Would you like to invest in a tube amp rather than a solid-state amp? Such an amplifier is more responsive and smoother than a solid-state amp.
The problem with most tube amps is that they cost a lot of money. If you don’t intend to spend so much on a tube amp, you should look for the best tube amplifier that will cost you less than 500. A good tube amplifier should not only be affordable but also have a good tone and numerous features. This review can help you identify such tube amps. We will also give you a guide that can help you find an ideal tube amplifier. Learn more!
Table of Contents
Best Tube Amplifier Under 500 (in 2023)
1. Blackstar HT1R – Compact Design
If you need a sturdily built and great-sounding amp, you should consider Blackstar HT1R. This is among the best cost-effective tube amps since it has all the features you need. It not only has impressive tone-shaping controls but is also designed to last for a long time. Though Blackstar HT1R is a 1-watt amp, many users are contented with how this amp sounds.
It comes with one 8 inch speaker, one preamp tube, and a single power tube. You should also expect two switchable channels in this model that include overdrive and clean. The control panel of this tube amplifier features an input, EQ knob, Reverb control knob, volume level control, overdrive button, and a power switch. You will also notice a speaker output port at the back part of this tube amp.
You only need to tweak the knobs of this tube amp to achieve the desired sound. This tube amp delivers not only clean sounds but also gritty overdriven tones. It also comes in a small size that makes it perfect for practice. If you wish to join the guitar world and need a user-friendly tube amp, you should not overlook the Blackstar HT1R.
2. VOX AC10C1 – Best Overall
Aesthetically pleasing tube amplifiers always captivate the attention of many guitarists. One of the tube amps that has a classy look is Vox AC10C1. This tube amp comes in not only a sleek design but also at an affordable cost. You can therefore save some cash if you choose this tube amp. It is also considered among the best tube amps in 2023 since it brings a versatile and dynamic tonal capability.
It is an all-tube combo amplifier with a power of 10 W. Since this tube amp is lightweight, you can easily transport it when you have small venue gigs. Apart from being portable, Vox AC10C1 has an excellent speaker output. It is also equipped with different features that make it stand out among conventional models. Since this tube amp includes EL84 tubes, it can provide a superior tone and a better lifecycle. You should also expect a custom ten-inch Celestion speaker in this model.
The numerous functions of this tube amp make it ideal for studio guitarists. The manufacturer builds this tube amp with a control interface that is user-friendly and easy to set up. Some of the functions you will find on the control cluster include knobs for reverb, treble, bass, volume, and gain. It also has a guitar input and an on/off switch. Most musicians reveal that the controls in this tube amp are highly responsive. The back part of this amp has a port for connecting an external speaker.
Some users, however, find this tubeless durable due to the materials used in its construction. It may not last for so long. Despite this limitation, Vox AC10C1 is a versatile tube amp that can help you craft your desired sound.
3. BUGERA V5 – Beginner-friendly
Do not underestimate this tube amp based on its size. It may be small, but it sounds great. It is a great tube amplifier to consider when you have a low budget. Most people who wish to learn to play the guitar choose this model since it is great for practice. This tube amp has 5 Watts of power and comes in a vintage look. You can tell that the manufacturer of this tube amplifier pays a lot of attention to detail.
It is a user-friendly model that contains some simple controls. Most cost-effective tube amps often feature a single speaker, and Bugera V5 is no exception. It comes with a turbosound speaker, one EL84 power tube, and a single 12AX7 preamp tube. These tubes are the reason why this model delivers a sweet tone.
The front part of this tube amp contains the input and control knobs for reverb, volume, tone, and gain. The off/ on switch is also located on the front part for ease of use. On the back part of this tube amp is a cabinet extension output and a headphones output.
Compared to other models, Bugera V5 is among the cheapest tube amp that can help you save a lot of cash. The problem with this tube amplifier is that it has limited functionality. If you need a versatile tube amp with numerous effects as well as amp modeling, you should look elsewhere. Though this tube amp cannot give you a ton of dirt, you can still use it with an overdrive pedal.
4. Fender Super Champ X2 – Great Value
If you have been a guitarist for a long time, you must be aware of Fender. This is an iconic brand in the industry that is known for producing quality amps for guitars. Not all Fender amps come at a high price. The Fender Super champ is a great tube amplifier that is less than $500. Most guitarists consider this among the best budget-friendly tube amplifiers due to its excellent full-bodied tone.
This tube amplifier contains one 12AX7 tube and two 6V6 tubes. It also has a single 10-inch speaker and a voicing knob which can give you access to different tones. Apart from that, Fender super champ also comes with two channels and a USB output that you can use for digital recording.
Fender super champ is a small-sized tube amplifier that has 15 effects. The manufacturer also fits this tube amp with a TAP tempo control which enhances customization. Since this tube amplifier has different voicing knobs, it allows you to bounce between different music genres.
This tube amplifier can give you value for your cash. It is made with high-grade materials that make it quite durable. You can rely on this tube amplifier for a long time without the need to replace it. It is also easy to carry around. One of the things that make Fender super champ a versatile tube amp is the ability to use it with Fuse software. This gives you increased tonal capabilities.
5. VHT AV-SP1-6 – Versatile Option
Are you searching for a tube amplifier that you can use with different instruments? If yes, you should consider the VHT AV-SP1-6. This is a versatile tube amplifier that offers excellent sound crafting abilities. It is among the cheap and great tube amplifiers in 2023 that offer different tonal options. With this tube amp, you can easily customize your sound and even use it with various pedals.
VHT AV-SP1-6 is a lightweight tube amplifier that most gigging musicians choose. Regardless of the music style you prefer, you can rely on this tube amplifier since it comes with many built-in features. It is also compatible with a multi-pedal chain.
The manufacturer designs this tube amplifier for enhanced performance capabilities. You can enjoy an amazing tonal quality due to its overdrive channels. You can even control the available boost mode feature through the footswitch. The available low/high power switch enhances tones with smooth richness. This feature makes the tube amplifier ideal for recording. Though this is a great tube amplifier that you can rely on, some guitarists complain about its overall quality.
Finding the Best Tube Amplifier Under 500 in 2023
Some people assume that you have to spend so much money to get a high-quality tube amp. The market has both expensive and cheap tube amps that musicians can invest in. Having a very high price tag is not always a guarantee that you will be purchasing a quality one. You have to consider different factors before buying any tube amplifier. Pay attention to the following to get the best tube amplifier under 500.
One of the key factors that you should never ignore while looking for a cost-effective tube amplifier is power. The power rating can help you figure out how loud the tube amplifier’s volume can reach. A tube amplifier that has a high power rating is likely to have a high volume capacity.
You should also check the speaker that a pocket-friendly tube amplifier comes with since this can determine how loud it is likely to be. The speaker also plays a significant role in clarity. Tube amplifiers that have small speakers often emphasize mids, while those with large speakers enhance the bass and cover the tonal spectrum.
Tube amps often come in different designations based on the tubes used to craft them. Some of them include the 5AR4 rectifier, 12AX7 preamp, and EL84 tubes. You should know how the types of tube amps differ before choosing one. Most popular tube amplifiers under 500 often come with a 12AX7 preamp tube which offers a wide range of tones. The EL84 tube is also common in amplifiers since it brings a smooth overdrive tone.
If you wish to customize your sound, you should choose a tube amplifier that contains different built-in effects. Look for one that has at least has reverb since this can texturize the tone. Some tube amplifiers also have additional effects capabilities that make them more versatile. You can still get such models at under 500.
Can tubes make any difference in an amplifier?
Yes. Tubes play a part in amplifiers. They can give the amplifier a crunchy overdrive and offer a wide range of tones. Ensure you pick the right tube for you to achieve the desired sound.
How long can I depend on an amp tube?
It depends on how frequently you intend on using it and how hard you will be playing it. If you want to use an amp tube for years, you have to maintain it properly.
What signs show that my amp tube needs replacement?
Signs such as failure to work, a blown fuse, or volume fluctuation indicate that the current tube amplifier needs replacement.
The numerous brands and models available make finding a good tube amplifier challenging. Most of them also come at a high price. We found the best tube amplifiers under 500 that you should check out. Compare them and also pay attention to the buying guide above before buying one. All the best!