Posts tagged ‘Bluetone Amps’

21/05/2019

Review: Bluetone Amps Fried Eye & Bugaboo distortion pedals

Finnish valve amp specialist Bluetone Custom Amplifiers has broken new ground by releasing a trio of handmade pedal effects, comprising a delay/reverb-unit, called Echoes, as well as two different preamp/distortion boxes, the Fried Eye and the Bugaboo.

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Bluetone’s Fried Eye Distortion (269 €) offers two high-quality effects in one box:

The boost circuit can be run separately from the pedal’s distortion side. It offers a considerable amount of boost (up to 12 dB), which is adjustable with the pedal’s Boost control.

But the Fried Eye Distortion’s main raison d’être is, of course, its comprehensive distortion section. The pedal’s distortion circuit is a solid-state version of the acclaimed Bluetone Fried Eye tube amplifier’s crunch channel. Its aim is to give you a wide range of Marshall-inspired crunch and distortion tones.

Bluetone’s Fried Eye Distortion pedal runs on nine to eighteen volts DC supplied by a PSU (not included) via a standard 2.1 mm plug (centre negative). A look under the hood reveals a large circuit board and clean and neat wiring.

Soundwise the Fried Eye pedal hits the bull’s-eye in my opinion, offering a wide range of Marshall-type tones from a light crunch to full blast. The effect’s three-band EQ works really well in tailoring the effects sound to your musical needs.

This short audio clip gives you an idea of the Fried Eye’s basic sound with the Gain control set to 12 o’clock. The first half showcases the distortion side on its own, with the boost kicking in for the second half. I used a Hamer USA Studio Custom with the bridge humbucker engaged. The clip was recorded direct off a Blackstar HT-1R’s speaker emulated output:

The Muse-inspired demo song shows you how the Fried Eye performs in a band mix. I used a Bluetone Shadows Jr. combo and a Shure SM57 to record all guitar tracks.

The demo features the following guitars:

• rhythm guitars – Hamer USA Studio Custom (left channel), Gibson Melody Maker SG (centre), Fender Stratocaster (right channel)

• reverse guitar – Gibson Melody Maker SG

• lead guitar – Hamer USA Studio Custom, Morley wah-wah

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The Bluetone Bugaboo Distortion pedal (249 €) is based on the company’s none-more-Metal Bugaboo valve amplifier’s crunch channel.

The Bugaboo is aimed more squarely at the Hard Rock- and Metal-crowd, offering much more gain and a lot more juicy compression than the Fried Eye pedal.

The wiring inside our review unit looks a bit less tidy, due to the long wires going from the circuit board to the pots and switches. I’d like to stress, though, that this specific pedal is a very early production model that has been superseded by a more compact version (but with completely identical specs and features) recently!

The Bugaboo-pedal, too, runs on nine to eighteen volts DC supplied by a PSU (not included) via a standard 2.1 mm plug (centre negative).

Bluetone’s Bugaboo does exactly what is says on the tin:

This pedal turns any amp into a fire breathing thing of beauty, offering plenty of gain. The three-band EQ has been bolstered by two very nifty mini-switches. Bite offers a presence boost that will help your guitar to cut through even the densest mix, while Tight helps you keep the bottom end from becoming too boomy.

This short audio clip gives you an idea of the Bugaboo’s basic sound with the Gain control set to 12 o’clock, Bite engaged and Tight turned off. I used a Hamer USA Studio Custom with the bridge humbucker engaged. The clip was recorded direct off a Blackstar HT-1R’s speaker emulated output:

The demo song shows you how the Bugaboo performs in a band mix. All guitar tracks were recorded direct off a Blackstar HT-1R’s speaker emulated output. The song contains the following guitar tracks:

• Rhythm guitars – Fender Stratocaster (left) & Gibson Melody Maker SG (right)

• Lead guitar – Hamer USA Studio Custom

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In my view, the clean, business-like look of the new Bluetone-pedals is a clear bonus, especially on stage. Sure, the Fried Eye and Bugaboo don’t sport any flashy paint jobs that scream ”Hey, man, I’m a weird boutique pedal”, but at least you can tell instantly what type of pedal you’re dealing with, and which knob (or switch) does what.

In terms of their sounds both units are winners, each offering a wide array of different shades of distortion, with the Fried Eye being a bit more ”Rock” and the Bugaboo a tad more ”Metal” in character. These are professional grade, handmade effect pedals at a fair price.Save

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03/04/2019

Bluetone Bugaboo Distortion – now on SoundCloud

All guitar tracks recorded through a Blackstar HT-1R’s speaker-emulated output.

• Rhythm guitars – Fender Stratocaster (left) & Gibson Melody Maker SG (right)

• Lead guitar – Hamer USA Studio Custom

Handmade by Bluetone Custom Amplifiers.

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18/03/2019

Bluetone Bugaboo Pedal – testi tulossa – review coming soon

Info: Bluetone Custom Amplifiers

12/03/2019

The new Bluetone Plexi 10 demoed by Matti Vauhkonen

Bluetone’s own Matti Vaukhonen demoes the new Bluetone Plexi 10 head through a Bluetone 4 x 10 cabinet loaded with WGS Green Beret speakers.

BLUETONE PLEXI 10

• 10 watts maximum output

• 2 x 12AX7

• 4 x EL91

• two volume controls (Normal & Bright)

• 3-band EQ plus Presence control

• PPIMV master volume

• 3-step Output Power Control (OPC)

21/02/2019

The Bluetone Bugaboo pedal played by Jussi Kaakkolammi

The Bugaboo distortion pedal (230 €) is Bluetone’s first floor effect. The Bugaboo’s circuit is based on Bluetone’s Bugaboo high-gain amplifier.

Contact: Bluetone Custom Amplifiers

27/05/2018

Fuzz Guitar Show 2018 – pictures are online now!

This year’s Finnish contingent at the Fuzz Guitar Show consisted of:

• Saku Vuori’s Vuorensaku Guitars.

Taisto Guitars – demoed here by Finnish guitarist Samuli Federley.

Nordsound – distributor of Brunetti Amps and Paoletti Guitars, amongst other brands.

Bluetone Custom Amplifiers from Helsinki.

• And offset-specialist Olli Viitasaari’s Viitasaari Guitars.

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Find all Fuzz Show pictures HERE!

09/05/2018

Review: Bluetone Load Box

Finnish boutique amp company Bluetone has released a Swiss Army Knife-style lifesaver for valve amp users on stage and in the studio.

The Bluetone Load Box (370 €; incl. 1.5 metre speaker cable) is a professional quality dummy load (100 W/8 Ω) in a very compact format (only slightly larger than a big paperback) that doubles as a DI-box for guitar amps.

As any valve amp user should know, using an amplifier with a valve-driven power amp without a speaker (cabinet) connected – unless expressly allowed by the manufacturer – is a surefire path to disaster. The results of driving an amp without a speaker load can range from the output transformer catching fire to larger-scale component meltdown inside the amp, depending on the volume levels the amplifier is played at, and how quickly the fuses react.

This is where load boxes – also called dummy loads – come in. A load box allows you to run a valve amp safely without any speaker connected, while usually also offering signal attenuation and/or line level outputs. As a result, you are able to direct inject any amp into a PA system or recording equipment, as well as running the amp at full tilt without blasting everybody off the stage.

Doing away with the speaker (cabinet) isn’t as straightforward as you might think, because the impedance stated on a speaker is only nominal. The speaker, being an electromechanical transducer, behaves in a frequency- and signal level-dependent way, which results in dynamically shifting impedance values.

This means that a dummy load is a much more involved design than just a few resistors thrown together. Dummy coils, and a heap of capacitors and resistors are needed to simulate realistically the behaviour of a speaker, to attenuate the speaker signal (by dissipating part of it as heat), and to produce a quality DI-signal.

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Bluetone’s Load Box has a very clear and logical layout:

The left side carries all speaker-related connectors, offering an input, as well as both an attenuated output (Speaker Out) and a straight speaker output (Speaker Through). Why would anyone need two speaker outputs? The answer is simple: If you want to run an isolated cabinet backstage at full speaker output for the FOH engineer, and an attenuated speaker signal for the backline to keep onstage volume levels manageable.

The right side sports two output jacks – one is carrying a headphone signal, while the other one is the balanced output for connection to a mixing console or a soundcard.

The controls and switches are self-explanatory:

Top left is a four-way rotary switch for speaker attenuation, with ”Off” muting the Speaker Out signal completely. I should also mention that you can use the Bluetone Load Box without any speakers connected, regardless of the selector setting.

The middle knob is the headphone level control. Because the Load Box is a completely passive design – meaning there’s no need for any sort of power supply – the output level of the headphone output is directly dependent on the signal level (and wattage) of the connected amplifier. On the early production model used for this review the headphone signal can be a tiny bit on the quiet side, when using a low-wattage amp and power hungry headphones. This is a known issue, and Bluetone will increase the signal level in future.

The line level output offers a healthy output levels. If you need an XLR connector for the Load Box’ balanced output, Bluetone offers a handy adapter for 20 €.

A three-way mini toggle gives you two different types of cabinet simulation – 1 x 12″ and 4 x 12″ – while its two-way counterpart makes it possible to bypass speaker simulation for the Line Out signal.

The Bluetone Load Box’ dummy load and attenuator work really well in dropping volume levels while keeping virtually all of your amp’s tone intact. Now you can run your non-master volume valve amp at pub-friendly levels, without sacrificing your sound.

Bluetone’s DI-output captures your amp’s tone without the need for a speaker cabinet and microphones, which is great news for home recordists and small project studios. The Load Box’ analogue speaker modelling offers a fine solution for capturing your sound with the least amount of fuss.

Here’s what my Fender Strat sounds like played through a Bluetone Shadows Jr. combo on clean settings, and recorded with a Shure SM57:

Here’s the same clean example direct recorded with the Load Box set to 1 x 12″:

Here’s a distorted clip with the sound of the Shadows Jr. recorded with the SM57:

And the same clip recorded through the Load Box:

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In my opinion the Bluetone Load Box offers great value for money. Bluetone’s compact Load Box is a product every owner of a valve amp that doesn’t come with output attenuation built in should at least consider adding to his/her equipment.

The clever bit is how Bluetone has managed to fit the different functions into a lightweight, easy-to-carry, handcrafted piece of equipment. The Load Box is a sturdy device that will get the job done with the minimum amount of fuss, and it comes at a fair price.

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Bluetone Load Box

370 € (including a 1.5 metre speaker cable)

Contact: Bluetone Amps

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Pros:

+ handcrafted in Finland

+ lightweight and compact

+ features

+ sound

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07/05/2018

Now on SoundCloud: Bluetone Load Box

Bluetone Load Box

• 100 W/8 Ohm passive, reactive load box
• Four-stage speaker attenuation
• Line level out with analogue speaker emulation
• Headphone output

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Audio clips recorded with a Bluetone Shadows Jr. combo (1 x 10″ WGS Green Beret speaker), and the Bluetone Load Box set to 1 x 12″ speaker emulation.

02/05/2018

Bluetone’s ”Gothenburg Special” Fried Eye Played By Tuomas Wäinölä

Finnish top guitarist Tuomas Wäinölä demonstrates a few of the Bluetone Fried Eye Special’s tones using a Bluetone 4 x 10″ cabinet.

Guitars used:

• 1968 Fender Stratocaster

• 1967 Gibson ES-335

• 2013 Gibson Custom Shop ’59 Les Paul Standard

Cable used: UTA Vari-Cap

The audio was recorded with a Shure SM57 and an AKG C414 plugged into a UTA MPDI-4 running into Pro Tools HD.

For additional audio clips go to: http://www.bluetone.fi/fried-eye/

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Audio recorded and produced by Tuomas Wäinölä at Sunbeam Imperial Studio.

Video filmed and edited by Martin Berka for Bluetone Custom Amplifiers.

27/02/2018

Bluetone Goes Gothenburg

Watch Bluetone’s Harry and Matti build a special tube amp head for this year’s Fuzz Guitar Show in Gothenburg (Sweden).