Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Pignose Legendary 7-100 Guitar Amplifier Review


The world is chock full of useless little guitar practice amps, and the genesis for all of them is the Pignose 7-100. This model has been around since before I started playing guitar, and I have never taken the time to play one until now. Hmmm.

Pignose has been around since the early 1970s, and they introduced their first amplifier, the 7-100, at the 1973 Summer NAMM show. This amplifier was a hit, and continues to sell steadily to this day with very few changes. Since then they have gone on to make bigger amplifiers, guitars, stomp boxes, megaphones and some amazingly cheap wireless microphones.

But we will focus on the Legendary 7-100 today. For starters, it is truly tiny and portable, measuring about 6 x 5 x 9 inches, and weighing around 6 pounds with 6 AA batteries on board. It is a nifty looking box, covered with brown tolex and hinged on one side so that you can pop the latch and open it up to access the batteries or a cavity where you can store the optional AC adaptor. In keeping with the portability theme, they included to strap buttons on the amp so you can hook up a guitar strap and sling it over your shoulder. A wandering minstrel sort of thing, I guess – but don’t trip on your cord.

The mechanics of this unit are dead simple. There is a ¼-inch input, a single volume knob (shaped like a pig’s snout), an 1/8-inch jack for the power supply and a ¼-inch output. The amplifier is capable of putting out 5-watts into its 5-inch onboard speaker or providing a pre-amp signal so you can run the preamp through something bigger and better.

When I opened my factory-fresh unit, there were no surprises. It is made overseas, but the quality was very good, with clean cabinet joints and wiring. I ponied up $15 for the genuine Pignose AC adaptor, as I will mostly be using this thing in my studio and in hotel rooms, and I hate buying batteries. If you choose to run it unplugged, it will run through those 6 AA batteries in somewhere around 5 hours, which is not too bad, really.

With only one knob and one input I got the Pignose up and running in a hurry. I cranked my Strat and Les Paul through it and I really like the way it works. It puts out a fairly decent amount of volume – certainly enough for practicing at home or hanging around the campfire. It is not ear-splitting or anything like that, but it gets by. At its highest levels the sound breaks up a bit, and not in a pleasant way, so I do not take it much above 8/10ths.

The sound is not exactly as advertised by the Pignose folks, though. Their promotional materials state that the 7-100 “…features a full array of tones from clean to crunchy.” Nuh uh. There is no clean to be found here. This amp has one sound, and it is a nice dirty crunch that is marvelous for rock or blues. If you are looking for super-clean sounds, this is not the amplifier for you. In my case, I love its tone, so I have no gripes about the sound. By the way, I used the ¼-inch out to send the preamp signal to my mixing board, and I got the same tone.

If I could add one thing to the amp it would be an auxiliary input so I could plug in an iPod to practice along with, but I am cool with it the way it is. They have stuck true to their design over the years, and for the money I think it is a great deal.

If you like the way the PIgnose 7-100 sounds, it is not going to cost you an arm and a leg to pick one up. The brown tolex ones sell for around $75 online and the tweed print models sell for around $90, and those prices include a 6-month warranty. At this price point I would stick with buying a new one to avoid the headaches of buying somebody else’s abused old junk. Check one out for yourself!



  1. I just bought a Les Paul Special II and by the looks of it, the Pignose might just be the perfect fit. You mentioned that you would like to add an aux input, will I be able to do that?

  2. Hey Mike. I'm sure a smarter person than me could do it. Or you could buy two and run your aux into one and the guitar into another. But keep in mind that this amp won't do clean, so your aux would be pretty distorted. Thanks for checking in!