Comparing my Bogner Helios, 101B, Shiva 20th and Goldfinger

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by BrentSP, Mar 17, 2015.

  1. BrentSP

    BrentSP Supporting Member

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    Recently bought some Bogner 212OS cabs so each amp (101B, Shiva and GF45) would have a cab to sit on and a Voodoo Labs Amp Switcher and have been A/B/Cing for a week now.

    Compared clean channels with all 3 amps on the fly. Out of the gate the GF is spectacular. The basic heart of the GF's clean is just stellar with the tone stack to fine tune in what you want. It a bit of a challenge to make this channel sound bad as its just a beautiful clean from the get-go.

    The Shiva is known for its great clean but for me it took a little time to dial it in to compete with the GF's clean. It was paired up with a 212OS with V30s. The bright switch needed to be on but the treble had to be dialed back some to match up. The low end is not as clear as the GF's. Its a little congested in that area and dialing back the bass just removes the low end too much. Still super sounding but in comparison to the GF its was just a tad boomy and congested but was still pretty close.

    The 101B surprisingly kept up just fine. I had my normal setting that I came up with years ago and posted here >>>>>>http://bognerampforum.informe.com/getting-that-perfect-fender-clean-tone-on-the-101b-dt4723.html
    Now in fairness the 101B was paired up with my Bogner 412 loaded with Greenies on top and V30s on bottom. What I immediately noticed was it had more low mids......could had been the cab, not sure. Bringing the mids or lows down didn't help and the Excursion was on T. Not a bad thing at all just different than the GF. The chime and clarity was all there with the B1 set.

    The Overdrive channels were quite different from all 3. Three shades of Bogner without the chains and whips :D.

    Shiva 20th EL34 has a wonderful drive channel. Very open and toothy compared to the other two. I never found the shiva to be really "toothy" but once comparing on the fly, it is. I turned the bright OFF, dialed back the treb to 10 o'clock and pres to 9 o'clock to match the other two. Surprisingly, its a tad more scooped sounding with the mode OFF. This may be due to the added higher frequencies and the Shiva's big low end. With mode ON the mids and aggression come alive. One thing I didn't notice before comparing to the others was the Shiva's bottom end again is a bit congested and not clear.

    101B blue channel..........the end all be all of overdrive tones in my opinion. This is such a versatile channel and ear candy to play. I believe its a combo of the feel and the depth of textures this OD has that makes this channel so desirable. Just flat out amazing. Mids are woody, highs are sweet and low end is tight with a nice full sounding low mid. Its the perfect overdrive tone. If Bogner made an amp with just this channel and maybe a clean it would sell very well I would think.

    GF45 omega channel is glorious in 69 or 80s mode. Good news......in 80s mode with the mids up and treble backed to 9 o'clock its reminiscent of the 101B blue channel. Not as tight and the low mid thump is not the same but its closer than the Bogner blue pedal could ever get for sure. This channel in 69 is where its at for me. You vintage plexi guys would love this channel. Its a 2 gain stage bognerized plexi layout and with boost on, adds a 3rd stage that thickens the low end up for lead playing. BIG but controllable bottom end and sweet vintage sounding highs. The best part is how dynamic this channel is with just varying your pick attack. Cleans up beautifully and better than any of the other amps. Although with the 101B on N setting for pre eq does clean up nicely, it is a tad too dark unless your using a strat or bright guitar of some type. 69 mode has plenty of gain for my use, but takes any decent OD pedal really well. I use a EH Soul Food setup as a clean boost. The 80's mode with the boost ON will get you into 1st gen Shiva amount of gain with boost on. Its lowers the volume when engaged which is annoying but its due to the added diodes in the circuit ala Helios 80's mode.

    I'm so blessed to own all 3 of these great amps and love them all. I think the weak link of the 3 for ME might be the Shiva. I thought I loved it to death until I A/B/C them all. Its still a great sounding amp no doubt but I think I prefer the other two.

    If I had to have just one amp? Wow..... I'm not sure what I'd choose to be honest. I want to say the 101B but I would miss the clean channel of the GF. The 101B has a nice clean but pales in comparison. The GF's OD channel is so stinking good but when it comes down to it, the OD of the 101B is where its at and what I prefer. The Shiva has a different flavor voicing and it has a more open hellacious overdrive. I suppose that's why I have all 3 ;)

    UPDATE March 20, 2015: I changed out the EL34s in the Shiva and the top end is smooth and bottom end is much more clearer. I noticed the original tubes lettering looked faded and they were the JJ EL34L tubes which are more aggressive and edgier. I put in JJ EL34 not the L this go around and wow. The original tubes must have been worn out for them to make that much of a difference.

    UPDATE July 15, 2015: Sold the Shiva 20th. I tried KT88 and really like the clean channel but didn't like the OD as well. In the end I just didn't vibe with it. I really didn't vibe with the original shiva's either. There is some kind of weird, thick, slowness in the attack that I don't care far in both Shiva's. The 20th is definitely an improvement but still wasn't my thing. Not a bad amp at all....Justin Derrico can get some insane tone out of his but I'm no Justin Derrico unfortunately.

    Helios 100: At first........I wasn't too hot on this amp. I was using my new unbroken in Helios OS212 and the amp/cab was really biting and toothy. I could dial it out but with drastic settings. Just when I was about to give up on it and return it, I connected it to my bogner 412 with Greenbacks/V30s and holy crap.........there it was, the unbridle, holy of holy tones. To make a long story short, my Helios cab came with two V30s and not a V30/CB65 like Sweetwater advertised. After talking with Bogner and Sweetwater I got it worked out and they are sending me a CB65 free of charge. In the meantime I changed out the one V30 for a GB I have. I then flip the cab on its front and played very loud on the clean channel for 15 minutes. She is now broken in and warm sounding.

    The best I can describe the Helios is take all the decade plexi's, metal panel, JMP and 800 to modded marshall amps and stick them all in a Plexi style amp head with some Bogner pixy dust and you have a really really good idea of how this amps sounds. The character is a really rich and textured overdrive to high gain. Its unlike any Bogner made. The GF45/90 in 80s mode can get something similar but the GF has a more larger and lose bottom end where as the Helios is tight and controlled. One of my favorites is the EQ switch which when set on, bypasses the EQ section and gives you an instant GnR AFD tone. Just set the presence and bottom to taste according to your guitar/cab. EVH tones are all in here also, very easy to get a early VH tone with greenbacks and a superstrat in Jose A. mode aka 80s setting. 70's mode is where its at for me. I use SD Antiquities in my R8 which is 8.47k and at 3:00 it has plenty of gain. My PRS guitars push it a little more. Its an aggressive, lush Overdrive with great chunk. Plexi input bypasses the first gain stage and gives some very very nice plexi OD. Clean channel has no EQ, just volume, bright and presence. Surprisingly it doesn't need any EQ and is very nice and full sounding on its own. Bogner did well at EQing it with components.

    The bad: Honestly I can't really think of anything all that bad. It doesn't come with a footswitch which I think is lame. $20 will get you a dual LED FS so its not a big deal. I remember when I bought my first Engl Powerball v1 10 or so years ago I had to buy a $200 footswitch to control it......so it could be worse. There is a low level hum which for $3000 you would expect a very quiet amp. Its not a deal breaker and bogner says its the character of the amp which its actually due to low filtering but that's what gives it its feel also.

    Its a lot of money for what you get in my opinion and was a much more fair deal at the intro price of $2899. But looking at Friedman's prices it may just be in line with the market. Both of Friedman's 50 watter amps are in the 2700 range and his two channel with a clean eq is a very expensive 3699. So the helios is really right in line. The cool thing is I have a detailed schematic of the Helios now so I know whats going on. Its 100% modded Marshall.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2015
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  2. chris lykins

    chris lykins Supporting Member

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    Thanks for the comparisons!
     
  3. BrentSP

    BrentSP Supporting Member

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    Welcome :)
     
  4. Braciola

    Braciola Silver Supporting Member

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    Switch that 20th Shiva over to KT88's and you'll have a very different beast.
    I never bonded with a EL 34 Shiva before, but once I picked up a 20th with KT88's it's been one of my very favorite amps.
     
  5. lgehrig4

    lgehrig4 Silver Supporting Member

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    Have you compared the Golfinger 45 to 90?
     
  6. BrentSP

    BrentSP Supporting Member

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    No I haven't, that's something I'd be interested in.
     
  7. BrentSP

    BrentSP Supporting Member

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    UPDATE: I changed out the EL34s in the Shiva and the top end is smooth and bottom end is much more clearer. I noticed the original tubes logo looked faded and they were the JJ EL34L tubes which are more aggressive and edgier. I put in JJ EL34 not the L this go around and wow. The original tubes must have been worn out for them to make that much of a difference.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2015
  8. SolidGuitar

    SolidGuitar Member

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    Great write-up.

    You should record some clips of each, and post them!
     
  9. BrentSP

    BrentSP Supporting Member

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    Thank you. When I get some time, I plan on doing that. Clean, crunch and Overdriven tones.
     
  10. Killcrop

    Killcrop Supporting Member

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    I agree about the GFs. Clean. The bigness and volume drop to the overdrive channel bothered me. I could have made it work if I didn't have a 101b already. Great amps though. The Shiva was my first love but the mid gain tones are where I live and the Shiva doesn't do that as well as the 101b imo
     
  11. shanesiegle

    shanesiegle Supporting Member

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    I just tried a kt88 loaded 20th Shiva last week and fell in love. Would love to try the GF.
     
  12. flimz

    flimz Supporting Member

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    Im already in love with my EL34 loaded 20th Shiva.
    Have always wondered if Id love it even more with KT88s??
     
  13. Kentano2000

    Kentano2000 Member

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    Love my Goldfinger 45 for the reasons you stated and more, including the amazing reverb which sounds glorious through the clean channel. Can't go wrong with any Bogner, though!
     
  14. BrentSP

    BrentSP Supporting Member

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    UPDATE Part II: Installed KT88's in the Shiva 20th and I believe we have a winner! When I get some time I'll make some recordings of it.
     
  15. LPMojoGL

    LPMojoGL Music Room Superstar Supporting Member

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    I'm interested in your reassessment of the 20th in comparison to the other amps with the KT88s.
     
  16. flimz

    flimz Supporting Member

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    Details Please!! Im teetering on trying out KT88s in mine. Can you expand on what was gained and lost with the switch. Thanks!
     
  17. BrentSP

    BrentSP Supporting Member

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    I find the KT88's not so honky sounding and more tame in the mids but certainly not scooped. Plenty of mids there, just not overbearing. Also has clear definition from string to string. The bottom end is big and almost 3D, like a 3rd harmonic but on the low end. The highs are nice and warm but clear and defined. The headroom is unreal and will not break up. The clean..............wow oh wow.........what a difference. I'm to the point now that I'm not sure which clean I like better.....the Shiva or the GF45, its that good. Even the reverb is much better for some reason.
     
  18. flimz

    flimz Supporting Member

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    Awesome thanks! What brand KTs did you use and where did you set the bias?
     
  19. BrentSP

    BrentSP Supporting Member

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    JJ KT88 and 46mA with a plate voltage of 529
     
  20. BrentSP

    BrentSP Supporting Member

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    So the Shiva sold and now have a Helios. Helios review was added at the top.
     

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