The Defender review by Kustom

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  • Sound: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Features: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9.5 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.5 (38 votes)
Kustom: The Defender

Price paid: $ 400

Purchased from: Pocono Music Exchange

Sound — 10
Sound is where it's at. Very controllable clean to grit. I tihnk very comparable to the Fender Hot Rod Deluxe. I actually chose this over a used HOT Rod at the same price as the new Kustom. Both great amps but the tone was excellent on the Kustom for a new amp I just had to go with it. Best way to describe is that the tone surrounds you and you just don't want to stop playing. Best amp for blues and classic rock tones I have ever tried hands down. I have no mod plans for this one. Plus this can play loud or quite and as I mentioned... It doesn't significantly loose the tone or feel at different volume levels.

Overall Impression — 10
Bottom line... If you want cool built-in effects or heavy metal tones this is not your amp. If you want a classic style plain ballsy tube amp this is a very good pick. Think Hendrix and SRV in a box! Of course if Hendrix got his paws on this it would be shattered and lit on fire... With love. I suggest to go play it before you buy it. It really is warm and fun to play. I know the big guys (Guitar Center, Sam Ash, etc) sell them but don't normally carry the Kustom line in stock. You may need to check local stores to try it out. I would never have come across the line if my local store didn't have it sitting right there. Once I tried it I was hooked. No brainer. Hope this helps!

Reliability & Durability — 9
Don't know... Too early to tell... Plus I do not gig. No reason to think it wouldn't hold up. It is also a solid pine box not ply. Seems solid to me. I will post back if come across anything breaking down. OH... There is this... I did get a microphone tube rattling around... I never had this happen before and didn't know what it was making the noise so I called Kustom and was told of a local service place... They took me within a hour and replaced the bad tube at no charge to me. This place said that Kustom brand stands behind their warrettee better then some others. So if it does break I am not too concerned I guess.

Features — 9
This is about my 12th amp ever owned in 25 yrs (some tube some SS --- Crate, Roland VGA, Line 6, Holmes Bluesmaster, Univox, Fenders, etc, etc). So I don't have a lot to compare it to as some other people here, but I am just a hobbyist and never gig. However, this is my first ever amp review so bare with me... I was looking for a good basic amp that could run clean and get dirty when needed. I wasn't looking for effects as I have many many pedals for that already. If you're looking for cool effects this is lacking, but it does have a few goodies it does very well. Controllable top end. Unlike some other amps I have used you can run this at various volumes without losing playability. It can be played low and still "feel" as though you're pushing it. The volume drives the pre-amp tubes and master drives the mains (EL342). This can also be bypassed. First time I was able to achieve this well without a separate pedal. Speaker is reasonable. 16 ohm Eminence stock. I have no plans to change it yet. The amp can be configured to take 16, 8, or 4 ohm speaker configurations with a simple switch change. Reverb is pleasant but a tad on the dark side. Better than most of my other amps for sure. (BTW... On a side note, I put a MOD brand reverb for $20 in my Crate V18 and it blows away the Accutonics... Just FYI). The Defender has three 12AX7s and two EL34s. The EL34s can be replaced with 6l6's and can be easily biased with simple switch. I have not yet tried this. The tubes are easy to get to as well. There is only one input and no effects loop. For me that is fine... I don't use them even on amps that have them. Controls location. This is where it shines for as well. I got the one they just discontinued. The controls are in the font where they should be! Why do some higher end amp manufactures insist on putting controls in the rear top deck? This amp is nice with the controls on the front. Can be placed under a shelf and can be access easily. For me this is a big plus. Unfortunately, they changed the model and this now changed ugh! Although the new 50 has some more features.

5 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I like Kustom amplification and have both their acoustic 65 sienna and a defender. There both sleepers and deliver tones you hear in amps costing much more. While my defender is only the 5h it blows me away so much so that I'm bringing back my VHT hand wired amp to the music store.
    My experience with Kustom is that make great amps at very competitive prices. Definitely recommended if you're looking for something good and you're on a bit of a budget (or even if you're not).
    Reverb is pleasant but a tad on the dark side
    The reverb is Darth Vader!
    To add a few words to my review after playing this thing for a while now... I had a close encounter with a TrainWreck. What an animal. So with my ears still in pain I went to my place and made my Kustom do its worst. So now it's on 3/4 of power and drive and it outputs as much as 35W Trainwreck on 1,5 (out of 10) with pickups lamost shut down. Kustom is capable of a good growl, but it stays in the shadows of the big animals. When I get myself a blue-blooded animal, I'll keep the Kustom as a spare amp. It delivers the goods, but it lands short where the big 'uns are only warming up... Worth its money, but not much more than that. Sorry if my initial enthusiasm was misleading - I still believe it's an awesome amp, but compared to 2-3000$ animals, it's no big deal.
    just got a 15h head paired with a tone tubby cab 12" (not sure the speaker in it, looks generic) got them both for $175. no bells or whistles or even gain. very minimalist, if you are looking for the cleanest tube driven tones out there on a budge this is easily your best bet. Knobs: volume, 15/4w output selector, bass response (american-britain), tone. love it