Over the last 7 or 8 years I’ve been through a number of different amps trying to find ‘my’ sound.
For a brief bit of background, I started with a Marshall Valvestate 40 combo, then onto a POD XT-Live direct into a PA, then onto a Fender Deluxe 90, then a Marshall DSL40 combo, then a Marshall DSL50, followed by a Mesa Boogie Dual Rec Roadster, then a Blackstar Series One 1046L6 head and finally, finally my Suhr Badger 35.
The Badger is a completely different beast to what I’m used to. I’ve always had 2,3 or 4 channel amps where I had flexibility to set my sounds up and switch them at ease with the included footswitch. It’s therefore taken some time to get used to having 1 channel and to get used to using it as a pedal platform to create my other ‘channels’.
But it’s finally clicked, and I’m absolutely loving this amp! It has one of the nicest clean sounds from any of my previous amps, and a lovely crunch tone too. But I mainly play hard rock so I have experimented with various pedals and finally settled on a Strymon Riverside to give me my dirt, for me this is the perfect combination!
My last 2 amps have been 6L6 100w beasts so the feel of EL84’s in a lower wattage amp is very different – in a good way – it feels more ‘comfortable’ to play (if that even makes sense), like a worn in pair of shoes – there’s no need to fight for notes, it sustains into harmonic feedback in a beautiful, beautiful way.
I struggled initially with the controls - specifically the Power, Drive and Gain knobs as I couldn’t get my head around how to balance them, but I’ve settled on maxing the power and using the drive knob as a master volume which sounds fab. The Gain knob controls..well, the gain, so I keep it just at breaking point to allow my OD pedal to do the rest of the work.
On the back are the usual connections – effects loop, various Ohm-age speaker connections etc. The loops works a treat, nice and clean and no extraneous noise.
I was concerned that a 35w amp into my 2x12 Zilla Fatboy wouldn’t be loud enough in a live environment, especially as we have a monster of a drummer with a kit to match! Plus I’m up against a lead guitarist with a Dual Rectifier and 4x12 - but I needn’t have worried, if anything I usually find that I’m too loud and rarely even get close to 11 o clock on the volume (I’m usually between 9-10 o clock).
Construction-wise the amp is built like a tank, well-weighted (unlike my old Dual Rec) and well-balanced (unlike my old Blackstar Series One) and an easy carry with one hand. The comfortable leather(?) wrapped carry handle feels premium and I’m certain will last years.
Summary: I like it a lot.