Lunchbox Tube Amps

Ask the DudeSmall tube amps are pretty popular at the moment. And mostly, they are not much quieter than their big brothers. But of course, they offer a little less clean headroom.
They can be carried easily and they are so much more than just a little toy. Perfect for a jam-session at home or for recording.
In the Studio, even Led Zeppelin did not use a Marshall full stack but a small Supro amp.
Mostly, the prices of these little amps are comparable with the effort for a good effect pedal.

In this three-part series, I would like to present a small overview of well-priced 5Watts tube heads and amps.

Combos

There are budged tube combos available for 100,00 to 200,00 Euros. The advantage is, that the speaker is already integrated. Typically, it is also possible to connect an external speaker via a separate input.
Connected to a 4×12 speaker cabinet, some of these dwarfs get absolutely suitable for the usage in a band.

Harley Benton TUBE5

The small Harley Benton offers 5 Watts that can be also reduced to 1 watt. It is using a 8” Celestion speaker.
Combined with the 6V6 tube power amp and a 12ax7 in the preamp, the spartan control (volume and tone) reminds of classical American amplifiers.
And the classic warm clean sound is where this amp is striking.
The overdriven sound is a matter of taste. For it is not as smooth as the Marshall sound but rather reminds of the aggressive sound of a Tweed amp. For the TUBE5 is oriented to the Fender Champ, this is not even a surprise.
The Celestion offers a slight modern touch with a smooth clean sound.

Available for only 130,00 Euros, the TUBE5 is one of the cheapest tube amps.

Laney Cub 8

The Laney Cub 8 is definitively oriented to the Fender Champ.
Cleary recognizable by the control panel with the HI and LO inputs, 5 Watts, the 6V6 tube in the power amp and the 12ax7 preamp tube. As well as by the knobs for tone and volume.
Like the 8 of the name suggests, the Cub 8 uses an 8” Celestion ceramic speaker.
The workmanship is very neat and the sound reminds of the typical vintage tweed style.

Available for about 140,00 Euros.

Bugera V5 Infinium

The Bugera V5 Infinium is built up in a slightly different way. Besides the pots for volume and tone, it also provides knobs to control the gain and the in-built digital reverb.
The internal attenuator allows to choose between 5 Watts, 1 Watt and 0.1 Watt.
As usual, the preamp uses a 12ax7 tube. The power amp whereas uses an EL84.
Similar to the amps mentioned above, the V5 Infinium has an 8” ceramic speaker and an output to connect an external speaker.
The gain pot allows to produce overdriven sounds even at a lower level. Thereby and because of the reverb, the V5 Infinium is more versatile than the amps mentioned above.
From a clean blues sound to a smoky crunch, are many sounds possible.

In the end, the whole price for these additional options is about 200,00 Euros.

Vox AC4TV

The Vox AC4TV also uses an 8” speaker and a 12ax7 preamp tube and an EL84 power amp tube.
Besides the pots for volume and tone, it has an in-built attenuator with options for 4 Watts, 1 Watt and 0.1 Watt.
The closed cabinet and the unlike basic design, this amp sounds pretty different.
Sonically, it is oriented to the British Vox sound. However, it does not provide the clean Vox sounds of the AC15 or the AC30. Its sound is rather rough.
By de-activating the hot mode of the AC15HW, means, by turning off the tone stack, you will get a likewise sound.

With a price of about 280,00Euros the AC4TV is a rather cost-intensive lunchbox amp. But sonically, it is a welcome variety.