Best Low Watt Tube Amps – 2021 Complete Round-up

| Last Updated: May 6, 2021

When you buy an amplifier, you acquire it for a certain purpose.

In the case of a low watt tube amp, the purpose will be low-volume, fast-distortion output sound.

Read further for more information about low watt tube amps, as well as reviews of the best options on the market.

What is a Tube Amp?

A tube amplifier is an electric amplifier that uses vacuum tubes to increase the power of the signal. You call these vacuum tubes valves, and they are made from glass. Before you can use a tube amplifier, you must allow the glass tubes to warm for about 10 to 20 minutes. Only then can you plug your musical instrument into it and play it through the amplifier. 

All amplifiers were built like this before solid-state electronics came into use in the early 1970s. A vacuum tube is a voltage amplifier, and a transistor that is now used in electronics is the current amplifier.

How Does a Tube Amp Work?

Instead of using transistors, the tube amplifier uses vacuum tubes, or valves, to amplify the signal. Inside the tube, some electronic phenomenon takes place through heating of the plate that causes the electrons to be set loose. 

The anode is then charged with a positive voltage, and electrons can then flow from the cathode to the anode. What is basically happening is these actions inside the vacuum tube cause the signal to be amplified to give you your louder sound. 

The tube is then, in other words, the amplification device inside your amplifier to give you an output sound that easily exceeds what was put in.

What Makes a Great Low Watt Tube Amp?

What makes a great low watt tube amp is the final sound that comes out of it, and this may need some explanation. 

Sound and Volume

Whenever you play your instrument through the amplifier, what you get out on the other side of the output is a louder sound than what your instrument put in at the input side. 

Monoprice 611705 5W 1x8 Guitar Tube Amp

At a certain stage, when your amplifier is at its maximum volume, the output starts getting to be too much for your amplifying device to handle and the sound coming out at the output side becomes distorted. 

Now, because of the imperfection of the vacuum tube, the distorted sound coming out of the amplifier sounds musically better for certain styles of music like metal, blues and R&B. 

Nice Sound

While the solid-state amplification just makes the sound ugly when it comes out of the amplifier, the good thing about a tube amplifier is that when you max your amplifier the sound coming out sounds nicely distorted. 

Volume Distortion Output

With a low watt tube amplifier, your maximum volume is not too loud and that means the distortion comes earlier than with a higher watt tube amplifier. This makes it a good volume distortion output without being too loud and therefore disturbing the surrounding neighborhood. So the low, volumes maximum out distortion is the main feature for making a great low watt tube amp.

Comparison of the Best Low Watt Tube Amps

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Best low watt tube amp overall
  • Has a nice output sound a low volume distortion
  • A lot of different amp selections on the voicing tuner
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  • Distortion occurs naturally and very smoothly
  • A nice overall distinctive reverb and tremolo sound
  • Clean and warm sound output from the combo tubes
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  • Best Low Watt Amp for your Money
  • Super clean and crisp at lower outputs
  • Reasonable full distortion for great classic sound
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  • Best Low Watt Tube Amp Combo
  • It is a real portable package with the included speaker
  • The 10-inch VX10 speaker included makes it a nice combo for guitar players
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  • Best Low Watt Tube Amp for Metal
  • Effects loop gives you input and output for the preamp section
  • Easily change over reverb and tremolo without the footswitch control
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Review of the Best Low Watt Tube Amps

This is a general review of some of the best low watt amps that needed to produce the sound intended for the style of music that is played on it.

Best Overall:
 Fender Super Champ X2

Fender Super Champ X2 15-Watt 1x10-Inch Guitar Combo Amp

PROS

  • Great range of tones 
  • Nice amp modeling
  • Two-channel switching format
  • Sturdily built and will last a long time
  • Nice output sound for different types of music
  • Lightweight and easy to carry around

CONS

  • Only 120 volts input 
  • Can only be shipped inside the USA
  • Cannot use reverb and vibrato together

What Recent Buyers Report

This Super Champ amplifier from Fender just sounds great on the ear. The cabinet is well-made and solid with no weak spots. The amp is very loud for its 15 watts and is light enough to carry around to wherever you want to use it.

Why it Stands Out to Us

With its easy interfacing with a computer via the USB port, you will be able to tailor the amps voicing effects to suit your personal taste. The combination of the dual tube amplification sound and the modern amplified voicing gives you a large selection of digital sound effects.

Who Will Use This Most

This Super Champ combo amplifier from Fender will be a nice addition for those who love to jam at home and do not want to disturb the neighborhood. It is also for the mobile musician who wants to move from home to gig with little trouble.

Bottom Line

With this very mobile and lightweight combo amplifier, you can play at any function without too much trouble, and it is a nice amp for practicing at home without disturbing your neighbors. Plus, you will still have enough power to practice many different types of music.

Runner-up:
Vox AC30C2X

Vox AC30C2X Amplifier

PROS

  • Offers the classic VOX boost tone
  • Each channel has its own volume controllers
  • Very effective but simple controls
  • Great amp for recording and small performances
  • Nice creamy distortion output on this little 10-watt amp

CONS

  • Can only be shipped in the USA
  • No mid-range control added to the amp
  • Does not come with an effects loop included

What Recent Buyers Report

This amp has an excellent reverb and plenty of springy sounds. The Vox amplifier has a clean and warm sound. This little amp has a 10-watt output, but it sounds like it has 50 and has a great real tube and Vox sound.

Why it Stands Out to Us

With all the controls and connectors located on top of the amplifier, having all your selections in one place makes it easy to operate and work with. The classic VOX tone delivered by the tube combo of 10 watts gives that distinct Top Boost tone.

Who Will Use This Most

Those musicians who love that classic Vox sound may benefit from this low watt tube amplifier. This is the ideal amp for home playing and small gig performances. This is a nice amp for those who do rock and blues as well as art rock and alternative.

Bottom Line

The Vox amplifier is a very effective little amplifier for playing small gigs and home playing. It is ideal for all music styles where you need low volume distortion and classic sound effects. The effective and easy controls make the Vox 10 watt amplifier a user-friendly device.

Best for the Money:
Monoprice 611705 5W 1x8 Guitar Tube Amp

Monoprice 5-Watt Guitar Combo Tube Amplifier (611705)

PROS

  • Super tone in a small package
  • Nice guitar tone output for the price 
  • Nice range of harmonic distortion
  • Separate controls for tone and volume
  • Super-8 speaker has a nicely balanced mid-level and high level.  

CONS

  • No effects loop installed on this amp
  • Not of great quality build and not durable
  • Sound is a little too clean without the rich distortion

What Recent Buyers Report

This amplifier has a nice and full sound with a beautiful clean tone. This Celestian combo tube amplifier is a great amp for home practicing. The sound is not too loud but loud enough for creating great tube distortion effects.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Price is the first consideration when looking at this nice-looking amplifier. The lower output sound makes a home playing amplifier. The plain and easy to use controls makes quite the user-friendly amplifier, delivering a great sound.

Who Will Use This Most

This little low watt tube amp is definitely a great amplifier for the beginner musician and the professional alike. If you live in a small apartment, this little amp is just for you with its low 5 watt tubes. This means you can practice whenever you want without disturbing anyone.

Bottom Line

The price is a huge selling point for this low watt tube amp. As implied, this is simply the best amplifier for your hard-earned cash. For every beginner musician out there, as well as those who are not sure what amp to buy, this is just the right amp for making an entry into the tube amp realm.

Best Low Watt Tube Amp Combo:
 Vox AC15C1 Guitar Combo Amp

VOX, 2 Electric-Guitar-Amplifier-Combos, Vintage (AC15C1)

PROS

  • Effective and simple controls
  • Nice, rich distortion sound
  • 10-inch VX10 speaker included in the box
  • Improved smoothness with modified reverb
  • Smooth and easy volume and tone controls
  • Increased fullness from the preamp circuitry modification

CONS

  • Only ships in the USA
  • Comes with a high price tag
  • Amplifier is a little bit weak and not strongly built

What Recent Buyers Report

The sound is warm and nice, and the change over from distortion to more distortion is smooth and non-abrasive. The Vox amplifier has a nice high and sweet low sound, and everything in between is just beautiful. It has that famous slap-back you hear in the sound of the '60s.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This Vox stands out because of the convenient and comfortable portable package. Together with the high interactive volume control, this makes the Vox AC15 a good solo performing and home playing low watt tube amp.

Who Will Use This Most

The solo performer would use the AC15 guitar combo amplifier for small gigs and for home practicing without fear of disturbing other people. It is ideal for creating the classic Vox tone with the 10-watt tube combo boost.

Bottom Line

With its smooth change-over from low distortion to high distortion and the portability of the Vox Combo amplifier, you have a great low watt amp to recreate all the nostalgic effects from long-standing classic sounds.

Best Low Watt Tube Amp for Metal:
 Blackstar HT5R MKII 5W

Blackstar HT5R MKII 5-Watt 1x12 Inches Tube Combo Amp with Reverb

PROS

  • Effects loop included
  • Full and rich heavier tones
  • HT-5 comes with a footswitch channel control
  • USB out allows for quick and easy digital recording
  • Power reduction circuit is a nice cut back on power usage
  • USB output will get you quickly connected for high-quality tones

CONS

  • Very high price tag
  • Only ship in the USA
  • Lack of quality control

What Recent Buyers Report

The Blackstar is a near-perfect amp for home use. The different voicing switch is a nice thing to have. The Blackstar HT-5R is a good amplifier with a rich and full distortion change-over. This low watt amplifier may be a 5-watt output, but the sound is that of a higher output amp.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The quick and easy digital recording, together with an affordable price, gives you a neatly designed and clean aesthetic look with good usable functions. It comes with an effects loop, which is a great addition, and the USB out makes for simple recording.

Who Will Use This Most

The Blackstar HT-5 is a definite choice for those musicians who are more interested in metal music playing. The dirty sound range of this amp may fall into the metal category. You can also use it if you are into hard rock and blues. It is a great practice amp for all your metal requirements.

Bottom Line

This model is a very nice-looking, affordable, and easy-to-use amplifier for home use, and the fact that the sound of this amp falls in the range of metal distortion will perfectly suit your needs, whether you are practicing or performing in smaller venues.

Best Low Watt Tube Amp for Blues:
 Fender Blues Junior

Fender Blues Junior IV 15 Watt Electric Guitar Amplifier

PROS

  • Celestial 12-inch speaker
  • Very well built
  • Spring reverb gives a smooth ambient sound
  • Modified preamp circuit for the fullness of tone
  • Nice reverb that is modified for smoothness

CONS

  • Not easy to turn up
  • Only ships in the USA
  • Tone of this amp is a letdown

What Recent Buyers Report

This amp was everything I hoped for and more! The Fender Junior Blues amp sounds great. It has a clean channel and a nice dirt channel, great reverb, and lots of features. If you are interested in playing smooth blues music, then this tube amp offers just what you need -- and at a reasonable price.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Fender Blues Junior stands out for its classic Fender look, as well as the rich tone and sound it produces with smooth change-over to distortion in the dirty range. The spring reverb offers the ideal tone for blues, and the footswitch boosts the mids just when you need it.

Who Will Use This Most

This amplifier is ideal for the guitarist who wants to hit the stage or the studio on short notice with a rich, warm, and versatile sound. If you are into blues music -- whether it is practicing, performing, or recording, then this tube amp offers great features to suit your needs.

Bottom Line

The Fender Junior Blues 15 Watt amplifier is the right amp that hits the right note at the right time, with a smooth reverb and distortion to take the stage with a classic Fender look and fullness of tone.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Low Watt Tube Amps

All products have both pros and cons to them. Let’s take a look at some of the upsides and downsides of purchasing and using a low watt tube amp.

Advantages

Usability

Low watt tube amplifiers are great for practicing and recording. The lower wattage tube amps can achieve excellent overdrive and much better distortion at lower volumes. 

Timbre

The main consideration of using a tube amp is to reproduce the rich tones of classic music styles, and the distortion of the sound comes easier and much richer than with digital electronic amps. 

Control of Tone

Tube amps clean up pleasantly and also give guitar players much more control over the overall tone. Low watt tube amps are all about recreating the timeless sounds of the original music it stems from.

Disadvantages

Warm-Up

Tube amplifiers need to warm up before you can use them. When you overdrive the tube amplifier, the vacuum tube will heat up and may blow, and to get a replacement may prove to be quite a hassle. 

Parts Shortages

Not all tube amp manufacturers use the same specifications when manufacturing their amplifier, and this may leave you with a shortage of available parts and vacuum tubes. Tube amplifiers are also substantially more expensive than their solid-state counterparts. 

Durability

Tube amplifiers are not as durable as solid-state amplifiers because of their complicated amplification method. Tube amps are, because of the nature of there amplification devices, much heavier than solid-state amps.

Conclusion

Reproducing the sounds of classical blues and rock at home and for small gigs is what low watt tube amps are all about. Considering the price and unavailability of the vacuum tubes, you might consider not buying a tube amp. 

However, if listening to your all-time favorite classic blues or rock music, the nostalgia will convince you to invest in one of the aforementioned low watt tube amps, even if it is only to play at home.



Thalia has spent most of her life loving two things - writing and music. Thalia's passion for music saw her learning to play several instruments throughout her childhood and teen years. This passion also led to her earning two qualifications in Sound Recording Engineering, which she now uses by writing about musical instruments, studio gear, and the processes involved in making and producing music.