Which budget tube amp is best?
Whether you’re starting out or looking for a practice amp for home, finding a budget tube amplifier 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 worthwhile to own 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, offering an authentic tube amp sound at less than half the price of many tube amps out there.
What to know before you buy a budget tube amplifier
What makes tube amplifiers different
Ultimately, the best guitar amps are those that offer guitar tones good enough for the user, but tube amps are incredibly well-regarded for their timeless warmth and for ringing back to the days of classic rock and roll. While budget tube amps may not offer the most flawless sound quality on the market, they’ll usually get the job done with a very organic range of tone offerings.
How do you plan to use your budget tube amp
Budget tube amplifiers are used by guitarists at all levels, though it is good to decide why you need a tube amp. While some budget-conscious buyers may be just starting, others could be adding a cheap tube amp to their collections as practice amps.
Importance of wattage
Most amps are loud enough in most settings, to be sure, even those with low output wattages. While many use output wattage to get a general idea of how loud an amp is, it isn’t directly correlated to its volume. Still, those looking to keep to their budgets will find that low-wattage tube amps, 20 to 30w, are generally cheaper than tube amps with higher output wattages (40-150w).
What to look for in a quality budget tube amplifier
Tone shaping knobs
Most of all, your guitar’s amp is going to help shape how your guitar signal sounds. As a result, many amps include tone-shaping knobs like treble, mid and bass controls, along with other settings that will determine how your guitar ultimately sounds coming through the amp.
While it isn’t necessary, many tube amps include multiple channels for the guitarist to switch between, offering a more versatile range of available sounds that you can toggle between on a dime.
Another non-essential-but-helpful factor in budget tube amps is onboard effects. Amps often include reverb with the twist of a knob, while some tube amps will also include tremolo, delay and alternate distortion effects. Still, other guitarists may prefer to use guitar pedals for their effects, which can craft an endless bank of potential guitar tones.
How much you can expect to spend on budget tube amplifiers
While tube amplifiers tend to be fairly expensive, you can find some new budget tube amps for reasonable prices, even in comparison with solid-state and modeling amps. In general, you can find budget tube amplifiers for as cheap as $250 or as expensive as $500, with many tube amps costing several times these prices.
Budget tube ampifier FAQ
Are tube amps dead?
A. Although solid-state and modeling amps have grown significantly in popularity throughout the years, it would be foolish to say that tube amps are dead. Many musicians worldwide, both recording and performing, still use tube amplifiers to achieve their ideal guitar tone, despite their price, overall weight and other small downsides of tube amps.
Can you play bass, piano or synthesizer through a guitar tube amp?
A. While it’s technically possible to play bass guitars, pianos or synths through a guitar amp, doing so may also damage the speakers since they aren’t designed to project low frequencies. For that reason, it’s best to simply play guitar or other similar frequency instruments through guitar tube amps.
What’s the best budget tube amplifier to buy?
Top budget tube amplifier
What you need to know: This cheap tube amp offers a range of excellent vintage tones with the classic tube “breaking up” sound at high volumes, making it an approachable and affordable tube amp for guitar players of any level.
What you’ll love: Bugera’s V22 is a 22-watt combo tube amp, and it includes an onboard reverb effect that adds a lot of depth to the guitar’s tone character. It’s a great amp for beginners and intermediate players and should easily last for years to come whether used for live performances, recordings or just bedroom practice.
What you should consider: Some users reported issues with the amp’s wiring upon arrival, so they had to reach out to Bugera’s customer service.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top budget tube amplifier for the money
What you need to know: For the serious beginner or budget-conscious buyer alike, a cheap tube amp like this Monoprice 15-watt guitar amp is a great place to start, and while it doesn’t offer top-notch tone quality like some amps, it gets the job done.
What you’ll love: It’s hard to argue with a tube amp of any kind at this price point, and in addition to offering gain, EQ, tone and effect controls, this amp also includes multiple channels and a footswitch output. The sound is decent for the low price point, making a great first amp or practice amp.
What you should consider: Some buyers complained about the sound quality offered by this amp, saying it was tough to make it sound as clean as they preferred.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: If you can afford to spend the extra money, a Fender Blues Jr. is worth the price for the beginner and the expert alike, offering a taste of Fender’s classic sound that easily stands the test of time.
What you’ll love: The Fender Blues Jr. pumps an impressive amount of volume out of its 15-watt speaker and housing and featuring that classic Fender spring reverb. It offers the “breaking up” tones associated with tube amps at higher volumes, and its timeless Fender sound speaks for itself.
What you should consider: At this price point, some buyers decided to go for a sizeable 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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