Review: Brunetti SingleMan 16

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Brunetti Amplification is an amp maker from the town of Modena in northern Italy.

Marco Brunetti’s team handcrafts a number of tasty and stylish guitar amps and effect pedals. In addition to custom orders Brunetti also manufactures a range of standard models, of which the SingleMan 16 is the smallest combo amp.

Brunetti-products are distributed in Finland by NordSound.

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The main aim behind the Brunetti SingleMan 16 (1,348 €) is to come up with a compact, single-channel design that nevertheless offers a maximum of tonal flexibility for the working musician.

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The elegant two-tone finish and the combo’s clear lines make the SingleMan a real looker.

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The combo weighs in at a moderate 20 kilos. Its open-backed cabinet is made of high-quality plywood.

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The Brunetti comes loaded with Celestion’s famous 12-inch Vintage 30, which is known for its precise and multifaceted sound.

The SingleMan 16 is a genuine Class A valve amplifier. The preamp uses a pair of 12AX7 tubes, while the power amp is fuelled by two 6V6GTs.

The amp’s spring reverb unit comes from Accutronics. An on/off-footswitch for the reverb effect comes with the combo.

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The amp chassis is precision cut (by laser) from solid steel.

Taking a look inside, we’re greeted by top-drawer components and very crisp workmanship. In contrast to many large-volume manufacturers, Brunetti’s electronics are handwired, and soldered by real people, not robots.

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The SingleMan 16’s back panel offers you jacks for external speakers, the reverb footswitch, and an effects loop (with a dedicated on/off-switch).

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The tonal flexibility of Brunetti’s SingleMan 16 combo mainly comes courtesy of the amp’s six modes.

Three modes are provided in the preamp section (by a sturdy mini-toggle), called Tweed, Fat and Smooth. Tweed is the most angular of the three, offering up dry and very dynamic guitar tones. Fat conjures up a warmer, distinctly British palette of sounds. The third mode, Smooth, turns the SingleMan into a bonafide ”cream machine” that’s warm and a bit saggy. Depending on your chosen guitar, Smooth’s richness can be a bit of a mixed blessing. Dark sounding humbuckers might turn into a bit of a mush, here, but spiky single coils will surely benefit from this mode’s innate fatness.

Here’s a clip of the SingleMan 16’s preamp modes when played with a Fender Telecaster (’62 Custom Reissue). The guitar is plugged into the Hi-input, the Volume control is turned to 10 o’clock:

Here’s a similar clip featuring an Epiphone Les Paul Standard (with vintage-style EMG-HZ pickups). Right at the beginning of the clip I turn the Bright-switch from ”off” to ”on”. The guitar is plugged into Lo, with the Volume control still at 10 o’clock:

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Brunetti’s SingleMan 16 also comes with three power amp modes, which see the power amp running at Full, Moderate (25%) or Quiet (6.25%) levels. Because the output power reduction is achieved by changing the internal voltages in the output valves, switching from one mode to another also has a direct bearing on the combo’s sound and dynamic behaviour. Compared to Full mode, Quiet mode is far fatter-sounding, far more compressed, and seasoned with a good helping of creamy power amp distortion.

Here’s a clip of the three power amp modes, when using a Fender Tele (Volume at two o’clock):

And here’s a similar clip with the Epiphone Les Paul (Volume at one o’clock):

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The demo track features two rhythm guitars – a Fender Stratocaster (left channel) and a Gibson Les Paul Junior (right channel). The lead track was played on an Epiphone Les Paul Standard:

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Brunetti’s SingleMan 16 is a fantastic-sounding and surprisingly versatile single-channel tube combo from Italy. It’s practically impossible to dial in a genuinely ”bad” sound, and the combo’s versatility – both tonally, as well as in terms of its output levels – means that the SingleMan 16 will feel equally at home on stage, in the studio, and in your living-room. For extreme clean headroom or bone-crushing amp stack sound pressure, you should probably look elsewhere, but I’m pretty sure most guitarists will find ”their” sound easily using the SingleMan 16.

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Brunetti SingleMan 16

Current price in Finland: 1,348 € (incl. reverb footswitch and amp cover)

Finnish distribution: NordSound

Pros:

+ handcrafted

+ versatile sound

+ power reduction switch

+ great-sounding reverb

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