Which budget tube amp is the best?
Whether you’re starting out or looking for a practice amp to use at home, finding a budget tube amp can be a daunting task. While it’s true that tube amps tend to be more expensive than solid state or modeling amps, it’s worth owning at least one authentic tube amp.
If you’re on a serious budget, the Bugera V22 Infinium is a great place to start, whether you’re a beginner or a pro, as it offers authentic tube amp sound at less than half the price of many tube amps on the market.
What you should know before you buy a budget tube amp
What is the difference between tube amps?
Ultimately, the best guitar amps are the ones that offer guitar tones good enough for the user, but tube amps are incredibly respected for their timeless warmth and for harking back to the days of classic rock ‘n’ roll. While budget tube amps may not offer the most pristine sound quality on the market, they usually get the job done with a very organic range of tonal offerings.
How do you plan to use your budget tube amp?
Budget tube amps are used by guitarists of all levels, although it’s good to decide why you need a tube amp. While some budget buyers are just starting out, others might want to add a cheap tube amp to their collections as a practice amp.
Importance of wattage
Of course, most amplifiers are loud enough at most settings, even those with low output power. While many use power output to get a general idea of how loud an amp is, it is not directly related to its loudness. Still, those on a budget will find that low-wattage (20-30W) tube amps are generally cheaper than higher-output (40-150W) tube amps.
What to look for in a high-quality, inexpensive tube amp
sound shaping knobs
Most importantly, your guitar’s amplifier will help shape the tone of your guitar signal. As a result, many amps have tone-shaping controls such as treble, mid, and bass controls, along with other adjustments that determine how your guitar ultimately sounds through the amp.
While not necessary, many tube amps have multiple channels for the guitarist to switch between, providing a more versatile range of available sounds to switch between on the fly.
Another non-essential but helpful factor in budget tube amps is the built-in effects. Amps often include reverb with the turn of a knob, while some tube amps also include tremolo, delay, and alternative distortion effects. Other guitarists may prefer to use guitar pedals for their effects, which can create an endless bank of potential guitar sounds.
How much you can spend on budget tube amps
While tube amps tend to be quite expensive, you can find some new budget tube amps at reasonable prices, even compared to solid state and modeling amps. In general, you can find inexpensive tube amps for as low as $250 or as expensive as $500, with many tube amps costing many times that price.
Frequently asked questions about cheap tube amps
Are tube amps dead?
A Although solid state and modeling amps have grown in popularity over the years, it would be foolish to say that tube amps are dead. Many musicians around the world, both recording and performing, still use tube amps to achieve their ideal guitar tone, despite their price, overall weight, and other minor disadvantages of tube amps.
Can you play bass, piano or synth through a tube guitar amp?
A While it’s technically possible to play bass guitar, piano, or synths through a guitar amp, doing so can also damage the speakers, which aren’t designed to project low frequencies. For this reason, it’s best to simply play guitar or other similar frequency instruments through guitar tube amps.
What is the best budget tube amp you can buy?
Top budget tube amp
Bugera V22 Infinium 22-Watt Vintage 2-Channel Combo Tube Amp with Reverb
What you need to know: This cheap tube amp offers a range of excellent vintage tones, with the classic tube ‘break-through’ tone at high volumes, making it an accessible and affordable tube amp for guitarists of all skill levels.
What you will love: Bugera’s V22 is a 22-watt combo tube amp and features a built-in reverb effect that adds a lot of depth to the guitar’s tonal character. It’s a great amp for beginners to intermediate users and should easily last for years, whether for live performance, recording or just practicing in the bedroom.
What you should consider: Some users reported problems with the wiring of the amplifier upon arrival, so they had to contact Bugera customer service.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top budget tube amp for the money
Monoprice 15-Watt Tube Guitar Combo Amp with Reverb and Celestion Speakers
What you need to know: For both the serious beginner and the budget conscious buyer, a cheap tube amp like this 15-watt guitar amp from Monoprice is a great place to start, and while it doesn’t offer top-notch sound quality like some amps, it gets the job done.
What you will love: It’s hard to argue with a tube amp at this price point, and not only does this amp offer gain, EQ, tone and effects controls, it also has multiple channels and a footswitch output. The sound is decent for the low price and makes a great first amp or practice amp.
What you should consider: Some buyers complained about the sound quality of this amp, saying it was difficult to get it sounding as clean as they wanted.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
It’s worth trying
Fender Blues Jr. 15-watt combo tube amp with integrated Fender Spring Reverb
What you need to know: If you can afford to spend the extra cash, a Fender Blues Jr. is well worth the price for beginners and experts alike, and offers a taste of that classic Fender tone that will stand the test of time with ease.
What you will love: Pumping out an impressive volume from its 15-watt speaker and cabinet, the Fender Blues Jr. features classic Fender spring reverb. It offers the “cracking” tones associated with tube amps at higher volumes, and its timeless Fender tone speaks for itself.
What you should consider: At this price, some buyers opted for a handsome solid-state amp.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Peter McGuthrie writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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