Tube Combo Amps Aiea HI
Pearl City, HI
Acoustic Piano, Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Organs
Guitars & Fretted Instruments
5 6V6-Powered, Low-Wattage Tube Combos
FOR MANY PLAYERS, THE 6V6-POWERED 1X12 CLUB COMBOis an American classic akin to mom and apple pie. This is thanks largely to Fender’s seminal ’50s tweed Deluxe and mid-’60sblackface Deluxe Reverb, but also in part the many great Gibson amps of those eras, such as the GA-20, GA-30, and GA-40Les Paul. The 6V6 output tube faded from use with many makers in the 1990s because of a lack of good new-manufacture versions—and the expense and scarcity of new old stock (NOS)tubes—to the extent that even Fender’s 20-watter for the masses, the Blues Junior, was fitted with a pair of EL84s. The arrival, however, of reliable and good-sounding 6V6s from the likes of Electro-Harmonix. JJ/Tesla, Groove Tubes, and others in recent years has sent makers back to this classic bottle with a vengeance.
Arguably the ultimate American blues and rock-and-roll tube for recording and smaller venues, the 6V6 has a sweet, musical sound with balanced highs and lows, a slightly gritty midrange, and tactile compression. It also has the “benefit” of putting out only about half the wattage of its big brother the 6L6, making it perfect in small clubs and studios when you want to hit the sweet spot without generating deafening volume. This month, we’re throwing five hot new U.S.-made contenders into the Cage of Death: three from new makers Divided by 13,Nolatone, and Smith Custom Amps; one from established California high-gainers Budda, and one from Fender—the brand where this mojo caught fire in the first place. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s bets-on-the-table time.
Budda Superdrive V20
LONG A HIGH-GAIN AMP MAKER TO BE reckoned with, Budda branches out into rather new territory with the release of the V20,which should just be hitting retailers by the time this goes to print. While this amp is an extension of the Superdrive II series, it also promises to introduce sonic elements previously not found in the Budda camp. In addition to Budda’s established “California high-gain” voice, the V20 includes a reworking of the company’s clean voice, with an easy segue between the two thanks to this amp being the only channel-switcher in this test. The V20 is also the only printed circuit board(PCB) amp in this review, but I don’t mention that with any derogatory implications.The brainchild of respected designer Jeff Bober,this circuit is laid out on a board that’s solid and extremely linear, and is accompanied by a lot of hand wiring, chassis-mounted rectifier and output-tube sockets, and a plethora of quality components. As with all Buddas,the control layout is fairly simple: there’s a knob each for Rhythm and Drive channel levels,a three-knob tone stack, and a Master Volume,with pull Bright and Thick switches on the Rhythm and Mid pots respectively (these pointer knobs are a little slippery to pull, however).You can also pull the Master to switch channels, although most players will want to use the included footswitch. Added features around the back include Send and Return jacks for the series effects loop, parallel out putjacks wit...