The kind of amp you have makes all the difference. A great amp does not have to be necessarily big. In fact, there are many great small amps. Gone are the days where you have to go to a studio to use a quality amp. You can now carry it anywhere and use it anywhere. All you have to know are the features to look at, and you are good to go.
There are many small tube amps on the market, but if you want to have the most functionality and get a lot of value for the money, then you should consider going with the best small tube amp.
In this buying guide, we are going to compare the 5 best small tube amps on the market right now. They are top-ranked with the best features. Here are the top amp picks we have for you today.
This is a great amp from Monoprice company. It has a solid frame with a durable cover to ensure that the tubes remain cool. It is a 5-watt amp, but can do up to 8 guitars at the same time. The amp features an 8-inch Celestion speaker inside, which is known for its great quality, especially for small amplifiers. Celestion speakers give you a crisp sound with a great balance between EQ frequencies while maintaining a loud sound.
Apart from the speaker, it has two tubes inside, a preamplification tube and a power tube. The amp can comfortably handle frequencies of between 80HZ and 10KHZ with a hum. It can handle a noise of -75dB below the rated power, with a harmonic distortion of 0.5%.
It has both a low input and a high input which can all extend their limits. The amp is easy to use with a simple separate control for volume and tone.
The T20 is a great tube amplifier with Bluetooth connectivity that gives you the convenience of connecting with your device. For Bluetooth, you can stream a range of up to 12m, and there will be no pop or low latency.
It has 2 channels, one for your instrument and the other for the microphone, for added convenience.
It has been classified as a Class D digital mini Hi-Fi power amp, which is great for customers who appreciate high fidelity sound. The amp is compact and portable, so it can be used anywhere. It has an input for headphones as well, so you can use it in your home with ease.
The amp features two tubes: 6J4 vacuum tubes, and another one for your power supply. The amp has two speakers with a wattage of 50W each. There is a protection circuit that makes it best for any kind of setting.
Lastly, the T20 amp comes with a solid 1-year manufacturer warranty.
Unlike many tube amps, this has a single-end design. It is great for solo practice or a small gathering.
The California Tone features a 12AX7 preamp tube and an EL84 power tube. It has a single 8-inch premium speaker, with a wattage of 5W.
When it comes to the tone, this amp produces a Californian vintage tone which makes it great for jazz, blues, or surf rock. It is important to note that even though this is its main tone, it has a diverse tone ability.
The amp is compact and lightweight, which means it’s easy to carry with you to gigs or practice. It has 115V – if you need more or less voltage, you will need a step-up or a step-down transformer.
The Bugera BC15 is another vintage-style amp with a solid body made of durable material and protected corners. It features a carefully selected 12AX7 tube. It has two tubes and two channels. The 12AX7 tube is for the preamp stage. In addition to that, the amp offers 2-band EQ and master volume for a wide tonal variation.
It contains an 8-inch speaker that is a power of 30W. It is very lightweight with a weight of only 12 pounds. It is easy to use and control, as it has a gain button for activating the lead/distortion channel. The BC15 is great for small gigs or rehearsals.
The amp comes with a TRS jack that is ¼” for connecting with any external playback device, such as an MP3 player. There is also a headphone jack for solo practice.
This is a hand-built Class-A amplifier that is driven by a 1 x EL84 tube and a preamp 1 x 12AX7 tube. It uses the Infinium Tube life revolutionary multiplier technology.
The Bugera V5 is an 8-inch TURBOSOUND speaker that is known for its classic sound and power. In addition to that, it has an Attenuator for reverb and power.
If you are a vintage lover, you will love this amp. It perfectly captures that classic vintage look and feel.
All the above picks are great and you’d surely be satisfied going with any of them. But since there are several options and they are all solid picks, it may get confusing on which one you should actually purchase.
In the next section of this buyer's guide, we hope to make it easier for you to choose a small tube amp that will best suit your needs.
Best Amp in Terms of Wattage: For most small amps, low wattage is fairly common. There are others that have a high wattage, such as the T20 Bluetooth Tube Amplifier. It features two speakers that have 50W each, which makes it worth looking at it if wattage is important to you.
Most Lightweight: If portability is your primary need, then you should consider product weight. When we compare the weight, the Monoprice 611705 has an unbelievably small weight of only 1.1 pounds. That makes it very convenient to carry around.
Most Budget-friendly: When we compare the prices, the most budget-friendly option is the T20 Bluetooth Tube Amplifier. It retails at just $85.99, which is a great price for a small tube amp.
Our Overall Recommendation: As much as the best amp depends on your needs, our recommendation is the T20 Bluetooth Tube Amplifier. It has two speakers with 50W each, and it is lightweight with a weight of 1.95 pounds. You can use headphones or a stereo with it, and it is one of the most durable amps we’ve seen.
Now, even though we have recommended the best small tube amps, it is still helpful to know the basics. Here are some of the most common FAQs about small tube amps:
As mentioned earlier, there are different kinds of amps. As the name suggests, a small tube amp is an amplifier that uses small vacuum tubes to create power that amplifies the sound of a signal.
For a small tube amp, the tubes are normally small and they will generate heat as they play. They will normally need a cooling system that explains why most of them are open-backed. Most of them will have to warm up to produce the sound that you are looking for.
Some small tube amps can work for all genres while they are those that are limited to some genres. For example, if you want an amp for jazz, you will need one that can give you a crisp sound. From the ones we have reviewed, the California Tone Research SET5 would work best for jazz as it has clear tones and just the right wattage.
It is hard to get a small tube amp for a bass guitar. Small tube amps have been made in such a way that when they reach a certain level, they break. That makes them suitable for any average electric guitar. A bass guitar, however, needs more wattage, with a minimum of at least 500W. Generally, a small tube amp will have a maximum of 100W. If you use a 100W amp with a bass guitar, it will not give you the desired sound and may damage the amp.
Even though most small tube amps have two tubes, some have one tube or even more. Most average ones will have one preamp tube and one power tube. More tubes simply means that they will need more watts, and will be more costly by comparison.
The truth is that a small tube amp can get as low in wattage as you can imagine. You can actually get a small tube amp with only 1W. It is a small palm-sized amp, but still has many great features that you can enjoy if you are not looking for much.
Before looking for the best small tube amp, you first have to define your needs. Once you know what you want, it will be easier to get it. It is also important to consider the features that come with the amp. Some amps have more than others, but what matters is which ones you’ll actually use.
The kind of sound you are looking for and how you plan to use the amp should be major considerations, as not all amps work in all situations. As much as price is an important consideration, you should consider it in comparison to the set features and the wattage you’re getting. Generally, more features cost more money, but this is only beneficial if you’re going to need them.
Lastly, you can gauge the experiences of others through user reviews. Be sure to check out other user reviews of these amps before you make your final decision!