Review: Egnater’s Tweaker Head and 112X Cabinet

Egnater’s amazingly versatile Tweaker Head and 112X Cabinet!

Egnater Custom Amplification was founded by Bruce Egnater over 30 years ago. Frustrated with existing amps that couldn’t match the tone of his favorite artists, Bruce enrolled at the University of Detroit Engineering School to further his education in electronics design. He opened his own repair shop specializing in amp mods in 1975. Word quickly spread as individual guitarists to top companies sought his talents. That talent exhibited itself a few years ago in compact form when Egnater released the Rebel 20, which sold approximately 10,000 units worldwide. With the goal of offering the same great quality in a compact design but at a more affordable price, Egnater recently introduced the Tweaker.

FRESH OUTTA THE BOX

The Tweaker stands just shy of two feet tall. Cute and kick ass at the same time. The amp and cab are stylishly constructed with black tolex wrapped birch, wicker faces, and scripted Egnater name plates. Amp controls include two heavy duty toggle switches for power and standby mode. Five mini “tweaker” switches toggle Modern/Vintage power amp voicing, AC/British/American tone voicing, Hot/Clean gain intensity, brightness, and Tight/Deep bass punch. Durable knobs controlling master volume, gain, and three bands of EQ turn smoothly with a touch of drag. The back of the amp includes a buffered effects loop and two speaker outputs (main and extension). An impedance switch offers 4, 8, and 16 ohms. Running the show behind the scenes are three 12AX7 preamp tubes and a pair of 6V6 power tubes. The cabinet, which houses one 12″ Celestion G12H-30, has two 16 ohm input jacks on the back.

TWEAKING 15 WATTS OF ALL-TUBE GOODNESS

Kicking on the power switch, a small bright blue LED came to life (there’s something cool about a blue power light). Being a guy who loves options, I was excited to dig into this amp and tweak away. I tuned up my Epiphone Korina Flying V and started with as neutral a setting as I could dial in: Vintage/USA voicing, EQ at 12 o’clock across the board, clean gain, bright switch off, and tight punch. I was immediately impressed with the warmth coming out of the amp and potential for serious volume. I started with the master volume and gain turned up halfway but this amp really shines when cranking these higher and getting more saturation out of the tubes.

After dialing my EQ to taste, I “tweaked” the power amp circuit with the Vintage/Modern switch. Vintage gives a fairly neutral response while Modern is like the big brother who hits the gym after work – heavier and thicker. The tweaker switch for the EQ section offers three choices. Each selection, starting with USA, gets meatier as the tone control circuits progressively emphasize the mid to lower end. But it’s not just a mid/low boost – the tonal character for each voicing changes. USA is fairly balanced; AC rolls off the highs and pushes the low mids for a rounder feel; and BRIT recovers some of the treble and gives a nice kick to the low end and middle range with an overall boost for some serious power jamming. Add to this the ability to dial in different tones with the 3-band EQ and you begin to realize how the amp got its name.

Moving to the gain section, I casually flicked the switch from clean to hot and was promptly sent flying across the room like Michael J. Fox in ‘Back to the Future’. Holy moley, this little sucker packs a wallop! The gain dial effectively allows you to dial clean/crunch/distortion to taste. The bright switch, which works in conjunction with the gain knob, adds sparkle to clean sounds and bite to distorted tones. This tweak is subtle in that it adds just a touch of brightness. This is far more welcome than the multitude of amps I’ve tried where “brightness” = “nails on a chalkboard”. Finally, I toggled the Tight/Deep switch. This is a great tweak as it pulls muddiness out of beefier tones and adds body to thinner sounds. With the infinite tonal possibilities between guitar choices and amp settings, this is a valuable feature.

THE FINAL WRAP

To call this amp versatile is an understatement. It truly is a tweaker’s dream, but deserves a better name. “Tweaker” gives the impression of small and thin. This amp is anything but. The one thing that keeps me from giving it a perfect rating is the lack of a foot pedal. Being able to control the tweaks by foot during and in between songs would be huge! My personal request to Egnater: Please release a “Tweaker Plus” that includes this ability. And change the name to something more appropriate. Like, oh I don’t know… The Bad Ass Tone Master!

PROS: Warm all tube sound. Compact and attractive. Quality tone from bedroom-quiet to jam-loud. Extremely versatile.

CONS: No footswitch.

MSRP – $399 Tweaker Head, $249 Tweaker 112X Extension Cabinet

Dan Coplan is senior staff writer at SMG. Dan is a Los Angeles based cinematographer and self-admitting guitar junkie. Email: dancoplan@sharemyguitar.com

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