What Is a Pignose® Amplifier?

Lori Kilchermann

A Pignose® amplifier is a battery-powered guitar amplifier that is designed to be used as a practice amp as well as a preamp. It can be wired into a larger amplifier or public address (PA) system. Created in the mid 1960s, the Pignose® amplifier is the first battery-powered, portable amplifier of its kind. Using built-in strap posts, the small amplifier can be slung over the guitar player's shoulder by attaching a guitar strap to the amplifier's strap posts. The Pignose® amplifier operates on six AA batteries as well as an optional alternating current (AC) power cord and features a volume knob that resembles a pig's nose.

A Pignose amplifier is a battery-powered guitar amplifier that is designed to be used as a practice amp.
A Pignose amplifier is a battery-powered guitar amplifier that is designed to be used as a practice amp.

One problem facing electric guitar players is the inability to clearly hear the sound of an unplugged electric guitar when practicing. Often, an amplifier is not a realistic option due to the absence of an electrical outlet to plug the amplifier into. The Pignose® amplifier is a battery-powered option that is both compact in size and easy to carry along, while also producing a full-size sound from five watts of power. Turning the unique volume knob on the Pignose® amplifier will produce a variety of sounds, from clean tones to powerfully distorted music. The distinctive sound of the Pignose® amplifier makes it a popular studio pre-amp when musicians are recording.

Taking up no more room than a small shoebox, the compact size of the Pignose® makes it a good choice for the songwriter who chooses to use an electric guitar while writing. The battery power option enables the compact amplifier to go along to nearly any location that offers inspiration and motivation to the writer and offers the option of the electric guitar in place of the acoustic version. The amplifier features a case that is covered in a tough material, complete with chromed, steel corner protectors. The amplifier's case opens via a hinge and lock, and this setup enables the user to produce many distinctive sounds from the amp.

The Pignose® amplifier is a versatile product that can be used as a preamp to provide a special type of distortion effect to the sound of the guitar. One of the most unique features of the little amplifier is its ability to make a wah-wah-type sound when the case is opened and closed by the player's assistant. Pignose Industries was sold to Howard Chatt in 1985 and is operated under the Pignose-Gorilla® banner.

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Discussion Comments


@Soulfox -- Glorified practice amp? I don't know about that. I would call it a very good practice amp with a lot of bang for the buck. Heck, plenty of famed guitarists have brought these to the recording studios because they like the tone enough to capture it on tape. That is one heck of an endorsement.

And using tubes in this amp just wouldn't work. Tube amps are heavy and use a considerable amount of power. The Pignose was designed to be portable and run off of batteries. Transistors were the only option for this amp.

As for effects, what do you expect out of an amp you can pick up for around $100 or less? You get great distortion, a good clean sound and an amp that sounds different when the case is opened and close. That is a lot of flexibility for the money.


These sound fine and all, but I wish they were a bit more flexible. The effects are almost nonexistent (clean an distortion) and a good reverb setting is sorely missed. Also, these use transistor circuitry instead of better sounding tubes so the tone is a bit harsh.

Still, for what it is, the Pignose amp isn't bad at all. People thinking about getting one of these shouldn't get too excited though because this is little more than a glorified practice amp.

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