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.

The Details

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.