A variety of tweakable tones in a small box with a small price tag
Bruce Egnater is famous for his role in pioneering multi-channel amps with cascading preamps—an idea that’s rather ubiquitous now but was the stuff of dreams just a couple of decades ago. Today, he’s building on that notoriety by becoming one of the leading purveyors of affordable, feature-packed tube amps. His latest entrant in the field is the diminutive 15-watt Tweaker head and 112X 1x12 cabinet.
Utilitarian Lunchbox, Hearty Meal
At this point, it’s pretty tough for an amp manufacturer to distinguish itself in the so-called “lunchbox amp” category. Almost every company out there, from boutique to budget outfits, has a pint-sized tube amp—everything from simple-and-sweet designs to heads that cram more knobs and mini-toggles than you thought possible onto a miniscule chassis.
Egnater Amplification has already made its mark in the crowded niche with its popular Rebel 20 and Rebel 30 models—which allow you to morph between 6V6- and EL84-powered tones—but the company has found another way to wow us with the new Tweaker (which is also available as a 1x12 combo).
The Tweaker’s wow factor doesn’t necessarily come from such decidedly boutique features as those in the Rebel (although it does have several tricks up its sleeve). Instead, it comes from sheer bang for buck. The Tweaker is powered by a pair of 6V6 tubes—which is a welcome change for those who feel pip-squeak-sized amps too often skew toward EL84s. And it packs a ton of practical features into its face-slappingly affordable box while still managing to exude a vibe of relative simplicity.
The front panel features, from left to right, Power and Standby switches, a Vintage/Modern mini toggle, a Master knob, a US/AC/Brit voicing mini toggle, a three-band EQ section, a Hot/Clean mini toggle, a Gain knob, Bright/Normal and Tight/Deep mini toggles, and a single 1/4" input. Around back, it’s even simpler: Send and Return jacks for the buffered effects loop, an Impedance switch (4, 8, or 16 ohms), two speaker jacks, a three-position voltage selector (100, 115, 230), and a standard IEC power jack. The matching Egnater 112X cabinet features a semi-open design, a 12-inch Celestion G12H-30 speaker, and input and output jacks (for daisy-chaining to another cab). The 112X features a soft, utilitarian rubber handle, while the Tweaker head has a leather handle that gets the job done but feels somewhat flimsy. Both enclosures lack metal corner protectors, but they do have tall, soft rubber feet for excellent shock absorption.
Watch the video review on page 2...
Tweak to Your Heart’s Content
Although the Tweaker is stocked with several mini toggles that open up a myriad of tonal options, dialing in a usable sound is usually as simple as plugging in. I ran the amp through its paces with several test guitars, including a Tele with alnico 3 single-coils, a Reverend Pete Anderson hollowbody with P-90s, and a Schecter Ultra III with mini humbuckers. With each guitar, I found it nearly impossible to dial in a sound I couldn’t use.
The most logical place to begin tonal experimentation is with the US/AC/Brit voicing toggle, which alters the amp’s tone stack for Fender-, Vox-, and Marshall-style tones, respectively. Some players may lament that this feature isn’t footswitchable, but that would doubtless bump the price up significantly. My take is that Egnater designed the amp to please a wide swath of players who love plug-and-play simplicity but don’t plan to switch sounds a lot. That makes the Tweaker a great choice for both home recordists and players like me who’d rather find a sweet spot, then change up tones manually with tweaks to playing attack or the guitar’s volume knob.
Although I consistently gravitated back to the warm, well-rounded US voicing—which was great for everything from old-school rock to indie tones, rockabilly, and bluesy wailing—the AC and Brit voicings were also stellar. In all three, the Vintage/Modern toggle yielded looser, more lived-in tones in the former position, and a little more articulation and definition in the latter.
With the Hot/Clean toggle flicked up to Hot, each tone-stack setting served up enough gain for any flavor of hard rock and all but the doomiest of metal. I preferred Hot/Clean set to Clean overall—and particularly in the US voicing—for the more expansive range and reactivity to pick dynamics. And in that particular setup I could use my fingers and a light touch to get fat, thumping jazz sounds using the Reverend’s neck pickup, or dig in with a pick and any of the guitars’ bridge pickups for varying levels of toothy gain—from bristling Brian Setzer-like tones (think “Rumble in Brighton”) to raucous J. Mascis flavors.
I vacillated between preferences on the Bright/Normal toggle. The Tele’s bridge pickup liked Normal best because it avoided infamous ice-pick tones. But when I attenuated the trebles, Bright really brought out the AC30-type flavors in the AC voicing.
The Tight/Deep switch was great for moving between different types of guitars. At first, I liked Deep because it gave each guitar more oomph, but I also found that Tight yielded delightfully taut tones when used with the Tele’s bridge pickup to dish up spanky, hybrid-picked country giblets. And I don’t need to tell you how cool it was to be able to go from country-fried to a classic Marshall-style “brown” sound (think “Back in Black”) by simply flicking over to Brit voicing and Vintage mode!
Like most heads in the lunchbox space, the Tweaker doesn’t have reverb, but the effects loop enables you to patch in your favorite outboard unit without muddying up your signal’s front end. (I used a Strymon Blue Sky Reverberator to add sloshing dimension. In the US voicing, it was like having a delicious old Deluxe Reverb.) Volume-wise, the amp has plenty of power to hang with a fairly loud band, as long as you’ve got the Gain at or past noon and the Master set toward its upper limits.
When you factor in the Egnater Tweaker’s flexibility, impeccable variety of tones, and rock-bottom price, it’s almost laughable to fault it for anything. That’s not to say it doesn’t have its limits (for instance, its treble response can’t match the sweet smoothness of, say, a stellar boutique amp), but we’re talking about an amp that opens the door to a ton of authentic tube tones you can use in the studio or live—and at about the same price as amps we used to laugh at in the ’80s. And that makes this amp a steal. Case closed.
you need a slew of quality tube tones for very few bones.
you’ve got money to burn on multiple amps that specialize in various tonal flavors.
Street $399 (head) $249 (cab) - Egnater Custom Amplification - egnateramps.com
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Outlaw Effects introduces their next generation of NOMAD rechargeable battery-powered pedal boards.
Available in two sizes, NOMAD ISO is a compact, versatile tool that offers the convenience of a fully powered board plus the additional freedom of not having to plug into an outlet. NOMAD ISO is ideal for stages with limited outlet availability, quick changeovers, busking outdoors, temporary rehearsal locations, and more!
NOMAD ISO builds upon the legacy of the ultra-convenient and reliable NOMAD rechargeable pedalboard line originally launched in 2018. The brand new NOMAD ISO editions feature eight isolated outputs (1 x 9V DC, and 1 switchable 9V/12V DC) for even more versatility and clean, quiet power. With an integrated lithium-ion battery pack boasting 12800mAh capacity, NOMAD ISO can fuel a wide array of pedals, and will last over 10 hours* on a single charge.
Each NOMAD ISO pedal board includes adhesive hook & loop pedal-mounting tape, eight (8) standard DC connector cables, and one (1) reverse polarity DC cable, giving you everything you need to build your ultimate "off-the-grid" rig. A rugged, road-ready padded gig bag with shoulder strap is also included, to safely protect your gear while you're on the move.
NOMAD ISO S: MSRP $309 / MAP: $249
Dimensions: 19 ¼" x 5 ¼"
NOMAD ISO M: MSRP $349 / MAP $279
Dimensions: 19 ¼" x 11"
More info: https://www.outlawguitareffects.com.
Dunable announce new Minotaur model featuring Grover Rotomatic Keystone tuners.
The Minotaur's DNA is rooted in their classic Moonflower model, which Dunable discontinued in 2017. However, they have long since wanted to create a fresh take on a carved top guitar design, and various attempts to rework the Moonflower led them to a brand new concept with the Minotuar.
Dunable's goal is to give the player a guitar that plays fast and smooth, sounds amazing, and gives maximum physical ergonomic comfort. The Minotaur's soft and meticulous contours, simple and effective control layout, and 25.5" scale length are designed to easily meet this criteria.
- 25.5" scale length
- Dual Humbucker
- one volume, one tone, push pull for coil splitting
- Grover Rotomatic Keystone tuners
- Grover Tune O Matic bridge with brass Kluson top-mount tailpiece
- jumbo nickel frets
- 12" fretboard radius
This full-amp-stack-in-a-box pedal brings a new flavor to the Guitar Legend Tone Series of pedals, Missing Link Audio’s flagship product line.
Adding to the company’s line of premium-quality effects pedals, Missing Link Audio has unleashed the new AC/Overdrive pedal. This full-amp-stack-in-a-box pedal – the only Angus & Malcom all-in-one stompbox on the market – brings a new flavor to the Guitar Legend Tone Series of pedals, Missing Link Audio’s flagship product line.
The AC/OD layout has three knobs to control Volume, Gain and Tone. That user-friendly format is perfect for quickly getting your ideal tone, and it also offers a ton of versatility. MLA’s new AC/OD absolutely nails the Angus tone from the days of “High Voltage” to "Back in Black”. You can also easily dial inMalcom with the turn of a knob. The pedal covers a broad range of sonic terrain, from boost to hot overdrive to complete tube-like saturation. The pedal is designed to leave on all the time and is very touch responsive. You can get everything from fat rhythm tones to a perfect lead tone just by using your guitar’s volume knob and your right-hand attack.
- Three knobs to control Volume, Gain and Tone
- Die-cast aluminum cases for gig-worthy durability
- Limited lifetime warranty
- True bypass on/off switch
- 9-volt DC input
- Made in the USA