range very apparent—enabling boosts in
presence that aren’t too brittle.
The Mid control is almost like another
gain knob, delivering more distortion and
dimension the more you crank it. And with
the Mid Lift engaged Rotten Johnny turns
into a roaring fire-breather with more gain
than most of us would ever need. I’ve rarely
heard a 6V6 amp sound this way—often
assuming some of the tonal qualities of
EL34s and EL84s. Though it only takes cutting the Mid and backing off the Pre Gain
to get back to more blackface-like territory
that was a perfect match for my Strat.
For a 15-watt amp, the Rotten Johnny
doesn’t lack headroom. Because there is so
much control via Pre and Post gain over
how hard you hit the tubes, I found myself
digging deep into the wealth of Strat-friendly clean sounds you can get with less
aggressive use of those controls. It was easy
to conjure thick and chewy cleans with just
a hint of grind by pushing the Post Gain
and leaving the Master wide open. Even
with the Mid Lift engaged I could still hit
the guitar hard without harsh
sounding breakup. And I was always able
to shape the thickness with the Bottom
switch, which I used extensively to match
individual guitars to the amp.
you want everything from Brit
aggressiveness to blackface tones
in a compact package at a fair price.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been so excited about a new amp. The Rotten Johnny
has a huge range of brilliant tones in a compact design that, at $1399, doesn’t break the
bank. For bedroom or studio musicians, it’s
a dream because you can coax out cranked
stack sounds without knocking down walls
and get the most beautiful cleans with the
twist of a few knobs. The construction is
top notch and the styling is classy and cool.
For an amp that’s roughly the same size as
a 1x12 cab and weighs less than 30 pounds,
it has the sonic personality of something
much larger. I only wish this little guy was
around when I first started playing guitar.
Thankfully, I’ll have the chance to make up
for lost time—my own Rotten Johnny is on
the way and I can’t wait to cut loose.
you actually need the power
to blow down barns.
or use a mobile device to read
this QR code to download audio
clips of the amp at
The Krautster totally nails the sound
and sheer power of raw music.
Its design and craftmanship,
meanwhile, demonstrate massive
scope and breathtaking ambition.
Disguised as a plain, down-to-earth
guitar, the Krautster comes proudly
stripped of everything but the very
essence of Rock!