Talk me into, or out of, getting a tube amp

Call Me Al

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Just thinking out loud here. Hopefully something will resonate with you from your own journey, and you can shed some light on mine! :)

I've been playing electric for a year now. Started on a bass amp, got a Champion 20 last summer. It's a really great amp, but I'm wondering if I'm missing something by not having tubes. I loved the Blues Jr when I was browsing, but overkill at the time for my needs (and budget!) Im the bass player in a blues trio, and I love playing along to the guitar player's Marshall JCM or Fender Princeton.

Im primarily a home player. I don't see myself gigging (actually leaning towards phasing out the bass gigging, which is what brought me to guitar!) I could see wanting to jam with others down the road.

I use the headphones and aux in a lot; many tube amps don't have these features. Part of me thinks to just stay put and keep practicing!

I see 3 basic pathways ahead of me:
1) get a smaller 1-5w amp. Enjoy life, and explore those tubes!
2) Wait til I'm ready to jam and get a bigger tube amp then.
3) Wait til I'm ready to jam, and get a bigger SS then.

I know "go out and test stuff" is the best option. But I can't find any little amps locally. There is a Vox AC4, but the 12" seems a little loud for home, and IDK if I'm a Vox guy. Generally with gear, I find curiosity gets the better of me and I end up caving to desire. You really learn a lot by having some gear in your life to explore it! But also, I'm looking for the fine line between being practical, and fully enjoying my hobby.

Some amps I'm considering:
1) Monoprice 5w. Cheap way to dip my toes in the pool. I wouldn't mind trying to mod down the line. But least amount of features.
2) Bugera v5. I like the headphone out and reverb. Great online reviews. But I'm hearing some questionable things about the parent company (same as Behringer) and not sure if I wanna support them.
3)Blackstar HT1 1w. Massive bevy of features (aux, headphones, mid shift, 2 channels, reverb, ext cab and usb outs.) great reviews. I guess my hesitation is 1w, if Ill outgrow this too soon. But with an extension, I should be able to have a jam with a drummer, right?

TL;DR Go Tube, or stick with modeling??

Thanks for your time!
 

Call Me Al

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Oh I should add: playing mostly blues. Love that natural tube OD sound. No pedals ATM.

Also, I know cost and time of maintenance is a consideration. While I’m open to the compromise, it is a factor. I generally like fuss-free stuff in my life. How much time and money would an at-home player spend on maintenance? Is it hard to maintain yourself, should I factor in labor too?
 

stormsedge

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Sometimes I like a tube amp, but mostly I play my SS. I have too many amps at this point---disposable income vs. pandemonium and time to experiment. A home player, I usually play my Quilter 201 or DV Mark Micro 60 Jazz with pedals...I have a mix-up of cabinets that is a whole 'nother country. In retrospect, the Quiter was all I really needed...and it sounds as good at 1w as it does cranked. The Aviator series deserves a look.

But, since you are a bit interested in tube amps...the ones I own/prefer that are in the power/wattage rating you describe are: Monoprice Stage Right 15/1w 12" combo (almost always set to 1w...nice reverb, good sounding amp)...or a VHT Ultra 6 head (nice versatile amp that can be attenuated through the controls and has a ton of mods on the internet if one is so inclined) through a 1x12 cab. The VHT is available in a combo.

I do have a Bugera G5 Infinium, that I was pretty pleased with for a period of time...but I've come to decide it is at best average and lately maybe even lackluster. It is on the list to trade off. I wouldn't buy another.

The Monoprice 5w you mention gets consistently high reviews. The 15/1w I mentioned is ~$120 more, but offers more flexibility imo.

The Blackstar HT1 gets consistently high reviews as well. I have no experience with it, although I do have an HT40...I was pretty darn pleased with it until trying a 30w Vox yesterday---ah, fickle guitar players...LOL.

Happy Hunting.
 

Chiogtr4x

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Get a tube amp
Don't get a tube amp
________
I'm a lover of any cheap tube or SS amp ( now small, light) that just has a clean ' Fender or Fender-like' sound with Reverb ( though I just got a tube amp w/o, but I have a Reverb pedal)

And I now have 4, both SS and tube, use all on small gigs.

I mainly go for a pretty clean sound that I will use on its own, but also 'dirty up' with OD pedals- but the sound does not stray much from the guitar>amp tone.
Good tube amps, with good tubes are relatively maintenance free if you don't bang them around. Take care of them.
I personally take mine to a good tech for repairs and even tube ( power tube) replacement as I'm just not the repair type. Since I do play a fair amount of gigs, just good to have a tech look under the hood...
Get any amp ( that you can afford) that makes you happy, IMO, as soon as you plug into it.
 

Tim S

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I’d suggest a Spark 40. It’s great for playing along to backing tracks and it exposes you to a lot of amp emulations. (You can find out whether or not you’re a Vox guy in the privacy of your own home)
 

VonBonfire

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You liked the blues junior.

Get a blues junior, used, in good shape. Most guys pick up guitar and then quit so most gear is lightly used if you buy second hand. I don't see 15 watts as overkill and you were enthused about it, which is important. If you decide to jam some guitar with a bassist and a drummer you'll have the amp to get started with. You can add pedals and such and have something you could do basic gigs with if you needed or wanted to take your playing that far.

Electric guitar was designed to work in conjunction with a tube amp originally so I would suggest going with a good tube rig. My best to you on your guitar endeavors!
 

Whatizitman

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Welcome to the Forum of Thinking Too Much. You're in good company.

It's good to plan for the future. But plans change. My rule of thumb is to not invest too much on the outset if you're not exactly sure what you want. Most mid-size combos (with master volumes and/or pedals) can do either home or live adequately.

I prefer tube amps at any level over SS or modeling. That's just me. I can't speak for anyone else.

All of the amps OP mentioned are budget level practice amps. None were built to last forever. In other words, don't spend too much money or worry over them. Go with what is available used nearby, or what's on sale new.

The AC4 with the 12 inch speaker is not going to be much louder than the other amps mentioned. All can get loud. All of them can sound ok at low volumes.

That said, some things can help with that. Namely have a master volume if you want crunch/distortion at lower volume levels. Pedals can help with that, too. Even better if you have a headphone option. Just be aware that the headphone experience does not replace the amp in the room experience. Not for me, anyway. At best they are emulated mic'd speaker sounds. Rarely are they any good, IMO. If headphone play is what you are primarily wanting, there are even cheaper options. You may already have the gear for it and not even realize.

Just dive in and have fun.
 

KC

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There's an Origin 20c combo in the classifieds here for $400 -- guy doesn't want to ship, so it won't do you any good, but you could maybe find an equivalent deal where you are. Great all-around amp, loud enough to jam with a drummer but has a 1/2 watt setting for home use. (Actually the 1/2 watt setting sounds kind of crap but the 3-watt setting rocks.) Has a nice natural clean sound & can be made to rock with the builtin boost. I've had one for a year or two and it's been trouble free.

If you're really not going to be moving around much, an AC15 would be great, but my sense is that these have crept up in price lately. Ditto the Blues Jr.

Any of these small 15-20 watt combos from a reputable maker would fill the bill. I would be leery of the monoprice / bugera stuff just because it seems kind of disposable but maybe I'm just a snob. Good luck.
 

The Angle

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In the 5W tube category, I recommend adding the VHT Special 6 or Ultra to your list of possibilities. VHT offers astounding value for your money. I've had both the Special 6 and the Ultra version, and stuck with the Special 6. The Ultra has unique controls that are fun to play around with, but it's targeted at the higher-gain crowd. For the type of jazzy blues and bluesy jazz I enjoy, the Special 6 plus a Joyo American Sound pedal is a better fit. And you probably can find a used VHT for less than half what you'd pay for a used BJr.

You still won't get an aux in or headphone out, though. For that, hang onto your Champion 20. They're so inexpensive that you wouldn't get a lot for it in resale anyway. May as well keep it.

BUT, in the bigger picture, I'd still say you don't need a tube amp for the type of playing you describe. At low volume, tube amps are nearly indistinguishable from solid state and digital, because the unique characteristics of tubes and transformers don't come into play if they're not working up a sweat. That's one reason why people like Fender Tonemasters, Roland Blues Cubes, and similar amps so well. They respond very much like an aggravated tube amp at any volume.
 
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AxemanVR

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`
My gut feeling is that you don't really need anything else and that you'd be "getting just to get".

If I were you I'd only get something if it really speaks to you - whether it be tube, SS or modeling. You'll know if you "have to have" something. So just hang out and if something crosses your path that blows you away then (and only then) consider getting it...



`
 

middy

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Everyone should own a tube amp at least once. If you get a used tube amp you can flip it and be out little or no money, or even make a profit. But you’ll probably want to keep it.
Tubes give you a certain growly compression, harmonically crunchy top end, and lovely bouncy feel that you just can’t get any other way.
I would go with the AC4, the 12” speaker will fill out the bottom end more than make it louder. Exactly what you need with a 4 watt amp. It’s still going to be loud to sound it’s very best, but jam box loud, not rock drummer loud.
 

HaWE

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Just thinking out loud here. Hopefully something will resonate with you from your own journey, and you can shed some light on mine! :)

I've been playing electric for a year now. Started on a bass amp, got a Champion 20 last summer. It's a really great amp, but I'm wondering if I'm missing something by not having tubes. I loved the Blues Jr when I was browsing, but overkill at the time for my needs (and budget!) Im the bass player in a blues trio, and I love playing along to the guitar player's Marshall JCM or Fender Princeton.

Im primarily a home player. I don't see myself gigging (actually leaning towards phasing out the bass gigging, which is what brought me to guitar!) I could see wanting to jam with others down the road.

I use the headphones and aux in a lot; many tube amps don't have these features. Part of me thinks to just stay put and keep practicing!

I see 3 basic pathways ahead of me:
1) get a smaller 1-5w amp. Enjoy life, and explore those tubes!
2) Wait til I'm ready to jam and get a bigger tube amp then.
3) Wait til I'm ready to jam, and get a bigger SS then.

I know "go out and test stuff" is the best option. But I can't find any little amps locally. There is a Vox AC4, but the 12" seems a little loud for home, and IDK if I'm a Vox guy. Generally with gear, I find curiosity gets the better of me and I end up caving to desire. You really learn a lot by having some gear in your life to explore it! But also, I'm looking for the fine line between being practical, and fully enjoying my hobby.

Some amps I'm considering:
1) Monoprice 5w. Cheap way to dip my toes in the pool. I wouldn't mind trying to mod down the line. But least amount of features.
2) Bugera v5. I like the headphone out and reverb. Great online reviews. But I'm hearing some questionable things about the parent company (same as Behringer) and not sure if I wanna support them.
3)Blackstar HT1 1w. Massive bevy of features (aux, headphones, mid shift, 2 channels, reverb, ext cab and usb outs.) great reviews. I guess my hesitation is 1w, if Ill outgrow this too soon. But with an extension, I should be able to have a jam with a drummer, right?

TL;DR Go Tube, or stick with modeling??

Thanks for your time!
Hi,my experience wirh Bugera: I had a Bugera 5 Watt Amp (head) - the first weeks it worked well but then there soon were problems - crackling noise, volume - loss and so on.I returned it to the online-dealer and it was repaired.But after some time the same problems appeared again.The Amp was 2x repaired without success,fortunately within the guarantee-time.
But because the problem couldnt be solved it finally got my money back.Just my experience with a Bugera.Maybe other owners had more luck.Now - since 1 1/2 years - I have a 1 Watt "Palmer eins" , a great little tube amp which until now has caused no problems at all.
 

thankyouguitar

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Just thinking out loud here. Hopefully something will resonate with you from your own journey, and you can shed some light on mine! :)

I've been playing electric for a year now. Started on a bass amp, got a Champion 20 last summer. It's a really great amp, but I'm wondering if I'm missing something by not having tubes. I loved the Blues Jr when I was browsing, but overkill at the time for my needs (and budget!) Im the bass player in a blues trio, and I love playing along to the guitar player's Marshall JCM or Fender Princeton.

Im primarily a home player. I don't see myself gigging (actually leaning towards phasing out the bass gigging, which is what brought me to guitar!) I could see wanting to jam with others down the road.

I use the headphones and aux in a lot; many tube amps don't have these features. Part of me thinks to just stay put and keep practicing!

I see 3 basic pathways ahead of me:
1) get a smaller 1-5w amp. Enjoy life, and explore those tubes!
2) Wait til I'm ready to jam and get a bigger tube amp then.
3) Wait til I'm ready to jam, and get a bigger SS then.

I know "go out and test stuff" is the best option. But I can't find any little amps locally. There is a Vox AC4, but the 12" seems a little loud for home, and IDK if I'm a Vox guy. Generally with gear, I find curiosity gets the better of me and I end up caving to desire. You really learn a lot by having some gear in your life to explore it! But also, I'm looking for the fine line between being practical, and fully enjoying my hobby.

Some amps I'm considering:
1) Monoprice 5w. Cheap way to dip my toes in the pool. I wouldn't mind trying to mod down the line. But least amount of features.
2) Bugera v5. I like the headphone out and reverb. Great online reviews. But I'm hearing some questionable things about the parent company (same as Behringer) and not sure if I wanna support them.
3)Blackstar HT1 1w. Massive bevy of features (aux, headphones, mid shift, 2 channels, reverb, ext cab and usb outs.) great reviews. I guess my hesitation is 1w, if Ill outgrow this too soon. But with an extension, I should be able to have a jam with a drummer, right?

TL;DR Go Tube, or stick with modeling??

Thanks for your time!
Pro Jr.!
 

boxocrap

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Just thinking out loud here. Hopefully something will resonate with you from your own journey, and you can shed some light on mine! :)

I've been playing electric for a year now. Started on a bass amp, got a Champion 20 last summer. It's a really great amp, but I'm wondering if I'm missing something by not having tubes. I loved the Blues Jr when I was browsing, but overkill at the time for my needs (and budget!) Im the bass player in a blues trio, and I love playing along to the guitar player's Marshall JCM or Fender Princeton.

Im primarily a home player. I don't see myself gigging (actually leaning towards phasing out the bass gigging, which is what brought me to guitar!) I could see wanting to jam with others down the road.

I use the headphones and aux in a lot; many tube amps don't have these features. Part of me thinks to just stay put and keep practicing!

I see 3 basic pathways ahead of me:
1) get a smaller 1-5w amp. Enjoy life, and explore those tubes!
2) Wait til I'm ready to jam and get a bigger tube amp then.
3) Wait til I'm ready to jam, and get a bigger SS then.

I know "go out and test stuff" is the best option. But I can't find any little amps locally. There is a Vox AC4, but the 12" seems a little loud for home, and IDK if I'm a Vox guy. Generally with gear, I find curiosity gets the better of me and I end up caving to desire. You really learn a lot by having some gear in your life to explore it! But also, I'm looking for the fine line between being practical, and fully enjoying my hobby.

Some amps I'm considering:
1) Monoprice 5w. Cheap way to dip my toes in the pool. I wouldn't mind trying to mod down the line. But least amount of features.
2) Bugera v5. I like the headphone out and reverb. Great online reviews. But I'm hearing some questionable things about the parent company (same as Behringer) and not sure if I wanna support them.
3)Blackstar HT1 1w. Massive bevy of features (aux, headphones, mid shift, 2 channels, reverb, ext cab and usb outs.) great reviews. I guess my hesitation is 1w, if Ill outgrow this too soon. But with an extension, I should be able to have a jam with a drummer, right?

TL;DR Go Tube, or stick with modeling??

Thanks for your time!
i prefer old type of tube amps..no solid state rectifiers and so on..but that's me..if i try to explain why i'm sure there will be lot's of people saying other stuff..i have had a couple of non tube amps and had them for a few years but for myself.."something" wasn't there with them..they sounded ok but to me only ok..not anything thing "else"..so i suggest you go with your gut on this one after you try some older tube amps .. you may be surprised .. and it may take time to get it if there is anything for you to get
 

captain_jack

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TL;DR Go Tube, or stick with modeling??
I recently started a thread asking for feedback on the Blues Junior for a lot of the same reasons you describe (and funny enough my current amp is also a champ 20). I'll restate my reason for wanting a tube amp:

"I can guarantee you I would not be able to tell the difference [between tube and SS] in a blind test. But I like the idea of a tube amp. I like the tradition of it. Basically I want a tube amp because, well because I want one =). (But at least I'm aware of that and ok with it)."

If you feel the same way, go for it!

There a bunch of options in the 1w-15w range that have low power options. The Blackstar HT which gets great reviews online also has a 5w version that can run 0.5w. The Marshall 5w has a similar low power setting.

There is also the Orange rocker 15, which can run at 15, 7, 1, or 0.5 (I'm really hoping to find a store that has one I can try).

Anyway, good luck in your search!
 

Call Me Al

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Welcome to the Forum of Thinking Too Much.
😂😂😂

My gut feeling is that you don't really need anything else and that you'd be "getting just to get".

you don't need a tube amp for the type of playing you describe.
This is my gut feeling too. Buying just to buy something. And the big appeal of that Blackstar is that I lose none of the features I like on the Champion. Features I use nearly every time I plug in. I could grab a good tube amp, but does it do me any good if I’m still going back to the Champ most of the time?

Get any amp ( that you can afford) that makes you happy, IMO, as soon as you plug into it.

liked the blues junior.

Get a blues junior, used,

something crosses your path that blows you away then (and only then) consider getting it...
This is generally how I roll. I hate online shopping. But such is the way of the world these days. I actually got my Champion and my lovely new Ibanez Artcore locally , so I’ll try my best to be patient! 😁


Electric guitar was designed to work in conjunction with a tube amp

I prefer tube amps at any level over SS o

Everyone should own a tube amp at least once.
Ive read through heaps of these Tubes v SS Threads on TDPRI, and the majority of responses sound like this . The minority seem to prefer SS. The sound, the feel… so my mission with the thread was to fish for a “pro tube” response that resonates with me.

At this point, I’m leaning towards waiting, based on my goals, playing level, practicing routine and budget. But happy to keep reading more opinions!! 😄
 
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Call Me Al

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I recently started a thread asking for feedback on the Blues Junior for a lot of the same reasons you describe (and funny enough my current amp is also a champ 20). I'll restate my reason for wanting a tube amp:

"I can guarantee you I would not be able to tell the difference [between tube and SS] in a blind test. But I like the idea of a tube amp. I like the tradition of it. Basically I want a tube amp because, well because I want one =). (But at least I'm aware of that and ok with it)."

If you feel the same way, go for it!

There a bunch of options in the 1w-15w range that have low power options. The Blackstar HT which gets great reviews online also has a 5w version that can run 0.5w. The Marshall 5w has a similar low power setting.

There is also the Orange rocker 15, which can run at 15, 7, 1, or 0.5 (I'm really hoping to find a store that has one I can try).

Anyway, good luck in your search!
Thanks! I was over in your thread, (thought I’d get out of your hair! ;) )

Most of the comments were pro-tube; but the other comments about not needing it, not noticing the difference, seemed to resonate more with me. I’m very practical, love my features and simplicity (of the Champion) and really don’t think I could tell the difference either! I definitely feel the urge to just own some tubes, but wonder if that honeymoon will fade and I won’t feel much of a difference.

I should be practicing anyway! 😂
 
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Octorfunk

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I would only switch your current amp (SS or tube) if you feel it is lacking something you need.

From your description, that doesnt really seem to be the case.

I've done The tone quest many times, and finally realized that an inexpensive SS amp suits me just fine for what I'm actually going to use it for.
 




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