With a street price of less than $150, I can’t think of a single reason why a gigging, working annum 44usician shouldn’t own an Electro-Harmonix 44 Magnum. Throw one in your gig bag and use it in a pinch or make it the basis of a powerful, warm amp rig.
Any gigging musician will tell you that guitar amps are temperamental beasts. Even if you use quality gear, a tube failure or other mishap can bring a dream gig to a grinding halt if you don’t have an extra amp ready. The problem for most of us is that we don’t have a fleet of roadies standing buy to help us carry our gear. Good amps are both heavy and expensive. It pays to bring a spare always, but it’s tough to haul around one amp, much less two.
Enter the Electro-Harmonix 44 Magnum, which is a 44 watt power amp the size of an effects pedal. In theory, it sounds like a great idea. If you have an issue with your amp, just pull the 44 Magnum out of your gig bag and get back to work. Is it really that simple? Let’s find out.
The 44 Magnum is a 44 watt amp amplifier capable of either 8 ohm or 16 ohm operation. A toggle switch controls bright or normal operation, and a single volume control operates the output. A robust 24v DC adapter is also included. That’s all there is to it!
I tested the 44 Magnum with a Fender American Deluxe HSS Stratocaster and two different amp/effects setups based on possible uses I see for the amp. Obviously, I think the amp would work great as a backup amplifier, so I tested it with my regular “go-to” pedalboard setup, with an array of overdrive and distortion pedals. I think another possible use for the Magnum is with a preamp/pedalboard combination, so I brought in my trusty Boss GT-8. In both cases I used a Mesa Rectifier 4×12 cabinet and a Mills Acoustics 2×12.
With my pedalboard, I was able to get giggable sounds throughout the entire range of the amp’s singular volume control. I have some pretty nifty overdrive pedals on my main board, and it was nice to hear the true voice of the pedals shine through. As I cranked the Magnum up past one o’clock, I enjoyed the power amp saturation as if I were playing a “real” amp. Well, I was, and it sounded great.
I was equally impressed with the Magnum and the Boss GT-8. For players who use a modeling preamp and want to “warm” their sound up a bit, I think the 44 Magnum paired with a good cabinet would be very convincing and be a low-cost solution as well. Honestly, with both setups, I had very few complaints. Even with the effects bypassed, the sound of the Magnum on its own is very warm and musical. I could see this amp being used by guitarists and bassists alike.
If you do happen to purchase one, just remember – this is a serious guitar amplifier, not an effects pedal! If you plug the output of the Magnum into anything other than a properly matched speaker cabinet, serious damage will occur. Fortunately, the folks at Electro-Harmonix were wise enough to built in an automatic disabling if it’s powered up and not properly connected, but you could still damage your equipment if you’re not careful.
With a street price of less than $150, I can’t think of a single reason why a gigging, working musician shouldn’t own one of these. Throw one in your gig bag and use it in a pinch or make it the basis of a powerful, warm amp rig. You can’t go wrong either way.
Name of Gear: Electro-Harmonix 44 Magnum
List Price: $193
Manufacturer Info: Electro-Harmonix; ehx.com
Pros: Warm tone; highly portable; inexpensive