Best Amps for British Tone

Looking to get an amp with that classic British tone, but don’t need a full Marshall stack? Looking for that vintage EL84 tube tone at a price that won’t put you in the poor house? Look no further. Here are some of the best low watt EL84 tube amps on the market today.

You can’t talk about EL84 tubes without talking about Marshall Amplifiers, so what better place to start this list of the best than with Marshall amps?

Marshall DSL15C DSL Series

marshall_dsl15cThe DSL15C is Marshall’s 15w, all tube combo amp. It’s compact, but packs a punch with classic EL84 tube tone. The DSL15C has two 6L6 tubes in the power section, but the preamp is all EL84s.. three of them to be exact.

15 watts may not sound like a lot, but for a tube amp it’s plenty loud for practice or small gigs. In fact, one of the things that makes the DSL15C so cool is that it has a pentode/triode switch for selecting the full 15w or a half 7.5w of output. That’s a great bit of versatility, and long time readers of this blog know that versatility is a big deal here.

The DSL15C also features a foot switchable gain channel that lets you switch between classic gain and ultra gain. Also present is a “deep switch” that gives your tone a bit of a low end boost.

With all these features and a 12″ Celestial G12E speaker and built in reverb, the DSL15C captures the classic EL84 British sound in a tight little tone package for only $539.99.

Marshall Limited Edition DSL5CCW

Marshall-DSL5CNext up on the list is one of Marshall’s smallest tube amps: the DSL5CCW, 5w 1×10″ all tube guitar combo amplifier. The DSL5CCW is powered by 3 ECC83 tubes and 1 12BH7/ECC99 tube. It’s got 2 channels – classic gain and ultra, and like it’s big brother (the DSL15C) the channels are foot switchable.

Yes, it’s 5 watts of pure British tone but it’s decked out in a cool, limited edition brown Country Western vinyl covering and tan basketweave cloth. What?

This portable little honey is capable of everything from Plexi-style cleans to JCM800-esque snarl to all out high gain crunch for just $499.99.

Orange Tiny Terror 10

Orange amplifiers carry on the British tone heritage that began with Marshall and they do it well.

orange_tiny_terror_10The Tiny Terror 10 is a 15w, all tube 1×10 combo amplifier with wonderful harmonic clean tones and sweet distortion. This amp features gain, tone and volume controls and 3-stage gain with a single 10″ Celestian speaker. With its 2 12AX7 tubes in the preamp and 2 EL84 tubes in the power section, the Orange Tiny Terror 10 cranks out some serious British tone for the surprisingly low price of $519.

The Tiny Terror is a LOUD amp in a compact size and really pairs well with single coil guitars.

Blackstar HT1 Series

Blackstar-HT1RLastly, is the Blackstar HT1 1w, 1×8″ combo amp. Yes, you read that right – 1 watt. Don’t laugh because this little guy is perfect if you’re looking for an all tube practice amp you can actually get some good British crunch tone out of. Good overdrive is all about headroom. Lots of headroom means lots of great clean tone. Less headroom means your tone is going to break up sooner (ie.: at a lower volume). That’s what the Blackstar HT1 does so well.

The HT1 uses a dual-triode 12AU7, wired in a push-pull circuit, to produce the same kind of crunch and break-up characteristics you would find in a traditional 100w amp , but at a much lower volume. Paired with the ISF (Infinite Shape Feature) circuit, you get the ability to sculpt your overdrive tone from sparkly US tone to dark UK crunch and everything in between.

Features include volume, gain, and ISF tone control and overdrive switch. There is also a speaker/headphone output and MP3 line in.

Powered by a single ECC82 (12AU7) tube and a single ECC83 (12AX7) tube in the preamp, the Blackstar HT1 1×8 is the perfect all tube amplifier for recording or practicing.

Perhaps the best feature is the price – an incredible $249.

 

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Best Guitar Amplifiers Under $100

Whether you’re looking for the best practice amp you can get for your kids or yourself, or even looking for something new to play around with you’ve come to the right place.

Playing with different gear is a great way to get the creative juices flowing and break out of any rut you may find yourself in. There is perhaps no piece of gear that influences your tone and style more than the amplifier. Here are a few low cost amplifiers that should add a little spice to your practice.

BATTERY POWERED AMPLIFIERS

Battery powered amps are about as small as you get for traditional solid state amplifiers. They’re not as portable as headphone amps (like the VOX amPlug), but battery powered amps are better for practicing with others. They’re the perfect fit right between the 10-20w practice amp and the headphone amp. And they’re conversation starters.

THE LEGENDARY PIGNOSE 7-100

pignose-7-100The Pignose 7-100 is a unique looking and playing amplifier. It’s genius is its simplicity. It has a single knob that looks like a pig’s nose and is located on the front. That one knob controls the power, volume and distortion. It works with your guitar’s volume knob too, so the tonal possibilities are surprisingly diverse.

At a glance:

  • 5w amp with 5? speaker.
  • Runs on 6 AA batteries or an optional AC adapter.
  • About the size of a shoe box and weighs around 5lbs.
  • Hinged design and can be played either fully closed, wide open or at any point in between.
  • It also has an open space inside that can be used to store the AC adapter or guitar cable when not in use.
  • A preamp out jack which makes it possible to play the Pignose through a larger and more powerful amplifier (or PA) or straight into a mixing board.

The Pignose 7-100 has a distinctive look and sound that is like no other. It’s stylish and funky, and is definitely a conversation starter

The Legendary Pignose 7-100 sells for about $75

BLACKSTAR FLY3

blackstar-fly3The Blackstar FLY 3 is a 3 watt mini amp that runs off battery or DC power.

The FLY 3 has standard MP3 / LINE IN jack and a headphone output jack. It’s 3 watts and features clean and overdrive channels and digital ‘tape’ delay effect.

It’s compact and portable and features Blackstar’s patented “Infinite Shape Feature (ISF)”, which lets you vary the tonal character of the amp.

When turned towards zero, it gives a tight, focused, percussive response, characteristic of American amplifiers. When turned towards 10, the response becomes woody, crunchy and warm, like traditional British amps.

The Blackstar FLY3 sells for $59.99

SMALLER, LOW WATT PRACTICE AMPS

The VOX V9160 Pathfinder 10 Combo Amplifier

vox-v9106-10w-pathfinderThe Pathfinder 10 is like the classic VOX AC15’s little brother. You get classic VOX look and VOX tone at a great price. The Pathfinder 10 has a clean/overdrive switch which lets you choose tones ranging from VOX chime to creamy, warm overdrive.

With its 10 watts of power and custom 6.5 inch speaker the VOX Pathfinder 10 is a great amp for everything from clean leads to crunchy rock and blues. Also included are Bass and Treble EQ, and a lineout/headphone jack.

The Pathfinder 10 sells for $79.99

MARSHALL MG15CF

marshall-mg15cfThe MG15CF is pure Marshall tone in a compact 15 watt combo. It features clean and overdrive channels, 3 band EQ, and MP3/line in jack and a headphone jack. The MG15CF sports the modern Marshall look and is decked out in a bold carbon-fibre exterior.

The Marshall MG15CF sells for only $99

ORANGE CRUSH 12

orange-crush-12The Orange Crush 12 is a 12w solid state amplifier with a 6 inch speaker. It also features 3 band EQ, volume and gain controls. The headphone out jack with the Orange CabSim circuit. This lets you emulate the sound of a 4×12″ cabinet through the headphone jack.. Sweet!

The Orange Crush 12 gives you great British crunch tone in a portable practice amp at an affordable price of only $99

Vox MINI3

VOX_MINI3_G2_classic

The VOX MINI3 G2, Classic

The Vox MINI3 is a 3-Watt amplifier that runs on either 6 AA batteries for up to 30 hours, or an AC adapter. The MINI3 has the distinctive VOX look and great VOX tone.

features include:

  • 3 watts
  • 5″ speaker
  • Clean/Overdrive switch
  • Volume, Gain, Bass and Treble controls
  • Line-out/Headphone processed output
  • 8 editable effects:
    1. Compressor
    2. Chorus
    3. Flanger
    4. Tremelo
    5. Delay
    6. Echo
    7. Spring Reverb
    8. Room Reverb
  • 11 amp models:
    1. Fender Blackface 2×12
    2. Fender Tweed 4×12
    3. Vox AC15
    4. Vox AC30 (with treble boost)
    5. Marshall Plexi
    6. Marshall 80’s
    7. Orange
    8. Fender Supersonic
    9. US High gain
    10. Boutique Clean
    11. Direct line in for use with keyboards or straight guitar with no effects/models
  • Dedicated mic input, with dedicated reverb
  • Aux/mp3 line in

The Vox Mini3 might be the best battery powered amp on the market and sells for $99

Peavey Solo 12W Transtube

Peavey-Solo-12WPeavey’s Solo amplifier is a 12w amp with an 8″ Blue Marvel speaker.

What makes the Peavey Solo stand out from other more basic amps is Peavey’s TransTube technology. TransTube is
tube emulation circuitry that stem from the patented preamp and power amp designs:

The preamp section tailors gain to meet the need for any amount of drive, from crystal clear to thick, smooth sustain. The power amp reacts just like a tube output section by responding to the preamp with natural compression that increases as the amp gets louder. With TransTube, you get a killer amp with wide ranging dynamics and natural “grit,” just like a tube amp!

Other features:

  • Clean and Lead channels
  • 3 band passive EQ
  • ¼” stereo input
  • Direct Out jack
  • Low damping factor for lively tube power amp sound.
  • Headphone jack

The Peavey Solo sells for just $89.99

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