Buying tube amplifiers does not have to cost thousands of dollars. There are a number of premium models that are worth the cost; however, there is still a collection of reasonably-priced tube guitar amps that will not bust your budget. Below is a list of some of the best tube amplifier under 500:
Our Top Tube Amp Under $500 Reviews
Fender Pro Junior IV
The cosmetics of the Pro Junior LTD take on a more classic approach than its recently-issued stablemates: even though the cabinet is now MDF and covered in dark lacquered tweed, with a Jensen P10R Alnico loudspeaker and a chrome control panel.
At the back of the panels on the rear of the amp, the electronics are housed in sturdy open-ended steel tray chassis; substantial mushroom-head machine screws are used to secure them to the top and sides of the cabinet. The layout is pretty much the same: a big one-sided vertical PCB holding the majority of the small components like the switches and panel knobs, attached by ribbon cables to a sturdier through-plated board that is horizontally located in the underside of the chassis, which accommodates the valve bases. There is no doubt that the build standard will withstand long-term use.
The Pro Junior amp uses 12AX7 preamp valves and has a pair of EL84s for output power. Its back-to-basics panel has one input jack, feeding tone and volume controls. There is no channel switching or effects loop; it is a simple design that places emphasis on providing the most direct signal path between the loudspeaker and input jack.
This amp is inspired by the original Vox AC10. Its custom version has one channel with treble and bass controls that are based on the Top Boost circuit of the brand. There is no tremolo but instead, there is reverb and it has separate master volume and gain controls.
Additionally, the AC10 C1 has an automatic power-off function, which is installed in compliance with European regulation. It is designed to power down the amp if no audio signal is detected in two hours. Its tone controls interact and respond in a slightly unpredictable and peculiar way that is not unlike the arrangement of the old Vox top boost. About halfway up, the bass response seems to be relatively neutral so it can be rolled off or boosted. Increasing the treble control boosts high-frequency response as you might anticipate.
Furthermore, there also seems to be some amount of crossover between the controls that changes the midrange timber. Therefore, some degree of familiarization is necessary before you can begin to master the tone controls. This indicates that dialing in a sound could take a while longer than you would typically expect but this also opens up a greater range of tones than you would normally get from a standard two-band equalizer.
The Marshall M-DSL5CR is valuated at 5W and by way of power attenuation, it can go as low as 1W. in order to reproduce the familiar overdriven tones Marshall is known for, the amp is outfitted with a ECC99/12BH7 power amp tube and two ECC83 tubes in the preamp section. Similar to its smaller stablemate, the reputable DSL1CR, the DSL5CR allows you switch between 2 channels, Ultra Gain and Classic Gain. The amp also comes with a marginally bigger 10-inch speaker from Celestion. Included among the other features are built-in reverb, rear-panel effects loop and a lineout that pays homage to a Marshall 1960 cabinet.
Users have expressed their happiness about the capacity of the DSL5CR to provide good Marshall tone at adaptable volume levels. The amp has received much kudos for the responsiveness of its equalizer and its crunch tone. It had been described as pedal friendly as well. Furthermore, the majority of owners are in agreement that it has a solid build and many players have reported that they have used the amp long term without any issues. Nonetheless, there are some experienced guitarists who are underwhelmed with its build-in reverb. Additionally, there are a few who have expressed that the tone is lacking in bottom end; however, the same thing has been said of the majority of compact amps.
For the tone-minded, the 15-watt Monoprice 611815 combo tube amplifier is designed with the musician who is tone-inclined and it is a powerfully serious firecracker of a guitar amplifier. Just by taking a single look at it, you will notice that it is meant to induce blaring bright guitar sounds as if they are emanating from a Rickenbacker in the mind. This is combo amp that is fueled by 5 vacuum tubes which include 2 EL84 tubes and it accommodates a 1×12 Celestion speaker.
In the 1960s, the EL84 tube was used to power the Mullard amps preferred by the British Invasion bands. It has the capacity to generate a full output from a fairly small signal and as such, it is easily overdriven to provide that distinct treble-heavy, chiming sound. This is particularly true in comparison to the 6L6 tubes that were used more commonly in American guitar amps in the 1960s.
The amp handles frequencies ranging between 80Hz and 10kHz. It includes a High input and a Low input, with the latter decreasing the signal by roughly 50 percent and the former is easier to be overdriven. The cabinet is at the back and has a cloth speaker grill, leather handle and a textured, cream-colored, synthetic leather exterior that features chrome corner guards.
The Bugera V22 is marketed as ’boutique style’ guitar amplifiers because of its vintage design. It is a fairly large combo that features a 12-inch Turbosound speaker. The amp is powered by two EL84s for the power amp stage and three 12AX7 preamp tubes. This combination is pretty much the standard nowadays and it has been a few decades since this configuration is being used.
This is an Infinium model and as such, it examines the circuitry of the tube and regulates the power to avoid drops that can damage the tubes or surges that would burn them out. Therefore, the tubes last roughly 20 times longer compared to the lifespan of the tubes in your Grandfather’s amp.
When combined, the valves have the capacity to produce 22 Watts of power, which places the unit somewhere in the mid range, which is pretty decent for a combo. Additionally, the control cluster provides a lot to work with. There is a bright input and a normal input; these separate inputs would have to be plugged and unplugged in order to go between them. There is also a clean channel and a dirty channel and switching between them is done by using the footswitch or pressing the control panel button.
Blackstar HT1R MKII
A 1-Watt amp might appear to be a tad under-powered; however, the Blackstar HT1R can play so loud to where you might want to turn the volume down. It is even more impressive that at lower levels, the amp has the capacity to still sound sweet; this makes it ideal for home recording. The majority of small amps feature a class‑A output; however, the HT1R power amp is based on a low‑powered ‘push‑pull’ stage, which uses a ECC82 (12AU7) dual triode. It assists its tonality in mirroring what might be expected from a powerful stage amp, albeit at a lower level.
The essential phase-inverter function is provided by a solid-state driver stage. An ECC83 dual triode acts as the preamp, in combination with a clipping stage and another solid-state gain. On the models on which it is featured, the reverb is a tremendously capable electronic simulation of a spring.
Its closed‑back cabinet is constructed like a ‘grown up’ amplifier, complete with a thick strap handle. its 8‑inch speaker produces a well‑balanced sound which, while having no really deep lows, mostly avoids the nasal, boxy sound that betrays a lot of smaller combos.
This amp is tiny, pushes only 10 watts and has a 10-inch Celestion speaker. For a tube amp, it is quite inexpensive and an absolute bargain for the price. In essence, the Laney Cub-10 is a little streamlined amp that punches well above it weight and produces an impressive sound that defies both its cost and its size. It is modeled after the same format as the 1950s old Fender ‘Tweed’ amps and it uses 2 6V6 power tubes. This provides a remarkable low end ‘thump’ and a break-up that is raw, yet musical.
The amp mimics a standard amplifier design with its class A/B circuit which provides it with a vintage voicing that a number of individuals prefer. It is designed to be easy to use and portable; therefore, its controls are intentionally simplified and there are only three knobs meant to adjust tone, volume and gain.
Top Tube Amplifiers Under $500 Conclusion
An amplifier is another thing that you have to buy that can be daunting, when all you truly want to do is to get to the joy of playing your guitar. The amps listed above provide a way to acquire or replace yours without having to spend thousands of dollars to buy the top tube amplifier under 500 and without ending up with a crappy amp. These will provide that warm, authentic tube tone for which the best guitar amps are renowned.