Finding a great tube amp is a common desire and goal for guitarists, but it is also one that is among the most difficult tasks, particularly if you are trying to do it on a budget. The right tube amp can help you create a sound all your own, which is important, and even critical, if you are trying to play your own material instead of just recycling the hits of others in a cover band.
Fortunately, if you want to find a tube amp under $500, then there are 6 ways to go about doing so. Keep reading to learn what they are.
1) Visit your neighborhood guitar store or music center: To have some idea what the current and/or local market for tube amps looks like, you need to start with where things are at for general retail. You’ll of course discover a number of tube amps over $500, but you never know when there might be a sale going on. There could also be new budget models on sale.
2) Check or ask about scratch and dent or demo units while there: Floor stock that was on display eventually gets rotated out of display, and they do not just throw it away. They might also have tube amps that were returned or arrived having been slightly damaged during shipping. If the damage is just cosmetic and the tube amp is functional, you might get something with character but full usability for a deep discount. Depending on your stage decor, you can always cover up a ding with a great sticker.
3) Look over the secondhand stock: Many musical instrument shops and guitar stores do not just sell firsthand retail stock, but also buy used guitars and equipment from previous musicians. They still have to sell higher than they buy in order to make a profit, but your chances of finding a good-quality and reliable tube amp under half a grand is still good here.
4) Visit your nearby pawn shops: These are only going to have secondhand equipment, but they do usually test them and check them before buying them and putting them on the shelves. You can find some real gems here.
5) Go online: Firsthand and secondhand tube amps and other guitar accessories are available from giant sellers like Amazon to individual sellers on eBay, Craigslist, or through their own websites. Always factor in shipping and handling though, and vet any seller before spending hundreds of dollars with them.
6) Look for refurbs online: Shipping and manufacturing accidents happen, but the units are often salvageable in the hands of the right technician. These units are sold at a discount, often online through discount sites and come with a fresh warranty.
Now that you know 6 ways to go about finding a tube amp under $500, you can set out to create a sound that is unique to you without spending all the money that is already yours.