Allen Chihuahua - The Best Bedroom Blackface

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by MarkF786, Mar 2, 2012.

  1. MarkF786

    MarkF786 Member

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    I bought an Allen Sweet Spot built by David Allen a few years ago. Before that I had tried many amps and was never satisfied. Once I got the Sweet Spot, my search for amps was pretty much quelled. Recently I wanted to build an amp kit and the Allen Chihuahua seemed to have all the features I was looking for, and with the frequent 10% discount that's offered on kits, it was a great deal at $630. I documented some of the build in another thread so I won't go into those details, but the amp turned out great.

    The amp is a hot-rodded blackface Champ with Treble/Mid/Bass controls, reverb, master volume, and dual inputs (normal and -3db). The Mid control also doubles as a "Raw" control, which removes the load of the tone stack as your turn it up, giving you a more overdriven and somewhat tweed-like sound.

    Though on the one hand, it's a hot-rodded Champ, on the other hand it's like a single-ended Princeton Reverb without the tremolo. The preamp section is the same as the Sweet Spot (which is based on the Princeton), but instead of running two 6V6s or two 6L6s, it runs one 6L6 or EL34 giving you around 10 watts of power. Considering the original Princeton Reverb was only 12 watts, there isn't much difference. As most of you know, 10 watts can be loud, but the master volume on the Chihuahua let's you control it better (though you can keep the master dimed and use an attenuator; I've used both approaches).

    So how does it sound? Like a great vintage blackface amp! Though I've only had experience with a few vintage blackface amps, I always thought my Sweet Spot sounded as good if not better than the ones I've heard (and way better than any Fender Reissue). The Chihuahua sounds as good as the Sweet Spot, but with some small differences. The Chihuahua is a little brighter so I tend to turn the treble slightly lower than I would on the Sweet Spot, and the bass is slightly less, so I tend to turn it up a little more. I'm guessing this difference is due to the power amp section since the preamp designs are the same. Obviously having a 10" speaker makes it sound different than the 12" speaker; it would be nice if there was a 12" version of the Chihuahua, but you could always buy the head and a 12" cab. The reverb on the Chihuahua sounds just as good as the Sweet Spot. It doesn't have the tremolo, but I don't use that much anyway so I don't miss it. Having the Mid/Raw control and the master volume makes the amp very versatile; it's easy to get a good overdriven sound at a reasonable volume, and you can get tweed-like sounds from the amp.

    One minor thing to note is the specs list the speaker as an Eminence Copperhead but I actually received an Allen C1060, built by Eminence. When I asked David about it, he replied, "It is a modified Copperhead with a slightly longer voice coil for a little more bass. Eminence rates it 75W but I think their ratings are sometimes too generous. I rate it 60W. I've tried a lot of 10s in that amp. The WGS G10C is pretty good, too." I've also tried a Jensen C10Q in mine and I'm undecided which I prefer; the Allen speaker seems more detailed while the Jensen seems a little more loose and vintage, but I need to let them break in before I could say for sure.

    The only feature I wish the amp had was the ability to accept 6V6 tubes to bring the power down some (to 6W). David recommended how it could be changed and maybe I'll try it in the future, but for now I'll stick with the 6L6.

    If I didn't already own a Sweet Spot, based on my experience now I think the Chihuahua would be the only amp I need (at least for the blackface sound). Though I like the small size with the 10" speaker, just having the head and a 12" cab would make it slightly better (to my ears, at least). If you're looking for a great blackface amp primarily for home use or small gigs & jams, I can't recommend the Chihuahua highly enough. If you buy it built, it's $1000, which is only $100 more than the Fender Princeton Reverb Reissue - but vastly superior in quality and sound. If you're handy at building amps, it's a steal at $630-$699 (depending on if you buy it during a discount time).

    Allen's webpage has all the specs and a lot of sound clips. Check it out!

    http://www.allenamps.com/chihuahua.php

    P.S. As many people have said before, David Allen is a GREAT guy and a pleasure to deal with.
     
  2. FFTT

    FFTT Member

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    My old friend has one and I was really impressed even at his preferred low volume.

    Light, compact, sounds great!
     
  3. LJOHNS

    LJOHNS Member

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    This amp is on my short list for sure!
     
  4. kelvinator60

    kelvinator60 Member

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    Allen just makes great stuff. Period. Thanks for the review, I really want to check one of these out.
     
  5. kgradio

    kgradio Member

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    "I wish the amp had was the ability to accept 6V6 tubes to bring the power down some (to 6W). David recommended how it could be changed" would you care to share this information with the group? I just built a Chihuahua and was wandering the same thing. My guess would be changing that big 350 ohm 10 watt resistor to something around 500 ohms and then find the proper bias resistors to compensate.
     
  6. Couloirman

    Couloirman Member

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    I'm thinking of pulling the trigger on the Chihuahua as well. Now that the honeymoon phase is over, how much are you liking the amp still? Would you say it is a pretty easy build? He will be releasing MUCH more detailed instruction of it by the end of the year and I plan to buy it then and get to soldering! Still feel like a 12" would be better for this amp? I am either going to build the head and pair it with a 2x10 cabinet (with Eminence Red Fangs probably), or 1x12 combo with a tone tubby.
     
  7. LPMojoGL

    LPMojoGL Music Room Superstar Supporting Member

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    I had the Allen Classic 10 for a short time. I believe it is a close relative to the chihuahua.
    That 10 watts rang my ears. It was a great sounding amp that I felt could cover old rocknroll tunes well. Had that punch, ya know. I have many times wished that I didn't sell it.
     
  8. GTRJohnny

    GTRJohnny Member

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    From the photos and specs, it looks like a 12 would be tight. If it fit side-to-side, it would be cool to throw a Neo in there. The thing would be about the weight of the dog it's named after! ;)
     
  9. V2

    V2 Member

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    I love my Accomplice, but now I must sell it (to make room for new stuff). The Accomplice is a surprisingly good basement amp. Killer cleans as you'd expect, but it also sound amazing when I run through my trifecta of Barber pedals (not a Barber Trifecta, but three others :))

    On the bright side, I'll start building an Encore in the next few weeks!
     
  10. jpervin

    jpervin Member

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    I bought a Chihuahua combo (non-MV) from a TGPer a few months ago. Already did a speaker swap and am in the process of changing the JJ/EH tubes to new/NOS Tung Sol's.
    This thread has got me wondering how much trouble would it be for David to add a MV and extra input if I sent him the chassis.
    Hmmmm......
     
  11. V2

    V2 Member

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    A bit of a hassle. The faceplate would be ruined - especially if you put it up front. There might be room on the back face, but that isn't all that user friendly.

    EDIT - maybe there is room and David could put on the new faceplate? Is the new Chihuahua the same size as the old one?
     
  12. cereal

    cereal Member

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    All the gizmos would kill the vibe for me. Especially the master.
     
  13. V2

    V2 Member

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    MVs are not gizmos and don't kill vibes. The Allen master is as good as they come, as far as electronics are concerned.
     
  14. Looper

    Looper Member

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    I bought an Allen Chihuahua used without MV too. I had my tech install the London Power scaler and it works perfectly with this amp. It has both an MV and a power scaling pot as well. I love the fact that i can balance the two. Its like rebiasing the amp at each sweet spot. Didn't get to hear the Allem MV but based upon what the London does, I think it may even be more flexible although I'm sure Dave makes a great MV. This amp is the best amp I've owned. Sold a '69 Silverface Champ and don't regret for a minute.
     
  15. natmiss

    natmiss Member

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    Huge Allen fan here! My amp search ended when I bought my first Old Flame
     
  16. cereal

    cereal Member

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    For many people MV's do kill the vibe on low watt practice amps.
     
  17. V2

    V2 Member

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    Yeah I am a big fan of Kevin O'Connor's stuff. I email him with tech questions weekly.

    The Allen MV is identical to one of the PPI-MVs illustrated in Kevin's TUT4 book. Your tech might have installed a pre- or post-PI MV. Either way, you get amazing tones and versatility with the MV plus PS pot. Can't be beat.

    Most conventional MVs do affect tone more than they need to. It's all in the implementation.
     
  18. RCCola

    RCCola (|@ / \ @ |.)

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    Interesting. Will check out the schematics on this amp. I've had a Class Act with Reverb for years. Accepts any octal. Wonder how it differs from the Chih.
     
  19. jpervin

    jpervin Member

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    AFAIK, the pre-MV Chihuahua is the same size as the post-MV one.
     
  20. spiral

    spiral Member

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    I am a current Sweet Spot owner but am looking at building a Chihuahua to get a master volume. I'm curious about how noisy the amp is compared to the Sweet Spot. The Sweet Spot has the inherent Fender issue of a noisy reverb tank and i was wondering if the Chihuahua improves on that at all, or if the lower wattage helps alleviate that. Ultimately i want a very noise-free amp for recording.
     

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