You’ve gotta love an amp with a name like the Mini MoFo. This, of course, comes from the same minds who created the Ashdown Little Bastard bass amp (which I loved when I reviewed it last year), Ashdown being the sister company of Hayden. And what a mofo this is! The Mini MoFo is a little 15 watt scrapper of a guitar amplifier which comes in its own carry bag and is very ruggedly constructed. It looks and feels like it’s ready for business.
The Mini MoFo cranks out 15 watts of Class A juice from two EL84 power valves. There’s also a trio of 12AX7s. It’s a single channel amplifier with a footswitchable MoFo mode for more gain (and the footswitch is included, so yay). There’s a Stealth switch for reducing the volume for rocking out at home, which is a very handy and much appreciated feature for a family man such as myself, but when it’s time to crank it on stage the Mini Mofo can get stupidly loud. Controls are MoFo (the aforementioned extra footswitchable gain), Gain, Middle, Bass, Treble, Presence and Master. But wait, what’s this? There are two inputs, ‘US’ and ‘UK,’ which alter the basic character of the amplifier to an astonishing degree! In fact there are four cascaded gain stages here which offer everything from classic clean to ultra metal and anything in between.
The Mini MoFo also features a front-mounted effects loop which uses a single Y cable rather than having separate send and return jacks. I love this feature because it reduces the clutter and makes things a little neater than having the effect loop cables snaking around from the back of the amp to the front of the stage. And when every foot of guitar cable degrades your tone a little bit more, every foot of cable length saved will improve your sound. Around the back are 8 and 16 ohm speaker outputs. And that’s pretty much all there is to it! There’s no reverb, no bright switch, no mid shift, no bass boost. Just a meat and potatoes ass kicker.
I tested the Mini MoFo with my Ibanez Talman (with two Ibanez Super 58 vintage PAF-style humbuckers) and my Fender American Vintage ’62 Stratocaster Reissue. The Mini MoFo’s clean tones are bright, punchy and ringy, great for those who need some jangle in their lives, and equally adept at single coil and humbucker tones. It’s quite sensitive to picking strength, so if your’e a fingerpicker you’ll love this. Crank up the Gain control a bit while plugged into the UK input and – good lord – this thing sounds like AC/DC in a box! The attack, the midrange, the highs, the tight bass, it’s all here, and it’s so accurate it’s almost eerie! Switch the MoFo gain on and you can dirty this sound up to an obscene degree. Plug into the US input instead and there are killer Josh Homme sounds available. Or Monster Magnet. Or The Stooges. Or early Megadeth. Or The Mars Volta. This amp definitely excels at the dirtier, more antisocial kinds of rock tone rather than pretty, controlled, wussy grandpa overdrive. And it pushes serious amounts of volume for such a small amp.
The Mini MoFo is a real players’ amp. Push it and it bites back. Crank it and it will spit fire (not literally, thankfully). It also loves being tested with different guitars, emphasising different aspects of whatever you plug into it. It’s not the most flexible amp out there, but just like the clone troopers in Star Wars Episode II: Attack Of The Clones, does exactly what it’s built to do, and does it very well.