6 Best Low Watt Tube Amps (January 2023) – Buyers Guide 🥇

In this article, we’re going to be discussing and reviewing the best low watt tube amps of 2023.

Electric guitar players know very well that there is no better thing than a full-cranked tube amp. However, the problem back in the day was that all tube amps were large and extremely loud, which means that large venues were the only chance to enjoy the beautiful sound of warm tubes. It was hard to imagine practice sessions with such amps, so players were usually forced to use less inspiring solid-state amps to work on their skills.

Fortunately, those days are long gone, as today’s market is full of low-wattage tube amps. With these products, you can crank up the volume even during bedroom sessions, without disturbing your neighbors.

best low watt amps

What Is a Low-Watt Tube Amp?

As the name suggests, a tube or valve amp is a kind of electronic amp that uses vacuum tubes. It is a pretty old technology, much older compared to solid-state amps, which use transistors instead of tubes. Although solid-state amps are cheaper and more reliable, most guitarists prefer old tube technology, because of superior sonic characteristics. Tube amps deliver much warmer sound, with much more character, with significantly better dynamics. Simply, they sound better, whether you prefer clean or distorted guitar tones.

A low-watt tube amp is a tube amp that isn’t particularly powerful. In the past, tube amps usually featured 50 or 100 Watts, which was way too much for anything but large venues. On the other hand, low-watt amps are far more appropriate for smaller venues, studio work and practice sessions. There isn’t a strict output limit for a low-watt amp – it belongs to this category as long it can be used in smaller spaces efficiently. Some feature 15, others feature 5 Watts, while there are many products with an output of just 1W. Also, many of them come with a built-in power attenuator, so you can set the desired output, depending on the venue.

In most cases, low-watt tube amps are simple, with a single channel and simple controls. However, more flexible units can be found as well, with two channels, more tone-shaping possibilities and more connectivity features, which make them pretty versatile and usable in various situations.

Best Low Watt Tube Amps

Our Number One Choice
VOX, 2 Electric-Guitar-Amplifier-Combos, Vintage (AC15C1)
Our Premium Choice
Fender 57 Custom Champ 5-Watt 1x8 Inches Tube Combo Amp
Best Value For Money
Orange Amps 4 String Electric Guitar Pack, (ROCKER-15-TERROR)
Summary
If you want to get a vintage, British invasion Class A tone that shaped so many guitar players, this is one of the best ways to do it.
This tiny amp is very powerful but remains bedroom-friendly, thanks to the super-simple, single-knob control.
Offers an impressive level of functionality, with two channels, a tube-powered effects loop and lots of tone-tweaking options.
Dimentions
602 x 265 x 456 mm
34.3 x 31.8 x 19.8 cm
14.02 x 5.91 x 6.97 inches
Power
-
-
-
Prime
-
-
Our Number One Choice
VOX, 2 Electric-Guitar-Amplifier-Combos, Vintage (AC15C1)
Summary
If you want to get a vintage, British invasion Class A tone that shaped so many guitar players, this is one of the best ways to do it.
Dimentions
602 x 265 x 456 mm
Power
-
Prime
-
Check Price
Our Premium Choice
Fender 57 Custom Champ 5-Watt 1x8 Inches Tube Combo Amp
Summary
This tiny amp is very powerful but remains bedroom-friendly, thanks to the super-simple, single-knob control.
Dimentions
34.3 x 31.8 x 19.8 cm
Power
-
Prime
-
Check Price
Best Value For Money
Orange Amps 4 String Electric Guitar Pack, (ROCKER-15-TERROR)
Summary
Offers an impressive level of functionality, with two channels, a tube-powered effects loop and lots of tone-tweaking options.
Dimentions
14.02 x 5.91 x 6.97 inches
Power
-
Prime
Check Price

Vox AC15C1

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Vox AC15C1

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There aren’t many amps with such a pedigree as the Vox AC series. These amps have been around for decades and since the British invasion in the ‘60s, they are integral parts of so many studios and quintessential pieces of gear for so many guitar players. The Vox AC15C1 is one of the latest iterations, which brings a couple of enhancements that make this amp even more functional.

Just like the original, the Vox AC15C1 is powered by EL84 tubes, two of them. This Class A amp also features three 12AX7 tubes in the preamp, while the main upgrade is the addition of the new Celestion 25-Watt Greenback speaker, which deals with high-end frequencies in an even better way and offers even mellower sound than the previous iteration.

The overall design is typical for the AC series. You get a vintage look but also a lot of controls to manipulate the sound. This is a two-channel amp that, besides the Normal channel, also features a Top Boost mode, which puts special focus on mid-range and high frequencies. The Top Boost comes with separate controls, which include a two-band EQ, so there are a lot of tone-shaping options in this small box. Finally, the amp comes with built-in spring reverb and the tremolo effect.

Who Should Buy This Amp?

This amp has a huge following even today and anyone who is looking for a classic AC15 sound with enhanced flexibility will find this model an excellent choice, whether it’s about small venues or studio purposes.

Orange Amplifiers Rocker 15

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Orange Amplifiers Rocker 15

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The Rocker series from Orange Amplification has been around for more than two decades and the Rocker 15 is certainly one of its most popular models. The reasons are obvious – this amp doesn’t just sound great, but also offers an impressive level of flexibility for such a small unit. It is designed to work well in every situation, whether you need it for live gigs, studio work or quiet home practice.

The Rocker 15 is a two-channel tube amp, powered by a couple of EL84s, while the preamp section is driven by three ECC83s. As a result, the amp covers everything from a mild crunch to heavy distorted metal sound. The clean channel comes with a simple single-knob layout, while the drive channel adds not just a distortion knob, but also a 3-band EQ, for additional tone-shaping possibilities. Speaking of tone shaping, this amp comes with a built-in effects loop, which is tube-buffered to produce even better sonic characteristics of added effects. That additional ECC81 definitely has a big impact on making the sound cleaner and more organic.

The thing with tube amps is that they need to be cranked up to sound great and, as they are very loud, that’s not always possible, unless you pick the Orange Rocker 15, which comes with a built-in power attenuator. You can use all 15 Watts of power on small venues, but also scale down it to 7, 1, and 0.5 Watts and enjoy cranked tube sound in any situation.

Who Should Buy This Amp?

The Rocker is a perfect choice for anyone who needs to cover a wide array of sounds, from clean to heavy distortion. It is a great choice for players with lots of pedals in their signal chain, while the power attenuator makes it a fantastic practice tool as well.

Fender ’57 Custom Champ

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Fender '57 Custom Champ

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Vintage tube amps deliver unparalleled tone but the problem with them is that they are too loud, so they aren’t very practical for studio sessions, and not particularly great for home practice. Fortunately, Fender engineers came up with the Fender ’57 Custom Champ 5-Watt amp, inspired by the iconic 1957 Fender Champ combo amp.

The amp might be small, but it is very powerful, thanks to a single 6V6 Power tube and a 5Y3GT rectifier. All this is complemented by a single 12AY7 tube in the preamp section but the secret of Custom Champ’s tone isn’t just in tubes. This is a hand-wired amp, with a lot of attention to detail that provides that genuine vintage tone. This amp responds extremely well to your fingers, pickup positions, and control manipulations, so there are a lot of possibilities when it comes to tone shaping.

The ’57 Custom Champ offers a wide array of sounds but its main strength is that fat overdrive sound that remains crystal clear even when the amp is fully cranked. Of course, a big role in creating such an impressive sound belongs to the 8″ Weber Special design Alnico speaker, which may be compact but it’s very powerful. At the same time, the controls are super simple, with just a single knob that takes care of both volume and the level of overdrive.

Who Should Buy This Amp?

If you’re looking for a classic tweed tone but don’t want to terrorize your neighbors, this is the right amp for you.

Orange Dark Terror

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Orange Dark Terror

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With compact dimensions and just 15 pounds of weight, the Orange Dark Terror looks like a great portable amp head. Still, that’s not the only quality of this small tube amp. It is driven by a couple of EL84 tubes and offers 15 Watts of total output, which can be pretty loud when the pedal is paired with a proper cabinet. In the preamp section, the company installed three 12AX7 tubes, to ensure an excellent sonic experience.

Speaking of the sonic characteristics, this tube amp is powerful and offers a lot of tone-shaping possibilities. It is a single-channel amp that goes very deep into the high-gain territory. The controls are pretty simple, with a 1-band EQ, Volume and Gain knobs, it’s super easy to dial desired tones.

Like a proper performance amp, the Dark Terror comes with an effects loop, which is powered by a single 12AT7 tube, for excellent cooperation between effects and the amp. Depending on the venue size, you can set the loudness of the amp, which lets you switch between 15- and 7-Watt modes. The amp comes with a gig bag, so you can easily carry this unit from rehearsal to rehearsal, from gig to gig.

Who Should Buy This Amp?

With a pretty powerful distortion, this amp seems like a perfect choice for metalheads who are in need of something that isn’t too loud but still has plenty of gain for their favorite heavy genres. Also, it is a great choice for anyone who looks for a flexible, yet simple and portable head.

Vox AC4HW1

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Vox AC4HW1

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The Vox AC4HW1 offers a genuine Top Boost tone but in a much smaller package than we all used to get from this company. This 4-Watt amp may be small but it has all the ingredients to deliver that vintage Vox tone flawlessly. We are talking about a full tube amp that is driven by a single EL84 tube, while the preamp section features a couple of 12AX7s and ensures excellent sonic flexibility. Finally, there is a proper 1 x 12″ Celestion G12M Greenback speaker that makes this tiny amp sound as powerful as its bigger brothers.

Along with vintage tones, the AC4HW1 also brings vintage aesthetics, which include Fawn-colored vinyl and a classic Vox grille. More importantly, the amp delivers that genuine Top Boost sound and covers a wide array of tones – from clean to classic Vox crunch.

The amp is quite functional but also pretty easy to use. It features a Gain knob, as well as a two-band EQ, with Bass and Treble knobs. There is also a Hot/Cool toggle switch, which completely changes the character of the amp, just like two different inputs do (High and Low). Also, it’s good to know that this Vox comes with a single-button footswitch, which makes the use of this amp even more convenient.

Who Should Buy This Amp?

Vox purists will see this amp as a perfect opportunity to get genuine Top Boost tone in a small package. It is a perfect practice amp for anyone who is in love with the classic British crunch.

Orange Rocker 15 Terror

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Orange Rocker 15 Terror

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The Orange Rocker 15 Terror is one of the most versatile heads at this price range and wattage. This two-channel amp covers pretty much everything from crystal-clean tones to classic distortion. It is a 15-Watt head that features a couple of EL84 in the power amp section, along with three 12AX7 preamp tubes. Typically for Orange amps, the effects loop is also powered by a tube, a single 12AT7 unit.

As we’ve just mentioned, this is a two-channel amp. There is a clean channel, with simple controls and crystal-clean tones that sound great, whether you use a humbucker or a single coil. On the other hand, the Dirty channel features a few more controls, once again, in a typical Orange layout. There is a 3-band EQ section, along with Volume and Gain controls.

With two channels, a tube-buffered FX loop, lots of control knobs and an available footswitch, the Orange Rocker 15 Terror is a versatile amp head that becomes even more flexible once you realize that it comes with a built-in power attenuator. So, you can easily select one of the four output settings (15W/7W/1W/0.5W) and be able to crank up this amp, no matter if you’re on stage or in your bedroom.

Who Should Buy This Amp?

The Rocker 15 Terror is an excellent choice for players who need a versatile head that doesn’t just offer a wide array of sonic possibilities but also offers flexibility in terms of power output, connectivity features and more.

Our Number One Choice

Vox AC15C1

If you want to get a vintage, British invasion Class A tone that shaped so many guitar players, this is one of the best ways to do it. The AC15C1 is reasonably priced and offers a lot in return. Two channels, the famous Top Boost mode and a decent number of control knobs are just some of them. Also, let’s not forget the high-quality Celestion 25-Watt Greenback speaker and built-in reverb and tremolo effects.

Buy On Amazon

Our Premium Choice

Fender '57 Custom Champ

The Fender ’57 Custom Champ is our premium choice for obvious reasons. Simply, we are talking about a hand-wired, premium-grade reinvention of the legendary 1957 Fender Champ combo amp that lets you dive into the tweed world in such a stylish way. This tiny amp is very powerful but remains bedroom-friendly, thanks to the super-simple, single-knob control.

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Best Value For Money

Orange Rocker 15 Terror

Most low-watt tube amps sound great but don’t offer too much regarding flexibility, connectivity features etc. However, that’s not the case with the Rocker 15, which is much more than a great-sounding amp. It offers a pretty impressive level of functionality, with two channels, a tube-powered effects loop and lots of tone-tweaking options. It has a lot of character, works great with pedals and comes with a reasonable sticker price, so we think it definitely deserves our best value for money title.

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That concludes this full buyers guide on the best low watt guitar amps. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions regarding the products you have seen in this article. Here at Guitar Effects Pedalz we also provide full reviews of the best online guitar services so you can learn guitar online with our Guitar Tricks Review.

Last update on 2023-01-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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