Long gone were the days when guitar players need to stuff crumpled pieces of paper to their ripped speakers to get that “crunch” sound from their amplifiers.
Now, there are a lot of available options for guitarists who wish to attain their signature tone.
Besides their ax, the amplifier is said to be a part of a guitar player’s arsenal in achieving that goal.
Price for 1 minute
Superior guitar tone in a small package
Features a 5-watt tube power amplifier and a Celestion brand speaker
Uses a ECC83/12AX7 preamplification tube and a 6V6GT power tube for the amplifier section, plus a Celestion Super 8 GBA-15 speaker
Handles frequencies between 80Hz and 10kHz, with hum and noise -75dB below the rated power and 0.5% total harmonic distortion
BUGERA V5 INFINIUM
Hand-built 5-Watt Class-A amplifier driven by 1 x EL84 tube
Revolutionary INFINIUM Tube Life Multiplier technology:
Way cool vintage look and feel
World-famous, British engineered 8'' TURBOSOUND speaker
Authentic preamp design from the '60s featuring 1 x 12AX7 tube—everything from purring blues to mind-blowing crunch
Back then, tube driven amplifiers have to be lugged around, carried in trucks in order to complete a guitarist’s setup. This is why is so great living in the 21st century – everything so small now, yet much more complex and powerful – that includes our magic boxes called “amplifiers”. So what should one consider when looking for that piece of equipment to complete your rig?
Genre – what type of music do you play? Would you want a creamy tone to compliment your guitar sound, or that straight our crunch rock sound to cut through riffs and solos?
Application – are you going to use this mainly for practicing, recording, or will this be a part of your live rig?
Viable connections – is this going to be a mic amp or are you planning to patch it to the house mixer? Is this mainly for Live performance or a part of your practice regimen where you will need a line in options for mp3 players?
For all these questions that are sure to have been swimming in your mind right now, here are our best picks for portable 5-watt tube amplifiers available in the market today. Enjoy!
CALIFORNIA TONE RESEARCH SET5 Single End Tube Guitar AmplifierPro: Light, small and worth every penny
Con: Non so far
The SET5 from California Tone Research uses the 12AX7 tube for its preamp section, and EL84 power tube for the amplification part. The sound coming from this amp is very clear, ideal for country or blues music.
The aesthetic is also very sleek, much like to those old stereo amplifiers from the 80s. A definite bang for the buck portable 5-watt tube amplifier.
Jet City Amplification PicoValve 5W Tube Guitar Amp HeadPro: Versatility ( switch from 5watt / 2watt options)
Con: Preamp saturates pretty early (better to maximize gain from the main volume)
The PicoValve 5W is a very versatile Amp Head from Jet City Amplification. The available switch from 5 watts to 2 watts gives the option to have overdriven tones for different applications; be it if you want to use for recording or just to practice in your room (without waking up your neighbors).
Even if you’re on a clean tone, the amp is quite dark sounding – smooth but creamy is how I’d put it. Cranking the gain up, one can easily hear the strong points of this amp – a rich overtone goes along with that crunch sound.
The treble-mid-bass configuration gives you much more control over your overall tone, plus the bright switch is very useful, especially during late night practice sessions and you are on the 2-watt configuration of the amp.
My only comment is, that the preamp saturates quickly, so I would recommend that you get your gain from the main volume. A great versatile Amp head for its price.
Hughes & Kettner TubeMeister 5 – 5W 1×8″ Tube ComboPro: Built-in Redbox DI
Con: No option for bedroom / low volume practice
The single 12BH7 power tube equipped in the TubeMeister is enough to give you the versatility with regards to tonal control, be it in a clean sound configuration, or if you want to deliver those monster overdriven tone to cut through your solos.
You also have the option to either rock out loud using it’s 5-watt speaker or be in “silent mode” for studio recording or direct feed to the house mixing board. The aesthetics and design of the amp are also very compact, so it would be a breeze for you to stash it in your trunk, and be ready for any live or recording circumstance that may come your way.
Randall RD5 Diavlo 5W 1×12 Tube Guitar Combo AmpPro: Perfect for straight out rock/metal sound; portable
Con: Limited functions
The Randall RD5 Diavlo 5W 1×12 Tube Guitar Combo Amp is great for old school, in-your-face face melting rock sounds. This is the combo version of the RD5 Diavlo, using a 1X10” Randall speaker. This 5-watt guitar combo amp is great for on-the-go guitar players.
It is very easy to set-up, plugs your guitar, chooses your gain, and crank up the volume to your heart’s content. The volume on this beast is enough for room practice (not enough if you’re going to jam with a drummer though), but it has an XLR emulated line out, which is good for studio recording or patching to the house mix.
The only letdown is that you do not have much control over your tone preference since you only have gain-tone-volume configuration knobs. A very good amplifier; this is “rock” in its simplest form.
Carvin Amplifiers Vintage16 5 Watt / 16 Watt Triode AmpPro: Option for 16watts / 5 watts output
Con: The cabinet easily gets dirty due to its color
Carvin’s Vintage 16 falls under the category of a “boutique” recording amplifier. It covers a vast spectrum of tone, from smooth and clean, to gut-crunching tweed sound.
You can choose between the normal (Pentode) mode which delivers 16watts and Triode mode, which levels it down to 5 watts which is good for mic’s recording, or for a small stage setup. The options for external cabinets and cabinet voiced line out are also present in the amp.
And aesthetically speaking, the vinyl – tweed look just adds the extra cream this amp needs to be in the vintage category.
Randall RD5H Diavlo Series AmplifierPro: Perfect for straight out rock/metal sound
Con: Limited functions / separate cabinet speakers
This is the amp head version of the RD5H Diavlo Series. It is very easy to set-up, plugs your guitar, choose your gain, and crank up the volume to your heart’s content. The volume on this beast is enough for room practice (not enough if you’re going to jam with a drummer though), but it has an XLR emulated line out, which is good for studio recording or patching to the house mix.
The only let down is that you do not have much control over your tone preference since you only have gain-tone-volume configuration knobs. The good thing about this amp head is the freedom to choose between all the available cabinets to satisfy your tonal preference.
Laney Amps CUB All TUBE Series CUB 8 5-Watt 1×8 Guitar Combo AmplifierPro: Simple to use / great blues sound
Con: Lacks balanced output for recording / mixing purposes; limited tone options
The Laney Cub8 5 watt tube amp can be described in a few words; less is more. With the amp’s petite design, it employs one ECC83 in its preamp section, and one 6V6GT in the output section; summing up to 5 watts RMS of pure vintage tube tone.
You can easily get in the blues vibe just by hooking up in this amp. The controls are very simple; volume and tone knobs. Great as a practice amp.
Monoprice 611705 5Watt, 1 x 8 Guitar Combo Tube Amplifier with Celestion SpeakerPro: Simple to use
Con: Lacks balanced output for recording / mixing purposes
Monoprice has created its version of a “grab-and-go” guitar amplifier with this 5-watt tube amplifier. The controls present on the amp is very simple; Volume, and Tone knobs. It uses ECC83/12AX7 tubes for its preamp and 6V6GT power tube in the amplification section.
One of this amplifier’s strong points is that it is equipped with a Celestion Super 8 GBA-15 speaker. If you are looking for a pretty basic 5-watt tube amp, this one is for you.