It’s often said that it’s more fun to drive a slow car fast than it is to drive a fast car slowly, and we genuinely think the same can be said of amplifiers. Yes, cranking a Marshall JCM800 through a 4×12 is an absolute riot, but the opportunities to do so are few and far between for most of us – on the opposite side of things, diming a 5 watt tube amp like a Bugera V5 Infinium is something you can do daily without causing too much of a disturbance.
This amp is not only a ton of fun to play, but it’s also one of the most affordable on the market – which is why we actually named it as our best budget choice in our roundup of the best small tube amps under 20 watts.
In this KillerGuitarRigs Review, we’ll be taking a closer look at this fantastic little combo to learn more about its build quality, features, and of course, its tones. If you’re in the market for a low cost, all tube combo amp, you’ll definitely want to keep on reading.
Bugera V5 Infinium: Who Is This For?
The Bugera V5 Infinium is truly an amp for all guitarists. Whether you’re a new player looking to learn on an all tube amp, or even if you’re an experienced guitarist and you’re simply looking for a handsome, well made tube amp that won’t break the bank, this is a great option.
It’s a particularly appealing option for beginners thanks to its tube life multiplier technology, which keeps maintenance to a bare minimum, and more advanced guitarists will really appreciate the reliability that this brings.
Appearance / Features / Controls
The Bugera V5 immediately attracts the eye with its cream tolex front panel, and the large chromed cursive Bugera logo. It offers a real vintage vibe, and was almost reminiscent of the white wall tires of the classic cars of the ‘50s.
It had an open back cabinet, which gave it a nice, airy, organic tone. The cabinet construction material wasn’t actually listed, but we found it to be well put together, and overall pretty robust. Weight wise it came in at just a hair over 22lb, making it quite portable, and the nicely padded leatherette handle made it comfortable to carry.
It’s fitted with an 8” Turbosound speaker, which proudly displays a “designed and engineered in England” label on the back – though it should be pointed out that it was actually made in China. Regardless, it was well made and properly fitted to prevent rattles during use.
On the control panel we found a very simple layout, not too dissimilar to the Fender Pro Jr. IV. It had gain, tone, volume, and reverb dials, and just one channel.
It was powered by just 2 tubes – a single 12AX7 in the preamp stage, and an EL34 in the power section. This is a classic setup for a 5 watt tube amp, and we’re happy to say it worked well for the Bugera.
With such a narrow array of controls, we did have to work a little for our tones, but when we found them we realized just how much of a bargain this amp really is.
As far as headroom goes, it didn’t have a huge amount, but that’s part of what makes it so much fun. With the gain up past 4 it very quickly put out beautifully ear pleasing crunch. With the gain maxed, we even managed to squeeze out a hint of chug!
With the gain down low, we did get some nice cleans from the V5, too. We didn’t find them to be brittle or piercing, but they still managed to cut nicely through a mix.
We thought that it behaved quite predictably, which is always a plus for a budget tube amp. It was responsive to changes in attack, avoiding any kind of muddiness during transitions between soft passages and heavy strumming.
The Turbosound speaker delivered admirable performance. It kept tones tight, and was surprisingly full across the entire range for an 8” speaker. It had good bass response, and was particularly punchy through the mids. The top end had a nice bit of sparkle, which was very impressive considering the price.
We loved that it had a reverb feature, too. Of course, it wasn’t as organic as the real spring reverb you’d find on something like a Supro Delta King, but then again, it’s a much more affordable amp.
Other Amps to Consider
The Bugera V5 Infinium is, for the money, a truly sensational amplifier, but there are alternatives out there if you’d like to consider some different models before making your decision. We’ve included a couple of our favorites below.
The Monoprice 5 Watt tube Amp is about as simple as they get, but delivers fantastic all tube tones for even less than the Bugera. It’s a 5 watt tube model, with a unique all white tolex covering. This might not necessarily appeal to everybody, but if aesthetics aren’t your concern, you’ll be getting a really cool Laney Cub clone fitted with a genuine Celestion Super 8 8” speaker.
The Blackstar HT1R MKII offers a little less power than the Bugera at just 1 watt, but that really adds to the fun factor if you’re looking for serious crunch at reasonable volumes. It features the same Infinite Shape Feature tone control as larger Blackstar models, and even boasts both clean and overdrive channels, and at just 12lb, it’s one of the lightest all tube models on the market today.
Final Thoughts on the Bugera V5 Infinium
Thankfully we’re now living in a time when tube amps are actually starting to become mainstream again. It wasn’t all that long ago that compact tube amps were limited to boutique models and high end Fender or Mesa examples, but now with the likes of the Bugera V5 Infinium, you too can get your hands on a well made, all tube amp for under $300.
It sounds great, it works well for recording and practice, and we think it could even manage small gigs. It’s a great platform for upgrades and mods if that’s your thing, and if you’re content to just get some nice, organic tube tone at a wallet friendly price, they don’t get much better than this.