re not going to get crystal clear tones on this amp and I think it is something to be aware of as I have seen some complaints about this. When you’re sold endless opportunities, it’s only natural your mind begins to wander and common sense goes out of the window a little bit.

Dig around on the app and you’ll quickly find some great sounds that others have created. I have found some solid rock and metal tones on there, and some truly hidden gems for Pink Floyd & David Gilmour which were clean and pure in their tone.

Pros

  • You get a whole lotta amp for what I think is a pretty cheap price. I paid $249 but check the Positive Grid website for the latest price
  • Great sounding and versatile amp straight out of the box
  • Thirty three different amp models, each with many options and controls
  • Tons of effects including drives, delays, reverbs, and many others
  • Amps and effects are based on Positive Grid’s famous BIAS engine, and they sound fantastic!
  • More than 10,000 downloadable presets from the Tone Cloud
  • Loads of backing tracks and songs by your favorite artists to stream through the app
  • Auto Chords feature is handy when improvising over a backing track or song
  • Handy built-in guitar tuner
  • Once set up, being able to plug the amp straight into your computer makes it a handy way to record
  • Decent sound just using the amp as a Bluetooth speaker

Cons

  • Some users have complained of humming when turning the amp on. Please check out the Positive Grid Knowledge Base on how to get rid of the hum.

  • The amp can sound a little bass-heavy, so you may want to turn the bass right down
  • Very little documentation available regarding the setup & use of the amp for recording purposes
  • Tone Cloud can feel a bit unorganized at times
Positive Grid Spark 40

As long as you remember the Spark Amp is not intended to replace a real amp, nor is it meant to be a one-to-one hardware version of the Bias FX software, you will be pleasantly surprised how great this little practice amp is. Since owning it, I have found myself playing the guitar a lot more than I usually would because it’s so accessible and all I need to do is turn it on and start playing.

If you’re buying this because you’re a beginner or thinking of buying it for someone else starting out, this is a fantastic learning and practice amp. Arguably, for its price, it is in a league of its own. If you’re an experienced guitarist who has owned real amps and dabbled in other modelling software and hardware, the Spark amp might feel limiting to you.