August 2001 - Combo Carnival - Traynor Custom Valve 40

Originally, hailing from Canada? The country that gave the world Moosehead beer, hockey, and Anne Murray, Traynor amplifiers have become highly sought-after Pawnshop Prizes.

Founded in the early '60s by Pete Traynor, the amps earned a reputation for being well built, affordable, and good sounding. Now, Yorkville Sound has brought back the Traynor moniker, and the two-channel Custom Valve 40 does the name justice.

The Custom's cabinet construction is clean, although the Tolex covering is sloppy in places. Inside the ventilated steel chassis, all the components are mounted on three PC boards, including the two Sovtek 5881 power tubes and three 12AX7s. The top-mounted control panel offers 3-band EQ for the clean channel, as well as a presence control and a bright switch. The lead side sports 3-band EQ, a gain control, and a footswitchable boost function. Moving around to the back panel, you find an effects loop and a difficult-to-access extension speaker jack tucked way underneath the chassis. The speaker is a 12" Celestion 70 / 80.

Tonally, the Custom falls between a beefed-up Fender Deluxe Reverb and a modified Marshall plexi. Easily the loudest of the amps tested, the Custom sports a clean channel that is bright and glassy with single-coils. In fact, unless you have a particularly tubby-sounding humbucker guitar, the bright switch probably won't see much use. As you begin cranking the clean side, shades of grind start creeping in. But even when running this channel flat-out, the tones still clean up well when you turn down your guitar. Adding any amount of reverb (which is provided by a full-size Accutronics tank), only adds to the Traynor's expansive tone.

The Custom's lead side has warm, punchy gain to spare. You can't dial-up super-scooped heavy tones, but the distortion is nice and brown with tons of midrange. At bedroom volume levels, notes sing with excellent definition and dynamics. The boost function piles on more gain without changing the EQ character? The amp just gets louder and meaner. It's like getting a third sound from a two-channel amp.

The Custom Valve 40 is an amazing deal. You get a flexible amplifier with great tones, in a package that'll fit in the backseat of your car. And, at $649, you'll have plenty of gas money left over.

-Darrin Fox, Guitar Player