Small Tube Amp Debate

Discussion in 'Amp-a-ridifiers' started by Benlostforyears, Sep 12, 2020.

  1. Benlostforyears

    Benlostforyears Squier Talker

    Aug 17, 2020
    Western NC
    I am looking to get a small tube amp for use in my apartment. The four main guitars I use are Squiers - 50's CV Strat, Affinity Telecaster, and original run '51, so mainly single coils. I play mainly blues and rock, so I narrowed it down to 3 choices:

    Blackstar HT1R
    Bugera V5 Infinium
    Joyo Bantamp Bluejay (with 8" cab)

    They all fit my needs but I don't have the opportunity to go to a store to try them out. Thin walls here so I need something that still sounds good without blasting out the neighbors, and has a headphone jack that doesn't sound like garbage for late night playing. I already have a Mustang V2 amp for modeling, but I hate fiddling with computers to get a decent sound sometimes and want to dip my feet into the tube amp pool. My budget it about $300 max...which is really pushing it considering I just bought the CV strat. Anyone have advice or experience with any of these amps?
  2. DougMen

    DougMen Squier-holic

    Jun 8, 2017
    Honolulu, HI
    There's also the Marshall DSL1, which has reverb, an effects loop, a headphone out, and a .1w setting. It uses 2 12AX7s for preamp and driver tubes, and a 12AT7 as a power tube.
  3. bigtuna

    bigtuna Squier-holic

    Nov 1, 2015
    I USED to have a bluejay, and liked it
    Gave it to my daughter for couple yrs
    I love the small 5 watt tube ps
    Epiphone valve or
    Orange micro qube and now very much enjoying the vibro champ . all the above
  4. Jmv668

    Jmv668 Squier-Nut

    Feb 21, 2017
    vox ac4tv 10” i say.
    But if you want reverb bugera v5
  5. fuelish

    fuelish Squier-Nut

    I’ be got a Tweaker 15 head, and an Epi V Jr head and cab...the Epi is pretty much a one trick pony , does it’s one trick we’ll enough, I guess. The Tweaker is pretty amazing, really, so many sounds available. Bought a cheap attenuator, a Carl’s Custom Guitars Speaker Soak, does the trick - can have the tubes sizzling and the volume at a level the wife and dogs and parrot don’t mind. She loves the sound of a dimed amp, but not at full volume, so it’s a workable solution. It’s amazing how loud a 5 watt tube amp can be.
    Kenneth Mountain and Big tuna like this.
  6. Benlostforyears

    Benlostforyears Squier Talker

    Aug 17, 2020
    Western NC
    The AC4TV looks nice but pricey even on the used market. The marshall would be a good option used. I may just be smart and go for a used HT-1R or V5 since they go for around $150 and $170 each. Does anyone know how either sound at lower volumes?
    Kenneth Mountain and Big tuna like this.
  7. Big tuna

    Big tuna Dr. Squier

    May 6, 2014
    east Tn
    If you live in an apartment with thin walls you can hear the neighbors next door a 5 watt tube amp may not be the right choice. They are still loud and sound best when they start to break up and then you get the sustain we love.
  8. jefffam

    jefffam Dr. Squier

    Jan 26, 2015
    Portland, TN
    I have a V5 Infinium and really like / enjoy it. Good sound even through a small 8" speaker (although it certainly can drive more like a 2-12 or even a 4-12). The V5 Infinium also has a built in wattage reducer/soaker that can reduce the output to 1 w and 0.1w. That should cover most any need for reduced volume.

    I also have a Joyo Bluebird, but I really have not used it or put it through it's paces.

    I tend to go to the V5 in tubes.:oops::):cool:
  9. RegularJim

    RegularJim Squier-Nut

    Dec 30, 2017
    Illiconsin, Wisinois
    I have three amps in that range. They can be found in new or mint condition for less than your $300 budget.

    Bugera V5 infinium- Beautiful to look at, but I find the sound uninspiring, even though it has very good reviews. You can turn down the wattage (5, 1, or 0.1) to reduce volume and single-end hum. Also has a decent digital reverb, but just a controls for gain, tone, volume, reverb.

    Marshall DSL1- Better cleans than you would expect, but a little boxy and brittle. The EQ settings on clean channel won't sound great when you switch to gain channel. Two channels (footswitchable), effects loop, wattage reduction to 0.1 W.

    Vox AC4C1-BL- As "Vox-y" as you want it to be, but not a lot of features. No reverb. Has a 10" speaker. Has controls for gain, treble, bass, volume. No wattage control, though. It's single-ended and has a little bit of hum (normal).
  10. surf green

    surf green Squier-holic

    Jul 15, 2014
    I have the Bug5, it's a basic tuber, built like a brick bleep house, kind of a deep bluesy tone w/reverb. Switch to .1 and your good for "quiet" play, switch up to 5 and it'll push a twin 12" Swampthang cab all night long. It's the amp that you would never consider selling.
  11. duceditor

    duceditor Squier-Axpert

    May 29, 2014
    The Monadnocks, NH USA
    I once viewed 5 watts as small and quiet. In fact such is not the case -- not for the bedroom player.

    Such, if an actually 'tubie' -- that is an amp who gets what we have come to think of as tube tone from actual hard driven tubes -- a 5watter will be LOUD. Too loud for any home situation I can imagine.

    There are two possible answers for this: One is to buy out of the "it has to have real tubes glowing to sound good" myth. -A modeling emp can these days really get that sound, but since it creates it through circuitry that is not power dependent it can get it at any chosen level. Or, as fuelish does, by mens of a speaker soak device. (I, too, use the inexpensive Carl's units.)

    Modeling amps are by far more flexible. Not just because they can get "that sound" at most an volume level, but because most offer so many different sounds.

    There is almost no sound I cannot get thru my Fender G-DEC. And the considerably smaller Vox Mini5, although not truly its equal, is nonetheless amazingly capable. And it can do its things using nothing but some batteries for power. Amazing!

    Still, although I sincerely sing the praises of these (and no doubt other) modelers the actual tone king to me continues to be one of the classic Champ models -- one that uses a tube rectifier and a classically simple 6v6 driven power section.

    There range in price from Fender's own hand wired "'57 Custom" model to a hard to find (here in the States), but worth searching for, Joyo Sweet Baby. -Both of which are truly great sounding amps, but ones that do need that speaker soak to get their classic ove-driven sound at house comfy volumes. (They also have niee cleanish sounds when played at lower volumes -- but that is not generally what they are bought for.)

    Here's that sound as I use it. A Joyo Sweet Baby amp (Not to be confused with the pedal with the same name), being driven my an inexpensive P90-equipped guitar with the volume moderate due to the use of a Carl's Custom Speaker Soak...

    Last edited: Sep 13, 2020
  12. brians

    brians Squier-holic

    Oct 1, 2017
    South Africa
    A 5watt Tube amp is indeed loud for an apartment and if you going to have to keep it on minimal volume all the time, you sort of defeat the purpose of it.
    I would second you go for a low watt modeling amp, it will fulfill your requirements better in my opinion.
    There are some really good modeling amps out there , I'm really liking the Blackstar amps , great tones, good prices and very versatile, but there are plenty others.
  13. Ken Rose

    Ken Rose Squier-holic

    Sep 23, 2010
    Northern California
    I’m a big fan of the Bugera T5. 5watt/1watt/.5watt options, headphone jack, small amp with BIG clean tone, takes pedals well, and can get extremely loud through a cab.
    Big tuna and Kenneth Mountain like this.
  14. IronSchef

    IronSchef Dr. Squier

    Jun 18, 2012
    Flew here on my Dragonfly
    Well, that Joyo unit is 20W, and it does not have selectable power -- likely not gonna work in your space, its gonna be WAY loud!!

    The Brugera has a built in attenuator, so it can run at lower power than the full 5W - (see above @Ken Rose post), so with that one you can get "cranked" tones at low volumes. similarly, the Backstar is a 1W amp - so it will likely work as well, although it is surprising how loud 1W CAN be!

    No personal experience w any of the 3 (I run a MonoPrice 15w - w/ selectable power, but no headphone jack that you require) -- but based on the glowing posts about Brugera Amps right here on ST, I would say go for the V5! :)
    Big tuna likes this.
  15. Bob the builder

    Bob the builder Squier-Meister

    Feb 25, 2017
    Rhode Island USA
    I just recently went down this hole so it's all pretty new to me.
    For my 1st tube short list I was down to
    Marshall DSL 1
    Black star HT &
    I ended up with a VHT special 6 ultra.
    About 1/2 watt up to 6 watts.
    Can stay pretty quiet with nice tone or can really rattle the living room at 6
    12" speaker, effects loop, and you can manipulate the sounds into almost anything you're looking for.
    It doesn't really give a great metal sound imo but I don't do much of that anyway.
    This amp wasn't even on my list but 1 come up for sale so I figured go give it a listen.
    Hooked. IMG_20200804_124648412.jpg
    So I guess my suggestion is..
    Don't limit yourself
    Check c/l, marketplace,...
    See what's local and give it a try out.
    If you're buying new from someplace with a good return policy, start at the top of your list. If you like it...great.
    If not... return it & go to the 2nd on your list.
    TeleJason, jamndad and wickedtools like this.
  16. drewcp

    drewcp Squier-holic

    Dec 14, 2018
    Saint Paul, MN
    I've never played the Joyo, but between the other two I would pick the Blackstar as the one to own again, over the Bugera. I also really liked the Special 6 Ultra when I owned it, as mentioned above.
  17. so1om

    so1om Squier-Axpert

    Feb 10, 2010
    Chicago now Sarasota
    Interesting that many people mention break up. That’s the last thing I’d want. I play my old Vibro Champ or Princeton Reverb very clean, which can be very quiet, and use a pedal if needed.

    It’s certainly a popular feature manufacturers incorporate with simple circuit changes. At low volumes, those breakups are a bit artificial like using a pedal. YMMV
  18. squierTony

    squierTony Dr. Squier

    Jul 4, 2012
    MAUD Oklahoma
    I’m watching this thread because I’m about to change things up and don’t need anything to gig with. I’m thinking one of the 5 watters or something small would fit the bill.
    so1om likes this.
  19. DrBeGood

    DrBeGood Squier-holic

    Dec 9, 2014
    Sutton QC, CANADA
    Tubes with headphone jack ... not a wide choice.
  20. bigtuna

    bigtuna Squier-holic

    Nov 1, 2015
    Yep, that's my mo. The 5 watters are cheap enough to keep 2 or 3 of them around. And I'm not trying to fill a concert hall. Just my small spare room. And it's kinda fun to buy sell trade around looking for the next great tone. Ins I'm just partial to a head and cab set up.
    TeleJason and Big tuna like this.