Price paid: A$ 330
Purchased from: Online
Sound — 8
The V22 is powered by three 12AX7's in the pre-amp stage and two EL84's in the power-amp stage, the V22 then transmits this through a custom Bugera 12 Inch speaker. The V22 is an open back designed amp and simply put has an amazing clean sound. The amp responds well to the littlest touch on the guitar through to harder picking dynamics and depending on volume breaking the clean at around the 2 o clock mark on the clean channel volume. The V22 also takes on the characteristics of the pick-ups used in the guitar being used changing the tone of the amp widely at the change of your pick up selector. The V22 seems versatile enough to produce classic British cleans to older American tones with great headroom for clean tones. In this review I was using the V22 between three guitars to get an overall result. The first guitar had active Duncan pick up's the second active Ibanez pick up's and the last single coil passives. The V22 doesn't seem to be versatile enough for modern rock or heavy rock so this amp isn't the be all and end all by any means. The dirty channel reflects this further with thin distortion. The distortion would be best used as with the clean channel on older styled music. Having said that, throwing a distortion pedal in front of this does bring the distortion to life and gives users back some of that versatility. Lastly the Pentode and Triode selector Switch seems to change the mood of the amp on top of reducing the output power. There are two distinct flavours as with one mode feeling a little darker and the other a little brighter and more bubbly. As far as budget all-valve combos are concerned I feel after listening to other amps of a similar fashion such as the Vox AC15 the overall tone of this amp is quite good despite the weaker distortion. Users shouldn't have too much trouble dialling in some great blues and soft lead tones with the amp.
Overall Impression — 9
Bugera have delivered a great cheap all-valve combo. The amp can produce some great sparkly cleans and at the flick of a Switch you can get a grittier sound with an earlier break up. The distortion as already mentioned needs a little fattening up but won't deter myself from getting another should I be unfortunately deprived of it. Bugera delivered the goods just not the product support that other companies offer as a standard. Despite this the amp needs to be heard to be fully appreciated.
Reliability & Durability — 7
Bugera are a relatively new company that are owned by Behringer. As with such its reputation is called into the spotlight as Behringer seems to be synonymous for their budget product line. The V22 however seems to beat the odds and is able to stand on its own despite some of its cheaper qualities. There have been issues with the V22's as many will know in their first release lines a lot of this was unfortunately caused by using cheaper parts. The new 2011 V22 seems to be reliable. The V22 seems to be built well enough and feels nice and solid especially coming in at around the 21 kilogram mark. The footswitch that is included however feels light and doesn't look like it can take a pub gig's bashing as well as other pedals can. There is one aspect of this product that many find frustrating that must brought into an unbiased review and that is of support. The manual is flimsy and lacklustre as with obtaining any extra information on the product. One perfect example of this is when it comes to biasing the valves should you choose to replace them yourself. The amp comes with an RCA jack and a bias adjustment pot however there is no included information in the manual as to what voltage a correctly biased valve should be set to, nor is there any information on what type of bias probe can be used with an RCA jack. It has been through pure research on forums picking the brains of technicians and experienced tone heads that information like this was sought.
Features — 9
Okay here goes, first review... In the production race that is cheap all valve combo's it comes as no surprise that the new Bugera V22 arrives with a simple set of features. There are no mind blowing on-board effects however seeing as the V in V22 stands for Vintage one would expect this. Despite this there are a few features that most people will find useful to say the least. The amp comes with 2 selectable channels, a boost button to boost the mid frequencies, on board reverb, the standard Bass, Mid, Treble equaliser including Presence. There is also a selectable Switch on the back of the amp that allows you to effectively change the power output. This is labelled Pentode and Triode and allows you to effectively lower the output power by half. This is a great feature that is becoming quite common now on most valve amps so the bedroom rock stars can enjoy the sound of natural clean break up at lower volumes. If that's not enough for tonal options then there are also two input jacks a "Normal" and a "Bright" which does as is labelled. There is an FX loop and also a solo Bugera footswitch jack as the amp includes a footswitch. The footswitch itself is a little lacklustre as it only switches between channels and activating the reverb. It would have been nice to see the footswitch expanded a little and perhaps include a pedal to activate the boost. You can also change the impedance of the speaker should you decide to run the amp through a cab or should tone junkies decide to change the speaker. Lastly the V22 gives you the ability to bias your own valves with an RCA testing jack and bias cold/hot pot.