Marshall, Fender Make Misstep With Bluetooth Speaker Offerings.

It’s hard to merge bluetooth speaker sound and guitar amplifier tone into a single, attractive unit but some have done it well. We covered the Top 3 Best Bluetooth Speaker Guitar Amplifier Combos previously, but this is about two of the biggest amplifier companies and their misstep (or missed step?) into the arena

You would think veterans like Marshall and Fender would have some promising products to offer, but alas they seem to have come up dry.

This is particularly disappointing in regards to Fender because they have a solid history of innovation and have not shied away from embracing new technologies. They were early successful adopters of modeling virtual amplifiers, and combing solid state modeling with tube driven tones. But for whatever reason they fell well short this time.

In Fender’s case, they’re offering 2 bluetooth speakers: the Monterey and the Newport. I want to like them, really I do. They look slick. They’re made by Fender. I’d be happy to have one on my desk for streaming music from my phone or plug my Telecaster into and jam along…

And that’s the problem – you can’t. It’s only an audio speaker – for the price of an amplifier!?

What?!

I hate to tell you Fender, but Line 6 ate your lunch! If I had $200-400 to drop on a speaker, it’s be on the Line 6 AMPLIFi, not the Newport or Monterey.

Fender got close. They have the speakers, and with the Fender Mustang GT they have a very nice bluetooth enabled amp, but it’s not designed as a bluetooth speaker. It’s not a bad amp for for $250, but it’s just an amp.

Marshall isn’t any better. They have half a dozen or so offerings ranging in price from $180 to $400, and these products look like amps, but they’re not. They’re just speakers.

Nice try guys, but I don’t have that kind of cash to blow on single function speakers.

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The Best Amps for British Tone That Will Give You Vintage Marshall Crunch

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?

Best British Tone 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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

Check Availability

 

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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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The Best Gifts for Guitar Players

Every year near Christmas, Father’s day and my Birthday I rack my brain trying to come up with a list of gift ideas to give to my family. Most of the time this gift list includes a few guitar based items because playing guitar is a very big hobby of mine. I’ve put this list together for myself and anyone else who may be looking for gift ideas for the guitar player in their lives. This list isn’t for guitar lovers. You won’t find dorm room refrigerators shaped like a Marshall stack, or guitar shaped bottle openers. This list is the best gifts for guitarists – as in people who play guitar and love doing it!

I’ve broken down the list into different price points.

If you’ve got any that I missed, feel free to share them in the comments section below.

All prices at the time of this writing and may be subject to change.

GIFTS UNDER $20

CAPOS

I had a friend in high school who thought that using a capo meant you couldn’t play very well. His view was that using a capo made it easier to play certain chords, and he naturally looked down on capo using guitar players as some form of inferior species. At the time, I didn’t really know enough to argue with him but I’ve since learned enough to abandon that line of thinking. Capos are really there to make transposing a song’s key easier. As such, they are nearly essential to anyone who wants to play with another musician – especially if they just want to jam informally and don’t have time to arrange a song in a different key.

What makes a good capo?

One essential attribute of a good capo is that it doesn’t screw up the tuning of the guitar when you put it on. Another nice thing is if the capo is quick and easy to put on and take off. Two of the best capos I’ve found are:

Kyser KG6B 6 String Capo

kyser-kg6b-6-string-capoThe KG6B might sound like a Soviet era spy agency, but it’s really a strong and lightweight aluminum capo. It’s spring-tension design make it a quick release, easy deploy kind of capo that won’t mess up your tuning.

It sells for $13 and has 9 different styles to choose from.

And if you’re a total nut on the six string, you can use this capo like Tommy Emmanuel does in his famous Beatles medley:

Here’s a video of Tommy Emmanuel explaining how he uses a quick release capo:

 

Shubb Deluxe Series GC-30 (S1) capo

shubb-s1-stainless-steel-guitar-capoIf your not into the quick release, mid medley key change like Tommy you can give the Shubb GC-30 a try. It’s a beautifully designed capo that’s accurate and strong, yet gentle as a finger on the fretboard. It does exactly what a capo is supposed to do without sending the guitar out of tune. It’s stainless steel design makes it more resistant to wear and tear, meaning it should last a good many years.

The GC-30 currently sells for $15.92.

CLIP-ON TUNERS

Tuners have come a long way since the guitar first became popular. No more tuning forks or pitch pipes. In fact, you don’t even need a cumbersome device to balance on your knee. I know, you can get plenty of free tuning apps on your smartphone these days, but they really aren’t the same.

Here are two of the most accurate clip-on tuners on the market today.

Snark SN5X Clip-On Tuner for Guitar, Bass & Violin

snark-clip-on-tunerFirst up is the ever popular, and whimsical looking Snark. It features a full color display that rotates a full 360 degrees for easy viewing. It simply clips to the headstock of the guitar and shows the note currently being plucked by vibration – perfect for tuning in noisy environments (kids, bars, etc…). Also works in bass and violins!

This Snark sells for $9.96

Meisel COM-80 Clip-On Tuner

meisel-com-80-clip-on-tunerThe runner up for clip-on tuner is the Meisel COM-80. This tuner also features an easy to read back-lit LCD display, but it’s not as adjustable as the Snark. It also scores very high for accuracy, and is adjustable from 27.5Hz to 1760Hz. It’s a chromatic tuner calibrated for Guitar, Bass, Violin and Ukelele

The Meisel COM-80 currently sells for $10.99

NOVELTY GUITAR STRAPS

fashionable-sublimation-guitar-strapGuitar straps make great gifts. They can be functional and they can be conversation starters. They are often as unique as the player who uses them and give guitar players another way to express their individuality. You don’t have to spend a ton of money on them either. Here are a few favorites that sell from $5-20, great for the player who has everything.

HUMIDIFIERS

Acoustic guitars (and even hollow body electrics) like to be humid, but not too humid. It’s a balance. If a guitars isn’t maintained in within the proper humidity for long, it will start with losing intonation and will eventually get a cracked body, warped neck or more.

Luckily, guitar humidifiers are cheap. Here are two of the best guitar humidifiers for under $20.

GUITAR STRINGS

STINGS FOR ELECTRIC GUITARS

ERNIE BALL REGULAR SLINKY NICKEL WOUND SETS

ernie-ball-regular-slinky-nickel-wound-setsErnie Ball Slinky electric guitar strings are used by artists from Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, Jimmy Page, AC/DC, John Petrucci, Slash, Green Day and more. They are made in California, U.S.A. and consist of specific gauges and core-to-wrap ratios which create balanced rich harmonics and that signature Slinky feel.

Nickel Wound Slinky strings take a high carbon steel core and tin plate it and wrap it in nickel plated steel. This makes for a balanced tone that compliments all guitar types and playing styles.

The gauges run: .010 .013 .017 .026 .036 .046.

These Ernie Ball regular Slinky strings are sold in packs of 3 or individual sets ($14.11 for 3 pack, or $4.62 for one)

D’ADDARIO EXL110-3D

d-addario-exl110-3dThe D’Addario EXL110-3D electric guitar strings are corrosion resistant Round wound with nickel-plated steel for distinctive bright tone. The string gauges are .010, .013, .017, .026, .036, .046.

These are made in the U.S.A. and sell for $9.95 for 3 sets

ELIXIR STRINGS W POLYWEB COATING

elixir-strings-electric-guitar-strings-polywebElixir is the pioneer in coated strings. The original POLYWEB coating creates a soft and slick feel while providing resistance to grime and rust. This means the strings last longer – both looking new longer and sounding great longer.

A pack of Elixir POLYWEB light gauge (.010 .013 .017 .026 .036 .046) strings sells for $10.43. They’re more expensive than other strings, but they also last up to 3 times as long.

STRINGS FOR ACOUSTIC GUITARS

ELIXIR STRINGS 80/20 BRONZE ACOUSTIC STRINGS

elixir-strings-80-20-polywebThese are the acoustic version of the Elixir POLYWEB strings. They are an 80/20 blend (80% copper, 20% zinc) and feature Elixir’s special POLYWEB coating for smoother feel and longer life. The 80/20 mix provides a warm tone and the POLYWEB coating keeps the strings looking and sounding new for months.

The single pack of Elixir 80/20 bronze POLYWEB strings sells for $13.99.

D’ADDARIO EJ16 PHOSPHOR BRONZE

d-addario-ej16The D’Addario EJ16 Phosphor Bronze acoustic guitar strings offer a balanced tone and also provide D’Addario’s EXP coating for longer life. Similar to Elixir’s POLYWEB, but not as expensive. I’ve had good results with both kinds, but haven’t ever done a serious, scientific comparison of the two.. maybe someday I will.

In the meantime, you can get these excellent strings in a 3-pack for $12.99, or in a single pack for only $4.95.

 

MARTIN M140 BRONZE

martin-m140Lastly, I offer the Martin M140 Bronze acoustic guitar strings. These are also an 80/20 Bronze blend and offer brilliant sound and clarity with rich bass and bright treble. They are not coated for long life, but they also sell for only $3.32 so there’s your trade off. Great stocking stuffers though.

NOVELTY GUITAR PICKS

pick-geekWhether you’re looking for something different to pluck the old six string with or something for more of an arts and crafts project, the guitar picks on this list will fit the bill.

Guitar picks are always in demand for guitar players, because they’re always getting lost! At least that’s how it seems. Besides, they make for great stocking stuffers, birthday, father’s day or even mother’s day gifts for the guitarist in your life. They’re small, unique and not too pricey.

Here are some of the best novelty guitar picks around today.

GIFTS UNDER $50

VOX AMPLUG AMPS

The VOX amPlug headphone amps are not really amplifiers. They are pocket sized amp simulators that plug into you guitar input jack in place of the instrument cable. Then you plug in your headphones and jam out without disturbing the peace.

The amPlug headphone amp comes in a number of versions but the three best are on this list. Each one has 9 effects (3 chorus, 3 delay and 3 reverb), a fold-able plug to make it stow more easily in the pocket and runs off two AAA size batteries.

Each also has an AUX In jack so you can jam along with your favorite music.

VOX AMPLUG AC30

vox_amplug_ac30The VOX AC30 amPlug models the vintage AC30 top boost sound used by so many British bands in the 70’s.

The VOX AC30 amPlug Headphone amp sells for $32.

VOX AMPLUG METAL

vox_amplug_metalLastly, the VOX Metal amPlug models the high gain US amp sound. (Think Fender Supersonic, Mesa Boogie and Peavey).

Great for lead tone, not so great for clean.

The VOX Metal amPlug Headphone amp sells for $32.

VOX AMPLUG CLASSIC ROCK

vox_amplug_classicrockThe VOX Classic Rock amPlug models the classic UK 100 w amp sound. (think Marshall stack)

The VOX Classic Rock amPlug Headphone amp sells for $35.

BATTERY POWERED AMPLIFIERS

Here are a few battery powered amplifiers that a 9 volt battery and will fit comfortably on a desk (and maybe even a large Christmas stocking).

They’re not great for practicing with other people, but fit the bill for quick solo practice, and they’re fun and funky.

FENDER MINI TONE-MASTER

Fender-Mini-Tone-MasterThis is a miniaturized version of the classic Tone-Master and Fender does a great job of keeping true to the authentic Fender details here – cab corners, retro grille cloth, and vintage white control knobs.
At a glance:
• 1w battery powered amplifier that features two 2? speakers.
• Gain, Volume, Tone and Power controls.
• Powered by single 9V battery (included), or AC adapter

The Fender Mini Tone-Master sells for $35.28

FENDER-MINI-57-TWIN

Fender-Mini-57-TwinThis is quite simply a battery powered, highly portable version of the original Fender ’57 Twin Amp

At a glance:
• Completely captures the vintage 50’s look with its miniature chicken head knobs, down to its tweed covering and brown grille.
• Made of real wood and not plastic.
• 1w battery powered guitar amplifier with twin 2? speakers.
• Built-in distortion, Power, volume, and tone controls.
• Runs on a single 9V battery or power adapter.

The Fender-Mini-57-Twin sells for $36.95

MARSHALL MS-2

Marshall-MS-2-Mini-AmpModern technology has now made it possible to grab the Marshall MS-2 Mini Amp and take that Marshall tone with you – anywhere.

The Marshall MS-2 Mini Amp has that classic Marshall look and crunch, with surprisingly loud volume for such a little thing. it’s just 5-3/4″ high and even includes a belt clip!

It features controls for overdrive, tone, and volume and is powered by one 9V battery.

The Marshall MS-2 Mini Amp is a 1w battery powered amp that makes a great and fun gift or a truly portable practice amp, and sells for around $45

GUITAR AMPLIFIERS UNDER $100

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 not quite as portable as the VOX amPlug, but they are audible to those around you. 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

ORANGE MICRO CRUSH

Orange-Micro-Crush-CR3The Orange Micro Crush CR3 is all Orange, from the woven grill to rubber footstools and trademark Orange finish. It’s also wood, and not plastic.

At a glance:
• 3w battery powered amp.
• Single 4″ speaker.
• Clean and Overdrive channels.
• Tone control.
• Chromatic tuner.
• Headphone jack
• Runs on a single 9v battery or AC adapter.

This is a great way to get the British Orange crunch.

The Orange Micro Crush CR3 sells for $68

BLACKSTAR FLY3

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

The Blackstar FLY3 sells for $59.99

SMALLER, LOW WATT 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

Related Posts:

The 12 Best Low Watt Tube Amps Under $500 That Will Rock You!

Want that creamy overdriven tube tone or classic Marshall crunch of a 100w stack without deafening yourself (or the neighbors)? You want a small, low watt tube amp.

Bedroom amplifiers are great for practicing clean tones, and maybe a little overdrive. But what happens when you want to crank up the gain and really drive your amp hard?

Historically you would have needed to turn the volume up to 11 to get the kind of breakup for a hard rock or metal tone and then it’s just too loud for everyone around you.

On the one hand what you needed was a tube amp with enough headroom (but not Max headroom ) for the clean tone, but on the other hand you needed an amp that would break up well before you got to deafening levels.

Low watt tube amps are the best of both worlds, and here are the best of the low watt amps on the market today (many for less than $500).

Some are decidedly vintage style, while others are classic or modern style. Whatever your personal taste, you should be able to find a low watt tube amp to your liking on this list of the best small tube amps available today.

Low Watt Tube Amps For Under $500

Blackstar amps

Looking for a low watt high gain amp?

Check out these great offerings from Blackstar: the HT5R, HT1R and the HT1MC.

Blackstar HT5R

The Blackstar HT5R is a 5 Watt, all-tube amp (1x ECC83 (12AX7), and 1x 12BH7 tubes) with a single 12-Inch speaker.

Blackstar-HT5R

  • 2 channels (clean, and overdrive)
  • 3-Band EQ and reverb
  • Series effects loop
  • Stereo MP3/Line input
  • Headphone out
  • Comes with a footswitch for switching channels.

Another really cool thing the Blackstar HT-5R brings to the party is the ability to model 1×12 or 4×12 in a line out, which is awesome for recording.

CONCLUSION:
The Blackstar HT5R delivers crunch and tube breakup tones that you’d expect from a 100 watt amp through the use of a 12BH7 dual triode valve in push-pull configuration. The result is a big sound, from a modest, 5-watt amp.

Check Availability

Here’s a great all-around demo

Blackstar HT1R

Blackstar-HT1R

The Blackstar HT1R is the “mini-me” to the Blackstar HT-5R.

  • 8″ speaker
  • 1 watt, powered by a single ECC83 (12AX7), and single ECC82 (12AU7) power tubes.
  • Reverb
  • Line out for external cabinet

CONCLUSION:
The Blackstar HT1R can also be plugged into an external speaker cab, and can easily drive a 4×12 cabinet.
An excellent variation on the HT-5R

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Here’s a Demo

Blackstar HT Metal Series HT1MC 1W 1×8 Combo w/Reverb

Blackstar-HT-Metal-Series-HT1MC-1W

The Blackstar HT1MC is the low watt Metal brother to the HT1R. It’s also a true tube amp powered by an ECC83 and ECC82 tube combo.

  • 1 watt
  • 8″ speaker
  • Reverb
  • Speaker out emulation

CONCLUSION:
What sets the Blackstar HT1MC apart from other tube amps on this list however is it’s look. The Blackstar HT1MC is a “stripped-down, tube-driven metal monster” and it looks the part!

Powerful enough for great metal crunch tone, but won’t disturb the peace. But it’s also versatile enough for rock and blues.

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Check out the demo (More than just Metal!)

 

Low watt tube amps by VHT

Looking for an amp you can modify? The VHT is for you!

These VHT amps are a modder’s dream…

VHT AV-SP1-6

vht_special_6

The Special 6 Combo Amplifier is built with modders in mind, so if you’re handy with a soldering iron, the sky is the limit!

  • 6 watt
  • Single special high sensitivity 10″ VHT Special Design speaker.
  • 1x 12AX7 Preamp Tube
  • 1x 6V6 output tube
  • footswitchable boost mode
  • 4, 8, and 16 Ohm speaker out jacks for driving larger cabs.

The VHT Special 6 also features a High/Low power switch that enhances low-volume tones with extra-smooth richness.

This amp is great for home or gigging! Here’s why…

In low power mode, you can get great distortion with a reasonable volume for home practice, and in high-power mode, it is loud enough to compete with a drummer for practice or small gigs.

The VHT Special 6 is a modders dream that excels at both clean and overdriven tones.

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Low watt tube amps by Bugera

Looking for a low watt amp that won’t blast a hole in your eardrums or your budget? Bugera is for you.

Bugera V5 Infinium

bugera_v5_infinium

The Bugera V5 Infinium is a 5 watt all tube amp for less than $200.

Let that sink in for a moment.

For the price of a really good solid state amp, you can get an all tube amp. But that’s not all.

  • Class-A amp driven by a single EL84 tube with a single 12AX7 tube in the preamp.
  • Specially designed 8″ Turbosound speaker. (This is a classic combination for the British crunch and buttery blues tone)
  • Power attenuator, which effectively lets you decrease the headroom even more and get killer overdrive or distortion at a lower volume
  • Digital reverb capable of dialing in everything from subtle to downright cavernous.

CONCLUSION:
Where the Bugera V5 Infinium really makes its mark is with it’s Tube Life Multiplier technology. According to Bugera, this tech ensures:

.. greater reliability and consistent tone over the lifespan of your tubes by monitoring the performance of each of the amplifier’s output tubes and maintaining them at their ideal operating point for an evenly distributed load.

There’s also an LED next to each tube that lets you know when it’s about to die.

All for under $200!

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Low watt tube amps by Vox

Vox is the clear choice if you’re looking for a classic vibe in a vintage package.

Vox AC4C1

The Vox AC4C1 is a 1×10″ 4 Watt Tube Combo.

  • Powered by two 12AX7 tubes in the preamp, and a single EL84 in the power amp section
  • It sports a 10″ Celestion Speaker
  • Basic Gain, Treble, Bass, and Volume controls.
  • External Speaker-Output terminals for driving an external speaker cab

CONCLUSION:
VOX-AC4C1-BLThe Vox AC4C1 has plenty of pure, tube driven Vox tonevox-AC4C1-4W-cream and style.

The 10″ speaker gives the Vox AC4C1 a wide, dynamic range and the EL84 gives it classic British crunch. It also has the Top Boost tone, made popular in the VOX AC30.

The Vox AC4C1 is available in 2 styles:

  1. Rich blue vinyl with the distinctive “domino style” Tygon grille cloth Check Availability
  2. Classic creamCheck Availability

 

 

Check out this Demo here:

VOX AC10C1

vox_ac10c1

Get high gain tone without cranking up!

  • 10 watt combo amp
  • Two 12AX7 tubes for the preamp and two EL84 tubes for the output
  • Volume, Grain, Bass, Treble and Reverb controls
  • 10 inch Celestion speaker
  • Speaker out jack so you can run it to drive an external cab.

CONCLUSION:
It’s got the classic Vox look and British crunch and chime. It should be noted that the reverb is digital and very sensitive- great for classic rock to full out surf. Think of the AC10 as the stripped down little brother to the AC15 – great for small gigs, studio and home playing.

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VOX AC4TVmini 4W Tube Guitar Combo Amp

Vox-AC4TV

The choice for small profile, portable tube amp

The AC4TVmini is the smallest version of the AC4TV series. You’re basically trading some volume and dynamic range for greater portability.

  • 4W Tube Guitar Combo Amp
  • Powered by a single 12AX7 tube in the preamp section, and a single EL84 in the power section
  • 6.5″ custom Vox speaker.

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Demo

 

Low watt tube amps by Marshall

For fans of the Marshall tube tone who don’t need a full stack.

Marshall DSL5C

A lot of people don’t get the Marshall DSL5C, especially Marshall fans. They just don’t see the point in low watt amps, and frankly look down on anyone who doesn’t play a 100w Marshall stack. Well, the Marshall DSL5C just isn’t for them. It’s perfect for fans of the Marshall tube tone who just want a rock solid tube amp for practicing or playing the occasional small gig.

The Marshall DSL5C is a versatile amp that truly delivers on Marshall tone – everything from Plexi-style cleans to JCM800 snarl to modern day high gain.

  • Powered by 3 ECC83 tubes in the pre amp, and a single 12BH7/ECC99 in the power amp section.
  • 2 channels: Classic and “ultra gain”. 🙂
  • Series FX loop
  • Headphone out
  • Audio in (for mp3 players)
  • Extension speaker for driving an external speaker cab
  • Footswitch
  • Celestion Ten 30 10″ speaker
  • Controls include: volume, gain, presence, bass, middle, treble, deep switch (increases low end frequency), and toneshift (which acts like a mid scoop)

 

CONCLUSION:Marshall-DSL5C
What makes the Marshall DSL5C even better is the power switch. Like the Vox AC4TV, the Marshall DSL5C can run at full wattage (5w) or lower wattage (1w), which means you get all that sweet crunch and tube saturated distortion at volumes low enough to not piss off the neighbors.

A lot of people don’t get the Marshall DSL5C, especially Marshall fans. They just don’t see the point in low watt amps, and frankly look down on anyone who doesn’t play a 100w Marshall stack. Well, the Marshall DSL5C just isn’t for them. It’s perfect for fans of the Marshall tube tone who just want a rock solid tube amp for practicing or playing the occasional small gig.

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Demo

 

Low watt tube amps by Epiphone

Looking for a classic, funky vibe?

The Epiphone “1939” Century Amplifier

The Epiphone “1939” Century amplifier takes you back to the days when amplifiers were new. Its art Deco inspired look would be at home in Epiphone’s early days in Manhattan, but totally unique nearly 80 years later. You can rest assured that while the sound and look are vintage, the electronics are modern.

epiphone_1939_century_amplifier

The Epiphone 1939 Century amplifier:
– 18w, all tube Class A/B combo amp
– Powered by two 12AX7 and two 6V6 tubes
– 12″ Electar speaker
– Controls are simply a master volume and master tone, but the master volume has a pull mode for a “boost” effect.

CONCLUSION:
Where things get a bit more unique is with the inputs. There are three of them – bright, normal and dark. There is also an extension speaker out jack and internal bias adjustment for tweaking the response of the 6V6 power tubes.

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Low watt tube amps by Fender

Past meets future in this hybrid amp

Fender Super Champ X2

And finally, we come to the Fender Super Champ X2 15w 1×10″ combo. At first glance, the Fender Super Champ X2 appears to be a more traditional amp with its black vinyl covering and silver grille cloth front. Although it doesn’t look as boutique as the Ramparte and Excelsior or as spacey as the Vaporizer, it’s not as traditional as it looks either.

  • 15 watt
  • Fender Special 10 inch speaker
  • Powered by a single 12AX7 tube in the preamp and a pair of 6V6 tubes in the power section

CONCLUSION:fender-super-champ-x2-angled
What sets the Super Champ X2 apart from other amps on this list is the way it blends the digital amp modeling (“voicings”) and effects found on Fender’s popular Mustang series of amplifiers.

The Super Champ X2 is a modern modeling amp in a traditional package that gives you the warmth of an all tube amp with the flexibility of more modern solid state amps.

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Demo:

Low watt tube amps by Laney

Laney offers a family of 3 low watt amplifiers, each a little larger than its sibling.

Laney Cub 8 5w tube amp

laney_cub_8_5w

The first offering from Laney amps on this list is the Cub 8

  • 5 watt class A combo amp with a focus on tone and simplicity in a small package
  • 8 inch Celestion speaker
  • Hi & LO input (clean & overdrive) and a tone and volume knob
  • Powered by a single ECC83 pre amp tube and a single 6V6GT tube in the power section

CONCLUSION:
The Laney Cub 8 is a great low watt amp perfect for practice or home recording and really captures the classic fender tweed-like tone.

Check Availability

Laney Cub 10 10w tube amplaney_cub_10

Next up from Laney Amplifiers is the middle child of the Cub series, the Laney Cub 10.

  • 10 watt, class A/B amp
  • 10″ Celestion speaker
  • two ECC83 pre amp tubes and two 6V6GT output tubes
  • Controls and inputs are identical to the Cub 8.

CONCLUSION:
Where the Cub 10 differs from its little brother is in the sound and power consumption. Being class A/B, it’s a bit more efficient than the Cub 8 and doesn’t run quite as hot. The larger speaker and double tube compliment give the Cub 10 a bigger mid-range sound. Since the natural range of the guitar is the mid-range, this is perfect for guitarists who want to cut through the mix in a band or recording setting.

The Laney Cub 10 is a nice, low watt package for expressive mid-range clean tone to Zeppelin like gain and vintage tone.

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Laney Cub 12 15w tube amp

laney_cub_12

Lastly, we have the big brother: the Laney Cub 12

  • 15 watt all tube class A/B amplifier
  • Three ECC83 tubes in the pre amp and two EL84s in the power amp stage
  • Digital reverb (
  • Tone and volume (as with the Cubs 8 and 10) and bass, middle treble EQ and gain control
  • FX loop
  • 12″ Celestion speaker

CONCLUSION:-
The tube configuration gives the Cub 12 a much bigger voice than the Cub 8 and 10. Also, if 12″ of Celestion isn’t enough for you, there’s also an external speaker out jack.

Instead of a Hi/LO input, the Laney Cub 12 has a 15w and <1w input. Jack into the 15w input and you get the full throated roar, jack into the <1w and you get a more manageable volume for practice, with substantially less headroom. This means that you can get those dreamy, creamy British overdrive tones that EL84s are known for at a much lower volume.

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Electric and acoustic guitars, amps, effects, pedals reviews and more!

Welcome to Middle8Reviews.com!

Middle8reviews is home to impartial reviews for guitars and guitar gear. We focus on gear for the hobbyist or amateur guitar player. You won’t find many reviews of $3,000 guitars and amps here. That stuff is for the pros, who know what they want and where to get it.

What you will find are reviews for the rest of us.

Electric guitars for beginners, acoustic guitars for the non-professional and plenty of guitar gear reviews make up the bulk of reading material here at Middle8Reviews.com.

Here’s a sample of the reviews you’ll find here:

  • Looking for gift ideas for the guitarist in your life? Or maybe you’re looking for ideas to put on your gift list. Either way, here’s my list of the Best Gift Ideas for Guitar Players in the under $25, $50 and $100 price ranges.
  • 10 Great and Inexpensive Acoustic Guitars for Beginners. – This is an excellent resource for finding an acoustic guitar to start your journey, without breaking the bank. (Most models are less than $400, but play very well)
  • Top 12 Low Watt Tube Amps For Under $500.  Low watt tube amps are an awesome way to get pure tube tone in your bedroom, dorm room, or where ever you don’t want window shattering volume. This list is the 12 best low watt tube amps on the market today.
  • Cigar Box Amplifiers. This is one of those fun and funky reviews we do from time to time. Cigar box amplifiers are just a fun idea, and make for a unique – and functional- conversation piece or gift.

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Cigar Box Amplifiers, by C. G. Gitty.

Cigar box amplifiers not only go great with cigar box guitars, they also add to your decor. They’re stylish – and functional – conversation pieces.

Cigar box amps look great in the dinning room, kitchen or living room.

This is especially important to guys like me, because sometimes I just want to plug my guitar in and play, but don’t feel like lugging my amp downstairs (and then back upstairs) and I have trouble getting my wife to feel jazzed about having a more traditional looking amp sitting in the dinning room when company is over.

Not these little guys though. They’re just funky enough to be decorative, and functional enough to be enjoyed when the company departs for the evening. 🙂

Pre-made Cigar Box Amps

These cigar box amps are not only affordable, but they’re great little amps are hand-crafted in the U.S.A. in C. B. Gitty‘s workshop in the foothills of the White Mountains in New Hampshire.

C. B. Gitty Cigar Box Amplifier: Oliva V Series

C. B. Gitty’s Oliva V Series Cigar Box Amplifiers are “production models”, designed to be mass produced. But while these are not individually unique, they are signed by C. B. Gitty himself, which is a nice touch.

c-b-gitty-cigar-box-amplifier-oliva-v-series

C. B. Gitty selects the best cigar boxes as his amp cases, and then turns them into stylish and functional works of art. The Oliva 5 Series is comprised of a distinctive all-wood dark finish Oliva Series V cigar box with gold Swirl Speaker Cover with gold screen beneath. The hardware consists of a gold On/Off/Volume Knob, gold input jack and brass carrying handle.

The battery tray holder is eternally accessible, and all 8 corners are embellished with solid shiny brass box trunk corners.

For those who aren’t scared of a soldering iron, the amp board also provides connection points for an output jack and headphones jack as well!

C. B. Gitty’s Oliva V Series Cigar Box Amplifier features:

  • 2.5-watt amplifier
  • all-wood cigar box
  • beautiful gold hardware
  • External mount 9V battery tray
  • panel-mount volume/on/off knob
  • Decorative gold speaker grill and screen

The heart of the Oliva V Series cigar box amps is an Artec SDA-T 2.5W amp board, powered by a 9V battery. The amplifier has a standard 1/4″ mono guitar cord input, and features a single 3.5″ 1W speaker.

It also has a red LED power indicator, so you don’t accidentally drain the battery.

These little amps put out a very respectable sound, and in our opinion are much superior to the smaller half-watt and one-watt amps!

The Oliva 5 Series cigar box amps measure: 5.75″ wide x 6.75″ high x 4″ deep.

C. B. Gitty Cigar Box Amplifier: Armed & Dangerous Macanudo

c-b-gitty-cigar-box-amplifier-armed--dangerous-macanudo

The C. B. Gitty Armed & Dangerous Macanudo Cigar Box Amplifier is also a “production” line cigar box amp, like the Series 5 Oliva and not a “one-off” amp.

But just like the Oliva, each of these production models is designed and signed by C. B. Gitty himself.

Where the Armed & Dangerous Macanudo differs from the Series 5 Oliva is it’s body. the Armed & Dangerous Macanudo cigar box amps are made from a distinctive paper-covered Macanudo Hyde Park cigar box, and feature a cool “Armed and Dangerous” multicolor chrome speaker cover over a red steel mesh. The hardware consists of a tone/gain control, black On/Off/Volume and Tone Knobs, externally accessible battery tray holder, and beautiful shiny nickel box corners with a matching nickel carrying handle.

The Armed & Dangerous Macanudo also features protective rubber feet, and connection points on the amp board for an output jack and headphones jack as well!

The C. B. Gitty Armed & Dangerous Macanudo Cigar Box Amplifier:

  • Nice loud 2.5-watt amplifier
  • Distinctive paper-covered cigar box
  • External mount 9V battery tray
  • Panel-mount volume/on/off knob
  • Decorative gold speaker grill and screen

Like the Series 5 Oliva, the Armed & Dangerous Macanudo is built around an Artec SDA-T 2.5W amp board, powered by a 9V battery.

The Armed & Dangerous Macanudo cigar box amps also accept a standard 1/4″ mono guitar cord as input, and output is through a 3.5″ 1W speaker. A red LED power indicator is included to help prevent accidental battery drain.

The Armed & Dangerous Macanudo measures: 7.25″ wide x 6″ high x 2 7/8″ deep.

Cigar Box DIY Kits

For the more adventurous DIY-er, C. B. Gitty even makes a Cigar Box Amplifier Kit with Oliva G Cigar Box, Hardware and How-To Guide!

cigar-box-amplifier-kit-with-oliva-g-cigar-box

This is a complete cigar box amp kit, and includes all of the parts needed to build your own 2.5-watt Series G Oliva cigar box amplifier!

The body is a beautiful all-wood Oliva G cigar box, and all the decorative shiny nickel box corners (with matching screws) to help dress it up are included in the kit. The heart of this amp kit is a 2.5 watt amp board, which really puts out some nice sound considering its size and input power.

This cigar box amplifier kit also includes a four-page how-to sheet that shows wiring diagrams and covers some key points about wiring and assembly.

Skills required to assemble this kit:

  • basic soldering skills,
  • ability to read simple wiring diagrams

This cigar box amps contains the following parts:

  • 3.5″ 1-Watt Ferrite Magnet Speaker with wire screen and mounting bolts/nuts
  • 8pc. Nickel-Plated Box Corners with Mounting Screws
  • 9V Metal Battery Holder Clip with mounting screws
  • 2 feet each Red and Black 24-gauge Hookup Wire
  • 9V Battery Connector
  • 4pc. Rubber Self-Adhesive Non-Skid Pads
  • “Top Hat” Potentiometer Knob
  • ¼” Long-Shaft Mono Input Jack
  • Red LED (Power Indicator) with Plastic Mounting Bezel
  • 2.5-Watt Artec Amp Board
  • Oliva Series G All-Wood Cigar Box

The amp board also has an onboard Tone Trim Pot, adjustable with a Philips screwdriver , which allows for fine-tuning the tone from “clean” to “crunchy”.

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