What Are The Best Tube Amps In 2019? Reviews

 

Editor’s Picks

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: 4.5 (2 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: 5 (1 votes)
3 VOX AC15C1X

VOX AC15C1X

The runt of all of our reviews, but make no mistake, despite it being only 15 watts strong, the Vox AC15C1X friggin’ ...

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: 4.5 (2 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: 5 (1 votes)

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 make your amp louder when tinkering with the volume levels . Check out this 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, and eliminating the need to replace broken tubes at a fraction of the price, and while 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 highest quality guitar amps use tube amplification. Guitarists cherish the special clean, warm tones that they produce – the comparison in tone between an all-tube amp and even the leading solid state amp is difficult to describe in words, but instantly recognizable to even a 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 genre of music you play, there is a tube amp out there for you!

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 make your amp louder when tinkering with the volume levels . Check out this 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, and eliminating the need to replace broken tubes at a fraction of the price, and while 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 highest quality guitar amps use tube amplification. Guitarists cherish the special clean, warm tones that they produce – the comparison in tone between an all-tube amp and even the leading solid state amp is difficult to describe in words, but instantly recognizable to even a 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 genre of music you play, there is a tube amp out there for you!

3 Things to Consider When Buying Any Amplifier

The type of amp you need, and the features you want it to have depend on how you’re going to use it. An amp for beginners is worlds a part from an amp that you would tour huge venues with. But there are some things that you should always consider when purchasing any amp:

  • Power. A lot of people talk a lot about power, as though it was a measure of how good amps are. Certainly, if you are playing huge venues, or outside, you will need a powerful amp. However, for most beginners, 10 watts of power will easily deal with the task. It will still go incredibly loud, so don’t worry about not being heard in the practice room.
  • Speakers. A common set-up for guitar amps is a 12” woofer coupled with a smaller tweeter, typically 1”. Some amps come with an additional mid-range horn as well, which can potentially improve frequency response and definition.
  • Inputs and outputs. It might seem obvious, but make sure the amp you are looking at has the correct type of inputs, and enough of them, to accommodate all the pedals you want to plug in.

For more extensive info about tube amplifiers check out:

Now let’s get in to the review…

Best Tube Amps Reviews

Tube amplifiers are the undisputed champs when it comes being the mostly widely used type of amplifier overall for live professional performances. They provide a richer, deeper tone with an incomparable crispness in when compared to solid state amplifiers.

A common gripe about tubes amplifiers is that they generally cost more than solid state or modeling amplifiers. Recent reductions in fabrication costs has resulted in a decrease in the price of tube amplifiers from leading brands such as Vox, Marshall, and Fender.

There is a staggering amount of tube amplifiers on the market, but don’t stress, that’s where we come in. After reading countless reviews, chatting it up with audiophiles, listening to hours of tube amps and jamming on a few ourselves, we’ve come up with this list of best tube amps for your reading pleasure. You’re welcome.


Editor’s Pick

Marshall JVM410H

 picture of Marshall JVM410H amplifier Our over all pick.

Marshall is one of the most iconic guitar amp brands in rock history, and when listening to this amp it is not hard to see why, that is why this amp tops our list of best tube amps This speaker has become a favorite of rock musicians the world over, so if you are looking for a tube amplifier to satisfy your need for power and heavy, aggressive sounds look no further.

This 100 watt special amplifier gives you that raw classic Marshall sound that has become so beloved by so many rock artists. Seriously, go down to your local guitar store, plug in and rock out! It will be love at first chord. The volume levels on this thing are insane.

Each of the JVM410H’s four channels has three modes – green, orange and red – providing 12 totally unique yet complementary speaker topologies, making it feel like having a 12-in-one speaker! As a result, the Marshall JVM410H offers an amazing array of instantly switchable tones – from the cleanest clean to the highest gain ever found in a Marshall and all points in between!

This 100 watt speaker has more than enough power for any guitarist whether you’re in studio or playing a large venue. When the JVM410H is paired with a cabinet or two, it will produce a sound so unbelievably thunderous, that it will feel as though Thor himself has opened the gates of Valhala for you. This speaker compact enough to take to rehearsals, yet powerful enough to take on the road to play large venues.

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.

PROS:
  • 4-channel JVM410H 100-watt tube head is the most versatile Marshall amplifier ever made. It also boasts more gain than any other Marshall to date
  • Each of its 4 channels-Clean, Crunch, OD1 and OD2-are not only completely independent of each other, they all boast three Modes, all 12 of which are footswitchable and feature their own unique gain structure. It makes the JVM 4-channel effectively 12 Marshalls in one.
  • This speaker has studio-quality digital reverb with a level control for each channel. They also compatible with a footswitch, as are the amp’s dual master volume levels and the Series/Parallel effects loop
  • Even though the head and combo both house 28 controls and eight LED switches on their front panels, they’re incredibly simple to understand because of the extremely logical layout. Each of the four channels has the usual suspects when it comes to controls – Volume, Bass, Middle, Treble and Gain–accounting for 20 of the 28 controls right away. Take away the four reverb dials and you’re only left with 4 Master controls–2 Master Volumes plus Resonance and Presence.
  • The 6-way footswitch boasts seven LEDs and memory, plus it connects to the amp via a regular guitar cable.

CONS:
  • None that we can see. If you are looking for a high quality amp, from an iconic company that delivers a great hard rock sound, look no further


Fender ‘65 Twin Reverb

Best tube amp for the money
picture of Fender ‘65 Twin Reverb amplifier

The Fender ’65 twin reverb combo is simply the best Fender tube amp available at the moment. At 85 watts, it can easily tackle any task, looks great, and is exquisitely built. But what really stands out, is the sound, it’s really incredible.

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

The gorgeous tones of tube amplification are impossible to recreate on solid state amplifiers, and once you have heard the way it sounds it will be a challenge to play guitar through any other style of speaker.

These speakers are fitted with more than enough tubes for you to effectively rock out like the best of them. There are four 6L6 Groove output tubes, four 12AX7 preamp tubes, and a set of two 12AT7 preamp tubes. This may all sound a bit technical, but you don’t have to be a scientist to appreciate the effects of all these tubes when you hear them. They produce an incredibly rich, organic, clean tones that is impossible to beat.

The ’65 Fender twin reverb will last for years, and keep on delivering amazing sounds no matter how many gigs you play with them. Of course, in addition to the incredible sound, these speakers comes with a range of great extra features.

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.

PROS:
  •  This Fender Twin Reverb reissue is based on Fender’s classic 1965 Blackface circuitry, and it delivers the legendary electric guitar sound you’ve heard on countless hit records.
  • This 85-watt, 2-channel all-tube guitar combo is loud enough to play large venues, and sounds great even when pushed to its limits. This amp was built to take a beating
  • The spring reverb and vibrato effects on these Fender speakers are incredible, they have become a staple of classic rock and blues tunes! Users of this speaker reported that their first time using the ’65 Twin Reverb was incredibly exciting, because suddenly their guitars sounded like their heroes’ instruments.
  • There is a reason this speaker has become a legend – it lasts for ever, and looks great even after it has taken a beating.

CONS:
  • In truth, none. If you are looking for a Fender speaker that delivers great sound, enough power for even the largest gigs, and will last for many years, this is the one to get.


VOX AC15C1X 

Best small tube amp
picture of Vox AC30C2 amplifier

The runt of all of our reviews, but make no mistake, despite it being only 15 watts strong, the Vox AC15C1X friggin’ rocks!

If you love the classic chime and complex grind of those famous British Invasion amp tones, then you’ll be in tube amp heaven when you plug into Vox’s AC15C1X combo amp. You’ll be amazed at the big, responsive tones you get from this outstanding 15 watt, 1 x 12″ combo, and then definitely keep coming back for more. Vox has equipped the AC15C1X with a normal channel, a top boost channel, master volume, tremolo, and reverb. You can also add an extension speaker for even bigger tones!

Plug into the AC15’s normal channel and use the volume, master volume, and tone cut controls to shape your tone. Or, take advantage of Vox’s venerable top boost channel, which adds adjustable bass and treble controls. You can literally take the AC15 from brilliant and sparkling clean, to the kind of powerful, compressed overdrive you just won’t find anywhere else! Users note that in addition to playing British tones, this speaker is also ideal for practicing rock and blues riffs.

Vox loaded the AC15 Custom with three 12AX7 preamp tubes, and equipped the power plant with a pair of EL84 power tubes. This arrangement gives you great sustainability, amazing response, and distinctive, compressed overdrive when you crank it up. The AC15 Custom’s beautiful signal is pumped into a premium Celestion Alnico Blue speaker – the perfect complement to a fine amp!

  • 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 bass treble controls.
  • Great for those just starting to learn to play electric guitar and how to set up an amp. The effect options are 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. You’re blessed with the warm, bright tones you would expect from any Vox amp.
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:

Disadvantages

  • Nada. The Vox AC15C1X should be on the top of everyone list of best small tube amps.

Peavey 6505MH

Best practice tube amppicture of Peavey 6505MH amplifier

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 speakers 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:

PROS:
  • The compact size and powerful sound of this amp is what makes it a great prime choice for practice sessions. Small enough to be carried around easily from home to rehearsal, yet still able to deliver a powerful sound.
  • With 20 watts of power, the Peavy 6505MH will still potentially pop an eardrum, so you won’t have to worry about being heard, no matter how loud your drummer and bassist try to outshine you.
  • The build quality of this amp is durable and long-lasting. From the moment you receive this amp, you will be impressed with how solid it feels, and we are confident that it can take years of any abuse it may suffer at your hands
  • The USB output on this amp is something of a rarity in all-tube speakers, and is a really handy feature for the practice room. It will plug directly into your digital audio workstation, saving you hours of messing around with microphones.
  • Sometimes, when a smaller amp is pushed to the limit of their volume, distortion and clipping can start to creep in. Not with the 6505MH, it retains great precision and clarity throughout its range, and has the fidelity necessary to play all genres of music.

CONS:
  • None, If you are looking for a superb practice amp that will provide you with years of service, look no further.


Marshall 1962 Bluesbreaker

Best tube combo amppicture of Marshall 1962 Bluesbreaker

Last but definitely not least, we have the Marshall Bluesbreaker as our choice for best combo amp. A legendary tube amp, from a legendary brand.

This storied 30 watt tube amp, has been used by the likes of Eric Clapton, Noel Gallagher, Gary Moore and other greats for nearly 60 years. If vintage blues and rock tones are what you crave, then you’ll love the Marshall 1962 Bluesbreaker. This isn’t a high-gain amp for metal, nor is it a programmable, multi-channel monster.

This is the guitar tone that shaped the sound of ’60s blues and rock, from sweet and smooth clean tones to overdriven, growling dirty ones. One channel and basic tone controls are all that’s needed for an iconic sound, and the built-in tremolo sounds so authentically vintage.

Marshall has updated the design of this combo amplifier, and it has somehow gotten even better. The Bluesbreaker does a great job of merging both the past and present to make the perfect combo amp. You get to relish in the iconic tones of this legendary Marshall amp, while also enjoying the reliability and fidelity of a modern tube amp. Yes indeed, The Marshall Bluesbreaker is at the top of the list for best combo amps

If you are a blues guitarist, you most likely already know how special this amp is. However, even if you play rock or jazz, it is worth testing this amp out. The clear, bright tone, with just a hint of 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.

PROS:
  • It delivers more than enough power for most set ups. With 30 watts of glorious sound, this combo amp is more than powerful enough for the practice room, and you can even use it to play in small gritty blues clubs. If you should graduate to the big leagues, don’t worry, this speaker pairs well with PS systems too.
  • The speakers in this amp are legendary. The Celestion Greenback 12 inch speaker is a perfect pairing for the valves in this blues amp, and has been a great combination since the 1960’s.
  • The amp also really aesthetically appealing. Accents of brushed gold gives it a really vintage feel, and the classic 1960’s styling looks great,.
  • The build quality here is great. Users rave about how sturdy this blues amp is. After dragging it back and forth and between gigs, tossing it in their van and the occasional drop, this amp is still going strong

CONS:
  • None. If you are looking for a classic combo tube amp that will deliver all the jazz and blues tones you will ever need, go for this one.


Our Final Thoughts

Hopefully our review helped to point you in the right direction, or maybe narrow down some tube amp options you were already considering. But nothing can compare to actually hearing these amps in person, and finding the one that speaks to you and perfectly matches the sound you want to achieve. All of the amps we reviewed today offer incredible sound, and we are confident will please even the most astute and experienced guitar player.

 

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