Adding in the Channel 2 controls thickened up the bottom end and filled out the mids nicely. There was no lack of presence and a ton of detail, which will find you paying attention to your technique. Nobody will get away with slop on this amp, but the abundance of nuance is worth it.

The difference between EL84 and EL34 mode wasn’t much in terms of volume, but substantial in terms of sound. The extra bite of the overdriven EL84 was replaced by a full, bold, and chunky tone with a ton of guts and drive. I found the EF86 tube to be less gainy in this position but definitely more focused and round. Again the controls added more or less gain depending on their position and the mix of Channels 1 and 2 added endless tonal options. Moving from P-90s to humbuckers beefed up the sound even further, and with both volumes dimed I was treated to a roaring lead sound that sustained until it sweetly howled into harmonic feedback. The amp responds to a light touches too, exhibiting a capacity for ultra wide dynamics that ranged all the way to heavy and chunky.

The decidedly Vox-like sound is bright and present with a beautiful three-dimensional quality that had me banging out Beatle chords and Tom Petty riffs.

Switching to the 50-watt mode opened up the headroom significantly and I was able to coax beautiful clean tones from both channels one and two. I liked this mode a lot because it also opened up the ability to push the front end differently with a variety of pedals. Whether I threw a Hartman Germanium Boost or a Creation Audio Labs Holy Fire into the front, the Britain took it all in stride and brought out rich and incredibly dynamic elements that only enhanced its already impressive fundamental tones. One bonus of the Britain I enjoyed was the footswitchable tone stack defeat on Channel 1. Stepping on the included footswitch I was able to bypass the tone stack and get straight wire gain with added dimension—a nice feature that added fire and cutting sizzle without being overly bright.

The Britain actually supports two full effects loops, one for each channel. It’s an interesting feature that I’m not used to seeing on amps of this size. And being able to put a time-based effect on Channel 2 and a modulation on Channel 1 was a real treat—enabling me to dial in different effects levels and textures just by playing with the volume controls. The loops are quiet and effective, and while I normally wouldn’t find myself adding this to my setup it’s great to know that the option is there and that it works flawlessly.

The beautiful sound of the 8-ohm Celestion Gold cab is noteworthy too. The porting on the left and right and design of the baffle lends volume and dimension. And though the cabinet is relatively small, the focus and width of the sound exceeded that of any 1x12 cab I have used in the past. The bass response was huge and if I closed my eyes I’d never have guessed it was a single 12” cabinet. It seemed to mix the bass-rich elements of an open back and high-mid oriented tones of closed back cabinets very effectively—creating a tone range tone at least as open and defined as my favorite Marshall Basketweave 4x12.

The Verdict
Aside from the fan noise issue there, is not enough I can say about the goodness of the new Britain 3.0. It isn’t the quietest operating amp, but in the end I found the richness and versatility in tone hard to beat. The construction is absolutely top notch and the power and focus at various power levels found me forgetting about my attenuator. It’s clear that the Britain would be equally at home in a club situation or recording studio. And you can take the sound from clean to crunch to aggressive with a dial of just a few knobs. My initial concerns for the lack of a presence and mid control were erased over the course of my time with the amp and the styling of the head and cab are nothing sort of world-class cool. Regardless of price or power, The Britain 3.0 is a fine amp indeed.
Buy if...
you want versatile British tone in a compact and robust package.
Skip if...
you need bedroom playing levels and silent operation.

Street $2250 (Head), $750 (1x12) - Jackson Ampworks -