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With its vintage accoutrements of basketweave grille cloth, white piping and tan/black tolex covering, the Renegade is an intimidating looking beast. A large number of options are available to the player right on the front panel, which is sectioned off into two preamp sections—one for clean and one for dirtier tones—and one master control area. Each preamp control area features a 3-band EQ, individual Gain, Volume and Tube Mix controls, and three mini-switches to control various functions. The first of these three is a Wattage Selector, which toggles the output section between either 65 or 18 watts. Next in line are Egnater’s signature “Tight and Bright” voicing switches. The first is a response switch: set for Tight, it gives the preamp a percussive attack; set for Deep, it produces a looser, spongier feel. The Bright/Normal switch gives the option of running the desired preamp in a normal mode, or a brighter mode with more harmonics in the upper register.
For those unfamiliar with Egnater’s Tube Mix feature, each preamp can be set for a specific blend of 6L6 and EL34-generated frequencies. This is especially useful for those who really like the midrange grind and cut of higher-wattage British tube amps, but also really enjoy the depth and bounce provided by their American cousins. This feature is a very popular option in Egnater amps, and one of the things that really put them on the map. Finally, the master control area sports separate Reverb controls for each channel, along with Master Density and Presence, a Main overall Master and an additional footswitchable Second Master for presettable solo/volume boost. The rear panel features a standard, footswitchable effects loop, footswitch and extension cab jacks, a speaker emulated XLR line out jack, and easily accessible bias adjustments pots (with test points) for those tired of having to remove the chassis to bias power tubes. Egnater had the foresight to make these readily available for those who need them, but also understood that maladjustment of these can cause major issues. With that in mind, the pots are recessed, eliminating the possibility of accidentally moving them while handling or setting up the rig.
For such an apparently versatile amplifier, it was appropriate to select a versatile guitar lineup to test it with. At my disposal were a 1978 Gibson Les Paul Custom, a 2008 Parker Fly Deluxe, and a 2009 Fender Road Worn Telecaster. The Renegade was coupled with a matching Egnater Tourmaster 2x12 cabinet, loaded with Egnater’s custom-voiced Celestion Elite 80 speakers. The cab has a pretty cool option of its own: you can have it closed or open back, simply by removing or replacing the tightly secured centerpiece on the rear baffle (this mostly came into play testing the clean and light overdrive tones, which I’ll mention shortly). With all of the EQ controls at noon and on the 65-watt setting, I plugged in the Telecaster first. This particular guitar, while it has that stinging bite a good Tele should have, doesn’t seem to have an issue with raspy high end, but still I set the Bright control to Normal to see just how transparent the Renegade’s channel one preamp really was. I’m very glad that I did, because the result was what I’ve come to expect from Egnater: a punchy, powerful clean with fantastic cut.
After playing around a little with the Tube Mix control, I found my favorite tone—the mix leaning a little more to the 6L6 side, right around the 1:30 mark. I’m a big fan of the clean tones produced by non-master volume Marshalls of yesteryear (good enough for Hendrix, good enough for me!), and that’s really what I equate the common Egnater clean tone to. It’s very “in your face” sounding, strong and vibrant. Even with the Bright switch set to Bright and the Tube Mix set to the maximum 6L6 setting, it still retains some of this character. It won’t replace your old Fender Super Reverb, but you wouldn’t want it to. It’s one of my favorite cleans on the market right now, simply because it sounds so unique, and harkens back to a vintage tone that not many manufacturers are chasing after, that of a vintage Marshall clean.