Best Overall Tube Amp: Vox Valvetronix VT20X Modeling Amplifier
Vox has always been at the forefront of audio equipment, and this tube amp is no exception. Packed with all the features you could ever need from a tube amp, including a powerful speaker that’s ready for practice and live performances, whatever you need from a quality amp, Vox has it all.
Best Budget Tube Amp: Peavey Solo 12W Transtube Electric Guitar Amp
The chances are you’ll have heard of Peavey throughout the audio equipment industry, so it should come as no surprise that their patented Transtube tube amp is considered one of the best, and one of the most reliable to date!
Best Premium Tube Amp: Fender Super Champ X2 15-Watt Guitar Combo Amp
Fender has always been a premium name in the audio industry, made famous by its high-quality products and the amazing solutions they create. The Super Champ X2 is a prime example of how the best tube amps are made, and why they are perfect for a musician looking for the best of the best!
Our Top Ten
Whether you’re experimenting to find your ideal sound for your next song or album, or you’re performing live and doing what you love most as a musician, a tube amplifier, also known as a ‘tube amp,’ is a great way to ensure your sound is perfect.
Tube amps are renowned throughout the music industry for their deep and rich sounds that simply don’t compare with solid-state amps in terms of depth and tone. While traditionally more expensive than other types of amp, tube amps are the cream of the crop when it comes to high-quality audio.
If you’re looking for this premium experience, then you’ve come to the right place. Today, we’re going to explore our top ten recommendations for the best tube amps currently available, as well as detailing our complete buying guide to help ensure you choose the tube amp that’s best for you.
To make sure you’re spending your money in the right place, let’s get straight into it!
Starting off our list today, we’ve chosen a well-known brand that has always been loved by musicians around the world decade in, decade out. Peavey prides themselves on their high-quality products that work and sound amazing, and when it comes to tube amps, this Transtube device is no exception to the rule.
This 12-watt RMS amp packs an 8-inch Blue Marvel speaker, which is connected to leading Transtube technology and circuitry. It’s important to note that this is emulation circuitry, which means the preamp is designed to create a realistic tube amp sound without needing to be expensive or use unaffordable parts.
This means if you’re shopping on a budget, you don’t need to spend everything on a tube amp, but can rather invest in this reliable, cost-effective, yet incredible sounding amp that still gives you all the benefits you’d look for in a tube amp.
Outstanding Tube Emulation
To give you an idea of the power of this Peavey amp, the emulation technology is patented to Peavey alone, and you won’t be able to find anything like it anywhere else. If you’re looking for a cost-effective solution, this is it.
Of course, all the other features you’d expect in your tube amp are still found here. These include a 3-band EQ, clean and lead sound channels, a ¼-inch CD stereo input and direct out jack output, and, of course, a headphone jack.
With everything you need for an affordable price, it’s no wonder this is one of the highest-rated tube amps and can pride itself on solid five-star reviews. Suitable for all musicians with any requirements; make Peavey one of your go-to considerations!
What We Like About It
What everybody loves the most about this Peavey amp is the fact it’s made by Peavey, who are renowned for their fantastic quality. If you’re looking for a tube amp that’s going to last and keep on giving for many years to come, you won’t need to look further than this.
- A 12-watt RMS amp with an 8-inch Blue Marvel speaker
- Realistically emulates all tube sounds with incredible accuracy
- One of the most reliable amp brands in the world
- A 3-band passive EQ for adjusting your sounds to perfection
If you’re looking for a small but sweet tube amp, perhaps one that can easily introduce you into the world of tube amps, or just an affordable option that gives you access to some premium features to help enhance your guitar playing sessions, Monoprice has a solution that could be perfect for you.
Small, But Mighty
This compact amp comes packed with 5-watt RMS tube-powered amp technology and a high-performance Celestion speaker. For those in the know, Celestion is one of the most prestigious speaker manufacturers in the world, so right off the bat, you know this amp is going to sound great.
Inside the amp, you’ll find both ECC83 and 12AX7 preamplification tubes (the same used in some of the most expensive of Fender amplifiers), as well as a 6v6GT power tube. This gives you access to all kinds of tube-related sound outputs while making sure it’s an affordable option for many.
All in all, this amp is capable of handling an impressive frequency response range between 80Hz and 10kHz with a -75dB noise and hum reduction feature to ensure your sounds remain great.
Additionally, with a range of harmonic distortion features alongside low and high input optimisation settings integrated directly into the device to help ensure you’re producing the best sound possible, and hundreds of five-star reviews from customers around the world, it’s no wonder this Monoprice amp has made it into plenty of top-ten lists across the internet!
What We Like About It
Easily one of the best features of this tube amp is just how well the amp sounds, even when compared to more premium solutions. The sound is so well rounded thanks to the tubes that have been included, and the Celestion speaker is a nice touch that simply sounds beautiful!
- Minimalist and straightforward controls that are super easy to learn and manage
- A nostalgic and very premium looking aesthetic that will be loved by all
- A punchy 8-watt Celestion speaker that sounds amazing
- One of the most highly rated amps around
While California Tone may not be the most well-known brand in the tube amp industry, that doesn’t mean their addition is not worth your attention. In fact, quite the opposite is the case since their SET5 amp is still making waves among musicians, as it has done consistently over the last few years.
Any Genre, Any Time
Of course, this tube amp is suitable for all guitars, but it’s primarily designed with jazz, blues, and surf rock musicians in mind. If you fit these genres and you want all the benefits of a tube amp, this could be the ideal option you’ve been looking for!
This amp prides itself on its single end tripod design that is easy to set up anywhere, and inside the amp boasts up to 5 watts RMS of power. While this may be smaller than other traditional tube amps, if you’re starting out or just want an amp to work at home or in a small studio without having to spend a fortune, this is the amp for you.
Simple Yet Effective
There are not too many special aspects to list out about this amp because everything is designed by nature to be short but sweet. There are no bells and whistles, just a plain and simple tube amp you can rely on that guarantees to get the job done.
Affordable, easy to use, and perfect for both beginners and expert (experienced) musicians alike, this is one fantastic tube amp option you’re going to want to consider!
What We Like About It
Despite only having 5 watts of power, this amp does come loaded with a full 8-inch speaker driver. This means you can use this amp when performing live in small clubs or venues, which is great if you’re starting out when playing live!
- Comes loaded with a 12AX7 and EL84 power tube for outstanding sound amplification
- Incredibly affordable and suitable for all budgets
- Comes with an 8-inch speaker driver and 5 watts RMS of power
- An easy to set up tripod design for easy installation into any location!
Rockville is a champion tube amplifier that really packs a punch compared to pretty much any other tube amp we’ve mentioned today, or any amp available on the market in general. That’s because this device packed a huge 70 watts of power, all broken down to give you what you need when you need it.
No Clipping, Just Perfection
This could be 50 watts at 80oHm settings, 75 watts at 4oHms, or however you want. This is a huge amount of power, and even if you’re playing at high volumes, you won’t witness any kind of clipping or distortion. The quality of the sound you get from this tube amplifier is unparalleled and will win over both you and your listeners.
An Alternative Solution
Of course, it’s important to note that while this amp does work with guitars when using the proper cables and adapters, this is primarily a home audio system, so it would work perfectly if you’re editing and mastering at your computer. This isn’t going to be an amp you use live, but for any other situation, it’s going to excel!
With an impressive frequency response range of 25Hz to 20kHz, full USB and RCA connections, and a classic aesthetic that suits any studio or household, this is one special premium solution that’s unique and powerful in its own way.
What We Like About It
Perhaps the most impressive feature of this amp is the built-in Bluetooth feature. This means you can connect all kinds of audio input to enjoy the best level of quality in all areas of your life. This could be TVs, laptops, phones, tablets, or whatever music outputs you have!
- Up to 70 watts RMS of amplification power at your fingertips
- Built-in Bluetooth technology complete with a 33-foot range
- An impressive frequency response range for the best sound quality
- Can be used for guitars or any home audio equipment
Fender is a leading brand in the audio industry, whether you’re focusing on their world-famous guitars or the equipment that the company produces alongside them. When it comes to their amplifiers, Fender’s legendary form of quality is continued, as this Super Champ amp is a fine example of.
This is a 15-watt tube amp that comes fully loaded with two 6V6 tubes as well as a 12AX7 preamp tube, giving you the best of both worlds. Since this is a dual-channel tube amp, you get all the benefits, such as the quality and richness of sound, of a traditional tube amp, as well as the highlights of more modern amps, such as seamless compatibility with digital effects and mastering!
Customise Your Sound
When we talk about digital effects, we’re referring to the voicing knob integrated into this device. This knob allows you to select between 16 unique amp types (some of the options being Blackface, Metal, British, and more), and 15 other effects that allow you to customize and adjust your sound pretty much however you want.
Of course, you can delay the timing of the effects, as well as the modulation rate all while using the tap tempo control to help you play around with your final sound output until it sounds perfect. Whether you know what you’re looking for, or you’re looking for a tube amp that can help you get the creative juices flowing, this Fender amp is there for you.
A Legendary Fender Experience
Of course, Fender has made it very easy to adjust your channels using the optimal footswitch connection, which is ideal for if you’re playing on stage and need a quick change of channel, and there’s even a built-in USB output for if you want to digitally record your sounds to then do whatever you want with, whether that’s editing, releasing, or mastering!
There’s no denying that Fender is one of the best manufacturers in the world, and this Super Champ amp is a testament to the best of what they can achieve. While expensive, this amp is considered by many to be the most premium experience out there.
What We Like About It
While measuring in at 15 watts, there’s no denying that this speaker can pack a punch. With Fender’s specially designed 10-inch speaker, this is a tube amp that can go loud, all without compromising the quality of your guitar sounds. The solid four to five-star reviews from dozens of customers solidify this as fact.
- A 15-watt Super Champ amp with three tubes for optimizing your sounds
- Two channels built into the amp with optional footswitch compatibility
- Integrated USB output for making sure you can record your guitar sounds
- 16 amp type modes alongside 15 unique effects as standard
Vox is yet another fantastic and very reputable audio manufacturer known throughout the industry, and when it comes to amps and tube amps, any amount of research will put this brand in front of you one way or another. Zeroing in on one of the best, we’ve chosen their VT20X tube amp.
A Powerful Solution
This high-quality 20-watt tube amp comes fully loaded with a single 8-inch speaker that provides all the crystal-clear sound output you’ll be looking for. This is then backed by Valvetronix preamp circuitry, which has been custom-designed to produce the best sound clarity with minimal distortion.
As you would expect from a premium solution, this amp also comes with 11 incredibly realistic amp model settings to choose between, 13 specially chosen onboard effects, and even an additional 33 preset programs! All of these are designed to give you everything you need to have the most unique and creative experience possible!
Suitable for Everyone
Whether you’re looking to get started with your first ever tube amp, or you’re looking for a solution that can help you take your audio ventures one step further, this Vox tube amp has something for you.
All the essentials are included, such as a built-in guitar tuner to help you stay in tune, an AUX input and a headphone output, USB connectivity to connect your amp to your computer to record and process your digital sounds (and to keep everything updated to the latest firmware), and more!
As you can see, the Vox tube amp is really not holding back in any way, shape, or form, and if you’re looking for the solution that has the best to offer, there may not be any reason to look further than this. With all the high-quality Vox features you’d expect in such a device, there’s a reason why this remains one of the number one choices!
What We Like About It
While there’s a lot of things to love when it comes to the Vox tube amp, the VET technology is easily one of the standout features. VET stands for Virtual Elements Technology, and basically refers to the way the sound quality is delivered to your ears; in short, it ensures that it sounds amazing!
- Compatible with a full range of optional footswitches
- Comes with a ton of presets and effects to indulge in and explore
- A powerful 20-watt tube amp complete with an 8-inch speaker
- Comes with a built-in tuner to ensure your guitar sounds perfect!
Orange is a hot contender when it comes to amp equipment, and if you’re looking for an easy-to-use solution that keeps things compact and simple, the Orange Micro Amp head could be perfect. What’s more, this head comes with a compatible cabinet amp, ultimately giving you everything you need.
Since this set comes with both the head and amp itself, you get literally everything you’ll need for the most complete experience. The 8-inch driver pumps out your sound whether you’re at home, in a studio, or at a live performance in crystal-clear clarity, and the tube amplifier itself ensures that everything sounds deep and rich.
As you would expect from an Orange amp head, there are plenty of ways to experiment with the outputted sound using the dials on the front, meaning there are practically endless ways to explore your full creative potential as a musician.
However, alongside with what Orange stands for, this amp is designed with metalheads in mind, and the sound does tend to replicate the classic metal rock style, as does the gorgeous yet somewhat striking aesthetic.
Enhanced & Optimized Quality
Since everything here is designed to work together seamlessly, there’s a very low risk of interference or distortion, and there’s even a patented Orange speaker cable to ensure the very best connection between the devices.
In short, it doesn’t matter how loud you go, how many effects you’re using, or where you want to take your sounds; this is a tube amp that will stay alongside you every step of the way.
With dozens of five-star reviews from satisfied musicians and guitarists from around the world, a compact size that’s highly portable and can be set up easily no matter where you are, and 20 watts of power that’s more than enough to ensure you’re heard, it’s safe to say Orange has really pulled out all the stops to deliver something great.
What We Like About It
We can’t stress enough how amazing the sound quality of this amp and amp head are. It doesn’t matter where you look or who you listen to; you’re going to hear the sounds of this amp just hit the nail on the head every single time. If you’re in the market for one of the best audio quality experiences, put this set at the top of your list.
- Endless five-star reviews from happy musicians around the world
- Plenty of ways to adjust and play with your sound however you want
- 20 watts of power to be heard properly in any situation
- Comes with an Orange speaker cable to ensure the most enhanced connection
Heading back over to the powerhouse brand that is Fender now, but this time drawing our attention over to the Mustang variation. For those of you in the know: yes, this tube amp is named after the Mustang car, a vehicle that’s proud of its raw performance capabilities and excellent quality, which is exactly what you’ll find here.
The Most Complete Experience
Adaptability is key here, which is why Fender offers around 17 unique presets and amp models to choose from, all accessible through the turn of a dial. This means this amp is perfect for pretty much any genre you wish you play!
This means you also have the option to sample and edit your sounds ‘on the fly’ using the amp model settings.
However, in true Fender fashion, they take things one step further by allowing you to connect to your computer to record and edit your sounds any way you like, directly from your amp, all via the integrated USB connection.
Fender goes EVEN FURTHER by throwing in a copy of their patented FUSE software that gives you control over how you digitally process your tracks or for adding effects like reverb, delay, echo, phaser, tremolo, and many more!
If the FUSE software is not your style, Fender has covered all the bases by throwing in a copy of Ableton Live Lite 8, the special Fender Edition. This has been created with special amps like this in mind and helps give you the best available options that best suit you.
Connect Your Way
Of course, there are all the connections you could ask for, such as an AUX input, so you can connect your phone or another audio output device to rock out to your favorite playlists in your free time, and there’s a mute option for when you need to cut any of the outputted sounds off instantly!
All of this, and Fender has even sealed the deal with a limited-edition warranty that has you covered and leaves you safe in the knowledge that this is an amp that will continue to work alongside you for many years to come. With all these features and add-ons, you know you’ll be investing your money in the right place!
What We Like About It
Focusing back on the software that’s included with this amp, both software applications are compatible with Mac and Windows computers, so you know it doesn’t matter what equipment you’re using now, or may be running in the future, this is an amp that will continue to run by your side!
- Comes with an integrated USB port to connect the amp to your computer
- Comes with Ableton Lite Live 8 and Fender FUSE software
- Comes with 17 amp presets and amp voices to choose from
- A fully-functional chromatic tuner for keeping your guitar ready to go
If you’re in the market for a small yet mighty tube amp that packs a punch, you may not need to look further than the Orange Crush. This is a hefty 20-watt tube amp that boasts a traditional analog signal path that allows you and your audience to take a nostalgic trip back in time with some classic sounds.
In true tube amp fashion, this amp comes with both a clean and dirty channel, which can be quickly changed on the amp
itself or using an optional footswitch that you can plug in at any time. There’s, of course, a CabSim loaded headphone output so you can enjoy the tube amp benefits even when you need to be quiet!
The Latest Technology Integrated
Since this amp was only released back in 2015, you can play safe in the knowledge that you’re experiencing an amp with many of the most modern features, including a four-stage preamp design, a fully loaded EQ section, and a state-of-the-art 8-inch speaker.
All of these features come together to create an excellent sound you simply don’t find with other tube amps. Whether you’re rehearsing, experimenting, playing on the go, in a studio, or to a live audience, this is a tube amp that continues to go above and beyond the call of duty.
One of the Most Popular
In fact, just reading some reviews from past customers will highlight how packed this amp is, with many describing it as ‘nothing short of staggering.’ With remarks like this, you know that the Orange Crush is always going to be money well spent.
What We Like About It
While not a technical aspect, the iconic and somewhat legendary Orange aesthetic of this amp is one of the highlight features you’re going to love. Whether it’s just you enjoying the benefits of the amp, or the bright visuals drawing
the attention of the crowd to you on stage, immortalizing their memory of you, the design is a standout feature!
- An iconic visual design everyone will fall in love with
- Two channels to customize how your sound will be heard on output
- A powerful 20-watt Voice of the World speaker
- Compatible with footswitch equipment
To finish up with our list of the most recommended tube amplifiers available right now, we’ve gone back over to the Vox range, this time focusing on their Pathfinder addition to the market. Affordable, packed with awesome features, and the fact it sounds great, this is a one-stop solution you’re not going to want to miss.
Everything You’ll Need in One
This compact amp sports a punchy 6.5-inch speaker that’s powered by an impressive 10-watt system. Of course, 10 watts might not seem like a lot compared with some other leading amplifiers, but when you consider the small and compact size of this amplifier, it’s more than enough.
Of course, in the true fashion of Vox products, this amplifier looks great and is finished to an incredibly high standard. The aesthetics are extremely professional, and there’s no denying that everybody who lays eyes on it is going to fall in love with it, as well as the sounds that come out of it.
The Essentials Covered
There are also all the standard features you’d expect, including a clean/overdrive switch, and all the standard
controls, such as volume, sound gain, and individual bass and treble controls.
All in all, there’s no denying this is a fantastic product, and there’s plenty of features and functions here you’re going to love. Suitable for many budgets, complete with headphone and AUX connections, and simply beautiful in every way, there’s a reason why you’ll find this amp included in nearly all best-of tube amps lists.
What We Like About It
In addition to the hundreds of five-star reviews and the many features this amp prides itself on, one of the highlight features you’re going to love is the fact it’s actually a solid-state amp made to sound like a tube amp.
This means the amp is incredibly affordable and suitable for all budgets, but still provides the great benefits that a tube amp gives.
- An incredibly affordable option suitable for all musicians on any budget
- A punchy 10-watt system that can be used for practicing or performing live
- Doesn’t produce any unwanted humming or buzzing
- One of the most highly rated amps in this industry bracket
Our Essential Buying Guide to the Best Tube Amps
Now that we’ve explored some of the best tube amp options out there, it’s now up to you to choose the one that’s right for you. Of course, this isn’t easy, especially when you want to ensure you’re spending potentially hundreds of dollars in the right place.
To make sure your decision is right, below we’re going to detail our complete buying guide, so you know everything you need to look for, as well as answer some of your most frequently asked tube amp questions!
The first element you’re going to need to define is how you’re going to use your amp. If you’re playing at home, perhaps practicing in your studio, or just jamming out and learning how to play your guitar, you’re only going to need a basic amp to get you started.
However, if you’re performing live, practicing in a studio, or perhaps even recording your tracks for a release or album, you’re going to need something with a few more features, and an amp that prides itself on handling and processing high-quality audio.
Define this feature first before moving on to other points!
How much power your preferred amp has will determine what kind of sound it will be producing. The more power you have, the louder your amp will be able to go without distortion and still retain its original signal quality, so link this consideration with the purpose point above.
Ideally, with a tube amp, you’re going to want to aim around the 20-watt mark as an average. While you can go higher if you’re playing to larger audiences and want a better-quality sound, you can also go lower if you’re just practicing at home and don’t need much to hear what’s going on.
The Tube Technology
Of course, you’re going to need to consider what kind of tubes your chosen amp is using, so you know what kind of sound it’s going to be creating. You’re not expecting to know every kind of tube that could possibly be used, but always check the product description and conduct an online search of the implemented tubes and you’ll be able to see what they sound like.
What’s more, the more tubes and channels a tube amp has, the more options you’ll have when it comes to customizing your sound however you want it to be. There are plenty of amps that come with amp model settings so you can replicate a specific sound, as well as presets to help you adjust your output further.
Sound Effects (FX)
Since we’re in the 21st century, it’s possible to add previously impossible effects to the output of your guitar sounds, all directly through the amp itself. Whereas in the past you would have had to record your sounds and use a computer to add a reverb or tremolo effect, there are plenty of modern amps that can do it for you.
If you’re a fan of using effects with your guitar sounds, perhaps currently using a pedalboard, or you just wanted the option there for if you wanted ever to experiment or have this creative option, always look for an amp that offers FX options.
This is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after features in modern-day tube amps, and sooner rather than later, all tube amps will come with this level of connectivity.
By connecting your tube amp directly to your computer via a USB cable, you’ll give yourself the ability to record your sounds into a digital format directly from your amp, as well as process even more effects, similar to what we spoke about above.
Once you’ve recorded your sounds in a high quality, you’ll be able to edit them in your DAW application and have them ready for release. In some cases, there are several amps that even come with their own DAW application ready for you to use!
Frequently Asked Questions When Buying Tube Amps
Does my amp need to be portable?
Ideally, yes, although it’s not essential. If you’re planning on your taking your amp around to concerts and venues, then having an amp with some degree of portability, or at least some features that make it easy, is a good idea.
However, if your amp is going to stay at home or in the studio and isn’t really going to move, this is not a feature you’ll need to focus on too much.
Can a solid-state amp be as good as a tube amp?
There’s no denying that tube amps are traditionally the most expensive type of amp, which is why this is such a commonly asked question. If you want the real tube amp experience and sound, don’t opt for solid-state. Go all the way because you won’t regret it.
However, it’s worth noting there are plenty of solid-state amps that have been designed to emulate the tube amp sound. These are actually fairly impressive and have been perfected a ton over the last few years, making them a viable choice for musicians shopping on a budget. Just make sure you choose a decent one!
As you can see, when it comes to investing in a tube amp for your musical ventures, there are plenty of options and considerations to think about. Take your time and do your research, and you can be sure you’ll find the solution that’s right for you!