Best Small Tube Amp: Top 15 Picks To Practice Your Guitar (Combo & Heads)!

Welcome to my review of the 15 best small tube amps to play with valve flavor everywhere!

Tube amps are the best way to obtain the valve’s rich and warm tone, and a sound with amazing bass and mid response.

If you are looking for a small tube amp you are in the right place. Let’s go directly to my review of the 15 best low-watt tube amp to practice or gig where you want!

Quick Overview

Our Top 5 Choices For Small Tube Amps

Fender '65 Princeton Reverb

Overall Rating: 5/5

5/5

Fender '65 Princeton Reverb

The Fender ‘65 Princeton Reverb is one of the best low-watt tube amps in the market. The Princeton is an all-tube power amp that contains three 12ax7 tubes, a 12AT7, two 6V6, a single 5AR4, and a Jensen Special Design C-10R 10 inch Speaker.

Supro Blues King 12

Overall Rating: 4.8/5

4.8/5

Supro Blues King 12

With the Blues King 12 combo, you get a vintage Supro amp tone that helped create that early electric Rock n’ Roll character. The Blues King is a Class A low-watt tube amp that delivers 15 watts of 6L6 tube power through the Supro’s custom 12-inch BK12 speaker.

Bugera V5 Infinium

Overall Rating: 4.7/5

4.5/5

Bugera V5 Infinium

The Bugera V5 Infinium is one of the best and most affordable small tube combo on the market right now. This 5-watt tube amp is a tiny, vintage-style guitar combo that comes packed with a 12AX7 preamp tube and an EL84 tube that gives you loads of vintage all-tube tones.

Vox AC15C1 15W

Overall Rating: 4.7/5

4/5

Vox AC15C1 15W

For those who want the sound that started it all in the British Rock and Roll scene of the early 60s, the Vox AC15C1 is the right choice. It is a low-watt tube amp with 15 watt, a Normal and Top Boost channel, and an EL84 power tube that provides a vintage all-tube tone.

Orange Rocker 15

Overall Rating: 4.6/5

4/5

Orange Rocker 15

Orange says that the Orange Rocker 15 is “The amp for all occasions,” and I think they are right because the Rocker is an extremely portable combo. You can customize it at 0.5, 1, 7, or 15-watt of output, and you can carry it without effort from home to the studio or the stage.

The 15 Best Low-Watt Tube Amps to Play with Tube Flavor Everywhere!

#1 Fender '65 Princeton Reverb Review - Best Overall Small Tube Amp

The Fender ‘65 Princeton Reverb is one of the best low-watt tube amps in the market. The Princeton is an all-tube power amp that contains three 12ax7 tubes, a 12AT7, two 6V6, a single 5AR4, and a Jensen Special Design C-10R 10 inch Speaker.

You can get the original Fender sound because you get a genuine reissue of the 1965 design that popularized the Fender tone. This amp is famous for offering those classic sparkling, glassy clean tones that have spread across a great variety of genres.

This is one of the best small tube amps for those in the quest for grainy overdrive and responsive midrange. The Princeton guitar amplifier is one of the most legendary combos in the history of low-watt tube amps.

If you want to customize the Fender’s tube sound, you’ll find on the front panel a volume dial, two-band EQ controls, and a knob for managing the genuine spring reverb.

Here’s what you’ll love

Here’s what you might not like

Conclusion

The Princeton tube amp can be used for practice, in the studio, or for smaller live rooms. It delivers the classic vibe and tone of the original legendary amp.

It is a marvelous tinny combo with 15 watts of power that includes a specially voiced Jensen 10″ speaker for a range of incredible guitar tones. You also get great-sounding vibrato and the onboard reverb.

Overall Rating: 5/5
5/5

#2 Supro Blues King 12 Review - Best Value for Money Small Tube Amp

With the Blues King 12 combo, you get a vintage Supro amp tone that helped create that early electric Rock n’ Roll character. The Blues King is a Class A low-watt tube amp that delivers 15 watts of 6L6 tube power through the Supro’s custom 12-inch BK12 speaker.

You obtain the remarkable touch sensitivity and the same raw tonal characteristics present in its early counterparts.

You also get a balanced, rich tone, specifically designed to capture the original field-coil speakers’ magic due to the custom 12-inch BK12 speaker.

The Blues King includes the whole customization package with 3-band EQ, master volume, custom-made analog spring reverb, a 12AX7 tube preamp, a FET-driven boost function, and the Pigtronix FAT high-gain mode.

Enjoy the pure, unobstructed tone that epitomizes the 1950s Supro sound thanks to the 12AX7 tube preamp, where the audio is gained up and sent to a 12AU7 triode power amp.

Here’s what you’ll love

Here’s what you might not like

Conclusion

The Supro Delta King 12 may be the best low-watt tube amp for the Blues fans and the best small, portable, and versatile valve 1×12 in the market.

You get a complete 15-watt Combo Amp with a custom 12-inch Supro speaker, three-band EQ, FET-driven Boost, Pigtronix FAT Mode, Spring Reverb, and a record Line Out.

The Supro Delta King 12 delivers a great range of superb cleans and drives tones, being the most tempting Supro combo yet due to its affordable price tag. It is definitely the best value for money small tube amp.

Overall Rating: 4.8/5
4.8/5

#3 Bugera V5 Infinium Review ‎ - Best Budget Small Tube Amp

The Bugera V5 Infinium is one of the best and most affordable small tube combo on the market right now. This 5-watt tube amp is a tiny, vintage-style guitar combo that comes packed with a 12AX7 preamp tube and an EL84 tube that gives you loads of vintage all-tube tones.

The V5 is a low-wattage do-it-all combo with a built-in power attenuator, a high-definition reverb, and a British-engineered Turbosound speaker.

Bugera’s Tube Life Multiplier Technology guarantees that the V5 gives you a consistent tone and reliability during the life of your tubes.

You get rich harmonics, warm distortion, and high-definition reverb that puts the finishing touch on your tone. All these features are nicely packaged in a vintage black leather woody case.

Enjoy this all-tube guitar combo amplifier equipped with a 12AX7 and an EL84 tube, giving you a classic, all-tube tone. Additionally, the Infinium Tube Life Multiplier technology keeps your tubes healthy.

Here’s what you’ll love

Here’s what you might not like

Conclusion

With the Bugera V5 Infinium, you get a 5-watt 1-channel All-tube 1×8″ guitar combo amplifier with Reverb, Tone Knob that delivers an outstanding vintage all-tube tone.

The British-engineered Turbosound speaker gives unique sonic quality, and the Infinium Tube Life Multiplier technology extends the lifespan of your tubes.

You can shape your sound due to the classic-style tone control, and the built-in power attenuator lets you hit the sweet spot at any volume.

Overall Rating: 4.7/5
4.7/5

#4 Vox AC15C1 15W Review

For those who want the sound that started it all in the British Rock and Roll scene of the early 60s, the Vox AC15C1 is the right choice. It is a low-watt tube amp with 15 watt, a Normal and Top Boost channel, and an EL84 power tube that provides a vintage all-tube tone.

You get the unmistakable sound of VOX, a tradition that began in 1958 and that was loved by the biggest names in music for more than 60 years.

Now you obtain it with all the sophistication of a modern amplifier with foot-switchable classic VOX tremolo and spring reverb to improve your sound.

Delight yourself with this 15-watt tube guitar amp that defined the British sound and is still used nowadays on stages and in studios by an immense quantity of professional musicians worldwide.

Experience the AC15 design and achieve to manage volume on stage with great precision while you enjoy that classic chime that has made VOX’s sound unmistakable.

Here’s what you’ll love

Here’s what you might not like

Conclusion

The Vox AC15C1 is surely a great pick for you if you’re a tube amp enthusiast. You will not be disappointed with this low-watt tube amp with 15-watt, 2-channel, and a 12″ Celestion G12M Greenback or Alnico Blue Speaker. Within its most important features, it counts with Clean and Top Boost channels, a Built-in reverb, and tremolo.

Overall Rating: 4.7/5
4.7/5

#5 Orange Rocker 15 Review

Orange says that the Orange Rocker 15 is “The amp for all occasions,” and I think they are right because the Rocker is an extremely portable combo. You can customize it at 0.5, 1, 7, or 15-watt of output, and you can carry it without effort from home to the studio or the stage.

The Rocker 15 allows you to take full advantage of its EL84 output section. It is a two-channel low-watt tube amp, bedroom-friendly, that you can use for your gigs too.

You can scale back the power, and the Rocker 15’s tone will remain fat and full. You can enjoy that warm tube compression and saturation without disturbing your neighbors.

The Rocker 15 is a clever option with its two-channel design. The clean channel is perfectly voiced to bring out the ‘natural’ sound of your guitar, while the ‘dirty’ channel is very customizable with the volume, gain, and three-band EQ section controls.

Here’s what you’ll love

Here’s what you might not like

Conclusion

Orange Rocker 15 is a tube combo amp with clean and dirt channel, power attenuation with Selectable 15, 7, 1, and 0.5-watt, buffered tube-driven effects loop, one “Orange Voice of the World Gold Label” 10-inch speaker, and a power section driven by a dual EL84 tube. All these features will help you obtain a dreamy and genuine British voice.

Overall Rating: 4.6/5
4.6/5

#6 Blackstar HT-20R MkII Review

The Blackstar HT-20R is a low-wattage tube amp that delivers pure boutique cleans, edge crunch, mild overdrive, and full-on distortion. It is highly versatile and has no tonal weak points.

The Blackstar HT-20R will enable you to combine the character of classic British tube amps with a nicely voiced preamp to create an outstanding all-tube tone due to the classic EL84 valve.

The HT-20R is affordable, versatile, and perfect for playing in the rehearsal room and small gigs. You can take power down to 2 watts and maintaining the same all-tube tone thanks to the Blackstar patented “Dynamic Power Reduction Circuit.”

You get two foot-switchable channels, headphones, emulated USB, and XLR outputs. Furthermore, you also get that nice British tube tone due to a pair of EL84 power tubes.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5
4.5/5

#7 Fender Blues Junior IV Review

The Fender Blues Junior IV is actually one of the best small tube amps in the market. It is a compact, lightweight, and pedal-friendly 15-watt tube amplifier that delivers stunning clean and overdriven sounds.

This new version includes an A-Type 12 inch Celestion speaker, three 12AX7s valves, and a pair of EL84s valves that grants stunning clean and drive sounds.

The Fender Blues Junior is your ticket to a world of rich tube tones and exceptional sound quality. It is a vintage combo amp with a single-channel that delivers great control versatility.

It sounds great with both single coils and humbuckers. You can manage really well those drive pedals with great volume, and it includes gain, a bass-middle-treble EQ section, reverb level, master volume, and a small push-button ‘Fat’ switch.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5
4.5/5

#8 Laney CUB12R Review

The CUB12R can be your perfect choice when you want a low-watt tube amp to obtain pure, British vintage tube tone in a small format. This low-wattage tube combo provides classic sounds with easy-to-use control layouts and practicing volume levels.

Take this small and beautiful guitar combo designed and engineered in Great Britain that can be used in its 1 and 15 watt modes with warm, clean and rich crunch tones.

You get one of the best small tube amp and the perfect option from beginner to more advanced player. The CUB12R is an affordable amp combo great for home, on stage, or in the studio.

Overall Rating: 4.4/5
4.4/5

#9 Mesa/Boogie Mark Five 25 Review

With the Mesa/Boogie Mark Five: 25, you get an all-tube 10/25-watt combo amplifier with two fully independent channels, six style modes, and Built-in Cabclone Internal Amp Load, Speaker Emulation, and a Celestion Custom G10 Creamback speaker.

The Mesa/Boogie Mark Five: 25 tube combo delivers the legendary Mark Series preamp tone and Mesa’s proprietary Dyna-Watt 2 x EL84 output section.

Channel one delivers clean, fat, and crunch modes that enable to reach an astonishingly wide range of tone for rhythm players.

Channel two brings you legendary Mesa lead tone with Mark Five’s three switchable styles that give you three distinct flavors of sonic aggression.

Overall Rating: 4.4/5
4.4/5

#10 Marshall SV20C Studio Vintage Review

If you love that old vintage tone of the Marshall 1959 Super Lead, so you better try the Marshall SV20C Studio Vintage. It is a 20/5-watt low-watt tube amp with a 10″ Celestion V-Type speaker.

Enjoy the 4 separate inputs to blend your sound, three-band EQ with Presence control, high- and low-sensitivity loudness knobs, and an effects loop to integrate your effects pedals. You also get a power reduction circuit to allow you to get a bedroom-friendly 5-watt version.

When you plug in the Studio Vintage, you experience that iconic saturated tone with this low-watt version of Marshall’s Plexi.

Overall Rating: 4.3/5
4.3/5

#11 Hughes & Kettner TubeMeister Deluxe 20 Review

Hughes & Kettner have done a great job with the TubeMeister Deluxe 20. It is an amazing small amp head with EQ for fast tone shaping and two channels with independent gain and master volume.

This tiny marvel brings you an onboard power soak with selectable 20W, 5W, and 1W operation to let you select the right tone for the place you are playing. An onboard H&K Red Box DI allows you to send a speaker-simulated signal straight to a board without a mic.

This astounding small amp head allows you to obtain fabulous glassy cleans and volcanic leads due to the TubeMeister’s classic 12AX7/EL84 valves combo. You also get a simple EQ and two foot-switchable channels.

Overall Rating: 4.2/5
4.2/5

#12 Dr. Z Z Wreck Jr. 15-watt Tube Head Review

In the last few years, the Z Wreck became the definitive Dr. Z guitar amplifier for many guitarists. This 15-watt amp head version brings you a NOS Russian EL84s for better sound and extended life, a convenient master volume control, and excellent touch response and sonic range.

The Z Wreck Jr. is a 1-channel all-tube guitar amp head that delivers an amazing dynamic response and easy-to-use control set with Volume, Bass, Treble, Cut knobs to dials your personal tones.

You get the ability to dial down the volume without compromising tone and harmonics. Its aircraft-grade aluminum chassis can supply you with a lifetime of playing.

Overall Rating: 4.2/5
4.2/5

#13 Friedman Runt-20 Review

The Friedman Runt 20-watt tube combo amp is the perfect pick for those guitar players who want a combo for smaller gigs and recordings that don’t compromise their guitar tone.

It is a tiny wonder with three 12AX7 preamp tubes, a pair of EL-84s in its power section, and delivers smooth and vintage tones due to its 12″ Celestion G12M-65 Creamback speaker.

You get a durable Baltic Birch construction, XLR cab emulation output to get the best digital emulations sound, a clean channel with minimal controls, and a dirty one that delivers from classic rock to a more metal sound.

Overall Rating: 4.2/5
4.2/5

#14 Fender '57 Custom Champ Review

When you want the true sound, looks, and vibe of a classic tube amplifier, the Fender ’57 Custom Champ can do the job with an outstanding capacity. You get all-tube 5 watts through an 8″ Special Design Weber Alnico speaker that really catches that Fender vintage sound.

You can easily manipulate your guitar’s volume and tone controls within a huge range of dynamic, responsive tones due to the hand-wired circuitry.

You get that gorgeous ’57 Custom Champ “look” with a lacquered tweed covering, a leather strap handle within a solid pine cabinet.

Overall Rating: 4.1/5
4.1/5

#15 Tone King Gremlin Review

The Tone King Gremlin is a marvelous compact tube combo that delivers American-style tones. It is the right choice for guitar players that want a small vintage tube amp to play on stage or at home.

The Gremlin is a 5-watt 1 x 12″ tube amp with two channels, rhythm and lead inputs that offer different levels of headroom and gain.

You get a great vintage voice due to the custom-voiced cabinet and 12″ speaker. All nicely packaged in a convenient Blackface compact combo.

Overall Rating: 4/5
4/5

What to Consider When Choosing The Best Small Tube Amp

If you are on the hunt for a small tube amp I want to help you with this task. As there are literally hundreds of low-watt tube amps on the market, you need a list of the best ones, like the one I wrote for you above.

It can be confusing when you want to compare the different options and features to make your decision and select the right choice for you. Below I’ll answer the most important questions to help you understand and select the right small tube amp to satisfy your needs and taste.

Tube Amp vs Solid State?

While tube amps use vacuum tubes to amplify a guitar signal, solid-state amps use electronics to do it. What makes it interesting to use one or another type of amplification isn’t the tech specs as much as the audible differences between both systems.

Tube amps are commonly described as “warm.” This means a sound with a good bass and mids response. This warm sound becomes especially desirable when the vacuum tubes are overloaded and deliver a distortion sound known as overdrive.

On the other hand, a solid-state amps’ sound depends on the amp’s circuitry and is usually perceived as an inferior sound by most guitarists. However, these amps have certain advantages that many guitarists desire.

Why Are Small Tube Amps Better?

Smaller amps are better because they give you the flexibility to get the sound you might want in a smaller, easy-to-use package. Small tube amps tend to be cheaper and give lower output wattage than big-size tube amps.

They are the ideal choice if you’re looking to get a responsive tube sound without the need to have too much power. A low-watt tube amp is a great way to achieve a more portable, easy to use, and flexible amp.

Of course, you will suffer from some lack of stage volume compared to a bigger tube amp. It isn’t a bad sign when you want your small tube amp to play or practice at home, record in the studio, or play in small clubs.

Which Amp Size is Best for Home Use?

The best-sized guitar amp for home use is one with up to 20W of power as maximum, and even a 5-watt tube amp will do just fine for your practice sessions.

You don’t need to waste more money by getting a much more powerful amp. When you use it mostly at home, 5 to 15 watt amps are more than enough to play in your bedroom or the living room.

Even if you decide to purchase a bigger one, you can only turn up the volume inappreciably, and the output sound will be pretty weak. It is better a less powerful amp for playing at lower volume levels because you can obtain a good tone at a wider range of settings.

Which Small Tube Amp Is Better for Practicing?

The best tube amps for practicing deliver the best combination of sound quality and useful features within a low-watt small package.

For instance, the Fender ‘65 Princeton Reverb, the best overall small tube amp of this article, delivers both classic sparkling clean tones ​and grainy overdrive and responsive midrange.

It is an outstanding low-watt tube amp because you can highly customize this amp sound due to the great set of control in its front panel, and you can get a genuine vintage tube flavor from an amp equipped with high-quality parts.

Are 5 Watt Tube Amps Loud Enough for Practicing?

Yes, 5-watt tube amps are loud enough for practicing. Of course that a standard 5-watt combo with a 1 x 12 speaker doesn’t have enough power to play alongside a drummer for rehearsals or gigs without any PA support.

But they are the best choice for home and bedroom practice because they are designed to function at low volumes which is suitable for home and bedroom playing. Low-watt tube amps may lack versatility compared to solid states, but you can solve this by adding some pedals.

Which Is Better for Practicing, Tube Amp or Solid-State?

This is a tricky question because it depends mostly on your taste and on the music you play. If you like to play with a lot of overdrive or distortion, you can probably prefer tube amps. But if you play mostly clean tones, you may not care as much.

Solid-state amps have many practical advantages. They tend to offer more features and built-in effects. They are physically lighter, more rugged, less expensive per watt, and less temperamental than tube amps.

If you switch between many different music genres and don’t need overdrive or distortion for playing blues or classic rock, your better choice may be the clean sound of an electronic solid-state amp.

On the other hand, when you play mostly Blues, Rock, or Heavy Metal styles, you may prefer the vintage rich sound of a tube amp. It is true that tube amps are usually more expensive, but they can last for many years with proper maintenance.

Electronic amps are essentially harder to fix due to the electronics involved. But a tube amp is easier to repair because you simply need to open it and search which tube needs to be replaced, and in many models, it is as simple as change a light bulb.

Top Picks

Now I’ll reveal to you my Top Picks. Here I tell you which small tube amps are the best three of this article based on my experience and taste.

Fender '65 Princeton Reverb - Best Overall Small Tube Amp

The Fender ‘65 Princeton Reverb is a striking small tube amp with 15 watts and a specially voiced Jensen 10″ speaker. You can use it for practice, in the studio, or in small clubs.
Overall Rating: 5/5
5/5

Supro Blues King 12 Review - Best Value for Money Small Tube Amp

The Supro Blues King 12 is a Class A low-watt tube amp that delivers 15watt of 6L6 tube power through the Supro’s custom 12-inch BK12 speaker.
Overall Rating: 4.8/5
4.8/5

Bugera V5 Infinium - Best Budget Small Tube Amp

The Bugera V5 Infinium is a small 5-watt vintage-style guitar combo that includes a 12AX7 preamp tube, an EL84 power tube, and the 8″ British-engineered Turbosound speaker.
Overall Rating: 4.7/5
4.7/5

Conclusion

We are at the end of my review of the 15 best small tube amps. Here I attempted to show you the best tiny guitar amps with tubes on the market.

Now you know a lot more about tube amps, and you can be sure that small tube amps are the best choice for obtaining pure, vintage tube sound in a small format.

I hope you have enjoyed the article and that you now are ready to choose the right low watt tube amp for your needs and taste.

Damián Furfuro

Damián Furfuro

Damián is an author of All Stringed. He started playing with an electric guitar when he was 14 as a self-taught boy at home. He has almost 30 years of experience playing electric and acoustic guitar. You can find more about him here.

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