Before I share my thoughts, lets first have a look at our Guitar Gas video review. Darren is playing a <a< span=””> title=”Check out all of the Made in Japan posts…” href=”http://guitargas.com/2/made-in-japan/”>made in Japan Fernandes ‘The Revival‘ 62RI Stratocaster Copy fitted out with Fender Custom Shop Fat 50s pickups. The Kong is plugged into a Fargen 1×12 speaker cab fitted with a 30watt 70th anniversary special edition G12H Vintage Series Celestion speaker.
I reckon most guitarists would have a soft spot for tweed amps, which is perhaps a nod to the vintage Fender amps, and this amp does have a vintage vibe to it in both it’s sound and looks.
On the whole, it’s a pretty simple amp with a black control faceplate on the top, nice chrome plated metal corners to keep it protected, black on tweed front panel, chicken head knobs and a fake Tan leather handle.
Again we have the interesting BWM controls of…
- Banana = Gain
- Nut = Tone
- Poo = Volume
Now I won’t hide it, I think these symbols detract from the amp’s seriousness and make it a bit tacky and confusing, but the good news (for me anyways) Big White Monkey are doing away with the symbols to make way for text as their control descriptions in all of their newer model amps… Yay!!!
The amp is loosely modeled of the Fender Champ and is powered by 1 – 6L6 Power tube and 1 – 12AX7 Preamp tube. It is fitted with a pentode triode switch, so you can easily switch between 5 and 3 watts (great for us bedroom rockers!), it has both a 4 and 8ohm speaker out, a DI out so you can plug straight into a desk, military spec PCB, and Hi and Low inputs.
So how does it sound?
Unlike the video demo above where Darren is plugged into a 70th anniversary Celestion, I used a Jensen P12N (50 watt Alnico). I also tested it out with a fairly cheap, made in China greenback clone, and I must say that the amp responded way better through the better quality speaker. Most of my thoughts here are based around using the better quality Jensen with a Stratocaster.
I really liked the cleans and I would totally agree with Darren when he describes it as an amp that has a low mid push. But when I used the on-board distortion, by turning up the pre-amp gain (Banana), I thought it juiced it up more and really helped color the tone.
If you pushed the amp harder and louder the tone would thicken out a bit more. I thought the distortion had a bit of a Fender Tweed flavor to it, where it wasn’t a modern heavy distortion, but more of a vintage ‘Fender‘ sounding gain.
I did AB it to a Laney 50 watt head and a hand wired Valvetone Impact Mk3 and in comparison to these I was wanting the Kong to breathe a little more and have more clarity in the upper mids/treble. However, when I used my el’cheapo Behringer EQ and added some mids and treble in, I had all the clarity I wanted.
The amp takes pedals really well, and if you’re wanting more gain in your sound then you would probably need to put a pedal in front of the amp, but as a general foundation tone the clean on the Kong is fine. Just add some delay, reverb and bit of OD with the use of some pedals and honestly you get a pretty good tone for little money down, and through a nice 12 inch speaker, I must say that it’s fairly decent.
Overall, I would say the amp is a very good low gain, low-wattage amp which would best suit a a Blues, Jazz or Rock guitarist. The build quality is pretty good and if you’re looking for an amp that comes close to the vintage Tweed tone, for the price, you can’t go wrong.