The Valvetrain Brandywine is a lifetime-built unit that sounds great (in an Ampeg-like way) and has a very satisfying amount of "oomph" for its modest 50W rating. I got it hoping to use with upright bass. I'm still working on that, but I wound up using it a lot on rock shows with moderate stage volume. It exhibits the best of that all-tube responsiveness where I can go from thick & round to face-melting fuzz just from digging in. I can always hear & feel everything I'm doing without ever overpowering anyone else. (That's a gold standard for me. Extremely difficult - basically impossible to achieve for me with so many other bass amps!)
The tone controls are similar to Ampeg, but I really like the bright switch. Many are just scratchy or thin, but this one adds a lot of edge & presence. It takes my old P-bass all the way from "polite" to "raunchy".
There's a little more gain sculpting facility than I generally need onstage, including TWO controls - a variable pad and a post-power "governor" - that work the OPPOSITE from a regular volume control. (Turning clockwise reduces the volume.) Those may prove handy in the studio for enhancing - or avoiding - breakup.
A built-in XLR DI would have been nice (as would have been a built-in dummy load for silent tracking) but I can work with the dual 1/4" sends. One of them taps after the power section for maximum tubey goodness. I've had great results sending to larger house PAs with an external DI, or running a guitar cable straight to my small mixer. (The way I use it onstage, there really isn't a pre-master type send. That can be a hassle with solid state, but the overall musicality of the response here seems to make it much less of an issue.)
I used to have an Ampeg PF-50T. By comparison it seemed gutless with drums with sticks, and harder sometimes to get a good sound with. It was prohibitively difficult for my tech to access the internals & source replacement switches. (My tech hasn't had to look at the Brandywine amp yet - I expect it will be infinitely more friendly to wrench on if & when he has to.)
I also compare with an old Sunn 200s which seems to have loads more treble baked in (like a bright switch permanently on), and is a lot bulkier & heavier despite having a similar power rating. I do still use it and love it, but the Valvetrain is quite a bit more versatile and practical.
- 5/5, 5 from 1 review
American Made 50 Watt – Recording Bass Amplifier
Great Little Tube Amp!!
- 5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Jan 6, 2022
- Build Quality:
- + Awesome Vintage Tone
- + Nice Size & Weight For A Tube Bass Amp
- + Hand Wired Construction
- + Lots Of Gain & Breakup Control
- + Several Output Options
- - No Built-In DI
- - Not Cheap
- 50 into 8/4/2
- 1 w/ variable pad
- tuner, preamp out, variable level slave, 2x speaker
- EQ / Controls:
- Bass, Mid, Treble, Hi & Lo Switches, Volume, Governor
Inspired by the bass amplifiers of the early 1960’s that set the benchmark for recorded bass tone the Brandywine remains true to it’s roots.
In order to control today’s active basses there is a variable pad that switches from passive to active mode. The variable feature allows today’s bassist to dial in the sweet spot for 9 and 18 volt systems.
The Tone stack in the Brandywine is a Baxandall active stack that has the traditional Bass and Treble controls with the addition of a Middle control. Leaving the Middle control on 1, the tone is reminiscent of the early days of the flip-top amps produced in Linden, NJ.
The Ultra High (Bright) and Ultra Low (Deep) switches allow further control over Brandy’s voice.
The Governor control limits the output volume of the amplifier. When set to 1 there is no volume reduction. As the control is moved towards 10 the output level is reduced. The volume control can be used with the Governor to create preamp overdrive.
The Governor originally appeared on the Sundown Amplifiers by Dennis Kager that were produced in the 1980’s.
The back panel contains a Tuner pass-through jack, preamp output, variable level slave output and selectable speaker jacks,