Egnater Renegade Amp Review
March 11, 2010
|Download Example 1
|Download Example 2
|Clips recorded with a PRS Ted McCarty DC 245, with Logic Pro on MacBook Pro with Focusrite Saffire.|
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.
Removing the center panel on the back of the cab only increased the tone’s breadth, increasing its response and dimension as I turned the gain up a little more. Honestly, there aren’t many things cooler than controlled note feedback with a clean tone, and the Parker Fly that I had plugged in at this point certainly helped with its precise vibrato system. Switching over to channel two caused the Renegade to exhibit a more aggressive character, more in the vein of an old JCM800 or modded Super Lead. What set the Renegade’s tone apart from those famous amps was, ultimately, the voicing of the preamp itself. The upper midrange grind that those old British amps are known for had a unique “give,” one that made them instantly recognizable to the ear. The Egnater has a more modern approach, and its voicing has more of a solid, round quality to it, with a bigger low end.
With the Les Paul, I was amazed at the Renegade’s ability to stay smooth and controlled at any gain setting, especially when I was pushing it very hard in the 18-watt mode. I love the sound of low-wattage amps being pushed to the brink, and there’s nothing that puts in me in a Brian May mood more than hitting one of those amps with a flurry of licks from a great neck pickup. For modern metal players, the Renegade can handle it quite nicely, especially if the music being played is on the Tool or Mastodon side of the tonal spectrum. If you’re more of a fan of modern gain tones produced by American designs, the Renegade might not satisfy your craving, even at the full 6L6 setting. The voicing definitely leans more to the British side in any case, but is still capable of producing massive, pummeling gain tones with a very tight low end.
The Final Mojo
The Renegade was designed to cover a lot of ground, and it does that quite well. It still has the same tonal characteristics that you’ll find in Egnater’s other amplifiers, and sits on a nice middle ground feature-wise between their Rebel 30 and flagship Tourmaster amplifiers. It’s being offered in a wide variety of configurations: 1x12, 2x12, or 4x10 combo, or as a head with Egnater 2x12, 4x10 or 4x12 cabinets. Guitarists looking for extreme gain tones might want to hold out for Egnater’s forthcoming Armageddon amp, and the clean voicing might not be to every player’s liking. Personally, I love it, and the gain tones definitely satisfy my British tone jones. Not only are there a ton of options to craft your tone, they’re all useful in helping you get there.
you’re looking for a great tube amp that covers a lot of ground while remaining easy to use.
you need the most modern high-gain tones.
Street $999 (head); $499 (2x12 cab) - Egnater - egnateramps.com