I remember the first time I played a Pignose amp. A buddy brought it over and we had a great time while one of us played and the other opened and closed the suitcase style cabinet creating a wah like effect. Ahhh, memories… Pignose has greatly expanded their product line since those days offering a variety of amps and accessories including the G40V tube amp, the subject of this review.
Dennis Kager of Ampeg fame designed the 40 watt G40V, which was the first tube amp available from Pignose. The circuit features a complement of three 12AX7 and two 6L6 tubes and is rumored to be based on the ’59 Fender Bassman design. Controls include volume (controls preamp gain), master volume, presence, treble, middle, and bass and the brown pigskin tolex covered cabinet feeds a ten inch speaker. The back of the amp offers four and eight ohm outputs for driving an external speaker cabinet. At 24 pounds in a very compact enclosure, this is an extremely portable amp.
I tested the amp using an Agile AL 3000, SX SST57 Stop Tail, Xaviere XV-820, and PRS SE Singlecut. Twiddling with the controls, this little piggy revealed a wide palette of tones from fairly clean to fuzzed out grit and everything in-between... With the volume control at around 15 to 30% there is a sweet very subtle breakup prefect for Grant Green style jazz. At 50 to 60% the amp shifts gracefully into a slightly raspy overdrive with plenty of sustain yet still cleans up significantly when rolling back your guitars volume control. Way cool. With the volume control cranked, the low end loses definition and the amp sags significantly sounding somewhat as if it is being fed by a fuzz pedal.
The treble and bass controls are fairly effective across their sweeps, though I would have liked a touch more low end response. However, the lack of thump might be a result of the ten inch speaker and open back cabinet rather than the eq circuit. I found the mid control voiced a much too high for my taste and preferred it on the minimum setting and generally found the sweet spots to be in the middle of the all the controls’ sweeps. This amp loves the snappier response of single coil pickups. However, experimentation with the controls at their extreme settings also yielded some very usable tones.
This is a loud amp, certainly loud enough for playing with a live drummer. However when running the amp at extreme settings, the amp starts to loose its charm becoming a little rougher around the edges than I like. In my opinion, keeping the master volume below 50% and micing the amp off axis delivered the best results.
I brought the G40V on a recording session which required a variety of tones from groove based fusion to jazz to country and the Pignose delivered across all the genres admirably. Although, I did need overdrive to get a smoother lead tone when needed.
The Pignose G40V is a decent sounding and highly portable tube amp which will certainly appeal to those seeking vintage tube tones in a small affordable package. On the web, the average prices run around $320 USD. However, with patience and a little luck you might be able to find a better deal. GoingToday.com has featured them on several occasions for $180 USD, which in my book is a steal.
Price: ~$320 USD
Pros: Decent tones, light weight
Cons: Midrange voiced too high for my taste