Best tube amps under $1,000 2024: get amazing guitar tones under a grand

If you’re looking for your first transition from solid state or modeling, or perhaps you’ve just started playing some live shows, then you’re going to want to check out the best tube amps under $1,000. This sort of money can get you a lot, so if you’re serious about leveling up your rig, then read on. 

A great sub-$1k tube amp can cater for literally any type of music that you make with a guitar. From super clean, sparkly sounds to crushing distortion, tube amps around this price point deliver quality tones, regardless of your musical preference. Go for any of the picks in this guide and you’re going to get something that’s reliable, functions well and sounds amazing. 

We’ve put together what we reckon to be the best tube amps under $1,000 right now, catering for different needs and musical tastes. From studio pedal platforms to powerful live rigs, we’ve aimed to choose a variety of models and have included some buying advice to help you along your way.

Richard Blenkinsop profile pic
Richard Blenkinsop

After spending a decade in music retail, Richard is now a freelance writer for Guitar World, MusicRadar, Guitar Player and Reverb, specialising in electric and acoustic guitars, bass, and almost anything else you can make a tune with. When his head’s not buried in the best of modern and vintage gear, he runs a small company helping musicians with songwriting, production and performance, and play bass in an alt-rock band.

Best tube amps under $1,000: Quick list

Want to cut to the chase and find out what the best tube amps under $1,000 are for your needs? Below, you’ll find a round-up of our top choices. You can then jump to our longer list and a more detailed review of every pick.

The best tube amps under $1,000

You can trust Guitar World Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing guitar products so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Below you'll find full and detailed write-ups for each of the best tube amps under $1,000 we rate.

Best low-wattage tube amp

Best tube amps under $1,000: Fender ‘68 Vibro Champ

(Image credit: Fender)

1. Fender ‘68 Vibro Champ

The best low-wattage tube amp under $1,000 for clean tones

Specifications

Type: Combo
Channels: 2
Power: 5W
Tubes: 2 x 12AX7 preamp, 1 x 6V6 power
Speaker: 1 x 10” Celestion Ten 30
Effects: Reverb, tremolo

Reasons to buy

+
Superb clean tones
+
Great drive when pushed
+
Manageable volume

Reasons to avoid

-
Driven tones can only be achieved when it’s loud
-
5W not enough for some players

Faithful to the original ’68 Vibro Champs, albeit with a few modern upgrades, these amps are among the best options if you’re looking for a low wattage all-tube amp under $1,000. 

The clean sound on this amp is superb. It’s everything you’d expect from a classic style Fender amp; thick and bassy with that rich and detailed top end sparkle. It’s been fitted with a 10” speaker, so you get more low end than the originals – for a small amp, it sounds huge. Fender has also added a nice hall reverb to it which pairs beautifully with the tube-driven tremolo. You can push this thing into natural breakup, and you’ll be rewarded with an amazing overdriven tone. With it being 5W, it’s a lot easier to do this than it is with, say, a 50W tube amp, though that’s still not really a practical option if you want to do it at home!

For recording and practice, this is easily one of the best tube amps under $1,000. You’d even get away with some small gigs too, though of course, the more you crank it towards its limit, the more it’s going to break up. 

Best multi-purpose amp

Best tube amps under $1,000: Blackstar HT20Mkii

(Image credit: Blackstar)

2. Blackstar HT20Mkii

Jack of all trades, and master of a few as well

Specifications

Type: Combo
Channels: 2 (2 voices per channel)
Power: 20W (with 2W power switch)
Tubes: 2 x 12AX7 preamp, 2 x EL84 power
Speaker: 1 x 12” Blackstar Designed
Effects: Reverb

Reasons to buy

+
Great range of tones
+
Can switch down to 2W
+
Good connectivity options

Reasons to avoid

-
A better quality speaker might be nice

The Blackstar HT-20MKii is sort of a Swiss Army Knife of amps in that it’s good for a multitude of purposes. Whether you want bright clean sounds for country picking, warm cleans with a hint of breakup, mild crunch, or metal-style saturation, you’ve got it all, and with a bunch of modern features too.

There are are two separate channels, each with a voicing switch, so you’ve got different tonal options straight away. Then you’ve got a three-band EQ alongside Blackstar’s now famous ISF control which gives you a more British or American style tone, or a nice blend of the two. This amp will work well at the studio or at a live show. You can even use it for home practice as you’ve got the ability to lower the power to 2W to make the volume more manageable. 

You can plug headphones in, or run to a front of house PA system with a speaker emulated output, and you can even run a USB cable from the amp to a computer for easy, quiet direct recording. 

Best for crunch

Best tube amps under $1,000: Orange Dual Terror

(Image credit: Orange)

3. Orange Dual Terror

The legend of the Tiny Terror, and more!

Specifications

Type: Head
Channels: 2
Power: 30W (with 7W and 15W options)
Tubes: 4 x 12AX7 preamp, 4 x EL84 power
Speaker: N/A
Effects: None

Reasons to buy

+
Some of the best crunch tones you can get
+
Versatile
+
Two completely separate footswitchable channels

Reasons to avoid

-
One knob does all the EQ work per channel

The Orange Tiny Terror was the amp that helped launch the lunchbox amp craze, and for good reason. It’s a staple of studios all around the world, dishing out some amazing clean, crunch and distorted tones, with a super easy to use front panel. The Dual Terror packages all of this up, with an additional Fat Channel, so it’s essentially a Tiny Terror and more.

You can get some great clean tones from it – chimey, but with some nice, warm bottom end to it too. Where the Dual Terror excels though is in the midrange overdrive territory. Notes ring out with clarity, it’s really punchy in the midrange, and again, there’s plenty of low end too. When pushed, particularly on the Fat Channel, you’ll get some amazing metal tones from it as well. 

It’s really easy to dial in, with just three knobs per channel, and you’ve got the option of running it at 7, 15 or 30W, making it just as ideal for home practice as it is for playing live. 

Best for volume

Best tube amps under $1,000: Marshall DSL20CR

(Image credit: Marshall)

4. Marshall DSL20CR

A 20W, all-tube icon for under $1,000

Specifications

Type: Combo
Channels: 2
Power: 20W (with low power switch)
Tubes: 3 x ECC83 preamp, 2 x EL34 power
Speaker: 1 x 12” Celestion Seventy 80
Effects: Reverb

Reasons to buy

+
Covers a lot of ground
+
Nails the classic Marshall tone
+
Looks great

Reasons to avoid

-
Cleans can sound a bit brittle with some guitars

It doesn’t get more iconic than an all-tube, black and gold Marshall. This thing is a 20W, two-channel beast fitted with a 12” Celestion speaker. You can pump out some real volume with this amp when you need to, though there’s also a low power option for when you’re playing at home.

The amp covers everything from crystal clear, glassy clean tones, through classic rock crunch all the way to high gain tones. It’s versatile and flexible, plus it’s easy to dial in. You’ve got plenty of scope for crafting your perfect tone with the three-band EQ, tone shift button and presence control, so it really will suit any guitar and player.

On the rear of the amp, you’ve got some nice player-centric features – there’s an input for running an external music player so you can play along to tracks all through this one amp, an emulated output, and an effects loop. 

Best portable amp

Best tube amps under $1,000: Fender Blues Junior IV

(Image credit: Fender)

5. Fender Blues Junior IV

A great sounding portable tube combo

Specifications

Type: Combo
Channels: 1 (with Fat boost switch)
Power: 15
Tubes: 3 x 12AX7 preamp, 2 x EL84 power
Speaker: 1 x 12” Celestion A-Type
Effects: Reverb

Reasons to buy

+
Does cleans and light overdrive nicely 
+
Takes pedals well
+
Reverb is really nice
+
Fat switch is handy for solos

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the most exciting choice

It’s hard to ignore the Blues Junior when looking at the best tube amps under $1,000. It’s been a hit ever since it was released but this mark IV version has made some really cool upgrades. 

It’s got a lovely, smooth voicing. It’s nice and clear in the top end without being harsh, and it’s got that classic Fender bottom end to it. This is a 15W tube amp, and there’s a good amount of headroom, so if you’re after a clean amp then this will do the job. However, if you want to really push the volume, you can get some lovely overdriven sounds from it. This is made super manageable with the master volume knob though, so it doesn’t have get too loud. 

There’s also a footswitchable Fat switch which gives you a nice boost, particularly in the midrange and is perfect for solos. 

Read the full Fender Blues Junior IV review

Best for rock

Best tube amps under $1,000: Vox AC15C1

(Image credit: Vox)

6. Vox AC15C1

This British legend does more than you might think

Specifications

Type: Combo
Channels: 2
Power: 15W
Tubes: 3 x 12AX7 preamp, 2 x EL84 power
Speaker: 1 x 12” Celestion Greenback
Effects: Reverb, tremolo

Reasons to buy

+
Loud and cuts though
+
Lovely mid gain overdrive
+
Chimey cleans

Reasons to avoid

-
Not enough gain for heavier styles 

From The Beatles to Radiohead, to My Chemical Romance and beyond, everyone loves a Vox AC. They’re well known for their prominence in the 1960s and the British Invasion, but these amps can do a lot. 

If jangly, chimey clean sounds are your thing, then the Vox AC15 is perfect. However, its driven tones are sometimes underrated – push the volume on the Top Boost channel and you’ll instantly get the perfect rock tone, with any guitar. 

Plus you can manage the overall volume with the Master knob. Whilst it might be half the power of its older brother, the AC30, this is still a loud amp – you’ll likely find that it’s perfectly gig-able in most scenarios. It’s also nice having access to the on-board tremolo, as well as reverb.

Best for shredders

Best tube amps under $1,000: EVH 5150 Iconic 40W Combo

(Image credit: EVH)

7. EVH 5150 Iconic 40W Combo

Tube paradise for shredders

Specifications

Type: Combo
Channels: 2 (2 voices per channel)
Power: 40W (with 1/4 power switch)
Tubes: 2 x ECC83S preamp, 2 x 6L6 power
Speaker: 1 x 12” EVH Celestion Custom
Effects: Reverb

Reasons to buy

+
Amazing high gain and crunch tones
+
Separate master volumes, plus a boost

Reasons to avoid

-
Noise gate on higher gain channel
-
Doesn’t look great

This is a super high-spec tube amp that does so much more than just the classic Van Halen sound – though it can, of course, nail that! It’s a 40W combo with a 12” speaker, so you’ve got plenty of power for most gigging scenarios. There’s then a power switch on the back to knock you down to around 10W, making it more practice friendly.

Boasting two channels, each with two voicing options, you’ve got everything from sparkly cleans to super saturated distortion. The first channel can cover mildly overdriven territory really nicely too. Honestly, there’s not much this amp can’t do. Each channel has its own master volume, plus there’s then a boost that can help make sure your solos are heard. If you’re using this for playing hard rock and metal, then you might also want to take advantage of the on-board noise gate

It’s got reverb on board, a three-band master EQ, plus you can run an XLR out of it to go direct to a PA system. This output has speaker emulation, and even gives you the option of muting the power amp so you can record with it at home, without making any noise. 

Read the full EVH 5150 40W combo review

Best for pedals

Best tube amps under $1,000: Electro Harmonix MIG-50

(Image credit: Electro Harmonix)

8. Electro Harmonix MIG-50

Get the sound of an old-school Bassman for under $1,000

Specifications

Type: Head
Channels: 2 (normal and bright)
Power: 50W
Tubes: 3 x 12AX7 preamp, 2 x 5881 power
Speaker: N/A
Effects: None

Reasons to buy

+
Perfect pedal platform
+
Amazing natural break up

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the easiest to get hold of 
-
Not practical for all scenarios

So this is a reissue of the Sovtek MIG-50 which was essentially a copy of a ’59 Bassman, but there’s also a bit of Plexi character in there. It runs clean beautifully, and, at 50W, you’ve got a good amount of headroom. If you’re looking for a tube amp to use as a pedal platform, then this is one to consider.

If you push the volume, then it will gradually break up giving you full, luscious, organic breakup. It’s worth noting however, that there is no attenuation on this amp, so you’ll need the ability to run an amp loud if you want that natural breakup. Like the originals, it’s got a normal and a bright channel so you can go for whichever one suits your guitar’s pickups better, and that’s about it. It’s loud, it’s simple and it sounds amazing!

Best for metal

Best tube amps under $1,000: PRS MT-15 Mark Tremonti Head

(Image credit: PRS)

9. PRS MT-15 Mark Tremonti Head

A compact but punchy signature head from one of rock’s most renowned shredders

Specifications

Type: Head
Channels: 2
Power: 15W (with half power switch)
Tubes: 6 x JJ EC83S preamp, 2 x 5881 power
Speaker: N/A
Effects: None

Reasons to buy

+
Sounds huge
+
Does mid-level crunch just as well as high gain sounds
+
Separate EQs for each channel

Reasons to avoid

-
Not really going to serve anyone other than rock players

Metal players rejoice. Here’s a portable, low wattage tube head that can deliver crushing, saturated tones as well as bright, chimey cleans, for well under $1,000. With the option of running it at either 7W or 15W, it’s got manageable volume, whilst still being very gig-able. 

It’s got two footswitchable channels, each with its own EQ so you can dial in separate tones for rhythm and lead. The clean channel also has a pull boost which works nicely for pushing the amp into slightly crunchy rhythm territory. It’s got five gain stages before the master volume, so you’ve got loads of distortion on offer. We love that the bottom end stays nice and tight though, even when down-tuned.

Obviously, if you’re a Tremonti or Alter Bridge fan, then you’re going to love this amp. However, it does a lot more than just that type of music, catering for pretty much any style of rock or metal. 

Read the full PRS MT-15 head review

Best tube amps under $1,000: Buying advice

Vox amp on a wooden floor

(Image credit: Future)

Do you need a head or combo?

Some of the best tube amps under $1,000 might be available in both head and combo amp options. A head is essentially just the amp part – there’s no speaker. To get any sound you need to run it through a speaker cabinet. If you’re playing shows, this can be handy as many venues will have cabs already there, or you might be able to share one with another band on the bill, so you only have to take your head. A combo on the other hand is an all in one unit containing all parts of the amp, and the speaker. 

Power & attenuation considerations

Power or wattage is something you should consider when shopping for any guitar amp. If you know you’re gigging and you might not always be able to stick a mic in front of your amp, then you’ll want something that can throw out a good amount of volume. How much you’ll need will depend on the size of the venue you’re in of course, but generally you’ll probably want something that’s 15W or over if you’re competing with a drummer.

Conversely, at home you’ll get more out of an amp with a lower wattage. A lot of tube amps sound better when they’re turned up a bit, so having a 50W amp dialled in at just below 1 on the volume isn’t going to sound as good as it should. Studios are also a nice place for lower wattage tube amps, as you can drive them as much as you want and the volume is still more manageable. 

A lot of modern tube amps now have built-in attenuation. This means you can reduce the overall output of the amp so that you can get the best of both worlds. When you’re playing live or rehearsing, you can run it at a higher wattage so you’ve got more volume and headroom, and when you’re practicing or recording, you can knock it down.

Should I spend more than $1,000 on a tube amp?

The $1,000 price point is actually a bit of a sweet spot in terms of tube amps. This kind of money can get you a really versatile amp, if you need it – some of the best options on here cover beautiful cleans, crunchy overdrives and distortion so if you’re playing a variety of styles of music, then you’re covered. 

If you know that you’re going to mostly stick to one type of music, then you can focus in on something that’s really good at that. For example, the Fender Vibro Champ is amazing for clean tones, and the EVH 5150 is perfect for hard rock and metal.

Of course, you can spend more and you’ll find some incredible amps over the $1,000 mark. These will likely give you more touch sensitivity, higher wattage, more features and channels, and generally a richer and better tone. You might not see tons of professional touring musicians using the amps listed here, but they’re all still very, very good. 

How we choose the products for this guide

Here at Guitar World, we are experts in our field, with many years of playing and product testing between us. We live and breathe everything guitar related, and we draw on this knowledge and experience of using products in live, recording and rehearsal scenarios when selecting the products for our guides.

When choosing what we believe to be the best tube amps under $1,000 available right now, we combine our hands-on experience, user reviews and testimonies and engage in lengthy discussions with our editorial colleagues to reach a consensus about the top products in any given category.

First and foremost, we are guitarists, and we want other players to find the right product for them. So we take into careful consideration everything from budget to feature set, ease of use and durability to come up with a list of what we can safely say are the best tube amps under $1,000 on the market right now.

Read more about our rating system, how we choose the gear we feature, and exactly how we test each product.

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