Posted tagged ‘Bugera’

The Great Guitar Amp Search Continues

April 8, 2010

I’ve been looking for a low-wattage tube combo amp for quite some time. I did a lot of preliminary research on the web, and I thought I was going to like either a Fender ’65 Deluxe Reverb ReIssue or a Fender ’65 Princeton ReIssue. I came to that conclusion based on my identified criteria:

  • plenty of clean gain, for when I use it in jazz settings
  • tube breakup when I need it, but controllable and not too loud (Master Volume important)
  • over all I feel I need something between 10 and 20 watts.
  • compliments the tones from my extensive pedalboard
  • not too bright – I like a balanced overall frequency spectrum
  • portable – I’d love to be able to throw it in the back seat and go.
  • multiple channels, for small gigs where I don’t bring my pedalboard
  • reverb would be nice but not essential

So I’ve gone to several stores and shops and tried out a lot of amps recently. One of the first things I noticed on side-by-side comparisons? ALL FENDERS ARE TOO STINKING BRIGHT. Compared to other brands, the Fenders are like an ice pick in the ear. Other brands I eliminated?

  1. Epiphone – I think they’re simultaneously muddy and abrasive.
  2. Marshall – I’ve just never been a Marshall guy. I don’t get it.
  3. Boogie – I had high hopes, but alas, it just wasn’t for me.
  4. Orange – I really don’t like the top end on this brand.
  5. Hughes & Kettner – nope.
  6. Laney Lionheart – loved the overdrive tone, but not enough clean gain.

SO WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE US? Here’s my narrowed down list. I like all these amps. Look at the extreme price differential! The Bogner is clearly my favorite, but I just don’t have $2500 to spend on an amp.

So all you guitar players out there – what did I miss? Where is my thinking wrong? I admit I’d be nervous about buying a Bugera (basically a Behringer). There are lots of unknowns about its reliability. But come on VOX – no ‘verb? Really? In a $1500 amp?

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I wanted to hate it.

March 9, 2010

Background: I have been looking for a low-wattage tube combo amp for a long time. I originally thought I would love the Fender Deluxe Reverb ’65 Reissue or the new Fender Princeton ’65 Reissue. After all, they have 22 and 15 watt designs, respectively. But after traveling to Sweetwater’s showroom and trying them out, my take-away is that they’re just TOO DANG BRIGHT. I like more fullness and tone out of my amps.

While on that trip, I was able to find two amps that I liked. One was the hand-wired Vox AC15 ($1399). I thought it was a very serviceable sound that could do a lot of things. But the one that sent me home raving was the Bogner Duende 1×10. I LOVED that amp. It had the perfect marriage of clean gain, full tone, and grit from the overdrive channel. Alas, the Bogner Duende 1×10 is freaking $2500!!!

Today, I traveled to Indy and went to Guitar Center. In the center display was something I wanted to make fun of – a Bugera V22 combo amp. I thought to myself – let’s plug it in and see what kind of shihacky sounds I can get out of it.

You see, I was prejudiced against the amp. Bugera (whose name sounds like you took a few of the most popular boutique amp makers and put them in a blender…primarily Bogner, Egnator, and Rivera) is made by parent company Behringer. Yes – THAT Behringer. The Behringer that got sued for reverse-engineering some of Mackie’s most popular mixer designs. The company that spits out dirt-cheap electronics products by “borrowing” from industry leaders. The Behringer that is well-known to be the “bottom-feeder” of music store gear.

I WANTED TO HATE IT.

But I didn’t. I sat there for nearly 30 minutes putting it through it’s paces – looking for weaknesses, comparing it to other amps I’ve played. But you know what? I actually liked it. I liked it a LOT.

Know what’s funny? The amp had a sticker on it that read, “$349”. Yes. Really.

You can read more about the amp here: http://www.bugera-amps.com/EN/products/V22.aspx