OK, so I’ve been playing guitar a fair while, nearly three decades. I’ve been in music retail (on and off) for two decades. I’ve tried a lot of guitar amps, and I’m pretty fussy about my sound. The guitar amplifier is an extremely important part of that sound, it dictates the ‘flavour’ if you like. My own personal guitar amp is pretty awesome. It’s really fancy and ’boutique’ – handwired in America, and cost me just under $3000 NZD.
Now the Laney Cub 10 is a bit different. It’s tiny for a start, and it’s only 10 watts, with a 10″ Celestion speaker. It’s very inexpensive for a tube amplifier. ‘A what?’ you may ask. A tube amp, or valve amp, depending on whether you’re using British or American terminology, is an amp powered by old fashion vaccuum tubes. These are little glass bottle like things like you might have found in your grandmothers TV or radio. They generate electrons or something….this is about the limit of my knowledge of how they work. Snobby guitarists like myself have always favoured this kind of technology in their amps over more modern transistor or digital methods of amplifier construction. This is primarily because of the way tubes ‘break-up’, or ‘distort’. As good as modern technology has become (and there are some amazing sounding digital amps out there these days), nothing really sounds like a tube amp.
The Cub 10 is an impressive sounding little amp that defies it’s size and price. It’s based on the same format as the old Fender ‘Tweed’ amps from the 50’s, utilizing 2 6V6 power tubes. This gives is in impressive low end ‘thump’, and a raw, yet still musical break-up. The first time I tried one of these amps I was blown away by it, and I think the price was about $499 at the time. We are currently selling this amp for $379, which is an absolute bargain!
Last night my band practiced at the shop, so I decided to leave my big expensive amp at home, and try the Laney with my own guitar and effects pedals. I was gob-smacked at how well this thing performed. The only thing I really missed about my $3000 amp was the reverb effect it has built in, but really, it wasn’t a big deal. The sound and power were phenomenal. I was standing right next to the drummer and the tiny little Cub 10 had no problems keeping up at all. There were the usual requests to turn it down even. I will probably take this on tour to Auckland this weekend, as space is limited. It occured to me that for the money I spent on my fancy amp I could have nearly bought 10 of these little Laneys – and how awesome would that have sounded!
There are a lot of small, reasonably inexpensive tube amps on the market these days, but most of them sound ‘small’. Not the Cub 10 – it punches well above it’s weight.
If you’re looking for an incredible value tube amp for very little money down, you need look no further. At $379 this amp is an absolute steal. Alternatively there’s also the slightly bigger, EL84 powered Cub 12 which has Reverb and a 4 band EQ, and the even smaller Cub 8. They’re all worth a look!