Gear talk for the GAS-afflicted.

REVIEW: BluGuitar AMP1 – Is This The End of Full-sized Heads??

REVIEW: BluGuitar AMP1 – Is This The End of Full-sized Heads??

Nov 2, 2015

The world needs a smart new guitar amp that can surpass all the expectations of the modern-day guitarist who demands the highest in tonal integrity. With that in mind, Thomas Blug and an experienced team have worked together to design, develop and release AMP1.

PB010014AMP1 delivers a wide tonal palette, from jazz to metal, in professional quality. Thomas’s dream was to put the immense power and character of vintage tube amplifiers into one small package that would fit into any glove compartment or gigbag – without compromising on the tones. Mission accomplished!

Big call, for a little amp. Does it deliver? That’s what we’re going to find out, but first things first…

Who Is Thomas Blug?

You probably can’t be blamed if you haven’t heard of him – outside of Europe, Mr Blug (hence BluGuitar if you haven’t got it yet) doesn’t enjoy a whole heap of name recognition compared to your classic guitar heroes, but it seems like it’s a different matter within Europe – in fact, they actually call him the “Fender Strat-King of Europe”! And it’s a song too: 

 So… the man can play. And is apparently a freaking KING of some sort. Awesome. I like him already.

AMP1 – Ready to Blast Off!

What I like even more though, is this fantastic little 100W amp that he’s designed. PB010016
Yep, you read that correctly – it’s not a preamp, but a fully-fledged 100-watt AMP!! Smaller than any any pro-level lunchbox head currently on the market, and it boasts an impressive feature set straight off the bat:

  • 2 channels (4 modes – Clean and Vintage/Classic/Modern)
  • Footswitchable Boost
  • Footswitchable Reverb
  • Effects loop
  • Noise gate
  • Direct recording out (which also means it integrates a power soak of some sort)
  • 100-240V compatibility so that you can use it ANYWHERE in the world

And that’s just scratching the surface!

Already you can see that the feature set is very well thought out with particular focus on portability and versatility, without compromising tonal integrity.

At the heart of it lies this little gizmo:
PB010015Yep, they even made the TUBE smaller. The “NanoTube” technology was apparently developed by the military, who must have been pretty keen to find a way to make it easier to take their large amp rigs with them on the road… Unusually, while most amps with a single tube to give “warmth” or “tube vibe” integrate their tube in the preamp stage, the AMP1 uses the NanoTube in the poweramp stage. I don’t really know the specifics of what the tube does – but who cares, as long as it sounds good.

So – Does It Sound Good?

Here – see (hear?) for yourself!

 As usual, I’ve tried to give you guys a selection of my favourite tones from the unit. The first half of the clip is the AMP1 going to my Two Notes Torpedo Live with my standard Mesa V30 impulse (so – this is meant to give you an idea of how the unit sounds through a speaker cab), and in the second half, you’ll get to hear the direct recorded output of the AMP1 using its inbuilt speaker simulation. We start off on the Clean channel – and boy does it sound good. It’s at its best producing pristine, crystalline clean tones, and with a little delay added in the effects loop, it just sounds LUSH. The Modern setting gives you fat, saturated liquid gain tones – think super hotrod Marshall meets Boogie. Absolutely beautiful for leads, though I did find some muddiness in the low end that I was unable to dial out when I sought to use it for metal rhythm tones. Vintage mode is the only setting that doesn’t allow you to tweak its voicing (via the extra controls hidden on the side of the unit). This is due to the fact that this mode is Thomas Blug’s signature sound and he doesn’t want you to mess it up, haha. It’s reminiscent of classic 60s/70s British style tones, and has immense dynamic range. It feels great to play as well. PB010017

Classic mode gives you more of a Plexi/800 vibe, and can confidently step into hotrodded territory with the Boost engaged.

Overall, I thought that the AMP1’s tones were freaking awesome. It’s a big ask to fit 4 distinct amp modes into an amp that you can throw in your carry-on or laptop bag, AND still have it nail the feel and dynamics of playing through a proper tube amp, but somehow the AMP1 pulls it off. As mentioned earlier, probably my only gripe is that the Modern high-gain setting has a bit of mud/looseness in the low end that I couldn’t seem to get rid of.

The recording out is pretty damn useful too. It doesn’t quite match up to a proper cab/impulse response in terms of fullness of sound, but I would very happily go direct for it for gigs and maybe demo recordings. I’d almost go so far as to say that it’s on par with, or maybe even slightly better sounding than the Mesa CabClone/Palmer PDI type boxes.

It Blu(G) Me Away!

Ha ha. Shut up, Ed.

Bad jokes aside, this is one powerful piece of gear in a pint-sized package – and there’s still more functionality to be unlocked via their proprietary footswitch or MIDI interface, such as a second Master volume and saveable presets.

Oh, and from a volume point of view, it’s most DEFINITELY a 100W head – I put it through my Mesa 1×12″ cab and at 1/10 on the master volume it was already rather loud. If you’re worried about your ability to just plug this into a 4×12″ and play a gig… well, don’t be.

I’m giving this a great 4.5 F*ck Yeahs. I know I say this like 100 times a year, but it really is a fantastic time to be a guitarist. Can’t wait to see what the world brings us next!

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PB010019


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