A professional stage and studio setup needn't cost an arm
and leg. These cheap guitar amp heads will provide you with
and tone you need for the big stage.
Yes, there are even tube amp heads
featured on this page, for those with a more discerning ear willing to
spend a little
Read each review carefully, listen to the clips and use the comparison
table at the foot of the page to decide which is
best for your needs. Rest assured these are the top 3 budget guitar amp
heads as rated by hundreds of users. Many of these users have
been gigging for over 20 years and are comparing these to the "big
of the industry.
Guitar Amp Head for Overdrive
cleans aren't the main ingredient in your playing, and you want that
classic, overdriven Marshall JCM800 vibe, this
100 watt Peavey powerhouse
will give you all the blues, hard rock and classic metal sounds you'll
ever need. All the fire breathing dynamics of a hot tube amp for just
Peavey have stopped making the Windsor Head! Keep an eye on
used market and left over stock at your local stores as this really is
amazing head. The only alternative for buying new is
Tube Amp Head - Discontinued
100 all-tube watts
Great classic rock distortion
Rich feature set including resonance and
100 Watts / Three 12AX7 preamp tubes / Four EL34 power
amp tubes / Single channel / Footswitchable gain boost / Three-band EQ
/ Footswitchable effects loop / Master Volume / Patent-pending Texture
control / Patented Resonance and Presence control / High
and low inputs
What users say
A very simple yet versatile guitar amp head if you're willing to spend
time experimenting with the controls. 4 tubes drive a single channel
with plenty of responsive tweaking options including resonance (for
bass tightness), presence, texture and the standard 3 band EQ with
master volume and pre-amp gain control. There's also input/output for
your effects loop.
100 all tube watts makes the Windsor
monstrously loud (you can even turn it up to 12...!) and considering
it's a distortion amp it's certainly capable of giving you a
domineering kind of presence at gigs. It's general flavour is classic
British crunch and it does what it's seemingly limited to very well.
users compare the Windsor to the Marshall JCM800. In reality
you're not buying a Marshall! It perhaps has a JCM (on steroids) vibe,
that's all. Spend a good deal of time knob twiddling because there is
so much variation that can be dialled in.
Users agreed that the Windsor
will encourage you to make more use of your guitar or pedal board's
volume. Roll back the preamp with this and you'll find some gorgeously
deep, warm cleans which rasp as you strike the strings harder. You
won't get Fender style glassy cleans, but if you wanted them you'd...
buy a fender.
The sweet spot on this amp is with the master on
10 and the gain just at breaking point - let your guitar's volume pot
do the rest. That gets you a balanced variation between rolled back
cleans and bluesy crunch.
The resonance control responsively
tightens up any low end sag on cleaner chord playing. The texture knob
switches between smooth and snarly. Lot's of headroom mean the Windsor
retains its character at higher volumes. Good for mid-heavy blues and
rock (think AC/DC) but will also handle pre-amp
Your pedals will take on a whole new fresh sound
through the Windsor. Keep the pedal's volume down to let the amp's tone
drive it rather than be swamped by it.
Guitar Amp Head - Best for Clean
channel, hand wired, all tube guitar
amp head for under $400, with
plenty of tone
modification options and especially stunning cleans. If you want a
taste of that classic boutique quality that will grace any cab, take a
gander at the Bugera
Tube Amp Head - $360
55 all-tube watts
2 channels with reverb
Rich, vibrant cleans
Hand-built 55 Watt guitar amp head / 2 x 6L6 valves / vintage look
and feel / Authentic 2-channel preamp design with 3 x 12AX7 valves /
Integrated high-class reverb with dedicated Reverb control / Vintage
Equalizer section with dedicated Bass, Mid, Treble and Presence
controls / Normal and Bright inputs / Multi-gain stage Lead channel
with Pre Gain, Post Gain and Master controls / Mode switch to select
between Triode or Pentode operation / Heavy-duty footswitch for Channel
and Reverb function included / Impedance switch (4, 8 and 16 Ohms) to
match virtually any speaker cabinet
What users say
Great feature set for the price. Two switchable channels
(footswitch included) with shared reverb, normal/bright inputs and
effects loop. The shared EQ includes bass, mid, treble and presence.
Also onboard are Pre Gain, Post Gain and Master controls.
backside mode switch allows you to choose between triode and pentode
tube configuration (in plain English, that's softer vs more aggressive
This also helps to tighten/open up your tone and provide some initual
output control for practice vs onstage playing. With such differing
responses to this setting, depending on your guitar, this could well be
the one feature that puts the icing on your tone cake.
55 all tube watts gives the V55HD plenty of power for larger
More on tone... the general picture is that the Bugera shines on the
sparkle with warm and jangly highs, full and rich bass and a natural
but subtle tube driven compression that drip feeds through "endless"
sustain. The resulting clean tones especially complement single coil
pickups. Variation can be dialled in through the responsive EQ and by
playing with master and preamp volume levels. There's enough individual
character in the Bugera head to stand on its own without
comparison being drawn with more costly classics (ahem!
haven't been as thrilled with the dirty channel, mainly because there's
not as much range as with the cleans. Slightly fuzzy perhaps for those
who like a bit more of a tight, bluesy crunch. However, for authentic,
mid-gain, early hard rock and metal tones, the OD can be nicely
smoothed out by tweaking the EQ and is highly responsive to the
guitar's volume knob.
If you do end up craving beefier
distortion, the V55HD provides the perfect platform for introducing
your favourite pedals. The effects loop is missing a level control, but
transparent and with no noticeable noise increase so it "does the job"
for most players.
Peavey Windsor Vs Bugera
Both heads fulfill very different needs, so which one is right for you?
Compare them using the table below...
who want powerful, responsive tube overdrive & distortion as
who just want rich, sparkling cleans or have their own distortion
Can get very
loud. Resonance & texture controls. Powerful vintage overdrive
& distortion. High/Low Gain inputs.
Footswitch. Vibrant cleans. Mode switch for stronger output at low
volumes. Normal/bright inputs.