When it comes to having fantastic guitar tone at respectful levels of volume, finding the perfect 5-watt guitar amp can be a great purchase. If you have been dreaming of practicing with real tube amp tone, without disturbing the whole neighborhood, a 5-watt guitar amp is probably exactly what you need. They’re lightweight and compact, and best of all are known for their ability to produce that sought-after tube saturation, even at lower volumes.
In this article, we’re reviewing and highlighting key factors like tone, portability, and, of course, all-important wattage. Whether you’re an aspiring rockstar or a home studio enthusiast, we’ll help you to find the right combination of killer tone and amplitude. Fortunately, there’s no need to compromise on sound quality if you are serious about bedroom playing and practice.
The Marshall 2525C Mini Silver Jubilee is a low-watt rendition of the original Silver Jubilee, available in a compact 1×12 combo or head. Crafted with three ECC83 preamp tubes and two EL34 power tubes, it embodies the strength and quality Marshall is known for. The Mini Jubilee is built to last, providing smooth and gradual taper pots in a noiseless framework. It features a 12″ Celestion G12M-25 Greenback speaker in a closed-back cabinet, delivering robust and biting tones.
With straightforward controls, users can effortlessly switch between clean and dirty channels to cater to their sound preferences. The Mini Jubilee also offers two power modes: high and low, which are 20 watts and 5 watts, respectively, making it versatile for different playing environments.
- Compact 1×12 combo or head
- Three ECC83 preamp tubes and two EL34 power tubes
- Smooth and gradual taper pots
- 12″ Celestion G12M-25 Greenback speaker in a closed-back cabinet
- Two power modes: high and low (5 watts for bedroom playing)
The 2525C Mini Silver Jubilee is a high-quality, well-constructed amplifier from a reputable brand. It is priced at roughly US$1,950.
The Mini Jubilee’s dynamic range really does shine even at lower volumes, offering clarity and picking sensitivity. Its clean channel has a clean, Fender Tweed-like growl, even with high input gain. When pushed, it can produce heavy tones at higher gain settings, reminiscent of ’80s L.A. rock. This makes it a great grab-and-go amp and a studio workhorse, offering authentic Marshall tones in a very compact package. It is definitely heavier than other amps from this list, however provides a great alternative to larger stacks if you are looking to take it into a live setting. Its versatility allows it to handle anything thrown at it, making it suitable for small to medium gigs.
For some, it might be a bit heavy and that could defeat the purpose of having a low-watt option in the first place. Tone-wise, it can also be a bit too aggressive for some people, particularly at higher volumes. At the end of the day, it’s still a Marshall, and may be less ideal for those looking for a softer or more mellow sounds. Despite these minor drawbacks, the Marshall 2525C Mini Silver Jubilee remains a robust and versatile amplifier that can cater to a wide range of musical needs. All of its benefits plus the ability to switch between 5-watt and 20-watt modes tips it over the line for us as the best option for most players.
The Fender ’68 Custom Vibro Champ is a compact tube combo amp that provides a modern twist on the classic Silverface Vibro Champ from 1968. Known for its rich, warm, and clear tones, this amp has an updated 5-watt Class A circuit, a 10-inch Celestion Ten 30 speaker, and a foot-switchable DSP hall reverb with level control. This compact and lightweight amp is perfect for small performances and home practices, designed with a modern-style PCB and touch-sensitive response for quality digital reverb and tremolo.
- Compact and portable design
- Updated 5-watt Class A circuit for a rich, warm, and clear tone
- 10-inch Celestion Ten 30 speaker for enhanced low-end
- Foot-switchable DSP hall reverb with level control
- Modern-style PCB and touch-sensitive response
- Great for small performances and home practice sessions
The Fender ’68 Custom Vibro Champ is well-priced for the quality and performance it delivers. Considering the brand’s reputation for high-quality guitars and amplifiers, this model provides good value for money at roughly US$899.
The Fender ’68 Custom Vibro Champ delivers a rich and warm tone that’s clear and sparkly (classic Fender). Its touch-sensitive dynamics, combined with a two-band EQ and the use of different types of pickups, allowed me to achieve a great range of sounds. The amp produces a smooth grind that becomes more saturated and sustaining as the volume was turned up. It has a good balance and presence, and it’s impressive in terms of low-end delivery and volume.
The reverb sounds sweet and natural, and the tremolo adds a unique, deep sound to my playing. I can say that it’s a flexible and inspiring amp to play. It’s also compact and lightweight, which makes it easy to carry around.
On the downside, the two-button reverb/vibrato foot switch is not included, and that’s a bit of a letdown. I also found that while the digital reverb is quite decent, it might not appeal to some players who prefer a tube-driven reverb. The lack of an effects loop also limits the options for using time-based pedals in the signal chain.
Overall, the Fender ’68 Custom Vibro Champ is a versatile, powerful, and reliable amp that’s ideal for practice and small performances. Despite its shortcomings, it’s a worthy alternative to vintage Vibro Champs and a good option for players of all levels who want to achieve classic Fender tones at bedroom-levels.
The Tone King Gremlin is a quintessential low-wattage combo amplifier that encapsulates the cranked blackface and tweed-era tones. It is a compact, 5-watt, 1×12″ all-tube combo that is designed for optimal use at home or for jamming with a drummer. The amp boasts two inputs and a simple control layout, making it convenient to find the perfect tone. The Rhythm channel offers a blackface tone with bell-like highs and increased headroom, while the Lead input provides a tweed-style drive.
The Gremlin also has an optional A/B/Y footswitch for switching between channels. The amplifier comes equipped with an onboard Ironman II power attenuator to control volume levels. The Gremlin is applauded for its vintage vibe and versatility.
- Delivers cranked blackface and tweed-era tones.
- The amp features two inputs and a simple control layout for convenience.
- The Rhythm channel offers increased headroom, while the Lead input provides a more driven voice.
- It includes an onboard Ironman II power attenuator for volume control.
- It comprises a custom-voiced Celestion speaker that delivers detailed overtones, warm lows, and vocal-like mids.
- The amp is meticulously hand-wired using premium materials.
The Tone King Gremlin is priced at roughly US$1395
The Tone King Gremlin is a highly versatile amplifier, which can produce a range of tones from clean and chimey to gritty and overdriven. The single-channel design with a simple control layout, including knobs for volume, tone, and gain, makes it user-friendly. Its built-in spring reverb is a standout feature, adding depth and dimension to the sound. The power scaling technology is an innovative feature that allows adjusting the wattage output of the amp, making it ideal for both home and stage use.
The Gremlin is powered by a pair of 6V6 power tubes, known for their warm and responsive tone, and a 12AX7 preamp tube, which adds extra gain and saturation to the sound. This ensures a vintage-inspired tone with a modern twist, characterized by a rich and dynamic clean sound and a smooth and creamy overdrive when the gain is cranked up. Its built-in spring reverb adds a lush and spacious ambience to the sound, enhancing depth and dimension.
Moreover, the Gremlin features a built-in effects loop, making it possible to connect favorite pedals and effects, which adds to its versatility. However, it’s notable that an optional A/B/Y footswitch is required to bridge the two channels, Rhythm and Lead, which may cause inconvenience to some.
Blackstar HT5R is an amplifier known for its versatility, compactness, and power. This small amp, part of the HT Venue MKII series, is a 5-watt valve amp that offers a variety of tonal characteristics. It is equipped with an ECC83 preamp tube and 12BH7 power amp valve and delivers a warm, rich tone.
The amp has two channels, Clean and Overdrive, with selectable voicings for each channel, and is footswitchable for easy transition between channels.
Designed for both practice and studio recording, the amp is also suitable for small gigs due to its loud volume. The robust design, with a black vinyl finish and chrome knobs, lends to its durability.
- Allows for a range of voicings with its Infinite Shape Feature (ISF) function.
- Versatility with two channels and two voices per channel.
- Compact and easy to transport.
- Includes a built-in reverb effect for added depth to your sound.
- Features stereo speaker emulated output and USB audio output for easy recording.
- Power reduction feature allows for low-volume practice.
The Blackstar HT-5R MkII is priced around US$549, demonstrating its affordability, given the features and quality it offers.
The Blackstar HT5R offers a wide range of tones and is well-suited to home use. It has a solid build, and its loud volume even on the 0.5W mode makes it impressive. The drive channel, especially, emits a fantastic sound when used with a Fender Strat. The amp provides excellent tone and signal retention even with a pedal setup.
In terms of connectivity, the line output and USB output deliver great quality. However, some digital noise might occur when connected to a PC. The controls, though comprehensive, are placed in a manner that can be tricky to see.
While the amp delivers versatile and high-quality valve tones, it’s noted that it might not have as much gain for modern metal styles. The versatile functionality and affordability of the Blackstar HT-5R MkII make it a popular choice among guitarists. Overall, the product offers exceptional tone and versatility in a compact and portable package.
The Supro ’64 Reverb is a compact and versatile 5-watt, 1×8 combo amp with tube-driven spring reverb. Known for its balanced and solid tone with sparkling highs, this amp is suitable for both quiet at-home playing and recording studio sessions. Its compact design and array of features such as independent gain and master volume controls, a 2-band EQ, three line outputs, and an 8-inch Jensen C8R speaker make it a prime choice for various playing situations.
- 5-watt power output with tube-driven analog spring reverb for added depth and dimension to the sound.
- Independent gain and master volume controls and a 2-band EQ for maximum flexibility.
- The amp features three line outputs optimized for feeding another guitar amplifier or recording console.
- The 8-inch Jensen C8R speaker responds well to overdrive and distortion.
- The amp can be used as an effects unit or direct recording preamp.
- Premium look and feel with custom Blue Rhino Hide tolex, Supro Silver/Blue grill cloth, engraved headplate, white piping, and a dog bone handle.
- Can be used as part of a wet/dry rig setup with other amplifiers.
The pricing of the Supro ’64 Reverb sits at roughly US$999, depending on the retailer.
Delving into the specifics, the Supro ’64 Reverb is adored for recreating the classic sound of the 1960s vintage tube amps. It provides a warm and rich tone, thanks to its pair of 6973 power tubes and three 12AX7 preamp tubes. Its built-in spring reverb tank is a feature that is cherished for adding depth and dimension to the sound.
The compact and portable design of the amp makes it easy to carry around for gigs or practice sessions. It’s suitable for both studio recording and live performances with its power output of 15 watts.
The Supro ’64 Reverb exhibits a great blend of vintage and modern appeal with its blue rhino hide tolex covering and a silver grille cloth. The separate controls for volume, tone, and reverb on each channel are lauded as they allow for tailoring the desired tone for rhythm and lead playing.
The amplifier’s reception in the community has been positive, as it successfully captures the essence of classic tube amps while offering modern reliability and convenience. However, it is important to note that it might not be possible to try out the amps before purchasing due to potential availability issues.
The Morgan Amps PR5 is a 5-watt, 1×12-inch tube combo amplifier that is known for delivering warm and vintage-inspired tones. This compact and portable design provides easy transportation for gigging or practice sessions. The amp features a simple control layout including volume, tone, and reverb controls which allow for easy customization of your sound. It is a versatile amp that can handle a variety of playing styles and genres.
- Compact and portable design for easy transport
- Versatile amp suitable for various playing styles and genres
- Warm and vintage-inspired tone perfect for blues, rock, and other genres
- Built-in reverb for added depth and dimension to your guitar tone
- Simple control layout (volume, tone, reverb controls) for easy customization
- Excellent build quality and durability
- 1×12-inch speaker provides a balanced and full-bodied sound
- Responsiveness and touch sensitivity allows players to express themselves fully
The price for the Morgan PR5 sits at roughly US$2,000.
The PR5 is a high-quality tube combo amplifier that delivers a rich and dynamic tone. It’s been noted that when pushed, this amp presents a nice breakup which is admired by many. The built-in spring reverb is lush and atmospheric, adding depth and dimension to the tone. The vintage-inspired design of the amp with black tolex covering and silver control panel is visually appealing and gives it a classic touch. This amp also boasts a leather handle for added convenience.
The PR5 is equipped with a single 12AX7 preamp tube and a single EL84 power tube, contributing to its warm and rich sound. It has a dual-channel design, including a clean channel for a pristine and articulate tone and a gain channel for a wide range of overdrive and distortion options. This versatility makes it suitable for various musical styles.
Furthermore, the three-band EQ section allows players to shape their tone to their liking. It has controls for bass, middle, and treble, providing users the ability to dial in the perfect sound for their playing style. In terms of connectivity, it offers a single input jack for connecting the guitar, a speaker output for an external cabinet, a headphone output for silent practice, and an effects loop for integrating external effects pedals.
The PR5 is housed in a sturdy and compact cabinet, making it easy to transport and set up. This makes it ideal for both practice sessions and small gigs. However, its 5-watt power output, while sufficient for home use and small gigs, might not be enough for larger venues or performances demanding higher volumes.
The Bugera V5 Infinium is an all-tube combo amp that delivers an impressive tone and a host of features, making it an ideal choice for both beginners and experienced guitarists. Its vintage design, with a cream tolex front panel and a large chromed Bugera logo, adds to its aesthetic appeal.
Despite being compact and weighing just over 22lb, this amp is fitted with an 8″ Turbosound speaker that delivers an organic, airy tone. The control panel is simple and user-friendly, featuring gain, tone, volume, and reverb dials, and the amp is powered by a 12AX7 in the preamp stage and an EL34 in the power section.
- Affordable all-tube combo amp suitable for beginners and experienced players
- Vintage design with a cream tolex front panel and a large chromed Bugera logo
- Compact and lightweight, making it portable and easy to carry
- Fitted with an 8″ Turbosound speaker that delivers an organic, airy tone
- Simple and user-friendly control panel featuring gain, tone, volume, and reverb dials
- Powered by a 12AX7 in the preamp stage and an EL34 in the power section, delivering a great tone
- Offers power attenuation down to 1 and 0.1 watts, making it a versatile choice
- Tube life multiplier technology that requires minimal maintenance
- Ideal for blues and blues rock genres
The Bugera V5 Infinium is an affordable option for those seeking the quality of an all-tube combo amp, making it a popular choice among beginners and experienced guitarists alike. It offers great value for money at roughly US$270.
On the positive side, the Bugera V5 Infinium delivers a great tone, especially when the gain is maxed, producing a hint of chug. With the gain down low, it provides nice cleans. Its Turbosound speaker performs admirably, with good bass response and a bit of sparkle in the top end. Furthermore, the amp also features a reverb, although it may not feel as organic as a real spring reverb.
However, despite its advantages, the Bugera V5 Infinium offers a narrow range of controls, which may limit some functionalities. Nevertheless, its dynamic response and suitability for pedals make it a versatile choice for guitarists. Its compact size, combined with its ability to deliver a punchy vintage British tone, makes it an optimal choice for those in search of a small, high-performing tube amp.
As an affordable alternative, the Monoprice 5 Watt Tube Amp delivers similarly fantastic all-tube tones for even less. Another contender in the same price range is the Blackstar HT1R MKII, which offers a little less power but is great for serious crunch at reasonable volumes. Despite these alternatives, the Bugera V5 Infinium remains a great platform for upgrades and mods, adding to its appeal.
The Supro Delta King 10 is a potent 5-watt tube amp acclaimed for its versatility and vintage sound. With an all-tube signal path and a 10-inch speaker, it delivers a warm and rich sound, making it an attractive choice for players across various genres. The amp offers a dual-channel setup, one clean and one dirty, coupled with an in-built boost and reverb controls, providing an array of tonal possibilities.
- Versatility: The Supro Delta King 10 can easily produce a range of tones, from clean, treble-rich tones to cranked amp breakup.
- Pedal-Friendly: Known as a pedal platform amp, it can alter its clean and compressed sound with pickups, pedals, and signal chain setup.
- Built-In Features: The amp includes a built-in boost switch and reverb controls for enhanced tonal shaping.
- Portability: Its lightweight design makes it easy to transport and perfect for gigs.
- Sturdy Construction: The amp features high-quality components and craftsmanship, promising durability and reliability.
The Supro Delta King 10 is reasonably priced at US$599, a competitive cost considering its features, sound quality, and the versatility it offers.
The Supro Delta King 10 shines with its compactness and portability, making it a great choice for practice sessions and small gigs. The single 6L6 power tube and a 12AX7 preamp tube contribute to its warm, rich sound. The built-in reverb adds depth and dimension to the tone, enhancing its vintage feel. It has an uncomplicated control layout, making it easy for players to dial in their desired sound.
The design of the amp draws inspiration from the classic era, featuring a tweed covering and a leather handle. The 10-inch speaker ensures a clear and articulate sound, balancing lows, mids, and highs effectively. The Supro Delta King 10 can cater to a variety of musical styles, exhibiting its versatility.
Nonetheless, the Supro Delta King 10 is not without its shortcomings. The amp might feel too compressed at the lowest volumes, which could deter some players. There’s no dedicated midrange EQ control, and it can sound a bit thin at certain settings. Also, the amp can get a bit noisy when cranked, especially with single-coil pickups. Hence, while the Supro Delta King 10 is a fantastic little amp that delivers impressive tube tone, these minor drawbacks should be considered.
In the world of guitar amplifiers, the power they’ve got, shown in wattage, has a big impact on their tone and overall sound. You can think of this power as a measure of the amp’s capacity, affecting how it responds and the tone it produces. Amps with higher wattage usually have more “headroom”, meaning they can handle higher volumes without distorting the sound. On the other hand, amps with lower wattage often produce a more saturated and compressed tone when you play them at lower volumes.
A 5-watt amplifier has several advantages that might make it the right choice for you. Because of its smaller size, it’s lightweight and compact, so it’s easy to move around and great for smaller spaces or gig venues. Plus, 5-watt amps are known for their ability to create a natural tube saturation even at lower volumes. This lets you get that sought-after “cranked amp” tone without being too loud or drowning out your bandmates. These amps can also be a good choice in recording scenarios because their lower wattage makes microphone placement easier and the sound more manageable in the studio.
But remember, an amp’s wattage isn’t the only thing that affects its tone and performance. Other factors like the type of tubes used, the circuit design, and the speaker configuration also play a big part in shaping the sound. So when you’re choosing an amp, you’ve got to think about your specific needs and preferences, since wattage is just one piece of the puzzle. Trying out different wattages and amp types can help you find the perfect match for your playing style and musical goals.
There are several compelling reasons why you might want to consider getting a 5-watt amp, especially if you’re a bedroom guitarist or running a small home recording studio. One of the main advantages of a small powered tube combo, like a 5-watt amp, is its ability to offer a distinctive tone and experience. Unlike some larger amps that need the volume cranked up to extract their full tonal potential, a 5-watt amp lets you achieve a rich, warm, and fat tone at lower volumes. This comes in handy in a residential setting where you might have volume restrictions.
Moreover, tube amps, including those with lower wattages like 5-watt amps, are often easier to manipulate and sound good at lower volumes compared to solid-state amps. Some amps even have power scaling options to reduce the wattage further, making them an excellent choice for achieving great tones at lower volumes in smaller rooms.
Lastly, a 5-watt amp can also give you the flexibility to experiment with a variety of pedals to further enhance your tone. Whether it’s using an overdrive pedal at low volumes, a volume pedal acting as an attenuator, or a booster placed in the effects loop, a 5-watt amp can be a great canvas for exploring different pedal and amp combinations. Keep in mind, the key to achieving great tones isn’t just in your gear, but in your mind, fingers, and ability to make the most of what you have.
When you’re immersed in the beauty of music, every note counts, and that’s just as true for your guitar amplifier. A 5-watt amp might not seem like much, but it can pack a punch with its rich, warm, and fat tone, even at low volumes. They’re compact and lightweight, making them easy to carry around, perfect for small gigs, practice, and recording sessions.
Don’t overlook the unique charm they bring to the table. They’re capable of producing the coveted tube saturation, or the “cranked amp” tone at friendly volumes, proving their worth. They might not offer the highest headroom or the loudest sound, but these amps more than make up for it with their tonal richness and versatility.
Remember, your sound isn’t just about the wattage of your amp, but a combination of factors like the type of tubes, circuit design, and speaker configuration. A 5-watt amp, with its distinctive set of features and benefits, could be a great addition to your gear. But it’s also important to think about your specific needs, musical style, and the environment you’ll be playing in.
The world of 5-watt guitar amps offers a variety of options, each with its unique flavor and characteristics. From the versatility of the Blackstar HT5R and the vintage vibe of the Tone King Gremlin to the robustness of the Marshall 2525C Mini Silver Jubilee.