Hey guys its Brian here with World Music Supply, and today I’m here to talk to you about the Bugera Vintage series of Amplifiers. Bugera has made it their mission to get classic great sounding tube amplifiers to the world, at a very affordable price. Within the Vintage line of Amplifiers are the V-5, the V-22, and the V-55 combo and head.
First up on the chopping block is the V-5, an amplifier that is close to my heart, as it has been my “secret weapon” so to speak in the studio for a while now. The V-5 is a simple Class A, 5 watt amp driven by one EL84 and one 12AX7. This amp might not be as feature laden as some little practice amps, but what it lacks in technology, it makes up for in amazing tone. Right out of the box, the V-5 is certainly a handsome little devil, and so are the rest in its family, with their two tone cream and black coverings. Mic’d up this little amp is down right amazing, at low gain settings it adds that tube “girth” that even high end solid state amps seem to lack, giving your playing a very warm character, with added harmonics thanks to its hyper simple design.
Running straight into the amp, the guitar has a character all its own, and sure enough, swapping out guitars changes the sound entirely, even when they are very similar guitars. This is in part due to the Class A design, which while I wont go into explaining its benefits, it’s worth reading into. The long and short of it is, Class A amplifiers sound fantastic, even though they are only low power amplifiers. The V-5 also accepts pedals rather well, although you will notice a loss of signal clarity the longer the chain is, and similarly the longer your cable is. The V-5 produces big classic rock tones when you crank the gain and volume up, which are halfway between later Led Zeppelin and early Van Halen. You can hear the Amp distort and feel it pulse and sag with your playing, as well the V-5 is equipped with a power attenuator so you can drop it from 5 watts to 1, to 0.1 watts, meaning you can have awesome tone at any volume. For its ability to be a beast in most studio situations, and for being one awesome practice amp the V-5 scores a nice 9 out of 10.
The V-22 is a slightly different beast to its little brother the V-5, in that it is a A/B style amplifier and has a much more versatile and “live friendly” feature set. The V-22 is a straight forward 22 Watt amp that features two channels, clean and dirty, and two inputs bright and normal much like most vintage amplifiers. The amp has a very different character to the V-5 when it comes to tone, with a much brighter, sweeter sounds with a very, lets say Californian feeling clean section, and a rather British feeling dirty channel.
The clean channel still has that nice girth thanks to the tubes warming them up, although it doesn’t have the guitar to guitar sensitivity of the smaller V-5 it still has a slightly different character from guitar to guitar. The dirt channel has a nice very Queen sounding tone, and thanks to the included mid boost switch, you can even get a very good AC/DC tone out of it. The bass, mid and treble controls are very sensitive and moving them a little does result in some rather dramatic changes, which is good for people who get frustrated with never having enough Bass in their guitar tone. For bedroom practicing there is a Pentode Triode switch on the amp to drop its power threshold to take it to a much friendlier volume, which is great for recording as well. The V-22 also includes a footswitch to switch between the two fantastic channels, and for its ability to have some rather classic tones in an amazingly affordable package the V-22 gets a well deserved 9 out of 10.
Last in the line up are the V-55 head and combo. The V-55 is the most powerful in the line up, with all of the features of the V-22 but far more output and much more headroom in the clean section. The clean tone is still nice and fat, although it does lack some of the tube character of the smaller, lower watt amplifiers, although this is to be expected. The clean channel has a very rock vibe to it, and it is a tad dark, which felt great for jazz and for some rockabilly style country tinged licks. The Dirty channel has a much more distinct sound then the V-22, and a much higher level of gain on tap, which makes this perfect for everything from blues to modern metal.
The tone still has a very classic rock vibe to it, with plenty of over the top saturation and jangly overdriven chords. Out of all of the amplifiers in this review, the V-55 makes you feel like your playing on a real vintage amp the most, with its beefy clean channel, and its super Californian vibe, and its drive channel for all of its British bark and bite. For the price the V-55 has the most complex and convincing vintage amp vibe to it, and this fact snakes it a deserved 10 out of 10.
The Bugera Vintage line of amplifiers are amazing rock machines, they feature tones and looks that feel like they were yanked out of the late 60s. They have all of the bark and bite of those classic amps from way back in the day, but at prices that the working guitarist can afford, and you can get them right now at Worldmusicsupply.com!