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Top 10 Best Tube Amps For The Money 2019 Reviews

When you want to produce quality guitar sound during your live performances, you need an amplifying device to address sound complexities. A tube amplifier makes your sound come alive and lessens distortion of sound moving through the air.

This device plays a significant role in producing a rich, clean tone with real depth to make your music a little “spongy.” A tube amp yields a warmer musical tone compared to other alternatives.

After spending hours searching the internet, we rounded up the best Tube Amps to help you determine which works best for your musical needs. Also, catch our list of the Top 10 Best Guitar Speaker Cabinets here.

Compared to a solid state amp, tube amplifiers are pricier over time because they require constant filament replacement. But unlike the solid-state amplifier, these best tube amps are much more responsive and are generally preferred by traditional rock musicians because of their acoustic reverb, harmonic distortions, and optimum sound levels.

Best Tube Amps

Top 10 Best Tube Amps For The Money 2019 Reviews


1 Ibanez TSA15 1 x 12 15-Watts All Tube Combo Guitar Amplifier

Built into the circuitry of the Ibanez TSA15 is a tube screamer which produces a clean and rich guitar tone. It blends perfectly with the CELESTION speakers and the overdrive pedals. The TSA15 features a foot-switchable function, level controls, tone controls, and the tube screamer overdrive. Available in two distinct designs, the TSA15H and TSA15, both tube amplifiers can be switched between 5W and 15W mode with just a flick of the switch at the back. The TSA15 tube amp provides the versatility you need to record, rehearse, and play music for mid-to-large sized venues.


Ibanez TSA15 1 x 12 15-Watts All Tube Combo Guitar Amplifier

Our rating:4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

Features

Plugging the Ibanez TSA15 all-tube combo guitar amplifier instantly gives you access to its true-tube tone amplifier features combined with its legendary sound distortion and the TS9 Tube Screamer overdrive pedals. However, the most notable features of the TSA15 include:

  • Built-in Tube Screamer attached to the circuit board.
  • 12” Celestion Seventy80 Speakers
  • Dual-mode power switch between 5-watts to a full 15-watts
  • Switchable 6dB sound boosts for preamp section high gear kicks
  • 12A7-driven preamp
  • All-tube amplifications
  • 6V6-driven amp sounds.
  • Stompbox-style distortion
  • Amp drive with the built-in Tube Screamer
  • Timeless, rich, and clean tone with the Celestion Speaker system.
  • Sonic versatility with TSA15’s effects loops.
  • Tube Screamer toggling
  • Optional footswitch (IFS2G model)

Pros

  • The built-in Tube Screamer provides a clean and excellent quality tone which works perfectly to give you a solid headroom.
  • Gives you the ability to switch between 5W or 15W.
  • Nice built and finish.
  • Better sound quality compared to other tube amps costing more.

Cons

  • No reverb features.
  • Needs turning on for a couple of minutes before adjusting the amp to the max to avoid having unnecessary

2 Fender Super Champ X2 15-Watt 1x10inch Guitar Combo Amp

The Fender Super Champ X2 is has a dual-channel sound able to produce a brilliant amp voicing and a wide range of digital effects. The tube amplifier also has low-wattage taking your guitar music to a whole new level. The digital effects perfectly blend both analog and the latest computer technology to give you a superb sound. With modern metallic amplifiers, 16-voicing selections, and responsive tone range, Fender Super Champ X2 has the power to give you a crisp, mellow tone, clean blues overdrive, and a wide range of musical tone to experiment.


Fender Super Champ X2 15-Watt 1x10inch Guitar Combo Amp

Our rating:4.3 out of 5 stars (4.3 / 5)

Features

Combining its 15-watt dual-channel tube amplification sound and voicing selection, the Fender Super Champ X2 gives you the flexibility and power to create music with quality. The tube amp also includes free audio software to increase its versatility.

  • 15-watt power amp
  • Powered by 6V6 tubes and a 12AX7 preamp tube.
  • 10” Fender-exclusive designed speaker
  • A Voicing knob with amp types of 16 different selections
  • Capable of producing different music styles.
  • Computer connectivity
  • Amp voicing and tone effects customization.
  • Quality-made tube amp from Ensenada, Mexico.
  • An optional dual-channel footswitch
  • Tap tempo controls
  • External speaker compatibility
  • ¼” line output.
  • Speaker emulated USB output recordings.

Pros

  • Quality artistry with solid knobs, buttons, and switches.
  • The USB connection for digital recordings
  • An all-in-one tube amp and music player.
  • The preamp tubes and main 6V6 tubes are handy during the preamp and power amp phases.

Cons

  • Amp can be extremely loud and honky.
  • Does not come with a footswitch.

3 Blackstar HT-1R Series Guitar Combo Amp With Reverb

The UK designed and built tube amp; the Blackstar HT1R valve guitar amplifier is a conceptual product entirely developed with features similar from their line of HT5 Series. With shoehorn features akin to the HT5 Series, Blackstar HT1R has a 1W format and is available in two versions. You can purchase the HT1 with reverb or one without the accompanying feature.  Both products incorporates the Blackstar’s Infinite Shape Feature (ISF) EQ circuitry providing a wide range of tones using a single control. Furthermore, the HT-1R entry is one of the best tube amps on the list with a consistent and reliable sound during rehearsals, recordings, or live performances.


Blackstar HT-1R Series Guitar Combo Amp With Reverb

Our rating:4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5)

Features

  • Stereo Reverb options
  • 1-watt compact tube amp
  • 1×8” guitar combo amplifier
  • MP3 Line-In for playing your favorite tunes
  • Speaker-emulated recording sounds.
  • American and British tone choices.
  • Overdrive channels
  • Blues, hard rock, and classic rock genres overdrive selections.
  • Signal chain isolation.
  • Clean channels for scintillating highs and clear lows
  • Reverb-capable tube amp
  • ISF Tone Shaping
  • Packed with sonic options.

Pros

  • Infinite Shape Feature EQ Control for warm or bright sounds. Clockwise and anti-clockwise turns also give you a British or American tonality.
  • Clean channels with wonderful tones.
  • Powerful tube amplifier despite its compact size.
  • Does not require pedals to emit quality and clean tones.

Cons

  • The amp may not be loud and bright enough for your liking.
  • The 1 to 10 knobs without 1.5 and the likes make it hard to adjust amp settings.

4 VHT AV-SP1-6 Special 6 Combo Amplifier

VHT tube amp entry is a 6-watt guitar combo amp gathering its power from its 6V6 output tube and the 12Ax7 preamp tube. Because of this, the amplifier also incorporates a 10” high sensitivity speaker to give you a crisp sound. In turn, the VHT AV-SP1-6 Special 6 Combo Amplifier has a Gain Boost footswitch feature which delivers an expansive range of tones. The tube amp boasts itself to be the only amplifier in the market to offer a clean, overdriven tone with a foot switchable boost and tone adjustment. With the Special 6 tube amp, guitar players can toggle their sound from a clean rhythmic tone to an overdriven lead. The VHT Special 6 expands its tone range with the High/Low power switch enhancing tones at low volumes. Finally, it features a powerful sound which can compete with heavy drums.


VHT AV-SP1-6 Special 6 Combo Amplifier

Our rating:4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Features

  • Footswitchable boosts
  • Special high-sensitivity
  • 10” VHT specially designed speakers.
  • Volume controls
  • Tone quality controls
  • Uses one 6V6 output tube and a 12Ax7 preamp tube
  • 6-watts tube amp power
  • High and low power switch controls
  • Mod-friendly board with an eyelet-type terminal configuration
  • Compatible with a 4, 8, or 16Ohm speaker jack
  • Well-constructed cabinet
  • Quality hand-wirings made in China
  • 2-knob combinations
  • Simple controls

Pros

  • Simple yet functional controls.
  • Also, the tube amp is well constructed and was hand wired to provide great sound.
  • Offers a lot of headroom for a 6-watt tube amp.
  • Clear tones working well with several guitar styles.
  • The overdrive channels are ideal for blues music and rock genres.
  • A superior machine with hand-wired internal configuration.

Cons

  • May not be suited for experienced guitar players as the tube amp provides an average sound quality
  • Does not have a superb build quality as you’d expect it to be.
  • Made from plastic material, the speaker output jack heats during long uses.
  • Some guitar players report a buzzing sound after constant use.

5 BUGERA V5 5-watt Class Amplifier Combo With Class-A Infinium Tube Life Multiplier

Considered as a tube amp beast, the BUGERA V5 5W Infinium Tube Life Multiplier comes loaded with great features. In turn, the sound amplifier incorporates the EL84 power tube and a 12AX7 preamp tube for a wonderful tone emission. Furthermore, the amplifying device also features the 5-watt Bugera V5 INFINIUM Tube Life Multiplier technology for soaking up the buttery with countless of songs. The built-in power attenuator also makes the BUGERA V5 Infinium 5-watt 1×8” Tube Combo Amp an exciting behemoth giving you a precise volume and sound clarity.


BUGERA V5 5-watt Class Amplifier Combo With Class-A Infinium Tube Life Multiplier

Our rating:4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)

Features

  • BUGERA V5 Infinium Guitar Combo Amplifier
  • Warm distortions, sweet tones, and harmonics
  • High-definition reverbs
  • Infinium Tube-Life Multiplier for healthy and long-lasting tubes
  • Classic-style tone controls
  • EL84 power tubes and 12AX7 preamp tube for sweet harmonics
  • Built-in wattage attenuator
  • 1 x 8” Turbosound speakers
  • EQ tone controls

Pros

  • Solid built and looks great
  • No headroom
  • The extra gain controls make it stand out
  • External line-out extends to an external cabinet for great tone results.

Cons

  • The amp housing is a little heavy.
  • Not fender-type clean tones and are often flat and lifeless
  • Reverb is not a true spring reverb but makes the tones clean and pleasant.
  • Some guitar players report of not handing overdrives and distortions effectively.

6 CALIFORNIA TONE RESEARCH SET5 Single-End tube Guitar Amplifier

A low-priced 5W tube amp, the CALIFORNIA TONE RESEARCH SET5 Single-end tube guitar amplifier is one of the best tube amps reviewed online. However, not only is the tube amp the perfect companion for your jazz, blues, and surf’s rock performances, but the amplifier has an efficient tone control flexibility. The amplifiers of the SET5 has Hi-Fi tubes with fiberglass PCB built and ceramic sockets. The amplifier emits a great sound and can fire up your music with its treble and bass controls. This tube amp provides a hum free and a muffled performance even at high volumes. Designed with a VDC power supply, the California Tone Research SET5 has vacuum tube heaters which smoothen volume adjustments.


CALIFORNIA TONE RESEARCH SET5 Single-End tube Guitar Amplifier

Our rating:4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Features

  • Single-end tripod design
  • 5W Class-A pure power output
  • Comes with 1×8 ELECA 8ohm, 30W speakers
  • A solid state rectifier running on 250VAC
  • Quality China made tubes at 12A7B preamp and EL84 power output tubes.
  • Great cabinet cosmetics made from solid plywood

Pros

  • Great sound from a simple-designed tube amp
  • Makes your guitar touch sensitive when plugged into the SET5
  • Simple and minimalistic design with only a bass, treble, and volume controls
  • Well-built chassis

Cons

  • No reverb
  • Some find the sounds boxy causing speaker congestions.
  • No aux input and output

7 Vox AC4-4W 1×12” Combo Amp

Vox is known to create two classic tones which guitar players seek – the clean and classic tone and the rowdy top boost. With the Vox AC4-4W, you have both tones rolled under one compact and low-priced package. The tube amp provides a classic Vox tone from its Celestion 12” speakers and the chimey classic Vox tone from the volume, bass, and treble controls. Also, the AC4C1 sports a vintage look which helps make it stand out during your live performances.  Furthermore, the tube amp has a standard IEC AC cable power source with a 2-band EQ sound control.


Vox AC4-4W 1x12 Combo Amp

Our rating:4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)

Features

  • 4W all-tube small sized combo amp
  • Vintage-style cabinet and cosmetics
  • Loud 1×12” Custom Celestion VX12 speakers
  • Powered by 12AX7 preamp and EL84 power tubes
  • Uses a 1×1/4” 16ohms external speaker output

Pros

  • Only four knobs (Treble, Bass, Volume, and Gain)
  • Allows you to play for small to medium-sized crowds
  • Great dynamics with distorted
  • Normal channels with a nice and thick tone quality
  • Wonderful overdrives.
  • Excellent cabinet housing
  • Very responsive sound controls

Cons

  • No reverb
  • No tuner
  • Needs additional overdrive and distortion pedals.
  • Also, you need to change the speakers to provide a big improvement in sound quality.
  • You also need to change the output transformer to accommodate your speaker configurations.

8 Peavey ValveKing II Micro-head 20/5/1-Watt Tube Head

Combining boutique features and hot-rodded guitar tones, the Peavey ValveKing II provides you with a solid authenticity and dependability. The tube amplifier has a rugged construction and a well-thought design to provide you with the aesthetics and functionality of a powerful sound rectifier. The ValveKing II Micro-head tube amp has a 20W, 5W, and 1W capacity giving you the power behind your string performances. The apparatus is powered by two EL84 tubes with a 3-band EQ and a mobile power output. The ValveKing II also features a mic-simulated direct output, powerful reverb synthesis, and a built-in tube monitoring system.


Peavey ValveKing II Micro-head 20/5/1-Watt Tube Head

Our rating:4.3 out of 5 stars (4.3 / 5)

Features

  • 2-channel perfect tone for live and recording performances.
  • Powerful 3-band EQ configuration
  • Class A and Class AB Vari-Class knob power amp tweaking
  • Footswitch gain boost
  • Built-in Peavey Microphone Simulated Direct Interface (MSDI)
  • Pro-level XLR tone output
  • Direct computer link for easy sound recordings
  • TSI tube-monitoring indicator
  • Built-in USB interface
  • Switchable wattage control
  • 20W ultra-compact guitar amplifier for onstage and studio recordings

Pros

  • Great tube amp for Jazz guitars delivering a pure Jazz quality sound
  • Crystal clear and warm audio output
  • Light tube amplifier packed with great features
  • Versatile valve heads with a wonderful EQ tuner and direct out.
  • Variable wattage
  • Helps you achieve a variety of sound genre including blues, rock, country, and jazz
  • Compact size and lightweight cabinet
  • Good sounds without headphones

Cons

  • Changing channels can be a little difficult
  • Muddy and gritty sounds when used with a headphone
  • Reverb needs adjustments, only good at lower configurations

9 Monoprice 611705 5W 1×8 Guitar Combo Tube Amplifier With Celestion Super 8” Speaker

The Monoprice 611705 is a superior guitar tuner packed with lots of quality features. The tube amp provides pure tube tones using a 5W 1×8 Celestion speaker. The tube amplifier is an industry standard running on a 12AX7 preamp tube and driven by a single 6V6GT tube. The speaker system has a crisp detail balancing the mids and high notes with warm and smooth bottoms. The Celestion Super 8 is capable of giving a forceful and dynamic headroom. The Monoprice 611705 comes with a leather handle and an open back. The classic styling makes this tube amp elegant, and its power packed features give an unexpected quality sound.


Monoprice 611705 5W 1x8 Guitar Combo Tube Amplifier With Celestion Super 8 Speaker

Our rating:4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5)

Features

  • 5W-powered tube amplifier
  • ECC83/12AX7 preamplification tube
  • 6V6GT power tube
  • Celestion Super 8 GBA-15 speakers
  • Effective frequency handling from 80Hz to 10Hz
  • 5% Harmonic distortion
  • Hum and noise reduction -75dB and below
  • High/Low input attenuation
  • Dynamic range harmonic distortion
  • Elegant classic design
  • Simple controls

Pros

  • The Monoprice 611705 is a trusted brand with generally positive market reviews.
  • Affordable tube amplifier
  • Excellent sound quality
  • Works perfectly with pedals
  • Slightly brassy and bouncy organic timbre
  • Accutronics-style spring reverb
  • Rugged design and quality product with a fair price

Cons

  • Cosmetic inconsistencies
  • Requires careful handling as reported by some users.

10 Marshall 2525C Mini Silver Jubilee – 20-5W 1×12” Combo

The Marshall 2525C gives you all the features you love from the Marshall Tube amp line. In turn, it comes with a 2-Channel 100W combo packed in a smaller and volume-receptive unit. This tube amp evokes the same features as the original with tones for high- and low- out switching. Both the 5W and 20W performance comes packed with the Marshall Quality club and studio level sounds. At a glance, this tube amplifier comes from the Classic Marshall Silver Jubilee line widely used during the early days of rock history. The tube provides the perfect power to keep your live audience enthralled and comes with a straightforward design, and easy to navigate dials, and great effect loops to power your performance. The Marshall 20-watt 2525C Mini Silver Jubilee has the same tones of the iconic 87’ releases.


Marshall 2525C Mini Silver Jubilee – 20-5W 1x12” Combo

Our rating:4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Features

  • Infused with Silver Jubilee amp heads 1×12” Combo version
  • The same quality tone of the iconic ’87 Jubilee
  • 5W switching for rehearsals or recordings
  • 20W volumes
  • 1×12”Celestion G12M Greenback speakers
  • Effects loop for delay and reverb
  • DI output
  • Familiar and straightforward design
  • Rear panel five speakers out options
  • Heavy sounds and lower volumes

Pros

  • Compact and portable design
  • Comes from a trusted quality product line used by rock stars for decades.
  • Clean channels, beautiful distortions, and warm tones
  • The Marshall 2525C has the same features as its previous predecessors.
  • Excellent RF noise levels
  • High and low power modes
  • Cheapest 20W combo available in the market

Cons

  • A little heavy and large when wounded right up
  • Big transformers
  • Does not have an extension cabinet

Also see: Top 10 Best Modeling Amps To Afford

Best Tube Amps Buying Guide

Looking for the right amplifier to boost your guitar sound is a little daunting considering the endless line of a tube amp in the market. The task of finding a suitable one becomes doubly complicated with digital solid state and hybrid ones coming out.

Typically, you would want to consider an amplifier for your electric guitar to lessen its sound feedback and reduce the volatile frequency with its EQ component. However, an experienced guitar player would understand the need for an amplifier. Because, without an amp, your instrument would not produce the right sound and the right volume.

In a bigger sense, it is not a requirement to use an amplifier. However, performing in front of a crowd means you need to boost sound emission, therefore, needing an amplifier. As the name says, an electric guitar amplifier magnifies the intensity of sound emission. The gadget also acts to colorize the characteristic of the sound, making it richer and denser.

An acoustic amplifier caries features and specifications to help you create a louder tone. So, it offers more than just the basic simplicities of a PA system to boost sound emission. Such features include the reverb and delay, multi-channel for piezo pickups and the microphone, and several other board effects.

Acoustic Or Electric Amp? Knowing The Difference.

If you happen to look for the right amplifier, you would come across a myriad of amp types dwindling your prospects of choosing the right one. Knowing what you need will help you determine the right one to purchase and avoid unnecessary frustrations in the long run.

The main difference between an acoustic amp and an electric amp comes from the speakers. An acoustic amplifier provides a full amplification range for your guitar which is akin to the common PA. Acoustic amps often include a tweeter for a full range of output. While an electric guitar amplifier happens to include components that color the range of sound and sustains them while being transmitted.

So the main outcome of the sound comes from the difference of the tone. An acoustic amplifier will not change the guitar tone while an electric guitar amp will color the range.

Solid State, Hybrid, Or Tube – Finding The Right Type Of Guitar Amplifier

In a traditional sense, the solid-state circuitry provides a cleaner sound and superior power because it is digitized. These amps are also more affordable than the conventional tube amp because of manufacturer constraints. With the constant evolution of technology, the industry scarcely manufactures vacuum tube amplifiers because more and more artists are shifting to digital instruments.

Also, hybrid amps are not far behind mixing the traditional tube-driven preamplifier and the solid state amp power. Although tube amps are more expensive than the latest ones, more and more artists are shifting to the traditional instrument because of their tried and tested means of providing an amazing sound. Serious players gravitate to the use of tube amps also because manufacturers infuse cutting edge technology to their new line of products.

Speaker Size And Sound Characteristics

So, one of the considerations when choosing a tube amp is the speaker size. While different speaker size creates varying sounds, it may not be the same for the relatively new ones which are smaller, however, packed with greater power. It is good to know though that smaller speakers create higher frequencies compared to larger ones. Read about our Rock Outdoor Speaker Buying Guide and the Best Air Subwoofers Buying Guide for the best selections in the market now.

An open-backed cabinet and a close-backed cabinet also makes a difference when producing a solid sound. Furthermore, open-backed amplifiers will sound a little different with a closed-back cabinet even though they may have the same size and the same amp features. Because of this, blues players generally prefer an open-backed amp because of the smooth tones while rock artists prefer a closed cabinet for extreme sound

amplification.

Live Performances, Rehearsals Or Studio Use?

Choosing the right electric guitar amplifier essentially boils down at how it will be used. Practice amps, live performance amps, and studio amps provide an array of output to suit your needs. While it is becoming an insignificant concern with the latest amplifier innovations, it’s still worth considering to choose the necessary tool for your music needs.

A natural inclination for the discerning player is to have one installed for every occasion whether it be at home, during rehearsals, or during live performances. But like our current technology, most manufacturers try to reinvent their amplifiers so they can incorporate the latest technologies.

Manufacturers are also looking for ways to make their amp price a little friendlier except for vintage reissues and boutique amps which still possess premium prices. Tube amps while they are budget friendly, however, require constant filament changes to keep their sound quality in check.

Some Important Considerations

So, if you are a beginner or just practicing at home, you might want to start with a mini amp which is cheaper but possesses almost similar features to what professional artists use. You can try the Marshall 2525C Mini Silver Jubilee Combo or the VOX AC4Ca-12 Custom Series Guitar Amplifier Combo. These amp suggestions also provide quality sound with a friendlier price-range and without sacrificing tone quality.

Buskers and street performers can use an amp that requires less of a power supply. Leading amp manufacturer, Marshall also has a line of portable amps with cheap prices. Most portable amps and PA systems are battery powered so they provide an essential gear street performers can take anywhere.

Small amps provide a better quality output during recordings. The sound boos are mainly because smaller amps allow you to crank up the valve and create a suitable sound for your music. Bigger amps won’t effectively work because they emit louder sounds drowning the rest of the recording music. Amps like the Monoprice 611705 5W or the VHT AV-SP1-6 Special 6 possess the qualities and features you need to boost your recording.

Conclusion

A clear takeaway winner on our list is the Marshall 2525C Mini Silver Jubilee Combo. Not only does it come from a line of a trusted brand, but the tube amp also has the most number of positive reviews online. Compared to other products which lack a certain feature or has overemphasized qualities, the Marshall 2525C comes as you’d expect a tube amplifier to have.

The only flaw of the Marshall 2525C is it is a little heavy when wounded upright and the lack of an extension cabinet. Therefore, minor issues that do not prohibit a perfect sound.

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