The Bogner Duende, while expensive, is nevertheless a worthy contender in the boutique low wattage amp market.
Bogner amplification has a well-earned reputation for making high quality amplifiers that primarily focus on high-gain carnage. Amps such as the Shiva and the Überschall have rightly become synonymous with amplifiers that can inflict serious pain if needed. But there’s more to Bogner amps than simply melting speaker cabinets. Enter the Bogner Duende, which is a low watt amp that focuses more on low wattage versatility than the company’s previous offerings. Let’s look at what makes the Duende such a departure in the company’s line.
I reviewed the 1×12 combo which is a hefty but manageable 50lbs (compare that to the 70lbs Shiva). The amp is 30 watts and powered by two 6V6 power tubes. The 1×12 is also available as a 15 watt model. Five 12AX7 preamp tubes are standard. The amp’s two channels can, interestingly enough, either be combined or played separately. A reverb with independent level controls is standard as is tremolo with adjustable speed and depth controls. If you need more effects, you can use the tube buffered effects loop. You can send a compensated signal to a mixing board or recorder via the recording output. Channel 1 sports gain (with a pull bright switch), treble, bass, volume, and shared master EQ controls. Channel 2 has a gain (with extra gain available via a pull switch), volume, and shared master eq controls.
The clean channel reminded me of the best of Fender Deluxe Reverbs. It can do the best of American clean sounds but can also produce a nasty blues when pushed. It’s also a very “pedal friendly” channel. As you’d expect, the second channel can definitely burn if needed, though this is more of a Billy Gibbons or David Grissom kind of burn, not a shredder’s amp. The unboosted sound does a great job in capturing high octane blues whereas the boosted channel just oozes the best of classic guitar rock. Though it’s “only” 30 watts, it’s certainly loud enough to play in most clubs without the need for a microphone.
As you might expect in a amp focused on classic blues and rock styles, the onboard tremolo is pretty happening, with a great range in both the speed and depth controls. And the reverb is typical Bogner, which is to say thick and warm. You can also adjust the level for each channel independently, so if you like a lot of reverb on the clean channel but not so much on the dirty channel, the Duende’s got you covered.
About the only thing not to like about the Duende is the price tag. After playing the Duende, you’ll realize that sometimes the best things in life aren’t free or cheap. With a street price over $2,700 for a new amp, this is an amp that can suck up your paper route money pretty fast, but what’s a couple of bucks for such a thick, creamy tone? Expensive? Yes. Awesome? Definitely.
Name of Gear: Bogner Duende
List Price: $2,700
Manufacturer Info: Bogner Amplification; bogneramplification.com
Pros: Excellent clean and classic rock sounds; good sounding tremolo and reverb