Best Small Valve Amps

Best Small Valve Amps

In this blog we have hand picked a few of our top small valve combos and explain why you should use them to record and gig.

So the time has finally come for you traditionalists to let go of your 100 Watt 4x10 stacks and Twin Reverbs, and for those new to the gigging scene to realise what these amps were actually designed for! As iconic and important as these amplifiers have been through the decades, in the modern gigging environment and with the PA systems of today, they are simply beyond overkill in the power department, weigh a tonne and will give you and your roadies a really tough time.

So unless you are playing Hyde Park and the PA goes down, you will thank us for telling you to put the ego aside and take a look at these seriously impressive small valve amps instead. You won't regret it! 

Fender Blues Junior

So the first to feature in our small valve amp line up is the trusty Blues Junior (shown here in a Ltd Ed red version) - here is the best selling regular version. An amplifier that simply had to be included as it's specs lend itself so well to many applications whether its home, studio, rehearsal or gigging.

Fender's Blues Jr amps are a 15 watt combo that will easily provide enough power for small to medium gigs, with huge potential when mic'd up into a PA system but still offering that fantastic warm, clean Fender tone at home practise levels. For an amp of its size you get some real luxuries including a lush spring reverb and an uncluttered control panel featuring volume, master, reverb and a 3 band EQ controls.

On top of all this, even though you have the luxury of a single 12" Lighting Bolt Eminence speaker to kick out that full-fat, bluesy crunch, this amp is easily transportable thanks to its manageable weight, size and durable dog bone handle. If you are quick you might even be able to nab this beautiful Royal Blood Limited Edition model!

Blackstar HT5R and Blackstar HT1R

Ok so i know what your thinking, a 1 watt and 5 watt amp for gigging is a bad idea, and usually you would be right! It just felt wrong to not include these superb small amplifiers from the geniuses at Blackstar. Ok so they may not cut it at very big gigs when you are contesting with a loud drummer and 4x10 bass cab but they shouldn't be ruled out for those smaller venues as you will be blown away at the volume you can get out of these pocket rockets. 

The HT1R would of course be more suited to simply home practise or recording applications as it is only producing 1 watt and has a smaller 8" speaker. However underestimate them at your peril! This HT1R has some serious tonal capabilities, is light as a feather and comes with two channels, an MP3 / Line input and stereo digital reverb. 

The HT5R is an amp that would be ideal for a player who wants to practise at home, record in a studio at the perfect volume and then play at local small venues.... without breaking their back in the process! A thinking man's amplifier. 

Fender Bassbreaker 007 and 15

Next on our GigGear best small valve amp list are the Bassbreaker 007 and Bassbreaker 15. Fender are very proud of this latest range of amplifiers and therefore handed them over to a huge range of Fender artists of various genres who all seemed to only have good things to say about these versatile powerhouses. 

In terms of spec the Fender Bassbreaker 007 has a 10" Celestion speaker, 7 watts of power, traditional gain/master controls, a switchable vintage style treble booster along with bass, middle and treble controls.

What this amp lacks in reverb it more than makes up in tonal versatility, with access to those Fender cleans combined with the ability to conjure up plenty of darker, heavier tones. This is certainly an amp that will excel when used as a home practise amp and will be ideally suited to studio recording or even compact gigs. 

The bigger brother of this pairing, the Bassbreaker 15, crutially has that extra power that has given it the potential to become a modern classic! With a single 12” 8-ohm Celestion speaker, built in spring reverb and a unique 3 position Gain Structure the Bassbreaker 15 can cover all bases and cover them well! Extra features such as the recording friendly mute switch and the compatible BB-112 extension speaker cabinet are a real bonus too. 

Marshall Class 5

How can we have an amp shoot out and not include British tone icons Marshall! The ultra retro style and simple nature of this 5 watt combo make it a seriously attractive option if you are in the market for a valve amp that will provide the iconic Marshall sound at home or studio recording volumes. 

Features of this amp include a 10” Celestion G10F-15 Loudspeaker and Volume, Bass, Middle and Treble controls. Expect Marshall tone, feel and response in its purest form. This really is a tone monster and don't rule it out for those small gigs where you can really get those ECC83 tubes cooking!


With Vox's heritage in the amp world it is no suprise that their addition to the world of small valve amps makes our top list. For those who think of the Vox tone as the holy grail this AC4 will not disappoint as it features that iconic top boost circuit for that authentic Vox character and feel. Also making up the tonal package are two 12AX7 preamp tubes, an EL84 power tube and crucially a 10" Celestion speaker that can deliver anything from a massive crunch or the clean, classic chime that made Vox famous.

The AC4 is a very portable, lightweight option that would be perfect for recording or home practise but again like many of the other amps featured on this list, you will be surprised at the amount of volume you can get out of this amp for those intimate, small gigs.  

New Releases
06th November 2016


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