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NAD: BadCat Luca

boyce89976

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
8,209
This is a prelim report, as I only got to play with it for about 20 minutes at church this morning during a workshop.

First, a little background. I play P&W, at a big, multi-campus church in Tennessee. Our worship pastors write and mingle with people like Matt Redmond, Phil Wickham, Richie Fike, and Jennie Lee Riddle. It's an awesome place to be, and fortunately, the demands on musicianship and tone are very high. I've had a Matchless HC30 for a while, and about 6 months ago, found a BadCat BlackCat 30 locally for a "can't pass it up" type of deal. Both of those amps are obviously voiced very similarly, and both have that chimey, jangley, EL84 grunt for days, with the Matchless having a slight edge in high-end.

We have a new (to us) player at church, and this kid is just amazing. I played with him for the first time last week and his tone is just as chimey as my Matchless and BlackCat, but he has quite a bit more low end, and mid-lows in his tone that really fills out the space he's in. His amps are a Vox AC30HW and a Tyler JT46 (not your typical P&W amp). And he runs them in stereo to a single 2x12 cab with separate speaker inputs for each speaker. It's a really slick set up.

So after playing with him last week, I wanted to add an amp that would fill out the low/low-mid spectrum a little better in my tone, while retaining the chime I love so much. Enter the BadCat Luca. Designed as a signature amp for Jeff Kunde of Jesus Culture and Kari Jobe, it's essentially a Vox-style 12ax7 front end with an EL34 power section. Very simple design, with no bells and whistles. It has tons of clean headroom, and with the volume at 11 o'clock and the (non-K) master at noon, it was LOUD and completely clean! The controls are very interactive, particularly with the volume up. And the 5-way tone selector gives the amp a completely different voice... a little more jangely with less low-end. Using the Bass/Treble controls, it totally gives up the goods in the low/mid-low area. Really fattens up my Tele's. I'm using it tomorrow morning by itself, and really looking forward to it. I'll eventually run it in stereo with my HC30, especially when I'm the only guitar player, and will likely put the BlackCat 30 head on the emporium soon, as it doesn't make sense to keep it, and the HC30, at this point.
 

SirGilmour

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
10,051
The Luca is a GREAT amp. I've played one many times and often thought about picking one up.
 

boyce89976

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
8,209
Okay, where to start? First, I could not be happier with how the amp sounded today. I'll try to describe it, but honestly it sounded so good, I'm struggling with the right adjectives. Probably the best endorsement came from my wife, who is often annoyed with my playing/practicing, and isn't easily impressed... during the message I went to sit with her, and she told me that my guitar sounded "really good"... this is high praise coming from her! A couple of the guys in the band today also said things like "your tone is so good today".

On to the amp...

We have amp closets, and being the only electric today I took the opportunity to open her up a bit more than I did yesterday: Volume at noon, master at 2 o'clock... still clean unless I really dug in with a big open chord. I ran the treble/bass tone stack instead of the 5-way tone switch, and set bass at noon and treble at 2 o'clock. Cut was at 1 o'clock. Very similar to the way Jeff Kunde has his set up in this video (except he dimes the master, and gets some breakup from the amp):

I stand about 7 ft. from the amp closet, with a heavy stage black out curtain between me and the closet. Before warm up I had the closet door open dialing some things in. After the first song, I realized I had left the closet door open and went to close it, but someone already had. I honestly thought it was still open when I took my left ear out to hear FOH during the first song! This is a POWERFUL amp! It's probably on the verge of being too powerful, especially for a small room, but fortunately, one of our production members is building a dual iso-box that will sit in the current amp closet, so volume won't ever be an issue for me.

Tone-wise, this amp delivered exactly what I hoped it would. It was thick, punchy and clear without getting the least bit muddy, even on the neck pickup of my Suhr Tele with my dark(er) overdrive on. Speaking of OD, it took my Morning Glory (set bright) and my Archer (set darker) like a champ! There was a huge difference in tone between the two drives, which was great. With the MG it was maximum jangle and chime. With the Archer it was warm, open and punchy. The amp has great sustain without being too compressed, and with them stacked (MG into the Archer) it was all the lead tone I needed.

I run a TimeFactor and a BigSky through the effects loop of my amps, and BadCat always does a nice job implementing their loops. I didn't have to make any adjustments to the mix level of either pedal, and my delays and reverbs were clear and present without ever getting in the way of the dry signal.

I am really looking forward to running in stereo with the Luca and my HC30. I can already hear the tone in my head. ;) As I said, this amp delivered exactly what I was looking for, and is a keeper for sure!

Here's a not very good picture from just before the 1st service started.



And here's one back home:
 
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boyce89976

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
8,209
Lol, I actually used the Matchless cab with it yesterday since it was already at church. I think I have a bad cap in the Matchless right now, so I may need to have the Matchless worked on this week, so more out of necessity at this point so I don't have to move it twice. ;)

PS: Looks like your setup is top notch too!
 

BelgPJ

Member
Messages
581
Love Sampson designs - long time Matchless devotee, and the BCBC was a natural extension. As for the rest, different flavours and gain structures to get from clean to mean and growly Marshall when required

All bases covered for what I need them to do
 
Messages
2,068
Sounds like a cool amp...my buddy Hank Bentley used to be Kari Jobe's guitar player and band leader ( think he still plays with her occasionally)... Will have to check out Jeff's playing too
 

boyce89976

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
8,209
^Very cool! Looks like she was awesome on the Majestic tour... I know Jeff was with her then... There's another guitar player in the videos playing a Rick, and also what looks like a Gretsch... your buddy?
 
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boyce89976

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
8,209
One thing to add about the amp... it sounds much better at gig volume than at bedroom levels. Not bad at bedroom levels, it just loses some mids, and sounds a little scooped with OD pedals. Cleans sound amazing either way.
 

BelgPJ

Member
Messages
581
One thing to add about the amp... it sounds much better at gig volume than at bedroom levels. Not bad at bedroom levels, it just loses some mids, and sounds a little scooped with OD pedals. Cleans sound amazing either way.
The Indy is the same. To achieve the best tonal balance, I dime the MV and attenuate for studio work if required. It's spikey / trebbly unless the El34's are cooking IME

Less of an issue on the Black Cat though, but power tube saturation is what these circuits are all about for me, so I run MVs high nevertheless
 

He_Ma

Member
Messages
1,529
Nice amp! How do you think it compares to your Black Cat? If I can see it right you have Black cat with K-master volume? I picked new Black Cat and 2x12cab few weeks ago and I really love it! And Jeffrey Kunde really has amazing tones and is my favourite P&W guitarist :)

BTW do you play any fuzzes with your Cats or Matchless?
 

boyce89976

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
8,209
The Indy is the same. To achieve the best tonal balance, I dime the MV and attenuate for studio work if required. It's spikey / trebbly unless the El34's are cooking IME

Less of an issue on the Black Cat though, but power tube saturation is what these circuits are all about for me, so I run MVs high nevertheless
Totally agree. Kunde runs his MV dimed, and I'm not going to argue with him!
 

boyce89976

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
8,209
Nice amp! How do you think it compares to your Black Cat? If I can see it right you have Black cat with K-master volume? I picked new Black Cat and 2x12cab few weeks ago and I really love it! And Jeffrey Kunde really has amazing tones and is my favourite P&W guitarist :)

BTW do you play any fuzzes with your Cats or Matchless?
Thanks man! It's cleaner than the BC, but not quite as chimey. My BC is actually a 2012 version before the K-Master. I don't have any fuzz pedals but had a JHS Moonshine for a while and it was usable with the gain maxed out on the "proof" side.
 

He_Ma

Member
Messages
1,529
I would have quessed Luca to to be more gainy and less chimey, since it has EL34s, but I was wrong about the first part:) Maybe it's just those 10 extra watts then that make it cleaner.
 




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