Category 5 TBR-35 2×10

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Category 5 TBR-35 2×10
Price: $3,100

Don Ritter started Category 5 Amplification designing amps for blues players before expanding to other genres while holding to the philosophy that touring pros – not builders – should determine the sound and functionality of an amp. With early admirers like Tab Benoit, Jimmy Thackery, and Joe Bonamassa, word spread to artists such as Billy Gibbons, Samantha Fish, Ally Venable, and Luther Dickinson.

Category 5’s new TBR-35 2×10 uses a tweed-Bassman-style circuit with a three-knob reverb and power scaling. Designed for the club or studio, its 35 watts of output provide plenty of volume for larger venues. The power section holds two Tung-Sol 5881 tubes, the preamp a 12AX7 and 12AY7. Controls include Power, Dwell, Tone, Reverb, Presence, Bass, Treble, and Vol. Bright and Vol. Normal. Inputs are Hi and Lo and an effects Loop. Behind the grillecloth are an Eminence Lil’ Buddy and a Legend 1028k. Styling is clean and gorgeous.

Using a Strat and Les Paul as test subjects, the TBR-35 delivered thickness; single notes sound huge with an earthy reverb cherry on top. Internally bridged channels – traditionally accessed with four inputs – have been reduced to a player-friendly High and Low.

The amp is a plug-straight-in dream. The Power knob controls output and scaling to adjust to stage volume without loss of tone. It’s loud, lush, and rugged – but compliant. The three-knob reverb is wired to the input jack as if it were outboard. Tones are upscale, complex, and addictive. Tweaking uncovers every Bassman tone imaginable.

Category 5 amps key on gutsy tones, performance-friendly features, and a chassis built to handle strenuous touring. The price of the TBR-35 speaks to all of those points, but its tone and functionality are unbeatable for its size.

This article originally appeared in VG’s September 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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