Bogner Amplification has recently added a new member to its Goldfinger-family of guitar amps. In addition to the two-channel Goldfinger 45, there’s now also a single-channel amplifier available, called the Goldfinger 54 Phi.
The basic idea behind the Bogner Goldfinger 54 Phi combo (current price in Finland:3.091 €) was to develop the most versatile single-channel valve amp possible.
The 54 Phi’s starting point was the Goldfinger 45’s clean Alpha-channel. The new model is concentrating mainly on clean tones, and it is meant as the ideal combo for guitarists who achieve most of their sounds with the help of effect pedals.
In its combo version – the 54 Phi is also available as an amp head – weighs in at about 26 kilos.
The cabinet is made from pine ply and it sports an open back construction.
Bogner’s new tube combo comes equipped with a Celestion G12M-65 Creamback speaker, which combines a modern power rating with a classic, Greenback-type tonality.
A four-button footswitch unit is sold with the GF 54 Phi, and it gives us some hints regarding the combo’s versatility and features.
Bogner’s Goldfinger Phi offers a lot of scope for adjustment, so that every guitarist can dial in the sound he or she wants. Due to its versatility the 54 Phi needs you to get familiar with all its features, before plugging your guitar in and wailing away.
Actually, you should start your sonic journey with this Bogner’s back panel! The GF 54 Phi comes with a slightly unusual split power amp that employs two pairs of power amp valves – a pair of 6V6s and a pair of 6L6s. Each pair can be switched on or off individually, while the front panel’s Hi/Low-switch makes it possible to use only a single power amp tube from each pair, in effect halving the combo’s output power. By using the Hi/Low-switch and the power amp switches you can choose from six power modes. The lowest alternative lets the Goldfinger Phi run at approximately nine watts (6V6, Low), while the highest power mode (6L6+6V6, Hi) will give you the combo’s full 66 watts of output.
As were talking about a valve amp here, choosing between pairs (or single) power amp tubes doesn’t only have a bearing on the 54’s power rating, but it also affects the amp’s behaviour, especially when it comes to clean headroom and power amp compression (sag). You need to find the ”right” tube and Hi/Low-switch mix for your own, personal tone.
The Gain knob is used to set the preamp gain, while Loudness is what Bogner calls their master volume controls. There are two signal boosts implemented in the Goldfinger Phi’s preamp, but their are placed at different points in the signal chain, which makes them work and sound differently. The adjustable Boost booster is placed in front of the Gain control, even making it possible to achieve some distortion, if necessary. Solo, in turn, is a fixed booster that sits right at the end of the preamp.
Bogner’s GF 54 Phi offers you two different EQ-configurations. You can choose from Bogner’s own, modern tone stack or switch to a vintage Baxandall EQ. Originally, the Baxandall circuit was designed for Hi-Fi equipment, but it found its way into some guitar amps from the 1950s and 60s. Due to the way a Bax EQ works, there’s a perceivable drop in volume when you switch over without readjusting the EQ controls.
The EQ-section is complemented by a separate Presence control, as well as two Expand-switches (one adding bottom end, the other treble).
It may come as a shock to some valve purists, but Reinhold Bogner has deliberately chosen a digital reverb unit for his 54 Phi. In his view this digital unit offers more depth of sound and lushness than the type of spring tray he’d be able to fit into the 54 Phi combo. The reverb type features a little bit of chorus-style modulation to liven things up even further.
I’ve moaned about this before, and I’ll say it again: I’m not the biggest fan of Bogner’s downward-facing back panels. Unless you know the exact position of all connectors and switches by heart, you are forced to lie on your back to make sense of it all.
Be that as it may, the Bogner Goldfinger 54 Phi’s back panel gives you a wide array of different options for getting the most from your combo.
I was only given a weekend to test Bogner’s new baby, which is why I didn’t have enough time to record more audio demos. I still managed to come up with two, stylistically rather different demo songs.
The first track was recorded with the 54 Phi combo running in in 9 watts power mode, which made it possible to achieve overdriven sounds without the aid of pedals, simply by running hot humbucking pickups into the Goldfinger. The lead guitar is a Gibson Les Paul Junior with the tone knob turned down halfway, while all backwards guitar tracks were played on a Gibson Melody Maker SG. I recorded the combo (in both demo songs) with a Shure SM57:
The second demo track was recorded with the Bogner running at full tilt (66 W), and with a Boss SD-1 overdrive and a Joyo JF-37 chorus pedal in front of the combo. All guitar parts are played on a Flaxwood MTQ Hybrid guitar with a neck humbucker and a Telecaster-type single coil in the bridge position:
Bogner’s Goldfinger 54 Phi is a prime example of the versatility and quality of sound a well-designed, single-channel valve amp can offer.
This is a combo for the sound aesthete, who wants to build a strong foundation for his or her sound, regardless of whether this tone comes from just the fingers or a range of effect pedals.
This spring is bringing exciting news from Flaxwood Guitars – the Finnish maker has given its model line-up a thorough overhaul.
One important change sees Flaxwood rearranging their models into three distinct series:
The (newly-expanded) Hybrid Series encompasses Fender-inspired electric guitars, which combine Flaxwood’s famous injection-moulded WFC-necks (Wood Fibre Composite) with wooden bodies.
Flaxwood’s bona fide classics – such as the Äijä, Laine or Rautia models – have now been grouped into the aptly-named Classic Series.
The brand-new Master Series is offering the guitarist ”factory customised” Flaxwood guitars. These models have received special finishes and/or hardware, in addition to pickup choices that differ from similar Classic Series instruments.
For this review we received one guitar from each series – the MTQ Hybrid (current RRP in Finland: 1.750 €), the Liekki 290-T Classic (current RRP in Finland: 2.054 €) and the 57HM-H Master (current RRP in Finland: 2.707 €).
The Flaxwood MTQ Hybrid is the company’s beautiful take on the Telecaster Custom theme, with its wood-composite Flaxwood-neck and a swamp ash body with a bound flame maple top.
The MTQ’s gorgeous Honeyburst finish shows off some luscious wood grain.
The golden machine heads on the MTQ Hybrid are locking Gotoh H.A.P. units with height-adjustable tuning posts.
The bridge is a traditional Tele-ashtray design, but it comes updated with six bridge saddles for perfect intonation and action adjustment.
The Flaxwood Liekki 290-T Classic (liekki means flame in Finnish) is without doubt one of the best-known guitars from this Finnish maker. This slender and gracious f-holed beauty is offered in several cool finishes.
The Liekki 290-T Classic is an all Flaxwood-WFC instrument. This injection-moulded material – which was developed in co-operation with the University of Eastern Finland – is eco-friendly and fully recyclable.
The Flaxwood body is partially hollow, and capped from the back with a resonating back plate.
Flaxwood Guitars’ proprietary 3D neck joint is very smooth.
As you can see from this picture, newer Flaxwood instruments now sport a matte black neck, instead of the original, structured look of the early Flaxwood necks.
The company uses it’s own compensated X-Tune Nut on all Classic and Master Series models. The X-Tune Nut will make open chords ring out much more in tune than most traditional guitars.
The Liekki’s 290-T-version comes equipped with Schaller’s ingenious LP Tremolo vibrato bridge.
Flaxwood’s brand-new 57HM-H Master is a Metal guitarist’s dream machine.
The 57HM-H comes with a suitably moody matte black finish with golden pinstripes, Schaller Security Locks, and a pair of active EMG pickups.
The 57HM-H Master’s battery compartment has been installed into the instrument’s back plate.
The Gotoh hardware – locking tuners and a tune-o-matic bridge plus stopbar – has been finished in black chrome.
EMG’s 57/66-set comprises a pair of alnico-loaded humbuckers, and promises to deliver an intriguing combination of vintage warmth with active punch and clarity.
Even though Flaxwood Guitars’ brand philosophy is based on the ultra-modern use of injection-moulded WFC-composite material, there is still a surprising amount of traditional handicraft that goes into the making of each and every Flaxwood model. There isn’t a machine in existence that will churn out finished instruments from raw materials, you do still need lots of guitar-making skills to build a top notch instrument.
You can see and feel the touch of a craftsman when you pick up a Flaxwood guitar. Our review trio displayed excellent workmanship, and all guitars came with a top grade set-up.
Any old Telecaster lover will feel right at home with the Flaxwood MTQ Hybrid, because the most important design elements – like the vintage bridge or the control positioning – have been carried over from the classic to this new model.
The neck profile is slim and slightly oval, with a mere whiff of a V-neck’s spine along its back. The playing feel is fast, effortless and precise.
The tone of the Flaxwood MTQ doesn’t come as a surprise – this model offers an array of very tasty Tele-style sounds!
Flaxwood’s Liekki 290-T Classic is a lightweight and compact instrument that balances perfectly on a strap.
In addition to the three-way pickup switch, most Flaxwood models traditionally feature a single master volume control and two tone controls (one per pickup).
I can’t understand why Schaller’s excellent LP Tremolo isn’t used on more guitars as a standard feature. I can only applaud Flaxwood for featuring the LP Tremolo on several of their models!
The Seymour Duncan P-90s give you a wide range of different tones on the Liekki, from jazzy warmth all the way to gritty Rock.
The Flaxwood 57HM-H is a fantastic addition to the company’s line-up in my opinion:
The playing feel of the 57HM-H is quite similar to the Liekki model, but the fatter frets and stable, non-trem bridge will be just the ticket for fans of detuned high-gain riffage.
The EMG 57/66-set is a great update on the US-maker’s original active humbucker recipe. There’s more than enough power and punch on tap, but you could never call these active humbuckers cold, clinical or sterile!
It’s really great to see Flaxwood Guitars expanding their line-up further!
In my view the new three-tiered model range makes a lot of sense, making it easier to find the right Flaxwood for any player.
The Liekki 290-T Classic has become a genuine classic over the years, while the brand-new MTQ Hybrid and 57HM-H models further widen Flaxwood’s appeal to include both traditional and modern guitarists. A test drive is highly recommended!
**** Flaxwood Guitars
MTQ Hybrid – 1.750 € (comes with a gig bag)
Liekki 290-T Classic – 2.045 € (comes with a case)
Vox Amplification’s new AV-series comprises three affordable guitar combos. The Vox AV15, AV30 and AV60 – named according to their power amp wattage – are modelling valve hybrid amplifiers that combine the best elements of solid state and tube technology.
KitarablogiDotCom took the smallest of the trio, the Vox AV15 (street price in Finland approx. 269 €) for a spin.
The AV15 is a compact little combo (height: 37 cm, width: 45 cm, depth: 23 cm), weighing in at just below eight kilos.
The combo’s cabinet has taken a big leaf out of the book of hi-fi speaker construction. Normally a guitar cab is meant to add its own bit of tonal modification into the mix, but when dealing with a modelling amplifier meant to imitate a number of different amp and speaker configurations, the more linear frequency response of a bass reflex cabinet is highly desirable.
The only thing you’ll find on the Vox AV15’s back panel is the connector for the amp’s external power supply unit (12 VDC, included).
The Preamp Circuit-switch lets you select one of the eight amp models offered by the Vox. The selection takes you from Fender Twin-style cleans, and Vox- and Marshall-type crunch, all the way to Rectifier-like high gain tones.
You can fine-tune your tone using the three-band EQ section. The AV15 also comes equipped with an effects section made up of three different effects – reverb, delay and chorus (called modulation on the front panel). You are free to choose any or all of the effects. Each effect allows you to control a second parameter (in addition to the effect level) by keeping the respective effect’s effect button depressed while turning the Effects-control. You can change the modulation speed of the chorus, the delay time for the delay effect, and the length of the reverb tail of the reverb effect. The effects are the only digital bits in the AV-combo’s architecture, the rest of the Vox’ signal path – including the amp modelling – is kept all-analogue.
Here are three short clips illustrating the AV15’s effects (Gibson Les Paul Junior, Shure SM57):
CHORUS (with a little added reverb)
It may seem a bit unusual, but the AV15 features three different ”volume controls”, which all have a different bearing on the combo’s sound:
The Gain-knob sets the signal level before the signal is sent to the preamp’s valve stage. Low Gain settings result in a clean sound, while higher Gain settings will lead to preamp break-up and (depending on the chosen amp model) distortion. The Volume-control adjusts the signal level right in front of the power amp’s tube stage. Lower Volume settings will give you a clean and dynamic signal, while higher settings will bring in some power amp compression and saturation (= distortion). The last volume knob – called Power Level on the Vox AV15 – determines the final volume level in your room (or in your headphones).
While its bigger siblings – the AV30 and the AV60 – feature two valves in their architecture (one for the preamp, one for the power amp), the smaller Vox AV15 makes do with just a single tube for both pre- and power amp duties. This is made possible by the way the good-old 12AX7-valve is constructed, offering you two triodes in one single tube. This means, you can split this valve type to perform two jobs simultaneously.
This Vox’ Valve Stage-section features four small slider switches that you can use to modify the way the two valve stages react and sound:
The Pre Amp side of things sports a Bright-switch for adding sparkle to your top end, as well as a Fat-switch that will boost the bass response.
The switches labelled ”Power Amp” really do make a significant difference to this combo’s ”feel”. The Bias- and Reactor-switches let you select how much the power amp’s tube section is ”pushed” and how much power amp compression will be audible.
Listen to these two sound clips – clean and crunch – to get an idea of how the Valve Stage switches change the combo’s sound (Gibson Les Paul Junior, Shure SM57). Both clips start with all the switches in the left position. Then I put one switch after the other to its right position (starting with the Bright-switch, and continuing left to right):
Snobbism seems to be the fashion of the day – we’ve got cork sniffers, we’ve got vinyl snobs, and we’ve got valve amp anoraks.
But in our heart of hearts, most of us ”old farts” would have been more than happy, if we would have had such a great-sounding and versatile amp as the Vox AV15 when we started playing in the 1970s and 80s! The AV15 really wins you over with its array of inspiring tones and its affordable price tag.
The Vox AV15 is a real amp, not a plastic toy sucking all of the sheer joy of playing out of an eager novice. Vox AV-series hybrid combos can also serve more advanced players as fun living room amps, they can be used for backstage warm-up, and they also make a good figure as home studio amps (as you can hear in the demo songs).
Flaxwood MTQ Hybrid on firman todella kaunis tulkinta Telecaster Custom -teemasta, jolla on puukomposiitista valmistettu Flaxwood-kaula, sekä suosaarnirunko reunalistoitetulla loimuvaahterakannella.
Puiden syykuviot näyttävät hienoilta MTQ:n Honeyburst-viimeistelyn läpi.
MTQ Hybridissä käytetään kullanvärisiä lukkovirittimiä korkeussäädettävillä viritystapeilla (Gotoh H.A.P.).
Tallan perusrakenne on vintage-tyylinen, mutta koska tämä Tele-talla on päivitetty kuudella tallapalalla kitaran hienovirettä pystyy säätämään tarkasti ja ilman kompromisseja.
MTQ-mallin mikrofonit tulevat Seymour Duncanin valikoimasta. Kaulamikrofoniksi on valittu PAF-tyylinen Antiquity Humbucker, kun taas tallamikrofonina toimii Duncanin lihaksikas STL-1B.
Liekki 290-T Classic on varmasti yksi Flaxwoodin tunnetuimmista kitaroista – erittäin sulavalinjainen, f-aukolla varustettu kaunotar, joka on saatava useilla eri viimeistelyvaihtoehdoilla.
Liekki 290-T Classicissa puu on korvattu kokonaan kuitukomposiitilla. Kitaran runko on osittain ontto, ja sillä on Flaxwoodin tyypillinen resonoiva takakansi.
Flaxwood Guitarsin 3D-liimaliitos on erittäin sulava.
Kuten tässä kuvassa näkyy, käytetään uusissa Flaxwoodeissa alkuperäisen, strukturoidun näköisen Flaxwood-materiaalin sijaan kauloissa nykyään mattamustaksi värjättyä vastinetta.
Classic- ja Master-sarjojen soittimissa käytetään firman omaa kompensoitua X-Tune-satulaa, joka parantaa tuntuvasti alanauhoissa soitettujen nuottien virettä.
290-T-versiossa käytetään Schallerin mainiota LP Tremolo -nimistä tallan ja vibraton yhdistelmää.
Liekki Classicin mikrofonivarustus koostuu kahdesta P-90-tyylisistä Seymour Duncan -mikrofoneista (SP90-1 Vintage Soapbar).
Flaxwood 57HM-H on Master-sarjan upouusi metallimiehen unelmakone, jolla on mattamusta viimeistely (kultaisilla vauhtiviivoilla), Schaller-hihnalukot, sekä aktiiviset EMG-mikrofonit.
57HM-H Masterin paristolokero on upotettu kitaran takakanteen.
Sekä lukkovirittimet että mallin tune-o-matic-talla (ja sen kielten pidin) tulevat Gotohilta, ja ne on päällystetty mustalla kromilla.
EMG:n 57/66 -setti koostuu kahdesta alnico-magneeteilla varustetuista humbuckereista, ja lupaa vintage-tyylistä lämpöä yhdistettynä aktiivimikrofonien voimaan ja selkeyteen.
Vaikka Flaxwood Guitarsin filosofia pohjautuu juuri nykyaikaiseen WFC-komposiitin käyttöön (ja ruiskupuristukseen), käytetään jokaisen Flaxwood-mallin valmistukseen myös hyvin paljon perinteistä soitinrakennusosaamista. Ei ole nimittäin vieläkin keksitty sellaista konetta josta pulpahtaisi esiin valmis laatusoitin, vaan käsityötä tarvitaan edelleen.
Soitinrakentajien kädenjälki näkyy ja tuntuu jokaisessa Flaxwood-soittimessa selvästi. Testikolmikon jokaisessa kitarassa työnjälki on erinomainen, ja soittimet saapuivat testiin loistotrimmissä.
Vanha Tele-fani on heti kuin kotonaan Flaxwood MTQ Hybrid -mallissa, koska kaikki tärkeät elementit ovat tässäkin soittimessa paikoillaan, niin kuin esimerkiksi laatikkomainen talla, sekä perinteinen säädinosasto metallilevyllä.
Solakan kaulan profiili on mukavan ovaali, ja kaulan selkään on jätetty pieni aavistus V-profiilin ”selkärangasta”. Soittotuntuma on tarkka ja nopea.
Flaxwood MTQ ei sinänsä tarjoa varsinaisia yllätyksiä, vaan vakuuttaa täydellisesti Tele-maisilla laatusoundeillaan!
Flaxwood Liekki 290-T Classic on mukavan kevyt ja kompakti ilmestys erinomaisella tasapainolla.
Kolmiasentoisen kytkimen lisäksi löytyy Flaxwood-kitaroissa perinteisesti yksi master volume -säädin, sekä kummallekin mikrofonille oma tone-potikka.
Minun mielestäni on ihme, että todella laadukas Schaller LP Tremolo -järjestelmä löytyy niin harvassa kitarassa. Useisssa Flaxwoodeissa LP Tremolo on kuitenkin tehdasvaruste, ja erittäin toimiva sellainen!
Seymour Duncanin P-90-mikrofoneista saa hyvin monipuolisen soundikirjon lämpimistä jazzsoundeista purevaan rokkiin.
Flaxwood 57HM-H on mielestäni myös täysosuma:
57HM-H:n soittotuntuma on periaatteessa sama kuin Liekki-mallissa, mutta tämän kitaran tune-o-matic-tallan ansiosta matalat viritykset on selvästi helpompi toteuttaa kuin vibratolla varustetuissa kitaroissa.
EMG 57/66 -setti on amerikkalaisvalmistajan erittäin toimiva päivitys alkuperäiseen aktiivimikkikonseptiin – voimaa ja potkua löytyy vaikka muille jakaa, mutta näitä EMG-malleja ei todellakaan vaivaa lämmön puute tai liiallinen kliinisyys!
Todella ilahduttavaa nähdä, että Flaxwood Guitars on edelleen voimissaan!
Mielestäni malliston uusi kolmijako on looginen ja hyvin perusteltu toimenpide, joka selkeyttää Flaxwoodin kitaratarjontaa.
Liekki 290-T Classicista on tullut vuosien mittaan jo aito klassikko, kun taas MTQ Hybrid ja 57HM-H ovat mielestäni loistavia lisäyksiä suomalaisvalmistajan laadukkaaseen soitinmallistoon. Suosittelen lämpimästi Flaxwood-kitaroiden koeajoa!
**** Flaxwood Guitars
MTQ Hybrid – 1.750 € (topattu pussi kuuluu hintaan)
Liekki 290-T Classic – 2.045 € (kova laukku kuuluu hintaan)
57HM-H Master – 2.707 € (kova laukku kuuluu hintaan)