I was at the New York Amp show earlier this year and the night before the show, I attended a jam session where one of my good friends was jamming through an amp called an Evil Robot. I was impressed by the tones, the simple control panel, and yes, the weight (26 back-loving pounds!!!) It sported 18w of class A tube power and had an on board tremolo that sounded more like a chorus than a traditional tremolo. I was also impressed by the name!
The next day at the Amp show, I met John Kasha, the amp builder, and after trying out the 18w combo and 30w head he had on display, I convinced him to build me a 30w combo. (I have the first one ever!) The 30w model was normally only available as a separate head. (Thanks, John!)
Evil Robot Amp Demo
Here is an overall descriptive video demo of the amp, first with a quick description of the control panel and then with me using it in a couple of different situations. I am really loving it as a grab and go amp for all situations. I am just playing the Highway One Strat directly into the Evil Robot Amp with no pedals.
The rear-facing control panel reveals four inputs, two hi-, two low, two each corresponding to the two channels, A and B. There is an overall Mellow/Normal/Bright switch and there are separate volume controls for each channel, A and B.
The default wattage operation for the amp (30w model) is 18w. Pulling out volume A bumps the power up to 30w. Pulling out volume B bumps the power down to 5w. Having both pulled out simultaneously bumps the power down to 8 watts. So you can easily take the amp from the home, to the studio, to the teaching studio, to the gig, or to the concert on the big stage and get the cranked tones you need. So far, I have used the amp in all of those settings and I am quite impressed with how the amp delivers.
There is a tone control for both channels that seems to work in conjunction with the Mellow/Normal/Bright switch for a wide range of tones. The control panel looks deceptively simple, considering the possibilities.
The foot-switchable vibrato section has the usual intensity and rate adjustment. I can only describe the sound of the vibrato as not just a volume-based vibrato, but also a frequency-related vibrato, very chorus-like in nature. Quite different from what I am used to in the Fender-style amps. I am totally loving it. It’s so lush.
There is a remote speaker jack on the control panel, which allows you to connect an extension speaker to use in conjunction with the onboard speaker. So you can get some bigger 2/12 sounds from this little amp, depending on the demand. Lower down in the back panel of the amp, there is another speaker connection with a 4, 8, 16 Ohm selector.
This speaker connection disconnects the onboard combo speaker, allowing you to use the amp as a head only. John Makes a 212 cab that I have tried and the results are stellar: A big sound from a little amp. Oh, by the way, it must be the lightest 212 cab I have ever lifted! (I know, I have issues with heavy things.)
I have not experimented with switching other speakers inside the combo, since I like the sound of the one provided. However, I have tried a few external speaker cabinets both through the remote speaker connection and through the other main speaker connection on the lower back of the amp. The results have been quite impressive. I like the big sound of a 212 configuration, so having that as an option for bigger stages makes for great flexibility. The tones of the amp literally double in size with the 212 cab or an extension speaker working with the onboard combo speaker.
As far as tone goes, this Robot is monstrous. The aspect of the Evil Robot’s tonal characteristic that impresses me most is its ability to cut through, even at the 18w setting. I will say I have used more powerful amps that did not fare as well in the context of bashing drums, crashing cymbals, Hammond B3′s and a horn section.
I have tried single coil, humbuckers and P90′s through this amp and I liked them all for different reasons. The amp loves to be pushed, so one mode of operation that I like to use is to put everything on “11″ and control the rest with a twist of my guitar volume knob. More guitar signal for OD and less for cleaner or crunch rhythm sounds. With humbuckers, there is little need for any overdrive or boost pedal, but even with the single coil strat pickups, Alnico III, or Dimarzio Noiseless (Area) that I use, the crunch and soloing settings are pretty juicy.
Pedals sound great through the amp too. There is no on-board reverb, but I have used the WET reverb pedal through the front of the amp with great results. Wah and envelope filters work great without sounding harsh. One of my favorite pedals to use with the Evil Robot amp in studio situations is the latest Fulltone Fat Boost. The tone controls on the Fat Boost give you additional tweakage of the guitar tones that you might need for different tunes and the extra drive pushes your Robot signal into great overdriven tones.
Here are the specs from Fretted Americana’s website:
Power: 18W Class A, cathode biased
Channels: (2) Loudness A/B high and low
Controls: Loudness A/B Volume, Tone A/B
Vibrato: Intensity, Speed and Foot Switch (included)
Power Tubes (fixed bias): (2) 6V6
Preamp Tubes: (2) 12AX7, (1) 12AU7, (1) 6AV6
Speaker Output: 8 ohm
Remote Speaker Output: Disconnects main speaker (8 ohm)
Tone Selector: Normal, Mellow, and Bright
Transformers: 100% Handmade, Ear Tuned, Hand Wound, USA Steel
Speaker: (8 ohm) 12 hand made In USA
Chassis and Name Plate: USA 16 gauge steel, painted, screened and baked
Assembly: Point to point, no circuit board, extreme hand wired
Jacks: ¼ Switchcraft
Knobs: Faux ivory chicken head
Ceramic Output Sockets: Power tubes
Cabinet: (50s Vintage Style) Baltic Birch semi open back
Tolex: Vintage brown (custom), animal glue, finished corners
Grill Cloth: Classic Gold Mesh (custom)
Handle: Heavy duty black vintage style
Brass serial plate: Authenticity and signatures
Accessories: Vibrato footswitch included
Weight: 26 lbs
Power: 100VAC, 120VAC, and 240VAC 50/60Hz UL and CE transformers, USA and International
Thanks, John for making a rockin’ piece of music-makin’ machinery for the working musician! I am lovin’ mine! AAAA+++
Performance Using the Evil Robot
Here is the full video clip of a solo at a concert I did using the amp, I am using a Fender Highway One Strat with Dimarzio Area 58, 61 and 67 noiseless pickups. The tone you are hearing is just the guitar signal turned up and the amp turned up all the way on the 30w setting. Pretty nice tones; clear, yet singing.