Review: Bogner Goldfinger 45 1×12 combo

Over the last decade Bogner Amplification have achieved a legendary status among fans of boutique amps.

Bogner’s best-known design is probably the Uberschall-model, which is aimed squarely at the connoisseur of high-gain amps. But the company also build several vintage-inspired amps, one of which is the Bogner Goldfinger combo.

****

Bogner’s Goldfinger 45 1×12 (current price in Finland: 2.946 €) is quite large for a 1×12”-combo. Its dimensions are in a similar league as the 2 x 12 Vox AC30. The reason behind the large and deep cabinet lies in the fatter tone it produces.

The Goldfinger’s preamp section has been designed around four 12X7- and one 12AT7-valve, with the main amplifier running a quartet of 6V6-types. The combo is rated at 45 Watts, but its power can be reigned in using the front panel’s  Standby/Hi/Low-toggle, as well as the Full/Half-switch around the back.

The top-drawer valve amplification circuit and the combo’s high-class plywood cabinet naturally make themselves felt on the scales. Handling 30 kilos worth of weight using the Goldfinger’s sole top handle isn’t quite a walk in the park.

The Bogner Goldfinger 45 is a two-channel amplifier, with the clean channel called α – or Alpha.

On the right side of the picture you can spot the Alpha-channel’s controls – gain, master volume (”Loudness”), as well as a three-band EQ-section – with the added attraction of not one, but two bright-switches. Pre Bright spices up the signal in front of the gain control, with Post Bright being inserted into the Loudness-circuit. Pre Bright has a sharper and more dynamic character, in contrast to Post Bright’s somewhat more open tone. Both the gain- as well as the Loudness-settings affect the amount of brightness added via the switches – the louder you go, the less top end bite is added.

On the picture’s right hand side you’ll find the Goldfinger’s master section, with controls for reverb, master presence and the Post FX -loop. One of the Bogner-combo’s coolest features is hinted at by the miniswitch labelled Pre FX/Boost – the input has its own effects loop.

You could use the Pre FX -loop for adding a booster, compressor or outboard EQ-pedal to your signal chain, which then can be switched on or off using the combo’s own footswitch board. If you don’t have anything plugged into the Pre FX -loop, you can use the loop’s own buffer amp as a signal booster, with the amplification level adjustable on the back panel.

The name of the Goldfinger’s overdrive channel is Ω, or Omega, and it’s got a slightly different architecture compared to the Alpha-channel.

The Omega-channel offers you two basic charatcers to choose from, called 80 ja Loud 69. Loud 69 is the more vintage-type setting of the pair, giving you a moderate amount of gain with plenty of dynamics, reminding me of early Marshall-amps or the rudeness of a hollering Hiwatt. ”Loud” is a very good term here, as with identical settings Loud 69 is much louder and punchier than the far creamier 80-selection.

Setting the Omega to 80 morphs the Goldfinger into a Classic Rock -aficionado’s dream machine. There’s lot of gain on tap with a good helping of fat and creamy compression, which calls to mind Mesa/Boogie-style Westcoast-sounds or Gary Moore’s singing Marshall-tones.

In addition to its three-band EQ, Omega also offers a control named Gain EQ, which allows you to change the channel’s tonal focus from warm and fat all the way to biting and bright. Because the Gain EQ -control sits at the channel’s front end, its setting also influences the amount of overdrive.

A full-length spring reverb tank is situated in its own bag at the bottom of the cabinet.

Bogner’s Goldfinger 45 speaks via one of the world’s most-loved speakers – a Celestion G12 Vintage 30.

Because the Goldfinger-combo basically utilises the head of the same name, only flipped on its side, a more fitting name for the back panel might be ”bottom panel” in this case. All connectors, switches and controls face downward, which isn’t so great for accessibility and visibility.

On the right hand side you can find the connectors and the level control for the Pre FX -loop, as well as the socket for the footboard’s screw-in connector.

Bogner’s Post FX -loop offers a plethora of options.

There are two additional speaker outputs on offer, with the impedance switch sitting right next to them.

…and last, but not least, the amp’s fuses, as well as the half-power switch for the main amp section.

Just as the combo itself, the accompanying footswitch board is built to last, and sports the same structured, golden finish as the combo’s control panel.

****

The Bogner Goldfinger 45 is an extremely versatile valve-amplifier. Per se this doesn’t really tell you anything, because in many designs versatility comes at the price of a mediocre basic tone.

The Bogner Goldfinger’s outstanding quality really shows in this respect, as each and every link in the signal chain only serves to enhance this combo’s fantastic basic tone.

True, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you can get bad sounds out of the Bogner, regardless – for example by heaping both Alpha-channel brights on top of a Fender Strat or Tele – but in those cases it’s the user who’s to blame, not the amp.

Used with good taste, though, the Bogner Goldfinger will enhance the basic character of your guitar’s tone to bring out the best in your playing.

The combo’s spring reverb sounds fantastically lush, with the reverb-knob giving you anything from a nice little sprinkle to full-out Surf Mania.

The only two things I am not totally in love with are the downward-facing back panel, as well as the loud thud emanating from the Omega’s Mode-switch, when used with the amp running. According to the owner’s manual this loud noise is perfectly normal, but it still bothers me a bit, not being able to switch between Loud 69 and 80 on-the-fly.

All in all, I feel that the Bogner Goldfinger 45 is a very strong contender for the title of ”Best Combo ever”. The price tag is steepish, but well in line with the amp’s quality and this particular market segment as a whole.

Here are some sounds I recorded with the Bogner Goldfinger combo:

Alpha – Fender Stratocaster

Alpha (Post Bright on) – Hamer Studio Custom

Omega (Loud 69) – Fender Stratocaster

Omega (Loud 69) – Hamer Studio Custom

Omega (80) – Fender Stratocaster

Omega (80) – Hamer Studio Custom

****

Bogner Goldfinger 45 1×12 -kombo

Current price in Finland: 2.946 €

Finnish distribution: Musamaailma

Pros:

+ workmanship

+ sound

+ versatility

+ pedalboard included in price

+ half-power switch

+ reverb sound

Cons:

– back panel placement not very practical

– Loud 69/80-switch’s thud

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