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.

15 Comments

  1. So so sorry to hear about Eganter amp problems. Not sure why they’re putting all the burden on you to fix their mistake that they admit.
    Your guitars reviews are so fun to read. I play acoustic and you have me thinking about adding some electricity. Bad you!

  2. Making me do a return with Music123 is the height of a consumer hassle — especially since the amp and speaker were purchased as a combo. I don’t even have the boxes any longer. Oh, well… one less return means one less return Egnater has to process.
    I won’t buy anything from Egnater again, Anne, and I will just keep this silly looking speaker as proof-in-situ of my dissatisfaction with Egnater’s manufacturing process and lack of quality control as a company.

  3. That’s a fair question, Anne. In this case with Egnater, I would rather have a less robust product and pristine, no-hassle, customer service directly with the company.
    In today’s shaky world of company promises and product quality, the chances of something failing than lasting “forever” are much more common. Sure, a speaker cloth mismatch is ugly — but what if more mistakes are lurking within waiting to strike out later?
    Returning the speaker to Music123 is no solution at all because it does not guarantee I won’t be sent the same aesthetic mess in return. I am unimpressed with Eganter’s quality control so why bother risking another heartache?
    Egnater’s official response punishes Music123 — and me — when the fault is Egnater’s alone. I will not recommend Egnater in the future and yet I will live with their mistake forever.

  4. Yes, the Egnater is a good amp — I’m just disappointed in the build quality of the speaker and in the initial response from the company on solving a problem they created. I will either keep the speaker or sell it for a profit, Anne.

  5. Wow David, ya know, mistakes happen? Why cut your nose off in this instance? In your position I wouldnt find it that difficult to return the amp and await a replacement. Youve written a replacement off before youve even seen it!

    Tough crowd here Egnater.

  6. It could be that Music123 sells primarily B-stock equipment. I bought a Washburn guitar (e-bay) that I believe came from them (the description was right off their website for a guitar I wasn’t able to find listed anywhere else). In addition to not having all the features listed (on either site, of course) the workmanship and quality control strongly suggested B-stock. But hey, the price was better than if I had bought the “real deal” at a reputable place. Shame on them for pawning off inferior quality without notifying the buyer. Shame on me for being a sucker, and shame on Egnater/Washburn for letting shoddy workmanship out the door–at any price.

    1. That would explain a lot, I think. Music123 is part of Guitar Center and they do seem to operate like the lesser stepchild of the main business. It seems to take twice as long to get things from Music123 compared with other online retailers and if they do deal in less quality product without letting us know, then that’s a big problem.

  7. Hey David, just came across your review while searching for posts regarding the Rebel-20 (I am having ”ghost notes” occur; I have replaced every tube in the amp to no avail). I would second your concern regarding Egantor’s customer support – in my situation, I contacted them when the problem first became noticeable. I received a handful of emails, then an abrupt end to communication for almost two months. I contacted them again via their website and reached Nate. He apologized for the “personnel shuffle” that had led to my issue being ignored, offered a suggestion that did not work, and at the moment, has promptly forgotten me again.

    I’m not sure what the process is behind Egnator’s customer service, but “helpful” and “efficient” do not appear to be key words in their mission statement. It’s a shame; I adore my Rebel-20 but unlike a speaker grille color mismatch, my amp is currently not playable. If they have that little concern over an easy fix such as yours, I fear that a more complex problem like mine will be completely ignored.

    Thanks for sharing your experience and allowing a place for me to share mine. If anything changes, I’ll update, but I suspect I’ll be selling my Rebel-20 long before Egnator makes a move to repair it.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience, Travis. My Egnater basically just sits here. I play a lot of Gibsons now and, to my ear, the Rebel-20 doesn’t do those guitars justice. I think Egnater is more suited to Strats than Les Pauls. I find the Egnater sound too brittle and bright and no amount of fiddling with all the knobs will give me the warm, lush, sound I crave.

      Your problem does seem to be much more serious than mine and I wonder why the company is not stepping forward to help you get a resolution? It doesn’t make sense. They have new models now, though, so maybe our Rebel-20s are just not cool enough for school anymore…

      Definitely keep us updated! We want to know what happens!

      1. UPDATE — So, it’s been a while since I posted my Egnater experience, but random chance brought me past this review & my earlier post and I realized I had never updated my experience, so here goes… after a week or so of trying to connect with Nate at Egnater and dealing with his incredibly slow and slack responses, I called them directly and was able to get hold of someone else who explained that Nate was “moving on” and that had led to slow responses and overall poor customer service. The guy apologized profusely and proceeded to hear my situation from square one – the amp was playing fine, but seemed to emit two tones when playing certain strings/frets. He suggested that I might have a cap problem or something on the board and immediately took my contact info and promised to get in touch with me soon. Which he did, calling me back later the same day with the info for an amp repair shop in my area that dealt with Egnater amps and would repair it as soon as I dropped it off.

        I dropped the amp off the next morning; the next day the shop informed me that something had indeed gone bad on the main board and that it would have to be replaced. The repair guy then told me that he had already contacted the Egnater rep about the issue and had been told to repair it at their cost – my amp was a couple years old already, I had bought it used without warranty, and it was gigged pretty well 3-4 nights a week, so I can only guess that either 1) the rep was doing great PR by going above and beyond, or 2) was trying to make up for my previous frustration with Nate. Whichever it was, I was hugely appreciative as it saved me several hundred dollars of parts and labor costs and brought my amp back into perfect tone. They even re-tubed it with new, good-quality tubes at no charge to me.

        All in all, I was ready to sell the dang thing over the sudden fault combined with Nate’s lack of customer service… with this experience though, I became a solid Egnater believer and have not had an issue with the amp since. My Rebel-20 is still my main amp and still gets put through its paces 2-3 nights a week. If I ever did have an issue in the future, I would have no qualm dealing with Egnater CS again if it maintains the high level that I experienced a couple years ago with the new manager.

        Hope that helps, sorry for the really long delay in updating 🙂