V5 Tube Guitar Combo review by Bugera

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  • Sound: 8
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 7
  • Features: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 7.8 Good
  • Users' score: 7.4 (42 votes)
Bugera: V5 Tube Guitar Combo
4

Price paid: $ 129

Purchased from: Guitar Center

Sound — 8
(Attention Metalheads: This Amp Is Not For You! So, please, stop reading, return to the review menu, and choose another amp while you kindly refrain from leaving snidely hateful comments. THANK YOU!) As stated above, this amplifier will not be the choice of those looking to mow down the first thirteen rows at Wembley Stadium. If you need the volume and tone generated by a stack of JCM 800's or Triple Rectifiers, then those are the amps you will HAVE to purchase. I feel that if you are looking for classic sounding amplification that will give good performance in the bedroom, practice hall, recording studio, or small gig, this amp should serve you well. Bugera seems to have intended that this box compete head to head with the Fender Champion 600 or the Vox AC4. If you want clean and bright with a good amount of headroom, turn down the Gain and increase the Volume. Add the Reverb in desired amounts and you can get the electric tone from Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game" easily. You want the dirt, turn up the Gain and nudge the Volume control down a bit. Think "Cinnamon Girl" by Neil Young and you are getting the picture. If you are going to use this for practice or recording, the attenuation switch will prove of great service. This switch varies the output of the power amp. The choices are 5, 1, and 0.1 watts. With the 0.1 watt setting, I have used this amp set at full bore in the living room at night with the kids asleep upstairs without disturbing them. I have also used it to record a couple of guitar parts by adjusting it to the 1 watt setting and putting it in a closet with a microphone pointed at the center of the speaker. The sound produced is very lively and full of tone due to the overdriven tubes but with a controllable volume output. The speaker itself is not a Celestion or other brand name but it seems to have a really decent sound overall. But to the plus side of sound, this is not a beginner's amp. It's small size does not mean that it is a toy for a twelve-year-old to have as his first amp to go with a Lotus "Strat". The V5 produces very nice tones as only a tube amp can.

Overall Impression — 8
I am a former metalhead (we're talking about the middle 80's here, folks) and am now living in Nashville, TN. I have discovered and come to love the sound of Alt-Country, Cowpunk, Americana... Whatever you want to call the mixture of country roots played though classic rock instrumentation. This amp is capable of giving clean, tight sparkling riffs or dirtying up and allowing for some really punchy blues leads. It would work in a small club or nightspot gig (5 watts is a LOT louder than you'd think! ) but really excels in performing as a recording instrument. I wish it had an effects loop but you'd be hard pressed to find an amp at this rating and size that would have one. Also, I don't think that it will work well with distortion pedals. I believe that they would add too much extra color to the tube driven signal and make the sound muddy. I do know that just a plain old, simple boost pedal (I have an older Electro-Harmonix LPB-1) will Drive your sound into a louder zone for soloing. I compared the V5 to the Vox AC4 and the Fender Champion 600 and I think that you get a sound and tone just as good as these other two, with more features for about $70 and $40 cheaper, respectively. If this amp were lost or taken, I would have no reservations about purchasing another one immediately. I just hope that Bugera doesn't jack up the price any time soon. The rating says 8 but I actually give it an 8.5 overall.

Reliability & Durability — 7
The construction of this amp seems to fall somewhere into the 8.5 (out of 10) rating. Bugera advertises this amp as being "hand-made". Without having seen inside the housing itself, I highly doubt that statement equates to "hand-wired". However, I have played this amp every night for the last four weeks for at least a couple of hours at a time and have had none of the "breaking-in bothers" that I have experienced with other amps. The tubes and speaker can always be upgraded later but she has functioned without any trouble thus far. Would I gig without a back-up? Experience has taught me that even your most prized of equipment will fail you when you least expect it to. But as far as Class "A" circuitry goes, you'd probably have to work really hard to tear this thing up. That's why there are so many Fender Princetons and Vox AC4 amps from the 50's and 60's that are still working today. I'm giving it a 7 in this category due to the unforeseen events that will happen to a new piece of equipment.

Features — 8
The features start simply enough: Input, Gain, Tone, Volume, and Reverb controls for signal shaping. One eight-inch speaker in a nicely built cabinet, nostalgically styled. The extra goodies include an attenuation switch, for controlling the output to the speaker (more on that later), a head phone jack, and the ability to use this amp as a head to Drive the speaker cabinet of your choice. The only thing left out, as far as I am concerned, is an effects loop. I feel this limits the sound options somewhat. However, once you start playing with this little tone generator, you don't really miss it too much. Also, the Reverb is a digital effect, not an actual spring tank. To the trained ear, it can sound a little dry. But it really adds a nice spacial effect when turned past 5. It's a personal preference that I kind of quickly got past.

16 comments sorted by best / new / date

    bobvmagoo
    for JoePerry4life: When I went shopping for a small recording amp, I stacked the Vox AC4TV (10 inch), the Fender Champion, the ZT Lunchbox, and the V5 in a row, chased away the salesman, and spent about 25 minutes narrowing he field based on tone, features, and price. I didn't want to spend more than $200 U.S. My personal taste squeezed out the Champion due to limited features (on-off switch, volume control) and what, in my opinion, was a lackluster tone from a six-inch driver. My hardest choice was between the Vox and the Bugera. They both have similar features and tone (the Vox has the 10-inch driver and I am a firm believer in the "bigger speaker, better tone" concept) but when it came down to it, there was no real difference in tone and the V5 is $70 cheaper. I try to write my reviews for the guitarist on the workingman's budget. Does the Bugera beat a late 50's, early 60's Fender Princeton? I wont ever know. I don't have enough cash to breath on one, much less play one. I feel that the Bugera is a good investment for the guitarist recording at home. Others will no doubt dispute this and I will not waste words to change their minds. But I bet if you sit in front of a V5 with your favorite single-coil guitar, you would really like it!
    The^Unforgiven
    Seems very cool. I'm a metalhead myself, but I love playing blues and classic rock as well, and have been wanting for a small tube combo for vintage-ish tones for a long time now. Will definitely be checking this out when I get the chance to.
    madh4ttr
    I have a Bugera 6262 head/cab and very pleased with it. I will be getting the V5 to take around to jams. For the price, you can't go wrong.
    bobvmagoo
    Bugera makes some nice, quality products. As we all have our own personal tastes, I usually don't give advice as to how others spend their money. However, i think that you'd be very pleased with the sound and portability of this amp. I left out the measurements by mistake when I was writing the review. They are: 15 inches (38 cm) tall X 14 inches (36 cm) wide X 9 inches (23 cm) deep. Weight is about 15-20 pounds (7-9 kg). Ultra portable!
    Scum_PunkRocker
    I have one of these amps and have been quite pleased with it. I should post a review soon. These are hand wired so reliability is not an issue.
    sberube1979
    This or a the Champion 600? It's for my brother's Christmas present, he's been playing a PRS through a Line 6 Spider and thought the guitar sounded bad (yeah it's the guitar).
    SeanX3187
    i'd go with the champion, i've played both, and have had both in the studio, and the Champion seems to do it better every time.
    bobvmagoo
    for IYanoplathizol: I have been experimenting with the basic guitar effects that most everyone has to see what will go along with this amp. A signal booster or pre-amp goes well with it as does a chorus pedal. Tremolo work REALLY well. Distortion and fuzz pedals don't add a lot to the tone or output of this amp. They actually tend to make the sound muddy and unfocused. In my opinion, delay pedals don't seem to sound right anywhere but in the effects loop. As the V5 doesn't have one, I will leave that up to your tastes. If you were considering putting a multi-effects unit in front of this thing, my advice would be not to. The V5 is simple and I recommend that your signal up to the input be kept simple as well. Finding your tone is all about the experimentation!
    Shpongled
    Interesting that a review for this popped up as I purchased this amp just last week (unfortunately it is my parents' Christmas gift to me so I haven't played it much outside of the guitar store). I tried this amp as well as a Vox AC4TV and decided to go with this one. Sonically I thought both amps sounded great, but with the price tag of $100 less and the addition of reverb and gain controls I had to choose the V5. You can't get much distortion out of the amp itself, but I will say that this thing can get loud. I tried it with a simple Boss DS-1 pedal in front of it and was not disappointed with that tone. The pedal's gain on ten I was able to easily get a decent rock (more so blues) tone.
    Shpongled
    I should also say that I might consider getting some better tubes in. The clean tone is a little dark for my tastes so it could use a little more high end. I'll probably make that decision after a few more months playing it.
    celticstorm84
    I know Bugera has been around a while now but it seems like they've worked out some of the issues they got bad reviews on. Nice to see, bang for the buck I think they're on to something.
    The^Unforgiven
    Shpongled wrote: I should also say that I might consider getting some better tubes in. The clean tone is a little dark for my tastes so it could use a little more high end. I'll probably make that decision after a few more months playing it.
    Dude, if you think the tone's too dark, then what you'd need is an EQ pedal instead of re-tubing... unfortunantely, since the V5 doesn't have an fx loop, the results with an EQ pedal might not be good. You might want to see if in your area there is someone who can work with amp modifications and ask him to put an fx loop in the amp.
    Shpongled
    The^Unforgiven wrote: Shpongled wrote: I should also say that I might consider getting some better tubes in. The clean tone is a little dark for my tastes so it could use a little more high end. I'll probably make that decision after a few more months playing it. Dude, if you think the tone's too dark, then what you'd need is an EQ pedal instead of re-tubing... unfortunantely, since the V5 doesn't have an fx loop, the results with an EQ pedal might not be good. You might want to see if in your area there is someone who can work with amp modifications and ask him to put an fx loop in the amp.
    I just got this amp to play in my dorm, I'm really not particular to getting the tone exactly how I want it. Thanks for the suggestion though.