Saturday, January 24, 2009

Review: Savage Blitz 50 amp

Well, I thought my amp would be done this week, but when they went to change the tubes they took some interest in my amp and suggested some changes and also found some filter caps that were on their last leg. More on all that once my amp is back. In the mean time, Savage Audio was nice enough to loan me one of their amps for the weekend until they're done doing work on my amp. The amp they loaned me was:

Savage Audio Blitz 50
A hand-wired EL34 Marshall style amp. Savage makes great amps, and if nothing else, I was excited to play the same amp Doyle Bramhall (Eric Clapton), Beck, and Stone Gossard of Peal Jam use!! The amp is: 2 channel (normal and bright) with a volume fo reach, reverb, master volume, pentode/triode switchable, 50W, and will allow KT-66 or 6L6 tubes if you rebias.

It took me a while to get a sound dialed in that I liked. The amp has strong punchy bass which is great, but I had a hard time getting the highs to sound right. I ended up jumping the normal and bright channel in order to blend in a bit of the bright channel. After that, things sounded about right to me. Here's how I had it dialed in:

Overall the sound is really punchy and dynamic. It was almost too much for me, but then again I'm used to a 35 year old marshall that probably lost it's punch in the 80s. I use my amps as a clean-ish channel and use pedals to drive things, so that's how I had the Blitz 50 set up. Unfortunately I wasn't in love with the amp as a clean channel. I'd be curious to hear how it sounded with fender style 6L6 tubes, it might sound better clean that way. The amp DID sound great with the gain turned up. It would sound great as a rock amp or in a two amp set up where one amp is clean and the blitz 50 is dirty. The master volume sounded great except for really low volumes, the tone changed below about 9 o'clock and then sounded great, just louder or softer, the the rest of the way around.

Conclusion: Great sounding rock amp, punchy and in your face, good for rock, not the best for clean.

Thanks for the loaner Savage!!!

UPDATE 1/25/09:
I spent way more time with the amp and found a great clean setting that sounds just like my Super bass. They key was to play with the pentode/triode switch. I'm not sure if this is still true, but I read the switch also changes between A and AB circuitry. Whatever the change, I liked it better with the switch flipped up (labeled Solid State, not tube). The amp would totally be usable as a replacement for my Superbass if something were to happen to it. As long as I have the super bass, though, I don't see myself getting a blitz 50 too.

UPDATE 1/29/09:
I hung out at Savage today and asked them about the Solid state/Tube switch. It's NOT pentode/Triode like I had heard, it switches between a tube and SS rectifier. My super bass has a SS rectifier so that explains why it sounded more normal to me. I still think the bass on the tube rectifier was too floppy for me.


Karl said...

Nice! Savage makes some great amps! So, do you like the clean better on A or AB? As much as we all love Class A, sometimes AB can actually give a better clean sound. Sometimes. There's some articles floating around, too, that suggest the original AC30's might have AB. Not sure if I believe them, but when you mentioned the A/AB thing, it perked my interest.

Mike said...

I'm going to savage tomorrow to hang out and jam with them. I really need to ask them about that switch. I think it might be pentode/triode switching too. Is that different than A/AB? I think up was pentode and I liked that better for everything. The down position had flubby bass... like a dimed fuzz.

Karl said...

I tink pentode/triode is different, but I'm a horrible tech. I only mentioned the A/AB thing because you did, so I thought you had more info than me! hehe I know on the AC30 handwired's, the pentode/triode actually cuts tubes out of the circuit path.

Sorry, I honestly suck at the tech stuff. :)

Mike said...

See my "1/29" update. I found out the switch is tube vs. SS rectifier. Not pentode/Triode not A/AB. Lots of misinformation on the net for this amp.

I tried hard to understand all this and realized I'd need an electrical engineering degree, or at least some classes. I'm ok with not knowing it for now!

Karl said...

Ok, that makes more sense! hehe Ya, solid state rectifiers can give a tighter clean sound, with some more headroom. I think they tend to give less feel and dynamics than a tube rectifier, though, on the average. Either way, that's really cool to be able to have the choice. Man, every time I hear about Savage amps they just get better and better. :)