Every once in a while, a product breaks away
from the norm and dares to be different than
the rest of the pack. In the current golden
age of gear, there are many, many great
amps available—more than I’ll ever play in a
lifetime—so it takes something extra special
to stand out. In the case of the Dynamic
2040 HG DynaLead, I feel they’ve discovered
a way to bring something unique to the table
while still making it dead simple to operate
and get great tones. Like any good design,
you wonder why it hasn’t been done this way
before. To be honest, I’d never even heard
of the Dynamic brand until the amp arrived
for review, but I’m sure that will change very
soon. Again, I haven’t played every amp in
the world, but the 2040 HG opened my eyes
to a new design concept that works for me.
Let’s take a look.
||Download Example 1
Dynalead set to clean, Fender-like tone.
||Download Example 2
Vox AC30-style tone
||Download Example 3
Classic Rock rhythm tone with Vox-like midrange
All clips recorded with a 1974 Les Paul Custom, mic’d with an SM57 into a Chandler LTD-1 mic preamp directly into Pro Tools with no FX.
Built right here in the USA, the 2040 HG comes
in a mid-sized head box nicely adorned with
smooth black Tolex, chickenhead knobs, and
a cool woven grille. The matching semi-open
2x12 cab (MSRP $895) is made from pine, with
a multi-ply birch baffle and back panel, and it
houses two Eminence Wizard and Red Fang
speakers. The chassis is made from welded,
.125"-thick, black-anodized aluminum and
sports custom iron and high-quality components.
The head I received was loaded with two
EL34s, but it’s also pre-biased to accept 6L6s or
6V6s. Nice! Two 12AX7 preamp tubes, a 12AT7
phase inverter, and a 12AU7 reverb driver
comprise the rest of the tube complement.
Thoughtful appointments like the head’s blue
logo backlight and top and side handles on the
cab are both cool and convenient. The back
panel includes an AC power-cord receptacle,
two fuses, external bias meter connectors, a
PowerStep knob (which switches between full,
half and 10% power), two extension speaker
outs, a main speaker out, an impedance selector
(4 or 8 ohms), and three footswitch jacks.
The front panel looks similar to most amps at
first glance, but I did a double take when I got
closer. There’s a lot to take in here, so stay with
me. From left to right, you have a standard
input and, above it, a three-way bright switch,
followed by a Gain A knob and two more
switches—Grind and Channel A/B/DL. Channel
A (the clean channel) consists of a five-way
Voicing knob and a Thin/Fat knob. Channel B
(lead) hosts Gain B, Thin/Fat, and Volume knobs.
Next we have the DL (DynaLink) control—which
functions effectively as a third channel—and a global Reverb knob. Standard Standby and
Power toggles round out the front panel. The
Clean channel’s Thin/Fat is a full-bandwidth tone
control and is highly effective at tailoring just the
right amount of body for various pickup and guitar
types. The Voicing control is where the 2040
HG stands out: Positions one, two, and three
offer varying degrees of mid-frequency dips,
while position four engages just the tone control,
and position five completely eliminates the tone
stack. The DynaLink control, which is engaged
with the Channel A/B/DL switch, combines the
A and B channels in series to offer endless gain
and voicing options. Very cool!
With all these options, switches, and nonstandard
controls, you might think that it could be
tricky to dial in good tones on the 2040 HG.
Not so. In fact, I found it surprisingly intuitive
and was immediately able to pull up a very wide
variety of great sounds. For those who are gun
shy, the amp includes a sample settings sheet
that covers some serious tonal territory. Because
the sample sheet was so helpful, I’ll use the
three sample settings included and go over how
they fared with various guitars.