Best Tube Amp Reviews Used by Pros 2017

Our Top Pick

Ah, tube amps. If you are looking for a serious guitar amp, there is nothing that beats the sound of an all-tube amplifier. They don’t come cheap, of course, and there is a bewildering variety of amps to choose from, from iconic models that have built an amazing reputation for themselves, to the latest high-tech units.

That’s where we come in! We’ve read hundreds of reviews, talked to some real audiophiles, and spent hours listening to the best tube amps, all so we can tell you that if you are looking for a 4 channel amp, the Marshall JVM410H is definitely the one to get.

This amp delivers oodles of that signature Marshall sound, plenty of power, and huge adaptability. If you are looking for an all-tube amp that will sound great for years to come, this is the one.

Product DescriptionUsers Score
Editor choice
Marshall JVM410H

Marshall JVM410H

Wow. Marshall is one of the most iconic guitar amp brands in rock history, and listening to this amp it is not hard ...

User Rating: 4 (1 votes)
2 Fender ‘65 Twin Reverb

Fender ‘65 Twin Reverb

This is simply a great tube amp, and represents amazing value. The history of this amp goes way back to 1965, ...

User Rating: Be the first one!
3 Vox AC30C2

Vox AC30C2

This is simply a great tube amp, and perhaps the best amp built by Vox yet! Vox have a legendary reputation, and ...

User Rating: 4 (1 votes)
4 Peavey 6505MH

Peavey 6505MH

A much smaller amp than the others we have reviewed today, but still an amazing device. If you are looking for an ...

User Rating: 4 (1 votes)
5 Marshall 1962 Bluesbreaker

Marshall 1962 Bluesbreaker

Last but definitely not least, we have the Marshall Bluesbreaker. This is an absolute legend of a tube amp, having been ...

User Rating: Be the first one!

Editor’s Pick – Top List

Product #Model
1Marshall JVM410H
2Fender ‘65 Twin Reverb
3Vox AC30C2
4Peavey 6505MH
5Marshall 1962 Bluesbreaker

Best Tube Amps for the Money

ModelSizeWeightPower
Marshall JVM410H14 x 32 x 24 inches

36 pounds

100 W

Fender ‘65 Twin Reverb

22.5 x 28.25 x 12.25 in

72 pounds

85 W

Vox AC30C2

15.7 x 32.5 x 26.4 in

80 pounds

30 W

Peavey 6505MH

10.4 x 16.7 x 9.6 inches

20 pounds

20 W

Marshall 192 Bluesbreaker

11 x 20 x 26 in

85 pounds

30 W

What is a Tube Amp?

Tube amps are the original guitar amplifiers. Long before the invention of the transistor, guitars were being amplified using vacuum tubes. These simple devices take a signal input, and use it to modulate a much larger voltage, providing a direct way to amplify sound. Check this for a ridiculously long explanation of how they work. 

Of course, the invention of the electronic transistor made vacuum tubes obsolete in a lot of situations, providing clean amplification at a fraction of the price of vacuum tubes, and using a lot less power. However, high-end audio equipment was one area where the transistor revolution did not completely take hold.

Even today, the best quality guitar amps use tube amplification. Guitarists value the clean, warm sound that they produce – the comparison in tone between an all-tube amp and even the best solid state amp is difficult to describe in words, but instantly recognizable to even the beginner.

Of course, tube amps have come a long way since they were first invented, and the tube amps of today incorporate banks of tubes designed to create the perfect tone. In addition, they offer a wide range of effects, some created electronically and some produced by the tubes themselves, so that no matter what kind of music you play, there is a tube amp out there for you!

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Our Top Tube Amplifier Reviews

What kind of tube amp you need, and the features you want it to have, depend on how you’re going to use it. An amp for the practice room is quite a different beast to one for touring stadiums! In this review, we have tried to give a range of options to suit even the most discerning of players.

Some of the things to look for in a tube amp stay the same, though:

  • Power. A lot of people talk a lot about power, as though it was a measure of how good an amp is. This is not true. An amp with 20 watts of power is more than enough for the practice room, and can can be used to play small gigs. If you are playing larger venues, of course, then there will probably be a dedicated PA system available, making buying a 300 watt monster amp somewhat unnecessary.
  • The effects available on the amp. Nowadays, the best tube amps come with a wide range of effects, some of which are useful, and some less so. The effects you need depend, obviously, on what kind of music you play. However, if you are investing in a tube amp it is worth getting one with the widest range of effects possible, just in case you want to switch from metal to jazz at some point in the future!
  • Inputs and outputs. It might sound obvious, but make sure the amp you are looking at has the correct type of inputs, and enough of them, to accommodate all the gear you want to plug in!

For more comprehensive info about tube amps check out:

Ultimately, there is no substitute for hearing these amps yourself. Everybody has different preferences when it comes to how they want their amp to sound. But you could do worse than checking out these ones:


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Editor’s Pick: Marshall JVM410H

Wow. Marshall is one of the most iconic guitar amp brands in rock history, and listening to this amp it is picture of Marshall JVM410H amplifiernot hard to see why! This amp has become a favorite of rock musicians the world over, and so if you are looking for a tube amp that will give you aggressive sounds, this is the one to get.

This is our pick today because, simply, it sounds the best. Your choice of amplifier is, of course, yours, and it is difficult to describe in words the particular tone of any amp. This one, however, gives you that classic Marshall sound which is so beloved of rock guitarists. Seriously, go down to your local guitar store, give it a listen, and we are certain you will fall in love instantly.

This amp has more than enough power for any guitarist. When paired with a cabinet or two, it will produce an enormous sound, large enough for even quite big venues. The guitarists we spoke to for this review recommended this amp largely because it may be th only amp you ever need – compact enough to take to rehearsals, yet powerful enough to take on the road.

Marshall JVM410H

Wow. Marshall is one of the most iconic guitar amp brands in rock history, and listening to this amp it is not hard to see why! This amp has become a favorite of rock musicians the world over, and so if you are looking for a tube amp that will give you aggressive sounds, this is the one to get.

In addition, of course, this amp comes with a variety of other advantages:

Advantages

  • The tube bank on this amp is really impressive. With four tubes for the preamp, and five tubes amplifying the final sound, you get that classic tube sound no matter what style you are playing in. Listening to this amp after playing on solid state versions is a revelation.
  • Of course, none of this technical wizardry would matter if the amp didn’t simply sound great. We don’t pretend to understand how Marshall achieve their signature sound on every amp they make, but this amp delivers it in spades.
  • The effects available are wide ranging, and sound great. The reverb, in particular, is a joy. The first time you use this effect, you will be reminded of your favorite tracks, because it has become something of an iconic sound in many genres.
  • The footswitch is also really handy. Plug this switch in, and it will allow you to switch between channels, or effects loops, with the minimum of fuss, even in mid-track. Having this capability is useful if you are a lead guitarist and suddenly need a clean sound for the bridge, but will also positively effect your songwriting, giving you the freedom to include various tones into each song.
  • Of course, like all Marshall amps, the build quality of this one is second to none. These amps are seen backstage all over the world, for a simple reason – they never give up! Even after years on the road, this amp will still be providing reliably amazing sound!

Disadvantages

  • Well … none. If you are looking for an iconic amp that delivers a great sound for rock, this is the one to get. The only disadvantage we can see is that your rhythm guitarist will be insanely jealous of the tone and volume you are able to produce.

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Fender ‘65 Twin Reverb

This is simply a great tube amp, and represents amazing value.picture of Fender ‘65 Twin Reverb amplifier

The history of this amp goes way back to 1965, when Fender had the great idea to add spring reverb to their then-leading tube amp. The result was an amp that quickly became incredibly popular with guitarists the world over, spawned a whole host of imitations, and founded a series of classic amps that is still going today.

This is the modernized version of that original amp, and keeps the classic sound of it whilst adding a whole host of additional features. As these amps developed, more power was added at each step, and this 85 watt amp delivers an enormous amount of power and volume.

In our opinion, in fact, the volume produced by this amp is all the power you will ever need, and the way it sounds means that even though there are more powerful amps available, you will be wedded to you Fender Twin Reverb for years to come.

Fender ‘65 Twin Reverb

The history of this amp goes way back to 1965, when Fender had the great idea to add spring reverb to their then-leading tube amp. The result was an amp that quickly became incredibly popular with guitarists the world over, spawned a whole host of imitations, and founded a series of classic amps that is still going today.

In addition, this amp has these great features:

Advantages

  • It looks great. Whilst we know that the majority of guitarists claim to care only about sound quality, and not such unimportant things as the way an amp looks, in reality it is possible to have both a good-looking and high-quality amp – just look at this one.
  • The sound. The sound. The sound. The tone of this amp has become legendary, and can be heard on hundreds of records. If you are just starting out on guitar, getting this amp can be a sure fire way of motivating you to continue – it will pick up even the lightest of touches, polish them, and make even the simplest chord progressions sound amazing.
  • The no-nonsense approach here pays great dividends. Too often, amp manufacturers feel obliged to pack their latest amps with a vast bank of options, dials, and knobs. Here, the stripped-back control panel means you can easily get the sound you need, and lets you focus on what is important – playing.
  • The amp is also nicely compact, meaning you won’t give yourself a bad back lugging it too and from the practice room. Combined with all the power you will ever need, this means that this may be the only amp you ever need to buy.

Disadvantages

  • None, for the price. If you are playing surf rock, in particular, this amp is an absolute must, although the sound is so great that it easily fits in with most genres.

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Vox AC30C2

This is simply a great tube amp, and perhaps the best amp built by Vox yet.picture of Vox AC30C2 amplifier

Vox have a legendary reputation, and draw on over 50 years of amp-building expertise in their products. This amp is a worthy addition to a line of amps that has become iconic.

Before we get to the sound and other features offered by this amp, take a moment to look at it.  It looks great, with vintage styling that will never go out of fashion, and resembles so many iconic amps so closely that we’re sure even the most discerning amp connoisseur will fall in love with it.

The sound is great. Vox know that different styles of music, and different musicians, each require something different from a guitar amp, and have designed this amp with this in mind. No matter if you play jazz, rock, or even metal, the gorgeous tones of this amp will sound great.

Whilst, at 30W, this amp is not really powerful enough for large gigs, it is perfect for practicing and smaller venues, and many professional musicians recommended it because it is so easy to carry around.

Vox AC30C2

Vox have a legendary reputation, and draw on over 50 years of amp-building expertise in their products. This amp is a worthy addition to a line of amps that has become iconic.

In addition, is has these great features:

Advantages

  • The small size of this amp makes it perfect for practice sessions. You can easily chuck it into your truck, and carry it around all day, without your back complaining. Whilst you may want a bit more power to play stadium shows, adding this amp to your collection will really pay dividends.
  • The circuitry in this amp, whilst based on classic designs, is really innovative. It offers two channels of amplification, and each channel is equipped with its own volume control, and the latter channel offers treble and bass controls.
  • For beginners, who are just starting to learn how to set up an amp, this one is perfect. Small enough to be carried around easily, yet still delivering a powerful sound, the effect options are also just complicated enough to provide a huge range of effects without confusing the amateur.
  • The Vox tremolo sound is iconic, and no Vox amp would be complete without it. Even when paired with this small amp, it sounds incredible, with the warm and bright tones you would expect from any Vox amp.

Disadvantages

  • None, for the price. If you are looking for a gorgeous sounding practice amp that will give years and years of service, this is the one to go for.

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Peavey 6505MH

A much smaller amp than the others we have reviewed today, but still an amazing device. If you are picture of Peavey 6505MH amplifierlooking for an all-tube practice amp, this is the one to go for!

It is amazing that Peavey have managed to make an all-tube amp so small, but they have. As a result, what you get with this amp is that classic vacuum tube sound in an incredibly compact package. If you play tube amps for gigs, and want to practice using the same gorgeous sounds, this is a great option.

A word about practice amps, to dispel some myths. Many newbie guitar players sneer at amps like this, which delivers only 20 watts, thinking that the bigger an amp is, the better. This is not true – even professional musicians have a few practice amps like this kicking around, simply because carrying your 300 watt monster to the practice room, whilst it may make you look cool, is totally unnecessary.

Peavey 6505MH

It is amazing that Peavey have managed to make an all-tube amp so small, but they have! As a result, what you get with this amp is that classic vacuum tube sound in an incredibly compact package. If you play tube amps for gigs, and want to practice using the same gorgeous sounds, this is a great option.

Back to the amp, which comes with loads of extra features:

Advantages

  • It delivers more than enough power for practice. With 20 watts of power, it will still go incredibly loud, so you will not have to worry about being heard, no matter how loud your drummer and bassist like to play.
  • The build quality of this amp is something else. From the moment you receive this amp, you will be impressed with how solid it feels, and we are confident that it will put up with years of abuse without complaining.
  • The USB output on this amp is something of a rarity in all-tube amps, and is a really useful feature for the practice room. It will plug directly into your DAW, saving you hours of messing around with microphones.
  • Last, but of course not least, the sound quality is great. With this kind of smaller amp, sometimes when pushed to the limit of their volume, distortion and clipping can start to creep in. Not with this amp, which retains great precision and clarity throughout its range, and has the fidelity necessary to play all genres of music.

Disadvantages

  • Very few. If you are looking for an all-tube practice amp, and who isn’t, this is a great unit to get. It delivers the amazing sound you would expect from a tube amp in an amazingly compact package.

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Marshall 1962 Bluesbreaker

Last but definitely not least, we have the Marshall Bluesbreaker. This is an absolute legend of a tube picture of Marshall 1962 Bluesbreakeramp, having been used by almost all the greats for nearly 60 years.

As Marshall have updated the design of this amp, it has somehow got better and better. Nowadays, getting a Bluesbreaker gives you access to the iconic tones of this legendary Marshall amp, whilst also having the reliability and fidelity of a modern tube amp.

The wiring in this amp is hand built. This means that you can be assured that the amp has been lovingly constructed, rigorously tested, and will last for years. The build quality of this amp is simply incredible, and obvious as soon as you see it – there are no ugly machine-made solders, but rather a hand-crafted design that has clearly been built by an expert.

If you are a blues guitarist, you will already know about this amp, of course. However, even if you play rock or jazz, it is worth testing this amp out. The clear, bright tone, with just a hint of lovely distortion, fits most genres really well.

Marshall 1962 Bluesbreaker

Last but definitely not least, we have the Marshall Bluesbreaker. This is an absolute legend of a tube picture of Marshall 1962 Bluesbreakeramp, having been used by almost all the greats for nearly 60 years.

Of course, this amp also has several more advantages:

Advantages

  • It delivers more than enough power for most set ups. With 30 watts of glorious sound, the amp is more than loud enough for the practice room, and can even play small gigs. If you suddenly make it, and get booked on a stadium tour, don’t worry, though – the amp works extremely well with PS systems too.
  • The speakers in this amp are, in themselves, legendary. The Celestion Greenback 12 inch speaker is a perfect pairing for the valves in this amp, and has been a great combination since way back in the 1960s.
  • The amp also looks great. All that brushed gold gives it a really vintage feel, and the 1960s styling always looks great, whether the amp is standing in the corner of your room or on stage.
  • The build quality here is outstanding. The people we spoke to for this review praised the fact that this amp felt really sturdy, which is a must in an amp designed for gigging.

Disadvantages

  • Very few. If you are looking for a classic tube amp that will deliver all the jazz and blues tones you will ever need, go for this one.

Our Final Thoughts

So which to choose?

Well, your choice of tube amp is yours alone, of course. Nothing can beat hearing these amps in the flesh, and finding one that perfectly matches the sound you want to achieve. All of the amps we reviewed today offer incredible sound that we are confident will please even the most discerning audiophile.

Our overall choice, though, is the Marshall JVM410H. This amp delivers oodles of that signature Marshall sound, plenty of power, and huge adaptability. If you are looking for an all-tube amp that will sound great for years to come, this is the one.

 

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Reviewed Item
Best Tube Amp Reviews
Author Rating
5