Budget and boutique are words rarely seen next to each other. That is unless you’re making an alphabetized list of attention-grabbing guitar gear words.
When it comes to Wangs Amplification though, these words do seem right at home next to one another. The small China-based company works along with Biyang to build amps guitar players not only want, but can also afford.
The Mini 5 is Wangs’ 5-watt all tube head. It runs on a 12BH7, a pair of 12AX7 tubes and a 6Z4 rectifier. Across the front are Bass, Middle, Treble and Volume knobs. There’s also a pair of toggle switches. The first offers a Standby as well as Diodes and Rectifier modes. The second switches between Bright or Warm.
Around back is a power switch, an IEC socket to plug in the supplied power cable and a pair of ¼” speaker jacks. The Mini 5 can run at 8 or 16 ohms.
The footprint of a the amp is a compact 5 ¾” x 4 ¾” x 4”. Although the tubes are barred off, I’d imagine they'd vulnerable during travel. The rest of the electronics are mounted in a solid metal chassis.
Plugging in, my first impression was how clean and dynamic the amp was. Every little pick scrape is audible whether you like it or not! The Mini 5 also works extremely well with pedals in front of it. All of my clips below are the Mini 5 driving a Marshall 4x12 with Celestions.
Clip 1: Here’s a Strat as clean as it gets with all the controls at noon. I have the toggle switches set to Rectifier mode and Warm. Halfway through the clip I add some delay, flip back to my Strat’s neck pickup and I switch the Mini 5’s toggles to Diodes and Bright. To finish things up I crank the Volume up to 3 o’clock and really dig in to show off the natural overdrive.
Clip 2: Is the neck pickup of a Tele with a Tubescreamer in front of the Mini 5. I have the toggle switches set to Diodes and Warm.
Clip 3: We’ve probably all had a Boss DS-1 Distortion pedal at one time or another. Here’s a Les Paul’s bridge pickup into the DS-1 with Mini 5’s toggles set to Rectifier and Warm. I also scooped some of the mids out.
Learn more about the Mini 5 ($180) at wangs-amps-usa.com.