333XL Review

manufacturer: Bugera date: 05/11/2012 category: Guitar Amplifiers
Bugera: 333XL
The 120-Watt 333XL isn't the kind of amp that likes to play nice. This brute supercharges your tone with raw, growling power driven by matched, bulldog-voiced EL34 power valves and four matched 12AX7 preamp valves.
 Sound: 8.5
 Overall Impression: 8.2
 Reliability & Durability: 7.8
 Features: 8.2
 Overall rating:
 8.5 
 Reviewer rating:
 8.2 
 Users rating:
 8.7 
 Votes:
 50 
reviews (6) pictures (4) 54 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 8.3
333XL Reviewed by: Mad-Mike_J83, on may 20, 2009
3 of 4 people found this review helpful

Features: Long time reviewer on Harmony Central as Mad-Mike, here's an updated review of this amp. Now the specs..as per my usual format. - 120 Watts - 4X EL34 Power Tubes, 12AX7 A/B/C input tubes - 3 Channels: Clean, Crunch, and Lead - FX Loop, also doubles as a solo booster - Line Out in back for direct recording - Default Bias Port (NOTE: INACCURATE) - 4 Button Footswitch, Ken Keys sold me the wrong one though 262) - Footswitch handles channel switching and FX/Solo change - Clean and Crunch channels have a Gain/Mid booster (XL buttons) - Digital Reverb (mounted on an expansion inside amp) - Prescense Control (global) - Global Master Volume I use this amp in my current two bands for studio and Live. It has more than enough power as long as the tubes are properly biased, which can be an issue for these amps as they have a bias port that is inaccurate. You're best bet is to get a Bias probe or Tool of some sort, such as those sold at Eurotubes. So far I use all the features as this amplifier feels like it was designed for me (for the most part, see reliability). I bought it for almost $1000 complete with the Bugera default 412WH-BK 4X12 cab. Recently I have swapped this out for gigging with a Peavey 412M from the late 80's with Celestion speakers that are said to be a little like V30 Greenbacks. I'll give it a 9 here, as it's about as close as you can come at giving me all the features I want in an amplifier. Nothing to me is a perfect 10, the perfect 10 just does not exist. // 9

Sound: I'm running this guitar with a myriad of guitars, the majority stock but a few set up with aftermarket pickups such as my Jaguar that uses Seymour Duncan Cool Rails or my EMG Equipped Jag-Stang. My style is a very 80's type metal sound, think Twisted Sister or early Van-Halen, very balanced Midrange and Low end with a tastefully cranked high end. The sound I tend to go for is a "Brown Sound" kind of sound but with Fender Lows and Highs, this amp delivers, it's the closest thing I've found to the sound I want. The cleans can be very Fender like and sparkly, I usually tone down the midrange on the cleans to get a glassy tone, sort of like Robert Cra or old George Lynch era Dokken. Properly Biased the amp only starts to break up at eight or so on the volume dial. Most of the time I run this amp with the EQ straight up, with maybe a slight boost on the low and mids on the lead channel because I use the two different channels to get the same range of gain out of two different styles of guitar (Humbuckers = Crunch channel, Singles = Lead channel). I use the FX Loop as a solo booster, because it keeps my sound the same beautiful tone I have, but jacks up the volume. I have more of a variety of sounds, many of which I have not used yet in youtube vids or recordings yet. The scooped midrange is insane on this thing, perfect for the darker of the metal Genres (Thrash, Speed, Death, Gothic, whatever your bag is). I did not mention the gain levels yet either, which are insane. I'm usually only halfway to 3/4 of the way up on the post gain levels on the lead and crunch channels, but when I want that extra push over the edge, it is there. This amp is one of the quietest I've used when cranked up loud. The noise gate does the job it was intended for (not full on noise gate, but removing some of the more audible hiss from the signal). I just leave the gate up at 100% all the time. Overall, this is like my dream amp in features and sound... Now to the fun part below... // 9

Reliability & Durability: This, is where the Bugera amps start to hit their downfall. I had the amp for 6 months, no problems. Before I go on, you must understand, my treatment of amplification (and music gear in general) is only short of guys like Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Ted Nugent, SRV, and Ritchie Blackmore. I turn my amps up loud, they do get banged around quite a bit, if I get pissed at them they do suffer a dent or two eventually. Hey, I have this philosophy, play nice with me, and I'll play nice with you, durability and reliability are a must. I depended upon it without a backup for about 8 months, six of which were totally trouble free on the original tubes. The last two (January and Febuary) were riddled with problems... - The speaker cable that came with the amp started going bad at a gig. I have a profound hatred of "molded connectors", I prefer something I can unscrew and resolder. I have since replaced it with a high quality Monster Cable. - The high gain input jack broke, but amazingly still works as long as you use a heavy cable with a weighted end to push the plug against the contacts inside. Apparently this is not a "chassis ground" amp where the jacks are concerned. Would bother me more but I seldom need that 6db boost the Hi-Gain jack gives. Especially considering my #1 axe has active pickups. - I had a few Bias problems, the replacement Mullards I have in there now were running at the wrong bias current, which caused early distortion and a dull sound (I'm guessing they were too cold). Since I bought a bias probe and used that to bias, the problem has gone away. The default port is inaccurate, and many of the readings from that port vs the probe made no sense (though I could balance the levels between the two at 41.9 VDC/mA DC). Plate voltage can run from 380 to 480 on these amps depending upon tubes. - The final killer was the rehearsal where the famous "burning transformer clip" issue rose it's ugly head and my tubes no longer lit up an hour into rehearsal. I went on a rampage throwing the amp around and cussing it. Took it home, stayed up till 5 a.m. The next day soldering, tightening, and removing that plastic clip and soldering the wires to the board as should have been done. The volume increased exponentially, my bias got a lot better, and my sound quality improved, what can I say. Other than that, many people whine about the plastic knobs, I jabbed the clean channel with the headstock of my Fender Jaguar one night at a gig when it failed (the cable/loose jack failure), Jaguar was fine (as usual, Jaguars are tough guitars, just watch Cobain with his). The plastic volume knob flew off the amp without even breaking, a fan in the audience brought it back up to me after the show. The reason through all of this I have not sent the amp into warranty repair is even as fast as Bugera/Behringer reportedly is, it's not fast enough as I had a ton of shows booked and no backup amp to use. I eventually picked up a Crate GT1200H as my backup amp. Also, I'm rather skilled at electronic repair so most of the problems weather mine or the amps have been relatively easy to fix in hindsight, enough to make me feel sort of daft looking back. I'll give it a seven, given a few things one could watch out for (many listed on BeerChurch's blog at this site), it can be quite a good solid amp, but it takes some TLC and fiddling to do so. I'm guessing that's where the price cut comes from. // 7

Overall Impression: I play all around several styles of rock, and so far this has been the best amp I've had all reliability issues not-withstanding. Despite the repairs I'm hoping it lasts me awhile because to come this close I'd need a celebrity endorsement, and even then it'll just be a beefed up copy of the 33XL. I've been playing for 14-15ish years, I've owned mostly cheap Peavey and Epiphone pawn shop grade gear because nothing else was cheap enough without getting a credit card or taking out a loan, and currently my only other amps are a Crate head in the same wattage and a Behringer V-AMP Pro I use for home recording. Check out my gear page on my profile for the rest of this stuff. If it were stolen or lost, I'd just get one of the newer ones that supposedly has the issues I listed above resolved, particularly that nasty clip-on transformer fix, but of course, only if I can try it out first to find the "sweet one", my ears are VERY picky to say the least. I've compared it to a lot of high end amps (Marshall JCM2000 Triple Super-Lead, Mesa Boogie Triple Rectifier, Mesa Boogie Heartbreaker, and the Marshall JVM Series amps), and it was either this, or save for 20 years to get the other amps, especially in this economy. Outside of this, the closest thing I've been able to find is the $2-4000 Marshall TSL. // 8

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overall: 8.5
333XL Reviewed by: MetalliKH-602, on march 25, 2009
2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 599.95

Purchased from: Motor City Guitar

Features: Made in 2008, this amp has all kinds of little features that bring it up to snuff with big name tube amp brands. Comes with 3 channels, Clean, Crunch, and Lead. The thing that separates this head from the regular Bugera 333 is the XL function on the Crunch and Lead channels that acts as a slight boost and gives a fat sounding valve tone. Another nice feature is the built in noise-gate so when you're doing stops, you don't get a lot of gain in between. Another nice thing is that each channel has an independent reverb function, an overall boost and each channel is eq-able independently as well as having a master volume and presence control. Has an effects loop that can be controlled with the footswictch that is given with the amp. The best thing about the amp is that it's a tube and it's cheap compared to similar heads. // 9

Sound: Currently I'm using a ESP LTD KH-602 with EMG 81's as well as a Fender American Deluxe Strat with three SCN single coil pickups. Mainly I play metal and hardcore (deathcore) music and this amp works great for it. Scoopable mids make for a great chugging sound, but if you don't want such a brutal distortion you can throw it in Crunch with the gain up and still have a perfect sound for Metallica or Megadeth. Mainly I'm doing distorted stuff, but really, the clean is what makes this amp well worth the money. It's understandable that at high volumes there will be some hiss on the distorted channels, but the clean is near silent. Right now, mine has a really fat, warm sound which is great for the stuff that I do play clean in songs. As for variety, I'm sure this amp would be a good choice in any situation because of so much variability within the sounds from Classic Rock to Hard Rock, and maybe even country (I'm not sure I don't play country). If you want a brutal distortion, this is your amp. I tested my old Fender FM100 against it, and the Bugera's gain on the Crunch with a volume level of 3 beat out my Fender with the gain on the lead all the way up. // 8

Reliability & Durability: I've only had this amp for 4 months but no problems so far. Only thing is that it's heavy, but that was expected it being a tube. // 8

Overall Impression: Overall, this amp is great for metalheads and rockers alike. I've been playing 5 years now and seeing as I was on a fixed budget, this fit the constraints of a next step up amp- cheap, reliable, great sound. I love the XL function because it really adds the punch-you-in-the-face sound that metal guitarists look for. Not sure if this is true or not, but the salesman claimed that this was actually a clone of a Mesa-Boogie Dual Rectifier. If so, this a quite a bargain. As it has everything I was looking for in a head, I was completely satisfied, and would recommend this to many a guitarist looking for a decent priced amplifier with a sound comparable to higher-end tube heads. // 9

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overall: 8
333XL Reviewed by: unregistered, on may 11, 2012
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: € 350

Purchased from: 4Sound

Features: This amp is from 2010. It is pretty versatile. Read my thought on sound. As a two channel amp with one eq, well as with the JCM 800s, 900s etc. You really need two with an A/B box if used for giggin' and so on. I haven't used it for gigs, but it's been in many different situations, practise, studio, livingroom and hauled around just for fu and Jam sessions. // 8

Sound: I installed JJ KT77 tubes and rebiased. Holy crap, what an awesome machine, also with E34L and 6L6 tubes. I like it the best with the KT77 tubes. Great overdrive with no annoying ssss sounds in the top, it just rips the wallpaper off. I like it with Marshall 1960BV cabs the best, but the standard 1960B works wonders as well. Avoid the Bugera cabs though, they don't sound good with anything. My main guitars are a '02 Jackson Sl2H, a '96 Gibson Les Paul and a Gibson Wes Montgomery. I don't like single coils and Strats, so won't comment on its potential there. I play a lot of stuff, but this is very, very good for an 80-90s hard rock/metal'ish tone. With the KT77s it's very much like the "Use Your Illusion" tone and more of a classic 70s-80s rock/metal tone with E34Ls, think Tipton and Downing, G'N'R ect. It can also have a very grainy and brutal thrash tone with the KT77s. Think Slayer, early Megadeth and Metallica. With a good jazz guitar, it can easily do nice Jazz tones, altough 6L6 tubes are more suited for that and I'm going to see if it will play with a set of 6V6 tubes. Should make for a really nice 60s-70s style deal. // 9

Reliability & Durability: Let's get a few things straight. There are many bad reviews of these amps, but do people know what they buy? Probably not. This is a great amp. I'm an amp geek and have many other great amps. That includes a Diezel Einstein, Marshall JCM 800's, a Marshall 2555, Boogie Mk.IIC+, Mark V and a few other Marshalls, Peaveys and Engl amps. This, IF SET UP RIGHT, is a great amp. The problem with this amp is, that it comes from the factory with crappy tubes and biased waaay too hot. Both these things make it sound bad. I can work flawlessly and can sound great. You just need to replace the tubes to begin with. Is this the way it should be, probably not, but when I take the price into consideration, I don't mind. // 7

Overall Impression: Bottom line is, as with all Bugeras. Buy amp and pre/power tubes at the same time, it's needed, no matter which model Bugera you get. Know the plate voltage when you bias, every amp is a little different, so it's needed. I run mine a tiny bit HOT at 75%. I rate it as an 8, because of the wrong factory bias and bad tubes. Other than that, it's a sweet amp with lots of potential and it's build like a friggin' tank. // 8

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overall: 8.3
333XL Reviewed by: HeavyMetalHokie, on july 17, 2008
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 850

Purchased from: Sam Ash Music

Features: I bought this amp brand new (2008) and it features 3 channels, each with their own equalizer and volume comtrol, a master volume, a master presence, a noise gait, and a master reverb. The crunch and lead channels also have seperate gain controls as well as the XL switch that boosts the gain. It also has an effects loop (not to be confused with built in effects) but honestly I don't really know what it does right now because I don't have any pedals. Overall this is a pretty decent amp with tons of gain, which is great because I like to play metal. it's all tube so you really get the clarity and tone of a tube even with the heavy distortion. The only thing that I don't really like so far is the fact that the noise gate is meh and teh reverb isnt the best I've ever heard, but neither are bad by any means. It also came with a footswitch which was really nice. My only with is for some effects but nothing else. // 8

Sound: I play with an Epiphone Les Paul Classic with a dimebucker in the bridge and the distortion is pretty awesome. The lead channel has plenty of distortion so I can play bands like Metallica, Megadeth, and pantera, but with a little tweaking I can get a savatage and Symphony X tone out of it. The clean channel is also pretty good. In my opinion it's a little bright but that's probably just the pickup I'm using. The crunch channel is decent to get AC/DC-ish sounds out of, but I haven't really messed around with it too much. This amp can go from sparkling clean to over the top distortion with no problem and that's what I really like about it. // 8

Reliability & Durability: It seems fairly reliable so far, I've only had it for a little while so I can't say whether it would break or not. Seems pretty rock solid and the footswitch is a tank so no worries there. It's just really freakin heavy, but what else do you expect. Overall, it's an amp, just don't be an idiot and drop it and you shouldn't have a problem. // 9

Overall Impression: Overall this is a pretty awesome amp. It's a full tube half stack for a decent price. It has the awesome tone of a tube which really cleans up the playing. It is a huge increase in tone and clarity from my solid state, but it doesnt't have all the built in effets the SS did. It handles my playing styles without a problem and if it were stolen I would definately get a new one (prob go with 2X12 'cause it's cheaper so I could buy some pedals). No complaints about anything on the amp. The best feature is the lead channel which puts out some seriously heavy distortion. I was choosing between this and the Line 6 spider valve and this thing owns the spider in tone and features. I would definately recommend this amp to anyone Who wants to get a tube amp without spending their life savings. // 8

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overall: 8
333XL Reviewed by: oldshredder, on june 24, 2009
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 280

Purchased from: Online

Features: You know all the great features already, three chanels Clean, Crunch & Lead. Had all the Features my Peavey JSX had but with one extra important thing (at least to me and other JSX users), it has reverb! Line out on the back so you don't have to mic it, but I wouldn't use it, it just doesn't do justice to this "bad boy". I play everything to VH, Robin Trower, Rage, Beatles, Hendrix, Blues, Heavy Metal etc. Without a doubt, it smokes my Peavy JSX at a third of the price! // 8

Sound: I use a Jackson Dinky with a Seymore Duncan at the bridge, standard single coil in the middle and a Seymore Duncan Dual Rail at the neck. The Music I play is VERY diverse, therefore I need a tube amp that will compliment that style so I needed something with 3-channels such as this amp had to offer. This thing squeals with harmonic screechs such as I have never heard before. The attack is clean and I like hearing my pick hit the strings when I'm double picking the shit out of my guitar. The clean channelis awesome, I'd put it up against any Fender from pre to post CBS. The reverb that my JSX was missing, just adds the warmth and tones that the JSX clean channel was missing! My JSX clean channel was so "dry sounding". With such a price difference you'd think it would smoke my 33XL but it simply isn't the case! // 8

Reliability & Durability: I've played the hell out of this amp, small clubs to larger venues. I've heard these things were junk. I haven't had any problems with mine but it sounds so good and the cost is so low, I'm going to buy a "back-up" just in case. Who wants to be in the middle of a gig and BAM, your amps gone? I think whatever issues Bugera may have they will sooner or later get passed them. // 8

Overall Impression: Since I play a wide varriety of music and I've played every type of tube amp & solid state crap on the market, and I know I'm older than most of you, believe me when I tell you young "wiper snappers" this amp will floor you. If your on a budget like I am and your $$ is important to you and your a tone chaser like most of us are here, then get yourself one of these? What do you have to lose? The Bugera 33XL's tone/sound. I dare you to find a better tube amp any where! You'll be so pleased that you did and for the money you saved you can take the family out to dinner a movie and a small vacation! // 8

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overall: 8
333XL Reviewed by: OurRequiem, on november 17, 2010
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 450

Purchased from: Ebay

Features: I believe this amp was made in 2006? shortly after Bugera fixed the fuse that would cause fires. 3 channels, lead, cruch, and clean I use lead 90% of the time used the crunch channel about twice occaionaly use the clean channel 6l6's tubes would be nice but the 34's get it done. This amp is great for the price, I'm a metal musician 90% of the time, and the gain on it is pretty sick. It took some tweaking to dial in the right tone for me, but when I found it I was impressed. The cleans on it are decent, I'm not much of a clean player so I never really cared, when I do play cleans I get a nice kurt cobain sounding clean. I use this amp for everything, recording, live, and practice, in fact it's currently the only amp I own. It has built in reverb which is a nice feature, I use it seldomely but I when I use it, it gets the job done, nothing amazing but not terrible. In addition to the built in reverb it has a noise gate as well. I have the noise gate at about 12 oclock all the time, and honestly it does'nt make a big difference at all. The amp likes to "hiss" or "hum" no matter what setting the noise gate is on. In all honestly it is a poor noise gate but what can you expect from a built in noise gate on a 600 dollar(new) amp? // 7

Sound: I play thru a 92 Gibson les paul. I play metal more specifically death metal. I think this amp can pretty do anything, I think it shines pretty bright in the metal department however, and it can reallllly heavy, and brutal. The lead channel likes to give you some feedback when not playing, otherwise when your playing all the notes are heard, and have a nice break up. The feedback though is caused by the massive amounts of gain I like to use:). The clean channel is silent and I get a nice cobain sound out of it. // 9

Reliability & Durability: People always talk about bugeras being unreliabile amps, and I've never had any problems with it. Start up and go everytime. The only problems I've had with are my power tubes going bad, but that happens to all amps. A piece of the high gain input fell off, nothing a little glue couldnt fix though. // 8

Overall Impression: This amp is great for the price, it can do pretty much anything. I've been playing for 7 years now and it was my first tube amp. And I can say that it definately gets the job done, and does it well. Obvisouly theres going to be better amos out there. Definately did not look back after buying it. Infact in it's price range you can't beat it, hands down. If it ever got lost or stolen I'd probally get a 6505 or a 6262 just because I don't use all the features it comes with. However all said and done I love this amp. If your looking at amps and this one of them buy it. // 8

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