5 Best Tube Amps for Blues in 2020 – Buyer’s Guide

Best Tube Amp for Blues

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Best Overall

Fender Blues Deluxe Reissue 40

My Rating:

4.6/5

Runner-Up

Peavey Classic 50 212

My Rating:

4.5/5

Best Budget

Bugera V55-Infinium

My Rating:

3.7/5

Whether you’re preparing for your first serious gig or looking to upgrade your electric rig, these best tube amps for blues pack power and punch to take your music to the next level. 

They’re bold and brash tone monsters with great features and volume galore. For players who know the tone they crave, these amps are for you.

In this post, I’m going to recommend/review the following guitar tube amps:

Fender Blues Deluxe Reissue 40-Watt 1×12-Inch Guitar Combo Amp – Tweed
  • 40 watts of legendary Fender tone.
  • Fantastic clean and overdriven tones plus lusciously…
  • 1X 12″ Eminence special-design speaker offers enhanced…

Peavey Classic 50 212 Guitar Combo Amp
  • Four EL84s and three 12AX7s
  • Fan cooled
  • 2-channel preamp
  • Normal and bright inputs
  • Pre- and post-gain controls on lead channel

Fender Hot Rod Deluxe IV 40 Watt Electric Guitar Amplifier
  • 40 Watts
  • Celestion 12″ A-Type speaker
  • Modified preamp circuitry for increased overdriven note…
  • Spring reverb modified for improved smoothness
  • Lightweight pine cabinet

BUGERA V55-INFINIUM 55-Watt Vintage 2-Channel Combo with Infinium Tube…
  • Hand-built 55-Watt guitar combo driven by 2 x 6L6 tubes
  • Revolutionary INFINIUM Tube Life Multiplier technology:
  • Way cool vintage look and feel
  • World-famous, British engineered 12” TURBOSOUND…
  • Authentic 2-channel preamp design from the ’60s…

Marshall Amps Marshall Origin 50W combo w FX loop and Boost…
  • 50 Watt all valve combo
  • Switchable high, Medium, & low power output section
  • Tilt control – blends bright & normal sounds
  • 12 inch Celestion midnight 60 speaker
  • Footswitchable FX loop & boost. 3 x ECC83 preamp, 2 x…

Every one of these amps is here based on my 10-year experience and extensive research.

Let’s first look at these fine blues tube amps, and at the end of the post, you can find the FAQ section that helps you to make the best choice possible.

Use the table of content to jump to the section you want:

Best Tube Amps for Blues

Best Overall- Fender Blues Deluxe Reissue 40-Watt 1×12-Inch

Sound

Though it’s similar in many ways to the Hot Rod Deluxe IV, Fender’s Blues Deluxe Reissue brings a bit more attitude to your sound in the gain channel. 

It’s got a punchy midrange kick that’s perfect for pumping out chunky blues progressions or tearing into high-gain leads. Its dirty tone is pretty fierce—not heavy metal, but still grimey nonetheless.

For when you want to bring it down a notch, you can flip to the bright channel to sweeten the vibe and play your favorite clean tunes.’

Hear how this amp sounds:

Features

This is a pretty basic tube amp in most regards, but sometimes simplicity is the best.

It gives you standard controls with presence and reverb knobs plus a 3-band EQ for dialing in your ideal sound.

Valve-wise, the Blues Deluxe Reissue pairs reliable 12AX7 and 6L6 tubes that stay hot and lively for a good long while.

Usability

You get a footswitch for controlling the reverb and channel selection in addition to a vintage-designed chrome control panel with classic chicken-head knobs.

Everything is clearly laid out before you so adjusting your tone is as easy as can be.

Value for Money

With a 12-inch Eminence speaker, this amp will carry your blues from the studio to the stage with prestige and power. It sounds great and delivers a tone that you can’t get in lower-end guitar amplifiers, so you’re putting your money into a truly deluxe piece of gear.

The only problem you might have is with the reverb. It can fail after prolonged use and is a bit of a costly pain to repair. 

However, this isn’t a guaranteed issue, so all in all this amp is well-deserving of its price tag. 

Summary

Pros

  • Designed for vintage tones in both channels
  • Bright switch sharpens your tone for crystalline clean sounds
  • Classic rock amp looks of the early Fender amplifiers

Cons

  • Spring reverb can stop functioning

Fender has been one of the main names in blues tones since their start in the 1950s and remains one of the go-to brands of today.

Their Blues Deluxe Reissue lets you tap into the classic vibes of older music for a real classic jam experience. It’s the best tube amp for Stratocasters and a great model all-around.

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

 

Best for Blues Rock/Runner-Up – Peavey Classic 50 212 Guitar Combo Amp

Sound

Peavey’s Classic 50 212 is an awesomely versatile amp. 

Pairing 12AX7 and EL84 tubes give you a huge range of tones to choose from. You can plug into the bright input and keep the gain turned low for chiming clean chords or switch into the normal input with cranked gain for overdrive bordering on metal-heavy. 

The tubes it uses are known for their British invasion tonality and grind out gritty distortion that’s great for the heavier blues styles. 

Hear how this amp sounds:

Features

With effects and extras kept to a minimum the focus of this amp is on its overall tone. However, you do get a genuine spring reverb that warbles just right. It’s controlled by a lively knob that lets you adjust the reverb level to your absolute specifications.

Top this off with an attuned presence control and you’ve got a simple yet more than sufficient blues tube amp for a vast array of genres.

Usability

The reverb can be flipped on and off with the included footswitch, which can also be used to switch between the lead and the normal channels.

The control panel is all straightforward and clearly labeled. EQ controls give you power of your bass, mid, and treble frequencies, and of course there’s a set of pre- and post-gain knobs to let you find your distortion sweet spot.

Value for Money

With a built-in cooling fan to keep your tubes at a safe temperature, you’ll get a good long life out of this amp before it needs any maintenance.

It may be a bit more expensive than a beginner can shell out for an amplifier, but it’s a great investment that will have you stage-ready with no need for extra cabs.

Summary

Pros

  • Powerful 2×12 speakers for great gig-ability
  • 3 x 12AX7 preamp tubes and 4 x EL84 power tubes provide simple sonic flexibility
  • Built-in cooling fan keeps your tubes working longer

Cons

  • Cooling fan is picked up by recording mics; hard to record with

For blues with a big bite and extra grind, the Peavey Classic 50 212 is an excellent choice. 

Though it’s cooling fan makes studio recording a bit inconvenient, it’s in every other way great for gigs of all sizes.

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

 

Best Vintage Sound – Fender Hot Rod Deluxe IV 40 Watt

Sound

The Hot Rod Deluxe IV from Fender is classic rock encapsulated.

Think Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, and the Rolling Stones, and you’ll have a good idea of how this amp sounds.

It’s not designed for super crunchy high gain, so you won’t be playing any grindcore on it, but it’s got just the right amount of dirt in the tone to spit out raunchy blues.

With a decent amount of headroom, you can keep it clean for sweetly sparkling softer styles as well. 

Hear how this amp sounds:

Features

One of the nicest features of this tube amp is the updated preamp circuitry. It’s been specially designed to give increased note definition in overdriven settings, so your sound never becomes overly muddy.

It’s got a smooth spring reverb that sounds borderline like a chorus on its highest setting but adds just a sweet flux when turned down low.

As an added bonus, it’s a comparatively lightweight amp, so carrying it on stage is as hassle-free as a tube amp can be.

Usability

Here’s another blues amplifier with an included footswitch. It gives you the power to cycle between its three channels (clean, drive, and more drive) as well as flip the reverb.

The controls are what you’d expect on a good amp, but for some reason the mid knob is strangely placed to the right of the high and lows. It’s a little confusing but by no means a deal-breaker.

Value for Money

If dirty tone blues is your calling, this amp will get you right where you want to be. It’s a good price for a gig-worthy amp but may be out of budget for entry-level guitarists. 

The tubes in this model tend to burn out pretty quickly, so near-future maintenance needs to be factored into the overall price. 

Summary

Pros

  • 3 x 12AX7 preamp tubes and 2 x 6L6 power tubes give a great mix of clean and overdriven tones
  • 3 channels let you easily switch from distorted to clean with included footswitch
  • Enhanced preamp circuitry adds note definition and clarity even at max overdrive

Cons

  • Tubes do not last very long

I wanna call this amp nasty, but in a good way. It’s got spank and sputter and chime all in one accessible tone box that will have you ripping out vintage jams with no problem.

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

 

Best Budget – BUGERA V55-INFINIUM 55-Watt Vintage 2-Channel Combo

Sound

This is a mean amp with a strong dirty tone that fits perfectly in a blues-rock mix.

Just as well, it handles sultry clean tones that roll out smooth as butter and that are great for jazzier genres.

With its boost control, you can bolster your bottom end for a really fat sound that’s great for rhythm work.

Combine all this with 55 amps of 6L6 tube power and you can rock with a voice loud enough to rattle any venue’s walls.

Hear how this amp sounds:

Features

Like most amps in this category, you’ll find the Bugera V55 equipped with all your standard controls, including 3-band EQ, presence, and various channel gain knobs.

On the back is my favorite feature, the Triode/Pentode switch. This gives you the ability to play at half-power so the overdrive kicks in at a lower volume. 

While it may not be exactly bedroom level, it’s not earth-shakingly loud at this point so you might be able to get away with some apartment jams.

Usability

With the Bugera V55 comes a reverb- and channel-controlling footswitch, an uncomplicated control panel, and easy to use power-selection switch. 

You can hook it up to external cabs if you ever need more juice than its strong 12-inch Turbosound speaker and hook it up to an effects loop with ease.

A really useful aspect of this amp is the Infinium Tube Life Multiplier function, which balances the power output of the tubes so that none of them are ever carrying the full load of your tone.

This is coupled with tube health indicator lights that make it simple to know when it’s time for some maintenance. 

Value for Money

Now, these tube health functions seem great, right? Unfortunately, the Bugera V55 comes factory-installed with relatively cheap tubes that need replacing somewhat quickly. 

This will add to your overall cost, but it’s still a great buy that gives you tons of powerful sound.

Summary

Pros

  • Special technology makes tube health easy to check
  • Triode/Pentode Mode switch enables blues buzz with reduced loudness
  • Authentic blues tones at a low cost

Cons

  • Reverb sounds artificial

Bugera’s V55 guitar amplifier is at a more realistic price for beginners than most others in this category. As such, it’s the best budget blues tube amp around. It’s a perfect entry point for players with a passion for blues that can go from stage to studio with no problem at all.

But if you have room in your budget, other amps on this post are better options.

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

 

Best for Beginners – Marshall Amps Marshall Origin 50W combo

Sound

This is a heavy-hitting amp from one of the most respected names in the biz.

It rocks out with crunchy overdrive for hard rockers, slinks back to gritty distortion for blues players, and delivers a thick and full-bodied clean for country artists.

The tone of Marshall’s Origin 50C brings to mind groups like AC/DC just as much as it does Stevie Ray Vaughan. 

It’s versatile, powerful, and works in a bunch of different genres.

Hear how this amp sounds:

Features

Marshall throws something interesting into the mix with the Origin 50C, namely the ability to blend clean and overdrive. 

This is called the Tilt control, and it couples your clean channel with your dirty tones in order to add clarity to each note. 

The result is a biting accentuation in every riff.

It also comes with an awesome power selection option so you can play at 10 watts or even 5 watts of power. This makes it the only amp on this list that can function both as gigging and practice gear.

Usability

Unlike the other amps in this review, the Marshall Origin 50C doesn’t have any reverb. But, it’s high-class in all other ways and gives you access to great tonal variation with its sleek controls.

The power selection is as simple as flipping a switch, and you can cycle between its channels with the included footswitch. Need a little extra gain? The footswitch works for that too.

Value for Money

I know it’s a bit of a bummer that you don’t have a built-in reverb here, but it’s at a low enough cost that adding some effects pedals to your rig shouldn’t be much of a problem. 

This is a wonderfully powerful amp with adaptability to work on-stage, in-studio, or in the comfort of your home. You basically get three amps in one, so the cost is killer good.

Summary

Pros

  • 3 x ECC83 preamp tubes and 2 x EL34 power tubes deliver full-throated crunch and thick cleans
  • Power selection lets you crank the overdrive at lower volumes
  • Tilt control mixes clean and distorted tones for highly accentuated and responsive riffs

Cons

  • Can sometimes ship with bad tubes that need replacing

If you’re just getting started with electric guitar and have the money to buy a high-quality piece of gear, this Marshall Origin 50C is the best beginner tube amp for blues you can find. 

Its 50-, 10-, and 5-watt power options will carry you during your first practice sessions all the way to your first shows and beyond.

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

 

The Final Verdict

For electric guitar tone, there’s one name people think of first. Fender blues has been the defining sound for more than half a century and is still one of the finest tones around.

That’s why I think the Fender Blues Deluxe Reissue is our winner here. It’s got delightful cleans for softer styles and a dirty crunch for your hardest blues rock.

In my opinion, every amp is a winner here, but the Bugera V55 loses some points for its low-quality valves. While it’s a powerful piece of equipment, I don’t want to replace tubes the week after I buy an amp, so it’s going into my lowest-ranking spot.

 

FAQ

What Makes a Great Tube Amp for Blues?

An authentic blues tone is known for its soulfulness. It’s a warm, round flavor of sound that carries your playing nuance with every note. 

There are many variables in play when setting up your tone, like your strings, your pickups, your technique, and even your cable. But an amp is the end of the road for your tone and can really make or break your sound.

That’s why it’s important that you know how an amp will shape your guitar’s voice and what you should look for when choosing a rig.

The best tube amplifiers for blues will give you a fat, punchy tone that lets you play with full self-expression. 

To this end, you should look for amps that provide a rich, burning voice that crackles at a relatively low volume.

Blues has bite, so you don’t want an amp with too much clean headroom. Amps with lots of headroom have their place, but the blues isn’t really it. While they can reach blues buzz, they typically have to be cranked to full power for this. Even then, their tone can be too sharp to let you play with the soul and style you want.

Dynamics are the key to achieving sweet blues sounds. You want an amp that pairs subtlety with power. This means quality tubes, a responsive EQ, and a balanced attack that delivers in every range.

To get wailing blues solos, you should also keep sustain in mind. Plus, a little reverb effect can spice up your sound in a big way.

Everyone has their unique playing style, so the best amp is really up to you to decide, but these guidelines can set you on the road to finding a great blues tube amp for your own niche.

Who Should Buy One of These Amps?

Now, I’d love to say that these amps are a great choice for anyone with a passion for blues. But, I’ve got to be real with you. 

These amps are loud. They’re hot, high-watt sound boxes that will drive your neighbors absolutely mad.

Of course, you can play them with minimal volume, but you’d be throwing your money away. Tube amps have to have their volume decently cranked to start to fuzz like they’re meant to. If you keep the volume low on these amplifiers, the tone will simply not be good.

So these amps are for more experienced guitarists who have a suitable space to pump up the volume. If you’ve got a sound-proof studio or rehearsal space, you’re looking at some great blues amps. But, anyone stuck playing at home is going to have issues with the power of these rigs.

They’re fantastic amps for gigging and can easily fill up a medium-large venue. If you’re a gigging guitarist or a hobbyist with a great practice spot, these amps give you the juice you need to shake the walls.

Do Tube Amplifiers Really Sound Better?

This is an age-old debate that continues to divide the music community. Really, it all comes down to your preferred style. But, I can say, tube amps pretty much inarguably sound better for blues

That’s due to the nature of your typical blues tone. It’s gritty without being harsh, warm without being muddy, and full without being drowned in fuzz.

Tube amps are ideal for this type of overdriven strength. They peak and break apart at the perfect level to let you play with power without becoming inaudibly garbled.

Compared to solid-state amps, tube amplifiers give you a real pure kind of distortion. It’s, we can say, natural. 

Solid-state distortion is a bit shrill and sharp and is well-suited for metal. On the other hand, tube amps are pleasantly crunchy and round-voiced. They have a ton of dynamic range that really picks up the small changes in your playing volume, giving you the ultimate in bluesy soulfulness.

Are Vox Amps Good for Blues?

Vox is a well-respected amp company that produces some excellent tones. They’re best known for their classic rock vibes.

While you can use a Vox amp for blues, they’re not one of the leading names in this genre. The tone of Vox amps has a bit more of a ringing high end than you’ll find on, say, a Fender or Marshall. 

They’re great for lead work and heavier genres but they leave a little lacking in the full, boomy bass and mid ranges that makes blues guitar sound so great.

Overall, they make decent blues amps, but there are ultimately some much better choices you can go with.

Conclusion

Serious-minded blues guitarists with an obsession for finding the perfect tone will have an amazing time with any of these best tube amps for blues. 

They’re powerful, gig-ready machines that will crank out soul all night long. If you’re ready to rattle the walls with your wailing musical emotions, strap up, plug in, and check out the impressive tones these tubes have to offer.

I hope that this guide helped you to choose the right amp for you. If you have any questions, leave a comment down below and feel free to share this post too.

I wish you all the best and keep rocking!

Teemu Suomala

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