Friedman Smallbox 50 Combo
- Technology: Valve
- Power: 50 W
- Channels: 2
- Loudspeakers: 1x 12"
- Loudspeaker Type: Celestion Creamback
- EQ: Bass / mids / treble / presence
- Inserts: Series
- Pre Amp Valves: 3x 12AX7
- Power Amp Valves: 2x EL34
- Impedance: 4/8/16 ohms
- Including: Footswitch
- Special Features: sperate Gain + Volume, shared EQ
- Dimensions: 616 x 559 x 241 mm
- Weight: 23,8 kg
- Country of Origin: Handwired in USA
Friedman Smallbox 50 Combo · Guitar Amp
Value for money:
Perfectionbr C on 02.02.2016
It's that Marshall sound you've heard in your head or remember from a favourite record, but can't get with a modern-day Marshall. It has gain if you want but never sounds harsh or fizzy. It's that perfect balance between creaminess and bite. Even at high gan settings, chords sound rich and full, with lots of pleasing harmonics.
The mid-range is special on this amp. Just perfect and always cuts through.
The master volume works! It's a very loud amp but the master vol somehow retains the tone right down to an extremely quiet bedroom level. I have a high-quality attenuator and I have tested it on this amp, but frankly it's unnecessary. The tone is all coming from the pre-amp. On channel 1, the power tube distortion only kicks in noticeably from a volume of about 8 upward. It sounds lovely, but it's only adding a little bit of icing to an already pretty much ideal sound. On channel 2, it's very hard to discern the power amp distortion, so there's nothing lost by playing at manageable volume.
The Plexi channel is pretty gentle and only really goes over the edge when gain is dimed or when pushed with a pedal or high gain pickups. This means it never loses dynamics and you always have cleans on tap with just a lighter picking action. Channel 2 is like the best JCM800 sound you've heard, plus a bit of extra brutality if you want it.
The dynamics are pretty ridiculous, and you can go from fairly clean melodies to heavy chunking by changing your picking action alone, without changing channels or touching any guitar knobs.
Although there is enough gain to not need a drive pedal, it actually sounds fab with a bit of drive up front. I've had good results with the Plimsoul and the Dirty Little Secret. It somehow seems to bring out the best in those pedals where other amps don't, eg I've struggled with Plimsoul plus 68 Deluxe Reverb.
The EQ is pretty subtle, especially at low volumes. I normally like a scooped sound and you can get that if you want to, but the mid-range sounds so good that I am finding I don't want to rein it in.
The speaker is great and voiced right for the amp. A really "forward", "projected" sound.
Minor drawbacks? Spring reverb would have been great. But actually it sounds best with just a little hint of 300-ish ms delay instead. The back panel is kind of inside the cabinet, so it's not convenient to access. Also the knob labels on the top panel face away from you when you stand in front of the amp.
I thought hard about a 1959HW before buying this. The Friedman covers the Plexi bases (without the need for an attenuator) plus the higher gain Marshall territory and something else that's hard to put your finger on.