The Suhr Badger is the first of many Suhr-branded amplifiers we have planned for the future. Nearly a year in the making and in the concept stage in John's mind for an even longer period of time, the Badger has been John's labor of love and the crystallization of his vision of the ultimate low-wattage cathode-biased all-tube amplifier. Tonally, the Badger imparts a distinctly British flavor with the EL-84 output section, but it doesn't quite sound like any of classic UK vintage amps.
The Badger has its very own tonality with a very broad range of sounds covering a wide spectrum of clean to overdriven tones typically not found in amps of this class. This new little beast of an amp also offers unmatched flexibility with a defeat-able Drive control (pseudo master volume), the defeat-able Power Scaling feature for great cranked amp tones at low volume levels, and a tube-buffered effects loop.
From warm three-dimensional crystal clean tones with a surprising amount of headroom for an amp within this power range class, to spine-tingling on-the-verge-of-breakup sounds that are super touch-sensitive to your picking dynamics, to sweet and singing bluesy overdrive lead tones, to broad and open-sounding crunch rhythm sounds that are ideal for classic rock riffing, to juicy and fat lead sounds with the right amount of grease and sustain for fusion and classic rock single-note playing, the Badger does 'em all with authority, character, and tonal quality that simply has to be heard to be believed.
The Badger sounds big – really big! Plug this little monster into a 4x12 and you will not believe that the broad soundstage this amp covers is coming from such a small power section. Low-wattage amps typically sound small, but not the Badger; this beast sounds as big as most 50 and 100 watt heads without a lot of bass and other such artifacts of big amps.
The Badger can operate in 3 distinct modes for a variety of musical situations. The first is the non-master-volume mode. When the Drive and Power knobs on the far left of the front panel are turned all the way up, they are out of the circuit. This means the Gain control on the far right becomes the volume control. The EQ section of Treble, Middle, and Bass act as normal.
This is the ultimate in simplicity like the great non-master vintage amps and ideal for playing in small clubs and venues where you can really get the power section involved in the tone you're getting. The second mode of the Badger kicks in once you bring the Drive control into the circuit. The Drive controls the amount of signal being sent into the power section, which in turn controls the volume level. The Gain knob now acts as a preamp gain control. This mode is the familiar "master volume" setting on virtually all modern guitar amps being produced out there today. The third mode engages the unique and extremely effective Power Scaling feature. In this mode, the Drive control becomes like a secondary gain control and the Power knob controls the overall volume. With careful balancing of the settings of the Drive and Power control knobs, you can get power tube overdrive from moderate to bedroom volume levels with a full transparent tone without the squashed compression artifacts of most attenuators and load boxes. With the Badger, you now have total control over your tone and volume from the clubs to churches to garage rehearsals to home recording to late-night practicing in your bedroom.
The Power Scaling feature, licensed from London Power, lowers the wattage to the power amp, allowing the power tubes to clip. The tubes run cooler and aren't running as hard compared to using the speaker load while still retaining the interaction of the tubes and speaker(s). This proprietary technology allows the output power of an audio amplifier to be dialed down from 100% to less than 1%. This requires a modification to the amplifier's power supply.
Unlike external attenuators or load boxes, which interfere with the amp-speaker interface, Power Scaling does not alter that relationship between the output tubes and the speakers. Tube life will be greatly enhanced by the Power Scale circuit as well. What you get is improved transparency, less squash, more natural and pleasing compression, and the sound of the power tubes working hard. Add the tube-buffered effects loop with a fixed level send for use with both instrument-level pedals and line-level rack effects and you've got one very versatile tone machine ready for a variety of environments and musical situations.