7 Best Tube Amps (For Stage, Studio, and Home Use)

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  • Looking for clean, lead, and crunch guitar tones at the flick of a switch?
  • We present seven of the best tube amps in the current market
  • Our top picks feature Fender, Marshall, Vox, Mesa Boogie, and more
  • Also, check out our post on the best 12-inch guitar speakers (with great tone)!

Every guitar player dreams of spell-casting tube amps that make guitars sing. Not just sing — but croon, warble, chime, quiver, and grunt with gusto. It’s a mission-critical ingredient to sauce the sonic stew, more so with built-in tremolo and long-tank reverb to sweeten the deal.

Such an amp exists. Buying it is a red-letter moment, and we’ll help you find it.

Here’s how we define the best tube guitar amps – they are well-built, authentically-voiced, valve-based amplifiers that take pedals well and have fine springy reverb. They should be easy to transport and operate, allowing guitar players to focus on what matters – making music.

We also took a moment to consult pro guitarists who own over a dozen amps and are familiar with the best tube guitar amp brands on both sides of the pond. They unanimously agree the best amplifier should score well on four attributes – build/design, tone, ease of use, and value.

Based on that, we selected seven top-rated tube amps in the current market, ranging from easy break-up house-trained combos to amps with scaled power, killer tone stacks, and headroom to spare.

So, use this guide to buy the tube amp of your dreams, or two, if you should be so lucky.

The Best Tube Amps

Our top pick is the Mesa/Boogie Mark V 35. In it, we found the mother’s milk for ear-splitting Plexi-style cleans, Tweedy blues nectar, hot-rodded vintage sounds, and beefy hi-gain tones. We tout it (and the comparable amp head)  as the best tube guitar amps for stage and studio use.

For guitarists on a budget, the Blackstar HT Club 40 MkII 6L6 is the best budget tube amp for the money. This high-gain fire breather can bare its teeth at home levels and tear paint off the venue walls. It’s for rock and metal players and has stellar recording features for under $1000.

The Fender Blues Junior IV is the best low-watt tube amp if you love spanking cleans and all-American drive but ditch it for the Marshall Studio Vintage 20C if you play your blues in a rock ‘n’ roll register with a Brit accent.

Here are the best tube guitar amps you can buy online in 2022, according to our research.

  1. Mesa/Boogie Mark V 35 (Our Pick)
  2. Blackstar HT Club 40 MkII 6L6 (Best Budget)
  3. Fender Blues Junior IV (Best For Blues)
  4. Fender ’68 Custom Deluxe Reverb (Best Cleans)
  5. Vox AC30C2X (Best For Gigging)
  6. Supro Royale 1932R Royale (Best For Pedals)
  7. Marshall Studio Vintage 20C (Best For Rock)

1. Mesa/Boogie Mark V 35 (Our Pick)

Our Pick
Mesa/Boogie Mark V 35

The Mesa/Boogie Mark Five: 35 tube amp combo delivers legendary Mesa tone from its Mark Series preamp and proprietary Dyna-watt, 4 x EL84 output section. Pushing the EL84 power tubes lets you dial in everything from sweet cleans to roaring leads.

Why We Love It:
  • Wide range of tones
  • Ultra-rugged design
  • 5-band graphic EQ
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“A multifaceted tube amplifier that’s a cut above the competition by any means of assessment.”

The Mark V 35 outranks the chicest bijou tube amps with its top-notch build, premium components, and prodigious engineering. It’s a do-anything amplifier with modern features and a never-ending palette of tones.

Imaginably, the Mark V 35 costs a pretty penny, but it boasts significant selling points you won’t find even in the best tube amps under $2,000.


  • Type: 22W 2-Channel Combo Tube Amp
  • Speaker: 1x 12” Celestion C90
  • Power modes: 35W, 25W, 10W
  • Preamp Tubes: 6 x 12AX7
  • Power amp tubes: 4 x EL84
  • Weight: 27 lbs.


The Mark V 35 provides a king-sized palette of sounds with 6 modes across 2 foot-switchable channels. Sounds range from bell-like cleans to classic crunch and hi-gain madness. It’s uncanny how well this amp imitates the tones of “specialist” models, habitually sounding better.

The clean channel offers three modes – Clean, Fat, and Crunch, and the second channel unleashes epic amounts of gain with Mark IIC+, Mark IV, and Xtreme modes. There are the usual independent controls for each channel alongside a salutary mid-boost function.

We particularly love the 5-band graphic EQ for total tonal control, a classic feature of Mark V amps. You can solo boost both channels to turn them softer or louder, with or without the footswitch. Likewise, you can sweeten up the tone with the all-tube long-tank spring reverb.

The back panel has a speaker out, FX loop, headphone out, and CabClone – our favorite feature.

ClabClone is an XLR DI out that doubles up as a speaker simulator with muting abilities and Closed Back, Open Back, and Vintage voicing modes. You can use it for recording, headphone practice, and/or in conjunction with mic-ing the speaker for a blended tone. So-on-the-money!

Who should get this combo tube amp?

The Mark V 35 has a chameleon-like ability to adapt to different styles and genres. It’s one of the best tube combo amps for anyone who can afford it. It’s not aimed at home use or for beginners, given the cost and overwhelming amount of features.


The Mesa Boogie Mark V 35 is a sure thing in the guitar community, with rave reviews from the press and players. If you want the best tube amp on the market, this is the crowned head, and it’s worth a king’s ransom. Then again, it has features and sounds that pay you back in full.

P.S. – The 19” V 35 amp head would be our top pick for the best tube amp head, too.

What are the best alternatives to consider? The V 35 is only dwarfed by its 90W sibling. You can buy the slightly cheaper Black Taurus without the fancy woodwork and basket weave grille.

2. Blackstar HT Club 40 MkII 6L6 (Best Budget)

Best Budget
Blackstar HT Club 40 MkII 6L6

This amp’s headroom and tighter low-mid punch supply a sound that is distinctly American, all while retaining the boutique character, limitless gain range, and versatile ISF contour of its predecessor. In addition to its new tube layup, a stock Celestion Seventy-80 12" speaker gives this amp the edge for spangly surf and country cleans to SoCal-sourced power chord pummeling.

Why We Love It:
  • Affordable
  • Tight midrange
  • Dual EL34 power tubes
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“The best budget tube amp with killer crunch tones and studio-friendly features.”

The HT Club 40 carries the familiar Blackstar control layout and has two independent channels for clean and gain tones. The state-of-the-art tone stack and multi-voiced gain channel deliver superlative distortion sounds, and there’s a wealth of modern features to facilitate recording.

We think it’s a high-value pick for stage or home use, if not the best tube amp under $1,000.


  • Type: 40W 2-Channel all-tube combo amp
  • Speaker: 1x 12” Celestion Seventy-80
  • Power modes: 40W, 4W
  • Preamp Tubes: 2 x ECC83 12AX7
  • Power amp tubes: 2 x 6L6 valves
  • Weight: 53 lbs.


Keep the HT Club 40 on your wishlist if you want the best budget tube amp. It has a Celestion 70-80 with 40 watts of power that can be cut down to 4 watts. There are 2 foot-switchable channels – one for clean tones with bass and treble controls and another for high-gain overdrive tones.

The overdrive tone stack has bass, mid, and treble, mid controls. They can be paired with the Infinity Shape Feature knob to move from a dirty Marshall sound to a modern mid-forward hi-gain sound. Tweaking the voicing switch and infinity knob can result in cool hybrid tones.

The HT 40 is one of the best stage-ready tube amps, no doubt, but it’s tailored for tracking, too.

Out back, there’s an XLR out, speaker outs, a USB port to connect to an interface or computer, an effects loop, and 1/4″ direct recording output that doubles up as a headphone jack. The digital reverb has bright and dark algorithms and sounds as good as faux springs get.

Who should get this guitar tube amplifier?

The HT Club 40 is a top choice for guitarists who rub elbows with overdrive and distortion. The effects loops (w/ level switch) let you integrate pedals, and there’s plenty of gain for gigging guitarists.

The recording outs and emulated out make it equally handy for tracking, meaning it’s a great all-around tube amplifier for the money.


The Blackstar HT Club 40 is unrivaled in its price range (under $1000). The compact size and abundance of features make it ideal for studio, stage, and home use.

It’s often touted as one of the best budget tube amps for metal and rock due to its tone-sculpting prowess in the overdrive channel.

What are the best alternatives to consider? Many guitar players recommend the Marshall DSL40CR as the best budget tube amp if you like the Celestion V-type speaker. 

Related: 7 Best Guitar Amps For Apartments (Portable and Discreet)

3. Fender Blues Junior IV (Best For Blues)

Fender Blues Junior IV

One of the most-beloved small combo amps in the world, the Fender Blues Junior IV adds modified preamp circuitry, smoother-sounding spring reverb, and improved aesthetics that any player is sure to appreciate. A 15-watt favorite in any setting, this amp is ideal for guitarists who need to hit the stage or studio at a moment's notice with a warm tone and versatile features.

Why We Love It:
  • Spring reverb
  • Portable size
  • Wide range of tones
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“Pure, simple, and affordable, the Junior is probably the best low-watt tube amp under $1000.”

The Blues Junior IV is an all-tube combo amp with a 12” Celestion A-Type speaker and genuine spring reverb. It sounds charming at low volumes and equally impressive when driven.

The new preamp mod makes it sound bolder than its predecessors while leaving plenty of headroom for pedals.

It’s our top pick for home use and also the best small tube amp for blues.


  • Type: 15W 1-channel all-tube combo amp
  • Tubes: 3 x 12AX7A (preamp), 2 x EL84 (power amp)
  • Speaker: 1x 12-inch Celestion A-Type
  • Effects: Spring reverb, drive
  • Weight: 31 lbs


The Blues Junior IV features a 12” Celestion A-Type speaker, 12AX7 preamp tubes, a modified preamp circuit, and genuine spring reverb. The amplifier weighs 31.5 pounds, measuring 16 x 18 x 9.18 inches. It ships with a 1-button footswitch to beef up the mid-range while gigging.

The black vinyl and yellowed-out grille cloth give it a Blackface-like vibe. The no-frills control panel has an off/off switch with volume, treble, bass, mid, master, and reverb knobs. Despite the simplicity, this tube amplifier is versatile enough to complement many styles.

The amp responds to soft playing with saturation and growls back when provoked. The EL84 power section delivers powerful cleans and drive tones, even with multiple stomps activated. The lows are clear, the mid-range is focused, and the top end has just the right amount of brightness.

Who should get this guitar tube amplifier?

The Blue Junior is a fuss-free amp, easily one of the best valve amps for blues in its price range ($1,000). The manageable size, huge tone, and simple operation make it ideal for hassle-free live performances. Moreover, it’s a great pedal platform and combines with speakers effortlessly.

P.S. – The Blues Junior Lacquered Tweed favors a Jensen C12-N over the Celestion A-Type, and it would be our pick for the best low-watt tube amp with a vintage voice.


The Blues Junior IV tube amplifier packs the best sounds in this size and price range. You won’t get a natural break up at home levels without rattling windows; cranking amps in tiny apartments is a fool’s errand.

If you want a tube amp for home use and the full-volume experience, get a high-quality amp attenuator to soak up some of the wattage.

What are the best alternatives to this combo tube amp? The Mesa/Boogie 6V6 is another blues classic with three-dimensional sweetness and lush reverb to boot.

The Fender Pro JR IV would be the best small tube amp (5W), still quite loud but more manageable for home use.

Related: 7 Best Low Wattage Amps (For Blues & Jazz)

4. Fender ’68 Custom Deluxe Reverb (Best Cleans)

Fender ’68 Deluxe Reverb

The 2-channel '68 Custom Deluxe Reverb all-tube combo amp delivers everything you love about classic, late-'60s Fender amplifiers and then some. Its all-tube circuitry, handwired tube sockets, and custom-made Schumacher transformers make this one of the most accurate historical tribute amps ever made. 

Why We Love It:
  • Versatile
  • Classic look and design
  • Greater tonal flexibility
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“The best tube amps for hot-rodded punch and classic American guitar tones.”

The ’68 Custom Deluxe Reverb is a modern classic with the best bits of the late-’60s Fender amplifiers. It’s a compact and contemporary package for today’s guitar player, but deep inside, it houses an all-time great amp circuit chock-full of authentic American rock ‘n roll flavor.


  • Type: 22W 2-Channel all-tube combo amp
  • Speaker: 1x 12” Celestion G12V-70
  • Preamp Tubes: 4 x 12AX7, 2 x 12AT7
  • Power amp tubes: 2 x 6L6 w/ a GZ34 rectifier
  • Weight: 42 lbs. (19kg)


The Fender ’68 Custom Deluxe Reverb (CDR) pays a hot-rodded homage to the ‘60s sound of Silverface amplifiers. Everything is vintage-spec’d, from the Silverface cosmetics to the hand-wired tube sockets and the custom Schumacher transformers.

This 2-channel tube amp provides two contrasting voices. The vintage channel has the recognizable sounds of Deluxe Reverb, aka bona fide American cleans. The second channel takes after the Bassman, spewing fat tones without a modified tone circuit.

The ’68 CDR is also one of the best pedal-platform tube amps in its price range (under $2,000). The modified tone circuit lets it overdrive faster, and there are inspired distortion with drive pedals in the mix. The onboard reverb and tremolo are top-notch, so it’s equally usable without ‘boards.

Who should get this tube amplifier?

The Fender Deluxe Reverb is a top choice for semi-pro and pro guitarists who play country, classic rock, and blues. The economic proportions make it an excellent tube amp for stage and studio use. There is no power attenuation, so it’s difficult to hit overdrive-at-home volumes.


Fender ’68 Custom Deluxe Reverb strikes a perfect balance of tone, power, and headroom. It has citrusy cleans, balanced power, and ample headroom for pedals. The functionality is limited to foot-switchable effects, and you won’t find boosts or effects loops.

Then again, this is an amp you buy for its robust build, authentic American tones, and instantly-recognizable retro-modern garb.

What are the best alternatives to consider? The Fender 68 Custom Vibro Champ (5 watts) will be a better choice if you want a small tube amp for home use.

Related: 7 Best Clean Guitar Amps (That Take Pedals Well)

5. Vox AC30C2X (Best For Gigging)

Vox AC30C2X

The AC30C2X is the most versatile AC30 in Vox history! Plug into this Custom Series guitar amp, and you'll hear what we mean. Based on the classic AC30 design, the exciting new AC30C2X offers two channels - normal and top boost. Claim your own classic sound using the top boost channel's treble and bass controls while tweaking the tone cut and volume controls in the master section.

Why We Love It:
  • Foot-switchable reverb and tremolo
  • Perfect for gigs
  • Chiming cleans and a driven mid-range
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“With complex harmonics and a gravelly bite, this is the best tube amplifier across the pond.”

The Vox AC30C2X has been used by The Beatles, Queen, Fleetwood Mac, and other legendary rock outfits. This peerless tube amp is famous for its chiming cleans and a driven mid-range that defined the Brit-invasion era. It looks fetching, sounds iconic, and takes pedals like a dream.


  • Type: 30W 2-Channel all-tube combo amp
  • Speakers: 2 x 12-inch Celestion Blues
  • Preamp Tubes: 3 x 12AX7
  • Power amp tubes: 4 x EL84
  • Weight: 73 lbs.


With a two-channel function, the VOX AC30C2X employs 12″ Celestion Alnico Blue speakers and draws 30W of power from 3 x 12AX7 preamp and 4 x EL84 power tubes. Both channels have an independent volume control, and there’s lush foot-switchable reverb and tremolo.

The all-tube amp sounds majestic and responds with a gravelly bite when you crank the volume. Gigging guitarists can hook up an extension cabinet to move more air on stages. There’s a true bypass effects loop to facilitate pedals in the tonal path, but we’d argue it doesn’t need one.

Everyone will instantly recognize the look of this tube amp. Tone-wise, many players feel the Alnico Blues speakers bring out the classic Vox tone better than Greenback speakers. We agree after witnessing the to-die-for clean sounds and harmonically rich, textured overdrive.

Who should get this tube amplifier?

The Vox AC30C2 is one of the best British-style tube amps under $2,000. It’s beastly loud, very musical, and one of the best tube guitar amps for recording, gigging, and rehearsals. But it is too loud to use at home unless you get a load box or power attenuator.


Nothing compares to a Vox AC30C2 if you are charmed by Brit-invasion sounds. It has brilliant tones and power to offer alongside essential features for gigging guitarists. It’s touted as the best tube amp across the pond, and nothing changes when it lands on the northern continent.

What are the best alternatives? If you want to go more compact, the Vox AC15C1 is probably the best low-watt tube amp for the money, although it comes with a Greenback speaker.

Related: 7 Best Clean Guitar Amps (That Take Pedals Well)

6. Supro Royale 1932R Royale (Best For Pedals)

Supro Royale 1932R Royale

The Supro 1932R Royale guitar combo amplifier is engineered for vibrant tube tone, sonic flexibility, and ample headroom. It gives you enough stage volume to handle any gig, while its headroom also makes it a wonderful platform for complex pedal rigs. Select the 35-watt mode for Class A operation, which delivers the classic Supro sound with spongy midrange response.

Why We Love It:
  • Pedal-routing flexibility
  • Vibrant tone
  • Sonic versatility
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“A pedal-friendly tube amplifier with vintage appeal, modern features, and headroom to spare.

Supro has always designed fantastic pedal-centric tube amplifiers. But ever since D’Angelico acquired them, the brand has been on a mission to rebrand its “saturated” image.

In other words, the Supro DNA has been scrambled to appeal to a wider range of guitarists, and the Model 1932R successfully leads the charge as one of the best tube guitar amps to team up with pedals.


  • Type: Single channel 50W Class AB Tube Combo Amp
  • Speaker: 1x 12” Eminence BD12
  • Power modes: 35-watt (cathode-biased), 50-watt (grid-biased)
  • Preamp Tubes: 3 x 12AX7, 1 x 12AT7, 1 x 12DW7
  • Power amp tubes: 2 x 5881 (similar to 6L6)
  • Weight: 49 lbs. 


The Supro Royale 1932R is dressed in a distinct ‘60s era textured vinyl and a contrasting hemp grille cloth. It features an Eminence BD12 speaker and draws power from 5881 tubes. The control panel has the usual knobs alongside switches for boost, effects loop, and spring reverb.

The 3-way switch toggles power to 50W in class AB mode (grid bias), 35W in class A mode (cathode bias), and standby mode.

The AB mode sounds loud and punchy, with an overtly Fender-like personality. It can take several pedals, spitting tones with exceptional clarity.

There’s more Supro-flavor when you switch to 35W, best defined as thick spongy mids and sizzling highs. The cathode-biased tones are juicy with the volume cranked (independent of pedals) and competent with drive pedals, yielding great tones for lead freakouts.

Who should get this tube amplifier?

We recommend this tube amp for gigging and recording but not for home use due to the lack of volume reduction. Both modes play nicely with pedals and benefit from the flexible onboard boost with adjustable gain.

The buffered effects loop ensures no tone loss, and the onboard reverb + dwell control yields a range of splashy sounds.


The Supro 1932R Royale is a top choice among pedal-platform amps under $1,500. At 49 lbs, you can easily escort it from the passenger seat to the stage/studio and back. The looks owe a debt to antiquity, but it’s an affordable and high-functioning amplifier for today’s guitar player.

What are the best alternatives? Most of the amps on our list sound great, with multiple pedals running through them. We picked the 1932 Royale as the best pedal-platform amp because it is explicitly designed to be a great base for pedals.

7. Marshall Studio Vintage 20C (Best For Rock)

Marshall Studio Vintage 20C

The Marshall Studio Vintage is based on an amp that inspired generations of iconic guitarists, the 1959SLP. Marshall Studio Vintage amps deliver the unmistakable tone shaping and harmonics that are expected from the 1959SLP in a portable format. You can play anything from saturated blues tones to biting leads for classic rock.

Why We Love It:
  • Old-school cleans
  • Effects loop
  • 3-band EQ
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“Iconic tones and modern features, the SV20C is one of the best tube guitar amps under $2,000.”

We started our search with the Marshall Origin 50C, but it doesn’t quite have the vintage Marshall sound we were looking for. Plus, it lacks channel switching and on-board reverb.

So, we zeroed in on Marshall SV20C, famed for its plexi-like old-school cleans and genre-defining crunch. It offers timeless looks, eminently muscular tones, and a host of features for a fair price.


  • Type: Single channel 20/5-watt all-tube combo amp
  • Speaker: 1x 10” Celestion V-Type
  • Power modes: 30-watt, 5-watt
  • Preamp Tubes: 3 x 12AX7
  • Power amp tubes: 2 x EL24
  • Weight: 35 lbs.


The Marshall SV20C is a manageably-sized version of the ’59 Super Lead but with modern features like an effects loop to integrate pedals and a DI output for tracking or PA routing.

You also get 4 inputs, high/low sensitivity loudness controls, 5W operation, and a 3-band EQ. 

For the guitar tyros, Marshall Amps are famed for the classic British tone that shaped the sound of guitar players like Clapton, Hendrix, and Townshend.

The SV20C provides the same mid-range bit, saturated grit, and cranked-up crunch for feisty riffs and biting leads.

Overall, this is the best tube amp for players who want warm creamy tones that tighten up with conviction when you dig in. The Celestion V-type speaker has extra outputs for extension cabs, and the effects loops allow you to run effects after the preamps.

Who should get this tube amplifier?

With a British accent and a storied history, the Marshall SV20C is the best tube amp for classic rock and blues guitar players who want muscular sounds and gnarly crunch.

The scaled-down size makes it portable, ideal for gigging, recording, and rehearsals. The power reduction feature makes it amenable for home use, but 5 watts is still loud enough to rattle the windows.


Here’s a chance to sample the vintage Plexi spirit in a compact form factor. We think the SV20C is the best low-watt tube amp for vintage Marshall Fans and rock/blues guitarists. It’s packed with features and yields versatile and iconic sounds via both power modes.

What are the best alternatives at this price point? Audition the Marshall SV20C amp head if that’s your path. With deeper pockets, you can consider the Marshall Bluesbreaker, but you may need a pet gorilla to lug it to venues.

Related: 7 Best 15-Watt Tube Amps (for Rock, Blues, and Jazz)


Do Tube Amplifiers Really Sound Better?

Tube amplifiers are indisputably more dynamic and expressive than their solid-state counterparts. Many players find their rounded and full-bodied sound to be more musical.

They have a distinct warmth due to the inherent harmonic distortion and natural-sounding compression.

How Long Should You Warm Up Your Tube Amp?

You should power up your tube amp and let it warm up for a minute before you put it in standby mode. Valve-based amps need to be hot to work well, so you should warm up a tube amp for 20 to 30 minutes to get the best tones for your guitar playing.

Can You Leave A Tube Amp On All The Time?

You should not leave a tube amp on all the time because it generates a lot of heat, and the tubes deteriorate with use. Moreover, prolonged exposure to heat can dry or damage other paths of the tube amplifier.

You can leave tube amps on occasionally if you use them throughout the day.

Is It OK To Touch Amplifier Tubes?

You can touch amplifier tubes if they are not hot. Finger oils or dirt transferred to the glass does not affect the sound or lifespan of tubes.

However, tube amplifiers generate heat, and tube amp tubes get really hot after use. So, wait for them to cool down after you power down the amp.

Before you head off, check out our article on the Types Of Guitar Amplifiers (Pros, Cons & Selection Tips)!