First Look: Epiphone Blues Custom

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by GuitslingerTim, Aug 1, 2006.

  1. GuitslingerTim

    GuitslingerTim Member

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    My Blues Custom arrived yesterday in a standard-issue chinese cardboard box with no padding inside. Having read so many recent horror stories about boutique amps being decimated while in shipment, I had prepared myself for the worst, but my concern was unwarranted.

    After examining the exterior of the amp closely I was impressed by the squeaky clean construction--flawless is the appropriate term for describing the build. I really like the handle, which is wider than usual and made of a thick, doubled leather strap looped through two brackets that are attached with wood screws. Weighing in at a hefty 69 lbs, the wide strap makes carrying the amp with both hands easy and comfortable. The tolex is smooth, with tight fitting corners--it even smells good.

    I laid down on the floor with a flashlight and had a look inside, which was equally impressive. The opening in the back is covered by a heavy-duty steel grill, concealing behind it the two brightly colored 12" Eminence Lady Luck speakers. The two 5881 power tubes are Sovteks, and I'm not sure about the others. The two most impressive features inside are the shields that cover all five of the preamp tubes, and the size of the trannies--they are huge, about twice the size of those in my DSL50.

    I'll post again in a few days with a tone report.
     
  2. bluescube

    bluescube Member

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    Looking forward to the tone review!
     
  3. TopJimmy5150

    TopJimmy5150 Member

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    Make haste with the tone report! I'm looking for vintage sounding Fender sparkle on a cheap budget.
     
  4. Tuberattler

    Tuberattler Member

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    Let's have pix or linx!
     
  5. GuitslingerTim

    GuitslingerTim Member

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    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  6. bluescube

    bluescube Member

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    How does it sound? good/bad?
     
  7. utterhack

    utterhack Member

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    Guitslinger, I salute you! I've been curious about this one ever since it popped up on the Epi site lo these many moons ago. If the tone is anywhere near what the specs suggest, at this price it should be a killer (less the usual bellyaching about country of origin).

    Though it's academic for me now (an AC30CC2X seems to have followed me home :eek: - can I keep it?) I will be counting the hours until you post your tone report. Happy playing 'til then!


    PS - rear shots plz :D
     
  8. GuitslingerTim

    GuitslingerTim Member

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    My schedule has been tough the last two days, so I've had little time to check the Blues Custom out, but even though I was exhausted I forced myself to play with it for hour last night. :D

    I tried experimenting with the recommended presets in the manual, but realized this morning that I overlooked the switch that changes the EQ from independent to interactive, so I'll have to try them again tonight.

    The Clean Blues setting sounded good, but the EQ button was on the wrong setting. The clean tones are clear with a tight bottom end. In 30-watt mode this amp gets loud and has a lot of headroom. I'll have to reserve judgment on the clean tones until I can really experiment with the controls. Most of my experimenting happened toward the end of the session while working with the crunch settings, and I did get some good sounds.

    The Clean Jazz setting was very nice, albeit a little dry for my tastes. After adding a little more reverb I was very impressed--you can definitely play some sweet jazz on this rig.

    Texas Heat is what you would expect, a sizzling tone that would work well with single coils. I played solely through an LP, which made some of the settings seem a little bass heavy, so I'm assuming that most of the recommended settings are intended for strats or teles.

    Thunder From Down Under is as one would expect an effort at copping the AC/DC sound, and this amp can do it in spades.

    The last settings are called Classic Crunch, and as advertised crunch is what you get.

    The strength of this amp is in its versatility--it may well be the swiss army knife of amps. It will do anything from clean to very dirty without any pedals needed, and do it at moderately low volumes. I bet if a high gain pedal were inserted into the clean channel it will cover the whole gamut of tones.

    The reverb is nice, definitely better than the typical spring reverb on a Marshall, or a digital pedal, but not as good as a blackface twin.

    After trying the recommended settings, I turned down the volume on the guitar and started tweaking the tone controls and was able to pull out some convincing classic rock tones. This amp does produce a lot of sparkle in its tones, but the gain has to be controlled--I was caught off guard by how much it produces.

    The big surprise was the switch to Class A mode. The tones were smooth, warm and loaded with chime. At one point some of the overtones sounded like I was playing through an octave down pedal.

    There's a little fan in the back that comes on when Class A is selected, but it's not noticable until the amp is turned off. With the exception of having the tone controls dimed the BC is very quiet all-around.

    As of now I can't think of a thing I don't like about the Blues Custom except its weight. I can only wonder what it will sound like with some Tunsol 5881 reissues and some better preamp tubes. I'll work with it this week and report back this weekend.
     
  9. Roodboy

    Roodboy Member

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    Does the diagonal piece of cabinet on the front block the right hand side speaker?
     
  10. GuitslingerTim

    GuitslingerTim Member

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    Somewhat, yes.
     
  11. Todd Lynch

    Todd Lynch Member

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    built-in Beam Blocker
     
  12. GuitslingerTim

    GuitslingerTim Member

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    I just spent two hours wailing on the clean channel in the 30-watt mode, and I'm here to tell you the Blues Custom is a little monster. Tonight I had the eq controls set to 12:00 with the interactive eq mode engaged. The tones were crystal clear, sweet, and with lots of warmth. A tight bottom coupled with a buttery top end is hard to beat. Having never owned a boutique amp, I'm curious to know what a cork sniffer would think about the Blues Custom.
     
  13. bluescube

    bluescube Member

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    Seems like hte new Epiphone is putting out good amps. I like the Valve series but I wished they would ditch the dsp.

    The Blues Custom has all the features I want.
     
  14. Todd Lynch

    Todd Lynch Member

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    How much are these amps; ~$500? How would it compare to other ~$500 tube amps (HRDX, et al)?
     
  15. KeithC

    KeithC Supporting Member

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    I just got one in yesterday for my band mate buddy. He doesn't have a MF account so I bought it and had it shipped here.
    We tried it out last night.
    Pretty cool amp. The cleans are nice for sure.
    I'll agree with everything said above. It did really get smooth on the 15 watt setting.
    The high gain stuff did get a little noisy.
    We have band practice tonight so he will get a chance to crank it.

    On a side note.....when I unpacked it I heard something rattling/rolling around inside amp. I saw the little moisture packet had broken and all the little BB sized pellets were in the bag and rolling around inside the chassis!

    So, when he got over last night we pulled out the chassis and shook them all out.
    Works and sounds great.
    Of course is in on board and not PTP. We knew that though.
    I told him I think he got a nice little amp for a good price. As long as it hold up.
    I had a Hot Rod Deville quite a few years back and it fried. Burnt traces etc.
    All in all with just a little time with it I think the Epi is a great deal.
    More after practice tonight though!
     
  16. TopJimmy5150

    TopJimmy5150 Member

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    I have the Valve Special, and after recently purchasing a '76 Vibro Champ, I found the Epi to be WAY too dark sounding and lacking the sparkle the VC has. I really want that sparkle in a bigger, louder package. The closest I can get is bigger Fender vintage amps, but I just can't afford them, and the reissues just don't sound as good to my ears.

    I love my HRDv 4x10, but doesn't have the same feel as a vintage amp. I'm hoping the new Epis with their tube rectifiers, decent cabs and stock speakers, will posess that feel.
     
  17. KeithC

    KeithC Supporting Member

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    I can tell you the little time we had on my buddies Epi Blues Custom it could get plenty bright.

    It's outfitted with all Sovtech tubes so I told him we may experiment with some different ones. He is not much of a tweaker so I think he'll just make it work.
    Blasphemy!
     
  18. KeithC

    KeithC Supporting Member

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    Tim,
    One questing about yours. The little "grill" area over the fan. More like slits cut in the metal. Was the metal directly over the fan vent sort of folded or angled?
    When I first opened it up I thought it had been hit there and the actual metal was "dented" but after we took out the chassis it looked like it was made that way. It definitely didn't happen in shipping because the box was undamaged.
    It wasn't a concern to my buddy but I thought I would check it out with someone else that has a new one.
    Thanks.
     
  19. GuitslingerTim

    GuitslingerTim Member

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    I try to avoid disassembling a product during its trial period, so I have yet to remove the backcover. I'm 90% certain I'll keep mine though. When my next AMEX pay period starts I'll order a round of tubes and get inside it.

    What I can see behind the slits cut in the back is a fine mesh of sorts that presses flat against the interior surface of the slits and behind that what appears to be the fan motor, I'm not sure though.
     
  20. GuitslingerTim

    GuitslingerTim Member

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    It can get plenty bright or dark, you can have it how you want it.

    Better news--I called Gibson and learned the BC is a true class A amp--no biasing necessary, so if your buddy can pull tubes and replace them he can tweak with the best of us. :D
     

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