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The Little Walter 50 Features
With a unique tube set, and Point-to-Point (PTP) construction, the Little Walter 50 is not your average head. Before the 12AX7 “miniature” 9-pin preamp tube was even invented, amplifier designers used the 6V6-sized 8-pin “octal” preamp tubes. While the 12AX7 has more gain – a important factor in the pre-PA days – the octal tubes run lower plate voltages, have significantly less gain, and produce a warmer, fuller tone than the smaller nine pin bottles.
The 50 also employs PTP construction, with the various components wired directly to the tube sockets, potentiometers, etc., without the use of a circuit board or other component platform. In the early days this was how amplifiers were built until eyelet boards, and ultimately printed circuit boards came along. While these methods improve assembly time and reduce cost, the circuit path and component selection can be compromised in the name of manufacturability.The Little Walter 50 makes no such concession to the constraints of modern assembly techniques and is built with the philosophy that carefully selected components, and the most direct circuit path is the key to great tone.
The cathode-biased 50 is a simple affair with just lo/hi inputs, volume, treble and bass controls. While (2) 6L6 power tubes typically equal about 50 watts, the lower gain of the octal tubes yields about 35 watts of power. The result is an amplifier that is 100% usable throughout the sweep of the volume control: Clean, sweet and very tactile through most of the range, gradually transitioning into luscious breakup at the top. Or you can just turn up the amp all the way and work the guitar’s volume control. Wherever you are on the dial, the 50 responds to pick attack and nuance in a way that forges a symbiotic connection between player and amplifier. And while it does breakup in the upper ranges, it’s not a ragged tweed-style meltdown. The octals impart a smooth character, with great harmonic content that is linear in nature, and without harsh spikes or odd peaks.
The 50 has the perfect amount of power for most gigging situations, with both plenty of clean headroom, and natural crunch at acceptable club levels. Provided that it’s not dimed, or that you don’t crush it with an extremely hot signal, it also handles pedals very well. It sounds great with our matching Little Walter 1x12, but it really loves 10’s too. Paired with our Mojotone pine 4x10 with Jensen C10/P10’s, both clean and dirty tones have marvelous complexity, depth and character.
For rock, blues, country and roots, the octal Little Walter 50 checks off a remarkable number of boxes: It’s loud enough for gigs but does not need to be loud to sound good, works well with pedals but has its own musical breakup, and has great touch sensitivity without feeling squishy or floppy. Unless you are channeling Neil Young or Yingwie Malmsteen, it’s very hard not to fall in love with the Little Walter 50.