Beginner Tube Amp Suggestions

Wound_Up

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I wouldn’t recommend a tube amp to a beginner. There are too many good modelers out there that will teach you which types of amps work best with the music you play and the way you play it. Once you think you’ve passed the beginner stage, you’ll then be able to better appreciate which each type of tube amp offers you.

I say look at the Boss Nextone Stage. Wanting your first amp to be tubes “because toobz!” can be counterproductive.

I wouldn't recommend a modeling amp to a beginner. Too many options can hinder its use. Especially by someone who isn't familiar with all of those options and how they work, etc... It's WAYYYYYY simpler to adjust a couple of knobs on a tube amp.

Wanting your first amp to be a modeler "because you don't have a clue about types of tube Amps, effects, etc..." will be counterproductive.

What your saying isn't logical in the slightest. Why start a beginner out on an amp thats 200x more complicated than 99% of tube amps?

In fact, it doesn't even have to BE a tube amp. It could be a solid state whatever. A Champ 40 or something. Just not a modeler. Why start someone out on a Helix or Axe Fx, etc...when a simple amp with a few controls would suffice?
 
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bgmacaw

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Another recommendation for the Monoprice 5w. It's inexpensive and sounds good. Speaking from personal experience, it can get loud enough to annoy your wife while she's watching Really Drunk Housewives downstairs if you push it with pedals when it's on the full 5w setting.

A tip for using modeling amps is to find one or two settings you like and leave it there. Avoid the temptation to tweak and fiddle randomly. If you do want to seek out new sounds, set aside time to specifically do that where it won't overlap with your regular practice.

While they aren't tube amps, you might also want to look at the Hotone Nano and Joyo BantAmp series heads paired up with a 1x8 or 1x10 cabinet. This little heads sound really good and, while easy to use, have nice features like an effects loop and headphone out. Depending on your living situation, a headphone out may be a good thing to have while you're learning to play.
 

Tim S

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I wouldn't recommend a modeling amp to a beginner. Too many options can hinder its use. Especially by someone who isn't familiar with all of those options and how they work, etc... It's WAYYYYYY simpler to adjust a couple of knobs on a tube amp.

Wanting your first amp to be a modeler "because you don't have a clue about types of tube Amps, effects, etc..." will be counterproductive.

What your saying isn't logical in the slightest. Why start a beginner out on an amp thats 200x more complicated than 99% of tube amps?
Before you go criticizing my choice, why don’t you see what it actually is before posting?

Also, don’t attribute quotes to me for things I didn’t say. Re-read my post and concentrate on the words in front of you (not the ones in your head)

I have 7 tubes amps. They have their place. Beginners usually appreciate headphones so they don’t annoy housemates as they practice. Most tube amps don’t have headphone jacks (I have one that dowse, but it’s way above the OP’s budget).

More importantly, tube amps are limited. A Plexi will not cover the same ground as Princeton. When you buy an amp, you are pretty much committing yourself to the sounds it’s capable of. If you want something different, then you’re down a pedal rabbit-hole. As a beginner, you may not know what sound will end up being yours. When you start to jam with others, you may find your choice of tube amp is entirely wrong. “If I had only bought a modeler!” :p

A good modeler is a great choice for a beginner because it offers a enough of everything so the player will be able making educated decisions about future gear acquisitions based on some experience. And *if* a modeler has a lot of knobs, the purchaser is under no contractual obligation to use them all.

Tube amps also require maintenance and owners are often faced with re-tubing rabbit-holes and threads on forums urging the clipping of some cap or squeezing a resistor into a circuit as a mod. Sometimes a modeler is a better choice until you know exactly what you want.
 

bottlenecker

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Kenny Vaughan recently said the Fender ProJr is the best amp in Fenders current line up. $649 brand new.

That Pro Jr was very high on my list. From the reviews and videos I’ve watched, it sounds great and seems very simple to use. That’s probably number one on my list right now. Just making sure I’m not missing anything else.

I didn't catch where he said it was the best of fender's current lineup, but Kenny saying he could actually gig one was enough for me to buy one, so I did.
It's great with a tele, but I still recommend a champ first. A champ is a little more responsive at a small room volume, and can teach a person to get different sounds out of their fingers, not just turning knobs and stepping on pedals. If you want to play blues and maybe a little country, playing the amp is what it's about.
But you won't be sad if you get a pro jr.
 

Len058

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I'd go for the Monoprice option and maybe replace the speaker. You'll have budget to spare for a few pedals like delay, compressor, looper pedal (with drum machine) and drive. Invest in a good set of studio headphones/speakers, audio interface and you're good to go, do anything you'd want.

You can practice better with a looper pedal. Maybe play along with backing tracks at night through the audio interface, headphone's and an amp modeller. Eventually record stuff.
 

bgmacaw

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I'd go for the Monoprice option and maybe replace the speaker.

A neat thing about the 5w model is that it has an external speaker jack that you can hook up to a separate cab. This opens up a lot more options. For example, I have mine plugged into a load box with a line out that goes to an IR cab pedal to keep things quieter in the house and for recording.
 

Believer

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Agree on the Monoprice options. I have the 15 watt amp, and gave my nephew the 5 watter a few years ago for his birthday. Both amps are still going strong! I did upgrade the speaker in the 15 watt to a more efficient (read louder) design; it is now easily gig-worthy. The 5 watt is a great practice tube amp, and can sound really big through a 2X or 4X12 cabinet.
 

Vibroluxer

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Regarding the Monoprice amps...

Dont confuse inexpensive with cheap. They are quality and they aren't one trick ponies.

I currently have 9 amps and other than the Monoprice, each cost more than your budget and the Monoprice is right up there with the rest. Look at the reviews for them.
 

Call Me Al

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Disclaimer: I’m a beginner. :)

For my first tube amp I got a Vox AC4. 4w, 10”, built in attenuator. I looked at a Blues Jr, but glad I went small. This sucker gets LOUD and I feel like I’d be constantly reigning in a 15w (and/or need a separate attenuator.)

Though I do love the tone of the Vox, I find I use my Champion 20 more. Headphones, aux in, fx and fine control over gain staging make it more practical.

So my points are:
1) think about your goals and total volume needs. Sure, a bigger amp might come handy down the road. I decided for myself, I don’t mind shopping again if/when I need it.
2) think about the features that are important to you. I suggest you check out the Blackstar HT series. They have a 1w and a 5w. No experience personally but great reviews, and I’ve liked all other Blackstar I’ve tried. Insane amount of features, one of those could easily replace my other two amps.

Happy hunting!
 

Chiogtr4x

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Regarding the Monoprice amps...

Dont confuse inexpensive with cheap. They are quality and they aren't one trick ponies.

I currently have 9 amps and other than the Monoprice, each cost more than your budget and the Monoprice is right up there with the rest. Look at the reviews for them.
The only thing wrong with the Monoprice/Stage Right amps is the goofy, lame brand name!

But I love my little guy!

Finally, all my life reading and hearing about "great, natural tube overdrive..." and owning larger tube.amps ( all good, but could never crank at gigs- so, always using OD pedals)

it is an absolute joy to literally turn Volume and Tone knobs to '10' and get that 'real tube overdrive!'
It sounds great for someone like me, that loves old Chuck Berry/Stones-style R&R, blues, the 'Layla album' or 1st Clapton solo album sounds- to hear that sound come out with a Strat, right in front of you is a knockout!

( I have fun, small SS and tube amps- but got the Monoprice, as I can't afford even the cheapest vintage/SF Champ)
 

d barham

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I have a 5w Champ clone. Two inputs, one knob. My needs are very basic, a reverb pedal and I’m ready to go. I’m not recommending you go out and spend 2-3k on a vintage champ, but a simple tube amp is a great place to start. After all, it worked for thousands of kids in the 50s and 60s.
 

VintageSG

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While they aren't tube amps, you might also want to look at the Hotone Nano and Joyo BantAmp series heads paired up with a 1x8 or 1x10 cabinet
A 1x10" cabinet is never a bad idea. You could couple it with a Hotone or Joyo and get some superb sounds. You could also buy a VHT Special 6 or the Ultra version for some hollow state goodness. The Special 6 brings the valves. The Monoprice 5W sounds pretty good through its own cabinet, but lift the thing off the ground and point it at your head for best results ( goes for most amps ). Run the Monoprice through your 1x10" and you'll be able to keep up with other with ease. Buddy comes round?, one of you plays through the Monoprice, the other through the Hotone + 1x10"
See?, cabs are always worthwhile. The Hotone nano heads may lack power, but they do not in any way lack quality sound.
 

BCblues55

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I’ve got several tube amps that cover the “basic” sounds of American, British, Metal amps. But none of them can cover them all.

I’ve had (and recommend) Fender’s Super Champ and Vibro Champ modeling amps. Simple, variety of amp tones, minimal (but useful) effects, good tone controls, great clean channel tones. Great amps to experiment on and learn from.

Right now, I’m loving a 40-watt Roland Cube amp for all of those same reasons. Incredible tones and easy to dial in a wide variety of tones to fit your mood.

There are lots of options out there, but for a beginner, I’d recommend something with variety to accommodate your needs in the future as your skill develops and tastes (perhaps) change.
 
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ReverendRevolver

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I wouldn’t recommend a tube amp to a beginner. There are too many good modelers out there that will teach you which types of amps work best with the music you play and the way you play it. Once you think you’ve passed the beginner stage, you’ll then be able to better appreciate which each type of tube amp offers you.

I say look at the Boss Nextone Stage. Wanting your first amp to be tubes “because toobz!” can be counterproductive.
OPs reason for tube amp was simplicity. Simplest "modelers", and I'm being very loose here, are Tonemaster series.
Modelers can do alot of great sounds, I just wouldn't call it easy to get them when compared to a tube amp with 4 knobs.
Nextone stage isn't terrible. 12 > 4, so without trying to do the "my gear preference is better" nonsense alot of us do, I'll just leave it at the Stage is a more viable option than an Axe fx 3 in this case, because even though the Fractal is "better", it's a very deep rabbit hole.
But OP said tube, for practice, and simple. I didn't reccomend a blues cube hot because it's simple and not tube. Didn't reccomend a mig50 half stack because it's not for practice volumes. Didn't reccomend a Fender 30 because it's out of the price range and not simple.

But the nextone stage trumps lots of SS amps and modelers in its relative price range. I don't reccomend Swiss army knives and multi tools to someone looking for a steak knife though.

OP, I'd also reccomend epiphone valve Jr combos and heads. The modded ones sound fantastic too. They were stupid popular like 17 years ago. People don't sell them as much now(theyre under $300 anyway), but for a living room amp that sounded so good it's a viable recording amp, it's awesome. Also, simple: there's one knob. It for volume. One popular mod was adding a tone knob. They have 3 jacks in the back for 4/8/16ohm output on the head. You can pick one up for $150, buy a used speaker cab for $150, and buy another tube head too. And have $12 left fir a speaker cable to boot.
 

wrathfuldeity

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OP, most of us had done the rabbit hole. If you are just starting, "you don't know what you don't know." Anyway, if you are interested in the hole. A place to start is just figuring out the circuit and tube family. Such as single ended (SE) vs push pull (pp) and the basics differences between a 6v6 (fenderish) and an el84 (marshall) classifications. The point is, if you have some basic knowledge/wits and keep your eyes open. You will find some stupidly good deals. In large part is because guitar sniffery restricts itself to a fairly small field of vision of fender, marshall, vox things, while walking past diamonds with their nose in the air.

Anyway a simple tube amp will make you develop your finger dynamics/touch and to figure you how to manage your git's knobs and pu switches to get a buffet of sounds/tones.

First tube amp $65 se6L6, a princeton on steroids
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Blues Pro killer $25 se el84 does the keef thing in spades at home volumes
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Good pedal platform $67 in which you can easily manage low volumes
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Basically a very early vintage champ trade a $40 speaker octal pre champ
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Basically a vintage tweed deluxe $50 octal pre pp6v6
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A champ clone that will hang with any champ $350 se6v6
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InstantCoffeeBlue

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That Pro Jr was very high on my list. From the reviews and videos I’ve watched, it sounds great and seems very simple to use. That’s probably number one on my list right now. Just making sure I’m not missing anything else.
I didn't catch where he said it was the best of fender's current lineup, but Kenny saying he could actually gig one was enough for me to buy one, so I did.
It's great with a tele, but I still recommend a champ first. A champ is a little more responsive at a small room volume, and can teach a person to get different sounds out of their fingers, not just turning knobs and stepping on pedals. If you want to play blues and maybe a little country, playing the amp is what it's about.
But you won't be sad if you get a pro jr.

Hmm. Do you have a link to this interview?

I will say, I don't know about the Monoprice but they seem to get almost uniformly positive reviews here, so that's probably a good option. I can speak to the Pro Junior. I've been playing one since about 2008, have owned a few really nice amps including BF/SF Fenders and have never felt like any of them made the Pro Junior redundant. It kinda does it's own thing - unlike some lower-watt amps, it has very nice, very usable cleans that are definitely "Fendery" up until about 4, than it transitions into this beautiful overdrive that's kinda tweedy, kinda Brown but really it's own thing. One thing to note - the Pro Junior is pretty darn loud and packs a big punch for it's Champ-like size. If you have any concerns about volume - neighbors, kids sleeping, etc - you probably want to look for something with less wattage or power scaling to 1w or less.
 

bottlenecker

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Hmm. Do you have a link to this interview?

I will say, I don't know about the Monoprice but they seem to get almost uniformly positive reviews here, so that's probably a good option. I can speak to the Pro Junior. I've been playing one since about 2008, have owned a few really nice amps including BF/SF Fenders and have never felt like any of them made the Pro Junior redundant. It kinda does it's own thing - unlike some lower-watt amps, it has very nice, very usable cleans that are definitely "Fendery" up until about 4, than it transitions into this beautiful overdrive that's kinda tweedy, kinda Brown but really it's own thing. One thing to note - the Pro Junior is pretty darn loud and packs a big punch for it's Champ-like size. If you have any concerns about volume - neighbors, kids sleeping, etc - you probably want to look for something with less wattage or power scaling to 1w or less.

I think it was this one by @Cody_J

 




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