Tube (Valve) Amp for home practice

I’ve been playing for about 7 months and I’m not that thrilled with the little SS amp I’ve been using.

I’ve been thinking about upgrading to a tube amp. Gigging is not in my future; I just want something to make noise around the house and I’d like to hear myself over my wife’s violin.

I’d like an amp I can grow in to not out of. The Monoprice 15W (same as Laney Cub with different reverb) looks attractive at $270. This amp only has one channel. Is that really a negative, or is it just an opportunity to get a pedal for overdrive tones?

Do you have another recommendation for another tube amp suitable for home use?

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  1. which SS amp have you got?
  2. Valve amps are very much louder than SS amps for the same output, a 15W valve amp can easily do smaller gigs!
  3. Valve amps don’t sound good unless they are driven, a 1W valve amp is adequate for bedroom levels (if you’ve got forgiving neighbours)!
    Bearing that in mind I would suggest either a better SS amp or something like a Blackstar HT1R
    Or maybe this:
    Harley Benton TUBE5 Celestion – Thomann UK
  1. I have a cheap no name 20W SS amp.
  2. Yes, i understand that and the amp I referenced has a built-in attenuator to reduce output to 1W.
  3. The Blackstar is one that I’ve been considering as well. Just seems like the Monoprice is a good value for the money.

That Monoprice 15W is an excellent amp for home use! It’s basically a knockoff Fender Blues Jr. circuit, plus a 1 Watt “attenuator” (really just a 2-step Master Volume) and an effects loop. As long as you’re not gonna throw it into the back of a van and bang it around a bunch, it will be OK. You can dial in some nice crunchy overdrive, or run it as a clean pedal-platform.

On the 1W setting, you can get the gain high enough to overdrive the input tubes without pissing off the neighbors or your housemates :slight_smile:

The HB 5W is the same amp as the Monoprice 5W. I prefer the 15W because of the 12” speaker (more bottom end) and the spring reverb.

Tube sound, 12” speaker, spring reverb, can easily be used with a looper, inexpensive, what’s not to like!

Thanks for that Fast-Eddie. Will I be missing anything by only having one channel? Or is it just an opportunity to get an overdrive pedal?

I’m a huge fan of the 15W Monoprice amp. My youtube channel is loaded with recordings using this amp. I can’t say enough good things about it. Get one and you won’t regret it: Ambient Night Loop

It’s a Laney cub under the covers, and a Blues Jr killer in my opinion. :slight_smile:

I bought the monoprice 15 and a Bugera V5 at the same time. I kept the Bugera and returned the monoprice - I found the sound sterile. The Bugera is warmer but bassy - I bought an equalizer pedal to cut the lows.

A Roland microcube was my only amp for many years before getting a tube amp and still sounds good.

Nick: The Bugera 15 is out of production.

I meant Bugera Infinium V5. I’m very happy with it.

Stomp boxes or multi-effects can easily cover all your overdrive and distortion needs. A clean tube amp with plenty of headroom like the Monoprice will always be in style :slight_smile:

For starters, I’d just change the amp settings to switch between high-gain & clean tones. Then, once you know the types of overdrive/distortion you like, you can buy pedals to get those sounds.

Also, if you use a looper, put it into the effects loop. That way, you can record a rhythm track with a clean sound, change the amp settings to get some tube overdrive, and overdub a lead or fill track over it. You can’t do that with a Boss Katana 50! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

One man’s opinion……… :grin:

I’m not sure I understand what sterile is in a musical context. Some say MP15W has a Marshall type of tone, which is anything other than sterile. I get that, and I feel like I can get Fender tweed type of tones out of it as well.

That said, this amp is not perfect, and at that price there is no way it could be. It has an inexpensive speaker and is biased pretty cold. Folks that have had issues with this amp tend to address one or both of those issues and are happily ever after.

I dial it in at the edge of breakup and it does well for me.

I have read about adding the bias on the Monoprice. Also, older versions were delivered with no name tubes. Correctly, they are supposed to have JJ tubes.

Price this morning has jumped up to $300.

Tubes are outrageously priced now cause of the whole Russia thing.

I’ve never heard anyone refer to tube amps being sterile sounding just solid state. I prefer the warm sound of tubes myself but it’s all a matter of taste. The wattage rating is way different between solid state and tubes. My 5watt champ clone is way to loud for the bedroom if you want tube breakup. So i use pedals and they work very well with it.

I don’t own a monoprice but I think it would be good for the price. I’ve heard it’s the cabinet that’s not so great so yeah probably don’t wanna drag it around for gigs.


The price dropped back to $279 so I pulled the trigger and bought one. Got it today and I must say that it sounds a lot better than my first amp. Looking on Amazon today, I see that the price has jumped back up to $299.

Someone mentioned that tube amps are way louder than solid state, and that even a 15w tube amp can fill a club.

I have the Traynor YCS50, which is switchable between 50 and 15 watts. 50 is freakin loud, but 15 is freakin quiet, and is actually way quieter than my 5w SS little Traynor Studio Mate practice amp.

The Studio Mate at 3 volume gets me in trouble with the old lady. The YCS on 15w setting and full volume (but low guitar output volume I should add) doesn’t and is actually perfect for the bedroom.

Of course, it’s not a practice amp and is a couple feet high and wide, and weighs a ton. But if you need something parked in the corner of a room, and like a lot of buttons and knobs then I suggest looking into one.

I also think it sounds amazing.

I’ve a Vox AC30-VR, and its amazing. The all valve AC30 is incredibly loud, whereas the AC30VR has a solid state pre-amp and a valve in the power stage, so you get the valve warmth, but because increasing the master volume doesnt increase gain, you can get the right sound, but use it at low volumes without really losing any tone. You sacrifice some sustain, but it sounds great. I use a treble booster to drive the amp and it works great. ITs not a small amp, and you can get an amazing amount of volume out of it, but for day to day use its really practical. Also not terribly expensive. I got one for not much more than the price of a new Katana.

I’ve heard that argument a million times as well, and personally also have to disagree. I would not feel comfortable gigging with 15W, but I like using amps in the 30W to 40W range for live playing.
They are loud, when played by themselves in a bedroom or basement… but with a drummer, in a room filled with people etc… 15W is not going to cut it IMO. At least not unless you really crank it, which will make it really hard to get proper clean tones.

There is volume, and then there is headroom. I believe you need both when playing live. Most gigs, with a 40W tube head + 2x12 speaker cab, I’ll run the master around halfway to 2/3 up… and for me that’s a sweet spot where you get both power tube saturation, yet your clean tones do not distort (more than you want them to).

But you know, YMMW :wink:

Little nuance.
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 :smiley:

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 :smiley:
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. :smiley:

There’s also the fact that many gigs use PAs, so the amps themselves don’t have to be that loud.

I have heard of artists using 15W solid state amps: mic it up and feed it through the desk and PA and it’s as loud as you want it to be.

Increasingly gigs are inching towards “silent stage” working with instruments/amps going straight to the desk and IEMs.

A local covers band who mostly do gigs in pubs, clubs small festivals, etc. and who I have done sound and lighting for in the past have taken this approach now.

A lot of people don’t like playing this way, and it has taken some of my band friends a while to get used to it, but now they don’t look back.

The amount of equipment they need to take to gigs is almost half what they used to, and the set-up and tear-down takes a fraction of the time, and it is less prone to random failures.

The sound check, which once used to take 20-30 mins, now takes about 5, and the sound in the audience is generally better and less prone to feedback and performance issues due to monitoring problems.

The guitar player has now sold all his valve amps and his pedal board and runs off a Helix (he also has a backup unit) which goes straight into the desk.