Amp purists may have a tough time dealing with Warbler/Juke’s 1210. Until they hear it!
The 1210 is unique both for its 2×10/1×12 speaker layout and lack of a distortion/overdrive. And though the amp shares many characteristics often seen in high-end boutique amps (i.e. point-to-point wiring, EL34s for power, a 5AR4 rectifier, 12AX7s in the preamp, 12AU7 reverb, pine cabinet, vintage-style speakers) it also changes things up a good bit.
At first glance, the amp’s top-mounted control panel can be a bit intimidating. Compared to most single-channel amps, it has a ton of knobs. Intimidation quickly gives way to curiosity, and then familiarity as you gander through the owner’s manual.
The 1210’s input section has hi and low-gain 1/4″ input jacks with a 3db boost (via footswitch), Contour (mids), Tone (overall highs), Bass, Treble, and Level. The effects section consists of Reverb with the standard Fender-like Dwell, Color (tone), and Depth knobs, and Vibrato with width (pitch-shift) and depth (tremolo) control (marked “FM” and “AM”), and speed knobs, both footswitchable.
The output section has volume, the Pentode/Triode power output switch, a Presence control, power/standby switches, and an ultra/linear mode switch (for the pentode output) that gives you either a tight, clean, 6L6 sound, or a warm, fat, EL34 sound.
After reading the somewhat technical (and very thorough) manual, we selected two appropriate guitars for our test; an ’80s Strings-n-Things Bluesmaster (Telecaster-style), and a Godin Standard HSS (Superstrat).
Grabbing the Bluesmaster, we set the amp per manufacturer’s recommendations, and soon discovered that even though the Juke has no distortion mode, it’s not exactly a squeaky-clean surf amp, either. Instead, it offers an outstanding natural harmonic tone that makes the notes simply jump out of the amp, with loads of sustain and a little bit of drive. Even at high volume, the tone is smooth and pleasing, not at all harsh or brittle. And at low volume, the 1210 retains all of its lively character, and reacts well to the guitar’s volume and tone controls.
While searching for various tones and complimentary settings, we spent a good bit of time noodling with the amp’s tone controls, and found the best settings to be between 10 and 2 o’clock. For example, venturing too far past 2 o’clock on the bass control made the low-end fart out just a bit. And the ultra/linear switch did exactly what the manual claimed it would – tighten up the low-end (like a 6L6-equipped Fender) or fatten up the mids.
With the Godin, we tweaked the tone and contour knobs to accommodate. The single-coil pickups sounded good, but with the humbucker things were a bit flat. The amp’s reverb was very warm and clean and didn’t get in the way of the notes. It had a sort of in-the-distance ringing. The FM control gave us a pitch-shifting Magnatone-like vibrato with a Lonnie Mack vibe. The AM knob offered up more of a standard tremolo sound ranging from smooth and wide to short and choppy.
We also toyed with distortion pedals and found they kind of got in the way of this amp’s pure sound. Used sparingly for solos (not overdriven chording), however, they work fine.
In terms of workmanship and quality, this amp performed in superior fashion. One of our boutique amp junkie friends absolutely loved the sound of this amp – and he has tried them all! We concurred.
The 1210 doesn’t come cheap, but if you want some of the best natural sounds around, it’s worth every penny (and that’s no juke!) – Phil Feser and Bob Tekippe
Type of Amp: All tube with pentode/triode operation and ultra/linear output selection.
Features: USA-made, point-to-point wiring, all-tube circuits, pitch-shifting vibrato, tremolo, sidebanded type C reverb, Alnico speakers.
Contact: Sold directly through Juke Amplification, PO Box 951, Troy, NH 03465, (603) 242-6478, jukeamps.com.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s March ’02 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.