Thursday, May 28, 2015

Electro-Harmonix .44 Magnum Micro Guitar Amplifier Review

Howdy!

I have had great luck with Electro-Harmonix products over the years, and their .44 Magnum micro guitar amplifier is no exception. This New York-based company has been in business since 1968, and has cranking out a steady stream desirable effect pedals, tubes and amp since then, with a few hiccups along the way (union troubles and Russian gangsters – do a Google search, it is fascinating!).

The .44 Magnum is a unique product, as it is a pretty power amplifier that is the size of a standard effect pedal. That means it measures 2.75 by 4.5 by 2.1 inches, which is pretty amazing for a 44 watt amp. It sure makes it easy to stick on your pedalboard as a back-up in case you main amp poops out during a gig. Unfortunately, the dedicated external power supply is almost the same size, so you will have to find some place to stash it, as this amp does not have an internal battery.

I was surprised to see that this unit is made in America, since most stuff comes from overseas these days. Build quality is good, with a nice finish and a solid feel to the case and knob. It am not too keen on having a sticker for the graphics, and think that a silkscreen would be more of a quality touch.

Operation is dead simple. There is a single input jack, a single output jack, a jack for the aforementioned power supply, a volume knob and a bright switch. That is it – plug everything in and you are set to go. Don’t forget that you should use a speaker cable instead of a guitar cable for the output…

I plugged this amp into a few different speaker cabinets I have in the shop (the company says it puts out 44 watts into 8 or 16 ohms), and went to town with my Les Paul. It turns out that this thing is no joke, as it sounds really good and puts out a ton of volume. It has a very sweet clean tone, and it breaks up evenly as the volume is pushed into overdrive. I played with the bright switch a bit, and was not too impressed with the difference in tone when using it for guitar.

So I moved onto my P bass and plugged the .44 Magnum into an Aguilar GS and also got good results. This is where the bright switch came in handy, as it is better to leave it in normal mode for the low end work. I imagine it would work great for keyboards too, though I did not get a chance to try it out for that application. This thing is the perfect back-up amp and is definitely going along for the ride whenever I play out.

The Electro-Harmonix .44 Magnum is not terribly cheap, but it will not break the bank either. It has a list price of $202, and everybody is selling them online for $151. If you choose to go the used route, make sure it comes with the AC adapter, as it is a rather uncommon 24 volt DC 3 amp unit. I think they come with a 90 day warranty…

So, if you need a small basic power amp for daily use or if you just want to the security of a quality back-up unit, the .44 Magnum would be a good choice. I do not see them in very many stores, so I do not know if you will get the chance to try one before you buy, but you can trust me on this one!

Mahalo!

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