Bugera has been really expanding their foothold in the compact tube amplifer segment of the market. With a great line of models, they have covered pretty much every single application you can think of. From practice amps to full on stacks. Now, one of their smaller amps is really making a lot of ripples.
Bugera BC15 is the name, and nothing about this amp really adds up. Yet, it packs a pretty decent performance and users all over the world love it. So, where’s the catch?
One of the main things that really puts the BC15 in perspective is its price. It offers three times the power of Bugera’s popular V5, yet it is significantly cheaper. On top of that, both of these compact amps are full tube designs. Let’s scratch the surface a bit deeper and see what is going on here with a 3 part review.
1. Features and Build Quality
- Vintage Style
- Consistent Tone
- Compact Design
- 15W Speaker
- Real Tubes
- 2 Band EQ
- Master Volume
- High-End Practice Amp
Right from the get go, you will notice one thing. BC15 is one tiny, tiny amp. As a 1×8 it’s the type of thing you would pack with you when you go traveling. The design of the amplifier is obviously done in a retro style. The device’s beige exterior is only broken by nice, brown leathery corner guards and handle. Bugera BC15’s aesthetics are easy on the eyes, there’s no question about that.
Once you crack the thing open, you will find a simple old school valve configuration. Being so low powered, all they needed to install is a single 12AX7 in the preamp stage. Being a small combo, you will see a decent 15 Watt speaker in the front, which has a pretty good color. If we were to grade everything on how vintage it was, the speaker would be a pure 10/10.
In terms of build quality, this is a tight little amp. There’s no sloppy craftsmanship to be seen and everything fits together nicely. Let’s be real here for a moment, Bugera’s user reputation isn’t the cleanest one when it comes to the quality of their amplifiers. With that said, there is nothing that indicates trouble on this model.
Controls are pretty simple. You have your gain knob, a two-band EQ, and a master volume knob. On top of that, you will see two buttons – gain and shift. Former is your overdrive channel while the latter gives the mids some punch.
The only real downside to this particular model is the lack of line out. You are limited to this one little speaker. As good as it is, it would be amazing to hook this puppy up to a quad 12-inch setup and give it a run for its money. Unfortunately, just like there is no reverb, Bugera took that away from us as well. From a purely functional point of view, they have limited the use of this amplifier to one’s bedroom.
While I do have a grudge against Bugera for the reasons mentioned above, this thing sounds like a million bucks. Its clean channel is pure, crisp and simply impressive. With single coils, you can dial in a very nice sharp tone, while humbuckers fatten the whole thing up quite nicely. Is it vintage? Kinda, but you have to be reasonable with your expectations. Push that gain button and you enter the world of organic overdrive. With low gain, you will get that bluesy tone that defines vintage valve tone. Crank the gain all the way to the max, and that overdrive turns into a wholesome fuzz.
So, Bugera V5 or Bugera BC15? These two amplifiers are more or less in the same category, although the latter is slightly more entry-level. If you value an output port, like I do, and you like to have your tubes with a side of healthy reverb, then V5 is the way to go.
On the other hand, if all you need is a good sounding practice tube unit, BC15 will do more than great.
3. Final Thoughts
I really like this amp. That is something that needed to be said. It’s compact, affordable and packs a lot of heat for the money. However, Bugera’s decision to exclude a simple output is something I personally can’t get over. I can live without a built-in reverb, but when you limit such a great little amplifier by not allowing us to hook it up to some serious boxes is just ridiculous. With that said, it is still a great amp that will meet the needs of many users.