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Burriss Amps Royal Bluesman

by vaughn skow August 09, 2011 4 min read

Howdy folks!  It’s time to shine the spotlight on another Amp Builder with the wisdom to choose WGS speakers.  This week I’m featuring Bob Burriss and theBurriss amp line.  In Bob’s case "wisdom" is an understatement; the guy’s a freaking genius, he can smell good tone.  I get the feeling he’s like Ken Fischer without the baggage.  Only time will tell if Bob’s amps will one day demand the respect of Ken’s Trainwrecks.  Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised.  Why?  Well, READ ON!

I met Bob and toured the Burriss facility in Lexington Kentucky about two years ago when I reviewed his high-gain lunchbox head, the Dirty Red, and the uber cool DC Cabfor Vintage Guitar Magazine.  It was like a trip to Leo Fender’s shop in 1949 ... a small group of passionate amp craftsmen who’s give-a-dam was most definitely not broken.  Anyway, I loved the dirty little red gal, but it was the Royal Bluesman that really stole my heart; enough so that I ended up buying one for myself.  Bob’s DC Cab, with its almost instant speaker and open/closed back changes impressed me so much that I picked one of those up as well; it’s the most money I’ve ever spent on an empty cab, and it’s been worth every penny.  I’ve featured the DC Cabin all of my speaker shoot-out videos.  It’s the Royal Bluesman I will be featuring in this review.  But first a little history:

Bob began by building custom combo amps, similar to his current Shadowmodel.  These are some very cool amps with a few unique features, but it was his Royal Bluesman that really blew the roof off.  This little amp literally leaves nothing to be desired.  Here are the stats from the Burriss site:

  • 18watt Class A
  • 11.5" x 7.13" x 6.75"
  • 14lbs (1 stone)
  • Tube rectified
  • Custom chassis
  • Hand wired
  • 4, 8 and 16 ohm output for speakers
  • Cathode biased: plug and play power amp
  • 120v and 240v 50/60hz world power
  • EZ81(x1) Rectifier
  • EL84 (x2)
  • 12AX7 Mullards (x3)
  • Made in the USA
  • includes Vib+ pedal

But the stats don’t even begin to tell the whole story.  Here are some things the specs will not tell you: 

  • Every single component is of ultra-high quality:
  • 10’ hospital grade IEC power cable
  • Made in USA Accutronics verb tank (didn’t know they still existed)
  • Serious Iron!   Huge custom power and output trannys.
  • Awesome layout and lead-dress (a real work of art, to me)
  • Most important: out of this world freeking tone!

Okay, before I go any further, I must state the obvious:  This is not going to be an un-biased review.  I own this amp, I love this amp.  There, enough with the disclaimers!  Now, for a few of my personal observations:  First, the reverb, I still can’t believe Bob got a spring reverb to sound so darn good whilst being contained in such a little box.  The Dwell control on the verb is a nice little nod to the amps vintage vibe.  Second, the tremolo, this is holy-cow, jee-willikers, hi-krumba level tremolo.  Warning: before engaging the tremolo, take a few deep breaths and sit down.  This will take your breath away.  Call it hypnotic, lush, whatever you want; it’s what tremolo should be.  Oh, and the coolest part of all, the amp can function as a stand-alone effects and/or front end unit (sans speakers). Don’t even consider buying a repro Fender stand-alone spring reverb unit; just pick up one of these.  It’s a great spring verb unit, a smashing tremolo unit, oh ... and a great sounding amp!

But wait, there’s more, oh so much more.  For all the details check out the Burriss site; but I’ll mention a few that really rock my world.  Remember those custom trannys I mentioned?  Well, the OT has 4, 8, and 16 ohm taps- always a cool thing.  But cooler still: Bob had his power trannys wired with an extra tap for pedal power.  When you put the tiny lil tremolo switch on your pedal-board, guess what?  It can also power your entire pedal board.  Seriously, I’m not kidding.  The next uber-cool feature is the effects send and return - each sporting their own level control, this loop works with anything from guitar stomp boxes to line-level rack mount boxes.  In a quick jam situation, your bass player can plug into the return jack too, cool, huh?

Okay, so it’s got a few bells-n-whistles, so do a bunch of crappy sounding amps, right?  The $50K question is: how does it sound?  Well, if you like a tone that is both fat, and juicy while also possessing a velvet-smooth fender-esque top end and a level of touch-sensitivity that makes an amp feel as though it can read your very thoughts and desires ... well then, this is an amp you will like.  It’s got enough headroom to keep up with a live drummer, and also sounds very rewarding at bedroom levels.  Like I said, this amp leaves nothing to be desired. And all that is pushed by a pair of EL84’s, I’ve never even LIKED any EL84 amp before ... go figure.  It’s like I said in last week’s teaser: this amp rocks like none other, it totally re-invents what and how you play.  Yes, an amp can do that.

Next week’s blog will feature video clips of every style imaginable through the Royal blue.  My Buddy Brad Sample of Run With Bulls will be on hand again.  What’s more, we will search for the perfect WGS love-mate for the little blue girl.  We’ll be searching for God’s tone.  For now, I leave you with some of the coolest product pictures ever, enjoy!

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