Best Low Watt Tube Amps

Low watt guitar amps are increasing in popularity. Powerful amps that are ideal for the stage or arenas are not exactly the best option for home use/studio use – particularly the tube amp ones. Tube amps need to reach a certain threshold volume to break even and sound good. The low power amps are able to deliver tube-saturated output tones at much lower volumes. This makes them pretty handy options for the tone aficionado – be it at home or at the studio. They are also much more portable than their bigger counterparts. The Bugera G5 is a compact, affordable amp that is packed with a lot of features. It is also the cheapest amp on the list. On the other hand, the legendary Fender 57’ Custom Champ 5W is probably the most expensive amp on this list. It is rarely available in limited editions and is a collector’s item. The Vox AC4C1-12 is also an affordable choice – packed in with the signature Vox “chime” top-boost output.

[best_choice amz_url=”https://amzn.to/368KFpZ” rel=”noreferrer” img_url=”https://toptubeamplifier.com/wp-content/uploads/Bugera-G-5-1-400×323.jpg” best_name=”Bugera G5″ sub_name=”Surprisingly diverse functionality within a pocket-friendly budget amp head” best_text=”The Bugera G5 packs enough innovations to stand atop without any serious competition. Some of these innovations include Morph Infinium 3-band EQ, speaker emulsion while playing through headphones, variable power usage, Infinium Tube Life Multiplier.”]

Some of these amps can deliver pure-tube tone at outputs below 1W of power. We understand that amp pricing is a big factor at play here. The cheapest amp may be loaded with a lot of facilities that are not seen in the most expensive amps. However, the price does not depend upon mere functionality but also antiquity, collector editions, and more.

Best Low Watt Tube Amps – comparison table

[table id=10 /]


Bugera G5Ideal Small Amp for the Budget-Conscious

Bugera G-5 low watt tube amp

Few amps have as many innovations as the Bugera G5 in its respective price range. Designed as a budget-friendly 5watt tube head, the G5 is loaded with features, ranging from a power attenuator to Infinium technology. The design team also packed a smart auto-bias for easy replacement of the tubes, a red light that indicates whenever a tube gets busted. It is a smart design indeed – bringing out the real joy of tube-playing.

Sound Performance

The 3-Band Morph Infinium EQ gives the user tone control to choose between Classic American and British EQ. Color up your tonal palette the way you like – with the adjustable reverb and the unique speaker emulation. You can opt for either a 1×12 or a 4×12 cabinet speaker output(both in sound and feel) through headphones.

Design Specifications

  1. Wattage and Type: 5w/1w/0.1w. Tube amp.
  2. Input channels: 2
  3. Line out: Headphone-out, Line Aux-in(6.3mm)
  4.  Weight: 17.6 lbs.

Pros

  • Versatile power switching options for playing at home.
  •  3 band Morph EQ can be used to tweak in between UK and US Eq.
  • Push-pull tube design for easy handling.
  • Infinium Tube Life Multiplier enhances power-tube life.
  • Footswitch included, along with a built-in effects loop with a level switch.

Cons

  • Not the greatest reverb in the market.
  • Clean-tone is reported to be thin-sounding.
  • Single speaker output.
  • No Bluetooth, USB, or mobile connectivity
  • No programmable presets, effects or modulation.

Recommended: Yes, it is one of the best value-for-money buys.

To check the current price of Bugera G5, click here


Fender ‘57 Custom Champ 5WVintage Fender Tweed Sound that’s Revered Still Today

Fender ‘57 Custom Champ 5W guitar ampFew things in life are as fuss-free as the Fender ‘57 Custom Champ – there is just a single volume control knob other than the power switch. Highly sought after by vintage amp collectors, Fender made a few cosmetic changes over the years and is often the go-to amp for countless golden hits and records. The hand-wired circuitry, combined with the solid-pine cabinet, cotton twill covering, gold-brown grille cloth, steel chassis – all combine to make this amp a faithful replica of the original Custom shop Tweed amp.

Sound Performance

The single knob feature of the amp enables the amp to be comfortably used with multiple pedals. The amp is also acclaimed for its output tonal characteristics. The secret can be attributed to true Fender tube circuitry, which drives 8” Weber Special Design Alnico Speaker. 

Design Specifications

  1. Wattage and type: 15 Watt, all-tube.
  2. Input: 2.
  3. Line out: None.
  4. Weight: 15lbs.

Pros

  • Vintage era Fender collectible combo amp.
  • Easy to use.
  • Distinct tweed sonic signature.
  • Works well with pedals.
  • Lightweight and easily portable.

Cons

  • No EQ options.
  • No output options
  • Not a versatile option – no effects, modulations, or amp modeling.
  • Highly expensive.
  • No tone control options.

Recommended: Yes, if you are looking to control your tone through pedals, or like to keep a limited edition vintage classic.

To check the current price of Fender ‘57 Custom Champ, click here


Vox AC4C1-12Vintage British Amplification in a Small Tube-Combo Amp

Vox AC4C1 12 ampVox is known for their amazing amplifiers and the Vox AC4C1-12 provides the tone VOX is famous for in one small, compact amp. It has a ton of great features that make it a standout amp for those that want to practice and sound great. This is one of the best low wat guitar amps that you can buy.

The Vox AC4C1-12 is a compact amp that gives you smooth clean tones and plenty of distortion thanks to the top boost feature. The amp is only 4 watts but you get a lot of power out of it. You get a 12” Celestion speaker and standard bass, middle, and treble, EQ controls to round out your sound.

Value

The 12AX7 and EL84 tubes give you vintage sound in one small package. This amp is perfect for bedroom practicing and it’s fun to play because it sounds amazing even though it’s so small.

Specs

  • 15 watts
  • All tube
  • Bass, middle and treble controls
  • Top boost to enhance the sound
  • Celestion speaker

Pros

  • Top boost for solid clean and crunch tones
  • 12AX7 preamp tubes and EL84 power tube
  • 4 watts for quiet practice
  • Vintage look
  • Standard EQ controls

Cons

  • No reverb or other effects

Who is it Suited For?

This amp is suited to anyone that needs a small low watt practice amplifier. Its suitable for the bedroom and the low power means you can play without disturbing anyone. When you crank the amp up it still delivers great tone and amazing sound even though it’s only 4 watts.

Conclusion

The Vox AC 4C1-12 is the perfect practice amplifier. You get a huge tone in one small package. The tubes and Celestion speaker give you amazing sound and the low wattage makes the amp a good choice for practicing in the bedroom or backstage before a gig. This amp is a solid buy for anyone learning how to play guitar.

To check the current price of Vox AC4C1-12, click here


Blackstar HT Series HT-5RPowerful 5 Watt Tube Combo with Several Modern Features

Blackstar HT-5R ampThe Blackstar HT Series HT-5R is the ultimate practice amplifier and an amazing low volume tube amp. For those that need a small and compact unit to help them learn to play guitar, this amp has you covered with a ton of useful features.

The amp is 5 watt and features a 12 inch Blackbird 50 speaker. You get a wide range of tones including clean and distortion. The tones are created with the ISF or Infinite Shape Feature of the amp and all-tube power. You get added extras like an effects loop which many small practice amps don’t have.

Value

The amp can produce both clean and overdrive from the amp and it has separate overdrive and clean controls to shape your sound. You also get standard bass, middle, and treble EQ settings. The amp has an output so it can be attached to an external speaker which expand the capabilities of this small practice amp. Use the MP3 and line out to jam along to an MP3 player or your phone. This impressive practice amp also comes with reverb for even more tonal options.

Specs

  • 5 watts
  • Blackbird 50 speaker
  • All tube power
  • External line out
  • Effects loop
  • reverb

Pros

  • Tube-powered
  • Reverb
  • Line out
  • 5 watts for practice sessions
  • Effects loop
  • Overdrive/Clean
  • Speaker emulated output with 1×12 or 4×12 voicing

Cons

  • Cleans muddy at higher volumes
  • No suitable for gigs

What is it Suited For?

For anyone that wants a small practice amp with a ton of features, this is the one to buy. It has more features than a lot of other practice amps on the market. It’s suited for anyone that needs a dependable amp at a low wattage.

Conclusion

The Blackstar HT Series HT-5R packs a lot in one small package. It has a great all-tube tone and a decent speaker. You get reverb, standard EQ, as well as clean and overdrive controls. The amp has a line out and a speaker-emulated output for great tone variations and voicings. The amp has reverb, distortion and a clean setting. You can’t ask for more in a small practice amplifier and Blackstar delivers with this amp.

To check the current price of Blackstar HT Series HT-5R, click here


VHT Special 6Powerful Hand-Wired Tube Combo Amp

VHT Special 6 low watt tube ampThe VHT Special 6 is a 6-watt tube amplifier. It’s perfect for many different styles of music. It has many great features that make it a standout low watt amp to meet your needs.

The VHT Special 6 is tube-powered with one 6V6 output tube and one 12AX7 preamp tubes. It has a 10” speaker and also comes in a head version. You get a wide variety of tones out of this amp from jazz clean sounds to smooth rock overdrive so it’s very versatile. It features a high and low power switch so you can set the wattage to what you need as well as input jacks for both settings.

Value

This amplifier is also hand wired and has a solid birchwood cabinet. On the back panel are three jacks for different speaker outputs. You also get a jack for a boost setting and a normal setting.

Specs

  • 6 watts
  • One 6V6 tube and one 12AX7 tube
  • Footswitch boost mode
  • Low and high power modes
  • 10” speaker
  • Hand wired

Pros

  • Footswitch boost mode
  • Both a low and a high power mode
  • Hand wired
  • Many tone variations

Cons

  • No reverb or other effects

Who is it Suited For?

This amp is well-suited for anyone that wants a low power tube amplifier that is versatile. You can get a wide range of tones out of this amp despite its low wattage.

Conclusion

The VHT Special 6  is a solid amplifier for those that want to practice guitar or want to play a small gig. The amp has a great tone for its size and you can get different sounds out of it for a wide range of genres. The amp is all tube-powered and also has a footswitch boost. It features simple controls so it’s well suited for beginners that want a simple amp to use but needs one that can create a huge range of amazing tones.

To check the current price of VHT Special 6, click here


BEST LOW WATT TUBE AMPS BUYING GUIDE

Before you buy any low watt tube amp, there are several things that you need to consider before you buy one. Here are the main features that you need to look for.

Wattage

Most practice tube amps have a low wattage. They are usually in the range of 5-20 watts. The number of watts you buy really won’t matter unless you want to do small gigs. For small gigs like a coffee shop, you’ll need around 15-20 watts. This will give you enough power to be heard in the venue. Low wattage is ideal for practice as it won’t disturb others and some amps also ship with a headphone jack so you can use headphones for quiet practice.

Speakers

You want a decent speaker with a practice amp. If the speaker is poor then you won’t get the sound that you want. A decent speaker is usually a Celestion or other similar type of speaker since these are known for their great sound when used in amplifiers. If your amp has a poor speaker then you should replace it with a good one as this will improve the sound. Some practice amps can be hooked up to larger speakers or PA system but this is usually reserved for larger amps.

Clean and Overdrive

Low watt amplifiers tend to have one channel and sometimes two. The clean channel is usually a weak link as the amp doesn’t have the power for a good clean and crisp tone. The distortion on practice amps is usually adequate and can be enhanced with pedals. Look for an amp that has both a clean and distorted setting which will allow you to do more with the amp.

Uses

A practice map sound is going to be fine for practice sessions but is not suited for the most part for recording or other work where the sound is going to be important. Some amps will produce a good record tone but you may need things such as pedals, or other equipment to get the best sound possible. Look for an amp with a USB input for recording digitally if you want to use a practice amp for that purpose or get a good digital user interface to hook the amp up to a computer.

Just remember that a practice amp won’t have the power for a larger gig and won’t be heard over full drum kit or other guitars so it’s not a viable solution for a ban situation. Fifteen or twenty watts is suited for small gigs like a coffee house gig but anything else is probably not going to do the job.

Effects 

Some practice amps have an effects loop. This makes it easy to hook up effects to the amp and get a good tone. Many practice amps will sound a lot better when you use effects. Many practice amps also ship with reverb which is a standard effect on many amps. The reverb is usually adequate for practicing.

Other Features

Look for an amp that has a headphone jack as this will allow you to practice with headphones. A line out or MP3 input is great since you can practice along with your phone or MP3 player.

BEST LOW WATT TUBE AMPS FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What Wattage Should I Get?

Answer: This will depend on what you want to do with it. A 5-10 watt amp is great for practicing and you will need 15 watts to 20 watts for a small gig like a coffee house. The sound is more important than the wattage as many small watt amps sound great for their purpose which is for practice sessions and not a live gigging situations.

Are Tube Amps the Best?

Answer: There are many different types of amplifiers. Tube amps are old technology but they are highly regarded for their sound. New amps tend to use both old technologies and new ones. You will find many amps that use solid-state technology, amp modeling, and tubes together. If the amp has tubes it will generally sound better because the tubes produce a bright and clean tone that is highly regarded by most guitar players as being better than other amp technologies.

What Do I do When Tubes Burn Out?

Answer: Tubes won’t last forever and need to be replaced. If the tubes burn out you need to take the out. You can do this yourself or you can take it to a guitar store and have them do it yourself. If you don’t understand how to change tubes, leave them alone and take it to a professional. The tubes you replace must be the type the amp accepts as others won’t fit into the socket.

Why Does My Amp Make Noise?

Answer: An amp will hum and hiss a bit when you turn it up. If you use single-coil pickups the amp tends to hum more often. A noise gate pedal will reduce the noise or you can turn the amp down to a more reasonable level. If the amp makes a lot of noise the tubes may be dying and needs to be replaced. You may also need to clean the pots of the control knobs which can also produce noise when dirty.

My Guitar Tone is Terrible What Do I Do?

Answer: Your guitar tone will usually sound bad out of your amp for several reasons. Your guitar probably needs to be tuned or intoned. The strings may need to be changed or there may be a serious problem with your amp such as a dying tube or another issue. Take the amp to the store for evaluation of the tone out of your guitar is poor.

My Low Watt Amp Has Bad Distortion is There a Fix?

Answer: Many low watt amps don’t have good distortion because they don’t have enough power to produce a solid distorted tone. You can hook up a distortion pedal if you prefer to get a better tone. You can also play around with the amp settings and this can improve the distorted tone. Just keep in mind that the amp is for practicing and not live gigs so the sound isn’t as good as a high-powered amplifier.

What Do Middle Treble and Bass Do?

Answer: These settings are the EQ settings for the amp. This is similar to the EQ settings on a stereo. You can play around with these settings to improve the tone of the amp. Don’t turn them all up to 10 as the sound won’t be that great. Dial them back and work with the settings till you get the tone you want.

What is a Line Out?

Answer: The line out allows you to hook other devices up to your amp like an MP3 player or a phone and use those to practice with. You can also use this to connect to a PA system or other devices.

My Amp Isn’t Loud, Can I Make it Louder?

Answer:  A low watt amp won’t be loud as it lacks power. In some cases, you can try another speaker but this will generally not improve the overall loudness of the amp. Low watt amps are for practice purposes. If you want a louder amp you will need to get one with more wattage. Amps that are 40+ watts are suitable for larger gigs with other musicians.

What is Boost?

Answer: Boost is a feature that boosts the power to the amp. This is often found on a distorted channel off an amp. It will boost the distorted signal so it gets further distorted so the amp is more suited for hard rock or metal sounds. Many large amps have boost but a lot of smaller amps don’t have this feature.

What is an Effects Loop?

Answer: An effects loop allows you to hook up pedals to your amplifier. Without an effects loop the pedals will feature far too much noise if you try and hook them to a distortion channel on an amplifier. You can make full use of the pedals power when you use an effects loop. The sound won’t get muddied when you pair it with the distorted channel on an amp.

CONCLUSION

The amps listed here are the best ow watt guitar amps you can buy. You will find low volume amps for almost nay situation. If you want to practice, these amps are perfect and the Fender Blues Deluxe IV is your best bet. The other amps are all great alternative to the Fender Blues Deluxe so give them a try and have fun playing.

 

Leave a Comment