5 Best Small Tube Amps in 2021
To have a closer look at the best portable choices out there, we are now taking a look at the 5 best small tube amps in 2020.
To please the neighbours, many of us need a smaller practice amp or something with less volume. There are a range of mini-amp options out there, but as the technology is simpler to miniaturize, the smaller options appear to be solid-state amplifiers.
A solid-state amplifier is just not a choice for many connoisseurs. Some of us have a penchant for an analog amp's warm retro tones and nothing else will do.
View The Best Small Tube Amp Below
1. Monoprice 611705
First up today is Monoprice's very reasonably priced mini tube amp alternative, an organization that strives to keep access to equipment costs as low as possible. It is a very flexible amplifier. It is an open-backed solid framed sturdy cabinet that is ideal for holding cooled tubes. It keeps within its confines an 8 inch Celestion speaker. For small amplifiers, the Celestion Super 8s are rapidly becoming a new industry standard. For their respective sizes, they are crisp and have a great balance between their EQ frequencies and are surprisingly loud.
The amplifier features basic volume and tone controls, so the circuitry is less complicated, making it both more powerful and easy to use.
It is only 5 watts and has a regular pre-amp 12AX7 tube that drives a single 6V6gt tube that offers both smooth tones and great distortion.
It comes in the classic cream form and is coated with chrome corner guards and synthetic leather to protect against bumps.
+ Equilibrated well.
+ Terrific price.
+ Minimalist checks.
Why We Liked It - It is an affordably priced, low consumption alternative that is well-mad, great for a grab and go amp if you are traveling to jam.
2. Bugera BC15
Next up is another 8-inch option this time from Behringers' fantastic Bugera amplification division, which is selling the same price as Monoprice's 5-watt tube amp above, a whopping 30 watts. It also has a 12AX7 pre-amp and provides a wonderful vintage sound. The speaker is an in-house Bugera speaker made with a custom signature.
To achieve your desired sound, it features a master volume control as well as a 2 band equalization. The gain button can be used to kick it up a notch to lead/distortion mode. Before breaking up, it has fair headroom and can be connected to external playback devices via a 1⁄4 inch jack for training along your tracks. For silent shredding at midnight, it also has a headphone port.
For sculpting your own practice tone, it has a balanced sound and good flexibility, is lightweight and delivers a punch.
+ thirty watts.
+ Compact one.
+ Power and gain in sound.
Why We Liked It -It is an outstanding Bugera model, a beautiful entry-level version of their ever-popular amplifiers.
3. California Tone Research SET5
The Set5 makes for a great solitary practice amp from California tone analysis. It offers pure A class power of 5 watts and has an 8 inch premium high-output speaker. It features a pre-amp 12 AX7 again, but the control tube is an ELL84. It has the retro Californian sound and is suitable for the styles of jazz blues and surf rock.
For a lug around amp, it is compact and lightweight, which is important. It has a great volume at the bedroom stage and a little to play with in the kitty. It is a 115V power amplifier which offers a great peak volume for a 5-watt alternative that breaks up well.
The tone potential is reasonably diverse and a great feature is its simplicity. It is traditional black with a rough grille that offers a cool aesthetic quality that is understated.
+ Easy to make use of.
+ Fun tones of vintage.
+ Lightweight and well produced.
Why We Liked It -This one is a great bare bones, all tube amp choice, and in our opinion, it retails at a slightly lower price than the first 2 we reviewed, making it an absolute bargain.
4. Marshall MG10CF
Without mention of a Marshall, we could not review tube amps and the MG10CF makes for an awesome small tube combo amp entry that speaks for the credibility of the businesses.
This one is a guitar amp choice for 10-watt tube, it has 2 channels with channel selection, each has separate volume controls. For silent procedures, it also has a line output/mp3 input and headphone option.
This is another one that sounds far larger than it looks, has a beautiful warmth, fantastic crunch, and distortion, and much exceeds the standards of its humble 10 watts of output power in general.
With its clean and overdrive channels as well as gain channel Contour Power, it is flexible with a diverse sound set giving the meaty Marshall rock flavor. It has a 6.5-inch speaker that is specially made and is highly lightweight.
With + 10 watts.
+ Clean Vs overdrive channels.
+ Emulated recording headset and line outputs.
Why We Liked It -In a small and attractively priced box, it really offers an authentic Marshall sound. It is ideal and almost a must have for most guitarists to have the option of switching between clean and overdrive channels. It's a terrific tiny tube amp combo.
5. Orange Amplifier Part (ROCKER15)
Last up in our top 5 review, a company known for making some delicious retro style amplifiers is the rocker 15 from Orange. The price tag is now much higher than the others, but it is certainly one of the best amplifiers available for tube practice.
The Rocker15 is an undeniably excellent piece of equipment, it has all the advantages of a lightweight small tube amplifier, but it is ultimately deserving of a gig with 15 watts of power pack such a punch.
It features 3 regular 12AX7 premium industry tubes as well as a pre-amp 12AT7 and 2 power amps EL84. It has 2 channels and direct controls. Channel 1 has 3 bands of bass and volume controls for EQ gain. Channel 2 has a power switch and a stereo/mono fx loop built into the cable.
In the immediately identifiable open, backed Orange car, with its notorious retro good looks and vibrancy, the specialist authentic circuitry and dedicated controls are housed.
+ Turn to 0,5,1,7 or 15 Watts of power.
Channel + 2.
+ Compact dimensions.
Why We Liked It - This will set you back a good few hundred more than the rest, but without a meatier alternative, we couldn't review the best. The Rocker15 is a legitimate small gig alternative, as well as being suitable for bedroom volumes, despite its small footprint and low wattage.
Small Tube Amp Buyers Guide
If you need to play at the level of the bedroom, crave an authentic tube tone and simply won't settle for a solid state or digital modeling amp, then your wish list will include a small tube amp.
The best small tube amps not only have a lower performance, but they are so much easier to bring around. Anyone who owns a high-output all-tube amplifier knows that transport can often be very strenuous.
There are several reasons why you would want to search for a small tube amp alternative that may be explicitly interested in low watt guitar amps, but usually in an attempt to be a good neighbor, a considerate spouse or a fair roomie, it is to reduce the decibels.What is a small tube amp?
What is a small tube amp?
As the definition might disclose, a small tube amp is a tube amplifier that is smaller in size, the tubes themselves and the circuitry are smaller and the cabinet inside which it is housed.
Tube amps produce heat as they warm by playing, so they need some form of space or cooling implemented in a more compact model in particular. They will usually be ported or open backed to ensure that low ends are treated capably as well as let air into it.
For those of you who have not played with a tube amplifier, it's also important to remember that they need to break in, so to speak. The sounds you get from your brand spanking new amplifier will not be your amp's general sound capacity, it will take a few hours of play to warm up to its potential. When broken in, the lovely, rich, buttery-warmth associated with conventional analog amps will be obtained.
Which is the best small tube amp for Jazz?
In general, you would want a better range of clean tones for a jazz amplifier to keep your more complex work clear. There are a number of good jazz amps out there, many with brighter or twang-ier tones featured with extra treble power.
We say that the California Tone Research SET5 is moderately priced with a sweet smooth jazz vibe and a surfing rock twang from those we have reviewed here today. It is affordably priced and they make higher performance models to satisfy your needs if the wattage is not quite adequate.
How many tubes should a small tube amp have?
In general, a low watt guitar amplifier would have fewer components for working. It should have a minimum of one pre-amp tube and you will usually find that the cheap small tube amps will have this exact configuration and not much more. The more tubes in the circuit, the more cash you need to fork out. If you just only need volume levels in solo practice, you won't need much more through the headroom before it breaks up, it won't be massive.
Where can you get a small tube bass amp?
Tiny tube amps are best suited to guitars because they tend to break up and distort once they reach a certain clean volume mark, which is perfect for a heavy lead break, but not so desirable for a bass.
Therefore, bass guitars are limited to the amount of usable headroom until distorting the amp with their total volume capped where the clean ends.
You want something with a reasonable output of at least 500 watts for bass guitar amplification, with plenty of space to reverberate, as well as cool the tubes. This is why, in size, bass amps appear to be much larger. Some tiny tube amps are aimed at catering to basses and they can do the trick if it is only to practice audibly, but small amps running low frequencies appear to be fuzzy.
It will be our advice not to look at anything below the minimum of 60 watts and not to expect much below 100 watts.
What is the smallest tube amp?
There are a variety of companies vying for amplification of micro tubes and we also see the output of 1-watt tube amps as a result. The Zvex nano guitar amp is awarded the smallest tube amp title for us, it is an innovative palm-sized, micro tube amp that packs a surprising punch running an output of just 1⁄2 a watt, and has some great characteristics. It is a great method to practice on the road for traveling guitarists. Check out this summary of the video;
The advantages of having something smaller to kick on around the house are glaringly apparent. Most of us don't practice new tunes on our amps for gigs. Anything ridiculously high performance is clearly overkill for bedroom levels and will rub the neighbors up the wrong way easily.
It is practically necessary to have a smaller, quieter alternative in modern times, not to mention that they have the advantage of being taken as a traveling amp. It is a blessing to have access to conventional tube amplification with a smaller footprint and a lower performance. There are plenty of items to peruse, we lean towards the Orange Rocker 15 of those we tested, but if the money just won't reach to that end of the budget scale, you might want to consider the Marshall instead. It makes for one of the best small tube combo amps around, considering its meager 10 watts. As always, our small tube mp buyers guide will have answered your niggling questions and provided you with sufficient insight into what to look for before you buy the right small tube amp for you.
Another suggestion may be to look at a tube amplifier head as a small tube choice if you work frequently or need to be able to turn it down when it is uncomfortable for others. When the mood and timing suits or unplug it for a lower stage, you can hook them up to larger rigs.
Did you Know
The dense, warmer sound of tube amps comes from their innovative (at the time) BBD circuitry.