"More would be too much!"
The sound of the Bugera V-5 is amazing. Freshly written song ideas and Riffs jump out of the V-5 withstunning clarity and 3-D punch.
Indeed, with the amp set with the attenuator at 1W and the Gain,Tone and Volume each set at "10" - sprinkle in a little Reverb - more or less to taste. ("2" is a good starting point for the Reverb.) And - wallah! A darn good recipe for unique and outstanding tone. Harmonics are rich and can be shaped along with the tone to leap right out of the amp, creating a very tasteful texture.
The best pieces of gear I've experimented with running in front of this amp are an MXR Distorion + (Early seventies circuitry in a bright yellow box.) And even more so, a Behringer V-999 Vintage Tube Monster which has a very good noise gate built in. The "Tube Monster's" hand selected 12AX7 tube along with its tone controls can be set to ram the Bugera V-5's front end for a perfect blend of natural sounding sustain and slamming power tube breakup.
I have played through and owned just about every amp on the planet and was really searching for an elusive tone that I knew was attainable even if I had to make my own amp. I own 3 other Bugera amplifiers. The V-5 was supposed to be a practice amp but with full Preamp and Poweramp distortion at studio friendly volume levels, who knows?
The V-5 sounds great right out of the box with no pedals in front. With a few carefully chosen pedals, the sky is the limit.
If You like the V-5, try the 333XL halfstack when the time is right. It's still Bugera's flagship boutique, 3 channel amplifier with reverb, and a special "XL" switch on channels 2 and 3. Add to this Passive tone control on channel 1 and Active, Shelving type filtering on channels 2 and 3, Master Volume and Global Presence controls and the best built in Noise Gate you've ever heard and you have a dream rig with an almost infinite pallete of very colorful and powerful sounds. (When I saw the size of the transformers through the metal grillwork of the 333XL I had to sit down like the Anthropologist dude in Jurassic Park when he first glimpsed an actual Brontosaurus living a combined vintage and new life. (Although to me, Bugera amplifiers most resemble the Tyraunasaurus Rex!)
This is what's so cool about Bugera's amplifiers. They brought back to life the best qualities and abilities of formerly extinct amplifiers and working their engineering magic moved everything along lightyears to merge with the best the present and future have to offer to serious guitarists at prices that are also really unbelievable.
Purchase any Bugera and keep a notebook of what amplifier settings and external effects create your favorite soundswhen used with the right guitar(s) and you won't go wrong in your quest for tone utopia!
I read the manufacturer's information before purchasing so I knew what I was getting and getting into with this amp.
I think the most useful features are the Reverb and Power Attenuator. The only feature I wish it had were a remotely controllable (via footswitch) Reverb on/off and adjustable Reverb level control(s).
Ease of Use:
The Bugera V-5's Manual is clear. It is brief and concisely writen. It is easy to get great sounds from this amp as the user interface is very intuitive making it easy right out of the box to modify the sound to your personal taste. It is easy to use this amp with any other products you have. Less is more here as the V-5 has a tremendous sound all by itself. You really don't need anything else to get a great sound other than your favorite guitar and a notebook to save your favorite "tweaks and settings". And maybe that's the difference. With any Bugera amplifier all you need is a good guitar and some patience to tweak and develop your own signature sound. Effects used sparingly can help to color that sound.
With just about every other amp I've owned or used, it seems I had to rely on effects as a major part of the equation toward developing my own signature sound. And there's nothing wrong with that, but it sure is nicer to rely on the amp as the workhorse in crafting one's own signature tone.
Every Bugera amp I own has been extremely reliable and built for use in the studio as well as on the road. These things are solid and if taken care of will last a lifetime.
The V-5 is very well made. Bugera designs all of their products in Germany and maintains their own high quality manufacturing plant in China. From what I've read, they are among a very few amp manufacturerers that make their own speakers. I think the only other plant that can do this is Peavey. Everyone else relies on either Celestion or Emminence to load their combos and cabinets. Bugera hand picks all of their tubes and will soon be manufacturing these as well.
I used to have a problem with products being "Made in ____" If ______wasn't the USA. Now I think more along the lines of "made by human hands", especially when the company owns their own plant and staffs it with well trained, highly intelligent people. At any rate if it creates jobs and puts outstanding products within the reach of guys like me, I think it's OK. The Internet has literally shrunk the globe and we all can benefit by working together. I am sure if maintained really well, such as having any amp dried and cleaned professionally if a drink spills in it, having the amp inpected and repaired after a serious fall, etc., the Bugera V-5 could easily last two lifetimes.
Ihaven't needed to contact Bugera for anything. I've read in other reviews they go the extra mile and a half to make thinks right. While they caution you several times that tubes should only be replaced by qualified personnel and how dangerous it can be since capacitors mainatain a lethal voltage long after the mains voltage has been removed, the procedure for replacing and biasing the tubes is given in one of the manuals. (Many of the larger Bugera amps can be tubed with 6L6's or EL34's.) The only modification I'm interested in making is to try hot biasing the tubes by increasing the power tube plate voltage. *NOTE - I DO NOT recommend anyone does this, as it can be very dangerous. All I'm sure to gain is shorter tube life, beyond that maybe some extra "musical" tones not in the pallete. If there were any real value in doing this, I'm pretty sure Bugera would have already done so.
I believe the V-5 and every product Bugera makes is worth considerablly more than the typical selling price.
The Wow Factor:
Well, it goes beyond a practical addition. To me the power attenuation and its looks were compelling features. I love the blue lights Bugera uses for the V-5's power on light. It also smells really good when the amp has been on for over about 45 minutes. So for me it has compelling appeal both aesthetically and even more for technical merit.
When it's "amp buying" time again I would want to keep this V-5 and supplement it with another Bugera with additional features and sounds.
If the product were lost or stolen, I'd want to replace it with another V-5. It exudes quality. When I use it, I play it. It does what I want it to, it doesn't fight against what I'm trying to do. You know when a piece of gear is right if suddenly you unleash a flurry or well thought out, previously unplayed riffs verses and choruses. The V-5 helps arpeggios stand out really well dialed for beautiful clean or maximum distortion.