The amount of tonal flexibility the Egnater Tweaker possesses is simply amazing, especially given its portability and price. It can easily cop the best sounds from the Vox, Marshall, and Fender families.
It’s hard to believe but once upon a time Egnater amps were out of reach for most guitar players, since he was an independent builder and the amps were custom made. Fortunately for us mortals, he decided to focus on making quality mass-produced amplifiers that were heavy on tone and light on cost. The Tweaker series is yet another serious contender from the mind of Bruce Egnater, with the focus being on portability and tonal options. Is the Tweaker worthy of your hard-earned cash? Read on.
The Egnater Tweaker head is a single channel multi-configurable 15 watt tube amplifier powered by 3 12AX7 preamp tubes and 2 6v6 power amp tubes. The front panel sports rotary controls for master volume, treble, middle, bass, and gain. In addition, there are numerous mini-toggles (Modern/Vintage; AC/British/American; Clean/Hot; Bright/Normal; Tight/Deep) that provide numerous tonal, gain, and EQ options.
The rear panel sports a buffered effects loop and speaker output with selectable impedance from 4, 8, or 16 ohms. The amp is switchable from 100V/115V/230V operation. An accompanying 1×12″ extension cabinet is available with a Celestion G12H-30 speaker and partial open back design.
I tested the Tweaker with a Gibson Les Paul Custom, a Fender Reissue ’52 Telecaster, and a Nash 63 Stratocaster. Since Egnater’s newest amps are built in China, I always give them a bit of an extra inspection, since so many people are worried about Chinese build quality. Definitely no worries here! The handle could perhaps be a bit sturdier, but aside from that, it feels like a boutique amp.
With the array of controls on the front panel, you would think it might be too intimidating or non-intuitive. That’s hardly the case. My initial attraction to the Tweaker is that, personally, I generally only use a single channel on an amplifier since I prefer to get overdrive and distortion sounds from effects pedals. So, finding the perfect “pedal” sound is very appealing to me.
Each of the mini-toggles has serious effects on the tone, so I started with the one that appealed to me most, the AC/British/American switch, which lets you choose between Fender, Vox, or Marshall style sounds. I was really surprised at each position lets you nail the feel of these classic style of amplifiers. I found myself gravitating towards the Fender and Vox settings, since I was testing the amp with an array of pedals, but I gave the Marshall setting a thorough workout as well and was pleased with array of sounds I got. Warm Fenderish cleans, shimmering Vox tones, and crunchy Marshall tones were all here in a lunchbox style package. Pretty amazing. Engaging the Hot/Clean switch to the Hot setting offered even more gain, almost too much for my taste.
I’m not a big fan of super Treble-heavy amps, so I didn’t engage the Bright setting too often, though it did sound pretty good with the Les Paul. Still, the AC mode probably sounded more “Voxish” with the bright switch engaged, and it was a pleasant sound so long as you watch the high EQ with single coil guitars. The low end reacted strongly to the Tight/Deep setting. I’m primarily a Tele player, and I really liked the Tight setting with both the Tele and the Strat, though the Les Paul gained even more “oomph” with the Deep setting engaged. It’s called the Tweaker for a reason! I couldn’t make up my mind which sound I preferred. I probably flipped the Vintage/Modern switch a dozen times for each tone. In the end, I opted for a Vintage US sound with a Tight feel and Normal EQ. This setting loved ever pedal I threw at it. I was really impressed.
It’s not surprising that the Tweaker has no reverb given its size, but it does include a nice effects loop, and I tried a couple of reverb pedals through the loop and they all sounded great. The reverb omission also cuts down on the size and weight.
I tested the amp in both a home recording scenario and with a 5 piece blues/rock band. The amp is well suited to both recording and live scenarios, though you’ll want to mic it if you plan on using it with a full band. That’s not to say that this amp isn’t loud. It is. While I used it primarily with the 1×12 matching cabinet, if you add a 4×12 cabinet into the mix, the amp can definitely hold its own.
I test a lot of different amplifiers, and this is one that really made a positive impression on me. While there’s nothing groundbreaking with the sound, the amount of tonal flexibility the Egnater Tweaker possesses is simply amazing, especially given its portability and price. It can easily cop the best sounds from the Vox, Marshall, and Fender families. There’s no reason not to own one, unless you’re simply broke or have a thing against cream and black.
Name of Gear: Egnater Tweaker
List Price: $599.99
Manufacturer Info: Egnater Custom Amplification; egnateramps.com
Pros: Unparalleled flexibility; excellent value; great clean and overdrive tones.