If you want a quality American-made combo amplifier that can cover classic Fender and Marshall tones with ease, check out the Rivera Chubster series.
Rivera Amplification founder Paul Rivera made a name for himself both designing and modifying Fender amplifiers. Thankfully, Rivera went into business for himself and has a well-earned reputation for tonal versatility and build quality. Everyone from Vince Gill to Rick Nielson swears by Rivera amplifiers and their commitment to excellence. One of their most popular models is the Chubster 40, which strives to offer Fender cleans and Marshall crunch in one package. Let's see how they did.
I reviewed the 40 watt Chubster (it's also available in a 55 watt version). It's powered by 2 EL34 power amp tubes and five 12AX7 preamp tubes. A dual channel amplifier, each channel features independent controls for gain, volume, and equalization along with numerous push-pull options. With the lead channel, the Volume knob offers channel switching when pulled out whereas the Master knob engages a boost. With the clean channel, the Master volume engages the "Ninja" boost, the Treble knobs offers a Bright setting, and the Middle knob allows for a notched EQ. An included footswitch allows you to change channels and engage the boost if needed.
I tested the Chubster 40 with a variety of guitars, including a Tom Anderson Classic, a Carvin CT6M, a Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster, and a Gibson Les Paul Custom. Beginning with the clean channel, it's definitely easy to get a classic Fender clean sound with little effort, and the clean channel displayed the unique character of the various guitars. It's hard to explain in words, but the Strat sounded "Straty" and the Les Paul sounded "Les Paulish." The wide array of eq options allowed for this wide range of versatility. When pushed, the clean channel is also capable of some nice bluesy breakup. From Blues to Jazz to Country, the clean channel is a winner.
The lead channel also did not disappoint. Based on classic Marshall designs, I spent a lot of time with the Les Paul on this channel and was greatly impressed by the thick, crunchy lead tones. Again, the eq is super versatile, so I was able to get everything from Plexi to Modern tones in the lead channel.
I was also very impressed by the reverb, which complimented the clean and lead tones nicely. The effects loop also worked well with a variety of effects and was incredibly quiet.
With two incredibly versatile channels, it's hard to find an amplifier that can cover so much sonic territory with relative ease. If you want a quality American-made combo amplifier that can cover classic Fender and Marshall tones with ease, check out the Rivera Chubster series. It's one of the most versatile amps you'll ever play.
Name of Gear: Rivera Chubster 40
List Price: $1,699
Manufacturer Info: Rivera Amplification; rivera.com
Pros: Extremely versatile; excellent construction; nice reverb
Cons: Weak documentation
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