The Egnater Renegade is one of my favourite amps ever. It has a wide range of tweakable options and a huge variety of tones available, and despite its apparent complexity it’s actually pretty easy to use. The Tweaker series – the Tweaker, Tweaker-40 and Tweaker-88 – offers a slightly different take on the Renegade’s spirit of instant customisation, packing a fairly decent amount of tone and response-shaping controls into an efficient, toneful little amp, stripping away some of the excess of the Renegade in some places while focusing on perhaps the most useful elements.
At the heart of the Tweaker-40 – the 40 refers to the wattage – you’ll find two 6L6 power valves and three 12AX7s. (The Tweaker 88 has two KT-88 tubes and four 12AX7s instead). The controls appear simple at first glance – a pair of master volumes, a pair of gains, and Bass, Middle and Treble pots – but look a little closer and you’ll see a whole bunch of switches too. For starters, the tone stack has a three-way American/British/AC voicing switch (which shifts the tone to be progressively deeper and rounder), while each channel’s master volume is paired with a Vintage/Modern switch. Over at the gain controls you’ll find Tight and Bright voicing switches which work on the low and high ends respectively, a Mid Cut switch which revoices this crucial factor in a guitar’s tone, and a Clean/Hot switch which flips between low and high gain configurations.
Around the back you’ll find a simple serial effects loop and a pair of speaker outs, as well as an impedance switch (4, 8 or 16 ohms). The head itself is quite teensy and easily cartable, and it pairs nicely with the Tweaker 112x extension cabinet, which includes a single 30 watt, 12″ Celestion G12H-30 speaker. Cosmetically, the basket-weave is very cool but for the whole time it was in my house I was kinda terrified that the cat would realise it looks absolutely perfect for sharpening his claws. So if you share your house with a kittycat, make sure you cover the amp or obsessively lock the door like I did.
The Tweaker 40 is capable of a wide range of tones, from crystal clear to quite high gain, but it seems most comfortable at that magic zone where soft playing elicits a clean sound while harder picking dirties things up. The higher ranges of the various gain settings seem to bring on a raspy tone similar to a high quality fuzz box, making it much better for single notes than for chords if you play at the gnarlier end of the spectrum. But at more conservative gain levels, chords knit together nicely while single notes bloom and sustain. The thick, spongey power chord rhythm tones of the Renegade are not quite present in the Tweaker 40, but players who tend to use a lot of jangly chords or single notes will love this amp. The real star here is the USA/AC/UK switch. USA seems to offer tighter bass and a kick in the upper mids; AC is a little scooped in the midrange with a softer attack; and UK ladles on plenty of bass and lower midrange for a darker, more vintage tone.
Yet for all the Tweaker’s versatility, its plethora of switches seems to be most adept at fine-tuning the corners and hues of an already identifiable tone, rather than giving you plenty of options for sculpting a cache of unique and utterly different sounds. No matter where you set the controls, it still sounds like the Tweaker, just different custom flavours of it that you can optimise for the particular guitar, band, song or mix that you’re using it for. It’s not a metal or shred amp (although it could be with the right distortion pedal, because the clean channel is very pedal-friendly, especially with my MXR Fullbore Metal), but players of any genre that falls below those in the anger stakes could find something quite likable and usable within the Tweaker’s circuitry. Blues-rockers especially.
The Tweaker-40 isn’t as flexible as the Renegade, and I’d love to get my hands on the KT-88-loaded Tweaker-88 for comparison, but it offers plenty of tone and control and a unique voice that’s all its own. It can serve you well whether you play blues, fusion, classic rock, country, indie or any variant thereof.
[geo-out country=”Australia” note=””]Buy the Egnater Tweaker-40 from Musician’s Friend.[/geo-out]
[geo-in country=”Australia” note=””]Egnater is distributed by CMC Music.
This is an extended version of a review I originally wrote for Mixdown magazine.[/geo-in]