Intro With my upcoming move, I decided to try out an amp that allows me to get great tones from a tube amp but with the capability to play at lower volumes. Right now, I have the luxury of cranking up equipment in my basement to some seriously loud volumes with no complaints from the neighbors. I saw and read a lot of great reviews for the newer Tone King Gremlin and with its built in attenuator, I had to give it a shot. Unfortunately, I was not able to try one out as no local music shops had one in stock but I was able to get one for a really good deal with a very generous coupon code. I figured I’d write this as a journal-like entry / review of my initial impressions of this amp. I’m using a Gretsch Hot Rod (w/ Setzer Signature Pickups). Features Rhythm and Lead channels are voiced for blackface and tweed tones Rhythm offers more headroom, while Lead is a more driven voice Select your input or jump the channels with an optional A/B/Y footswitch Onboard Ironman II power attenuator Reactive load reacts and feels just like your amp at any volume Get the same tone whether performing live or playing quietly Specs Power: 5W (tube) Tubes: two 12AX7 (preamp); one KT66 (power amp) Speaker: 1x12" custom-voiced Celestion 870 Compact cabinet engineered for clear highs and a big low end Convenient size is perfect gigging guitarists Baltic Birch USA construction Dimensions: 7.5" x 8" x 3" Characteristics There are only 2 knobs on this amp; volume and tone. The tone knob is balanced really well throughout the sweep providing a nice variety of different characteristics with the lower settings providing more bass response and higher with more treble (thinner sound). They’re really good tones and the character of the amp really lends well with the 2 knobs. The amp doesn’t have much headroom (as might be expected for a 5W amp) on the Rhythm Channel. The volume knob quickly pushes the amp passed its headroom at about level 4. That being said both channels sound great in their own right just don’t expect massive clean headroom from the Rhythm Channel. The Lead Channel provides a nice drive for a heavier / hard rock sound. My only real criticism is anything level 7 or above on the volume knob makes both channels sound nasaly and has a hint of what sounds like a fuzz pedal. That being said, to me it seems like you can reach full volume at level 6 anyways and level 7 or above just adds more gain. I could be wrong on exact volume levels but that’s what I hear. I stuck to level 6 on both channels and was very pleased with the overall sound and volume. With my guitar / pups, I had to keep the tone knob up to the 6-7 level or the bass would get too muddy with the neck pup but I suspect a strat or tele would sound just fine. I also noticed a drastic difference with effects when switching between the 2 channels. The Rhythm Channel seemed to take pedals well but when using the lead channel I had to reduce the mix or level of effect as it really brought the reverb and delay out too much. Keep in mind, you don't have an effects loop. You just have to adjust accordingly but not a huge complaint in my book since you have to manually switch channels via cable. Many of the reviews I read state the attenuator doesn’t affect the tone at all but I have to disagree. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great function, it works well, the amp still sounds great throughout the various levels but there is a slight tone loss to my ears. I notice a slight loss is the clarity and percussiveness. If you at have a house or generous size apt, condo or townhome, you can get nice bedroom level sounds without pissing anyone off. I played it with a drummer and was able to still hear myself just fine so I believe it would work well for smaller gigs and practices with no problem. It’s really light and compact and the construction feels solid. My Final Assessment I did a lot of extensive side by side testing with my Mesa Lone Star Special and Fillmore 25. I was able to dial in similar tones between the amps which I thought was very impressive for this little package. I bought this mainly for the attenuator capability but I just wasn’t all that sold on the overall tone with the attenuator engaged. I ended up returning this and decided to keep the Fillmore 25 as I could achieve better tones at the same lower volumes as the TK and as a bonus I have way more features / controls. I know that’s not what the TK Gremlin is about but I felt it's worth noting for my comparison purposes. It was good but wasn’t great. I just didn’t fall in love with it. To be fair I would still recommend the Gremlin if you’re looking for an amp with really good tone characteristics, low volume capability, portability and small gigs / rehearsals. It has its place and I truly believe this would pair up really well with a strat or tele. I might have kept it, had I had one of those guitars. I would highly recommend spending some quality time trying it out before you pull the trigger. It could be your favorite amp.