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Laney Cub-Super12 review

Compact, affordable, stylish with EL84 boutique tone, is this little combo too good to be true?

  • £399
  • €483
  • $589
Laney Cub-Super12 combo
(Image: © Future / Neil Godwin)

Our Verdict

If you are looking for an affordable 1x12 tube combo, the Cub-Super12 is hard to beat. Its one-watt input makes it bedroom-friendly, while at 15 watts it is punchy and musical, with superb clean and drive tones.

Pros

  • The tones make you think of the "B" word.
  • Boutique tone for under £500.
  • Digital spring reverb is top quality.
  • Looks the part, sounds the part.

Cons

  • No headphones out.
  • No aux-in.
  • Replacing the valves involve removing entire chassis.

What is it?

The Laney name is synonymous with the evolution of British rock guitar tone. That its founder, Lyndon Laney, played alongside John Bonham and Robert in Band Of Joy was a portent of things to come.

Retreating from the stage, Laney turned his attentions to guitar amplifier design and attracted the attention of players such as Tony Iommi. The Birmingham-based Iommi was a natural ally for the nascent Black Country-based amp brand, and he had a new sound he was working on. 

While most of the songs on Black Sabbath's debut were written on a 50-watt Marshall, Laney made him an offer he couldn't refuse.

"I switched to Laney because they started up around the same time as us and they're a Birmingham company," said Iommi in a 2010 MusicRadar interview. To be honest, they offered to give us all this gear when nobody else did. What do you say to that? 'OK!' So I used them."

The rest is history. To this day Iommi remains the most prominent Laney player but Laney's range of guitar amplifiers has evolved out of sight, with affordable solid-state  options and boutique-amp inspired series such as the Lionheart.

Laney Cub-Super12 combo

(Image credit: Future / Neil Godwin)

Populated by stylish mini valve-combos, the Cub-Super range falls somewhere in the latter category. With its dark-grey vinyl centre panel, black sides and diamond-pattern salt-and-pepper grille cloth it looks the business.

Under the hood, the lion's share of the electronics are housed on a single high-quality printed circuit board. Here you will find the front-panel components and valve bases. Many of these are surface mounted – a good way of keeping the size and weight down.

The Laney Cub-Super12 has a trio of 12AX7s in the preamp and pair of EL84 power tubes. It has a HH Electronics H12-65 custom speaker. Again, its ceramic magnet is medium-weight; everything about the Cub-Super12 is geared up to be portable.

Laney Cub-Super12 combo

(Image credit: Future / Neil Godwin)

The Cub-Super12 is a single-channel amp with two inputs. One for an attenuated single-watt output, the other for the full 15-watt Class AB mode.

The front panel is positioned on the top of the amplifier and uses high-contrast white chickenhead knobs for volume, gain, bass, mid, treble and reverb level. There's a single red knob, too. Red for danger: this controls a boost function which you can engage via the footswitch.

On the rear panel there is an external speaker jack and a series effects loop, plus the input for the footswitch. With no channels to select, the footswitch turns the boost and reverb on and off.

Performance and verdict

Fire up the Cub-Super12 and it comes to life quickly. It is remarkably quiet, making it a decent option for recording. That's where small combos can be invaluable; driven hard, they can sound huge.

Indeed, the one-watt setting does a neat job in big sounds at manageable volumes. For practice and maintaining neighbourly relations, it is invaluable. The HH speaker serves the Cub-Super12, retaining all the detail in the low end.

Laney Cub-Super12 combo

(Image credit: Future / Neil Godwin)

There's a lot to be said for the control panel's simplicity. It doesn't take long to find the Cub-Super12's sweet spots, with the passive three-band EQ delivering a smooth performance and plenty range as to complement a wide variety of guitar and pickup combinations.

At full steam, there is a natural compression to its clean tones that will tickle country players. Introduce some gain and a Tweediness comes to the fore, an organic heat and crunch upon which the blues-rock set can map out a sound.

Also consider...

(Image credit: Fender)

Fender Blues Junior IV
The sounds are top-drawer, comparing well against many so-called boutique amps costing four times the price. Factor in the compact dimensions and light weight, and it’s easy to see why the Blues Junior remains a firm favourite. 

Blackstar HT-20R
There are many competitors in the ‘multi-purpose small combo’ market, however few if any combine sensibly thought-out features and core tones this good, even at three or four times the asking price.

Supro Blues King 12
A range of superb old-school cleans and drives - and an affordable price tag - make this one of the most tempting Supro combos yet. 

The quality of the digital spring reverb is superb, too. Taken from Laney’s Black Country Custom Secret Path pedal, it adds a nice sense of space to your tone, not to mention plenty of surf rock drip when you dime it. Again, the performance is nice and disciplined, with no discernible hum.

While the boost solo stops short of being The Metal Button® it nonetheless puts some juice into your tone to let big melodic leads soar. Another feather in the Cub-Super12's bow is that its clean tone profiles translate well when overdriven. What sounds good clean, sounds good overdriven; there's no need for further EQ tweaks. 

When you consider the price, the portability and the practice-friendly power-scaling, the Cub-Super12 is one practical amplifier. But if practical sounds too boring a compliment, we'll leave you with dynamic, responsive and thoughts of sweet, Tweedy drive tones from an amp that invokes the "B" word.

MusicRadar verdict: If you are looking for an affordable 1x12 tube combo, the Cub-Super12 is hard to beat. Its one-watt input makes it bedroom-friendly, while at 15 watts it is punchy and musical, with superb clean and drive tones.

The web says

"It’s simple to drive, doesn’t take long to dial in and easily produces superb touch-sensitive dynamics guaranteed to put zing into your chords and pep up your arpeggios. 

"Used clean, it’s an excellent pedal platform, too. Add the superb digital reverb into the equation and the Cub-Super12 becomes increasingly tempting, especially when you look at the price tag. 

"Aimed at all kinds of players from beginners to full-time professionals, and ideal for recording, internet broadcasting and live stages, Laney’s new Cub-Super range ticks all the right boxes at a more than tempting price."
Nick Guppy, Guitarist

Hands-on demos

Guitarist

PMT

Specifications

Laney Cub-Super12 combo

(Image credit: Future / Neil Godwin)
  • ORIGIN: UK
  • TYPE: Valve preamp and power amp with digital reverb
  • OUTPUT: 15W or 1W
  • VALVES: 3x 12AX7, 2x EL84
  • DIMENSIONS: 399 (h) x 430 (w) x 233mm (d)
  • WEIGHT (kg/lb): 12/26
  • CABINET: Plywood
  • CHANNELS: 1, with a foot-switchable boost option
  • CONTROLS: Gain, treble, mid, bass, volume, reverb level, boost level
  • FOOTSWITCH: Double latching footswitch toggles boost function and reverb
  • ADDITIONAL FEATURES: External speaker jack, series effects loop, line out
  • OPTIONS: None
  • RANGE OPTIONS: The Cub-Super range includes the non-reverb Cub- Super10 1x10 combo (£319) and the Cub-SuperTop (£349), plus matching 1x12 and 2x12 speaker cabinets (£159 and £199 respectively)
  • CONTACT: Laney Amplification
  • PRICE: $589 / £399
  • ORIGIN: UK
  • TYPE: Valve preamp and power amp with digital reverb
  • OUTPUT: 15W or 1W
  • VALVES: 3x 12AX7, 2x EL84
  • SPEAKER: HH Electronics H12-65 custom 12" speaker
  • DIMENSIONS: 399 (h) x 430 (w) x 233mm (d)
  • WEIGHT (kg/lb): 12/26
  • CABINET: Plywood
  • CHANNELS: 1, with a foot-switchable boost option
  • CONTROLS: Gain, treble, mid, bass, volume, reverb level, boost level
  • FOOTSWITCH: Double latching footswitch toggles boost function and reverb
  • ADDITIONAL FEATURES: External speaker jack, series effects loop, line out
  • OPTIONS: None
  • RANGE OPTIONS: The Cub-Super range includes the non-reverb Cub- Super10 1x10 combo (£319) and the Cub-SuperTop (£349), plus matching 1x12 and 2x12 speaker cabinets (£159 and £199 respectively)
  • CONTACT: Laney Amplification