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Bugera V22 Infinium Review: Two-Channel All-Tube 22-Watt Amplifier

tl;dr

For sparkling clean tube tones, and rough overdrive on an economical budget, the Bugera V22 is an excellent amp choice. Based on the hive mind of guitarists online, the general consensus is it’s a wonderful amp for clean tones, but could use some help with its overdrive sounds. For some handy guitarists, swapping the speaker & tubes or the resistors & capacitors can really do the trick to accomplish a great sound somewhere between a Vox and a Fender.

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Ever since Behringer founded Bugera amps, guitarists have been cautiously optimistic. For once, we had a player on the market who promised to deliver affordable tube amps.

In a world where ‘affordable’ and ‘tube amps’ don’t go together often, this announcement was bound to evoke scepticism. Between 2009 and 2011, Bugera had some manufacturing hiccups with ribbon connectors, though after launching the Infinium line there haven’t been any major documented problems to speak of.

Overall, you’ll find that musicians are quite satisfied with their Bugera amps, whether it’s a Bugera 6260 head (which is also great for the money), or this fiery V22 with fat tones and a great amount of power for the money.

General Specifications

Design

Sizing & Weight

Electronics

Hear How it Sounds

Tap the play button to get a sense of how this sounds. If you’ve got the time, explore many more videos to see if the style of the product could fit the sound you seek.

Our Review & Analysis

Overview

When the Bugera V22 first came out, it was one of the only all-tube amps in this price point.

As expected, many took the gamble and snatched one of these amps.

With first feedback coming in, things were looking pretty good for Bugera. The amp worked, there were very few quality control issues, and the tone was more than decent. It took a while for the community to accept this brand and the V22 Infinium combo as a viable alternative to much more expensive tube amps.

We received a great little unit which gets you your money’s worth, but not much more than that.

Is this bad? No, far from it. It’s a fantastic value and a great investment in your overall audio quality.

With this beautiful tube amplifier, guitarists working with a limited budget have a very competitive alternative.

Let’s pull this thing apart, see what makes it tick, and talk about the performance you can expect.

Features

Bugera markets these as ’boutique style’ guitar amplifiers. This label has nothing to do with the sound of the amp, but rather it’s vintage design.

We’re looking at a decently large combo, which features a single 12″ speaker made by Turbosound (a British manufacturer). The whole thing is powered by three 12AX7 tubes as preamp tubes and two EL84s for the power amp stage. So far, so good. After all, this combination is more or less the standard these days, and is a configuration that has been used for a few decades.

This is an Infinium model, so it watches the circuitry of the tube and modulates the power to prevent surges that would burn out the tube or drops that can damage them. As a result, these tubes last about 20 times longer than the tubes in your Grandfather’s amplifier would have lasted.

Combined, all of the valves are capable of pushing out 22 Watts of power, which places this particular unit somewhere in the mid range.

For a combo, that’s not bad at all.

Looking at the control cluster, there’s a lot to work with.  You have two inputs. There is a normal input and a bright input. These are separate inputs, so you would plug and unplug to go between them.

The amplifier comes with two channels – a clean channel and a dirty one. Switching between the two is done either by pressing the small button on the control panel or by using the footswitch that comes with the amp.

The presence control provides a mid boost comes in handy for delivering that extra punch. Frankly, I love the presence control so much that I’m inclined to leave it on anytime I’m playing on the dirty channel. I also turn the gain stage up pretty much all of the way. The presence control is what takes this amplifier from a so-so choice to a hands-down excellent option, even if you are playing lead and need to make your mark.

For controls, you’re looking at your standard Clean, Gain, Volume along with the three-band EQ of bass, mid and treble. These provide a moderate amount of control, but lack the finesse of a true equalizer.

Up next, we have the Master volume knob, Presence and finally Reverb.  The reverb can also be controlled through the footswitch, giving you that little bit of sustain that you might want to toggle on and off.

One more great feature is the pentode/triode mode switch, making the V22 a great practice amp as well. This lets you switch between 15 watts and 7.5 watts which expands the flexibility of this amp for different room sizes. There is also an impedance switch on the back that lets you connect to a 4, 8 or 16 ohm speaker for when you are gigging with others (the built-in speaker is an 8 ohm impedance).

For comparison the VOX AC15 amp is one of the biggest competitors. This 22w amp answers the call, offers more control of your sound and excellent headroom for adding in an effects loop. I would argue that it even outperforms the AC15 by delivering a classic Fender rock sound without compromising the clean, clear chime tones.

Build Quality

From what we talked about so far, this Infinium looks pretty decent.However, when we reach build quality, there’s a lot to discuss.

Bugera claims that V22 Infinium combos are hand made. Whether this is true or not is up for debate. All I know is in my experience handmade amps are usually built like tanks, with hand soldered components ensuring that uncompromising signal integrity.

That’s not really what I’ve seen on Bugera V22. To me, this looks just like another serial production combo made in Asia.

Will it fall apart on you? I doubt it, but I had to clear that little detail up.

The tubes inside the amp are decent, but swapping them out for branded units will boost the overall performance of the amp significantly.

One thing that caught me by surprise is the quality of the speaker. That thing is just beautiful. Replacing it with something such as a Celestion, or similar degrades the sound quality – something I did not expect.

The cab itself is solid but heavy. This has got to be one of the heavier combos out there, especially considering the power we’re talking about.

One of the explanations for the extra weight can be found in the fact that Bugera used the good ole particle board. This type of wood is heavy on its own, which is only made worse when you add the rest of the components.

Why is weight so important, you might ask? Well, considering that many wanted to use the V22 for gigging, having to deal with this type of weight could prove to be difficult on regular basis.

Performance

Enough with the cosmetics, let’s talk performance. As I’ve mentioned above, you get a clean and dirty channel to play with.

Clean sounds really good. The tone is clear, crispy and has that punchy vibe to it. Both single coils and humbuckers sound great. There’s that certain organic flavor to it, which is reminiscent of the vintage tubes.

Tone shaping using the existing controls is a bit rustic, but you can be pretty precise if you spend enough time dialing in what you want.

Once you switch to the dirty channel, you are greeted by a rather greasy overdrive. The Dirty channel is a little under powered. But once you turn the gain up on your guitar and dial up the presence control, it sounds like a lot more amp than it is.

I like this type of overdrive, but not everyone will. When you attenuate the amp, you can push those tubes into that sweet spot. V22 doesn’t fail to deliver in this regard, either. You can extract a lot of crunches, that’s for sure. Even though it has digital reverb it feels authentic enough for stage use.

Some folks have complained that this amp is a tad to bright and they are running the Treble knob at around a 4. Something fun you can try is to swap out the EL84’s for a a set of NOS Soviet 6P14P tubes. They’re compatible and the curve is very similar but they dampen those highs just a little.

Some of you are wondering if 15 watts will be loud enough to play with a band. You need to understand that these that these valve tubes run at lower watts. This generation has gotten used to buying 100 watt solid state amps.

The 15 Watt tube amps are going to work well for playing in a band. If you need more volume (congrats on playing larger gigs!), you can use the auxillary output to connect it to a larger amp. This setup lets you use the V22 as your amp head, while investing in an affordable external speaker cabinet.

Pros

Personally, I see the 22W Infinium combo amp as a great bang for the buck deal. You get what you pay for, but there’s a lot of room for upgrades should you wish so.

This amp gives you a very solid foundation, with a speaker that took me, and many others by surprise.

I’d say it’s an excellent choice for a gig unit if you don’t mind the weight. The tone is definitely worth the extra effort.

Cons

Some will say that the build quality is bad. I don’t agree. While it’s not a ’boutique style’ unit regarding craftsmanship, I don’t see it as any better or worse than your average mid-range combo.

All you have to do is treat it as such, and you should have problems with it. The tubes are Chinese made, low-quality units, but crafted to produce the same wavelength of some of the earliest tube amps ever made.

While I understand the need to keep the costs down to market the amp at its current price, I think you might want to play around with different tube configurations.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, V22 Infinium is a perfect choice for someone who plays blues or classic rock, and gigs from time to time. You can even push into that punk rock range, but it’s not going to be enough for metal. A lot of Strat, Les Pauls and Tele owners are loving the sounds they get out of this tube combo.

If you are getting it for the dirty tones, it could use an overdrive pedal. It is almost there, but an overdrive pedal delivers that little extra grit you need to truly shred.

The amplifier has all the qualities to support this type of use, while I would even put into a jazz environment.

The stereotypes about Behringer fall short with this combo. Sure, there was a period when Bugera suffered from some quality control issues, but those days are long gone.

Whether you are a  looking for an affordable gig amp, or a beginner hell bent on getting your first tube amp in the bedroom, Bugera V22 Infinium is a viable choice. It is also an excellent amp for using with with effects loop.  It has enough head room to plug in your pedal board and start experimenting.

As long as you understand exactly what this model was designed to do, and what it offers, you shouldn’t be disappointed.

After you get to know it and what type of tone it is capable of delivering, replacing the tubes might be the next logical step. The increase in sound quality is too obvious not to do so.

This one brings the sound you need for playing at home, the ruggedness to gig with you around town, and the features you need to expand your playing as you grow as an artist.

Even as someone who was burnt by Behringer before, this combo has convinced me that the brand is one of the best.

And even I would gladly invest in one of these units.

Notable Customer Reviews Online

5/5
Very nice amp. Versatile. Great sounds. Tons of tones. My Jazzmaster certainly loves it. My acoustic\electric guitars sound sweet as honey paired with this amp as well. I have 4 other amps. None super costly but this one tops them all honestly. I read\viewed everything I could find and although I don't always subscribe to the opinions out there... in this case I agree wholeheartedly with all the positive reviews. Price at this time is great as well... A true value. No regrets at all.
Robert
Bugera V22 Infinium Amp
March 14, 2021
5/5
Awesome amp. More than exceeds my expectations!
Floyd
Perfect!
February 6, 2021
5/5
I was so close to buying a Marshall or a Vox, then watched a vid for this amp and bought it for the price and tone. I love the look, I love that it comes with a pedal, I love the sound. Unless something goes wrong, this amp is an absolute steal.

The other amps I was looking at were 10-15 watt, and I don't need a lot of in-apartment volume, so I grabbed a Bugera power attenuator. Now I can get crunchy tones while playing at volumes that let me hear my pick hitting the strings.

It's heavy-ish, but hey -- two channels and reverb!
Joel B.
Knock on wood
January 24, 2021
5/5
Wow! That's the best way to say it. It's so much cheaper than other Valve amps with not even all the same features that I was just hoping it was passible, but it sounds amazing at 1/2 and full power, the Clean & Dirty are both great and the Bright and Normal channels with or without the Boost all do their jobs well so you don't feel compelled to redial in the EQ when you switch. I don't use pedals except for a Wah and a clean OD and I am amazed at the tones I'm getting and how responsive it is to my playing. I've been trying to get an all Valve amp since I went from an apt to a house but not trying to spend a whole lot with things being so slow during covid. This amp seemed like a great compromise but exceeded all expectation. It feels well built, sturdy and has a nice classy look to it. If it stands up to the mileage I put on it, I might even get it's big brother with the 6L6 valves.
Nicholas Di Paolo
Very Impressed
December 2, 2020
5/5
Checked out multiple reviews/demonstrations of this amp and have not been disappointed. Sweetwater's customer service is remarkably stellar, as well!

I've been satisfied with the tone straight out of the box: Stock tubes, no pedals. Nice organic sound.

They got it right with this amp—well-suited for blues, jazz, funk and classic rock. Highly recommend for anyone seeking a versatile tube amp without compromising quality or cost.
Troy
Excellent tube combo that outperforms its price point
November 21, 2020
5/5
Bought this amp on may 5th,2020. I've had the amp for six months. This is a great p if you use it for what it is meant for. Great for blues, classic rock and some heavier rock. The speaker is great and if you would consider replacing it, it will take some serious cash to do better. The controls are very good and responsive. The inputs are good and I use the bright input for all my playing, blues, rock and hard rock. I never use the boost. On October 25th a power tube went microphonic. This is after playing thru the amp for almost 5months on average 4hours a day, 7 days a week and about 80 hours doing sessions work. Tighter and brighter on the bottom end and smooth and perfect brightness on the top end. Perfect thickness in the mid range. The cleans are beautiful, but the crunch and distortion are as good as it gets. No fuzz are muddiness on any pickup position. Get the amp, don't listen to the haters. Put mesa boogies in the power amp section and rock on.
Charles Sago
Bugera v22 infinitum 1x12 combo and mesa boogie el84 power tubes.
November 7, 2020
5/5
I've have this amp since 2016 and from then till now, this amp has been to hell and back with me. I've hauled this thing all over the east coast. From NY to jersey to Pennsylvania and so on and to this day I have absolutely no complaints about this amp. All I've done was a tube change about a year in but from there it's been smooth sailing with this amp. I can truly say that if if my life depended on an amazing, great sounding amp, I would put it into this one right here.
Julio
AMAZING AMP!!!
July 4, 2020
5/5
this amp is amazing. The cleans are out of this world. It sounds great even at low volumes, but it is astounding when moved up to 5 on master and channel.

It also takes pedals very well. I used the effects loop with my multi effects processor on it into the clean channel with gain and compression before the pre-amp and reverb and delay after and it was unbelievable.

The value is here is out of this world and you can't go wrong.
Dan
Home run
March 11, 2020
5/5
I have had this amp for 2 years. I have played over 60 gigs with it. It has held up well. I just recently had to change the tubes. Nice to have the indicator for the tubes. The sound is very clean and pure, on the brighter side. Not a jazz amp but changing the speaker might help. It is plenty loud. Wish it had a line out. I tried many amps, mostly Fender. This sounds better than the Deluxe Reverb to me. I have an older Twin but it is too big, heavy and loud. For the money this is a great buty.
Scott
Great amp
March 2, 2020
5/5
Surprisingly, this is one of the best tube amps I've owned at any price. I currently own several tube amps and i will say that this is on par with the best of them! I am running a POD HD 500X to the amp using the four cable method. The amp simulation on the POD is turned off so what I'm getting is the pure Bugera sound plus effects. I have a compressor, Tube Screamer, and FUZZ Pi running through the Bugera preamp and the effects loop block, chorus, reverb and delay running through the power amp. Wow! What distortion! Couldn't ask for better sound from any amp. Turn up the master and blow out the windows!!
Scott Bigler
Excellent Amp
October 5, 2019

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