Street Price: $249.99
The Bugera G5 Infinium head, to me, is the ultimate bedroom amp. I feel like the G5 often gets overshadowed by its one-trick-pony cousin, the V5 combo, but for similar money, this head outshines the V5 in almost every way. It is a Class A tube amplifier powered by 12BH7 power tube and one ECC83 preamp tube. It delivers a modern crunch with a flexible EQ section, as well as power switching from 5, to 1, to .1 watts. It also features a headphone output, digital reverb, an effects loop, and 2 channels. The channels each have their own EQ, the clean channel has just a simple tone-knob, and the drive channel has a 3-band EQ plus the Morph EQ. It also comes with a 2 button footswitch.
This amp also has Bugera’s patented Infinium technology. The features of the Infinium technology, according to Bugera’s website, are:
– Extends the life of your amplifier’s expensive power tubes up to 20 times
– Provides incredible reliability and consistent tone over the complete lifespan of your tubes
– Monitors performance of the power tube continuously and displays defective tube to allow for easy replacement
Whether or not the claims of the Infinium technology are true will be a test of time. I will say that I’ve had this amp for nearly 2 years, I play it at least a few hours a week at least 50% volume, and I still have the stock tubes in the amp. So far, the tubes still going strong. But, we will see how long they last.
Why I Bought This Amp and How I Use It
I’m not going to sugarcoat this. My wife has been hearing me play for years and is perfectly happy not hearing my random noodling wafting up from the basement if she can help it. On top of that our daughter was a newborn infant when I bought it, so I really wanted an amp that sounded great at low volumes because if naptime was interrupted, ain’t nobody gonna be happy. When Bugera released this amp and I read the features (specifically the power scaling), I knew I had to have it. After scouring eBay for a while, I managed to snag a B-Stock for $175 with free shipping from an authorized retailer. (cheap-ass guitarist tip: don’t be afraid to use the “or best offer” option on eBay, the worst they can do is say no).
90% of my time playing through this amp has been in my basement jam room, mostly on the .1 watt setting. I’ve also used it extensively on my Youtube videos while demoing pedals, the clean channel is an excellent pedal platform at lower volumes, but will break up once you push the volume past 6 or 7. The 2nd guitarist in my band has also been using this amp live for the past year because all of his tube amps decided to buy the farm. You’d be surprised how loud 5 tube watts can be, plus I always mic the guitar amps through the PA at gigs anyways.
Clean Channel: The clean channel is simple with just a tone and a volume knob. Is the clean as glorious as a vintage Fender? Not quite. To be honest I find it somewhat uninspiring on its own, BUT, it does take pedals very well as it does not provide much colorization on its own. With single coil pickups it will start to break up around 7 or 8 on the volume, maybe 6 or 7 with humbuckers. With just the single tone knob, I’ve never felt that any guitar/speaker combination was too dark or too bright, you can always dial in the correct amount of brightness. The Morph EQ function does not effect the clean channel.
Drive Channel: This is where this amp shines to me, it is just the perfect modern crunch. There is plenty of gain on tap, but I prefer the gain around 5, which is on the upper end of “crunchy.” The EQ is plenty flexible, even though 99% of the time I find all the knobs on 5 to be just right, sometimes adjusting the Treble knob to balance out brighter or darker sounding guitars.
Morph Knob: This simple knob is meant to transport your tone from one side of the Atlantic to the other with just a simple twist. In general, and I’m not exactly sure why, but “British” style amplifiers tend to have more midrange, and “American” style amplifiers tend to have more of a scooped midrange. This knob does just that, albeit someone subtle. To my ears, turning the knob all the way to either end of the spectrum tends to be an over-exaggerated shift in the lower-mids. Like the EQ knobs, I find just leaving this smack-dab in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean to be the most balanced tone. Maybe if I ever record with this amp, I’ll use the extremes for layering guitars to create a fuller sound. But for live purposes, no need to go to extremes.
Power Scaling: This is the main reason I bought this amp. At the .1 Watt setting you can get some power-tube saturation at a volume roughly as loud as a pleasant conversation. I have yet to wake up the baby using the .1 Watt setting. Also, the tone remains very consistent through the .1, 1 and 5 watt settings. Most amps with power scaling will get darker sounding the more its attenuated, but the G5 remains its high-end clarity all the way down. At the full 5 watts with an efficient speaker, it’s more than capable to keep up with a well-mannered drummer (as long as you don’t need crystal cleans).
Effects Loop: I generally don’t use effects loops just out of pure laziness and usually just not wanting to deal with four cables. But, when I have tested it, the effects loop functions just as it should.
Reverb: This is a digital reverb, so no, it will not compare to a glorious spring reverb tank in your old tweed Fender, but it is usable. I wouldn’t use it to do my best Dick Dale impression, but then again that’s not what this designed for. But, it is usable and doesn’t add any noise to the signal.
Headphone Out: The headphone out tone is a pleasant surprise. It has two settings: 1×12 and 4×12 cab. The 4×12 emulation just adds a bit more low-end when compared to the 1×12 emulation. Would I use this sound as my main tone when recording? No. But will it work for silent practice and sending to the Front of House in a live situation? Yes. The Headphone Out will still work when the amp is on standby, so you can have silent practice. IMPORTANT NOTE: you still need a speaker load connected even when using it in standby for silent practice! But the signal will only go through the headphones and not your speaker. Here is a quick video of the tones that come out of the headphone out jack:
Footswitch: The footswitch functions as intended, it switches channels and turns the Reverb on and off. To be honest, I’ve never switched the reverb off, so that 2nd button is essentially useless to me, but it’s there if you need to dry things off a bit. The buttons are plastic, so I don’t see them lasting forever, but 95% of the time I’m playing through this amp I just put it on a channel and leave it there. The cable is also hard-wired and is about 20 ft long, which is fine for the bedroom but limits how far away you can be on a stage.
For the money, this is the ultimate 5-watt tube amp. It sounds great in all 3 power settings, and so far has held up well to practice and gigging. In the long run, we’ll have to see if the Infinium technology performs as advertised, but almost 2 years of abuse and the tubes still sound like day one. If you already have a cabinet you love, you can’t go wrong with this amp!