If you want to push your amp with high gain en get ONLY tube saturation, you’ll need more gain when the wattage is higher. There are a lot of ways to achieve saturated sounds and anno 2022, the versatility of portability, managing volumes and easy investment are luxuries one did not have in the 60’s.
With all due respect; I think “valve amps only sound well when driven” is an old adage that needs to be replaced
Valve amps have sweet clean sounds
Valve amps with a decent wattage have more headroom to have clean amplification without breaking up. it’s a fun game to find a nice overdrive and distortion pedal to put in front of a clean tube amp. You’ll have a lot of sounds to work with, you can do dirt at lower volumes and you can take it gigging if your amp+speaker combination is powerful enough.
‘Is it loud enough’ has no one-dimensional answer.
We recently experimented with the 20w SS amps from Joyo, the Bantamp Zombie.
Although we have bigger rigs, our lead guitarist and myself love how well they sound and we tested it on a 8ohm 2x12 and 16ohm 4x12 cabinet. volume wise the outcome was VERY comparable!
I personally never was fond of those small low wattage combo’s. not because of the low wattage but because of the small speaker. I guess that’s taste but using a 12" guitarspeaker (with the band 2x12) has always been my favourite because they bring better bass. btw; guitarspeakers=/=hifi speaker. That’s for electric though, for singing and electro-acoustic, you want a broader range and headroom to go loud enough; i like to go “hi-fi” on that kind of gigs, including guitar.
And then there is digital tech…
For people who are currently on one amp with one or two guitars, you canbe be fooled when being a moderately priced digital multieffect and start experimenting.
I still have my first Korg 100g or what’s it called and while the presets are crap, there is a amp/distortion sound in there that keeps me from getting rid of it
Today you can emulate everything and over the course of 15y, cab sims came a long way. (both digital and hardware). There things produce all the dirt you need and benefit from an amp that can go a bit louder but remains rather clean. ideally you use a “flat” amp and speaker designed for that purpose but for experimentin with some overdrive distortion etc… it can make you go full heavy metal on beadroom volumes without having the need to “crank the valve amp”.
Big speaker? better and wider sound on these things too.
A small speaker will give you the impression you are beaming a narrow, compressed sounds that has little space for nuance.
Try a little overdrive and some reverb, perhaps from 2 pedals into a rather clean tube amp and hear the the nuances as you give that sparkle the chance to shine while you feel the solid foundatino off the bass making sure you’re not too thin.
anyway, I guess I was triggered but it was all to say there are a lot more dimensions in play here.