SS-20 Tube Preamp review by AMT Electronics

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  • Sound: 8
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 8
  • Ease of Use: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 8.8 Superb
  • Users' score: 9 (2 votes)
AMT Electronics: SS-20 Tube Preamp
1

Price paid: $ 135

Purchased from: Local music shop

Sound — 8
THE GOOD: I've been running this pedal with my 1987 Ibanez RG550 Roadflare Red guitar. Stock neck and center. Older EMG in the bridge. I've done comparisons of the sounds seeing how accurately I could achieve the classic Tube sound. First with a solid state Fender 75W (I figure most people buying this pedal won't be pairing it with a Tube amp); No pedals. Then I did it with my Line 6 HD500 mimicking "tube amp sound". Finally I used the SS-20 Tube Pre-Amp with the amp. As a comparison I borrowed a friends Fender tube amp 30W. The amp itself sounded decent. Nice clean sound. Adding the HD500 produced a "tube-like" sound, but didn't have the same feel and Drive as a tube. Swapping the HD500 out with the SS-20 gave an AMAZING difference. The cleans sparkle. The crunch gave the flexibility to be clean but with a swipe of the hand, to produce a nice tube sound. Stopping on the LEAD button gives way to a nice sound that anyone would love to play with. Near identical sound to the actual Fender tube next to me. The AMT SS-20 has an effect loops for anybody that wants to add in other effects. I rigged my HD500 to the AMT with ease and I was able to have a wide range of effects and sounds, while keeping the tube sound. THE BAD: The AMT SS-20 has two outputs. 1, a "OUT CAB EMUL" which is the pedals own cab emulation. IMO opinion, it gives a great color to the mix. However, the second output, "OUTPUT", bypasses the cab. I've tried and tried and it sounds wretched. I've tried using it into amps (several), I've put it into Mixers for playing at gigs. Sounded bad as well. It's extremely weak and it feeds back constantly. It'd be nice to be able to using the OUTPUT so I can let whatever amp I'm using color my sound, but the CAB OUT is nothing to complain about. Also. IMO, the Volume and Gain are mislabeled. The gain acts more like a volume knob. When you crank the volume, it cranks the tube distortion, not the volume level.

Overall Impression — 9
If it were lost or stolen, I'd buy it again for the price I paid. However, at full price (around $400), I'm not exactly sure who the pedal is catering to? With that money, you could go buy a real tube amp. But, fair enough, for people like me that often are asked at gigs to NOT use amps on stage, it offers tube sound going into a soundboard/mixer. It's a great pedal, I'm glad I picked it up. The cleans blow me away with the unit. Cranking the Volume and having such a classic sound is great.

Reliability & Durability — 8
THE GOOD: The unit is made out of a thick metal housing. AMT made it so that the tube doesn't overheat and has access to the air. I give credit to AMT. They made the tube easy to get to (for replacing). Other Tube Pedals require you to get them serviced or take it literally apart. This pedal has a metal grate with a few screws. Simply unscrew them and you can access the tube. THE BAD: Well false advertising for one. The knobs are supposed to be blue and white, but none were ever produced in that color. Also, the knobs are a hard plastic. I keep it in a case and all, but I kind of wish the knobs were metal (everything else on the unit is).

Ease of Use — 10
Although it was brand new and the pedal was sealed, the box was missing the manual. I easily went online and nabbed a PDF copy. The manual goes above and beyond what most people would ever want to know about a simple stompbox. The knobs and buttons are self explanatory. The top row of knobs are Channel A, or the clean channel. You can adjust the Volume, Bass, Middle, Treble and Gain Clean. The second row controls Channel B. Bass, Middle, Treble, Gain Crunch and Gain Lead. Channel B has two parts to it. There is a separate footswitch to activate the Lead channel. This way, you have a Clean, Crunch and Lead channel with separate volumes.

4 comments sorted by best / new / date

    bluekirby7
    I just want to point out that the stock pictures are what I mentioned in my review. That's the stock pics, but the knobs aren't actually that color. And the LED lights are wrong too. On the actual unit, the clean channel is a bright blue, the crunch is yellow and the lead is red.
    Taint McGooch
    Your problem is you have to run the pedal into your amps Effects return, so it bypasses your amps preamp. if you run this preamp into the regular input jack on the front, it no longer bypasses your amps preamp, so you have preamp on preamp, which is causing the problem you're having. Try running the pedal directly into your amps effects return and it should solve your issue
    Taint McGooch
    Also, for plugging into am mixer at a gig, you would use the cab emulation output, which is essentially a direct out
    bluekirby7
    Taint McGooch wrote: Your problem is you have to run the pedal into your amps Effects return, so it bypasses your amps preamp. if you run this preamp into the regular input jack on the front, it no longer bypasses your amps preamp, so you have preamp on preamp, which is causing the problem you're having. Try running the pedal directly into your amps effects return and it should solve your issue
    Actually I had done that and it still didn't sound anywhere near right I just wanted to add another note, you can't use both the OUTPUT and CAB EM OUTPUT simultaneously. I was at a gig and tried to do it and it mutes the CAB output, but keeps the standard output.