The Bogner Alchemist is quite a bargain in the ever-increasing sea of quality yet inexpensive guitar amplifiers.
Few amplifier companies have the reputation for quality and sound as does Bogner amplification. Of course, this reputation comes at a price. Amps that hail from the Bogner custom shop are notoriously expensive, which is the price you pay for such high quality. In recent years, Bogner has tried to offer high quality at a much lower price with its Alchemist series, designed in part with the team at Line 6. Did they succeed? Let’s see.
The Bogner Alchemist is a 40W two channel amplifier. The first channel (gold) focuses upon clean to blues/crunch and features gain, treble, mid, bass, volume crunch mode, variable bright, and deep switch controls. The second channel (mercury) is the high gain channel and sports gain, treble, mid, bass, volume, variable bright, and mid shift controls. Both channels share reverb (with controls for reverb type and reverb level) and delay (with controls for delay type, delay level, delay repeats, and tap tempo).
A four-button footswitch is included that allows you to contorl channel select, boost, delay, and reverb. The 6L6 class-AB power section is complemented by 5 12AX7 preamp tubes. You can select either 40 or 20 watts of power. I reviewed the 1×12 combo model, which features a 12″ premium Celestian speaker.
I’m primarily a “pedal player,” so I wanted to first make sure that the Alchemist can handle my extensive range of overdrive and distortion pedals. I expected the clean channel to handle these well, but even the high gain channel took to my high gain pedals very well. Of course, an amp needs to stand on its own merits, so I decided to gig with the Alchemist with nary a pedal in sight (aside from its own footswitch), and I was very pleased with the results. The clean channel can offer shimmery Fender tones or Bluesbreaker sounds with little trouble whereas the second channel is pure Bogner (though don’t expect it to sound exactly like a Shiva or other $3,000 Bogner) with a wide range of high gain sounds available. Harmonics and high gain licks just flowed with ease. This definitely sounds and feels like a much more expensive amplifiers.
Especially welcome is the onboard reverb and digital delay. Rather than offering a dozen different effects a la Line 6 amplifiers, the Bogner Alchemist focuses upon Reverb and Delay, my two personal favorite effects. Though digital, they both sound superb and have an analog warmth that hints of the Line 6 modeling technology within (Bogner and Line 6 have long been partners). My only complaint is that the footswitch doesn’t allow for tap tempo functions, so you’ll need to do that manually on the face of the amp itself. A small complaint, but an annoyance nevertheless.
The Alchemist is less expensive that its other Bogner brethren because, like its Line 6 cousins, it’s assembled in China (along with Apple Computers and pretty much every consumer electronic you can buy). If you think the overseas construction affects the sound or build quality, I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed. The Bogner Alchemist is quite a bargain in the ever-increasing sea of quality yet inexpensive guitar amplifiers. Given its low price and versatility, it’s hard to beat if you like the basic Bogner sounds available.
Name of Gear: Bogner Alchemist
List Price: $1,399.99
Manufacturer Info: Bogner Amplification; bogneramplification.com
Pros: Relatively inexpensive; good effects; solid clean and distortion sounds
Cons: None significant