The trend toward the miniaturization of guitar gear shows no signs of slowing. Thanks to modern technology, guitarists are fitting more and more sorcery in their bags of tricks. BluGuitar’s Amp1 is a good example – a full 100-watt head that can fit on a pedalboard and sports a real tube.
First, let’s get past antiquated notions regarding tube, solidstate, and digital amplifiers. As the Amp1 proves, one box can accommodate all three technologies. It’s an analog preamp, a clean channel with three amp models, and a power section that combines a “nanotube” (long-lasting miniature tube) with a Class D transistor power amp. The tube creates the natural compression and chewy tones of a valve amplifier. There’s also reverb, boost, and a three-band EQ. A preset mode can store three favorite settings to the internal footswitches so that each recalls a channel, boost, and reverb. For more flexibility, opt for the Remote1, which adds floor control for channel switching, reverb, and an effects loop, plus a power soak down to 1.5 watts.
The Amp1’s four-position knob allows the user to dial between Clean, Vintage, Classic, and Modern, covering tones from clean to crispy-bacon distortion. Tiny knobs on the unit’s side fine-tune the tone and volume of each preset. A line-level output in the back allows direct recording.
Overall, the Amp1 evokes rich tube tones in a freakishly small unit – it would be difficult to imagine any guitarist not having a blast with it. Sure, you can probably get more-organic tube tones from dedicated valve amps, but having everything from vintage twang ’n raunch to modern crunch in one floor unit is remarkable. Downsides include a bevy of teensy knobs. Nor is the Amp1 cheap. But remember, that’s a real 100-watt head with killer tones.
This article originally appeared in VG March 2018 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.