Posts tagged ‘WGS’

13/06/2018

Review: TOOB 12B

Kitarablogi.com reviewed the guitar-specific TOOB models 12J and 12R back in April. At that time no bass version – the 12B – was available for testing, but now we got our chance to do a review of this model, too.

In case you haven’t yet read the previous TOOB review, let me run the basic features by you again.

Finnish inventor/ guitarist Markku Pietinen has come up with what I regard as one of the coolest new ideas in the field of speaker cabinets – the TOOB.

The TOOB is an ultralight speaker cabinet conceived especially for the musician on the move.

The TOOB’s cabinet consists of a length of Uponor IQ drainage pipe. This is an extremely lightweight and strong corrugated tube made from double-walled polypropylene. The mounting rims are a proprietary design, injection moulded from ABS plastic specifically for use in the TOOB cabinets.

There are two guitar speaker versions available – the 12J and the 12R – which both come loaded with 12″ Jensen speakers, alongside the TOOB 12B bass cabinet that sports a Celestion BN12-300S.

The TOOB 12B  (current RRP in Finland: 499 €) weighs only 4.6 kg and offers power handling of up to 300 watts at 8 ohms.

Standard colours for all TOOBs are black and cinnamon (as reviewed), but you can also order custom options with a painted or covered veneer overlay.

All TOOBs come with metal clip-on legs as standard, or you can get an optional magnetic plywood foot, as used on our review sample. I’ve also heard rumours that the company is currently working on an adjustable cradle stand, tentatively called the TILTA.

The bass version comes with an additional set of clip-on legs should you want to place your 12B in an upright position.

This position results in a different kind of sound dispersal, often preferred by double bass players, in addition to taking up even less space on stage. I’d strongly suggest you try both styles of placement.

The 12B offers both a Speakon connector and a phone jack as inputs. As the inputs are wired in parallel, you can also use the second connector to daisy chain two TOOBs to a single amp.

The bass model also offers an additional tone shaping feature in the shape of the TOOB Tone Cushion. The cushion is velcroed to the inside of the TOOB, and can be removed or squeezed to give open-back or half-open tonalities. My personal preference was the closed setting, but you should definitely experiment with the Tone Cushion to find your favourite set-up.

I got to test drive the TOOB 12B with two micro-amps – a Trace Elliot Elf and a Gallien-Krueger MB200 – which can be handily velcroed to the cabinet’s small wooden table.

The sound quality, sound dispersion and power handling of the bass-TOOB are nothing short of impressive. Yes, you can get the speaker to distort by driving the cabinet at silly levels, but for the types of bands and gigs it has been designed for, you’d be hard pressed to find a better ultra-compact solution than the 12B.

In my opinion the TOOB’s bass version is best suited for Jazz and Lounge groups, as well as Pop/Rock gigs in (very) small venues (like the pub on the corner). The TOOB 12B is also ideal as a cabinet for acoustic bass guitars in ”unplugged” bands.

The sound clips were played through the GK MB200 and recorded with a Shure SM57:

1980s Jazz Bass

Double bass with Shadow pickup

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The TOOB 12B

Lightweight bass speaker cabinet

499 €

Contact: TOOB

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Pros:

+ made in Finland

+ ruggedness

+ weight

+ power handling

+ sound

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06/04/2018

Review: TOOB 12J & 12R

Some of the coolest inventions tend to make you go ”Geez, this is so obvious! Why didn’t I think of this?”

The truth is, though, that the basic idea usually is only the first impetus for going on an exploratory journey. You have to have the inventor’s drive and perseverance to grab the idea by its throat, and hold it there for as long as it takes to hew and mould it into its final shape.

Finnish guitarist/inventor Markku Pietinen had become increasingly frustrated by the weight and size of traditional speaker cabinets for guitar. Modern technology – like Class D power amps – has lead to ever smaller amplifier sizes, yet cabinets were still cumbersome and angular.

Then one day, a few years ago, Markku passed by a building site, where he spotted a leftover piece of corrugated plastic pipe (normally used for drainage) on the ground. The proverbial lightbulb went ”ping”, and Markku started pursuing his quest for a lighter speaker cabinet.

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Here is the finished product, called the TOOB™ (current price in Finland: 369 €), which stands for ”Thinking Out Of the Box”.

The TOOB is available in two guitar versions, the 12J and 12R (as reviewed), which come loaded with a 12-inch Jensen speaker. A bass version – the TOOB 12B – is also available, and it sports a Celestion unit.

Standard colours for all TOOBs are black and cinnamon, but you can also order custom options with a painted or covered veneer overlay (you can see a few examples in the opening picture).

The TOOB’s cabinet consists of a length of Uponor IQ drainage pipe. This is an extremely lightweight and strong corrugated tube made from double-walled polypropylene. The mounting rims are a proprietary design, injection moulded from ABS plastic specifically for use in the TOOB cabinets.

Clip-on stainless steel feet come as standard, but if this looks too spartan for your taste, you can always order your TOOB with a magnetically-attached wooden stand.

The main difference between the TOOB 12J (left) and the 12R (right) is easy to spot:

The 12J (stands for Jazz) is an open back cabinet, while the 12R (= Rock) uses a ported back wall. The 12J is also a few centimetres shorter than its brother.

Both guitar versions sport two parallel jack connectors, allowing you to daisy-chain two (or more) TOOBs.

The cabinets are equipped with painted wooden mounts for use with a micro-amp of your choice (professional velcro-type adhesive strips are provided). A top notch angled plug speaker cable is also part of the package.

Both guitar TOOBs come loaded with a lightweight 12″/8 Ω Jensen Jet Tornado neodymium speaker.

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Testing the TOOBs with two different valve amplifiers – a Blackstar HT-1R and a Bluetone Shadows Jr. – it became clear very quickly that both cabinets are focused on delivering tonal clarity and getting the job done with a minimal amount of fuss.

A TOOB isn’t meant to be an esoteric boutique-style speaker cabinet, full of voodoo-like mystical timbres. These are straightforward musical tools, made to withstand the occasional knock or two, and meant to lighten your load (both physically and psychologically).

Both TOOBs offer a very focused tone that is clear and bright, but not nasty or brittle. The mid-range also stays rather well-defined and uncoloured.

I think one shouldn’t get too hung up on the supposed Jazz- and Rock-connotations of the 12J and 12R models, especially as the 12J also performs well with acoustic-electric guitars, but the differences in sound are easy to hear. The TOOB 12J is the airier and more ”acoustic” of the pair, while the TOOB 12R offers much more low-end punch and overall focus.

CLEAN STRAT

Reference speaker (Bluetone Shadows Jr. combo with a 10″ WGS Green Beret; Shure SM57):

TOOB 12J:

TOOB 12R:

OVERDRIVEN LES PAUL

Reference speaker (Bluetone Shadows Jr. combo with a 10″ WGS Green Beret; Shure SM57):

TOOB 12J:

TOOB 12R:

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Any way you look at the TOOB™, you will have to concede that this new type of speaker cabinet is an ingenious solution to an age-old problem. The TOOB is just as rugged and roadworthy as it is lightweight and compact.

These unique cabinets sound great, with more than enough power on tap for most of us working stiffs, who play small to medium-sized indoor venues.

Combine a TOOB with one of the current micro-amps, like Vox’ MV50-series for example, and what you get is a powerful rig that’s hard to beat for ease of use and transportability.

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The TOOB

Lightweight guitar speaker cabinet

TOOB 12J: 369 €

TOOB 12R: 369 €

Contact: TOOB

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Pros:

+ made in Finland

+ ruggedness

+ weight

+ power handling

+ soundSave

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23/03/2018

Now on Soundcloud: The TOOB

Contact: TOOB

24/08/2016

Review: Bluetone Black Prince Reverb

The Bluetone Black Prince Reverb guitar combo sees the boutique amp makers from Helsinki branch out into a new and interesting direction.

Bluetone Crossroad head – 1

All the Bluetone models we have known thus far have been (and still are) produced as pure and genuine custom-made valve amplifiers.

This means that each new amp is ordered by the customer based on a certain Bluetone configuration on their website – like an à la carte-menu. The chosen model is then tweaked according to the customer’s wishes, and there are plenty of different options available – from the details of the amplifier’s internal specifications all the way to the type of finish of the cabinet and the font on the control panel.

Bluetone Crossroad – handwired board 3

Due to the nature of custom amps, such as these, every Bluetone Custom amp is built completely by hand, starting with a clean slate – meaning: an empty metal chassis, and an empty fibreglass eyelet-board.

The board is then riveted at the right spots to take all the necessary wiring and electronic components going into this specific custom order. Everything is soldered into place by hand (point-to-point).

This is a very involved and time-consuming process, requiring a steady hand and a keen eye, which of course is reflected in the price of a Bluetone Custom amp. The advantage of building this type of point-to-point amp is, of course, that it gives the customer free reign to have his dream amp built.

Bluetone Black Prince Reverb – hybrid PCB 2

Bluetone’s dynamic duo – Harry Kneckt and Matti Vauhkonen – have recently decided to launch a second model range alongside their strictly custom-made amps. The new range will include a few models that will be made and sold ”as is”, with only very limited options to choose from.

These new amps will be made using so-called hybrid boards.

Bluetone’s hybrid boards are very sturdy PCBs made of fibreglass, and are of a considerably higher quality than what you’d find in mass-produced valve amplifiers. Each component’s place on the hybrid is clearly labelled, and some of the ”wiring” is already incorporated into the board itself. In contrast to many mass-produced affordable amps, Bluetone’s new range will see all tubes and transformers mounted securely to the metal chassis (like on their custom-made amps, too), and not directly on the PCB (like on many affordable Far Eastern designs).

The rest of the building process is virtually identical to the more costly custom-made amplifiers – the components are fitted to the hybrid board by hand (from the top) and hand-soldered to the board. Thanks to the hybrid board the new amplifier range will be much easier and faster to produce, which will be reflected in the pricing of the new hybrid amps vis-à-vis the point-to-point custom orders.

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Bluetone Black Prince Reverb – front view 1

The first new Bluetone-combo is called the Bluetone Black Prince Reverb (approx. 1.500 €).

This compact and handy combo takes a lot of inspiration from Fender’s legendary ”Blackface” Princeton Reverb (version AA1164), but due to the Bluetone’s many refinements you can’t really call the Black Prince a straight copy.

In addition to the basic version in wine red tolex, you can also order the Black Prince Reverb in genuine tweed, or with an oiled cabinet made from mahogany (both at extra cost).

Bluetone Black Prince Reverb – control panel

I very much like the businesslike and sober look of the Blacktone’s front panel. Everything is clearly labelled, which can be a great plus on a dimly lit stage.

The Bluetone Black Prince Reverb offers two different inputs for singlecoil and humbucker-equipped guitars (High and Low). The EQ-section is a three-band affair, with an additional Bright switch to liven up dull sounding pickups.

Even though the Black Prince Reverb is such a compact combo, it still featured both a genuine, valve-driven spring reverb and a tube tremolo.

Bluetone uses a post phase-inverter master volume in most of their designs, because it has the least negative impact on an amp’s tone and feel.

Bluetone Black Prince Reverb – back panel

There’s a Fender-style open back on the Black Prince.

The back panel sports outputs for additional speakers, as well as the jack for the combo’s two-button footswitch unit (included).

Bluetone Black Prince Reverb – footswitch

Bluetone Black Prince Reverb – back view

This is what the Bluetone looks like with the open back removed.

Bluetone Black Prince Reverb – valves

The Black Prince Reverb combo is an all-valve machine, loaded with the following tube types (from right to left):

The first 12AX7 is the combo’s preamp valve. The spring reverb circuit uses a 12AT7 and a 12AX7 valve. The 12AX7 works as the amp’s phase-inverter and tremolo tube.

The Black Prince leaves Bluetone’s workshop equipped with a pair of 6V6GT power valves, which will translate to about 20 watts of output. You can also re-bias this amp for a pair of 6L6GCs, which would boost the output to almost 30 watts.

Bluetone Black Prince Reverb – spring reverb

This combo’s short reverb tank is supplied by MOD.

Bluetone Black Prince Reverb – Warehouse Retro 10 speaker

Bluetone have chosen a Warehouse Guitar Speakers Retro 10-speaker for their new combo, even though this model is distinctly different from the old Jensen speakers in vintage Fender designs.

This choice is, of course, deliberate and based upon many listening tests:

The WGS Retro, which is made to withstand far more output than this combo can deliver, keeps the Black Prince Reverb’s tones clean and dynamic under all circumstances. This speaker’s British character also makes the Bluetone-combo sound larger and fatter than you’d expect.

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Bluetone Black Prince Reverb – pilot light from PS

Oh, boy, this is a sound you cannot get enough of! At least in my case only a minute or two of playing the Black Prince was enough to make me consider getting myself in debt.

It’s hard to put into words what that special ingredient is, but this is what a clean electric guitar should sound like! This combo sounds clean, fresh and dynamic, but never clinical, cold or brittle. There a good dose of chime, but it doesn’t hurt your ears. The bass strings sound big, but never mushy.

The sound of the short MOD reverb tank is surprisingly dense and complex, and there’s more than enough of it to satisfy Surf Music fans. The Black Prince Reverb’s tremolo works like a treat, too, offering you anything from slow and soft to machine-gun mania.

Here’s a clip, recorded with a Fender Telecaster, gives you an idea of the Bluetone Black Prince Reverb’s dry tone, as well as its spring reverb and tremolo effects:

The Black Prince also excels in keeping your guitar’s own character intact. These three clips feature a Fender Telecaster…

…an Epiphone Casino…

…and a 1970s Japanese ”lawsuit” copy of a Gibson ES-335:

This combo’s fantastic clean tone is a fantastic platform for pedal addicts. The demo track was recorded using an analogue chorus pedal, a tube screamer-type overdrive, as well as the amp’s built-in reverb and tremolo.

The rhythm parts were played on a Fender Stratocaster, while the lead was played on a Hamer USA Studio Custom:

Bluetone Black Prince Reverb – power valves

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Bluetone Black Prince Reverb – front view 1

In my view, Bluetone’s Black Prince Reverb is a top-drawer choice as a combo for use at home or in the studio. It’s also great for smaller gigs, when too much noise on stage can be a problem, or you can mike it up for larger venues.

The Black Prince Reverb is a nicely compact boutique-grade valve combo offering fantastic cleans, as well as fine reverb and tremolo effects.

This amp hasn’t been spoiled by unnecessary ”tube voodoo” or distracting graphic. I’m all for the clean and understated looks this Bluetone has to offer!

This is a handmade, Finnish boutique combo, offered at a very fair price.

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Bluetone Black Prince Reverb

1.500 €

Contact: Bluetone Amps

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Pros:

+ value-for-money ratio

+ handmade in Finland

+ workmanship

+ fine spring reverb and valve tremolo

+ sound

+ master volume-control

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22/06/2016

Testipenkissä: Bluetone Black Prince Reverb

Bluetone Black Prince Reverb -kitarakombo on uusi aluevaltaus helsinkiläiselle putkivahvistimien valmistajalle.

Bluetone Crossroad head – 1

Tähän mennessä kaikki Bluetone-mallit olivat puhtaasti kokonaan custom-periaatteella rakennettuja pelejä.

Se tarkoittaa, että firman sivustolta löytyy useita valmiita konfiguraatioita – ikään kuin à la carte -ruokalista – joista asiakas valitse hänelle sopivamman kustomoinnin lähtökohdaksi. Ja näitä lisäoptioita löytyy runsaasti – oman vahvistimen tarkoista sisäisistä ominaisuuksista kotelon viimeistelyyn ja säädinpaneelin fonttiin.

Bluetone Crossroad – handwired board 3

Tällainen valinnan runsaus tarkoittaa, että Bluetone custom-vahvistimen teko lähtee aina ns. tyhjästä pöydästä – sopivan kokoisesta metallikotelosta ja tyhjästä lasikuituisesta reikälevystä.

Reikälevystä tehdään ns. eyelet board lisäämällä oikeisiin kohteisiin popniittejä, joihin elektroniikan komponentit ja tarvittavat johdot juotetaan käsin kiinni (= point-to-point-rakenne).

Tämä on hyvin monimutkainen ja aikaa vievä prosessi, mikä näkyy luonnollisesti valmiin tuotteen hinnassa. Point-to-point-tekotapa kuitenkin antaa Bluetonen asiakkaille kustomoinnissa käytännössä vapaat kädet.

Bluetone Black Prince Reverb – hybrid PCB 2

Bluetonen johtokaksikko – Harry Kneckt ja Matti Vauhkonen – on hiljattain päättänyt laittaa firman custom-vahvistimien rinnalle uuden sarjan, joka tulee tarjoamaan muutamia ”valmiita” vahvistinmalleja, joille on tarjolla vain hyvin rajattu määrä valittavia lisäoptioita.

Uutuusmalleissa voi virtaviivaistaa kokoonpanoprosessia käyttämällä elektroniikan alustana ns. hybridilevyä.

Bluetonen hybridilevyt ovat lasikuituisia, ja erittäin laadukkaita ja kestäviä, eikä niitä voi verrata massatuotannossa käytettäviin, heppoisiin piirilevyihin. Jokaisen komponentin paikka on tarkoin merkattu, ja monet osien välisistä ”johdotuksista” on hybridilevyssä jo valmiiksi olemassa. Uutuusvahvistimien putket ja muuntimet asennetaan kuitenkin edelleen tukevasti vahvarin metallikoteloon, eikä piirilevylle (niin kuin monissa halpavahvistimissa).

Muu valmistus tapahtuu uusissa malleissa ihan samalla tavalla kuin Bluetonen custom-peleissä – komponentit lisätään käsin (ylhäältä) hybridilevylle ja ne juotetaan käsin paikoilleen. Hybridilevyn ansiosta vahvistin valmistuu vain huomattavasti nopeammin ja helpommin, mikä tullaan näkemään myös hintaerona hybridilevy- ja point-to-point-mallien välillä.

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Bluetone Black Prince Reverb – front view 1

Ensimmäinen hybridilevyä käyttävä Bluetone-kombo on nimeltään Bluetone Black Prince Reverb (1.500 €).

Kätevän kokoisen, yksikanavaisen boutique-kombon inspiraationa on toiminut Fender ”Blackface” Princeton Reverb (versio AA1164), mutta Bluetone-vahvistimessa on niin monta parannusta, ettei Black Princen tapauksessa voi edes puhua kopiosta.

Viininpunaisella tolexilla päällystetyn perusversion lisäksi tarjotaan Black Prince -kombo (lisämaksua vastaan) myös aidolla tweed-kankaalla tai öljytyllä (täyspuisella) mahonkikotelolla.

Bluetone Black Prince Reverb – control panel

Tykkään itse kovasti Bluetonen hyvin asiallisen näköisestä etupaneelista, jossa jokainen säädin ja kytkin on selkeästi merkitty. Hektisissä live-tilanteissa selkeä etupaneeli voi olla kullan arvoinen.

Bluetone Black Prince Reverb tarjoaa singlecoil- ja humbucker-kitaroille omat tulojakit (High ja Low). EQ-osasto tarjoaa kolme säädettävää kaistaa, sekä lisäksi Bright-kytkimen, josta saa tarvittaessa vielä enemmän eloisuutta preesensalueelle.

Vaikka kyse on melko kompaktista putkikombosta, löytyy Black Prince Reverbistä sekä aito, putkivahvistettu jousikaiku, että putkitremolo.

Bluetone käyttää vahvistimissaan aina PPIMV-kytkennällä (post phase-inverter master volume) toimivia master volume -säätimiä, koska tällä tavalla toteutettu master volume vaikuttaa vähiten vahvistimen soundiin.

Bluetone Black Prince Reverb – back panel

Black Prince -kombon takaseinä on Fender-tyylisesti avoin.

Takapaneelista löytyy lähtöjä lisäkaiuttimille, sekä liitin kombon mukaan tulevalle jalkakytkimelle.

Bluetone Black Prince Reverb – footswitch

Bluetone Black Prince Reverb – back view

Tällainen on näky, kun takaseinä on irrotettu Bluetone-kombosta.

Bluetone Black Prince Reverb – valves

Black Prince Reverb on täysputkikone ja putkivarustus on seuraavanlainen (oikealta vasempaan):

Ensimmäinen 12AX7 on kombon etuasteputki. Kaiun send ja return toimivat yhden 12AT7- ja yhden 12AX7-putken varassa. Viimeinen 12AX7 hoitaa sekä vahvarin vaiheenkääntämistä että tremolo-efektin tuotantoa.

Black Prince lähtee Bluetonen pajalta kahdella 6V6GT-pääteputkella, jotka tuottavat noin 20 wattia lähtötehoa. Tätä komboa pystyy myös käyttämään – biasoinnin jälkeen – kahdella 6L6GC-putkella, jolloin lähtöteho nousee lähelle 30 wattia.

Bluetone Black Prince Reverb – spring reverb

Tämän kombon lyhyt jousikaikutankki tulee MOD:n valikoimasta.

Bluetone Black Prince Reverb – Warehouse Retro 10 speaker

Bluetone on valinnut Warehouse Guitar Speakersin Retro 10 -kaiuttimen uutuuskomboonsa, vaikka tämä on ihan erilainen kaiutin kuin vanhoissa Fendereissä käytetty Jensen.

Valinta oli kuitenkin tietoinen ja monien kokeilujen tulos:

Tehonkestoltaan ehkä hieman ”ylimitoitettu” WGS Retro varmistaa, että Black Prince Reverbin soundi pysyy mahdollisimman puhtaana ja dynaamisena. ”Britti-soundiin” viritetty luonne taas tekee Bluetone-kombon soundista tukevamman ja isomman.

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Bluetone Black Prince Reverb – pilot light from PS

Voi pojat, tästä soundista voi tulla riippuvainen! Ainakin minun tapauksessani vain muutaman soinnun soittaminen riitti herättämään ajatuksia pikalainan ottamisesta.

On hyvin vaikea kuvailla tarkoin, mitä se on, mutta juuri tällaiselta puhtaan sähkökitaran pitää soida! Soundi on puhdas ja dynaaminen, mutta ei koskaan kylmä tai kliininen. Kombon sointi on kuulas ja raikas, muttei ärsyttävän terävä. Bassokielet soivat tukevasti, mutta ne pysyvät kuitenkin selkeinä.

Lyhyen MOD-jousikaiun soundi on yllättävän monitahoinen ja tiheä, ja sitä on tarjolla hyvinkin runsaasti. Myös Black Prince Reverbin tremolo toimii esimerkillisesti – tarjolla on kaikenlaisia tremolomuotoja kevyestä ja hitaasta hyvin nopeaan ja rankkaan vatkaukseen.

Tässä pätkässä esitetään Telecasterilla Bluetone Black Prince Reverb -kombon kuivaa soundia, sekä kombon kaiku- ja tremolo-efektit:

Black Prince säilyttää myös mallikkaasti eri kitaroiden soundillisia eroja. Näissä kolmessa pätkissä soivat Fender Telecaster…

…Epiphone Casino…

…ja japanilainen 1970-luvun kopio Gibson ES-335 -mallista:

Kombon erittäin terve puhdas soundi toimii myös todella hyvin efektipedaalien kanssa. Demobiisissä on käytetty – Black Princen oman tremolon ja kaiun lisäksi – analogista chorus-pedaalia, sekä Tube Screamer -tyylinen säröpedaali.

Komppikitarana toimii Fender Stratocaster, kun taas soolo-osuudet on soitettu Hamer USA Studio Custom -kitaralla:

Bluetone Black Prince Reverb – power valves

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Bluetone Black Prince Reverb – front view 1

Bluetone Black Prince Reverb on mielestäni erittäin laadukas valinta koti- ja studiovahvistimeksi, sekä sellaisille keikoille, joissa ei tarvita lavalla suuria äänenvoimakkuuksia (tai joissa mikitys ja monitorointi toimii hyvin).

Black Prince Reverb on kätevän kokoinen boutique-luokan putkikombo loistavalla clean soundilla, täyteläisellä jousikaiulla ja tyylikkäällä tremolo-efektillä.

Vahvistinta ei ole pilattu lapsellisella putkivoodoolla tai sekavalla graafisella toteutuksella, vaan vankalla asialinjalla mennään – ja hyvä niin!

Tämä on käsintehty, kotimainen laatuvahvistin. Tämän valossa pidän Black Prince Reverbin hintaa jopa melko edullisena.

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Bluetone Black Prince Reverb

1.500 €

Lisätiedot: Bluetone Amps

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Plussat:

+ hinta-laatu-suhde

+ käsintehty Suomessa

+ työnjälki

+ jousikaiku ja putkitremolo

+ soundi

+ master volume -säädin

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21/06/2016

Bluetone Black Prince Reverb – The Kitarablogi video

Contact: Bluetone Amps

13/06/2016

Now on SoundCloud: Bluetone Black Prince Reverb combo

Bluetone Black Prince Reverb – teaser 2

• Handmade in Finland
• Approx. 20 Watts of output power
• Single-channel valve amp
• Three-band EQ with Presence switch
• Valve-driven MOD spring reverb
• Valve-driven tremolo effect with Speed and Depth controls
• PPI Master Volume control
• Single 10-inch WGS Retro speaker
• Four preamp valves (3 x 12AX7; 1 x 12AT7)
• Two power valves (2 x 6V6GT)
• Can also be run with two 6L6GC power valves (25-30 W output)
• More info at:
www.bluetone.fi/en/black-prince/

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Demo Track (inspired by ”I Wish It Would Rain Down” by Phil Collins)
• Rhythm Guitar tracks – Fender Stratocaster
• Lead Guitar – Hamer USA Studio Custom
• Joyo JF-37 Analog Chorus
• Joyo JF-01 Vintage Overdrive
• Recorded with a Shure SM57

Bluetone Black Prince Reverb – teaser

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11/02/2014

Review: Bluetone Amps Princeton Reverb

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Bluetone Princeton Reverb – opener

Finnish boutique amp company Bluetone is yet to become a household word. Nevertheless, Bluetone’s dynamic duo of Harry Kneckt and Matti Vauhkonen have already garnered lots of praise with their all-valve designs, and the word keeps on spreading steadily.

Custom Sounds in Helsinki have recently started to stock Bluetone-amplifiers, and they were kind enough to supply Kitarablogi with a Bluetone Princeton Reverb combo for testing.

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Bluetone Princeton Reverb – full front

The Bluetone Princeton Reverb (current price in Finland approx. 1,600 €) is Bluetone’s handwired – and slightly updated – version of a 1960s Fender Princeton Reverb (in its AA1164 guise). Bluetone’s improvements over the original issue include a post phase-inverter master volume (PPIMV), a larger speaker, as well as an external bias point. The Bluetone Princeton Reverb is rated at 15 Watts.

Bluetone’s Princeton is factory-equipped with a 12-inch WGS Black Hawk Alnico speaker, but you can order yours with a different speaker, if you wish.

Bluetone Princeton Reverb – side view

Bluetone’s cabinets are made from 15 millimetres thick Finnish birch plywood, resulting in a very sturdy, yet lightweight combo.

The level of workmanship displayed on the Princeton Reverb really doesn’t leave anything to be desired – this combo is the real boutique deal!

Bluetone Princeton Reverb – full back

True to form the cabinet is open-backed.

Bluetone Princeton Reverb – valves + transformers

Bluetone’s Princeton uses three 12AX7-valves and one 12AT7 in its preamp.

A 5AR4-valve deals with the combo’s tube rectification, while the output section employs two 6V6s.

Bluetone Princeton Reverb – spring reverb

The amp’s full-length spring reverb comes from MOD Kits.

Bluetone Princeton Reverb – Warehouse Blackhawk speaker

The 50 W WGS Black Hawk speaker has originally been designed with Vox AC30-type tones in mind, and seems like a strange choice for a small Fender-style combo.

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Bluetone Princeton Reverb – control panel

This Bluetone is a single-channel combo equipped with a three-band EQ-section, reverb and tremolo. Thanks to its master volume control you can drive the combo’s preamp hard while keeping the volume levels down.

Our test sample was one of the last pre-production models; the final series has all the front panel lettering placed below the controls for improved visibility.

Bluetone Princeton Reverb – back panel

On the back panel you’ll find two speaker outputs, plus a jack for the footswitch.

Bluetone Princeton Reverb – footswitch

This rugged footswitch comes included with the amp.

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Bluetone Princeton Reverb – pilot light

For a mid-sized valve amp Bluetone’s Princeton Reverb is quite lightweight, yet it feels very sturdy.

Switch the combo on, and you’ll be surprised at the absence of mains hum and noise in general. This beauty is really quiet – great!

Many original Blackface and Silverface Fender Princetons have been modified along the way with a larger speaker. The original 10-inch Jensen sounds OK, but many find the tone to be a little too thin for their taste.

The Bluetone Princeton sounds much bigger and fatter from the get-go, thanks to its larger, 12-inch speaker.

This is what my Fender Telecaster sounds played through the Bluetone with clean amp settings:

Bluetone’s tremolo circuit sounds very tasty:

If you use the Low input there’s plenty of headroom to be had from the Princeton Reverb for clean humbucker tones (played on a Hamer USA Studio Custom):

But this little combo can also bare its fangs if you add some gain. Soundwise you’ll get just the type of distortion you’d expect from a low-powered, Fender-style amp. There’s plenty of bite with a healthy dose of compression and an open-sounding mid-range. Don’t expect oodles of cream from this combo, but if you’re after a gritty Sixties and early Seventies Blues- and Rock-vibe, the Bluetone Princeton Reverb is just the ticket.

Here’s the Telecaster, plugged into the High input, with Gain turned up all the way:

Plugging the double-humbucker Hamer into the combo’s Low input resulted in these sounds:

The Bluetone reacts very nicely to your guitar’s volume control, allowing you to turn down for clean-ish tones and turn up for overdrive:

Bluetone Princeton Reverb – front panel angle

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Bluetone Princeton Reverb – Telecaster

In my view Bluetone’s Princeton Reverb offers genuine Finnish boutique quality at a very fair price. The workmanship is outstanding and the combo sounds fantastic. The Bluetone Princeton Reverb could be described as the ultimate Blackface-combo.

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Bluetone Amps Princeton Reverb

Current price in Finland approximately 1,600 € (Bluetone amp cover: 50 €)

Contact: Custom Sounds Finland

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Pros:

+ genuine custom shop quality

+ point-to-point-wiring

+ Master Volume control

+ high-quality, 12-inch speaker

+ fine reverb and tremolo-effect

+ footswitch included

Bluetone Princeton Reverb – logo

27/11/2013

Testipenkissä: Bluetone Amps Princeton Reverb

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Bluetone Princeton Reverb – opener

Suomalainen Bluetone on vielä melko uusi nimi vahvistinmaailmassa. Harry Knecktin ja Matti Vauhkosen käsintehdyillä putkivahvistimilla on kuitenkin jo monta ystävää, ja sana on leviämässä yhä laajemmin.

Helsinkiläinen Custom Sounds on nyt ottanut Bluetone-vahvistimia tuotevalikoimaansa, ja sieltä Kitarablogi sai testattavaksi Bluetone Princeton Reverb -kombon.

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Bluetone Princeton Reverb – full front

Bluetone Princeton Reverb (1.600 €) on firman laadukas käsinjuotettu – ja lempeällä kädellä päivitetty – näkemys 1960-luvun Fender Princeton Reverb -styrkkarista (AA1164-versio). Bluetonen tärkeimmät parannukset ovat vaihekääntäjän jälkeinen master volume -säädin (PPIMV), isompi kaiutin, sekä helpompi biasointi erillisillä biasointipisteellä. Kombon lähtötaso on 15 wattia.

Bluetonen Princetonia saa erilaisilla viimeistelyillä ja kaiuttimilla. Kitarablogin testiyksilö on varhaistuotannosta peräisin oleva kermanvaalealla tolexilla päällystetty perusversio, jolla on kuitenkin Tayden Smooth Alnico -kaiuttimen sijaan 12-tuumainen WGS Black Hawk Alnico -ämyri.

Bluetone Princeton Reverb – side view

Bluetone rakentaa kotelonsa tavallisesti 15 milliä paksusta, suomalaisesta koivuvanerista, joka on kestävä, mutta kuitenkin suhteellisen kevyt materiaali.

Princeton Reverbin viimeistely ei todellakaan jätä pienintäkään moittimisen varaa – kombo edustaa ehtaa boutique-luokkaa!

Bluetone Princeton Reverb – full back

Kotelo on Fender-tyylisesti takana avoin.

Bluetone Princeton Reverb – valves + transformers

Bluetone Princetonissa käytetään esikuvan mukaan etuvahvistimessa kolme 12AX7-putkea ja yksi malli 12AT7.

Tasasuuntajaksi on valittu yksi 5AR4-putki, kun taas päätevahvistin toimii kahdella 6V6-mallilla.

Bluetone Princeton Reverb – spring reverb

Täyspitkä jousikaiku tulee MOD Kitsiltä.

Bluetone Princeton Reverb – Warehouse Blackhawk speaker

WGS:n 50-wattinen Black Hawk on periaatteessa suunniteltu Vox AC30:n kaiuttimeksi, ja siten mielenkiintoinen valinta pieneen Fender-tyyliseen komboon.

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Bluetone Princeton Reverb – control panel

Bluetone on yksikanavainen kombo kolmikaistaisella taajuskorjainosastolla, kaiulla ja tremololla. Master volumen ansiosta etuasteen säröä voi käyttää myös maltillisella volyymitasolla.

Lopullisessa sarjatuotannossa etupaneelin teksti löytyy muuten nyt säätimien alta, mikä helpottaa tuntuvasti oikean nupin löytämistä.

Bluetone Princeton Reverb – back panel

Takapaneeli tarjoaa kaksi kaiutinlähtöä, sekä liittimen jalkakytkimellä.

Bluetone Princeton Reverb – footswitch

Tämä jämäkkä tuplakytkin kuuluu hintaan, ja sillä voi kytkeä sekä tremoloefektin että jousikaiun päälle tai pois.

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Bluetone Princeton Reverb – pilot light

Putkivahvistimeksi keskikokoinen Bluetone Princeton Reverb -kombo on hyvin kevyt, mutta samalla kestävänoloinen.

Käytössä huomaa ensimmäiseksi Bluetone-vahvistimen hiljaisuutta ei-toivottujen sivuäänien kannalta. Tämä kombo ei humise eikä hurise, ja myös sen omakohina on hyvin maltillisella tasolla – loistohomma!

Monia vanhoja musta- ja hopeanaamaisia Fender Princeton -vahvistimia on modattu isommalla kaiuttimella – vanha Jensen kuulostaa sinänsä hyvältä, mutta on monille kuitenkin hieman liian ohut soundiltaan.

Bluetone Princetonilla kuulostaa – 12-tuumaisen kaiuttimen ansiosta – heti kättelyssä hieman isommalta.

Tältä kuulostaa Fender Telecaster, kun Bluetonessa on puhtaat asetukset:

Bluetonen tremolo on hyvin maukas tapaus:

Low-tuloa käyttäessä Princeton Reverbin headroomia riittää mainiosti myös puhtaille humbucker-soundeille (käytössä Hamer Studio Custom -kitara):

Pikkustyrkkarilla on kuitenkin myös kunnon hampaat, kun vaan lisätään gainea. Särön luonne on juuri sellainen kuin voi odottaa pieneltä, vintage-tyyliseltä ja Fender-pohjaiselta kombolta. Purevuutta ja kompressiota löytyy sopivasti ja keskialueen sointi pysyy suhteellisen avoimena. Erittäin kermaisia, keskialuevoittoisia särösoundeja on tällaisesta kombosta turha hakea, mutta 1960-luvun ja varhaisen 70-luvun Blues- ja Rock-meininkiin Bluetonen Princeton Reverbin ääni sopii kuin nakutettu.

Telecaster (High-tuloon kytkettynä) täysillä gainilla kuulostaa tällaiselta:

Tuplahumbucker-Hamerilla (Low-tuloon kytkettynä) sain tällaiset soundit aikaiseksi:

Bluetone-kombo reagoi erittäin hyvin kitaran volume-säätimeen, mikä mahdollistaa särösoundin siistimistä ilman muita apuvälineitä:

Bluetone Princeton Reverb – front panel angle

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Bluetone Princeton Reverb – Telecaster

Bluetone Princeton Reverb tarjoaa mielestäni parasta kotimaista boutique-laatua kilpailukykyiseen hintaan. Bluetonen työnjälki on ensiluokkainen ja kombon soundi erinomainen. Bluetone Princeton Reverb on kuin taivaan lahja laadukkaan Blackface-soundin ystäville.

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Bluetone Amps Princeton Reverb

1.600 € (Bluetone-suojahuppu: 50 €)

Lisätiedot: Custom Sounds Finland

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Plussat:

+ aitoa custom shop -laatua

+ point-to-point-rakenne

+ Master Volume -säädin

+ laadukas 12-tuumainen kaiutin

+ kaiun ja tremolon soundi

+ jalkakytkin kuuluu hintaan

Bluetone Princeton Reverb – logo