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The Bugera V5 Review: 5Watt, 1×8″ Valve Combo Amplifier

tl;dr

For those seeking a compact yet crunchy tube amplifier to play around the house, the V5 Infinium is a nice option by Bugera. In terms of features, it beats competitors like the Fender Champ due to its ability to modify wattage (allowing you to naturally achieve nice breakup at lower volume) and a headphone jack. Also, it tends to be able to achieve a wider palette of sounds than other tube amps for the price. As long as you don’t expect a Marshall half-stack out of this fierce little bulldog, you might find it’s a nice addition to your practice room.

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At the price point of this Infinium V5, you’ll be hard-pressed to find another tube amp with as many knobs to tweak, a clean tone that breaks up nicely, and power at this size. As Bugera is owned by Behringer, probably the biggest concern about the amp is how much mileage you’ll get out of it; everyone’s experience varies on that end, though especially if you’ll only be using this mainly around the house you’ve probably get less to worry about. For the price, you’re getting a hard-driving tube amp with lots of options to explore your own sound.

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

It’s no secret that tube amplifiers are coming back in a big way. The Bugera Infinium line of all tube amps should be near the top of your list.

Just like it was the case many decades ago, you have two broad categories of tube amplifiers – full-size stacks and mini combos. The former kept evolving without a moment of pause, mostly because tubes were always the standard for stage use.

It has been the small practice amps that have seen a real boom in popularity, topping bestseller lists all over the place. 

The reason for this is that manufacturing costs have come down significantly, making it possible to build a relatively affordable tube that people want to own for everyday use.

One brand that took the full advantage of this new situation is Bugera. They’ve designed a family of smaller, reasonably powered tube amps for the masses, and today we are going to review out one of them in detail for you.

Design and Build Quality Of The V5

backside view of 5 watt amp

“Vintage” is a word that gets thrown around a lot these days. The majority of brands, as well as their customers, associate ‘vintage’ with old school aesthetics. Having something that looks like it has a rich history is always great, and the way this amp is designed will give you that feeling. The only difference is that you get that factory new smell with it as well.

The amp features fully covered, poly coated top back and sides with full corner protection. The front features a vintage style mesh combined with a cream colored panel. This panel is also where you will find Bugera’s logo. Overall, this little bad boy is built like a tank. Smaller, compact guitar amplifiers are pretty hard to mess up in this regard simply due to their small size. Regarding weight, you are looking at a practice combo which definitely won’t be an issue to move around by hand.

Features

close up of bugera controls in the vintage v5

The amp features a single 12AX7 in the preamp stage and a single EL84 in the Class-A power stage. That tube combo is more than enough for a 5 Watt combo amplifier such as this one. To an average observer, this amplifier doesn’t look any different than what most other brands are offering out there, but that is simply not true.

The tubes are protected with the infinium tube life multiplier technology that carefully conditions the electricity and ensures that they are not destroyed by power surges. Tubes are supposed to last 20 times longer thanks to this added engineering.

One of The v5’s main features comes in the form of a genius power attenuator switch. Not only can you cut the power down from 5 Watts to 1 Watt, but you can set the output to 0.1 Watts. This type of flexibility opens a whole new sphere of applications, but we will get to that a bit later.

In full-power mode it is possible to get some over saturation and to exceed the capacity of the British made Turbosound speaker. However, the input gain control is perfect for introducing a gentle breakup for single coil pickups. For a more bluesy tone, plug this amp into a guitar with humbuckers and turn the dial down to the 1 watt mode for a clean tone.

A quick word about the speakers. Several years ago, they didn’t come with the Turbosound speaker, but with a cheaper version. Now, they come with that upgraded 8-inch speaker and the tube sound quality and durability on this is great.

Controls are more or less exactly what you would expect to find on a practice unit. You get the Gain Knob, Tone Knob, Volume Reverb knobs combined with the on/off switch. Gain, Volume, and Reverb are pretty self-explanatory. However, that Tone control is a pretty decent tool to shape your tone.

There is also a headphone jack for silent practicing, which makes this unit excellent for playing quietly by yourself in a crowded dorm room. Your roommates will love it.

Performance

One great thing about small compact amps is that they can deliver some of that fabulous tube tone, only scaled down. This little guy not only has enough volume for a practice unit, but you will probably find yourself using the 0.1 Watt setting most of the time.

Compared to something like a Fender Vibro Champ XD, this one comes across as less versatile. However, that attenuation switch alone gives it an edge in my opinion. If you are after that classic rock tone, you probably won’t need any additional pedal. This little box of power simply sings.

The weakest point of the entire package is the reverb. It’s a digital reverb, so you will probably hear traces of that as you use it. However, compared to other reverbs you can see on selections in this price range, this one is surprisingly organic in nature. Overall, the tone is well worth the money, especially if you like pushing those power tubes into a natural growl.

If you take a look at its immediate competition, such as the Epiphone Valve Jr, this baby looks like a spaceship. Compare that Epiphone’s extremely limited controls and you will get the idea. Not only that, but the form factor makes the Epiphone a pretty cumbersome setup to move around. Even though the difference between these two brands is significant, something draws me closer to the Bugera.

Many of the guitar players who buy this enjoy tweaking it to improve the sound. One fun upgrade is to swap out the tubes for Tung Sol 12AX7 and a Genalex Gold Lion EL84 tubes. These plug and play upgrades bring out more of the high end and make this little box sing.

One of the most asked questions regarding Bugera V5 has to do with its application. We have already defined that it’s a perfect practice amp. Fortunately for us, there are way more applications you can. Since you’re able to drop down the output to 0.1 Watts, it is also a great recording amplifier at the lower volume.

This is a great amp for practicing electric guitar, but I don’t feel like it is a good acoustic guitar amp.

Another question that gets asked a lot is whether or not this particular amplifier is a good choice for playing at gigs. In my opinion, 5 Watts, no matter how loud they sound, is only useful in tiny venues (a room). Anything larger than a small, quiet space will require a bit more juice. But for an intimate setting? Sure! Go for it!

If you need larger wattage, you can check out the Bugera V22 or the Bugera BC 15.

Final Thoughts

Out of the entire Infinium line, the V5 is probably the most successful amplifier they have to offer. It feels like Bugera packed in just the right amount of key features, made it just the right size, and, most importantly, priced it just right compared to other models in this beautiful series.

Naturally, everyone has their set of needs and requirements, but the V5 is a great addition to any new or existing rig. Those who are recording music at home will find this little amp to be even more beneficial.And, wouldn’t you know it, it plays along with microphones beautifully, even at the lowest output setting.

Notable Customer Reviews Online

5/5
This thing has beautiful tone at 5 watt, 1 watt, and .1 watt settings! It does everything a tube amp should do, but at apartment volume. The reverb is good, but the amp comes alive with a quality reverb pedal in front of it. The amp can be quite loud for 5 amps. It sounds much louder than a solid state 5 amp. This little amp does not sound anything beginner bedroom amp. I was leery of the low price and the 8" speaker, but after playing it for a week I am very pleased with my purchase.
Slinkey
Tone!
February 14, 2021
5/5
This amp sounds great and gets plenty loud for any home player. The power attenuation feature is nice and what closed the deal for me. Even in the lowest setting it's still more than enough volume for practice. I got this because my Blues Deville 4x10 and Vox AC15 were too loud and this does exactly what I wanted it to do.
Jonathan
More than enough
February 1, 2021
5/5
Perfect apartment amp. To be able to play with a saturated tube sound at a volume that my neighbors can't even hear is a major quality of life upgrade. So happy! Thanks Joe James!
Michael
Love it!
January 15, 2021
5/5
I purchased such a nice amp, used, some weeks ago.
The first time playing it with the band, my mates complained, it was too loud.
Fine sounds, a lot of settings possible with only 5 knobs (one of this is the power attenuator at the back).
Quite lightweight, easy to transport. My back is real happy. And so am I.
Gioi Geniale
FULL VALVE POWER
January 3, 2021
5/5
I'm Shocked This Amp kicks *** for its size. Well constructed and looks great. Gain tone volume reverb and attenuation for under 250 dollars. Will up grade the tubes and speaker and add a eq pedal later but for now leave it alone. Very impressed with Bugera products.
Richard Knight
Great combo Amp
December 26, 2020
5/5
I love playing this at home on the 1 watt setting with an equalizer pedal to round out the tone. Great sound and crunch if you crank it 100% without blowing out the windows.
Jordan
Great Little Amp
October 1, 2020
5/5
This is a cool little tube amp. I've been playing drums for forty-two years, but I'm very much just a hobbyist and collector when it comes to guitar. That said, I wanted a small tube amp that would take my pedals well. I think this amp fits that bill. I like the three-way power attenuator on the back. It gives me the sound quality I want at a low enough volume that I don't terrify the grandbabies when they're over. When I don't have to worry about that, the 5-watt setting can certainly disrupt conversations on the other side of the house.
Bobba-Dooba
Bugera V5 Infinium 1x8" 5-watt Tube Combo Amp
August 7, 2020
5/5
I was a little skeptical about this dude, but at the moment I turned it on with the 5W, gain at 3, tone at 7 (even if some people say it's muddy which I disagree), full volume and reverb at 3, I couldn't believe the sound of this thing, even if it's my first tube amp I've played in some other like Vox and Orange, and let me tell you, this one is at that standard of sound and sweet warm of those tube amps, also its gain at high levels gives you a great and authentic classic rock crunch. Greatly build, fancy look, perfect for blues, classic rock and jazz. Take pedals really well, excelent for recording at home, practicing and even small venues gigs. You won't regret buying it. Thanks to Kurt Martin for his great work.
Juan Daniel García
Best low budged tube amp
July 27, 2020
5/5
Ever wonder what the secret is to choosing a practice amp that doesn't sound like a practice amp? This amp is your answer. My only gripe, and it's not even enough to reduce my rating to 4 stars, is that there is a single tone knob rather than an EQ.

Compared to a Marshall Origin 50 1×12 combo amp attenuated to only 5w, this amp still kicks it's butt at full 5w.
Kevin Tomlinson
The best practice amp there is
June 21, 2020
5/5
Always wanted a tube amp that would not make me go broke. This is it. It's beautiful looking and it's sound is a throwback to the 1950s . It works great with pedals and a clean tone. It could be used for Jazz , blues and rock by itself
Matthew
Perfect little amp
June 4, 2020

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