Many guitarists are reluctant to buy cheap tube amps because they
assume, based on wattage alone, they don't have enough power for the
However, because of the way in which tube amps handle
distortion caused by clipping, much of that distortion is simply heard
as extra volume and "warmth".
other words, tube amps use watts more "economically" than solid state
amps. So even as little as 15 watts goes a long way in the right
So rest assured the below highly rated tube combos
small-mid size gigging. Even better if you can mic up. For under $500
you can get that irresistable tube tone for the stage, studio and home
Watt Cheap Tube Amp
it simple. If you prefer to shape your tone through external
effects and/or you just need a great vintage clean tube amp with some
optional crunch, this
lil' Hot Rod will give you that perfect retro
voice for the small stage and studio.
Simple, minimalistic operation. Warm, complex Fender tube tones on a
budget. 10 inch Fender Special Design speaker
with vintage cone.
120V / 15 Watts / 10" Fender Special Design Speaker / 2 x 12AX7 Pre Amp
Tubes / 2 x EL84 Power Tubes / Single Channel / Master Volume,
Master Tone / Chrome Hardware
/ "Dog Bone" Handle /
Black Front Panel / Black Textured Vinyl Covering with Blackface Style
Grille Cloth / Vintage Pointer Knobs
What users say
Part of the legendary Hot Rod series and as simple as guitar amps get -
single channel with one volume and one tone knob. This is the ultimate
in no nonsense, lightweight amplification, for those who like to grab
and go and perhaps have enough shape to dial in on their effects board
so don't need the onboard features.
all tube watts drive a 10 inch Special Design speaker with vintage
cone. Enough volume for the small stage. You won't need to crank it
past 5 before your drummer and bass player complain. Even better if
you're micing up.
expected, the Junior is vintage vibe through and through, delivering
multidimensional tube tones and those distinctively sparkling Fender
under $500, although not with as much headroom as many of
The Junior adds a husky warmth to those naturally twangy single coils,
retains that high end crispness and strong midrange presense. The
result is a kind of crystal clarity that you won't typically find on
cheap tube amps.
Very responsive to the guitar's volume pot - pull it
back for some fat, middy cleans, push it along with the amp's volume to
breakup the tubes for some organic, bluesy grit.
delivers warm, thick jazz tones through the neck position, smoothing
out that breakup crunch. Just don't expect any crushing, modern
rock/metal tones unless you have the right pedals. On that note, the
Junior takes external effects especially well, without interfering with
any EQ you dial in on your pedals.
Overall, it brings out, rather than saturates the natural tone of your
guitar, so to truly do it justice you
should be playing a decent quality axe through it (i.e. any of the
guitars featured on this site!).
It's worth noting that many
users did swap out the stock tubes and even the speaker. Only personal
preference can dictate whether you do the same, but out of the box you
can expect "that Fender sound" in spadefuls - bright, pure and pristine
cleans... and LOUD.
may want more onboard control over your vintage tone. If so,
take a look at this
Bugera tube amp offering, complete with
a buttery drive channel and more rounded cleans. If the Fenders sound a
too glassy and sharp for your ears, but you want to retain that vintage
boutique vibe, here's as good a compromise as you'll find under $400...
Boutique style 22 watt tube amp. 2 channels. Triode / pentode mode
switch. Normal and bright inputs. Connectors for a range of external
22 Watts / 12" vintage speaker / 2-channel preamp with 3 x
12AX7 valves / 2 x EL84 power valves / Integrated reverb with dedicated
Reverb control / Bass, Mid, Treble and Presence controls / Boost switch
/ Normal and
Bright inputs / Multi-gain stage Lead channel with Pre, Post gain and
Master controls / Mode switch - Triode or Pentode operation / 4, 8 and
16 Ohms impedance connectors
dual channel (clean and lead) tri-valved preamp feed a Bugera 12 inch
speaker. Bright and normal inputs, rear pentode and triode selector, 3
band EQ with presence knob and mid boost switch give you ample control
over your sound. The impedence switch features 4, 8 and 16 ohms
allowing you to extend to virtually any speaker cabinet available.
Another feature which the V22 out boasts the Junior is the
integrated (albeit digital, subtle) reverb.
You'll also find a channel/reverb footswitch included which is always a
So it's less of a "one trick pony", less reliant on external effects
than the Junior.
to pentode, the tubes fire up at full power and give your cleans a
saturated, dynamic presence that will breath life into your stage
playing. For late night bedroom recordings, the triode switch will help
pull everything back intelligently.
The cleans may not shine as
brightly as a Fender, but what it lacks in sparkle it makes up for in
full bodied warmth and spank, mellowed out through the normal
input. Spankier and
darker than the Junior, but with a meatier overdrive channel (remember,
the Junior only has 1 channel). It's also $40
or so cheaper, which will tip the balance for many.
Although ultimately reserved in that graceful old school
way, it has enough tonal range to extend a decade or so beyond the
Junior into classic rock and proto-thrash on the dirty channel. Less
about dry breakup crunch or edgy distortion, more about supple, smooth
and blended overdrive, enhanced, of course, with humbuckers.