Best Tube Amps under $1000 in 2021

PRS Paul Reed Smith MT15 Mark Tremonti Signature Guitar Amplifier Head

Mark Tremonti of Alter Bridge just need two things: crystalline cleans and ferocious rhythm/lead tones. Mark’s iconic PRS lunchbox head combines all of these sounds in a single, easy-to-load amp with a surprising amount of stage power. Six ECC83S preamp tubes (12AX7s) cascade inside the MT15 to discover an amazing amount of grit, aggression, and grind.

It goes without saying that molten forms of modern metal are no match for this amp. But, if you dive deep enough, you’ll discover a remarkable sensibility to its clean and blues voicings — which, given the man it’s named after, shouldn’t come as a surprise. Paul Reed Smith’s external tube bias, which allows your tech to control how hot your tubes run, is one advanced feature we enjoy in the MT15. When you add in an integrated effects loop for ambient stomps, a half-power switch to help your power tubes marinade faster, and a footswitch for hands-free channel switching, this amp is ready to become the backbone of your stage and studio setup.

The PRS Mark Tremonti Signature MT15 all-tube amp head has a simple control configuration on the front panel, yet it can conjure up a surprisingly varied spectrum of excellent tones. The clean channel of the amplifier can produce the crystalline clean tones that make up half of Tremonti’s characteristic tone. The Lead channel has Mark’s harmonically rich grind, which he utilizes to pound out his most famous riffs. Pull the boost on the clean channel, and you’ve got a vintage-approved breakup that works well in rock ‘n’ roll, blues, country, and other genres.

Turning the MT15 over reveals a few details that assure the amplifier will work nicely with your setup. First, the effects loop on the amplifier is ideal for time-based and modulation effects. Because the loop is transparent, it will never interfere with the tone of your guitar. The Full/Half Power switch on the amplifier allows you to choose between 15 and 7 watts of power, which is ideal for responding to your performance situation. Finally, the amplifier’s external bias controls make it simple to fine-tune the performance of your tubes.

Blackstar HT-20RH MkII Tube Head

Blackstar HT20RH MKII 20-Watt Tube Head with Reverb
  • 2-channel All-tube Guitar Amp Head with Infinite Shape Feature
  • Power Reduction Circuit
  • 2 Voice Switches

The HT Studio 20RH MkII, like all amps in Blackstar’s HT Venue MkII line, is a powerhouse with all the tones you’ll ever need. The revised clean channel on the HT Studio 20RH MkII delivers truly boutique tone, while the overdrive channel offers a wide spectrum of distorted textures. You can dial in everything from inspired British edge-of-breakup roughness to tight and snappy American high gain courtesy to Blackstar’s revolutionary Infinite Shape Feature. The HT Studio 20RH MkII is great for your rehearsal area, studio, or anywhere where premium tube tone is required. It comes with onboard reverb and a speaker-emulated output.

Blackstar was founded in 2007 by a pair of ex-Marshall workers and has since grown to become one of the most well-known names in the low to mid-tier end of the industry. And for good reason: amps like the HT20 MkII provide sufficient of power while also allowing for home recording and practice.

Not only did Blackstar aim to match or beat the tones of electric guitar amplifiers costing up to five times more while designing the HT Studio 20RH MkII, but they also wanted to match or beat the tones of amps costing up to five times more. Take it from Sweetwater’s guitarists: they nailed it. On amps in the MkII’s price range, the clean channel offers a clarity and note definition that is uncommon. When you switch to the gain channel, you’ll notice how fantastic the sound is across the entire range of overdrive. The HT Studio 20 was a huge hit when it first came out. Blackstar outperforms it with the MkII.

Because of Blackstar’s Infinite Shape Feature, the Blackstar HT Studio 20RH MkII has a huge diversity of tube tone (ISF). The EQ curves of the amplifier’s Bass, Middle, and Treble settings are shifted using this unique function. With a tight bottom end and forceful middle, you’ll give your voice an American flavor when completely counterclockwise. You’ll get a more British vibe if you turn it all the way to the right. A pair of Voice switches can also be used to access four alternative operating modes, allowing each channel to have both vintage and modern voicings.

VOX AC15C2 Guitar Combo Amplifier

VOX AC15C2 Guitar Combo Amplifier
  • Classic Series 15 Watt combo amp with Normal and Top-Boost channels
  • Master Section features Master Volume and Tone Cut controls
  • Tremolo (Speed/Depth); Spring Reverb (Tone/Level); Switchable via optional VFS2A pedal

The Vox AC15C2 tube combo amp commands the authority that only a twin can – and it’s packed with a pair of 12AX7 tubes “The Custom Series AC15C2 Celestion Greenbacks is proof positive. Voiced regular and top boost are the two channels available. This amp is a tone monster, with three 12AX7s in the driver’s seat and two EL84s in the engine compartment. Gainstage from pure, chimey traditional Vox to serious overdrive – and everything in between – with a master volume. Tremolo and spring reverb are also included in the package. The Vox AC15C2 is the tube combo to have if you want a great British sound.

With the addition of a second 12AX7 tube, the Vox AC15C2 tube combo amp has been boosted “Celestion Greenback (we prefer the 1 x 12 version, but keep reading). Guitarists on both sides of the Atlantic have long believed that two-twelves rule in the world of combo amps. The second speaker gives the AC15C2 the heft, depth, and projection that a single-speaker amp can’t match. And, to be honest, bigger amps look better onstage. You’re getting some vintage Vox images here. It’s quite appealing.

Vox AC amps are notorious for their crazy weight and ridiculous volume levels, as well as their characteristic chimey 60s tone. Fortunately, the AC15C2 delivers all of the classic Vox tone without breaking the bank – or your back.

This 15-Watt twin will easily nail those Brian May rock tones – albeit at a far more acceptable volume – thanks to a pair of EL84 in its engine room pushing your signal through two 12” Celestion Greenback speakers. However, it is more than capable of generating substantial air from the stage, making it the ideal amp for tiny venues. There’s also luscious tremolo and spring reverb onboard, in addition to the classic blues and early rock tones for which Vox is known.

Peavey Invective MH 20/5/1-watt Tube Head

Peavey Invective MH 20/5/1-watt Tube Head
  • 2-channel Tube Amplifier Head with Noise Gate
  • 2-b EQ (Clean Channel)
  • 3-b EQ (Lead Channel)

The Peavey Invective MH is a miniature version of the Invective 120, but don’t be fooled by its diminutive size; it’s a powerful amp with nasty metal tones and angelic cleans. A pair of EL84 power output tubes and three 12AX7 preamp tubes power this 20-watt, two-channel amp, which is a tried-and-true combo that most of us are familiar with. This yields a crisp clean sound that responds well to pedals, while the lead channel delivers the typical Peavey 6505 tones you’d expect – and hope for.

The Peavey Invective MH is a 20-watt, 2-channel design based on Misha Mansoor’s distinctive amp head. While delivering everything a guitarist needs for rehearsing and playing small gigs, this compact head keeps many of its larger sibling’s player-friendly features, such as cab-simulated output, super-tight noise gate, and footswitchable functions. And then there’s the invective. The tight high-gain tones you’d expect from a Misha Mansoor signature head are delivered by MH. You can’t go wrong with the Peavey invective if you want violent, hard-hitting tones but don’t need to fill a stadium. MH – it’s everything you’ve been looking for and more.

This alone would have earned the Invective MH a place in this guide, but the abundance of bonus features sealed the deal. On the front panel, you’ll discover controls for a built-in noise gate, tight control, and even a lead boost function. But it doesn’t stop there: on the back of the amp, there’s an attenuation switch for 20-, 5-, or 1-watt output power, as well as a sophisticated MSDI (Mic Simulated Direct Interface) XLR output and a USB Type B port for mic-simulated digital audio output. For its very inexpensive price, this amplifier offers an insane amount of functions.

Misha Mansoor demands an electric guitar amp head that offers top-quality tones ranging from crystal clear to over-the-top distortion to pull off his genre-defining spectrum of tones and methods. The Peavey invective.MH is more than willing to comply. The Lead channel is voiced after Peavey’s iconic 6505 tube amp line, while the Clean channel is designed to produce a perfectly clean tone at any volume level, with footswitchable choices to push it a little harder. The invective.MH has you covered no matter what shade of gain you require.

The Peavey invective.MH all-tube amplifier head is jam-packed with extras that will appeal to musicians looking for the same tonal versatility as many modeling units. On the front of the device, there’s a noise gate with a lightning-quick response that’s ideal for palm-muted riffs. The power attenuator on the amp reduces the output from a club-friendly 20 watts to a rehearsal-friendly five watts and finally to a bedroom-friendly single watt. You can also use a buffered effects loop to connect your pedalboard and other external processors.

MH not only has a slew of player-friendly features, but it also has a fantastic set of switching possibilities, letting you to rapidly access all of your tones whether you’re in rehearsal or onstage. The invective is enabled by two 1/4″ TRS footswitch jacks. On the Lead channel, use MH to enable or disable Tight voicing, as well as any combination of Gate and Boost. The effects loop can also be switched on and off with the footswitch.

Fender Blues Junior IV 15 Watt Electric Guitar Amplifier

Fender Blues Junior IV 15 Watt Electric Guitar Amplifier
  • 15 Watts
  • Celestion 12" A-Type speaker
  • Preamp circuit modified for increased fullness

It’s difficult to deny the Fender Blues Junior’s influence on the music industry. Since its introduction in 1990, this feisty little amp has been a mainstay on stages all over the world and in the bedrooms of amateurs.

Fender has certainly listened to the common comments about the previous generation, as we are now on iteration number 5. Thanks to the newly updated preamp circuit, the previously spongey overdrive sound has been replaced with a tighter, more natural drive. We no longer experience boxiness issues in the low-mids with the new Celestion 12-inch A-type speaker, which is a huge improvement over the old model.

Their 15-watt, 1 x 12-inch Blues Junior IV “Fender discovered a way to improve on one of the most popular all-tube amplifiers of all time with the combo. The same easily giggable size, pedal-friendly character, and optimum loudness that have made the series so successful are still present. However, the new Celestion A-type 12 has a revised preamp for a wider tone “The Fender Blues Junior IV is destined to become a legend in its own right, thanks to its improved speaker, smoother-sounding reverb, and trendy aesthetics.

For years, musicians of different types and genres have relied on Fender Blues Junior all-tube combo amplifiers. They can fit into any arrangement thanks to their ability to coax American cleans and thick drive from their EL84 power sections. They’re also fantastic for guitarists who like to use effects to get their tones. The way Fender put the ideal amount of power into a combo that is economical, lightweight, compact, and exceedingly easy to gig with is possibly the most appealing aspect of the Fender Blues Junior IV and earlier variants.

Great tones have long been a hallmark of the Blues Junior. Fender updated the preamp to provide a richer sound that far exceeds the amplifier’s tiny proportions, making the Junior IV stand out from prior generations of the product. As you put up the volume, you’ll note that the lows remain full, the mids may be as aggressive or gentle as you choose, and the top sings with the unmistakable American-voiced chime. Not only that, but you’ll be able to control everything with the same simple top panel controls as previously. It has a great sound and is easy to use.

Marshall DSL40CR 1×12″ 40-watt Tube Combo Amp

Marshall Amps Guitar Combo Amplifier (M-DSL40CR-U)
  • Gain and volume per channel. Dedicated resonance control. 2 separate master volume controls
  • Reverb. High and low power settings
  • Now with Celestion V type speaker

With the Marshall DSL40CR tube combo amp, you can get beefy Marshall tone wherever from your bedroom to the stage. The Marshall DSL40CR is ready to play with per-channel Gain and Volume controls, a dedicated Resonance control, reverb, and an effects loop. You can dial in cranked-amp tones that won’t disturb your neighbors, or use the Softube speaker-emulated output for direct recording and monitoring, thanks to its adjustable power level. Marshall even improved the EQ section for even more tone shaping options. Your wish is the Marshall DSL40CR’s command, from silky cleans to bone-rattling crunch to scorching high gain.

Marshall’s DSL40CR is a twin-channel, all-tube workhorse that can recreate any vintage Marshall sound, past or present. Four ECC83s in the preamp section (in conjunction with the amp’s gain/master volume configuration) provide incredible tone-shaping mojo, while two EL34s in the engine area provide enough volume to control any club on the planet.

This small beast features important enhancements that offer you even more control over your sound, with the same tubes (except two EL34s) and feature set as the original DSL100. You can dial in your preferred amount of low-end girth using a Resonance control (rather than the original’s fixed deep setting). You also receive studio-quality digital reverb (rather than spring), high and low power options, and a bypassable series effects loop on the back panel. A 2-way footswitch for channel switching and reverb on/off is included on the Marshall DSL40CR.

The Marshall DSL40CR tube combination amp comes from a long line of legendary Marshall amps. In 1997, Marshall released the JCM2000 Dual Super Lead (DSL) line of amplifiers. These all-tube monsters were well-received by guitarists and the press from the start, constituting the backlines of top bands in all musical genres and bludgeoning audiences around the world for a decade before being supplanted by Marshall’s JVM series (a musical powerhouse in its own right). Many tone-conscious guitarists consider Dual Super Leads to be their go-to rock amp, and there’s a lot of demand for them. With the Marshall DSL40CR, Marshall proudly introduces the redesigned and enhanced DSL series.

Marshall has already collaborated with software experts Softube to create outstanding tones in its CODE line of amplifiers, and the two have linked up once more on the DSL40CR tube combo amp. Its line output accurately emulates Marshall’s legendary 1960 speaker cabinet, allowing you to confidently plug right into a recording chain. Sweetwater guitarists value diverse recording possibilities, which the Marshall DSL40CR provides.