Tone Reports from amp hunt: Reinhardt, Bogner, Fuchs, BadCat, Orange, with pics :)

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by NatDeroxL7, Jan 13, 2008.

  1. NatDeroxL7

    NatDeroxL7 Member

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    Backstory: I had to sell my Bogner Ecstasy halfstack because starting in may I would rarely be playing out, move alot, and unable to indulge in my love for 120 watt halfstacks anymore. I would also be seeing far less playing time than I would like. I needed a small amp that was versatile and able to manage 'okay' tones at "bedroom" volumes (I hate that term)....which means able to play for 30-45 minutes a few days a week without hearing damage. I also wanted to be able to really open it up, maybe once a month if I get the chance, and get some great big sounds out of it to remind me of what it was once like to have 4 12 inch speakers pounding away.

    I play many different styles, from Iron Maiden, to Kings of Leon, to Radiohead, to my own little riffs and phrases that I never bother to organize into songs, to Muse...changes alot too, always evolving... I really hate just copping tones though, so I set out just to find tones that fit my personality, my taste, and make the songs adapt to me!

    Here is the report of my Amp Hunt Adventure......

    Played with a Gibson LP Supreme, WCR Godwood Bridge, Darkburst Neck, RS premium modern kit, Lava ELC cable, and V-Pick Psycho!!!

    I played a Reinhardt JKC33 1x12 combo, which was absolutely a tone machine, but not enough high gain range to suffice as my only amp, and no channel switching. I play too much stuff beyond vintage Marshall gain levels to justify the cost of the amp (very well priced, but with no income, everything is expensive) It has just a phenomenally warm, juicy Marshall crunch. Cleans were what one would expect from Marshall, nothing spectacular, but with those power tubes overdriven and the power scaling at noon or higher.....just awesome. The controls were the most intuitive and easy to use of any power scaled amp I have ever seen/tried. The other controls were very responsive and I love their tapers and range of adjustment etc.. The tolex job was of course, sexy and impeccable. As much as I know that this amp wouldn't have fit the bill for what I need....I seriously wish I had it, badly. I was saving for a new guitar but I might just skip that and pick up one of Reinhardt's amps instead, after hearing one for the first time.
    [​IMG]

    I played a Reinhardt 18 through some Dr. Z cab, I'm not familiar with his stuff. Also wonderful vintage Marshall tones, just quieter (well...with the power scaling on the JKC33...not a really fair comparison) and with more of the Marshall Handwired vibe instead of the big iron vibe. Again, too much of a one trick pony for my needs, and I couldn't really see buying this one over a slightly higher watt model with power scaling. Of course, for those who want to truer, old school, 'no volume reduction of any kind' rig, without unmanageable volumes, I can see the appeal of this guy.
    [​IMG]

    Played a Bogner Duende head through an OS 2x12. This amp had the gain range, but I have to say I was let down after having my XTC. Of course.....thats an unfair comparison, but every setting I tried I just thought...."hmm, a weaker version of channel X/ setting Y on my XTC." I never use tremolo, and I always use a reverb pedal so that was a moot point. This amp did have the best low-volme...dare I say "bedroom" volumes of the amps I tried. I was very impressed with the incredible array of push-pull-twist-switch gadgets packed into such a small head....big kudos on the engineering to Mr. Bogner...really cool little amp.
    [​IMG]

    I tried the HotCat 30R 1x12 combo. Great cleans, and an extra thick juicy overdrive with some nasty bite to it. I really loved this because it was different from the XTC so much that my brain didn't revert to comparison, which really let its own qualities shine through. The first hour was bliss, but as I continued to play it, I started to notice a few things here and there I didn't like. This might sound negative but it really isn't, this amp was on par with everything else I played but just a very different flavor. There wasn't much of a mid-gain area on the gain channel. However, there was some seriously good mid-gain crunch on the clean channel as it was opened up, and the volumes at which it started to break were right in that sweet spot where there is enough headroom below, but it isn't so loud it hurts. However it did leave the options for the channel set-up as either Clean-Scream, or Crunch-Scream, and I think I would have missed having a Crunch-Scream setup. I did LOVE the mid switch...it was just like how the guy at the shop explained it...Rectumfrier schooped mids on the '-', Marshall on the '0', and Fender on the '+'. How cool is that, so simple, so effective! There was noise....but I am also 99% sure my guitar has a bad ground, so I can't say it was the amps fault. Hard to dial in sounds for sure! Not a bad thing, but just a word of warning not to let the first 20 minutes with the amp scare you away. Sometimes, I felt that the brilliance control got way too bright past 10 oclock.....however, what was cool is that I could turn the tone way down on my guitar, and then crank the brilliance...it was a very interesting and unique sound...so maybe it isn't all that bad.....and I'm sure in a band setting the extra brightness on tap helps to cut through. Overall, it really suited my personality, the way I like to sound. Great open roaring overdrive...some say "fuzzy"....I think it has too much teeth to be fuzzy, It's about as fuzzy as an escaped tiger killing you after shooting it with a slingshot.
    [​IMG]

    I tried a Fuchs Lucky 7 combo (not at Rock Block). First experience with the 'dumble' circuit. I very quickly reached the verdict...very low headroom + no channel switching + no masters = not versatile. I thought it was a very refined overdrive sound, very luscious. Not my cup of tea, it made me sound tooo nice :Devil. I didn't spend long with this since I very quickly realized it wasn't going to fit my bill.
    [​IMG]

    I played an Orange Rockverb 50 2x12 combo, also not at Rock Block. This was cool...I can kinda dig the Orange sound. The clean was pretty...straightforward, should I say? Very well balanced across the spectrum. The reverb was well done, however I still would have used my Verbzilla since I like to have more variety than a spring reverb on tap. The OD channel was very 'rockin'. Made me feel like rockin out lol, it was a good low-midrange punchy overdrive, like a Marshall just with the emphasis shifted down a tad. The 2x12 was a bit more than I really wanted, but I figured that its still more portable than a head+4x12 so why the hell not give it a shot. It did the whole 'Orange Crunch' thing very well, but, like the Reinhardt's crunch, but more modern. I really wasn't digging the super-saturated gain sounds on this amp. It wasn't unique enough to not compare it certain settings of my XTCs blue/red channels, and it fell short of that ultimately. This amps master volume was really great though, to end on a positive note! There is much versatility in this amp just because its volume can go from a touch too loud for an apartment or house with a family, to way too loud, and have a relatively consistent tone.
    [​IMG]



    After playing all these amps, nothing had really grabbed me. They all were very strong in their own rights, but I was still somewhat underwhelmed after being used to a Bogner Ecstasy half stack. I was having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that being unable to sport a stack might mean that I really do have to give up some of that big sound and high versatility.

    I thought about it overnight, and came to the conclusion that while nothing will ever replace my XTC 1 for 1, I narrowed down my priorities to:

    -1x12 combo, if not that, head+cab, if not that, 2x12 combo
    -A lively clean
    -A crunch somewhere in the amp
    -A scream somewhere in the amp, that was mean
    -Capable of channel switching, period
    -Capable of tolerable home practice tones...I mean, I'm not playing for anyone....but can be opened up to rock out when the opportunity arises.

    The HotCat fit them all the best of what I tried. Not perfect, but I really did love that amp and figured unless they make a 30 watt XTC 1x12 combo (how AWESOME would that be!!!!!!!) it was a great choice, pretty versatile and phenomenal, unique tone. So I was about to settle on the HotCat, but the guy a the store, Rock Block Guitars in Nashville, I forget the name of the employee, had been watching and came over and said 'Hey, not many people know about this one, but it sounds huge like a marshall stack, its really sweet'......

    It was a BadCat Custom Shop A/B 50, in GREEN (my fave). The only 6l6 BadCat, one of the few class A/B BadCats...Quite a unique character. Features very similar to HotCat. SS/Tube rectifier, 2 channels, almost identical controls, FX loop and so on...
    [​IMG]

    I plugged into this baby's gain channel and let her rip....wheeeee was it fun. Not quite as thick as the HotCat, much more controllable gain, but still could get into the same reaches of Metal as the HotCat...I though it had a much better taper. A great open gritty mid-range overdrive, from crunch to all out scream. I felt like I was getting my dream-Marshall tones from it (which are not standard Marshall tones, they are my own version) Imagine how surprised I was to find out, after putting down my deposit...that it was actually 6l6!!!! I thought for sure it was EL34 the whole time. The clean channel was very swirly and juicy, with some great chime...very alive, very similar to the HotCat, but it has Bass and Treble, instead of a 5 position switch. The best part is that the clean started to break up into this really raunchy crunch at about 10 oclock, which was damned loud, but at that point I didn't care it sounded so cool. Very dense crunch, rocky...I played it just like that for long enough to run out of things to play and start repeating myself haha, I'm sure the customers there appreciated it. The best part is that this amp really sounded enormous. I think they must have put some souped up trannies in this thing, because it was majorly loud, and sounded gigantic. It really felt like I was back playing a 120watt halfstack. SO COOL. However, They were missing the footswitch and said it would take a couple weeks for it to come in, but the real sad part came with I saw the price...$400 more than the HotCat, and $200 more than I could afford. I told them I really loved that amp, but I only had XXXX and would need a bit to save the extra $200 since I only take home about $100 a month after expenses. So, leaving it at that, I went home to hope I could find one online used. As I was searching, I got a phone call from them (Rock Block Guitars, Nashville)....Not only did they offer to give me the footswitch from the HotCat (works the same)...but they gave me a GREAT deal on the amp which put it right in my budget range!! So now I have a half deposit on it and am going in on Tuesday to pay it off and take her home!!!

    So, major +1 to BadCat for making a kickass combo amp that satisfies stack nuts like myself, and a major +1 to Rock Block for helping me out and tolerating my horrendous playing for a couple days.
     
  2. freaksho

    freaksho Member

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    cool. glad you found one that tickled your ears. and a good deal too - congrats!

    since you were coming from a Bogner did you happen to try a Shiva in your search? i wonder what you would have thought about the 6L6 version. (as my sig implies, i'm on the hunt for one and gassin bad!)
     
  3. FFTT

    FFTT Member

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    Wait till you try it with your different guitars.

    It's really amazing how one amp can give you so many tonal variations.

    The ABY pedal is great too because you can set the clean channel to stay clean or just at a good rhythm crunch and set the OD for your leads
    and then switch or blend the two channels.

    Now all you need is a 2X12 extension cabinet :)
     
  4. NatDeroxL7

    NatDeroxL7 Member

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    lol, I'm a pretty big tone noob...for instance, since posting this I have learned that the lucky 7 isn't actually dumble circuit like I thought it was...doesn't really change the way I heard it and/or liked it....but oh well!

    I just try to use as much TGP rhetoric as I can since that A) helps people locate the thread via searches, and B) eases communication.

    It's been a fun adventure, maybe I should just keep pretending I'm looking for an amp so I can do this more often...

    or maybe thats a bad choice since it might spark the GAS again hahahaha
     
  5. motokev

    motokev Member

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    i agree, great write-up. I've played or owned a few of these amps. I like the Orange Rockerverb. But, I personally think the SHIVA offer the best clean and overdrive of any combo. I can't compare to the BC custom, never played one. I currently enjoy my Genz Benz Black Pearl. But, i think its compariable to a BC cub II, but a little better. Its difficult to find BC locally. I bought the CUB II on a whim......it wasn't my cup of tea. I think I'm like you, want a small amp with Marshall and Fender tones. To date, the SHIVA is the only one i've played that is close.
     
  6. FFTT

    FFTT Member

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    Well now you have an excuse to go guitar shopping, but first
    talk to Susan at Studio Slips and get a cover to protect your new amp.

    Since this amp is A/B you're tubes should last longer, but
    Mike at KCA can fix you up with back-ups or take it NOS.
     
  7. mcgriff420

    mcgriff420 Member

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    +1 great review.

    I too found that only a Sampson could cover my bases after owning the Ecstasy.

    While I haven't played the Custom, I know the hotcat takes pedals like a champ.

    Which works well for those midgain tones without having to crank it too high. :AOK

    ..
     
  8. SvenHock

    SvenHock Member

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    Great review!! Thanks for taking the time to write this up!!
     
  9. FFTT

    FFTT Member

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    I only mentioned NOS 6L6's because Bad Cats ship standard with Ruby Tubes, MIC. Once he is ready to replace them, NOS would not only sound great, but last much longer.
     
  10. Fuchsaudio

    Fuchsaudio Member

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    NATDEROXL7: The Fuchs Lucky-7 has nothing to do with anything remotely Dumble. If anything, it might be viewed (electronically speaking) as a "baby Wreck" style amp.
     
  11. NatDeroxL7

    NatDeroxL7 Member

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    yeah thats what they told me over at BaM, I suppose it makes sense now that I think about how it sounded compared to those wreck clips on youtube.

    It's a great little amp, another one of those that if I could afford more than 1 amp I would probably have picked it up
     
  12. GoodGAS

    GoodGAS Supporting Member

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    Though it is a bit up there in $$$, the BC Custom Shop A/B 50 is a real sleeper of an amp...
    And I stumbled on mine quite a while ago in a trade deal and haven't looked back.

    I've not heard another 1x12 combo that is even close to being in the same class tonally with the incredible range of clean/crunch/gain/highgain!!
    So while I dig my /13's and 59HW'd...the BC is in a class all it's own.
     
  13. rosscoep

    rosscoep Member

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    That is one very sharp looking amp.
     
  14. fender23

    fender23 Member

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    I'm surprised that you can achieve "bedroom" - whatever that means - level sound with this size amp?

    So, in your opinion, does this amp best achieve the coveted Marshall/Fender best of both worlds?

    Nice review.
     
  15. NatDeroxL7

    NatDeroxL7 Member

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    My definition of bedroom is a bit louder than most. For me, bedroom = pretty safe for the ears, given that my job does not now, nor will in the future, give me a lot of playing time.

    I have no wife, no kids....I could give a damn bout the neighbors...so I can get loud at home, so for me its about ear preservation, not peacekeeping.

    So taking that in mind....my bedroom volume is probably significantly louder than most


    As far as best of both worlds.....I, for one, do not consider the classic Marshall, nor the classic Fender, a 'holy grail' to be achieved. So I wouldn't go so far as to say it can do that. I really try not to think about concrete comparisons when listening to an amp. I like cleans that ring, and have alot of natural sustain/swirl...whatever you want to call it. This amp has them...are they "Fender cleans"....I don't now, never played a Fender. I like my Crunch to be thick as molasses, and very gritty/raw. this amp does that well, not sure if its "Marshally" enough for a purist...but hey, I like it. I like my heavy OD to feedback well, also have some girth, but not so much that it is muddy, and to be somewhere in the middle in terms of compression...not to raw as to sound fuzzy but not too compressed as to sound lazery. This amp does it very well....i don't even know what the "classic standard" is for that trait hahaha.

    The BadCat has a very unique voicing, it is not a copy of any particular amp that I can tell, but it rocks! :dude
     
  16. cyrja

    cyrja Supporting Member

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    I gotta say looking at these amps..."which one of these is not like the other" :)

    Lucky 7? Corner Music with with 6inch speakers?
     
  17. NatDeroxL7

    NatDeroxL7 Member

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    oh yeah, way different, but I had never played a Fuchs before, and I have heard wonderful things about them, so it though....lets try it. i wish I could just buy up everything I wanted but when forced to be a 1-amp guy I had to pass. Someday.... :D
     
  18. Lution

    Lution Member

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    Very nice Review!!

    I hope you can post some clips. I'd love to hear your new amp. My XTC has been with me the longest of any tube amp I've had. I just can't seem to part with it, but I have thought about something else that sounds as close to the Bogner blue and red as possible in a more compact lesser wattage amp.
     
  19. The Captain

    The Captain Supporting Member

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    Cool reviews. I have a Hot Cat 30, and your tone report was pretty spot on, but I would say teh mid -gain crunch is certainly there, you just have to use the volume knob the guitar to find it, and not the amp.
    I'm not surprised wiht your eventual choice. The BC is my only "EL" amp, as I find that my ear just favours the hard hitting crunch that comes from 6L6's. Directly comparing my BC with the IIC+ and this is really evident.
    EL34's are great for old school rock/Marshall tones, but for modern gain, that smacks you in the gut, it's 6L6 all the way for me.
    I've had my BC for about 9 months, gets played pretty much every day, and the tubes are still fine too, so yours will last some time yet, at least a year.
     
  20. NatDeroxL7

    NatDeroxL7 Member

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    I wish I could make clips but I have zero recording gear, maybe one of my ROTC buddies from Belmont University can hook me up. Of course, then you would all know that I can barely put together a string of power chords well :D

    I would have to say that it definitely equals the XTC in the richness of its OD channel(s), however the sound is much more open and raw than the Bogner. The Bogner had that creamy liquid sustain going on the red that this amp isn't really designed for. I think that the A/B 50 might be best compared to a blend of the gain/low end of the red channel with the openness/raw nature of the plexi channel, if using the XTC as a reference. That is probably why it appealed to me the most, it had certain traits of the XTC but was different enough to feel 'equally as good, just different', as opposed to 'almost as good'.
     

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