As this amp has been mentioned in some other posts here, Iīd like to post a short review here:
One month ago I received a HUUUUUGE parcel from the US that had this little amp head in it:
Ever since I first played a tweed Bassman (one of the first reissues) back in the early 90ies Iīve been thinking of getting one. The major two things that kept me from doing so were 1) tīs too loud for most settings and 2) it has no reverb (and I always like a little reverb for more dimension). Since the late 90ies I was quite happy with a HotRodDeluxe (the BluesDeluxe was no longer available at that time) and a few years ago I changed to the BluesJr for rehearsals and smaller gigs as the HRD also proved too loud for this.
Then again, last year after I saw this video I was sold:
Great sound from a blonde bassman type amp that had reverb! Over the years of playing Gretsches my bassman preference changed from tweed to blonde (quite obvious , I think). By the end of last year I saw a band in which the guitar player played a 6120DSW through a 1963 6G6-B bassman and I knew it was time to take action and get one as this is the GREAT sound with a Gretsch guitar Iīve been looking for.
Based on the normal channel of a 63 blonde bassman it has some extras:
1. it has reverb that is usable over the full range - even at 10.
2. it is reliable: built with top notch brand new components I donīt have to be afraid of having some recap job done or replacing the OT too soon. I really like vintage gear, but from a playerīs point of view Iīd rather go for a new amp than for a collectible 48 year old that might need a complete change of electronics sooner or later.
3. biassing is made easy by bias taps and pots - no soldering like on the old ones.
4. 4 and 8 Ohm outputs.
5. the plank / F-hole switch: it shifts the EQ..much more mids in plank mode. A GREAT feature if you canīt crank the amp too much. It sounds like you would play with the volume at 4 while really having it set to about two. The original intention was to improve the sound for solid bodies (strat or tele) and to give better results with Gretsches when playing open back cabs.
For more details on the technical side see Tavoīs Nocturne website
Iīve got a rather compact solid pine cab loaded with 2 Celestion V30ies arranged diagonally. Itīs about 2 inches higher and wider than my HotRotDeluxe and thus smaller than the original 2x12 cab that would go with the original 63 Bassman. Space is rather limited in the bandīs car so I had to have it as small as possible. Hereīs the rig:
Production process and shipping:
As these amps are built to order, it took about eight weeks from ordering to shipping (exactly like announced on the website). During the whole building process I was informed by Tavo of every single step and detail – very good service! Shipping to Germany was quite an excitement because USPS would only allow for up to 500$ of insurance and importing electronics is regulated by stringent CE laws over here. But the amp passed local customs without any hassles except from a 400 Euro rip for import sales tax and customs (23 % of the purchase price including shipping altogether) and in the end it got into my hands safe and sound after about tow weeks of shipping. Again, Tavo was always there and very helpful, I canīt think of any better service.
Plugged the Gretsch directly into the Blondeshell with the following settings: Volume 2, Treble 7, Bass 2, Presence 10 without any effects and there it was: full tonal range, nice bass, a very clear, bright sound. How can I describe it best?
- VERY clean, clear shimmering sparkling TONE! and a very dynamic response
- very balanced. Even with the new speakers it didnīt sound harsh as I expected it before the test
- tight bottom end, well defined mids and clear singing, not too stinging heights.
Itīs the sound I only ever experienced with vintage Fenders but not with the recent ones I own or that Iīve played. After a little tweaking - very subtle changes of the settings did the job, a little treble roll off and adding some reverb and within minutes it was gorgeous. The 6120AM sounded like it never did before and I started drooling. Things even got better when I engaged my old Brain Seltzer nocturne pedal (second run from September 2009) with the Bass roll off at noon, finding the sweet spot with the "Gritsch" knob at almost 4 oīclock and then THERE it was that GREAT Gretsch sound. The final improvement took place when I flicked the F-Hole/Plank switch to "Plank". This resulted in an extra mid-boost and now it sounded like I would play the amp at 4 while the volume was just at 2. I was expecting it to be louder at 2, but actually itīs not louder than the BluesJr set to my rehearsal room settings, so the band mates were happy, too (we only have a 20 square meter rehearsal room).
About one week later I played it at a gig for the first time (in front of 300 people) and it was AWESOME. I never had such a good sound on stage before. I had the volume between 3 and 4, treble somewhere between 6 and 7 (rolled it back a bit compared to rehearsal room settings), bass almost off and presence wide open at 10. Didnīt need much of the reverb, because the venue was large enough for natural reverb. I had the gig recorded with a Panasonic SD10 but unfortunately the camera cut off or at least didnīt record the low frequencies too well so thereīs virtually no bass on the video and the whole sound is shifted towards more mids and heights.
Anyway, it was a great gig with a great guitar TONE!!!
Thereīs a video by Pete and Rene from Australia in which they did a side by side comparison of the Blondeshell to a 64 blonde Bassman:
What remains to be done?
Iīm still trying to get it recorded properly so I can provide some sound files that really show the tone.
So if youīre looking for a Bassman type amp with some useful extras and a great dynamic twangy TONE, donīt be shy and give it a try!