One of the great modern guitar amp designers, Bruce Egnater's career stretches back over three decades, during which time he's worked with many top artists and consulted for several other top manufacturers.
We've looked at the small but perfectly formed Tweaker 15 Head, which took MusicRadar's 2010 head of the year prize, and its big brother, the Tweaker 88. Now we're revisiting the range to look at what could be the most popular model, the Tweaker 40 1 x 12 combo.
The Tweaker 40 combo is a neatly proportioned package with a higher level of attention to detail than you'll find on many offshore-made amplifiers. As you'd expect, the electronics are PCB-mounted, including the valve bases, however, the standard of the boards and their components is very good indeed, as is the wiring. Overall, it's smart and very portable and should easily handle years of gigging without any issues.
We have two channels with separate gain and volume controls, sharing a standard bass, mid and treble EQ. Both channels have a quartet of switches that have a dramatic effect on tone shaping.
There's a gain preset that configures the channel either for predominantly clean tones with a bit of mild overdrive, or more overdriven effects, going from a decent crunch through to a high gain solo tone. There's also a bright switch, a mid-cut and a tight/deep bass switch.
The EQ network has another three-way toggle that lets you 're-wire' the controls to emulate British and American tones as well as the unique sounds of a well-known EL84-powered British amp. Both master controls also have toggle switches labelled vintage/modern, which modify the power amp EQ, boosting the lows and highs in modern mode for a more aggressive edge.
On the rear panel, you'll find a series effects loop with switchable levels, a pair of speaker outlets with switchable impedance and the jack for the two-button footswitch, which changes channels and switches the effects loop in or out.
The Tweaker 40's two channels are identical, but with so much range, they can sound radically different. We start out by setting up channel one for a sweet, 'Blackface'-style rhythm tone with just a hint of grind. Using a Fender Custom Shop Nocaster, it takes just seconds to dial the amp in for what many would consider an archetypal Tele sound, perfect for Steve Cropper-style choppy chords and doublestops.
Swapping the Tele for a Gibson Les Paul, we move to channel two and quickly find a dead ringer for Brian May's full-on overdrive, as well as a great bluesy crunch tone with a sparkling top end that is perfect for classic rock chords or lead - think Aerosmith or Led Zeppelin I and II.
There's more than enough volume from the dual-6L6 output stage and single 12-inch speaker to cope with most small gigs; however, move the masters beyond two o'clock and you lose a little of the definition. The switchable effects loop works well with stompboxes and line-level rack effects, adding considerably to the amps versatility.
Aimed primarily at weekend warriors and semi pros, the Tweaker 40 sits in a highly competitive sector where many brands compete for your hard-earned cash; however, few can boast the Egnater's pedigree or its very boutique features, let alone the living room-friendly styling and attention to detail.
We think the Tweaker 40 is a superb club amp; the fact that it doesn't cost an arm and a leg is a positive bonus that could have you laughing all the way to the bank… and gig!