A stellar 6V6 combo with inspiring, innovative options.
World-class workmanship. Gorgeous tones. Unique personality. Useful and innovative controls.
Pricey. No reverb.
$2,900 (head only)
BC Audio Bel Air 40
Ease of Use:
The latest creation from San Francisco amp designer Bruce Clement is a fresh take on that classic Fender recipe: a 40-watt amp powered by a quartet of 6V6 tubes. Okay, I’m lying. Fender never made such an amp. While the company used dual 6V6s for small combos such as the Princeton, they opted for pairs of tighter, brighter 6L6s in their midsized models. But modern builders such as Victoria, Carr, and Dr. Z have run with the 6V6-driven-medium-wattage concept, producing amps that combine the power of dual 6L6s with the 6V6’s softer, warmer, and quicker-to-distort character. Despite such predecessors, BC’s Bel Air 40 breaks new ground with a distinctive blend of Fender and Marshall attributes and an innovative and inspiring control set.
The Bel Air 40 resides in a Marshall-style head cabinet. The solid wood cab is flawless, and Clement’s signature “racing stripe” design is eye-catching without being cheesy. But the real beauty lies within. Clement is justifiably renowned for his immaculate point-to-point wiring. Here, the fastidiously routed wires with their sharp 90-degree angles suggest an aerial view of some modernistic metropolis. It’s clean enough to eat from, though doing so may invalidate your warranty. This is masterful work.
The amp’s most newsworthy features are its unconventional controls. In Clement’s words, these “allow you to reach inside the amp, so to speak, and re-wire the power section in multiple ways.” And guess what? It’s true. (Details below.)
The amp’s core tones are punchy and ultra-present. Thanks in part to a pair of hefty ClassicTone transformers, the fundamental note frequencies feel as grounded as bridge piers. Single notes are clear and powerful. Chords ring harmoniously, with superb string-to-string separation. The frequency response is vast. Bel Air can move serious lows, while the top end shimmers with animation.
Cranked, the amp has the hair-trigger dynamic response of a good plexi. (There’s no master volume control, though there’s a half-power switch that removes two power tubes from the circuit.) Meanwhile, the chiming, articulate highs have more of a Fullerton flavor. The rectifier tube is a GZ34. The treble/mid/bass tone stack has a vintage Marshall personality.
Those are Bel Air’s constants. Beyond that, the amp is something of a chameleon, depending on your settings. The preamp section employs a pair of 6SL7 pentode tubes, in lieu of the usual triodes. These provide crisper response and more clean headroom. But you can switch between pentode and pseudo-triode operation, with a softer, looser sound in the latter setting. It’s a dramatic contrast.
Not the Normal Knobs
There are other unusual options. One toggle alters the amp’s biasing scheme. The fixed-biased setting is relatively loud and tight, while the cathode setting is quieter and “browner.”
There’s also a 3-way bright switch. The off setting is the darkest. The two active settings are both brighter, but with different midrange contours.
The amp’s 3-way negative-feedback loop toggle is fascinating. “No feedback” is the loudest, unruliest option, yet it never gets sloppy—note definition remains excellent. The two feedback-on settings are more reined-in, with relatively taut bass response. This setting interacts with the adjacent cut and presence knobs, affording precise control over the amp’s high-frequency content.
Another cool feature is a “body” control that gradually introduces a larger coupling capacitor, altering the low-end content of your tones. It’s especially useful for trimming lows from heavily overdriven sounds, adding definition for those times when you don’t happen to desire stoner sludge.
A final nifty feature is a tone-circuit bypass switch. These vintage-style tone controls are strictly passive: They only cut frequencies, and can never boost them. But bypassing the tone stack yields dramatic increases in level and frequency range. With a good guitar, the results can be epic.
These are interesting and useful features. In fact, the negative-feedback toggle, bass-regulating body control, and tone stack bypass yield such dramatic results that you wonder why they’re not standard features on more amps.
TheBel Air 40 is a magnificent instrument. Its build quality is phenomenal. The core tones are lovely. An array of unconventional controls provides remarkable tonal flexibility, not to mention a fascinating lesson in amp topology. Yeah, there’s an elephantine price tag in the room. But the amp’s multiple design innovations, unusually labor-intensive build, top-shelf parts, beautiful tones, and flawless construction more than justify the cost.
Watch the Review Demo:
Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the release of the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses. The new Relentless P and Relentless J series pickups feature the Relentless cover designed in collaboration with Billy Sheehan.
As with the Relentless pickups, we removed all the hard edges from the standard P Bass and standard J Basspickups, and added an arch to the top of the pickups to bring the sensing coils and pole pieces closer to the strings. These improvements increase the dynamic range and make active circuitry unnecessary.
The Relentless P and Relentless J pickups incorporate Neodymium magnets and produce 70 percent more output than traditional passive pickups, and they’re dead quiet due to the incorporation of metal covers and foil-shielded cables. To dial in (or fine-tune) the individual string output, the Relentless P and Relentless J include eight adjustable pole pieces. These pickups also have a broad magnetic field so you can even bend notes without volume dropout.
DiMarzio’s extra shielding makes the Relentless P and Relentless J better for both recording and stage performances. We’ve mounted them onto robust .09375” thick circuit board base plates to eliminate the annoying protruding mounting screws — ultimately creating a more comfortable and consistent foundation to rest your fingers on.
The new Relentless P steps beyond the traditional P-Bass sound and can only be described as massive. It has more of everything: more volume, beefier lows, a growling midrange, and crispy highs with better individual string definition.
The Relentless J incorporates a new invention, (patent pending) parallelogram-shaped coils, offering an expanded mid-range punch, snappy highs, precise lows, and a new dimension to the sound of the Relentless series pickups.
Relentless P and Relentless J pickups will breathe new life into any bass, increase playability, and work well for any style of music from Motown to metal.
DiMarzio’s Relentless P, Relentless J Bridge, Relentless J Neck, and Relentless J pair are made in the U.S.A. and may now be ordered for immediate delivery.
Suggested List Price for the Relentless P is $169.00 (MAP $119.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Bridge and Relentless J neck is $155.00 (MAP $109.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Pair is $296.00 (MAP 209.99).
For more information, please visit our website at dimarzio.com.
Mystery Stocking is coming soon! Sign up for PG Perks below so you don't miss it.
Sign up for PG Perks on the form below to make sure you don't miss the launch announcement!
About Mystery Stocking
Each year, Premier Guitar likes to put out these mystery boxes as a part of bringing some fun to the holiday season. Remember, this is supposed to be a fun holiday treat! If the contents of this box will ruin your holiday, deplete the last of your bank account, or end your ability to see the good in humanity, it may not be for you.
- This year's Mystery Stocking will cost $44.95. ($39.95 + $5 Flat shipping)
- Each box will be guaranteed to contain $40 or more in value.
- US only. (Sorry World.)
- Make sure your shipping address is correct.
- Have your credit card ready to go before you refresh the page. Paypal is not available. Autofill may not fill in your information.
- There will be NO REFUNDS given.
- There has been a huge demand for these in the past. We really did sell out in less than 4 minutes last year. When they are gone, they are gone.
- One per household, one per person.
Q: What's in the Mystery Stocking?
A: It wouldn't be much of a surprise if we told you, now would it?
Q: Will I definitely get my money worth?
Q: Can I return it if I don't like it?
A: Nope. All sales final.
Q: What if I live outside the US?
A: Sorry, US only.
Q. How much is it?
A. $39.95 Plus $5 shipping
Q. When will it ship?
A. On or before December 10, 2022.
Q. What form of payment do you accept?
A. Credit cards only. Sorry, no Paypal for this.
Q. Can I ship to a different location than my billing address?
Q. I tried last year and didn't get one. Will I get one this year?
A. There is an overwhelming demand for Mystery Stocking. Be sure you have a fast internet connection and be ready when they go on sale. Last year we sold out in 3 min 33 seconds.
Q. I want to buy 5. How can I buy 5?
A. You can't. This year, we're limiting to one per household, so more people can get in on the fun!
Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
Origin Effects introduce the new M-EQ DRIVER mid booster & drive pedal. Based on a vintage Pultec studio EQ, this unique pedal offers a range of mid-focused tones, from a subtle mid boost to thick, resonant overdrive. Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
A choice of three mid-range frequencies ensures that you can boost just the right part of your guitar signal and, when pushed harder, can elicit a range of saturation from a classic “mid-hump” overdrive to fierce “cocked wah” distortion. Thanks to the Adaptive Circuitry, the high-end roll-off of the Cut control is reduced as the pedal cleans up. This allows for a smooth transition from warm overdrive to bright clean tones in response to playing dynamics or guitar volume knob changes.
Introducing... M-EQ DRIVER || Mid Booster & Drive
Built-in the UK to the highest standards, the M-EQ DRIVER continues the Origin Effects tradition of vintage, studio-inspired tones in modern guitar pedals. The Origin Effects M-EQ DRIVER is available now from Origin Effects dealers worldwide.
RRP: 259 GBP (Inc VAT) / 319 USD (Ex TAX)
For more information, please visit origineffects.com.