If you’re looking for an affordable amp with classic American tones, you’re probably considering a Fender. Fender is synonymous with American tone because of their heavy reliance on 6V6 and 6LV tubes since they came on the scene in the 1950’s, but they’re not the only option. Here are a few of the more affordable Fender amps available today along with a few other brands with their own unique “Fender sound.”
Best American Tone Amps
FENDER SUPER CHAMP X2 AMPLIFIER
The X2 is a 15w 1X10″ combo amp with two 6V6 output tubes and a single 12AX7 preamp tube. It’s equipped with a 10 inch Fender special design speaker, dual channel, USB out for speaker emulated recording.
What makes the Super Champ X2 different from other tube amps is that it is also a modeling amp. The X2 has a special “voicing” knob that lets you choose between 16 different amp types (Tweed, Blackface, British, Hot Rod, Metal and more). Also included are 15 effects with effects adjust control and a TAP tempo control for delay time/modulation rate adjustments.
For those who like even more control over their tonal possibilities, the X2 can be plugged into a compute via the USB port and you can then have full control over the amp voicing and effects defaults, effects parameters deep editing, with the Fender FUSE™ software.
FENDER 68 CUSTOM DELUXE REVERB AMPLIFIER
This reissue of the classic ‘68 Silverface amp sports both reverb and tremelo on both channels, and a tone stack circuit based on the popular Fender Bassman model amplifier. The ’68 Custom Deluxe Reverb reissue is an excellent amp for pedals and the new tone stack redesign reduces negative feedback that often plagued the original.
The ‘68 Custom Deluxe Reverb reissue has greater sensitivity and reaction to your playing, meaning you get a lot more out of the often neglected volume and tone knob on your guitar. Roll off the volume for a cleaner tone, crank it up for more breakup and crunching gain.
The ‘68 Custom Deluxe Reverb reissue features a 12″ Celestion G12V-70 speaker, comes with a fitted amplifier cover and 2-button footswitch and sells for $1049.99.
FENDER 68 CUSTOM PRINCETON REVERB AMPLIFIER
Much like the ‘68 Custom Deluxe, the Fender ’68 Princeton Reverb has gotten a custom overhaul. This reissue of the famous ’68 Princeton Reverb features a redesigned, modern tone circuit similar to the ’68 Custom Deluxe Reverb reissue. It’s great with pedals and very responsive.
This Princeton reissue is a bit smaller than the ‘68 Custom Deluxe Reverb: the Princeton is 12w with a 10″ Celestion TEN 30 speaker. A fitted amplifier cover and 2-button footswitch are included
Both the ‘68 Custom Deluxe Reverb and the ’68 Princeton Reverb feature Fender’s new (in 1968) silver and turquoise front panel and classy aluminum “drip edge” grille cloth trim look, with classic Fender 6V6 all tube tone.
EPIPHONE “ELECTAR” CENTURY
Epiphone’s “Electar” is an 18w all tube combo amp with a cool vintage style all its own. It owes a lot of its unique style to the fact that this vintage look goes back to 1939 – far further than most “vintage” amps. But don’t let the look fool you, it’s all modern construction and guts inside.
The Electar is powered by two 6V6 output tubes and two 12AX7 preamp tubes, and has a 12″ speaker. Controls include a Master Volume with pull “boost” and a Master Tone. The boost is great for searing treble lead tones, and the Master volume lets you get better overdrive tones at lower volumes. It also has three inputs: Bright, Normal and Dark; which is unique. Also included is a output for a speaker extension to drive a larger configuration external cabinet.
The Epiphone Electar 1939 Century amplifier has the vibe of 1930’s Manhattan, with the modern Fender style tube tone all for only $372.
VHT AV-SP1-12/20RT SPECIAL
The VHT 12/20 Special is an all tube combo amp with great flexibility and features. For starters, it ships with a pair 6V6 output tubes but VHT Special 12/20 offers two output-power ranges:
safely located behind the rear panel, a special voltage range switch provides the proper voltages for 6V6 or EL84 output tubes (in 12-watt low-voltage/low-power mode). The high voltage 20-watt setting provides the ideal voltages for higher-power 6L6 or EL34 output tubes.
Beyond that, the Special 12/20 also has a variable Watt control that can reduce the maximum output power to less than one watt. This makes it very handy for home practice.
Lastly, the VHT 12/20 Special has 6V6 tube driven reverb (with variable control depth) and tremolo with slow/fast switch, all for only $750.
VHT AV-SP1-6U SPECIAL 6 ULTRA
The VHT Special 6 is a great deal for anyone looking for an affordable, all tube amp with versatility and gain. It’s got the standard Overdrive and Clean inputs, overdrive, tone and volume controls.
What makes the VHT Special 6 Ultra different is that the volume control has a pull boost which acts as a mid-range gain. The Depth control allows you to vary the output tubes low frequency toll off point, which helps you to sculpt your sound the way you want it for various pickup and cabinet pairings. Also unique to the Ultra is the “Ultra” control knob which controls the level added gain to the output for maximum overdrive.
The VHT Special 6 Ultra also has a power-attenuating watts control which lets you dial in the output wattage from 0.5w all the way to 6w. This is an excellent feature for those looking for an all-tube practice amp that won’t shatter the windows in the bedroom.
Lastly, the VHT Special 6 Ultra features two speaker out lines and variable impedance for 4, 8 an 16 ohm speaker cabinets and a tube-drive effects loop.
Like its big brother (the Special 12/20), the Special 6 Ultra ships with a 6V6 output tube for sweet Fender like clean and rich overdrive tones and 2 12AX7 tubes in the preamp but it can accept a wide range of alternate output tubes as well.
The VHT Special 6 Ultra is quite an attractive all-tube amp and sells for only $399.99.