Price paid: $ 36
Purchased from: www.BitMoModKits.com
Features: The Bitmo Mods Triple Bypass is a mod kit for the Blackheart Little Giant BH5H head or the Little Giant combo. As a heads up, installation of this mod WILL void your warranty with Blackheart. The Triple Bypass mod comes as a collection of components with instructions and diagrams. It has to be installed by yourself or a friend who has some rudimentary soldering skills. I will be rating the actual performance of the mod once installed, and not going into much detail with the installation besides saying I got some help from a friend and it was a breeze.
The Triple Bypass adds a 3 way switch, which you can mount on the front or back panel, and I chose to go with the front panel below and off center from the input jack. The 3 separate settings are awesome and each sound good each setting is musical and useful. One thing I dislike about this mod is that in the middle position the treble and mid dials don't seem to do anything anymore. The middle position still sound awesome, but I feel like I've lost some control over options that I would have liked to have had.
Before you work on your Little Giant always make sure to unplug it, because from what I've read you can get seriously bit by the current running through this amp. I really wish there was a preamp gain control, but that is more an issue of the amp instead of the Triple Bypass. I guess the Triple Bypass has really made me miss having a preamp gain control. // 7
Sound: The Bitmo Mods Triple Bypass has added some serious dimension to the Little Giant, and lets me easily switch between White Stripes, to Foo Fighters, to NWOBHM, to classic Metallica and Megadeth to a very clean sparkly almost Acoustic tone. Before I go into the sound of each setting I just have to say, as a guitarist with an eclectic taste in music and without the room or money for an amp for every purpose, the Triple Bypass is really awesome and breathed new life into my amp. Before I installed the Triple Bypass I had thought that the Little Giant seemed to have a lot of Gain, and after installing it I notice it even more. I would suggest as the Bitmo Mods guy does that you switch out the 12AX7 for a NOS 5751 or a 12AT7 in order to have lower gain. I am waiting for my new tubes to come in the mail now.
The middle position is the new stock position that should be the modded version of the original Little Giant. The first thing I noticed is a little more sparkle in my clean tones. BitMo's literature says this setting should show a balanced tone with more clean headroom and that seems to be a very fair description of the middle setting. To be completely honest, it sounds like it is trying to sound Fender-y, but between the pentode/triode settings I can't really pin myself down on a specific model. It doesn't pull it off perfectly, but very close.
The first position has a thick tone and an almost brown sound with more gain than the other two positions. I personally like this setting the most for hard rock, heavier Foo Fighters tunes, NWOBHM, etc. It seems to have a little more volume, but that might just be in my head. The third position seems to have slightly boosted Mids and a darker tone. I think this is my favorite setting, especially for overdriven blues. I especially like the tone I get at the 3 watt setting with a touch of overdrive on this position it has a really slick greasy overdrive. As an aside, the Triple Bypass does not get the Little Giant into the realm of being heavy enough to play black metal, death metal, etc. You will still need a pedal for that.
As I've said before, I have a fairly eclectic taste in music, and I've played several styles of music through this amplifier with the Triple Bypass. I've played outlaw country, classic rock, hard rock, early thrash metal, progressive rock, progressive metal (Tool), and I guess what you would call indie, alternative and pop. I've played through a G&L Tribute Series S-500, an Ibanez RG350, an Ibanez Artcore AXD83P, and an Xaviere XV-599 (I think that is the model number it is an LP style guitar). I have ran these through a Dunlop Crybaby, a Vox ToneLab ST, an Ibanez ToneLok DE7, and an Artec Duo Drive Blender. I've played it at low volumes, high volumes, and attenuated. I couldn't find a sound I couldn't at least get close to with the Triple Bypass. The Little Giant with the Triple Bypass seems to take pedals very well. I would have to give the Triple Bypass a fairly enthusiastic 9 for Sound. // 9
Reliability & Durability: The Bitmo Mods Triple Bypass mod was installed by a friend of mine and was well constructed. The Little Giant was well designed for mods to start with, and I think that this mod will last forever. A lot of the Reliability & Durability rating is going to come from the amplifier instead of the mod kit. I can say that all the components that came with the kit seemed to be high quality, and because a good friend helped install this mod, I know it was well constructed. There isn't a lot to say about this category, but taking your time and installing this mod kit correctly makes all the difference. // 10
Overall Impression: The Bitmo Mods Triple Bypass was one of the best purchases I've made in a while. I'm seriously financially limited when it comes to what I can spend on equipment, as well as being somewhat limited on space. The Triple Bypass lets me get a decent approximation of several tones that I couldn't otherwise expect to get from a single amplifier. I do believe in comparing oranges to oranges and apples to apples and all that jazz, so I'm not comparing this to high end low wattage tube amps. To be completely honest, the Blackheart Little Giant is a lower end tube amp (although it sounds surprisingly good for its price point) and the Triple Bypass is a mod that costs less than forty bucks. You can't expect miracles, but what you get is absolutely worth it.
I've recorded a little bit with the Triple Bypass and it has really shown what it can do. For what I play, this is probably the best possible amp for under $750. Bitmo Mods also has a mod that adds reverb to the Little Giant, and I may very well try that out next. If it were lost or stolen, then I would probably go through the 12 stages of grief and then buy another Little Giant and throw the Triple Bypass in there. As I mentioned earlier, the Gain is a little high and it is noticeable so I would absolutely suggest replacing the 12AX7 for a lower gain tube. When it is all said and done, the cost of the amp, the mod and the new (lower gain 12AT7) tube as well as shipping for everything, I'm just in by a little over $400 and the end product is absolutely worthwhile. // 9
- Brandon East (c) 2011