Small Wonders: Five Essential 15-Watt Guitar Amps



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slowhand II

I wanted to double back with an update to my last comment about the H&K Tubemeister 18 Combo. I changed the tubes to JJs as with my other tube amps. They seem to have a better signal to noise floor.
I replaced the Celestion Ten30 (it was not well defined and broke up way to early in the volume sweep) with a Weber Neodymium D110F 10" speaker. The amp now shines through.
The difference is about 1/3 more headroom and volume over stock. I ordered the speaker with a paper center dome. The aluminum one would have been way to brittle and bright.
It is a JBL Alnico clone in every way but weight. The total combo is now about 21 lbs and it is now a true tone monster with rich harmonics and bell tones. Very touch sensitive. Whether you shred or play blues that bleed, there isn't a better small combo out there, I've looked.


slowhand II

At 61 yrs old I got tired of dragging around larger tube combos (many types over the years including some Dumble clones).
I recently purchased an H&K Tubemeister 18 combo (20 LBS).
I took it straight out of the box and went downtown to gig with some very loud bands. Placed on a milk crate and used with the option footswitch, it is a tone monster. Other than a bit of tube tone sag after playing it balistic all night, it punched through to be heard. Boost was a bit over the top but the sustain was worth the volume differences channel to channel.

Time will tell how bullet proof it is, but after a thorough work out with single coils and HB type pickups, my leads and rhythms have all the punch and clarity without the weight. Put a mic in front of it and it performs with the big boys . The single 12 version is a bit heavier at 30 lbs but I found the 10 inch Celestion surprisingly hot.



Looks like I'm a bit late for the party, but I just feel the need to show some love to my low watt's a two channel 22 watt Bugera V22 1x12 combo. For $350 street, you get the pentode/triode switch (22/12w), fx loop, Bugera's take on the Celestion G12-75 speaker (theirs is good for 70 watts and sounds warm, tight and well rounded), 4/8/16 ohm switch for external cabinet use, normal and bright inputs (shared for both channels), 3 band EQ with presence, dedicated volume for clean channel/gain and volume for OD channel/master volume for overall, a mid boost switch for the OD channel, and a decent digital reverb, (which btw the channels and reverb are foot switchable...heavy duty foot switch included in the price of admission).

I've gigged with this amp and it sounds *great*! Guys who brought much larger amps to the shows were impressed by its organic sounding overdrive, very usable amount of volume in both channels (in pentode and triode mode), and that it takes pedals like a champ. It looks (and sounds) sort of like a Matchless for about 10% of the asking $350 I ever spent, amp wise!

ps: I've heard that earlier versions of these amps had some reliability problems (something about some plastic bits by the power tubes that go full meltdown during use and shut it down hard and permanent). I've had this amp for 8 months now, have driven it HARD during shows, and practice with it FREQUENTLY. To date I've had absolutely no problems! I'm guessing that Bugera listened to their customers complaints and rectified the problems. So....there!



A very surprising, yet "affordable" 15 watt amp that slipped by you here is the Ibanez TSA15H(all tube) Tube Screamer Amp Head (with built in Tube Screamer) and 6dB boost. It has a myriad of output options (1X4ohm,1X8ohm, 2X8ohm, 1X16ohm, 2X16ohm etc.) and while the oldest models did NOT have an effects loop-the newer models all have an effects loop. 5 watt triode/ 15 watt pentode switch. It has no built in reverb and only a bass and a treble eq-but is a fantastic sounding head for under $300. I run mine through a 4x12 cab with two Eminence Swamp Thangs and two Eminence Texas Heats and it sounds fantastic. Even at the 5 watt setting, it is more than enough to p!$$ off the neighbors. Suggest you try one out at your local music store, I think that I can promise that once you've heard it, you'll buy it especially at this price. Plenty loud enough to gig at the bars with and easily heard over the drummer.Nice little amp head.-Jimbo



mini amps are all i need in my house, all the power and vibe i could ask for. A good pedal and my Vox ac4tv with the 10 inch celestion you can get almost any sound you want at a price most can afford. With all the choices of effects on the market anything is posible.



Save your money on these Chinese made amps that don't quite make it. The Carvin V3M 50w/22w/7w. 3 channels with 3 modes each. A real effects loop, direct out, reverb. it has colored led lamps inside. With a single 12" cab @7w, it's a bedroom amp. It easily powers 2 4x12's for an outdoor show.. It's $600, made in the states and makes these amps sound like kazoos.



Funny the opening line on the vox is about how cool looking it is. And fitting because thats all it has going for it. I was completely underwhelmed when I tried the Night Train, it has the personality of a dead fish, completely overhyped, no soul, doesnt even belong on this list imo.



review line 6 spider iv-peavey vypyr 15 watt amps and fender mustang 1 20 watt amp all around 109 dollars



I was hoping to see the Fender Blues Jr. It may not have as many features as the Princeton Reverb, but for half the price it's a great value.

I really like the Mesa Boogie Transatlantic TA-15. Now if MB could be convinced to make a combo version it would be really hard to beat. Hopefully someone from MB reads this column and will get the hint . . .



I have the Haze40 combo, got a great deal on it - around $450 because it was an open box. It's a freakin' great amp. I've sold off everything else I owned at this point. The thing's inexpensive but it totally nails the signature Marshall sound. So I'm not sure about the 15w, but I can vouch for the Haze line in general.



Look at the MSRPs. Does anybody have money left over after paying bills these days? Well, some people don't have to kids to feed I guess. If you've got kids and just an average Joe barely scraping by, I suggest a Behringer Firebird. I paid $40 for one from Musician's Friend a few years ago and it's good enough for me. Of course, I ain't a filthy rich professional musician playing little bars for $1000 a night. HaHaHa HoHoHo HeHeHe I am the Eggman, they are the Eggmen......



There's something I've never quite understood: amplifiers that give you great tube overdrive, but without FX loop. If I care enough about my sound to insist on tube drive, wouldn't I also care enough about having delays and reverbs (and potentially more) AFTER the drive section rather than in front? Too many of the low power amps, which otherwise sound great, don't have an FX loop, which immediately kills them off the list of amps I'd consider buying. Am I alone in that sentiment and/or is it that pricey to add an FX loop to a tube amp between the pre-amp and power stage?

In that spirit - also maybe for a future column: Other great low power tube amps(all have FX loop):

Mesa Boogie Mini Rectifier, each of the 2 channels independently switchable between 25W and 10W

Hughes & Kettner TubeMeister 18W, built-in Red Tube power soak / recording out

Egnator Tweaker and Rebel (15W and 20W respectively).


You are not alone, and it generally is pricier. I won't consider most amps these days unless they have at least a rudimentary FX loop. I have some without, but they're just not as useful. Nowhere near.



Players needing an FX loop are a small subset of the overall market. And yeah, FX loops can be somewhat costly as they are generally more complex than just a breakpoint in the circuit.



The Mini Rec, Rebel, and Tubemeister all should have been in this article. They're great amps, and extremely versatile compared to what's outlined here.


How can the Egnater Tweaker not be on this list? (probably didn't pay the ad dollars). Probably THE best 15w amp ever made.



Cannot agree more! I own a Tweaker and it is a great little amp.

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