9 Best Tube Amps Under $1000 in 2021
You will often find you come across many modeling amps that are masquerading as an actual analog amp when you shop online for a tube amp, unfortunately this is not the case and although we have included a few solid states that do a good job, we have tried our best to steer clear as we determine the 10 best amps of tube under $1000 in 2020.
In their pre-amp stages, some solid-state amps have a tube that simply makes them a hybrid amp if anything, but it enables them to market themselves as a tube amp, while in fact they do not have the true tonal consistency that many are looking for.
View The Best Tube Amp Under $1000 Below
1. CALIFORNIA TONE RESEARCH SET5 Single End Tube Guitar Amplifier
Today's quest begins with a gang-all California tone research all-tube alternative that is well-manufactured and relies on a single end tripod configuration to get the purest tonal characteristics.
California tone research amplifiers are now renowned for their brighter treble and analog warmth, making them great for blues, jazz, and surf-rock, of course.
With its 12AX7 preamp tube and fat EL84 power tube, this one manages to really amp up a whole bunch of its conservative 5 watts. It has an outstanding 8 inch Eleca speaker and fast 2-band EQ dials (treble and bass along with volume control.)
+ Excellent workmanship.
+ Break-up Antique.
+ Controls easily.
Why We Liked It - It provides powerful sound in the A-class and allows for some honest tone formation.
2. Marshall Amps Guitar Combo Amplifier (M-DSL40CR-U)
A Marshall combo amp is next in our sights, now many of their 'tube' amp models use an industry-standard 12Ax7 Pre-Amp, but for that Marshall rock and roll signature sound the DSL series pushes boundaries.
It has 4x ECC83 pre-amp tubes as well as 2x EL34 power tubes and gives you some of the crunchiest tones that your money can provide.
It has 2 channels, one with smooth gain and one ultra gain, each with 2 clean and crunch modes. Being a 40-watt option has a lot of space before you distort, be warned that this amplifier is noisy.
It is really well-built and fitted with a Celestion V-type 12" speaker and the reproduction is great, you can really create any classic Marshall tone."
On top of the initial clean/crunch modes and channel settings, it has 3-band EQ along with tone-shift and resonance functions. It also has a mechanical reverb and a by-passable loop effects sequence rear panel and line output emulated tones courtesy of SoftTube, which is fun when it comes to recording.
A free pedal switch comes with it.
+ Beast 40-watts.
+ Spectrum of broad tone.
+ Flexible amp with 2 channels.
Why We Liked It - In a well-manufactured kit, it is a meaty amp, as opposed to bedroom practice-focused, we would suggest it as a gigging option.
3. Monoprice 611705 5-Watt 1x8 Guitar Combo Tube Amplifier
This next one is a moderately priced genuine tube amp alternative that is highly noisy due to its deceptive size and low wattage (5 Watts). Although Monoprice is not a leading music brand, some wonderful, inexpensive solutions are made and this little beauty is a pleasant surprise.
With great quality parts, it is well-manufactured. With its cream coloring and synthetic leather-look, it sports a retro theme. It is very lightweight which makes it a good choice for travel amps.
It features an 8-inch Celestion speaker that has an ample surface area to cope with full-range frequencies that houses a quality magnet and has a clear definition in the mid-ranges that highlights the natural nuance of the style of the players.
It is fitted with a 12AX7 pre-amp tube that drives a single 6V6GT tube to provide authentic analog distortion. There are rich and well-rounded tones.
It has minimalist controls that make it easy to change one for sound, nice and simple, for volume one
+ Original analog.
+ Retro sounds.
+ Controls easily.
+ With low wattage.
Why We Liked It -For a low watt option, it is very noisy, it is well made and offers good value for cash in a simple design suitable for beginners.
4. BUGERA G5 5-Watt Class Amplifier
This bad boy from Bugera, which again has a retro look, is another amazing 5-watt option.
The V5 Infinium is a lightweight tube amp with a heavy-duty construction of high-quality materials and a few more customization choices for tone than the Monotone we tested.
With great response and sensitivity, it has a British-engineered Turbosound speaker.
It is fitted with a 12AX7 pre-amp tube paired with an EL84 power tube that is assisted by an integrated power attenuator to drive them to any volume breaking point. A dirtier distortion and thicker overall sound is given by the power tube.
With its vibrant high definition reverb, users get access to many more tone changes which can be tweaked to achieve a variety of results.
It also benefits from the Bugeras Tube Life Multiplier technology that equally distributes the audio workload by controlling the performance output of the tube to help them sustain their peak output. Each tube has an LED to serve as an early sign of their impending doom, so that you can keep tabs. This makes them last longer.
+ Tube control.
+ Reverb with high-def.
+ Intelligent monitoring of tube output.
Why We Liked ItIt's a nice amp with a great break-up, it's well-built and we love the tech and LED indicators of the Tube Life Multiplier.
5. Fender '57 Custom Champ 5-watt 1x8" Tube Combo Amp
This next model of 5 watts from Fender is pretty amazing. For a low watt option, it is so strongly powered, the dirt is insane, but as the headroom is astounding, it needs to be cranked.
It is beautifully designed and has a cab modelled on the original Champ in a retro style, the color is like a washed-out mustard yellow, and it has a Weber speaker with high-end components.
The tubes consist of a single industry standard 12AY7 pre-amp tube, a single 6V6 power amp tube, and a 5Y3GT rectifier tube, providing an analog overload between them.
+ Powered powerfully.
+ Triple installation of tubing.
+ Genuine distortion of antique.
Why We Liked It - It's powerfully impressive, it works nicely with pedals and could genuinely do what it's pumping out with an attenuator. It's one of the pricier amplifiers on the hot-list today, but it's worth shelling out.
6. Ibanez TSA15
The Ibanez TSA15 is a distinctive little amplifier with a fully integrated Tube Screamer, one of the most common overdrive pedals in Ibanez.
The 15Watt amp features 2 x 12AX7 and 2 x 6V6 power tubes and a splendid 12-inch Celestion Seventy80 speaker to play with.
It has individual controls for bass, treble, and sound. It comes with a fully self-contained and by-passable control board that gives access to overdrive and other tones for Tube Screamer functionality.
It can switch between 15W mode and 5W, giving it excellent practice and gig flexibility to adjust the break-up points, respectively, so that at lower decibels you can achieve your desired analog tones.
For when you want it loud, it also has a gain boost button (6 decibels) that can be worked with a lead break switch but has to be purchased separately.
+ Heavy-duty construction.
+ Tones Powered.
+ Flexible switch for wattage.
Why We Liked It - It is incredibly well crafted and gives players good control of their sound identification once again.
7. Archer TUBULARBK Tubular 5-Watt Guitar Combo Amplifier
Another excellent option is the TUBULAR BK by Archer, affordably priced and well designed with a reasonably light transit weight that makes it a key contender.
Again, it is a 5-watt alternative that relies on the combination of a 12AX7 tube preamp to produce true retro tones. It features and is well-engineered with a single-ended class A circuit.
It is packed in a leather-bound cabinet style that is far more modern than those we have looked at today. It is robustly constructed and has strong resonance. Its custom-designed 8-inch speaker reproduces the sound.
With its 2-band bass and treble controls and volume, its functionality is kept basic, but a wide range of tones can be achieved.
+ Inexpensive choice for tube amps.
+ Tone management and no-nonsense.
Why We Liked It - It is a great inexpensive option, is reasonably lightweight, and makes it suitable for a novice with its simple tone controls.
8. Egnater TWEAKER 112 Guitar Combo Amplifier
Another powerful all-tube amplifier that is once again well-produced and presentable is next up. It's a 15-watt option that provides a little more power than some of the amps we have mentioned in our reviews for practice.
A solid cab design and a hard-working 12-inch Celestion G12H speaker are featured.
It is fitted with a pair of 6V6 power tubes to choose from that offer it a lot of tones.
Each of the EQ and master parts has a Tweaker switch; 5 powerful toggle switches that adjust the character, the low and high end are formed tight and bright in a way that gives users soft and smooth play or offensive punch.
From buttery smooth to edgy and powered, the Classic/Modern voicing makes the tube tones and the Gain goes from bright and clean to full-blown assault.
+ Cab construction with consistency.
+ EQ for variations of toggles.
+ Variety of sounds in which to play.
Why We Liked It -It is another good contender that we love the Tweaker toggles for top tube amplifier, which gives users a lot of artistic license.
9. Bugera BC15 15-Watt Vintage Guitar Amp
We also included another Bugera option, although this one is actually a solid-state amp that does a reasonable job of recreating vintage tube tones, unlike the Infinium model reviewed, as it has a 12AX7 valve in its pre-amp stage.
It has a hardy structure and is wrapped with real leather, with a patented 8" Bugera speaker, it is well-engineered."
It weighs around 12lbs and provides dual channels with a wide variety of tones accessible via its 2-band EQ dials, which are easy to use. It also has a gain button that activates the channel for lead/distortion.
With its 1⁄4' TRS jack, you can also hook up external playback devices to play with and plug in your headphones for private practice.
+ Gorgeous construction.
+ Fun modeling for vintage.
+ Tube Pre-Amp.
Why We Liked It -It's a little more strong and marginally cheaper than the real deal.
Tube Amp Under $1000 Buyers Guide
While we have written several previous articles on tube amps, we have summarized some of the facts relating to old-school technology in this week's buyers' guide, the advantages of using them and tried to weigh in on the solid-state amp argument of the Tube V in an impartial manner.
There will never be a clear-cut response because the sound is a very subjective matter, choice is really down to the individual and while each form of amp has its advantages and pitfalls, the decision to make is really yours.
We'd say meet in the center and go for a hybrid version that offers you the best of both worlds if you're still undecided after scrolling through our archived amplifier posts.
What is a tube amp?
The easiest explanation is that in order to amplify the electrical signal that is the input signal, a tube amp uses vacuum tubes. They use technology which was invented just over a century ago.
To our British neighbors, tube amps are also known as valve amps. The interior of the tube pushes the current in one direction only. A diode, which comprises a cathode and an anode, is a simple type of tube.
One sends the electrons and the other captures and sends them, which implies that, unlike DSP (digital signal processing) which is subject to custom engineering firms, the signal has greater fidelity to what is played.
Tube amps have a tone that is arguably incomparable and harmonic distortion is affixed. The mechanics of a valve amp are more adaptive, providing many more tone choices, such as when monitored with a sine wave detector, the overdrive flattens the tops of sound waves and the bottom end can also flatten when driven harder.
As a consequence, a tube amplifier actually provides a more honest portrayal of the complexities and nuances of the abilities of the players.
As discussed, the tube vs. solid-state debate is a commonly discussed topic, but one thing most guitarists will agree on is that the clean signals from a tube amplifier are much more pristine. For a lot of musical genres, having a strong clean channel signal is crucial.
A tube amp has a natural tonality that seems a little deeper, as people sometimes refer to this extra depth as warmth that is very appropriate as the vacuum tubes used in it give off a lot of heat.
When opened up, their transistor-driven friends also generate harmonic distortion and are vulnerable to negative feedback at high outputs. A transistor-driven amplifier.
Typically, solid-state amps can give a plethora of presets and this can be great fun to play with and is one of their greatest appeals, together with the fact that the hardware is generally smaller and can therefore be developed into a more portable, lightweight option that provides greater portability. Also, they are easier to patch. Unfortunately, a tube amp would need component sourcing and tubes have a shelf-life ticking away.
Given the enormous variety of sounds they have on board, a solid-state amp just sounds too plastic for many, and this is typically the primary reason why tube fans prefer older technology.
Unfortunately, only the real thing can not come close to something digitally reproduced, but they do offer a lot of control over sound and the variety of genres you play will weigh heavily on your decision.
What To Look For in a Tube Amp Under $1000?
Since tubes are fragile, it should have a robust cab, and a decent size speaker 8 or 12 will typically suffice. You probably won't need much more than a 5/10 watt option if you plan to use it mainly in a home environment, as they really amplify with good performance.
For local venues and 50 for outdoor activities, we propose 20-30. If you shop in the upper regions of today's budget allocation, then you really should need a little more sort of the amplifier.
2-band equalization would be adequate in the budget areas, but it is preferable to part with cash 3-band and hopefully it should come with a few more bells and whistles in terms of tone modulation, whether or not they are digital.
Keep in mind that a tube amp is normally much heavier than a solid-state amp if you are looking for a gig. After years of use, tubes may die and you will have to take them to a specialist to repair or upgrade them.
Best Tube Amp for Beginners?
We would recommend the Archer Tubulark from Today's reviews because it has simple equalization controls that make it easy to dial in your tones, but if your budget just won't stretch that far, we'd suggest the Monoprice model as a cheaper option. It has 2-band EQ and if your hobby becomes a career, it is really better to keep it simple if you can still upgrade it for a newbie.
Best Tube Amp for Tones?
With access to SoftTubes extensive tone lab, the Marshall combo we picked is really the obvious winner here, along with a digital smorgasbord, you get the best of genuine tube capabilities.
It doesn't appeal to you with the inclusion of SoftTube and you want an amplifier with its own dedicated tones, so we would certainly recommend the Egnater Tweaker combination amplifier. It has excellent flexibility and you can get just about any sound that comes out of it. The 5 switches give it a lot of space for change and a great edge is provided by the double control tubes.
A generous budget of $1000 dollars really gives you a bit more free rein over what you can afford. Many lower-priced options floating on the market are not just tubes, as you would have seen in our previous amplifier reviews, in their essence.
If analog is what you want to consider nothing less, hopefully some of the variations will be illustrated by today's reviews. There are a variety of great all-tube amps out there.
Although there are a few digital amps out there that deliver a vast array of sounds, their retro modeling is really just an imitation, and they literally pale compared to the fat, buttery-beasts of the past for the majority of analog connoisseurs.'
The well-loved, identifiable warmth they offer to the tonality of the amplifier is due to the excess energy that actually heats the tube amps on the inside. A tube amp takes a while for a break-in. It will take you a while to kick your amp up a notch and could be even more effective towards the ends of your sets, so be sure to compensate for a score.
Did you Know
In our Top 10 Best Tube Amps article last year, we reviewed some fantastic tube amplifier options for more inspiration and details.