Unless you are in the business- meaning you are also playing a guitar, not only selling it- the next discussion doesn’t concern you. Yes, you may feel that all guitars sound the same, but only if you played one you know that using various tube amps give different performance on your chords.
What’s great about playing the guitar (and all the other instruments, just as well) is that you don’t have to get all the things related in order to get the best tones. You can only use some tricks to impress the hell out your audience.
And, when it comes to playing various instruments, you don’t have to be the most experienced one to work your magic on your guitar, for instance. You may also be all new to this and still can try some tricks. After all, getting better at something also implies not to hesitate to try new stuff in order to get the best performance.
Turn on the volume
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that tube amps sound best when you play them loud. Take a step back and let’s take a different angle on this principle. A 100-watt amp on 2 doesn’t really sound like the same amp on 4. This is not because of the tube overdrive and many amps don’t really open until they’re on 3.
Of course, you may use a pedal in front of the amp to minimize the choking, but this is not related to the amp opening up. The amp doesn’t breathe better because you add some overdrive.
It must have happened to you to try to record at home and the loud amp failed on you. You even put the pedalboard in front of the amp and tried to record, but you got disappointed with the results. Everything was set as it should: the mic was placed right, the preamp was just fine. And yet, something was wrong.
The key to solve this is using a low wattage amp in the sessions without a proper sound isolation. No matter the amp though, you should have it at least on 3 to breathe. You get the dull sounds when the amp can’t properly breathe and therefore, your lows are not defined and the highs are quite thin.
Let’s take even a closer look on how things may sound better. You may let a 5watt amp breathe on volume 3 without disturbing your super. Try to keep in mind to always pay attention to the hours you spend playing, though.
Some final tricks
It’s better not to use 28 watts for home recording as this may be the ultimate point when you get a clean, yet loud enough sound, without any choking risks on the amp.
Always get a good base of tone and stay away from layering. It’s better to plug straight into the amp first when you want a good sound and only afterwards to plug into your pedalboard.
If you want to see it for yourself, plug straight into your amp and play your guitar as you adjust the volume all the way down. Try to turn the amp to 3, record your session and listen carefully the change in tone and not as much the difference in volume.
Thank God that there are so many amp options these days and you can really get a good deal on a low watt tube amp. As they are less-powerful, more portable and low priced, the 15-watt tube amps may really open up at a session and give you great, natural gain that only shows up at high volumes.
TOP 5 Best 15 Watt Tube Amp
When you get yourself a tube amp like the Monoprice 611815 15Watt, 1 x 12 Guitar Combo Tube Amplifier, you have to really appreciate its performances, considering the price you pay.
The tube amp gives great guitar tone, with a nice range of sounds. The combo actually comes with Celestion Speaker and Spring Reverb, also Monoprice. The 15-watt tube power amplifier gives nice performance and also comes with Celestion brand speaker.
The tube amp features three ECC 83/12AX7 pre-amplification tubes and two EL84 power tubes for the amplifier section. It may handle frequencies between 80Hz and 10kHz with hum and noise -75dB below the rated power. The total harmonic distortion is 0.5%.
A great feature on the tube amp is the two outputs. Even from a small signal, you can obtain overdriven that produce treble-heavy sound very easy. The low and high input come with former attenuating the signal by 50% and the latter is easier to overdrive. The two inputs let you select the full power mode or the 1 watt limited amplification mode when you practice or do some late recording.
The cabinet is placed in the rear and the leather handle makes the tube amp highly portable. The cloth speaker grill and the textured, synthetic leather outer with chrome corner guards give a nice appearance to the tube amp.
The spring reverb may be enabled by smoothly using the foot switch. The tube amp takes well FX send and receive so you may connect it to an effects processor or use the connection as line in/line out connections.
The controls run smoothly and the tube amp has a good build. The cabinet has a rugged construction and the finish looks amazing.
Let’s make a short list of pros:
- The tube comes with low and high input
- The range of sounds is pretty good
- The controls run smooth and the tube amp has a good build
- The tube amp has many controls and features for more versatility
We owe you the parts we like less:
- The tube amp has some problems with spring crashing
- The reverb could be improved
Putting the reverb problem aside, we consider the tube amp to be a reliable option that gives good performance, considering its price.
Powered by the VOX Valve Reactor circuitry, the Vox AC15VR Guitar Combo Amplifier sure may impress you with its reliable performances.
The 15-watts tube amp features a 12” Celestion VX12 Speaker and ensures nice, warm tones. The 8ohms Extension Speaker output is functional and the tube amp may get pretty loud.
The tube amp has two channels (normal and overdrive) that share the same treble and Bass tone controls. The Overdrive channel also has a gain knob so that you may get the warmth and snarl that you want on your sound.
The lead channel has a nice drive to it, whereas the clean channel has volume, treble and bass just as well. The overdrive ensures the middle and the distortion is great on the tube amp.
The jack is made of metal and has a very good build. As a matter of fact, there is very little plastic on the tube amp. The tube amp doesn’t just have a rugged build, but also looks very nice and stylish. The power cord is removable and the tube amp takes the heavy use.
In order to give you a clearer image, we put together a short list of pros:
- The tube amp has a solid build and a great appearance
- The tube amp comes with normal and overdrive channel
- The Celestion speaker is a nice detail
- The tube amp gets pretty loud
We should complete this image with the few issues:
- The tube amp is a bit heavy weight
- The reverb should be improved
Despite the minor cons, we think you should give it a go anytime when in need.
Nobody gets surprised when we talk about choosing the Marshall MHZ15H as a great option for low watt tube amp.
The amp uses three ECC83 preamp and two 6V6 power amp tubes which makes the two-channel head get a nice, clear tube sound. You get great control thanks to the EQ section of Bass, Middle and Treble.
The tones are very clean and distorted as the tube amp features normal and overdrive channels.
When you turn on the Normal channel, volume takes the clear tone and gives also tube drive, compression and drive and volume control on your guitar lets you adjusting it as you want. You may also get some nice sparkle when using the Bright function and a nice cutting edge.
If you want to really get a wild volume, don’t hesitate to use the Overdrive channel and the gain control that ensure direct access to the sound.
The tube amp gives soft, rich overdrive tones when you use the low volumes. And, don’t act surprised when you get classic, fat, Marshall distortion from cranking it up.
The Haze 15 gives you onboard effects: Echo, Chorus and Vibe which makes it more versatile and reliable in many situations.
As it has a sturdy build that leaves a durability feel, the tube amp is a great choice and its vintage appearance completes its description. The compact shape makes it easy to store and to move around also.
Here are the most important pros:
- The tube amp gives nice, rich overdriven tones
- The tube amp has a good build and a compact shape
- There are many onboard effects and the sound is great
- The vintage appearance is a nice detail
When we talk about the cons, we only make a small observation related to the price. But, considering its performances and durability, we think the tube amp is a good buy.
Highly portable and versatile, the Fender Hot Rod 0213205700 Blues Junior III 15-W LTD Tube Guitar Combo Amplifier, Tweed makes it as a great choice for the all kinds of music.
The tube amp gives nice tones thanks to the EL84 power tubes and 12AX7 pre-amp tubes. The foot switchable “FAT” option gives thicker tones and a nice, subtle overdrive. You get large echo effect using the on board spring reverb and nice, warm articulate tones thanks to the Jensen P12N speaker.
The tube amp gets pretty loud, but is also great for the low volume. The sound is nice, lush and clear, which makes the tube amp great for rock, country and blues just as well.
It’s pedal friendly and gets more versatile with colored pedals for various amp sounds. It’s good for fuzz, overdrive, distortion, delay and modulation. The overdrive sounds better when the master is cranked and the tube amp is a reliable option for home practice.
When it comes to the looks, we can’t get over the chrome panel, the tweed finish and the vintage brown and gold grille cloth. The vintage pointers do complete the nice appearance, for sure.
Lightweight, small and very easy to move around, the tube amp is a practical option that fits many tastes.
Let’s pinpoint the most important pros:
- The tube amp is great for rock/country/blues
- The tube is highly portable and lightweight
- The tone is nice, bright and subtle overdrive
- It’s loud, but gives also nice low volume
In terms of things we don’t like that much, we have a short list:
- The tube amp doesn’t take headphones
- The stainless steel control gets a bit hot
We try to see the best of it as the cons are minor and we take the tube amp as a nice, reliable and versatile 15-watt tube amp.
You can’t say you’ve tried all the 15-watt tube amps, until you’ve used a tube amp like the Blackstar ARTIST15 Blackstar Guitar Combo Amplifier.
The two-channel amplifier may seem simple at the first glance, but there’s more than meets the eye. The first channel gives volume and tone control, but you really get great volume and sturdy control over the tones.
The second channel gives you more controls thanks to the 3-band EQ and Blackstar’s Infinite Shape Feature (ISF). You can shift from the “British” basic voice to the “American” one only by using the latter function. If the “British” has a hefty mid and low-mid response, the “American” one provides fatter bottom end and increased treble. You may easily fine tune the output by going from the extremes of these basic voices, using the 3-Band EQ. both channels are controlled by the master volume control. We also mention the single control for the digital reverb. The reverb is built-in and adds color to the channels.
When you mix the gain on the second channel, you get great rock stank.
The footswitch jack is placed on the rear panel so you may easily switch between the two channels. The effects loop with level switch are worth to mention as you can get +4dBV boost or -10dBV level cut.
You may also use external speakers on the tube amp and the speaker emulation jack may be plugged into a mixing console/recording interface or even PA. when you want to so some silent recording, you can simply turn down the master volume and use the tubes to warm the tone.
The tube amp comes with two 6L6 power tubes and two ECC83 pre-amp tubes that push a 12” Celestion V-type speaker.
There are many details on the tube amp that justify its value and durability. The PC board is protected from the four tubes and may be removed entirely from the cabinet. The faux-leather vinyl shrouds the cabinet and the grille cloth gives a sparkle appearance.
The tube amp provides a wide range of classic tones and you may set the clean channel or the overdrive channel. The footswitch, reverb, master volume or the effects loop increase the performance, no matter how big your gig is.
Let’s try to make a short list of pros:
- The tube amp is dynamic and gives nice range of tones
- You may choose the clean on the overdrive channel
- The tube amp comes with many functional features
- The tube amp has a great build and takes the big gigs
As for the cons, we don’t have many:
- The tube amp has no standby switch
- The tube amp is a bit heavy weight
When you put aside the minor cons though, you see a reliable, versatile tube amp ready to take the great gigs, in style.
Best 15-watt tube amp for the money/best value
The Fender Super Champ X2 15-Watt 1×10-Inch Guitar Combo Amp is a great tool that you can take around wherever you need it. The tube amp is not only highly portable, but also gives nice sounds, which should count more.
The 15-watt tube power amp comes with two 6V6 tubes and once 12AX7 preamp tube that provide full sounding, with amazing volume.
The voicing knob features 16 different amp types (a great variety: British, Metal, Blackface, Tweed and so many more) and 15 built-in effects. The effects adjust control and the TAP tempo control let you get delay time/modulation rate adjustments-and this is why the tube amp is such a versatile tool to have.
The tube amp also features two channels with channel switching format and an optional footswitch. For speaker-emulated digital recording you can get some help from the USB output. The computer connectivity sure counts a lot these days and the Fender FUSE software provides more tonal versatility. You may customize the amp voicing and effects defaults, effect parameters deep editing and get online and get in touch with the Fender community.
The Fender Special Design speaker is nice and the tones are rich and touch responsive. The reverb, chorus and delay are important to mention and the tube amp gets pretty loud.
The hissing or the excessive noise are minimal and the high-end sparkle increase the value of the tube amp.
The tube amp has a good build and it’s not too heavy.
Let’s make a short list of pros:
- The 15-watts dual-channel tube amp features voicing knob with 16 various amp types
- The tube has 15 built-in effects with level control
- The tones are rich, nice and warm
- The tube amp has a good build and is easy to carry around
As much as we like the tube amp, we don’t oversee the minor problems:
- The tube amp is not strong enough for a big stage performance
- It doesn’t come with a foot switch
- It has no dust cover also
We try to look on the bright side, though, as it’s a pretty good one, with nice performances, great possibilities for customizing and portability.
Best cheap/budget 15-watt tube amp
When your gig is as small as your budget for a 15-watt tube amp, don’t sit back and give it a go with the Behringer Ultracoustic AT108 Ultra-Compact 15-Watt Instrument Amplifier. The tube amp gives great sound and performance, especially when you see its size and price.
The tube amp is highly versatile and is a 2-channel acoustic instrument amplifier that ensures great sound on your electric guitar also.
The 8’ dual-cone speaker is great for wide frequency response and is a strong 20-watt one. The VTC (Virtual Tube Circuitry) provides nice tube sound, whereas the CD input helps you play along to your music.
The tube amp comes with an additional microphone input with separate volume control. This gives you more possibilities for your performances. The separate headphone output is highly useful when you want to practice on your own. The three-band EQ ensures accurate tone-shaping abilities.
The tube amp has good quality components and a long lasting construction. It may be used by the entry level guitarist and the most experienced one just as well.
The tube amp is highly portable, lightweight and is a great choice for the small areas. The sound is great, rich and clear.
The cabinet is made of high-grade wood and the vinyl cover is pretty long lasting. And let’s not forget you may also connect it to your computer.
We have a very short list of pros:
- The tube amp is versatile and highly portable
- The tube amp is small, compact and lightweight
- It features microphone input and may be connected to your computer
- The sound is nice, clear and rich
For the money you pay, you can also expect some issues:
- The tube amp doesn’t come with battery pack
- The cover doesn’t look that great
All in all, when you take a step back you only get to see the bigger picture: a small, compact, versatile and lightweight tube amp with nice sounds and performances for the small stages.
Best 15-watt tube amp combo
Giving you great power and reliable performance for your gigs, the Fender ’65 Princeton Reverb 15-Watt 1×10-Inch Guitar Combo Amp is sure a combo to try at least for once.
The 15-watt all tube amp includes tube rectification and gives great tone for the small stages and the studio sessions.
When we go through the technical info, we see the 1-10” Jensen C-10R special design speaker, 8 Ohms and 40-watt speaker with ceramic magnet. All of these technical features translate into great performance and nice tones.
The long-spring Fender reverb and tube vibrato count when we talk about the performance, as the vintage vibe counts. The dynamic clean and overdriven tones add up.
The tube amp has two inputs (one channel) and a foot switch. You get great control over the tube amp thanks to the knobs for Treble, Bass, Reverb, Speed and Intensity.
The reverb on the tube amp is nice and lush, whereas the tremolo is not only useful but also gives a warm effect.
The tube amp takes pedals very well and it may get pretty loud. It looks great and is quite powerful. Its complement consists of a trio of 12Ax7s, dual Groove tubes 6V6s, single 5AR4 rectifier tube and a 12AT7.
Let’s pinpoint the most important pros:
- The combo is powerful and gets pretty loud
- It’s great for the small gigs
- It takes pedals pretty well
- It has many great features that makes it versatile and useful in many situations
We play it fair and also list our cons:
- The combo has no loop effect
- The footswitch could be of better quality
Despite the cons, we still the combo is a great 15-watt option when in need.
Best 15-20-watt tube amp head
Nicely looking with its mirror finish, the Vox Night Train NT15H-G2 15-Watt Tube Head is a 15-watts RMS that gives 8ohms or 16 ohms.
The tube complement contains three 12AX7 preamp and two EL84 power amp. It has guitar inputs/outputs and features a functional foot switch. The 16 Ohms speaker output is reliable, as it is the 8ohms speaker output.
The tube amp head ensures FX loop (send/return) and offers many controls. As we go through them, we see the bright/girth channel switch, the Reverb/Dark switch, the thick switch. As for tones, you get Bass, Middle and treble- for both “girth&bright” channel. The high-frequency components for the clear, ringing tones are accented by the Bright mode, whereas the Thick setting ensures the heavy, chunky sounds.
A single switch helps you go from Pentode to Triode tube operation. The Pentode mode gives 15-watts power, whereas you get only 7.5-watts power when using the Triode mode. The tube power stage is more relaxed when using the Triode mode so that the mellow tube character shines through.
The tones are clean and so versatile to get, going from chime, chunky overdriven tones, to modern high-gain sounds.
The tube amp has a rather industrial, that fits its heavy duty performance. The simple panel design ensures comfortable Gain and volume control.
We try to sum it all up and make a short list of pros:
- The tube amp head offers Pentode and Triode operation
- The tones are clean and highly diverse
- The tube amp head is easy to use
- The tube amp head offers many functions and controls
We are impressed by the tube head’s performances, but we also feel the need to specify the minor issues:
- The switch mode may be of better quality
- The durability may be questioned by some
Despite these minor problems, we still think the tube amp head is not only portable, but also reliable and functional, with plenty of features and controls.
Best 15-watt tube amp for blues
The lightweight and very easy to store Fender Blues Junior III 15-Watt 12-Inch Guitar Combo Amp brings nice performance and ensures warm tones when playing the blues for many hours.
The 15-watts touch-sensitive tube tone overdrives very nice when cranked and the spring reverb is a nice feature.
The foot switchable FAT boost add up to the features, giving you a nice, versatile little amp. The Fender Special Design 12” speaker by Eminence ensures clean overdriven and distorted tones altogether.
The tube amp gives a great range of tones, nice sweet highs and authentic lows. It takes pedals rather well and breaks out nicely. The tones are loud and bright and the tube amp has external speaker ability.
It gets very loud, which is why it’s not the best choice for a small room. The control layout is simple and pretty easy to use.
The heavy-duty set-screw “chicken head” knobs are functional and look nice. You may enjoy also the rattle-reducing shock absorbers for the EL84 tubes and the clever standby switch that lowers the power to the tubes. This way the tubes remain war, but also protected.
The tube amp is reliable and loud and fits the stomp boxes very well. The fat mid tones and the warm 12AX7 preamp tube overdrive are also important to mention.
When it comes to highlight the most important things we like on the tube amp, our list comes down to the following:
- The tube amp takes pedals very well
- The range of tones is great
- The highs are sweet, the lows are authentic and the mid are fat
- The tube amp has a small foot print and is highly portable
We don’t have many things to complain about:
- The tube amp doesn’t have headphone jack
- There is no independent EQ for the channels
- The tube gives a bit of buzz at high volume
Keep in mind the tube amp is not great for heavy metal, but gives amazing sound on your blues and takes very small space to store or display.