Spain may not be the first country you associate with top-end guitar amps, but that's changed, thanks to the arrival of Bigtone Custom Amplification.
Based in beautiful Valencia and founded in 2009 by José Manuel Torrelo and Octavio Valero, Bigtone is pitched at the top end of the market, with price tags to match and some mouth- watering products. This issue, we're looking at one of its most popular designs – the Studio Lux 22 heads.
The amp is built to a very high standard, with impeccable vinyl work and a smart co-ordinated design that hangs together well. The lettering could do with being a little clearer – it's hard to read until you're quite close to the panel – but, this aside, the amp has clearly benefitted from a lot of thought and R&D. It certainly looks the part and the attention to detail goes right down to component level.
Inside the welded aluminium chassis, the head uses printed circuit boards, but these boards are manufactured to a very high standard: they're double normal thickness, with much heavier copper traces.
It powers on smoothly and very quietly, with almost inaudible hiss and hum.
There are separate boards for preamp, power amp and power supply, with a couple of smaller ones for the rear panel switches and sockets. Underneath a funky black solder resist covering, the PCB layouts are clean, neat and clearly done by someone who knows a lot about valve circuits. Despite the heavy reliance on PCBs, there's still a lot of wiring, done to a standard more often seen on high-end professional audio gear, with wires tied together, carefully bent and routed.
The Lux 22 has a clean channel with volume, bass and treble controls, expanded with a bright switch and a three-position mid emphasis switch that offers a neutral midrange together with slightly scooped and boosted options. The Lux's drive channel has controls for gain, bass mid and treble, with a bright switch and a master volume. On the rear panel, you'll find presence and deep controls that tweak the power amp's high and low frequency response.
You'll find a pre-set footswitchable gain boost, which operates the Lux's drive channel. There's also a very quiet series effects loop that's footswitchable on both amps using the supplied three-button footswitch.
Feel & Sounds
It powers on smoothly and very quietly, with almost inaudible hiss and hum. As you might expect from the name, the Lux is focused on the 'American' tonal palette, with a balanced midrange, warm treble and smooth bass response.
In comparison to the recently-reviewed Plex 22, the Lux benefits from separate tone networks and accurately captures the slightly scooped midrange and sweet treble associated with classic 'blackface' amps, as well as managing a respectable tweed drive, with the mids pushed higher.
The Lux is great for all things American and is very loud, too, with plenty of punch from their dual 6V6 output stages.
Bigtone is gaining a lot of recognition worldwide, partly thanks to its association with ZZ Top legend Billy Gibbons. The Lux 22 compares favourably with many top boutique brands for price, and we think you're getting a lot of amp for your money, with top-drawer build quality and righteous tone.