zTraynor Custom Valve 40W Combo Amp Wine Red - DEMO

zTraynor Custom Valve 40W Combo Amp Wine Red - DEMO

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The Traynor Custom Valve 40 features:

  • 40 Watts
  • (2) 12AX7 preamp tubes, 12AX7 Phase Inverter
  • (2) 6L6 power tubes with standby switch
  • DC powered tube filaments for low noise
  • Diode rectification, tube emulation
  • Channel 1 - Gain, Volume, Bass, Treble, Mid, and Boost switch
  • Channel 2 - Volume, Bass, Treble, Mid, and Bright switch
  • Long spring reverb tank
  • Shared Presence and Reverb controls
  • Celestion Vingage 30 8 ohm speaker
  • External speaker jack
  • Series effects loop (doubles as a pre-amp out send)
  • Footswitch included for channel select and boost.
  • 49 pounds
  • 9.5D x 23W x 18H
  • Designed and built in Canada
  • List price: $1050

The Traynor Custom Valve 40 is a strong entry into the crowded field of 30-40 watt combo amplifiers. While amplifiers have been shrinking in size to suit the needs of home players, there is still a strong argument for a decently powered combo that can transition from practice to club. We tested the YCV40WR with our Knaggs Kenai (2 Seymour Duncan SH-1 humbuckers) and a G&L ASAT Classic S.

The burgundy covering and oatmeal grill of the YCV40WR is very attractive, and makes a nice contrast to the plethora of black -- an occasional orange -- amplifiers that inhabit most stages. With full EQ for both channels, there is never any compromise between rhythm and lead channel settings. The Vintage 30 speaker is a nice touch, and its brawny midrange and detailed high end makes it an ideal choice for single-speaker combos. The Traynor has none of the boxy, constrained sound that is characteristic of portable combo amps.

Where the YCV40WR also differs from most of the competition is the use of 6L6 powers tubes. Many amplifiers in this class use a quartet of EL-84's, which are "European" tubes best known as the power tube used by Vox, and early Marshall amplifiers. They are also very popular with many boutique builders for low-powered amplifiers. The 6L6 is the power tube used by Fender for many of it's midsize tweed and blackface combos such as the Bassman, Pro Reverb, Super Reverb and Vibrolux to name a few. While the EL-84 is revered for its "chime", by comparison the 6L6 has tighter more defined bass, thicker midrange and do not tend to get as shrill when turned up. They give the Traynor a full-sized muscular sound you don't get with those little British bottles.

Going first with the Knaggs on the Clean channel, we dialed in a comfortable practice volume between 9 and 10 o'clock and set all the EQ controls in the vicinity of noon. The amp gets quite loud around noon, but still has good clean headroom. At higher volumes, the bass response gets heavy, and as with many amps EQ settings will vary depending on volume level. Suffice to say that the YCV40 has plenty of muscle to play unassisted in small clubs.

Clean tones were impressive though, with excellent high end detail that was clean and shimmering. It was easy to hear the individual notes of each chord, and overall high end response was bright but not edgy. The neck pickup of the Knaggs sounded warm and full, with good midrange clarity and not the usual slightly murky middle tones that often happen with humbucker pickups. Low end response was ample, likely a factor of the speaker and cabinet dimensions. The nature of the low end response was a little soft on the attack, but given that the speaker had essentially zero hours on it, this is likely to open up over time. The bright switch adds a usable "zing" to the high end response, and is handy for waking up a dark sounding guitar. The overall effect is very similar to the bright switch on a blackface Fender.

Checking out the Gain channel, we got a very musical medium crunch with the gain control around 11 o'clock. It was not the kind of fizzy, frothy preamp style distortion the afflicts many small combo amplifiers. Lows were firm and tight, with good clarity and attack in the middle frequencies, and a harmonically complex high end texture. At the risk of insulting one side or the other, it sounded a lot like a very good Tube Screamer type pedal. Or it's a compliment to Traynor, as many drive channels on moderately priced combos likely sell more pedals than anything. The total amount of gain available is enormous, and unless you are into some pretty heavy stuff, most classic rock and roots tones are available below the midway point on the gain knob. The boost feature provides a noticeable jump in volume and a singing, vocal-like quality to single note runs. It might be too much when all you want is a little extra juice, and for that a clean boost or overdrive pedal is a welcome accessory.

Switching guitars and using our ASAT, we able to jump right in for some funky riffs and country twang with essentially no EQ adjustment. The volume was a little lower due to pickup output, but the ability of the Traynor to make two completely different guitars sound good with no fuss was a nice surprise. This bodes well for players who bring multiple guitars to gigs, but dread having to make too many adjustments on the fly. All bets are off if you bring a Rickenbacker....

The shared Presence control adds a subtle amount of high end content to make the amp feel "louder" and more present at lower volumes. Many Presence controls actually vary the amount of negative feedback which gives the amp a more raw feel, but we're not sure how this one actually works. The real spring Reverb is less subtle, and being a fan of moderate amounts of Reverb, we were most happy with the dial at 8 o'clock or less. Cranking up the Reverb produces what I'd call "extreme surf" levels that would make even Dick Dale queasy. But at moderate levels, it's a pleasantly lush and spacious reverb that will enhance your tone and open up the sound at low volumes. And if you want to get a little goofy, the potential is there. 

For a moderately priced combo amplifier, the Traynor YCV40 definitely punches above its weight class. The clean tones are extremely good, and have the type of depth, spaciousness and detail found on much higher priced offerings. Plus it has a very usable and convincing drive channel; and while you probably won't leave your pedalboard home, you'll definitely need one less pedal. For a package that you can pick up with one hand, but sounds twice its size, the 6L6 equipped Traynor YCV40WR is a real gem.

Details
SKU YCV40WR
Weight 49.00 lbs
Price: $769.00
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