Tube amp alternatives: are there any worth considering?


In the history of blues and blues-rock music, the tube amp has played a hugely significant role.

First introduced in the 1940s, tube amps have since proved popular with almost all notable blues guitarists, as well as guitarists across a whole range of different genres.

In fact almost all of the early electric blues guitarists – from Freddie King to Eric Clapton, to Stevie Ray Vaughan – have used tube amps.

For this and many other reasons, I would recommend a tube amp for most blues guitarists in most situations.

This is largely because of the sound that a tube amp makes when it breaks up. 

When you start to crank a tube amp, it produces a warm and organic sounding overdrive that is just beautiful. It is the sound of blues and blues rock guitar.

Tube amps also react to your playing. They are responsive to dynamics and the changes you make to your guitar’s volume controls.

In turn, this allows you to play in a subtle and nuanced way that is crucial to expressive blues guitar. 

When you start to add pedals to your setup, you can extend this even further.

You can think about the ways that the pedals interact with your guitar and amp, and this really opens up a whole range of different tonal options.

Finally – and from a more sentimental standpoint – there is also the historical significance of tube amps to consider.

Tube amps have helped to produce the beautiful blues tones of almost every notable electric blues guitarist. 

So if you are interested in authenticity and you want to produce beautiful vintage blues tones, a tube amp seems like the obvious choice.

Yet as I’ll explain in more detail here, there are some instances where playing a tube amp doesn’t make sense. In those cases, what are the alternatives? Is it possible to get a decent blues tone without using a tube amp?

Those are the questions that I’ll be answering today.

I’ll be looking at the some of the best tube amp alternatives out there, as well as some of those options I wouldn’t recommend.

When tube amps don’t make sense

Before we look at some of the best tube amp alternatives, I think it is first worth looking at those circumstances where a tube amp doesn’t make sense.

This all relates back to volume, and to the fact that traditional tube amps are big and powerful.

In the absence of decent PA systems during the 1960s and ’70s, guitarists needed to play loud to be heard.

Freddie King played a 100 watt Fender Quad Reverb that he cranked to 10. Fellow Texas bluesman Albert Collins did the same, and Eric Clapton achieved his early tones by playing a Marshall 1962 ‘Bluesbreaker’ amp at full volume.

In the quest to replicate these tones, a lot of guitarists encounter the issue of volume.

Most guitarists play at home, and when there are family and neighbours to consider, cranking a 100 watt Fender Quad Reverb or a Marshall Stack isn’t a viable option for many.

Volume was a crucial part of how early blues guitarists created their beautiful tones.

Whilst you don’t need to play at deafening levels to get good tones, you do need a certain amount of volume to push your amp into break up.

Depending on your living circumstances, this can be challenging.

Of course, you can opt for a smaller amp (and I will cover some of the best options in my next article on this subject) but even if you do that, getting a tube amp still might not be the best option.

I actually found myself in this position for a number of years. I was living in a small apartment in London that I was sharing with housemates.

It was in an apartment block and there were apartments on all sides. So every single time I tried to use my amp, I disturbed someone. I ended up just playing my electric guitar unplugged, and my amp sat in the corner gathering dust.

If you live with other people, have young children or family to consider, or have noise sensitive neighbours, then you might be in a similar situation.

In other words, if you are heavily restricted with regards to the volume at which you can play, and you always have to play quietly (and are not in a band or playing live) then I don’t think it makes sense to buy a tube amp.

Which begs the question, what are your alternatives?

Tube amp alternatives

Technically speaking, there are 4 main alternatives to a tube amp. These are as follows:

  • Solid state guitar amps

  • Hybrid guitar amps

  • Digital modelling guitar amps

  • Digital modelling software

Each of these different options has its benefits.

Given the circumstances of most guitarists however, I think that only digital modelling guitar amps and digital modelling software offer a viable alternative for most players.

This might sound controversial at first – as you can get great tones out of both solid state and hybrid guitar amps.

However as with any gear that you add your setup, you need to consider not only the benefits that it offers but more importantly, how you plan to use it.

It is for this reason that I wouldn’t recommend either a solid state guitar amp or a hybrid amp over a tube amp. Let me explain this in a bit more detail:

Solid state guitar amps

In the early days of electric guitar playing, tube amps presented guitarists with some fairly significant challenges.

In the absence of PA systems (which at this point were not yet powerful enough to be particularly useful), guitarists had to really crank their amps to be heard, particularly if they were playing in larger venues.

This caused the tubes in the tube amps to overdrive and distorted the sound. So it was problematic for those players looking for a clean tone.

Playing at this volume also caused the tubes to overheat. The tubes would blow out – often during the gigs – and they would regularly need replacing.

These challenges in part led to the creation of solid state amps.

These are amps that are powered by transistors, rather than tubes. This is significant, because it totally changes the tone of these amps and the way they react to your playing.

Where solid state amps really excel is in the quality of their clean tones. They often have a very clean tone, and you can really push the volume of the amp without causing it to overdrive.

It is for this reason that some early bluesmen – like B.B. King – used solid state amps.

Conversely, solid state amps don’t break up and overdrive like tube amps. For most blues guitarists, this is a massive drawback.

The majority of early electric blues tones were created using tube amps that were overdriving. In fact, this is typically the sound that guitarists have in mind when they are trying to craft vintage sounding blues tones.

Many solid state amps have 2 channels, giving you the option to create overdriven tones.

However the way that this distortion is created is quite different to tube amps. Tube amps produce a ‘soft clipping’ distortion, which rounds off the edges of the sound waves.

Modern day solid state amps are built to mimic this soft clipping, but most people feel that they don’t do a very good job.

In fact a lot of people argue that solid state amps create a more distorted sound that sounds thin and harsh.

Regardless of whether some of these opinions are exaggerated, from my perspective it doesn’t make much sense to opt for a solid state amp over a tube amp.

If you are predominantly playing at home and volume is an issue, then if you buy a solid state amp, you won’t be using it to its full potential. In other words, you won’t be playing it loud and enjoying its loud and clean tone.

Conversely, if you have the freedom to play as loud as you want, then it still doesn’t really make sense to use a solid state amp.

In that case I would advise going for a tube amp so you can get beautiful clean tones and push the amp into overdrive if you want.

Hybrid guitar amps

It is for the exact same reasons that I wouldn’t recommend a hybrid guitar amp for most players. 

As the name suggests, a hybrid amps combine elements from both tube and solid state amps.

Typically, hybrid amps are built using tubes in the preamp section of the amp, and transistors in the power section of the amp.

The idea is that you get the best of both worlds. So you have the natural break up and overdrive of the tubes, and the power and reliability of the transistors.

Again though for most guitarists, all of that power and volume is unnecessary.

Perhaps for this reason, hybrid amps haven’t really caught on, and they are much less common than either valve or solid state amps.

Having said that, some companies – like Orange – have brought out a number of notable hybrid amps, including their Orange Micro Terror.

Modern blues guitarist Eric Gales also uses hybrid amps to great effect.

Digital tube amp alternatives

That then leaves us with 2 digital alternatives to the tube amp – digital modelling amps, and digital modelling software.

Amongst many blues guitarists, even mentioning digital alternatives to tube amps can be controversial.

There is a strong and persistent belief in the guitar community that the only way to dial in a decent tone is by using a tube amp. Truthfully, the sentimentalist in me takes issue with digital products.

My blues guitar heroes didn’t plug their guitars into laptops and start clicking around on 2D images of pedals and amps. Nor did they use digital amps with lots of flashing lights and hundreds of different presets.

If you are able to put that to the side though, then from a pragmatic standpoint, you should be able to see that there are some key benefits to going digital.

If this is a route you decide to go down, there are 2 main options to consider: digital modelling amps and digital modelling software.

Digital modelling software

Prior to there last few months, I had never tried digital modelling software.

Following some complaints from my neighbours though (I guess they don’t like the sound of my Mesa Boogie Lone Star Special as much as I do!) I decided to start looking at some lower volume alternatives.

After some research I fixed on the  Positive Grid Bias FX 2.

Truthfully I did so with some reluctance and skepticism, but I have actually been very pleasantly surprised.

The software is easy and intuitive to use, has a huge range of different amp and pedal options, and it sounds great.

You get access to a bank of presets, as well as to the ‘ToneCloud’, which is a bank of options that has been created by other users.

In that sense, you can really tweak your tones as much or as little as possible. If you like to constantly adjust your tone and setup, then you have a lot of scope to do so.

Equally if you want to just dial in a nice tone and forget about it, you can do that too.

At  $180/£140 I also felt that this software offered pretty amazing value for money. It has given me the option to feel like I am almost playing an amp, without incurring any complaints from the neighbours.

Bias FX is the software that I use, but some other digital modelling software options in a similar price range that I would also recommend, are as follows:

To use this type of software, you will need an Audio Interface to plug your guitar into your computer. I use the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, but similar interfaces will work just as well.

Digital modelling guitar amps

The other alternative to consider, is a digital modelling amp.

Broadly speaking, there are 2 sub-categories of this type of amp. The first of these are the digital modelling amps offered by companies like Fender and Marshall.

In terms of their design and features, most of these look and feel much more like traditional tube amps. They use some blend of digital and analog technology, but have a range of presets modelled after other amps.

Marshall offer the ‘Code’ amp series, Vox the ‘Cambridge’ and ‘Valvetronix’ series and Fender the ‘Mustang’ amp series.

Truthfully, I would not recommend these amps. Again this is because I feel they perform a function that is mismatched with the needs of most guitarists.

If you can play at volume, I would always recommend that you go for a tube amp. It will sound much better and get you a lot closer to creating beautiful vintage blues tones than one of these modelling amps.

If you can’t play at volume, then I would recommend going for one of the digital software modelling options listed above. Not only are they cheaper than these amps, but they also take up less space and are more practical. You can also use them with headphones.

As such you don’t have to worry at all about the volume at which you are playing.

Kemper & Co.

The second type of digital modelling amp, is that offered by companies like Fractal Audio, Kemper and Line 6.

All of these brands have produced modelling and profiling amps with great success. Over the last few years, they have made huge progress in the quality of the tones they offer.

These digital modelling amps are unlike any of the amps listed above. They are totally digital and are built to replicate the sound of the different tube and solid state amps they are profiling.

There are a number of these different amps, but some of the most popular are:

In comparison to the other digital modelling amps listed above, these are very high end options. 

Technology has advanced a lot, and in many respects, the sound of these digital amps is almost indistinguishable from the original tube amps they are profiling.

In fact some of these amps are even proving popular amongst blues and rock guitarists.

Modern blues rock guitarist Kris Barras is just one notable player who uses a Kemper, and he does so both on stage and in the studio.

Compared with some of the other options listed here, these profiling amps offer a lot of versatility. You can play them silently through your headphones at home, or plug them into a PA system or speakers.

Digital vs. Analog – pt. I

In my opinion, there are a number of benefits to digital amp technology, 2 of which are significant.

The first of these, is that with a digital amp or modelling software, you get a lot of different tones and sounds. You can dial in the sound of a small Fender combo 1 second, and a cranked Marshall stack the next.

You can also do this relatively inexpensively. Even if you decide to opt for a Kemper or Line 6 Helix (both of which are more expensive) you will have hundreds of different tonal options at your disposal.

So in this sense, they offer very good value for money. To try and recreate the same range of tones with a tube amp and pedals would be prohibitively expensive.

The second reason – and this is why I think some digital options do offer a viable alternative to tube amps – is that you can play them at almost any volume and still get a good tone. This is significant.

To dial in a beautiful blues tone with a tube amp at a low volume is not easy. Given that a lot of guitarists have to be mindful of their volume the majority of the time, this is worth noting.

Digital vs. Analog – pt. II

Despite these benefits, there is a big problem with digital options:

Digital amps are not tube amps.

This is of course blindingly obvious, but it is a problem that is insurmountable for a lot of guitarists, and this is for 3 reasons:

Firstly, digital options are only ever judged by how they sound compared to real amps. T

he Kemper caused such a stir when it was released, because it actually succeeded in replicating the sound of the amps it was profiling.

When looking only at tone however – and not at convenience, practicality and versatility – digital options tend to come up short. High quality digital options do a great job of sounding like a vintage tube amp.

Still though, they aren’t the real thing, they are merely mimicking it. In this way, digital options often feel like second best.

The second problem with digital options, is that they don’t feel as good as playing a tube amp.

I am very happy with the Bias FX. It was amazing value for money and sounds great. Most importantly, I can play it at any time of the night or day, worry free.

Yet it just isn’t the same as playing through a real amp. I don’t feel the same playing it, and I don’t get excited about it in the same way I do when I’m playing an amp.

To me it is the difference between having a conversation on the phone with a loved one and meeting them in person. The essence of the experience is the same, but the feeling is different.

Finally, I do still believe that it is very difficult for digital products to emulate the sound of a tube amp breaking up. I have played a number of digital products and most of those listed in this article.

I have found that they have both great clean tones and great distorted sounds but I have never heard or played any digital products that can recreate the sound of a guitarist like Stevie Ray Vaughan with proper authenticity.

They just can’t seem to replicate the sound or feeling of a tube amp on the edge of overdrive.

Taking a practical approach to tone

Playing the blues is all about feeling and emotion. To be an effective blues guitarist and play at your best, you need to have a tone that inspires you.

In the search for the perfect blues tone though, it is important to remain pragmatic. You want to have a rig that inspires you and brings you joy. However you also want to have a rig that you can play and practice with.

This is where you have to look at your personal circumstances to decide on the best option.

If you can never play at volume, it might be worth looking at alternatives to the tube amp. In that circumstance it might be worth looking at one of the higher end digital options – like the Kemper or Line 6 Helix.

If you can sometimes play at volume, then I would recommend using a cheaper digital software option for the majority of your practicing. Then I would invest in a decent tube amp that you can play once or twice a week and let loose.

If you can always play at volume – then get yourself a decent tube amp and start cranking it!

Finally, if you can play at a reasonable volume, most of the time, then I think it makes sense to look at a smaller and lower watt tube amp.

This will help you to dial in beautiful blues tones, at a lower volume. This is a whole different topic, and one that I will cover in much more detail in my next article on the topic.

So keep an eye out for that. In the meantime though, if you have any questions or if there is anything I can help with, please do let me know.

Just send me an email on and I’m happy to help!


Music Radar, Dawsons, Sweet Water, Andertons, Proaudio Land, Guitar Muse, Music Radar


Guitar, Thomann, PexelsThomann, Unsplash, Positive Grid, Equipboard


Many of the links embedded in this article are affiliate links. As such, if you buy one of the pieces of gear I recommend, or an item from the same store after clicking one of these links, I will earn a small commission.

I never recommend pieces of gear that I wouldn’t use myself, and I include these affiliate links to ensure that I can keep this content free. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me on


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Volume is definitely a key issue. For most, I would think.

    I was tempted, recently, by one of Fender’s digital amps, the Tone Master Deluxe, precisely because it can produce a good tone at low volume (thanks to its power selector).
    Well, that is if the reviews I read are accurate… Otherwise, I agree with you, thee’s no point in buying a digital amp if it can’t attenuate its volume output while keeping a good quality tone.

    1. Thanks very much for the comment Julien 😁 Funnily enough I spotted that new range of Fender amps fairly recently and thought they looked interesting, so I hope to try and test them out soon. I’m not sure if the traditionalist in me would ever take the plunge and go for one, but if they can actually dial in the sound of a cranked Deluxe Reverb at a home friendly volume, they would be a brilliant option for a lot of players!

  2. I HAVE A DEAN MARKLEY K-150 100 WATT COMBO A LANEY CUB 12 15 WATT Valve amp a Epiphone 60s Tribute Led Paul with classic Gibson 57 humbucker pickups and A now discontinued Fender Mexican deluxe roadhouse Strategy with Custom Texas special pickups with built in preamp Vintage White and Boss Me 80 will I get the Peter Green tone with this gear Thank you

    1. Thanks so much for the comment Douglas and for providing that background information, it’s very helpful. I am not sure if you received my comment back to you on the ‘How To Sound Like Peter Green‘ article – so I am adding it in again here. I’ll send you an email separately as well just to make sure it gets to you ok this time 😁

      Based on your set-up and with your Laney Cub and Epiphone, I think you should be able to get pretty close to Green’s beautiful tones!

      The key ‘Peter Green’ sound that everyone thinks of when they talk about his tone, comes from his out of phase pickups. So if you are intent on replicating Green’s tones, it might be worth looking at switching out the pickups you have now for a specific out of phase set. The Bare Knuckle PG blues set that are linked in the Peter Green article here would be a great choice, and apparently those were the pickups that Gary Moore used in another of his Les Pauls. So you would be in good company!

      Beyond that (and assuming that you are doing most of your playing at home?) I would set your Laney Cub on one of the lower power settings. This will allow you to produce an overdriven tone at a lower volume. Then just roll the volume control on your guitar off a bit. This will clean your sound up – which you can then use for a rhythm or clean lead tone. If you decide that you want to add some crunch to your sound, all you need to do is open your volume control up 👌🏻 Either way, just make sure you’re quite generous with the amount of reverb you set on the amp, because Green’s tone was pretty heavy on the reverb, especially when he played live.

      Finally and depending on your budget – it might be worth adding a boost or low gain overdrive pedal to your set-up. This will just help to ‘fatten’ your tone up a bit and give it some added warmth. You can get some great boost pedals to enhance your base tone for pretty reasonable prices, and quite a number of them are listed in this article that I wrote quite recently.

      Please do let me know how you get on. And if you would like more specific recommendations based on your budget and the rest of your rig, just send me an email on I’d love to help! 😁

  3. Ok, I find this article somewhat confusing. Yes, exact replication of real tube amps is difficult to achieve. Yes, current amp modeling software maybe the best option for doing it vs digital modeling guitar amps. However with the software version you will not only need an audio interface but also a computer and a sound system of some sort (at least active speakers). That is if you are trying to replicate or come close to real tube amps. When you add the cost of all this up, it seems you may be better off just getting a decent tube amp. If trying to replace a tube amp, the option of floor type modeling amp stomp boxes may be a better, at least you do not have to have an audio digital interface or computer. To me the software only option is mostly useful when recording tracks etc. Not really for ‘live’ playing. It may be that current digital modeling guitar amps are not good enough yet or to gimmicky to replace a real tube amp. But I suspect that will change as DSP hardware tech costs come down and actually start rivaling the pure software versions but in a ‘combo amp’. Having an ‘all in one’ amp is still very appealing to me. If I were looking to replace my tube amp now I would most likely choose the stomp box modeling amp option for live venues and leave the software versions for recording situations.

    1. Thanks very much for the comment Harry and for the insight. And I’m sorry to hear you found the article a bit confusing! Perhaps I didn’t make it as clear as I had hoped, but I was really aiming these alternatives at guitarists who are inhibited by the amount of volume they can use. So I wasn’t thinking so much about the suitability of amp modelling software for live situations, but instead was thinking of guitarists who do all of their playing at home, but still want to dial in a decent tone. In my experience, a huge number of these guitarists go out and buy tube amps, hoping to create a killer tone. And manny of them go out and buy quite large and powerful amps. But they are never able to push these amps into break up, and so struggle to get the tones they want. Either that, or they find that they are only able to play their amps properly once a week when they have the house to themselves etc. And that’s where I do think software options can work very well. They help you to create pretty decent tones at a very low volume (or with headphones) and I still think that the cost stacks up favourably against most tube amp options, especially when you consider that most people have a computer or laptop, totally unrelated to their guitar gear. But as you’ve noted, there are a lot of different options out there and it really depends on your personal circumstances. It’s what makes buying the right tube amp or tube amp alternative such a tricky decision!

  4. With so many valve amps having vastly different sounds it kind of makes sense to pick up a modelling amp in order to sort through all of the possibilities, especially if one plays for their own pleasure. Until one can try out many different amp and cabinets one can not truly know what they like best.

    1. That’s a really great point Stuart, thanks very much for sharing! I think you’re absolutely right – modelling amps can definitely work well as a first step for guitarists to figure out the type of tones they want to create. Having said that, I think sometimes the sheer range of choice that these amps and softwares present can still make that decision quite confusing. This is just because the presets that they offer usually have pedals in the chain, and in many cases also different speaker configurations and set-ups than you are unlikely to find easily and affordably. But as long as players guard against that, then I think modelling amps and softwares can really help to inform their buying decisions!

    1. Hi James – I personally haven’t played a Spark Amp, but when playing at low volumes, I use Bias FX software on my computer. This is made by Positive Grid – the same company who make the Spark Amps. So I’m familiar with the type of tones you can get from the technology powering the amp, and they are brilliant!

      You have a wide range of convincing tones available to you, and almost limitless options for tweaking those tones. I have tried similar software and products in the past, and always found them to be a bit complicated. But using the Bias FX is very intuitive, and my understanding is that using the Spark Amp is just as easy.

      The only drawback from a tonal perspective (at least using the Bias FX software) is that the tones don’t really hold so well if you start to adjust the volume control on your guitar. In this way they aren’t as responsive as a tube amp. I don’t know if this is also true of the Spark Amp, but it is something to think about if you do like to use the volume knob on your guitar to control your tone.

      Having spoken to some guitarists who use the amp, I’ve heard that it can sound a bit bass heavy and wooly at times. The speakers in the amp are also very small, so I imagine that they won’t handle high volumes too well. But I don’t think this is too much of an issue for the majority of players using the Spark Amp – most of whom are looking for an amp that will give them killer tones (without disturbing the neighbours!)

      The Spark Amp also has a load of cool features like ‘Smart Jam’ and ‘Auto Chords’ – both of which can help you to learn and improve. So if you’re looking for a versatile amp that you can use at home at low volumes, whilst still dialling in some brilliant tones, then I think the Spark Amp could work very well.

      I hope that helps, but if you have any more questions – either about gear or playing – just send them over to I am always around and happy to help!

  5. Hi, greeting from Thailand, your article is informative. I’m just a beginner who really want to play the blues (now I always plays in my condo with headphone), btw, I plan to buy a small tube amp shortly after I move to the new house next year. So, I have two simple questions

    1.Have you ever tried GE Labs app (only available on ios devices), I normally use this app, it’s pretty good and easy for daily practice.

    2.As I mentioned above, I plan to get a small tube amps next year, and I’ve read your article on desirable small tubes for home use But Supro Delta King (or previously called Blues King) is not included in your list, why? And what do you think about this series from Supro?

    Thanks, from your new fan!

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words and for getting in touch Chut, and I’m sorry for the delay getting back to you on this. I’m very glad to hear you’re getting into the guitar and the blues, that’s brilliant!

      To answer your two questions:

      1.) As it happens, I haven’t tried the GE Labs app. For playing at very low volumes or with headphones, I typically use the Bias FX 2 software by Positive Grid. I think the tones are great and the app is very easy to navigate, so that’s been working pretty well for me. From what I can see, the GE Labs is a more budget friendly version of Bias FX – so if it’s working well for you, then that’s great!

      2.) Brilliant choice! As it happens I think I may have written that particular article before the Delta Blues King was released (which is why I didn’t include it in that list). But it is a great amp and one that I think could work very well for what you have in mind. Was it the Supro Delta King 12 or the Supro Delta King 10 that you were considering?

      The former is 15 watts, and so will be better suited if you are able to play at slightly higher volumes, and are looking to use a cleaner tone at a higher volume. Conversely, the smaller 5 watt version will work better if you want your amp to ‘break-up’ and start overdriving at a lower volume. This smaller amp would also work well if you have to play at a slightly lower volume.

      Depending on the volume that you are able to use, it might also be worth considering the Fender Blues Junior. This is in a similar price bracket to the Supro and in my opinion is probably the best tube amp in this price range. Like the Supro 12, it is also 15 watts. As such, it might be too loud for what you have in mind. But this would probably be my top recommendation.

      I hope that helps Chut, but if you do have any more questions at all I can help with, just pop them in here, or send me an email on I am always around and happy to help! 😁

  6. Sorry, I just read your article on ultimate guitar amp.. I found that you have already mentioned Supro blues king, anyway, It will be helpful if you can share more opinion about it.

  7. This is in reply to Chut’s question from 15/7/2021. I’ve had the Supro Blues King 8 for about a year now and I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a recording/bedroom amp the breaks up easily and has a compressed tone (some might even describe it as “dark”). It’s kind of a one-trick-pony compared to some amps but that’s what I like, dial in something that sounds good and leave it there.

    The bridge pickup on my Strat gets some “fatness” from the amps character making it far more useful than with many other amps. My Les Paul sounds good too, albeit with the tone knob on the amp turned up a bit higher. I don’t use a lot of pedals, just the occasional Tube Screamer or clean boost and it responds well to those. I suspect it would sound really good with a Les Paul and a treble-booster (I think Aidan has an article about those around here somewhere).

    So in summary if you’re looking for something with a lot of headroom and a shimmering clean sound this might not be for you. If you like a slightly compressed and dirty blues tone it’s definitely a top contender.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your experience Russ, it’s super useful and also brilliant to hear that you are getting on so well with the Blues King!

      Chut – the article that Russ has mentioned on boost pedals is this one here. In that article I run through a variety of different boost pedals which could potentially work well. And as Russ has mentioned, if you are looking for some vintage style British blues tones, a treble booster would make a great choice when combined with an amp like the Blues King.

      Let me know how you get on, and if you are still searching for an amp or if I can help in anyway at all, please do let me know. You can reach me here or on and I am always around and happy to help 😁

  8. I am exactly in this position at the moment as we have downsized from a detached U.K. house to a semi detached. In my old home I could use the Friedman Dirty Shirley mini and 1×12 cab and play at a volume between 2-3 – no I think that would be too loud. So am thinking of either getting an attenuator or switching to some digital solution. I have a 335 and LP and would like to try to get some good lower volume tweed tones but it is difficult to know what to do with so many options. Do you have any advice?
    I am really looking forward to what may be coming next year from the happy Bluesman !

    1. Hi Warren, thank you so much for the comment and for your kind wishes, I really appreciate it 😁 I hope the move went well and that you’re settling into your new place ok!

      In terms of looking for options that might work well at a lower volume level – my first thought is to go for an attenuator. The Dirty Shirley is a killer amp! And combined with your Les Paul and ES-335, it will help you to dial in some beautiful blues rock tones. So I wouldn’t recommend looking at options that take you away from that very decent starting point. And the good news here is that there are a lot of different attenuators out there across a range of prices. Some different options to consider are as follows:

      Universal Audio Ox Box
      Ironman II Precision Attenuator
      Mesa Boogie Powerhouse Attenuator
      JHS Little Black Box

      Depending on your budget and what you have in mind, I think one of these options could work very well. They will allow you to dial in the same tones you do currently, but at a lower, neighbour friendly volume.

      I hope that helps, but if you do have any questions or you’d like to chat through it in a bit more detail, just send me an email on I am always around and happy to help! 😁