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Bad Cat Cub III Review



The other day I had an opportunity to demo the final version of the Cub III 40. As a Bad Cat beta tester, I’ve had the privilege of sampling the Cub III series throughout it’s various developmental stages, as well as the opportunity to provide input along the way. There are several groundbreaking features that have me very excited about this new series. I apologize that I didn’t shoot any video (online videos never do justice anyway). I’ll do my best to describe every new feature in detail.

Here goes!

The Basics

The Cub III features the same Sampson C30 inspired preamp as the twin channel Black Cat. Like the Black Cat, it’s available with a 15w (2xEL84), 30w (4xEL84), or 40w (2xEL34) power section. The 40w version replaces the Stella and Luca models by combining both circuits into one model. It’s available as a head or combo and with or without spring reverb.

New Features

Big George, John, and Mike at Bad Cat pulled out all the stops to make this new series the most game-changing tube amp design on the market. There are several new features, a few of which are completely original innovations. Here are few worth mentioning:

Footswitchable 12AX7/ EF86

Previously the Cub II could be ordered with either a 12AX7 or an EF86 in the V1 position. The Cub III comes equipped with a 12AX7 and an EF86 installed. Either tube can be placed in the circuit via the mini toggle on the faceplate or the included footswitch. Though the Cub III is in theory a single channel amp with one set of knobs, the tube select function opens up much of the versatility traditionally found in twin channel amps.

Footswitchable Lead Boost

The other button on the included footswitch activates a 3-5 db lead boost when the bass/treble function is being used. Since it boost the tube used for the tonestack it does not boost when the 5 position tonewheel is selected. This boost can also be selected with the mini toggle located along the top between the bass and treble knobs.

Klimek Tube Master

The Klimek (Big George’s last name) master volume is in my opinion the best thing to happen to tube amps in a very long time. So many other onboard and outboard devices had falsely promised to reduce volume while maintaining tone, that I had lost all hope in attenuation. When George told me his original approach to control multiple variables simultaneously kept 100% of the circuit’s tonal integrity intact, I was more than skeptical. Man, I ran that amp through it’s paces, gain down/master up, gain up master down, and… of course… everything cranked! It doesn’t just control volume. It actually lets you boost the power tubes without straining them in the least. This takes advantage of those huge Bad Cat transformers, increases headroom, and increases those coveted harmonics that can only be produced by power tube saturation. Finally someone has accomplished what many had thought to be the impossible. If you’ve been searching as diligently for uncompromising power control as I have then please don’t take my word for it. Go try one of the new Bad Cat amps for yourself. It’s now featured on the entire Cub III series.

Solid Italian Poplar Headshell

Though the combos and speaker cabinets are still constructed of 13 ply voidless birch for tonal and structural reasons, all headshells are now made of solid Italian Poplar. This material is not only extremely durable, but much lighter than Birch ply. It reduces the overall weight of their headshells by nearly 4 lbs.

Aircraft Aluminum Chassis

The new chassis not only improves the shielding of the circuit, but reduces overall weight by about 2 lbs.

Improved Grounding

Big George went back to the drawing board on this one. He discovered a traditional approach to grounding tube circuits that produces a much lower noise floor than the time saving approach used by every other guitar amplifier manufacturer.

Effects Loop

Bad Cat decided to include a free passive effects loop in all of their amps. Enjoy!

Ohm Selector

This isn’t new, but the Cub III series includes a 4/8/16 ohm selector

Transferrable Lifetime Warranty

As with all Bad Cat Amplifiers, the Cub III comes with a transferrable lifetime warranty.
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Here's my dilemma, hoping someone that's played these can provide a little insight...

15w is perfect for most of my gig purposes - good enough on it's own in medium rooms, small enough to not PO the sound man in large rooms.

That being said,m I also prefer the EL-34's (40w model) to EL-84's (15 and 30w models)...

Is the K-Master good enough/useable enough to use the big 40w EL34 model down at gig volumes?

The fact that Bad Cat eliminated the 1/2 power switch tells me a lot that they believe it does, but woud like to get some othe ropinions before I splurge on a roll of the dice!

Anybody had a chance to play these yet...?

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