Posts tagged ‘valve amp’

17/10/2018

Testipenkissä: Vox AC30S1

”Älä muuta mitään. AC30 on sinun lapsesi, ja sen tarina tulee jatkumaan ikuisesti!”

Näin sanoi Voxin alkuperäisen emoyhtiön, JMI:n, perustaja ja pomo Tom Jennings hänen pääsuunnittelijalle, Dick Denneylle (kuvassa), joskus 1960-luvulla.

Jo ennen kuin Marshall-vahvistimien tuotantoa edes suunniteltiin, Voxista oli jo tullut ensimmäinen brittivahvistimien legenda. Alkuperäistä Vox AC30:tä kehiteltiin vuonna 1959 The Shadows -yhtyeelle, AC15-mallin isommaksi versioksi. Hank Marvinilla ja Bruce Welchillä alkoi nimittäin tulla vaikeuksia saada kitaransoittoansa kuulumaan, koska bändin (ja Cliff Richardin) yleisöt ja keikkapaikat kasvoivat yhä nopeammin.

Vox AC30:n ensimmäinen versio oli yhdellä 12-tuumaisella kaiuttimella varustettu kombo. Kun The Beatles -yhtiön kitaristit alkoivat käyttää AC30:tä vahvistin oli jo kasvanut kahdella 12-tuumaisella varustetuksi versioksi, jota Vox kutsui ”Twiniksi”. John Lennon ja George Harrison olivat myös ensimmäisten joukossa saaneet kombon (silloin) uusimman version Top Boost -piirillä. Maailmaa järisyttävä Beatlemania oli Voxille parasta mahdollista mainontaa ikinä.

Voxin AC30 Twinistä Top Boostilla tuli Vox Amplificationin lippulaiva, joka on edelleen yksi maailman ikonisimpia kitaravahvistimia. Kiitos tästä kuuluu myös kaikille näille kitaristeille, kuten Brian May (Queen), Rory Gallagher, Lenny Kravitz ja U2:n The Edge, joille AC30 on ollut ja/tai on edelleen oman soundin kulmakivi.

Alkuperäisiä AC30-komboja (ja niiden uudelleenpainoksia) arvostellaan usein niiden koon ja painon vuoksi. Joillakin alkuperäisillä 60-luvun versioilla on myös taipumus kuumentua liikaa, vahvistimen uumenissa sijaitsevien putkien takia. Tämän lisäksi kaikki alkuperäiset AC30:t on rakennettu ilman master volume -säädintä, minkä vuoksi kombon omia särösoundeja saadaan tuotettua vain silloin, kun styrkkari pyörii (lähes) täysillä volyymillä.

Onneksi Voxin nykyisestä mallistosta löytyy monta eri nykyaikaisia ja virtaviivaistettua AC30-versioita.

Upouusi Vox AC30S1 (katuhinta noin 780 €) pakkaa AC30:n parhaita soundeja helppokäyttöiseen, master volumella -varustettuun ja helpommin kuljettavaan muotoon.

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Uusi Vox AC30S1 on firman hyvin suositun kiinalaisen Custom-malliston uusin jäsen.

AC30 Single -kombolla on edelleen klassisen Voxin ulkonäkö, mutta yhdellä 12-tuumaisella varustetun uutukaisen kotelo on hieman perinteistä kapeampi. Tämä versio painaa ”vain” 24,5 kiloa, mikä on peräti yhdeksän kiloa vähemmän kuin Custom-sarjan AC30 Twin (AC30C2).

Uudessa kombossa on yksi kanava kaksikaistaisella EQ:lla, sekä master volume -säätimellä.

Tämän Voxin sisäinen kaiku on digitaalinen mallinnus perinteisestä jousikaiusta.

Ihan niin kuin 60-luvun esi-isällä, AC30S1:llä on puoliksi avoin takaseinä.

Vox Custom -sarjan vahvistimet on suunniteltu nykypäivän sähköturvallisuusmääräyksien mukaisiksi. AC30S1:n tapauksessa tämä näkyy esimerkiksi helposti vaihdettavissa ja hyvin tuuletetuissa vahvistinputkissa, metallisessa turvaverkossa (joka estää suoran pääsyn kuumiin putkiin), sekä irrotettavalla sähköjohdolla IEC-liittimellä.

AC30S1:n etuvahvistin käyttää kahta 12AX7-putkea, kun taas päätevahvistimessa pyörii peräti neljä EL84-putkea.

Kombon kaiutin on 12-tuumainen Celestion VX, joka on suunniteltu varta vasten tälle vahvistimelle.

Takapaneelista löytyy lähtö lisäkaiuttimelle (16 Ω), sekä efektilenkin liittimiä.

AC30S1:n EU-versioihin on lisätty myös Eco-ominaisuus, joka laittaa kombon omatoimisesti pois päältä kahden tunnin tyhjäkäynnin jälkeen.

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Upouusi Vox AC30S1 on selkeästi helpompi nostaa ja kuljettaa kuin perinteiset Twin-versiot, mikä on varmasti hyvä uutinen meille kaikille.

Nyt seuraa pieni varoitus:

Vaikka Voxin mainoskuvissa uutta AC30 Singleä esitellään monissa olohuone-tyylisissä tilanteissa, tämä kombo ei mielestäni ole oikea valinta olohuonekäyttöön. Vaikka tässä on kyseessä ”vain” yhdellä 12-tuumaisella kaiuttimella varustettu styrkkari, AC30S1:llä ei ole minkäänlaisia ongelmia tarjota henkeäsalpaavia volyymitasoja. Totta, tässä on master volume -säädin, mutta sen toiminta on – ainakin testiyksilössä – epätasainen juuri potikan alkumetreillä, jossa hypätään hiljaisuudesta lähes suoraan noin 30 prosentin teholle. Tämä vahvistin ei kuulu kerrostaloon tai olohuoneeseen, vaan se haluaa isoon studioon tai Rock-klubin lavalle.

Vaikka uutukaisen toimintasäde on hieman Twin-versiota kapeampi (koska kotelosta löytyy vain yksi kaiutin), Vox AC30S1:n soundit ovat kuitenkin täynnä ehtaa AC30-magiaa. Niin kuin AC30:ssä yleensä, puhdasta headroomia ei ole tarjolla niin runsaasti kuin esimerkiksi Blackface-tyylisissä Fendereissä. AC30:n juju on juuri sen tasaisesti kasvavassa reunasärössä, joka lähtee liikkeelle jo kohtuullisen pienellä gainella, sekä crunch-särön tiheydessä ja purevuudessa.

Tästä pätkästä saa hyvän idean AC30S1:n soundimaailmasta. Gain on säädetty täysille ja vahvistimen säröä ohjataan Fender Stratocasterin volume-säätimellä:

AC30S1:n digitaalisesti mallinnettu jousikaiku kuulostaa erinomaiselta – tämä on ehkä paras putkivahvistimen sisäinen digikaiku pitkään aikaan:

Demobiisissä soitan pätkiä neljästä Vox AC30:llä soitetuista klassikkobiiseistä – ”Wonderful Land” (The Shadows), ”I Feel Fine” (The Beatles), ”We Will Rock You” (Queen), sekä ”Pride (In The Name Of Love)” (U2).

• Wonderful Land – Fender Stratocaster

• I Feel Fine – Fender Stratocaster, Fender Telecaster, Epiphone Casino, Tanglewood TW28-CSN (magneettisella Seymour Duncan SA-1 -mikrofonilla)

• We Will Rock You – Fender Stratocaster

• Pride (In The Name Of Love) – Fender Telecaster & Stratocaster

Mikrofonit: AKG C3000 & Shure SM57

Delay-efektejä on lisätty miksausvaiheessa:

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Minun mielestäni uusi Vox AC30S1 on erinomainen lisäys firman AC30-valikoimaan. Uusi Single-versio tarjoaa miltei kaikkia klassisia Vox-soundeja hieman kompaktimmassa koossa.

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Vox AC30S1

Katuhinta noin 780 €

Maahantuoja: EM Nordic

Kiitos DLX Musiikille testivahvistimen lainasta!

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Plussat:

+ paino

+ laadukas digikaiku

+ efektilenkki

+ soundi

+ kovaääninen

Miinukset:

– master volume -potikan jyrkkyys

– kovaääninenSave

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16/10/2018

Review: Vox AC30S1

”Keep it as it is. The AC30 is your baby, and it will go on forever!”

These prophetic words were spoken by Tom Jennings, the founder and head of Vox’ original parent company JMI, in the mid-1960s to his chief designer Dick Denney (pictured above).

Well before Marshall Amps arrived on the scene, Vox became the UK’s first legendary guitar amplifier brand. The original Vox AC30 was developed in 1959 as a larger version of the AC15 for the group The Shadows. Hank Marvin and Bruce Welch started having problems getting themselves heard over the ever-growing crowds they were drawing at ever-larger venues.

The first version of the Vox AC30 was a combo equipped with a single 12-inch speaker, but by the time the Beatles arrived on the scene the amp had evolved into what Vox called a ”Twin amplifier”, meaning a combo with a pair of 12-inch speakers. The Beatles were also the first band to receive AC30s with the company’s (then) new Top Boost -circuit. Vox couldn’t have dreamt up a more potent way of promoting their products than Beatlemania.

The AC30 Twin with Top Boost became Vox Amplification’s flagship product, which still stands today as one of the most iconic guitar amplifiers of all time. This is thanks in no small part to the great guitarists, such as Brian May (Queen), Rory Gallagher, Lenny Kravitz and U2’s The Edge, who made the combo a vital ingredient of their respective signature sounds.

Vintage AC30s (and faithful reissues) are often criticised for being quite large and heavy. Some 1960s examples also seem to have a tendency for overheating, due to the valve layout inside the chassis. Original AC30s also are non-master volume designs, which means that break-up and crunch sounds can only be had close to full volume levels.

Luckily, Vox’ line-up also includes more modern and streamlined AC30-versions.

The brand-new Vox AC30S1 (current Finnish street price around 780 €) takes everything that is great about the AC30, and puts it into a streamlined, master volume-equipped, and much more portable single speaker combo.

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The new Vox AC30S1 is part of the company’s very successful Chinese-made Custom range.

The AC30 Single keeps the classic Vox look, but comes in a narrower cabinet. At 24.5 kg the newcomer weighs a good nine kilos less that the Custom Series AC30 Twin (AC30C2).

The new combo offers a single amp channel with a two-band EQ-section and a master volume knob.

The built-in reverb is digital, and modelled after a classic spring reverb.

Just like the classic Sixties design the AC30S1 also sports a half-open back.

Vox’ Custom Series amps have been redesigned and updated to comply with all necessary safety regulations for modern tube amplifiers. In the AC30S1’s case this means well-ventilated valves that are easy to access, a safety grill to prevent anybody from touching piping hot tubes, and a detachable IEC mains cord.

The AC30S1 uses a pair of 12AX7 valves for the preamp section, as well as four EL84s in the power amp.

The speaker is a 12-inch Celestion VX model, designed specifically for use in this combo.

The back panel offers an additional speaker output (16 ohms) and an effects loop.

EU-versions of the AC30S1 also come with a switchable Eco-function, which will turn the amp off automatically when left running unplayed for two hours.

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The brand-new AC30S1 is noticeably easier to lift and carry than any of the regular Twin versions, which is great news for virtually any of us.

A word of warning first:

Despite Vox’ promo pictures showing the new AC30 Single in different living room set-ups, this isn’t really a combo for noodling on the couch. Despite being a single 12-inch speaker combo, the AC30S1 has no problem whatsoever in dishing out ear-shattering sound pressure levels. Yes, there is a master volume knob, but – at least on our review sample – the pot’s taper isn’t especially even, instead jumping rather abruptly from ”off” to something like 30 percent power. This combo doesn’t belong in a block of flats or in a sitting room, this amp belongs in a full-blown studio or on a club stage.

Despite the inevitably narrower throw of a single speaker (compared to a twin speaker set-up) the sounds gleaned from the Vox AC30S1 are pure AC30 magic. Typically, clean headroom isn’t available in Fender Blackface-style amounts. An AC30’s sound is defined by the smooth and steady break-up at comparatively moderate gain levels, and by the bite and density of its crunchy distortion.

Here’s an example of the range of textures you can get from the AC30S1 with its gain at full, while using a Stratocaster’s volume control:

The AC30S1’s digitally modelled spring reverb sounds terrific; probably the best onboard digital spring reverb I’ve heard in a long time:

The demo track features my covers of four classic Vox AC30 tracks – ”Wonderful Land” (The Shadows), ”I Feel Fine” (The Beatles), ”We Will Rock You” (Queen), and ”Pride (In The Name Of Love)” (U2).

• Wonderful Land – Fender Stratocaster

• I Feel Fine – Fender Stratocaster, Fender Telecaster, Epiphone Casino, Tanglewood TW28-CSN (with Seymour Duncan SA-1 pickup)

• We Will Rock You – Fender Stratocaster

• Pride (In The Name Of Love) – Fender Telecaster & Stratocaster

Microphones used: AKG C3000 & Shure SM57

Any delays were added during mixing:

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In my view the new Vox AC30S1 is an excellent addition to the company’s AC30 range. This combo gives you virtually all of the classic Vox tones, but with far less bulk.

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Vox AC30S1

Street price in Finland approx. 780 €

Distributor: EM Nordic

Thanks to DLX Music Helsinki for the loan of the review amp!

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Pros:

+ lesser weight

+ high-quality spring-style digital reverb

+ effects loop

+ sound

+ high volume levels

Cons:

– master volume taper

– high volume levelsSave

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11/10/2018

Vox AC30S1 – the Kitarablogi-video

VOX AC30S1

• Single-channel design inspired by the AC30’s trademark Top Boost

• All tube design featuring two 12AX7 pre-amp tubes and four EL84 power-amp tubes

• Equipped with a single Celestion-made 12-inch speaker, specially voiced for the AC30S1

• Effects send/return and external speaker output are provided for pairing with pedals or external cabinets

• Equipped with digital reverb that simulates a classic spring reverb

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The demo track features my covers of four classic Vox AC30 tracks – ”Wonderful Land” (The Shadows), ”I Feel Fine” (The Beatles), ”We Will Rock You” (Queen), and ”Pride (In The Name Of Love)” (U2).

• Wonderful Land – Fender Stratocaster

• I Feel Fine – Fender Stratocaster, Fender Telecaster, Epiphone Casino, Tanglewood TW28-CSN (with Seymour Duncan SA-1 pickup)

• We Will Rock You – Fender Stratocaster

• Pride (In The Name Of Love) – Fender Telecaster & Stratocaster

Mics used: AKG C3000 & Shure SM57

Delays added during mixing.

01/10/2018

First Look: Vox AC30S1

VOX AC30S1

• Single-channel design inspired by the AC30’s trademark Top Boost

• All tube design featuring two 12AX7 pre-amp tubes and four EL84 power-amp tubes

• Equipped with a single Celestion-made 12-inch speaker, specially voiced for the AC30S1

• Effects send/return and external speaker output are provided for pairing with pedals or external cabinets

• Equipped with digital reverb that simulates a classic spring reverb

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The demo track features my covers of four classic Vox AC30 tracks – ”Wonderful Land” (The Shadows), ”I Feel Fine” (The Beatles), ”We Will Rock You” (Queen), and ”Pride (In The Name Of Love)” (U2).

• Wonderful Land – Fender Stratocaster

• I Feel Fine – Fender Stratocaster, Fender Telecaster, Epiphone Casino, Tanglewood TW28-CSN (with Seymour Duncan SA-1 pickup)

• We Will Rock You – Fender Stratocaster

• Pride (In The Name Of Love) – Fender Telecaster & Stratocaster

Mics used: AKG C3000 & Shure SM57

Delays added during mixing.

27/09/2018

Testi tulossa – Review coming soon – Vox AC30S1

03/12/2016

Testipenkissä: Fender Bassbreaker 18/30 Combo

fender-bassbreaker-18_30-top-logo

Kuvitellaan, että olemme läsnä Fender vahvistinosaston aivoriihessä lämpimässä Kaliforniassa, syksyllä 1966. Sessiossa on tarkoitus ideoida uutta vahvistinsarjaa.

Yksi osallistujista sanoo: ”Hei, tyypit. Jotenkin alkaa tympiä se, että teemme koko ajan vain vahvistimia country-kitaristeille ja tylsille viihdyttäjille. Miten olisi, jos tekisimme sarjan kitaravahvistimia, joissa olisi vähän enemmän ’munaa’ Blues- ja Rock-väelle? Kuulin pienestä englantilaisesta firmasta, joka rakentaa tuunattuja Bassman-kopioita, ja jengi tykkää. Meilläkin pitäisi olla tällaisia hot-rod-vahvistimia!”

Tällaista kokousta ei koskaan pidetty…

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fender-bassbreaker-18_30-front

Uusi Fender Bassbreaker 18/30 -kombo (suositushinta: 799 €) olisi voinut olla tämän kuvitteellisen aivoriihen tulos.

Fenderin Bassbreaker 18/30 on kuin se olisi ilmestynyt jostain rinnakkaistodellisuudesta, jossa firma olisi 60-luvun lopulla päättänyt valmistaa amerikkalaisia putkivahvistimia selvällä ”brittikorostuksella”.

Uutuus on kahdella 12-tuumaisella elementillä varustettu Fender-kombo uudella, tyylikkäällä Gray Tweed -päällysteellä. Kaiutinkotelo on rakennettu laadukkaasta koivuvanerista, minkä ansiosta isokokoisen kombon paino jää alle 23 kilon.

fender-bassbreaker-18_30-top

Bassbreakerin mallitunnus ”18/30” viittaa siihen, että kombon kaksi kanavaa ovat käytännössä kaksi erillistä vahvistinta:

Ykköskanava (Channel One) perustuu Fender Blackface Deluxe -vahvistimeen, ja sen pääteteho on 30 wattia. Kakkoskanava (Channel Two) sen sijaan on kevyesti modattu versio hieman aikaisemmasta, ruskeasta Deluxesta. Kakkoskanavan pääteteho on 18 wattia.

fender-bassbreaker-18_30-back

Uusi Bassbreaker on A/B-luokan täysputkivahvistin puolijohdetasasuuntajalla.

Etuaste on rakennettu kahden 12AX7-putken ympärille, kun taas pääte saa tehonsa neljästä EL84-putkesta. EL84 mielletään yleisesti brittivahvistimiin – perinteisesti Fenkuissa, kuten muissakin jenkkivahvistimissa, käytetään 6V6- tai 6L6-pääteputkia.

Takapaneelista löytyy lisäkaappilähdön ja linjalähdön (päätevahvistimen jälkeen) lisäksi myös jakki pakettiin kuuluvalle jalkakytkimelle.

fender-bassbreaker-18_30-valves-and-speakers

”Brittipäätteen” lisäksi Bassbreaker 18/30 -kombossa myös kaiutinvalinta on ei-perinteinen. 60-luvun Fendereistä tuttujen Jensen- tai JBL-kaiuttimien sijaan uutuusvahvistimeen on asennettu pari 12-tuumaista Celestion V-Type -kaiutinta.

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fender-bassbreaker-18_30-control-panel

Ykköskanavan (”Blackface”) enimmäkseen puhtaita soundeja varten on varattu kolmialueinen taajuuskorjainosasto, kun taas kakkoskanavasta (”Brownface”) löytyy ainoastaan yksi Tone-säädin.

fender-bassbreaker-18_30-angle-2

Tärkein asia ensin – Fender Bassbreaker 18/30 on uskomattoman kovaääninen! Kyseessä on aito non-master-volume-putkikone, joka liikkuu samassa teholuokassa esimerkiksi Marshall 1962 Bluesbreakerin tai Vox AC30:n kanssa.

Kerrostaloasuntoon 18/30 ei todellakaan sovi, koska kakkoskanavan herkulliset särösoundit heräävät henkiin vain kovalla volyymillä. Ja tämä vaikka kombo toimiikin silloin ainoastaan kahdella pääteputkella, minkä vuoksi teho laskee 18 wattiin ja päätevahvistimen puhdas headroom on hyvinkin rajallinen.

Jos Bassbreaker-mallisto kiinnostaa, mutta tämän kombon äänekkyys ei tunnu sopivan käyttötarkoitukseen, kannattaa kokeilla saman sarjan Bassbreaker 15 -komboa, jossa on mm. master volume -säädin.

Pienillä Volume-asetuksilla molemmista Bassbreaker 18/30 –kanavista saa puhtaita soundeja. Channel One on kaksikosta se helisevämpi ja kirkkaampi, kun taas Channel Two on hieman pyöreämpi ja rouheampi. EL84-pääteputkien ja Celestion-kaiuttimien ansiosta uutuuskombon perussoundi ei ole pikkutarkka kopio firman vanhoista klassikkomalleista, vaan todella herkullinen sekoitus 1960-luvun Fender-soundeista ja perinteisten brittikombojen keskialueen murinasta ja potkusta.

Tässä lyhyt pätkä puhtailla asetuksilla (molemmat volume-säätimet kello yhdeksän ja kymmenen välillä), vaahterakaulaisella Fender Stratocasterilla soitettuna:

Demobiisissä soi kaksi komppikitaraa – Gibson Les Paul Junior (Channel One, oikea stereokanava) ja Fender Telecaster (Channel Two, vasemmalta) – sekä Epiphone Les Paul Standard -kitaralla (vintage-tyylisillä EMG HZ -mikrofoneilla) soitettu soolokitara (Channel Two, volume-säädin kello kolme):

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fender-bassbreaker-18_30-angle-1

Fenderin Bassbreaker 18/30 on oikein mainio ja kovaääninen putkivahvistin sellaisille Blues- ja Rock-kitaristeille, jotka tietävät miten non-master-volume-vahvistimien kanssa tullaan toimeen. Uudessa 18/30:ssa yhdistyvät 60-luvun Fender-kombojen parhaat ominaisuudet ja saman aikakauden brittiklassikkojen lihaksikkaan rouhea asenne.

Bassbreaker 18/30 -kombo ei sovi olohuoneen harjoittelukumppaniksi, ja myös kotistudioon se voi osoitauttua liian kovaääniseksi. Tämä on pro-luokan putkivahvistin, joka on tarkoitettu livekäyttöön sellaisissa paikoissa (ja bändeissä), joissa kitaristia ei alituiseen kehoteta soittamaan hiljempaa.

fender-bassbreaker-18_30-logo

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Fender Bassbreaker 18/30 Combo

suositushinta: 799 €

Lisätiedot: Fender

Paljon kiitoksia DLX Musiikille testivahvistimen lainaamisesta! 

Plussat:

+ työnjälki

+ tyylikäs ulkonäkö

+ kotelo koivuvanerista

+ soundi

+ isotehoinen

Miinukset:

– isotehoinen

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23/11/2016

Review: Fender Bassbreaker 18/30 Combo

fender-bassbreaker-18_30-top-logo

Imagine a brainstorming session at Fender R&D in sunny California, sometime in late 1966. The brief of the day is to come up with a new guitar amplifier.

One of the guys speaks up: ”I’m kinda bored of sparkling TV cowboys and clean-cut entertainers. How about we design an amp for the Blues and Rock players? I’ve heard some little company in England has been doing a sort of Bassman-on-steroids thing, and it seems to catch on. We should try to come up with something that really rocks, too!”

In reality that meeting never took place, but what if it had?

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fender-bassbreaker-18_30-front

The new Fender Bassbreaker 18/30 Combo (list price in Finland: 799 €) could well have been the result of our imaginary R&D session.

The Bassbreaker 18/30 is like a visitor from a parallel universe, in which Fender has taken a turn in the mid-Sixties to design guitar amplifiers with a distinctly British accent.

This is a 2 x 12 Fender combo with a cool new trim, called Gray Tweed. The cabinet is built from birch ply, resulting in a combo with a still-manageable weight of just below 23 kg.

fender-bassbreaker-18_30-top

The Bassbreaker 18/30’s model name hints at the fact that this amp features two different Fender designs in one package:

Channel One of this two-channel amplifier is based on a Blackface Fender Deluxe and gives you 30 watts of output power. Channel Two on the other hand has been lifted from the earlier brown version of the Deluxe combo, and puts out 18 watts.

fender-bassbreaker-18_30-back

The Bassbreaker is an all-valve guitar amp with solid-state rectification, and it runs in Class A/B.

The preamp section is designed around a pair of 12AX7s, while the power amp uses a quartet of EL84s, instead of Fender’s more traditional 6V6 or 6L6 power tubes.

The back panel sports jack sockets for the channel-switching footswitch (included, as is an amp cover), external speaker cabinets, and a post power amp line level output.

fender-bassbreaker-18_30-valves-and-speakers

In addition to the more ”British accent” of the Bassbreaker 18/30’s power amp valves, Fender has also opted for a pair of chunky 12-inch Celestion V-Type speakers, instead of the Jensen and JBL models the company favoured in the 1960s.

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fender-bassbreaker-18_30-control-panel

The 18/30’s Channel One – the Blackface channel – offers you a full three-band EQ-section for your clean tones, while Channel Two (”Brownface”) is more spartan with its single tone control.

fender-bassbreaker-18_30-angle-2

First, let me stress that the Fender Bassbreaker 18/30 is really very loud! This is a non-master volume tube combo, which lies in the same ballpark as similar amps, such as the Marshall 1962 Bluesbreaker or Vox AC30 combos, when it comes to sheer sound pressure levels.

The 18/30 really isn’t meant for living room use, because you need to raise Channel Two’s volume substantially, if you want to enjoy the combo’s tasty dirt. And this is despite the fact that this Bassbreaker combo shuts off two of its power tubes, whenever you engage Channel Two, in order to drop the amp’s headroom so it will distort earlier.

If high volume is an issue, but you still want a piece of that Bassbreaker action, I’d suggest you check out the Bassbreaker 15 combo, which comes with a master volume control.

At low volume settings both Bassbreaker 18/30 channels will give you clean tones, with Channel One having a brighter and more chimey voice, and Channel Two sounding a bit earthier. Thanks to the EL84 power amp, this isn’t your traditional Fender combo, but rather a mix of Fender character and UK-style mid-range growl and attitude.

Here’s a short clip of both channels set to clean (volumes between 9 and 10 o’clock) and played with a maple neck Stratocaster:

The demo song features two rhythm guitars – a Gibson Les Paul Junior (Channel One, stereo right) and a Fender Telecaster (Channel Two, stereo left) – and a lead guitar part, that has been played on an Epiphone Les Paul Standard with vintage-type EMG HZ-pickups through Channel Two (volume at 3 o’clock):

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fender-bassbreaker-18_30-angle-1

Fender’s Bassbreaker 18/30 is a great-sounding guitar combo for the Blues and Rock guitarist, who knows how to coax great tones from an in-your-face non-master valve amp. The 18/30 manages to combine the best aspects of 1960s Fender amps with the chunk and grit usually associated with British designs.

The Bassbreaker 18/30 is too loud to be used as a bedroom or home studio amp. This combo has been designed as a professional tool for the gigging guitarist, who doesn’t have to ”turn it down” all the time.

fender-bassbreaker-18_30-logo

*****
Fender Bassbreaker 18/30 Combo

MSRP: 799 €

Contact: Fender

A big thank you to DLX Music Helsinki for the loan of the review combo!

Pros:

+ workmanship

+ design

+ birch-ply cabinet

+ sound

+ high volume levels

Cons:

– high volume levels

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22/11/2016

Jam Track: Shuffle Blues in Bb (125 BPM)

22/11/2016

Now on SoundCloud: Fender Bassbreaker 18/30

Fender Bassbreaker
• Two-channel all-valve combo with solid-state rectification
• Channel 1 – 30 watts Blackface Deluxe-style
• Channel 2 – 18 watts Brown Deluxe-style
• Two 12″ Celestion V-Type speakers
• Two 12AX7 + four EL84
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Demo Song
• Rhythm guitars: Fender Telecaster on channel 2 (left) & Gibson Les Paul Junior on channel 1 (right); both channel volumes at 10 o’clock
• Lead guitar: Epiphone Les Paul Standard with vintage-style EMG HZ-pickups; channel 2, volume at 3 o’clock
*******
Clean Sounds
• Maple-neck Fender Stratocaster (middle + bridge PUs); both channel volumes at 9 o’clock

Contact: Fender

Fender Bassbreaker 18/30 control panel

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09/11/2016

Review: Bluetone Shadows Reverb

For many guitarists the Vox AC30 is the greatest guitar amp ever made – bar none.

The combo was originally designed for the instrumental group The Shadows, but it became known worldwide as ”The Beatles Amp”. Over the decades, many other guitarists have favoured Vox’ best known design. Users include people like Brian May (Queen), Rory Gallagher and U2’s The Edge. Many Finnish Shadows-/Ventures-style bands (”rautalankka”) also favour the AC30.

Despite their legendary status, vintage Vox AC30s also do have their issues:

This large 2 x 12″ combo weighs quite a lot, making it a little hard to carry alone. Old Voxes also are non-master volume amps, which means that attaining natural distortion comes at the cost of serious sound pressure levels – often too much for small clubs and function gigs. Old AC30s also have all their valves – yes, also the power amp tubes – placed inside an almost completely closed metal chassis. This has led to vintage-Voxes getting an infamous reputation as relatively prone to catching fire.

vox-chassis-studiofreak-photobucket

(photo: Studiofreak/Photobucket)

Boutique amp makers Bluetone (from Helsinki, Finland) have recently come up with their special take on the beloved classic combo. Their new amp is called Bluetone Shadows Reverb, and it comes with a whole number of welcome improvements and modern features.

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bluetone-shadows-reverb-front-angle

Bluetone’s Shadows Reverb (reviewed version: 1,950 €) is a single-channel all-valve amp loaded with a genuine spring reverb. The combo represents the company’s view of what constitutes a perfect Top Boost-channel tone, all presented in a much more compact format.

The Shadows Reverb is a class AB amp, and it offers between 15 and 30 Watts of output power, depending on the setting of its built-in Variac.

bluetone-shadows-reverb-back-angle

The combo’s cabinet is made from high-grade plywood. The Shadows Reverb is a good deal smaller and less deep than its classic forebear from the 1960s.

bluetone-shadows-reverb-speakers

This reduction in heft is due mostly to the use of 10-inch Celestion Alnico Gold speakers in place of the AC30’s 12-inch speaker pair.

The speakers in the Shadows Reverb combo have been ”played in” for a number of hours (using an oscillator) to get rid of the typical tightness of brand-new Alnico Golds.

bluetone-shadows-reverb-power-amp-valves

This Bluetone-combo uses three 12AX7-tubes, and a single 12AT7 in its preamp section.

bluetone-shadows-reverb-premp-valves-transformers

The power amp runs on a quartet of EL84 valves. The Shadows Reverb is a cathode-biased valve amp, which means that replacing the power amp tubes doesn’t usually necessitate any rebiasing.

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bluetone-shadows-reverb-front-panel

Yes, the Bluetone Shadows Reverb is ”just” a single-channel combo, but it is far from a single sound guitar amplifier. In large part this is thanks to the brilliant modern features Bluetone has incorporated into this homage.

The Shadows Reverb offers you two guitar inputs – High and Low – for use with single coil- and humbucker-equipped instruments.

The preamp features a two-band Baxandall EQ-section – with typically interactive controls for Bass and Treble – as well as a three-stage Bass Cut rotary switch, which offers you two fatter alternatives to the famously bright and wiry Vox Top Boost sound.

The onboard spring reverb sounds fantastic and is a real treat to work with, giving you everything from completely dry tones to Surf Music antics.

The power amp section comes with three controls:

Cut allows you to make overall adjustments to the combo’s treble output.

Bluetone’s Master Volume-control is placed after the phase inverter, right at the end of the signal chain. This allows you to get juicy power amp distortion at low volume levels, and with only minimal changes in the amp’s tone.

As mentioned before, the Shadows Reverb comes with a built-in Variac circuit. Although the Variac also has a bearing on the combo’s output level, it works in a completely different way to the master volume, namely by dropping the voltage the power amp runs on. Turning the Variac down will result in a good deal less clean headroom and more power amp sag.

Due to large public interest, I had to return the Shadows Reverb much earlier than anticipated, but I still managed to record two different demo tracks with the Bluetone amp.

The first (clean) track features rhythm guitar tracks played on a Fender Telecaster (left channel) and a 1970s Japanese copy of a Gibson ES-335 (Kasuga; right channel). The lead guitar part was played on a Fender Stratocaster. All guitar tracks have been recorded with an AKG C3000 microphone placed approximately 80 cm from the combo’s front:

The second track (overdriven) has been recorded with a Stratocaster. The distortion comes from the Shadows Reverb (no pedals used), and all tracks have been close-miked with a pair of Shure SM57s:

bluetone-shadows-reverb-master-section

****

Bluetone’s Shadows Reverb is an outstanding boutique amp take on the Vox AC30 motif. Like all other Bluetone amps, the Shadows Reverb is carefully handmade in Finland to the company’s strict quality standards. This results in reliable top-drawer tools for the musician, with extremely low levels of hiss and negligible AC hum.

I had a great time test driving this combo. The Bluetone Shadows Reverb simply delivers all it promises with style and panache. The combo weighs approximately half of the original classic (AC30s usually weigh between 31 to 36 kg, depending on their specific vintage and the speakers they come loaded with). The reduced size means you won’t be having any problems lifting this beauty into the boot of a small car, such as a Ford Fiesta.

Thanks to the additional features of this Bluetone combo – like the Bass Cut and the Variac – you will be able to enjoy the great sound of the Shadows Reverb anywhere you want, be it at home or on stage.

****

Bluetone Shadows Reverb

Prices starting at approx. 1,700 € (reviewed version: 1,950 €)

Manufacturer: Bluetone Amps

****

Pros:

+ handmade in Finland

+ size

+ weight

+ valve-powered spring reverb

+ Variac- and Master Volume-controls

+ sound

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