Smallest, Lightest ALL tube amp: 2020 edition

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by socialleper, Aug 21, 2020.

  1. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    This question has popped up a lot over the years on TB. I was curious if there is anything new and exciting out there.

    What is the smallest, and lightest ALL tube bass amp out there. Let's say it has to be a minimum of 50w. Usable 50w; not 50w and distorting like a guitar amp.

    ....and go!
     
  2. Inara

    Inara Fierce Fun Fretless Female Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2017
    Seattle, WA USA
    I think the newest and lightest all tube amp around right now is the Traynor YBA100. It's 100 watts at 22 pounds. The first production units are just getting into players' hands, as noted in the later pages of this thread:
    New Traynor YBA 100!!
     
  3. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    That's an interesting looking amp. Traynor is always doing interesting things. I wonder why they aren't a bigger brand.
     
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  4. Zbysek

    Zbysek

    Mar 23, 2017
    Czech Republic
    I agree that YBA100 is the new cool thing.

    If 50watts is the limit, I would add Ampeg PF-50t as another contender. It’s not 2020 edition though...
     
  5. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    Is that one all tube? I thought it was a hybrid.
     
  6. Inara

    Inara Fierce Fun Fretless Female Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2017
    Seattle, WA USA
    Nope. PF50t and PF20t are both all-tube. The 20 doesn't make the 50 watt threshold, of course.
     
  7. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    I guess I should edit the OP to say it doesn't have to be brand new equipment for 2020.

    However, the "edit" option doesn't seem to be there anymore. Did the TB admins remove that?
     
  8. Inara

    Inara Fierce Fun Fretless Female Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2017
    Seattle, WA USA
    You only have a limited time after a post to edit now, an hour I think? They did it because people were abusing it. They would go back and edit things long after posting, making things look different than they actually were because they didn't like how the conversation had gone, etc.
     
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  9. Inara

    Inara Fierce Fun Fretless Female Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2017
    Seattle, WA USA
    Two other lightweights, compared to the old-school standards at least, come to mind.

    The Mesa Prodigy, which is discontinued now, is 29 pounds and switchable between 250 and 125 watts: Bass Prodigy Four:88 | MESA/Boogie®

    And the Peavey VB-3 and VB-MA (Mark Anthony signature model edit: as @DrMole points out below, it's of course Michael Anthony, not Mark!) are 300 watts and 37 pounds. I believe both of those are also discontinued. They're also not really "small," just light in comparison to older tube amps.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2020
  10. Michael Anthony?...We knew what you meant and that is indeed a sweet amp!
     
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  11. Inara

    Inara Fierce Fun Fretless Female Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2017
    Seattle, WA USA
    Haha yes! That's a strange slip-up for me to make lol. :)
    I'll see if I can edit my post to correct it, thanks!
     
  12. dlb1001

    dlb1001

    Jan 30, 2007
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  13. Zbysek

    Zbysek

    Mar 23, 2017
    Czech Republic
    Yes, it is.
     
  14. nilorius

    nilorius Inactive

    Oct 27, 2016
    Riga - Latvia
    I don't think anybody made a new 2020 all tube small and light 50w amp.
     
  15. HearNoStevil

    HearNoStevil Inactive

    Jul 17, 2020
    Your best bet is to buy used. I recommend the Peavey VB-3. I own three of them, as well as two VB-MA heads, and two Mesa Prodigy heads. The Mesa heads are nice, but are completely not in the league of the Peavey.

    The Mesa's preamp overdrive is unusable. It spits, clips, and gaks. It is not a smooth gradual overdrive. Garey at Mesa stated it was "not designed for overdrive" (even though the manual goes into great detail regarding preamp tube overdrive settings). However, if you like a totally clean tube tone and like your settings flat, that's where the Prodigy shines. However, it's kinda a one-trick-pony amp in that way. But, they do sound great when used like that. However, they aren't reliable amps, mainly due to the KT-88 power tubes. That's why they were discontinued. They are a nice little amp, but that's kinda what they look, sound, and feel like-a nice little tube amp. The gray one is a prototype and I added black light UV leds instead of the blue ones on the production amps.

    The Peavey heads, of course, are reliable as, well, a Peavey. And, they are absolute beasts. They are capable of perfect smooth aggressive ratty preamp distortion if you wish (think Eddie Jackson of Queensryche tone circa "Operation: Mindcrime"). However, they also sound perfect flat, even plugging your bass straight into the power amp input jack which still gives you control over the Master Volume, Resonance, and Presence controls. The Resonance control adds enough bottom to loosen your bowels. The power amp section is about the punchiest tube power amp I've ever heard (even moreso than my Classic 400), probably because of the lack of power supply sag. It is unreal how much punch these amps are capable of; it's literally stunning, even to this player who owns just about every modern tube bass amp (and some not-so-modern). When you lift up the Peavey, it feels empty. That's how light it feels. You expect this 300w tube head to at least have some heft, however it doesn't weigh as much as an old Mark III head, and definitely isn't nearly as big. Your brain just can't wrap itself around the fact that this is a 300w tube amp. If you remove it from it's wood case, it weighs only 21lbs, and the chassis is made of aluminum.

    Anyway, that's enough for now. Here are a few pics for fun. The last pic, the VB-3 was signed under the left handle by Hartley and under the right handle by one of the engineers who worked on the amp, Steve Everett. On that amp, I changed out the cheesy light-up Peavey logo for a die-cast brushed metal one. I haven't got around to changing them on the first two amps yet. I like the rough bedliner finish on the VB amps (Peavey actually found me a NOS bedliner-coated head case for the VB-3 in the top pic which was originally vinyl covered). The thick bedliner coating reminds me of the old rough bumpy Peavey tolex of the 80's, which is no longer available and tough as nails. It's a shame no one bought these amps. They were hand-built, one-by-one, not on the production line, but by the actual engineers at Peavey in the engineering lab. Amazing amps.

    VB-3-old-and-new.jpg
    Mesa-Prodigy.jpg
    Peavey-VB-3.jpg
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2020
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  16. ^I love my PF-50T since I did the humbuster mod!
     
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  17. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    I like that the VB3 has a graphic EQ. So few tube amps have a comprehensive EQ section.
    I had a Meas 400 a decade ago with an EQ. The thing weighed a ton. Not as much as a SVT, but still pretty hefty.
     
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  18. starjag

    starjag Supporting Member

  19. kobass

    kobass Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2003
    Outside Boston
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  20. HearNoStevil

    HearNoStevil Inactive

    Jul 17, 2020
    Hmmm. More KT-88s. That was the death-knell of the Mesa Prodigy and Strategy. I would tread lightly. Looks like that compact design will get mighty hot.