Bedroom players are here to stay. Capos, straps, tuners, pedals, and amplifiers. All of these are essential tools for someone looking to learn. Perhaps the most critical ingredient except for the instrument is a good practice amplifier. You can do just fine with just a good instrument and a good amplifier. If your relationship with your neighbors is already questionable, sticking with a 5-Watt amp is the best way to go.
The amplifiers in this listing are also perfect for street performance. If you chose a smaller amp, pedestrians might drown you out, and if you go for something bigger, you will have a bunch of unused potential and something unnecessarily heavy to move around. Some people swear by solid-state amplifiers, and some people swear by tube amps, but this article will only look at tube amplifiers. There is a whole heap of things to consider when choosing an amplifier.
How does it sound?
Is it within the budget range?
What FX abilities does it have?
Is it bulky enough?
The hope is to answer all of these questions. Please visit the buyer’s guide at the bottom of this listing for even more details on how these small tube amps work. There, we will also make a comparison of tube amps vs. solid-state amps. You may find some of the most important specs for each amplifier in the comparison table section.
First on this list is a vintage-looking amplifier that is also supposed to have a vintage feel. It has an 8-inch turbosound speaker. The preamp in the Burgera V5 is modeled after the 60s, giving the amplifier a good crunch ability. Most 5-Watt tube amplifiers you see will fall into a similar price range. The Burgera sits at a perfectly average price.
Different amplifiers go well with varioud genres, and the Burgera might suit someone who does not require as much heavy distortion but instead wants a crisp and crunchy tone. There is no limit to genres when using distortion; it is up to the player to imagine the sound they want and try to find an amplifier that fits their needs. The Burgera has a fair reverb and the ability to control tone, shaping your instrument’s sound in quite an extensive range. This amplifier would work fine for any player that does not require heavy distortion and fat tones. It does have a vintage niche, though — both look and sound.
Monoprice 611705 5-Watt 1x8 Guitar Combo Tube Amplifier
- Few Options
Next up is a very straight forward amplifier. It has an average price and a very simple design. It is featuring only one knob for volume and one for tone. The Monoprice has a Celestion brand speaker and a low/high input mode. The low input mode reduces your input signal’s strength by about 50%, and the high input is much easier to overdrive.
Perks of Being Simple
Since this amplifier has very few features, it might not be a good option for players who like to play around with their amplifiers’ settings. But some players require exactly what this amplifier offers. A simple, plug-in option is always ready to go with very few options to change the tone. This amplifier produces a satisfying sound and is made to be practiced with. For the player that already has all the FX pedals they want, an amplifier that focuses resources on such a small range of parameters, such as the Monoprice 61170, could be a perfect choice. It is all-around a solid amplifier for most genres, but there might be better options for really well-produced high distortion like the previous listing.
Marshall Amps Marshall Origin 5W combo w FX loop and Boost
Unique Tilt Control
- No Built-In FX
Marshall is a strong contender on the market for speakers in general. The Origin from Marshall is also a strong contender for an excellent 5-Watt amplifier. This amplifier has individual EQ controls for the entire spectrum and a unique Tilt knob that blends normal sounds with bright sounds. It sits at an average price for a 5-Watt tube amp. If you are familiar and satisfied with Marshall as a brand, you would be happy to find out that the Origin is modeled to have the vintage marshall sound.
Comparing the Origin to the previous listing features many more abilities for the player to shape their sound the way they want. Marshall amps are also known to handle high distortion levels well. In addition to the great tone-shaping abilities, the Origin also has a high/low input mode. It makes it a perfect tool for the slightly more experienced player who knows what they want or looking to experiment with a little more control over the sound. The equalization covers a wide range and can pretty much make your guitar sound like two different instruments depending on settings—a quality amp with more than enough for bedroom practice.
Blackstar HT5R MKII 5-Watt 1x12 Inches Tube Combo Amp with Reverb
- Above Average Price
We are slowly building up the prices in this listing. The Blackstar HT-5R is relatively expensive if you compare other products in the same market. But the story usually goes; you pay more, you get more. This amplifier embodies that rule. Blackstar amplifiers are usually really good all-around tools. This amplifier will work with any genre. Don’t let the slick looks fool you, and this amp is packing power.
Be it small scale gigging, bedroom practice, or street performance, the Blackstar HT-5R has everything that’s needed to do the job built into the amplifier. For a basic yet effective setup, you won’t be needing any additional pedals to go along with it.
For such a small amplifier, this one has a lot to consider. It is the first amplifier in this listing to feature any sort of built-in FX, a studio-quality reverb unit. Reverb is one of the most fundamental effects when it comes to modifying the sound of an electric guitar. Making your instrument sound bigger/further away can make the difference between boring and beautiful. It has quality tone control with knobs for Bass, Middle, Treble, and a Blackstar patented ISF control.
The ISF control works alongside the amplifier’s other tone controls and modifies the amplifier’s overall sound. It has two different voices for clean and overdrive. The overdrive channel features Gain and Volume knobs, where the clean channel controls Volume and Tone. There is nothing this amplifier can’t do. The difference is in the money. If we compare within this listing, the Blackstar HT-5R is better suited for an above hobby level performer or a studio musician looking for a neat little option to record with.
Fender '57 Custom Champ 5W 1x8 Tube Guitar Amp Lacquered Tweed
Lastly, we are going to discuss behemoth. This amplifier is extremely expensive if we compare the other listings. Despite being so expensive, it is a very straightforward amplifier. This amplifier’s simplicity shows off Fender’s confidence in their product, and there is no extra fuzz needed. Just an excellent amplifier. It has two individual inputs, one for high input and one for low. The only thing, in addition, is a Volume knob.
Looks and Brand
You could ponder if Fender can release an amplifier like this just because they are Fender. For the price, it might look bleak in comparison to the previous Blackstar amplifier. But the fact stands, this amplifier will sound a mile away from any of the other options. The only thing this amp won’t do well is super high gain.
If you can afford this amplifier, you should be able to purchase some FX pedals together with it if you don’t already have some. The amplifier is compact, with a classic warm tweed finish and a vintage-style gold/brown grill. The Fender ’57 Custom Champ has costs as much as it should cost due to the quality of the build. Maybe this amplifier is too precious for the streets but will do a phenomenal job for any other situation.
In this buyer’s guide, we will clear the air around some terms and fundamentals that need to be understood to make the right choice when purchasing an amp. If you like to pick apart things and find out why they work as they do, this is where you should look. To begin, we will compare tube amps with solid-state amps.
Tube or Solid-State?
Let’s start with the basics. The main difference that people make between solid-state amplifiers and tube amplifiers is that they sound differently. This difference is mainly due to solid-state amps producing audio by converting electrical signals via transistor circuits.
A tube amp uses vacuum tubes or valves to do the same job. Tube amps sound their best when they are pushed to their maximum limits and produce pleasant distortion.
Solid-state amps are known for maintaining a clean tone as they are pushed louder and don’t handle high distortion levels well. It is why tube amplifiers are commonly preferred amongst guitarists, and we like our distortion.
Solid-state amplifiers might be used with jazz musicians or other genres that don’t require any distortion and want to sound as loud as possible. Solid-state amps are commonly used by keyboard and bass players, who don’t need as much distortion. Generally speaking, solid-state amplifiers are lighter. It is due to the circuitry required to operate the amp weighing much more in a tube amplifier.
Any touring musician might prefer a solid-state amplifier, in this case, due to it being easy to travel with. Solid-state amplifiers also require less maintenance than tube amps. Changing power tubes every year or so is essential for maintaining a happy tube amplifier. A solid-state doesn’t need any changing of any parts. Lastly, solid-state amplifiers are generally cheaper than tube amps. The components used for solid-state are simply less expensive to produce.
Now, we will look at the different types of tubes/valves you will find in tube amplifiers and what makes them unique. Tubes were previously used in a wide range of electrical equipment but have primarily been replaced by transistors, now used in solid-state amps.
They remain in amplifiers because they produce a unique sound and add a lot to the table with that warm, distorted tone. Let’s look at how most tubes are constructed. The parts in a tube function in such a way that one needs to work in order for the next to do its job.
In the filament, an electrical signal flows through, creating light and heat. This light is what we see when a vacuum tube glows. It might look cool but also serves an essential purpose for the next part.
The cathode has a coating that releases electrons when heated up. This component is negatively charged. The vacuum created in the vacuum tube allows free electrons to be released. They are then attracted to the next component. The release of electrons functions just like a magnet. Positively charged electrons are attracted to negatively charged electrons.
The anode is commonly referred to as a plate. The plate gathers the negatively charged electrons because it has a positive charge. This flow of electrons allows the guitar signal to be inserted into the last element.
The grid is charged metal in between the anode and cathode. When the grid becomes positively charged by your guitar signal, amplification happens. When the grid is negatively charged, no amplification occurs because the signal repels when the cathode’s negative force is combined with the negative charge from the grid.
Choosing the right amplifier is critical to motivation in the practice space. All across the board, the gear you decided to buy is what defines your ability to express yourself musically. If your equipment conflicts with what you want it to do, doing research and thinking about what you want can be the best way forward. More questions involved in choosing the right amp than this listing provides answers to, like how do the different types of tubes sound?
The main difference we can tell here is how each amplifier sounds overall and what kind of flexibility they offer to the player. Knowing what type of sound you want is critical. If you enjoy playing around with high distortion, you will find yourself heavily disappointed with some of the options in this listing. On the flip side, if you want cleaner sounds, the amplifiers that can produce distortion might be money wasted on the potential that will never be used.
The best amplifier for the in-between person that has started experimenting with heavier music but still likes to practice clean is the Blackstar. It can sound both clean and beautiful or dirty and raw. If there is an opportunity to try an amplifier before you buy it or find a retailer with outstanding return policies, that is the way to go. The only proper way of knowing you are getting the right product is if you try it first.