If you play electric guitar, you are always searching for “that sound” that will bring joy and everlasting effervescence into your life. One of the ways to get “that sound” is to play around with various amps and speakers until you find the right fit for delighting your ear while providing the necessary goodness for your soul. The Egnater Rebel-20 Half Stack was brought to my attention as a joy-worthy amp, and this is my story of chasing that divinity.
I was originally in the mood to purchase a ’65 Fender Princeton Reverb Reissue. It’s a delightful combo amp and the reviews I read online were awe-inspiring.
I had previously heard of the Egnater Rebel series, but I’d happened upon a few bad reviews of the product online and I was tempted away from making the purchase.
When I shared my Egnater trepidation with my online friends, I was hastily cajoled and corrected. The Egnater Rebel-20 Half Stack was, I was assured, an outstanding value and a killer combo.
I was sufficiently engrossed by the passion for the Egnater brand, and when I went to buy one online last week at Musician’s Friend, I was greeted with a blown up database and an offer for 20% off at their online sister site, Music123.com.
I was immediately impressed with Music123.com because they did not add an additional $20.00USD shipping surcharge for the Egnater Rebel-20 Half Stack — as Musician’s Friend does — and their overnight shipping charge was also $20.00USD cheaper than Musician’s Friend. All that goodness coupled with $180.00USD off the price made the purchase irresistible and righteous.
However, when the Egnater bundled arrived, I was immediately displeased in the wrongful aesthetic of the cloth covering on the speaker cabinet.
As you can see below, there is something strange and icky going on with the 1/4 one color and 3/4 another color cloth covering the speaker, and it looks to my untrained eye in person that Egnater ran out of fabric and sewed in a new piece of fabric upside down!
My initial gut reaction to Egnater quality control was not good, especially when you compare what arrived in my home to the promotional image of the same setup at the start of this review.
The hallmark of the Egnater Rebel-20 Half Stack is in its infinite ability to morph and transmogrify into any sort of sound you want.
You can crunch, thump, glisten or gleam — all with a flick of a switch and the turning of a few dials.
You can choose to pump sound at 1 watt or 20 watts or any wattage in between and the keen customization doesn’t end there — you can magically “tune your sound” between two separate, and independent, pairs of tubes.
One pair are EL84 Groovetubes for hardcore power and the other pair are 6V6 Groovetubes for a more smooth and shaded sound. You can choose one pair or the other or you can mix them. My favorite setting is “One O’Clock” to get the best mix of grit and shine for my ear.
Egnater also provides suggested setups to help you get the right sound. I tried all of these settings and I kept coming back to the first one: “Shimmering Clean.” It speaks to me in unheard of ways that cannot be explained in text.
The Egnater Rebel-20 Half Stack is truly divine. The sounds you get out of the system are dramatic and pleasing. Even at low levels for practicing at home late at night, the Egnater system delivers full and rich sound that won’t bother anyone.
I plugged in each of my guitars to the Egnater to get a feel for the sound and to chew on the tone, and the best compliment and recommendation I can provide for the Rebel-20 Half Stack is that I felt as if I were finally hearing — for the first time ever — the resounding soul of my guitars.
The ’65 Princeton Reverb Reissue still calls to me, but the Egnater Rebel-20 Half Stack is more than just an amp and speaker — it is the very means of music and the intrinsic heart you seek in the soul of your sound.
UPDATE: October 28, 2009 6:20pm Eastern
Here is the reply from Nate at Egnater concerning the cloth problem.
Nate’s first response was simply “Thanks” — a strange response to my review and concern — then followed a few hours later by this:
Sorry about the miscommunication. I failed to connect the two emails, as I read the one you sent me I thought it was in regards to simply your review. Of which we were greatly appreciative. In regards to your terribly mismatched grill cloth I must apologize for this. We play test every amp before they ship however we do expect the cabinets to come from the manufacturer in a uniformed sellable state, this one however did not. If you just received it from Music123, it would probably in your best interest to give them a call and see if you can’t send it in for an exchange. As per your recommendation I have forwarded this to Bruce as well as our manufacture as a blatant example of what the Rebel112x shouldn’t look like. Please keep me in the loop as to happens with Music123 because we want to make sure you get taken care of.
I don’t like it that Egnater are pawning this off on Music123.com when Music123 didn’t make the amp and I have to deal with the hassle of returning a 31 pound amp!
Customer satisfaction is not an Egnater priority or concern.
I now wish I’d followed the negative reviews I read about Egnater and just bought the 65 Princeton Reverb Reissue instead.