3 Best Tube Amps For Guitar | Review
When it comes to making serious music and taking part in a band, it can be a lot of fun. Firstly, because many different minds come together to create different sounds. Secondly, because who doesn’t love being able to play an instrument. However, it can soon become expensive if you want to move the band forward.
With this in mind, one of the first pieces of equipment you will be told to buy is an amplifier; this can soon become a risky investment if you don’t know what you’re looking for. For this reason, we have created a guide that includes exactly what an amplifier is, what you should be aware of, and then three brilliant products to get you started for an affordable price.
What is a Tube Amplifier?
As the name suggests, an amplifier vastly increases your signal by altering the current, power, and voltage. Normally, a solid-state amp will use a variety of solid-state electronics – such as transistors or diodes – to amplify the signal but a tube amp uses a number of different vacuum tubes. Although tube amp kits can be more expensive, many musicians prefer this piece of equipment over the other because they feel as though it offers a warmer and more natural sound.
If you are going to take your performances to the next level, either as a solo artist or a band, you will need a tube amp but before we go into some examples, let’s take a look at some of the key features that tube amps have to offer.
What to Look for in Tube Amps
Watts – One of the biggest considerations when buying an amp is the wattage as this will decide how it performs in different locations. For this, you need to ask yourself what it will be used for. If you are only going to use it in your bedroom or garage, you need an amp that will work nicely at a low volume without breaking up. However, if you are going to be playing in pubs or clubs, you will want something a little more powerful to broadcast the sound further.
It is important to note that wattage isn’t an individual measurement which means that a 50-watt amp is not half as loud as a 100-watt amp. Instead, the difference can be found in decibels and the difference between these two is actually around 3 dB.
Tubes – In addition to this, you will also find different types of tubes and they all have small unique qualities. As a result, you need to find what you’re looking for and something that offers the right sound for what you’re trying to achieve. Let’s look at three of the most common options:
- L6 – Known for a well-rounded sound with punch and clarity
- EL84 – Lower output than others but allows for a smoother sound
- EL34 – Really tight lows and sparking highs
Preamp – When you get used to using the tube amp a little more, you will have a chance to play around a little and the preamp allows you to achieve exactly this. By lowering the output, changing tone, increasing gain, and more, you will be able to create completely different sounds. Many famous bands have found their unique sound by playing around with the preamp.
These are three of the main features that you will need to look out for in a good tube amp kit and as long as you bear these in mind, you will make a good decision when buying. However, we also have three of the best cheap amplifier options for you to look at just in case you don’t know where to get started.
Nobsound MS-10D Hybrid Power Amp
Firstly, this product isn’t strictly a pure tube amp but instead a combination of tube and solid-state – hence the ‘hybrid’ name. The first thing you will notice about this product is its sleek design as it will fit in with all your other pieces of equipment nicely. On the performance side of things, an input power of 100 watts and 110V allows for high-quality sound and 25 + 25W.
It is important to note that this is the cheapest tube guitar amplifiers on the marker and it makes for a fantastic piece of equipment if it is going to be your first. Many musicians have used this amp as their first and ended up sticking with it for years to come as the sound is both clear and smooth.
In terms of the tube, it comes with a Beijing 6N1*2 and 6P1*2 and the whole unit weighs around 5kg which isn’t too heavy if you need to move it around from location to location. One of the biggest worries that come with amps is that the replacement guitar amp tubes will be hard to find but this isn’t the case for this Nobsound product. In fact, the tubes can be found in a number of different locations online and can be shipped to nearly everywhere in the world.
Finally, there has been a dramatic increase in the amount of fake MS-10D devices hitting the market recently so if you’re interested in this device, be sure to purchase from a reputable website or store; there’s nothing worse than buying a product only to find that it doesn’t work or is a completely fake model.
GemTune X-1 Class-A Tube Amp
With an input voltage of 110 and an output power of 10 watts, this tube amp is a very good piece of equipment for many different types of music. One of the main advantages of this amp is that there isn’t any noise when nothing is playing and this can be a huge problem with even good amps. Sometimes, there is a frustrating hum or buzz but this GemTube tube amp is completely silent whilst nothing is being played.
Many consumers of this product have noted how well the product is put together which means that not only does it sound great, you will also have a product that is durable. In many years time, as long as you take care of it, this amp should still be working away. Sure, the tubes might need replacing every now and then but this rings true for all tube amps.
Furthermore, the tubes for this device are normally 6N9P or EL34 and both will provide a clear sound especially with the Stereo Hi-Fi Integrated Amplifier. Finally, this tube amp is 100% handmade and perfect for vocal and chords making it a great acquisition for beginner and expert musicians alike. A little pricier than some others but this investment that will be well worth your time with the output sure to surprise and amaze you for such a small design.
Vox AC4TV All-Tube Practice Amp
Finally, our third and final product is a classic 1960s TV design that not only offers a retro feel but also a high-quality sound. Everything about this product is simple; it’s simple to use, install, adjust, and more. With EL84 power tubes and a 12AX7 preamp tube, this amp offers everything you will ever want and need and it’s small, unique design allows it to be moved around easily.
Classic tube tone can be delivered with four, one, and a quarter watt ‘attenuation’ and the power, volume and tone controls make customising easy and you will very quickly find the right sound for you. Whether you are playing in your bedroom or in a slightly larger location, this product boasts high-quality sound and even an additional 16 Ohm speaker output.
In terms of pricing, this is the one of the most expensive guitar tube amps for sale but it will turn out to be a solid investment. Although most of the reviews are positive, there has been some notes of poor sound quality over time but this could be down to a lack of maintenance and a failure to replace tubes. As long as you keep your Vox amp in top condition, it should be a trusty companion for some years to come.
So there we have it, a buying guide to the best tube amps. You should now know what they are, what to look out for when buying one and also an idea of what is currently available. Ultimately, you should always look at your needs and requirements before buying a tube amp. There is no point buying a product that works for another band if your needs are completely different so assess them and then come back to find the right product for you. If you really want to up your game, be sure to check out these three great amps.