The all new Brunetti Pleximan 50W Head - First Impressions. December 02 2015
Well, its about a week since we took delivery of our very first Brunetti Pleximan 50W head here in the UK. As you can imagine, our level of anticipation was extremely high! We'd already seen a couple of the excellent demos on Youtube, and anyway, a major new amp launch from Brunetti is always an exciting affair!
Unpacking the box, the Pleximan itself is as cute as a button! That's only to be expected from Brunetti. Being based in Modena, Italy, just around the corner from the likes of Ferrari, Maserati and Duccati, and within spitting distance of the world's fashion capital, Milan, stunning design and classy looks are integral to the Brunetti brand. The amp may well cute, but when it comes to tone, It's not just a pretty face!
Keeping it clean
The clean channel follows a similar set up to the very simple two-pot arrangement found on the 10W Metropolitan amp. As with that amp however, the simplicity of the controls belies the sheer range of useable, iconic guitar tones available. As is typical of a Brunetti, it's 'wow' from the get-go. Without touching any of the controls and with the tone straight up at 12 o"clock the amp sounds sweet and immediate. Not at all dissimilar to the Metropolitan, but of course with much more body. (I was playing through the matching Vintage 30 loaded 1x12 Sigleman cab).
The single 'tone' pot sweeps all the way through from creamy, jazzy, rolled off warmth at one end, through to brittle, biting, twangy, tweedy sounds at the other. The range of tones is quite amazing, given the simplicity of the set up. A quick twiddle and you have yet another great sound! The only question is what kind of sound are you looking for! The clean channel also boasts a 'dense' switch. Engaging this seems, to my ears, to fill out the lower-mids and warm up the sound. Using single coils, you almost end up in something approaching hum-bucker territory at the flick of a switch. Playing around with the tone pot and adding or removing the dense switch further expands the range of gorgeous clean tones available. All in all, pretty damn impressive! Like a really BIG Metropolitan - and that's no backhanded compliment. I could spend hours just experimenting with the clean channel alone!
Again I didn't find much of an urge to tamper with any of the tone controls at this point in time, rather, as I have found with all Brunetti amps, relying upon the controls and pick up selector on my guitar to vary the tone. One thing that I have found since playing Brunetti amps is that I have spent much more time exploring the actual sounds that my various guitars can produce. Until recently I rarely touched the tone and volume controls of my guitars, just leaving everything on 10 as I suspect most people do. Playing through Brunetti, You find that the amp is so responsive to differences in tone and volume that you can't help but start to experiment. I have and newfound appreciation of positions two and four on the pickup selector! Given that the amp has no built in reverb, that's saying something!
I didn't get a chance to plug anything into the built in effects loop, but can only imagine what worlds of sonic delight could be opened up with a bit of experimentation in this area!
Time to get dirty!
Now for the channel that everyone REALLY wants to know about on an amp like this!
The amp has a fairly standard setup when it comes to the main controls governing the overdrive channel, but with a few little extras thrown in, as we have come to expect from Brunetti. In addition to the usual master volume, gain and bass middle and trebble controls, we have an adjustable 'solo' control which adds a further lump of clean gain boost to help your leads cut above the din of the band - and a further three toggle switches named 'mellow', 'extra' and, excitingly 'hot rod'!
Now here is where the fun starts! Leaving all of the controls fairly central and all of the toggle switches off, you have a fairly straightforward master volume and gain set up, which is in itself capable of a fairly wide range of crunch through to serious lead sounds. Having at tinker with the toggle switches next, the mellow switch does a nice job of rolling off some of the top end to give you and nice smooth neck pickup kind of sound. Think Carlos Santana in a particularly mellow mood. Conversely, the 'extra' switch does almost exactly the opposite. This little switch adds a serious amount of tightness and bite to the sound, firming up the bottom-end and and adding a precise, defined and 'edgy' character to the sound.
As for the 'Hot Rod' switch, well, let's just say it does exactly what it says on the tin! We are now in boutique, hot-rodded Plexi territory and everything from Van Halen to classic British rock and metal tones are there for the asking. And gain. Yes, there is a lot of gain available here, but being a Brunetti we never stray into the realms of 'mush' - especially with the 'extra' switch kicked in. The amp sounds literally insane, yet we retain the definition of notes even at extreme gain and volume settings. Mr Van Halen would be impressed, I'm sure. I'm well aware that Marco Brunetti has spent a large part of his career attempting to replicate some of those fabled guitar tones of the 80's - and this time round I think he may just have got closer than ever!
Ok, I'm biased - of course (just like the valves!!) (sorry!) I love the entire range of Brunetti amps and have done since the first second that I plugged into one, two years ago in Marco's demo room in Modena. That was a 10W Metropolitan - still one of may favourite amps - and I was sold instantly on the unbelievable tones coming from this ridiculously small and gorgeous box.
Since then we've sold umpteen amps to umpteen equally incredulous new fans of the brand. I love to see the gnarly, road-weary, played everything types plug in for the first time at a show and watch as an uncontrollable grin breaks out across their faces within seconds. Make no mistake, these are amps for true connoisseurs of tone. If you don't know the difference, then you may not completely 'get it'. But if you've played a while and used all kinds of kit, you will know the instant that you plug in that there is something special going on here - just like I did, and just like everyone else who has done the same over the last couple years!
The Pleximan is yet another Marco Brunetti masterpiece. Simple as that! It has it's own style and it's own sound and is definitely a very capable all rounder with practically every variation of tone imaginable under the hood. But it's definitely a Brunetti through and through. It looks unique and it sounds astonishing. It has all of the immediacy and transparency to touch that we have come to expect. No one knows quite how he does it, but Marco never fails to conjure magic from those mysterious glowing tubes that we all love so much.
What's more, for a hand made, boutique 50W all tube head, it's a ridiculous steal at the price!