CUB Head & 212 Cab Half-Stack review by Laney

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 7
  • Features: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 8.8 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.5 (6 votes)
Laney: CUB Head & 212 Cab Half-Stack

Price paid: $ 500

Sound — 9
I love this amp that I just bought, but will still review it objectively. It does basically two things well, give you classic bluesy tube crunch, very warm and smooth, or 70s hard rock high gain. But it does them very well and you can hit the gain sweet spot at bedroom vol using the 1W input. The 15W setting is more than enough to play over a drummer if you dime the gain knob and push the vol to 5-10. Plenty for playing a small club. Others feel 15W isn't enough but in my band I don't like to have ringing in my ears after every rehearsal. This size is perfect with the two inputs because it pretty much guarantees you can get a sweet high gain at tolerable volumes. I have friends with 100W heads that act like total rock stars about it and can never really achieve the right sound without making everyone else deaf. This size is perfect. In either input the high gain is very open, not compressed. I don't see a huge difference in sound between this and a class A amp, which are supposed to be more open and loose.

At first I played this through my mahogany PRS with stock pups and it sounded somewhat like Zeppelin. But the same day I put a DiMarzio Super Distortion in the guitar's bridge and wow, not I can get Iron Maiden and say Metallica's "Kill Em All", with slight tweeking on a 7-band EQ I run through the effects loop. With the EQ and a distortion pedal, you can get more gain but not piling it not on top of the amp's gain. The Laney only really like distortion pedals if it's set to a clean setting, which are pretty scarce in this amp and not nearly loud enough to play in a band. If you buy this amp understand this: it is NOT for cleans. I knew and bought it anyway because I A/B it with a Fender for cleans. But it really shines for overdrive with clarity, punch, warmth and singing sustain.

Using my other guitar, an Ibanez hollowbody with fairly low output pups, it gets very nice warm blues tones and enough for say CCR or the Allman Bros. Very legit sounding. I don't think it has enough clean headroom with that guitar to do jazz at ensemble volumes though. But it's not designed for that anyway.

Overall Impression — 9
If you are searching for a quality British-voiced 15W tube amp at a good price, look no further. Perfect for session players, studio and rehearsal and small clubs. Pros who gig big arenas probably need something larger, although you can always mic this and play anywhere with a PA. I wish it had more clean headroom and a second channel but asking for that is asking for an entirely different amp. This is simple but the little it does it does very well. Combined with a good clean amp it makes for a great classic rock-blues-classic heavy metal rig if you have a guitar with HOT pickups. I've tried many amps by many brands and really love Laney's warmth and punch without being harsh. This is very similar to a classic-voiced Marshall but not quite as toppy, which I prefer. A total steal for what it's worth and much of this is thanks to it being made in China. Given it doesn't break down, I don't see the difference between this and a boutique amp actually made in Britain costing at least double just do to its origin.

Reliability & Durability — 7
I can't say because I just got it. At the store they said they haven't had any returns and have sold plenty. I doubt a bit because it's made in China but these days what isn't? I have enough Faith to trust a Chinese factory especially since most stuff it totally automated anyway. The engineering is British so that's enough for me.

Features — 10
The Cub head, made in China, is a very simple one-channel British-voiced 15W all tube class A/B amp. Has vol, gain, tone, bass, mid and treble controls, and reverb. It also has two inputs, one for 15W and another for 1W. I can't knock the features because it is presented as a simple one channel amp. All the controls are sensitive and work well.

The Laney cab it comes with, sold separately, has two Celestion Rocket 50 12" drivers that sound very warm, punchy and clear to my ear. Both units are encased in nice, solid birch and finished well. Very classy presentation.

1 comment sorted by best / new / date

    The 15W setting is more than enough to play over a drummer if you dime the gain knob and push the vol to 5-10
    Max gain at half volume? Wouldn't you dime the volume to get! Laney build great amps though. Great stuff.