Magnatone Super 15 Review

May 26, 2023
David Sunnyside

It's no secret that small amps can sound big and loud. From Fender Champs to Danelectro DM10s, these tiny powerhouses have been pulling feats of trompe-l'il for decades. And now a new amp from Magnatone—makers of the true pitch-shifting vibrato effect favored by Lonnie Mack and ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons—has joined this exclusive club of overachievers. The Magnatone Super Fifteen MKI is a gig-sized all-tube amp that whispers and screams with golden-era British authority.

The Super Fifteen's EL84 tubes deliver classic British sparkle and drive in a compact package, perfect for the stage or studio. The Master Volume is simple to use, making it a plug-and-play guitar amp for most players. Independent gain and master volume controls make it easy to coax the preamp into breakup with no pedals required, while keeping things clean at restrained volumes.

Magnatone has gone to great lengths to shape the EL84 circuit, giving it bigger cleans and more robust, well-rounded tone than the tube is typically known for—while retaining a smooth breakup. And its all-tube vibrato, reminiscent of the Magnatone's famous pitch-shift effect (check out Lonnie Mack's "Memphis"), is dreamy and hypnotic at any setting.

The flexible tone control helps bridge tweed and black-panel Fender Champ sounds. Cranked all the way up, it scoops out a ton of midrange—a staple characteristic of many black-panel Champs. But turn it down and the Super Fifteen becomes a woody, full-sounding amp for humbuckers that owes a lot to vintage Vox amps. And the treble control can be set up to cut down on high-frequency feedback and prevent squeal with single-coils.

David Sunnyside
Co-founder of Urban Splatter • Digital Marketer • Engineer • Meditator
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