October 2005 - Combo Roundup! Five New Tube Terrors

Traynor YCV50
With its blue covering and funky logo, the YCV50 ($879 retail/$639 street) doesn't make much of a visual statement. But that's entirely in line with the Canadian company's long history of building amplifiers that sound more impressive than they look. In purely functional terms, the YCV50 has its act together. You get two channels with independent Treble, Bass, and Middle controls; a Boost switch on Channel 1; a Bright switch on Channel 2; Master Volume and Reverb controls, and an effects loop. Dig deeper and you find a DC filament supply on the preamp tubes (which helps reduce hum), Auto Balancing (which allows you to change output tubes without having to rebias the amp), a long 2-spring reverb tank, and a quality Celestion speaker in a rugged plywood cabinet.

The best thing about the YCV50 is the way it sounds. Channel 2 provides an excellent range of clean to overdriven tones with plenty of tone sculpting power available from the well-voiced EQ. The reverb has excellent texture and color, and it delivers great surf sound when cranked up. I just wish the reverb was one of the amp's footswitchable functions, but, alas, you can only select channels and activate Boost via the included footswitch.

Channel 1 is the lead mode, and here you find a wide variety of distortion flavors that are brightly voiced and offer excellent attack and cutting power. The Gain control delivers everything from bluesy grind to classic-rock crunch to sinister sustain, and, thanks to the superbly implemented Middle control, even nu-metal heads can dial in happening tones. The Boost function only works on this channel, and its level is preset, but it's handy for giving solos a little extra kick. And with a full 50 watts of power under the hood,the YCV 50 is a particularly good choice if you don't usually mic your amp though the P.A. I'm impressed by the scope of tones this amp delivers-which is why the YCV50 is such a cool choice for younger and older players alike. The YCV50 may be plain Jane in the looks department, but it's a doll where it counts.

Traynor YCV50

Kudos

Sturdy array of clean and overdriven tones.
Independent EQ on both channels.
Cool sounding reverb. Powerful enough to maintain clarity at higher volumes.

Concerns

Reverb is not footswitchable.
Footswitch buttons for channel select and Boost are confusingly labeled "1" and "2."
Internally mounted preamp tubes difficult to access.

-Art Thompson, Guitar Player