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BB's tone?

What one customer thinks...

"One thing I have noticed which I think is a big positive: If you are playing a Strat through a Blues Junior, you will know its is a Strat being played through a relatively small valve amp.

Playing a Strat through a BB you will likewise know it is a Strat, but you will not be able to guess the size or nature of the amp.

We all know that the 5 Strat tone settings give an incredible spread of tones even before you play with the guitar's tone control (or not!). Somehow, the BB seems capable of accentuating or rather differentiating the range more accurately.

Finally, as has already been observed, so much depends on the quality and efficiency of the speaker. My DRRI is a few years old and has the same Eminence rebadged speaker as the present Hot Rod range including the BJ. Despite all those who immediately swap it out, it is a very efficient speaker and to my ears the sound is fine. Stewart appears to hold the same view"

Taken from TDPRI forum posted by Ted Witton, Suffolk, UK - 21/02/2014

BluesBaby Control Panel

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Award-Session's 'BB' Amp Gallery

...and customers' comments!

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Customer's BluesBaby Amp

Customer's BluesBaby Amp

A BluesBaby™ chassis fitted into a HotRod Deluxe® cabinet! A potential customer asked if it could be done. So, as we had a Hotrod cab lying around, we quickly knocked it up! Took about two hours and was straight forward. Any DIYer could do it!

We tried this out at a local jam on 14.4.2014 and it performed exactly as you would expect. It received many compliments. This example is fitted with a stock 75W Fender (Legend 1258) speaker and the 'EQ type' switch set to 'Marshall®' mode with the bright switch off, all night - Stewart Ward

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Acknowledgement: It must be very hard for anyone to invest in a brand new product like BluesBaby when there is no prior chat about it or any reviews! A blind leap of faith we call it! And we at Award-Session would like to thank all our customers for their confidence in our designs and ability!

THANK YOU SOOOOO MUCH EVERYONE!

Stewart Ward, BBs Designer

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Nigel (a very happy customer)

I have had the Blues Baby for six months now and after regular rehearsals and gigs I have to report that I am highly delighted with it and has exceeded my expectations. The Celestion Classic Lead 80 that you kindly installed is just perfect, so many thanks for that. As you say the speaker has a major effect on the sound and being able to choose the speaker that suits your ears is a major plus. I have found that the Blues Baby does have that full rich expansive sound usually associated with a well-designed (expensive) valve amp. It sounds great and easily copes with non mic’ed up drum band levels.

I love the fact that you can, at the flick of a switch, change from blackface to plexi sounds. For rehearsals and gigs I've not been using the FAT switch as it's not been necessary, but it's perfect for low level, at home practising where it beefs up the sound nicely.

Also I have found the presence switch useful, for occasionally I find that the sound of my usual settings become very trebly (I have no idea why this happens, but once in a blue moon it does... perhaps it has something to do with the weather or atmospheric pressure or relative humidity or maybe it’s just my ears). Flicking the presence switch in is a quick fix, as it instantly backs off the treble. The toroidal transformer works a treat and has reduced the hum from my Strats single coils to a level that is hardly noticeable.

The Blues Baby is not perfect though, as early on when I first had it I found that the brightness of the blue power light in low light conditions was dazzling making it near impossible to see what the controls were for, but not a problem now that I am familiar with it. Well nothing’s perfect and I had to find something wrong with it!

The Blues Baby is testament to the fact there is little or no difference between a well-designed, well made valve amp and a well-designed, well made solid state amp... except for reliability that is. Considering the various great American and British voiced tones you get out of it, it’s a bargain.

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LittleJay, Customer =- Extract from JazzGuitar Online forum:

Yes, I have the BluesBaby 22 in a DIY solid pine cab with a Jensen NEO 12-100 speaker. And I also have one of the older Session Rockette:30 amps and still think that sounds very nice too.

I still like my BluesBaby a lot for smaller gigs and use it a lot - it's easily the most tube-sounding and feeling solid state amp I've played so far. More than enough headroom for jazz gigs in trios or quartets (when the drummer is not too oud).

With a loud drummer you will soon have some hair on your tone, the 22 watts are perfectly comparable to a Deluxe Reverb, it delivers around the same volume and headroom (this is one amp that does not suffer from the distinction between 'solid state watts' and 'tube watts').

Also the tone is very similar, although a Deluxe Reverb with it's bigger cabinet can deliver a little more 'oomph'. The 'fat' and 'Blackface' switches of the BluesBaby make it a little more versatile.

Biggest plus for me: mine weighs only around 7,5 kgs (around 15 lbs)!

If you have any questions, I will gladly answer those.

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Joe Nethercoat, Herts

"Dear all at Award Session,

A quick line to let you know how impressed I am with the BluesBaby amplifier. I have used it in 2 gigs recently and it has performed brilliantly... great blues tone, lightweight and loud enough to cope unaided in relatively large spaces with a six piece band. It is performing as well in live music situations as amplifiers that literally cost 10 times as much... I know, I own a few!

One suggestion, for those who gig in different size venues, a speaker emulated DI out would be a great option... preferable to the aux in perhaps?

Thanks again for a fine product."

Thanks for taking the trouble to email us Joe. We worked very hard on BluesBaby's design. Your feelings are not alone and resultantly, we're confident that BluesBaby is as good as any valve amp out there! :) - Stewart

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David Gray

"My newly acquired Rickenbacker 330 12 string sounds amazing thru my Blues Baby. Tones all set to 12, reverb 3, master 12 vol 3 fat off. Jangle heaven!

Can stop playing Byrds Tambourine Man and Who Can't Explain!"

Ricky 330? I'm dead jealous David! Even my wife Gill loves those too! Glad you having so much fun. To hear that iswhat make my work so rewarding. :) - Stewart

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David Hopewell, Bethesda-Gwynedd, Wales

"Received my BB today, dropped it into an old cab with a Jensen C12k... not a perfect fit, but good enough for now.

First impressions very positive. Does the edge of break-up/slight overdrive thing very well and has a similar feel to my old deluxe reverb. The overdrive from the preamp is good; a good vintage gritty drive without that nasty marshall style fizz/sine wave... plenty of volume, good reverb. Doesn't quite do the full throated roar of my tweed deluxe on full but it's not far off and that probably wasn't the idea anyway.

Stewart, I think you've nailed it with this amp. Speaking as a valveophile, it's better than most valve amps I've tried (or own). Way better than any of the current crop of digital modelling gizmos. Definitely a keeper! And great value!"

Thanks for your kind comments David. We are very pleased that you are too! You know, we could make the BB sound just like a Tweed Deluxe... we'd have to replace the three band EQ with a simple tone control! BB would then nail that tone too! - Stewart

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Customer's BluesBaby Amp

Pete Martin: "I have to say I'm really impressed with this Blues Baby! Great clean tones & lovely crunchy breakup tones. With pine cab and a Jensen Neo speaker it's light too!"

A teasing view Of Pete's BluesBaby installed into a lovely extra wide vintage tweed style cab by Mark at AF Custom Cabinets

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Customer's BluesBaby Amp

Customer's BluesBaby Amp

"BluesBaby head cabinet is finally ready. Not very original but the appearance follows my old home made speaker cabinets.

From the very beginning the sound surprised me positively and I think it's amazing. It has a tubelike sound and there is plenty of possibilities to adjust the sound. It is also very responsive; you get what and how you play. Compared to my old tube amp there is nothing that it lacks. Except the weight :)

With pine cabinet and Accutronics spring reverb unit it weighs only 4,5 kg! I have played BluesBaby in the band rehearsals through my main speaker cabinet (Eminence Red Fang 12"/50W/8Ohm) and it sure knows it's place in the band. We play mainly cover music from twang/surf to rock'n'roll (and pop'n'loll, heh) and there seems to be suitable sounds for every need.  And the spring reverb chimes beautifully.

At home I use my 'mini' speaker (Jensen MOD 5"/30W/8Ohm) and even in lower volumes it keeps up it's sound characteristics. Far, far better than a tube amp. When asked Award-Session, they offered to replace MP3 AUX IN with a LINE OUT (no speaker simulation) without any extra cost. Nice gesture! And LINE OUT also works fine as doing home recordings to the computer through audio interface.

As noticed (from pics) I have a narrowed version of the amp chassis. I took off extra circa 5 cm from the other end (carefully without touching any components inside the amp chassis). Related to that, there is one suggestion: could it be a good to have also a narrowed version of chassis as an option (there seems to be enough room for components), if someone want to build a head version of the amp as I did.

Thank you for the excellent guitar amp."

J. Karhu, Helsinki, Finland

We really appreciate you taking the trouble to email your views. Sadly, there is not enough market demand to make two chassis widths - Stewart

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"This amp is the BEST amp I have ever owned - and I've owned a few-from playing Sound City amps in the clubs in the early 70's, a vox AC30 in the mid 70's, Marshall late 70's,Fender,Roland etc etc-the valve like crunch this thing has.. everything about it - it is AWESOME." - Hollowbelly Lo-fi Punkblues

WOW... just WOW! Thanks - Stewart

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"I thought I would take some time before responding as this has allowed me to use the amp (BluesBaby) at a number of rehearsal and half a dozen gigs.

I put the chassis in my 2008 Tweed Blues Junior cabinet and tried it with a number of speakers before finding what I think is the perfect match for the kind of tone I like – the speaker is a Tayden Alnico Smooth (a British Vox type of speaker but is much more balanced than traditional Vox speakers). I have an order in with AF cabinets for a custom seized cabinet for the chassis as the Tayden speaker is slightly too deep to allow the rear panel to be fitted properly.

With the Black Face switch the amp is also very happy with different guitars.

Overall I would say that the amp is just a very good guitar amp – powerful, very dynamic and above all very musical – my band mates have been very impressed with the amp and had no idea that it was not a traditional tube amp.

The only suggestion I would like to see for future revisions of the amp would be the inclusion of an effects loop as I use a Ditto looper which works much better in a live environment when placed in an amps effects loop rather than in front of the amp. (Noted - Stew)

The amp is very compact and really light and I would be interested in buying another chassis from you so I can run a stereo set-up for larger venues.

I can confirm that the Blues Baby amp has now replaced my collection of various tube amps as my main gigging amp – I can give it no greater praise."

Jonathan Hope, Woking, Surrey, UK

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"Hi Award-Session

Just to let you know the amp (BB) arrived safely. I haven't tried it in a band setting yet, but just trying it out at home plugged into a 16ohm 2x12 (with celestion classic lead 80's) its sound incredible. It's so dynamic and responsive, and the EQ actually does something, can't remember the last time I played a valve amp that had a truly useful EQ!! (BB is 100% SS)

I dread to think how loud it would be into an 8ohm cab, but its plenty loud enough into 16ohms (I assume this is half power)? (It's 2/3 power - Stewart)

Blown away so far, happy to update you when I get to try it with the band, which is where it matters."

Peter Avizius, Esher, UK

Thanks for your very kind comments Peter... keep it coming, we love it! - Stewart

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"Hi Stewart

Have been having great fun with the BluesBaby at home, rehearsals and a gig at the Hertford Corn Exchange. It’s certainly giving my valve amps a run for their money: ‘97 JTM45ri, ’82 Jim Kelley 30:60 and ’64 Vox AC10 Twin.

Housed rather hurriedly in the back of a Session PM120 Monitor cab at present, very nice tones, ample power and more overdrive than I was expecting.

Am about to try some of my different speakers, G12M, G12H, G12 Silver Alnico to hone the tone as the current one in the cab is a generic Eminence Beta, not bad but I think can be improved upon."

Martin Baranes, Hertfordshire, UK

Great news Martin... I really do like Eminence speakers. Especially the standard 75W gold/brown label Fender speaker (Legend 1258 for about £50!). It really cuts through and it IS 'that' Fender sound! - Stewart

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Customer's BluesBaby Amp

"As promised, I have pleasure in providing some pictures of my new amplifier. I am extremely pleased with it, you have done an excellent job with the amplifier chassis, beautiful sound."

Phil Roberts

That looks really smart, but may we suggest the RK badge could be replaced by a nice SESSION badge? - Stewart

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Customer's BluesBaby Amp

"There is about £500 difference in the cost of these two amps, but at certain settings they sound worryingly similar!"

Russ Gannicott

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Customer's BluesBaby Amp

Customer's BluesBaby Amp

Russ Ganicott - "I cannot get over the the flat out distortion on this. When we tried it out at Stewart's it sounded great, but the amp drove the speaker a little too hard for my liking. When you hear it through a 4x12 without speaker distortion it is unbelievable. It actually starts to sound like a Marshall - not at all Fender like at full saturation, way, way better.

The 4x12 loaded with old Greenbacks definately sounded more like a Marshal driven by this head than it does when driven by the dirty channel of the SG2100 head. I ran it through a big 1x12 closed back box which is loaded with an Eminence and that sounded great too! I know it was far from the priority, but I can't get over how well and how smoothly this breaks up at high gain settings."

Well done boys! A really nice pine cabinet build here from Russ & Ashley Gannicott, Christchurch, UK

Warning - If you install your chassis this way up, then there must be a 15mm space under the chassis 'long flat surface' to allow air to circulate and keep the power amp cool, as in this case.

We recommend you 'hang' the chassis on its six mounting screws,
from the top cabinet panel... like Fender® amp heads.
No need to use the side mounting lugs.

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Customer's BluesBaby Amp

Customer's BluesBaby Amp

Chicken Bone John Guitars - "Hi Stewart, hope all is well... got the amp all up and running and I love it.  I'll be gigging with it this weekend then in a few weeks time I'll let Hollowbelly loose with it.

Cabinet made from your plans with the exception of the front panel which I did as a "TV front".  Just winding myself up to make another one now!!"

John Wormold, Chicken Bone John Guitars, UK

This is a TV style cabinet made by John for his 'Blues Preacher' amp
Exclusively available from Chicken Bone John. More details email:
wormald.design@virgin.net

Chicken Bone John Guitars - "Handed this BluesBaby "Blues Preacher" over to Hollowbelly last night...he'd never played it before, but used it for a gig straight off the bat...here's what he has to say about this amp...

"IT'S THE FOOKIN BOMB. Seriously, the best sounding and looking amp I've ever owned. And I've owned a few from Sound City amps in the seventies Vox AC30 late 60's Marshall late 70's Fenders, Rolands, boutique even. But this is my fave, it's the dogs balls."

John Wormold, Chicken Bone John Guitars, UK (FaceBook extract)

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Ted Witton, Suffolk, UK - Update - "Since my last post, I picked up a secondhand Blues Junior (not a Mk3)with the stock Eminence speaker. Sounded a bit shrill to my ears but I did not persevere for long with the tone controls.

Anyway, I was then able to restore my original American BJ to its original tweed cab, loaded with the Celestion G12-20, whilst fitting the Blues Baby to the recent purchase - but replacing the stock speaker with a Harma badged Ruby (possibly made by Tayden.)

Perhaps not quite a fair comparison, but to my ears, the Blues Baby sounds better, less boxy, more tweakable, and in a blind test my friends and I really could not tell which was the valve amp and which was Stewart Ward's SS creation. Clean, clean with a bit of hair or overdriven, its all there.

Not necessarily a cheap alternative to the BJ unless you have or can make a suitable cabinet, but a very interesting development nonetheless which finally convinces me that SS can match valves. Perhaps it is too late in the day for the mass market as modelling gets more and more convincing but I do prefer this to my Mustang3. I guess it's horses for courses." -
Taken from TDPRI forum posted by Ted Witton, Suffolk, UK

 

Ted Witton, Suffolk, UK - "Well, having been impressed with earlier Stewart Ward gear, I stuck my neck out and ordered the Blues Baby. Unsure whether I could really be totally convinced, I had yet to decide whether to fork out for a custom cab or pick up a clapped out BJ and use the mdf cabinet. Then it arrived, neatly packaged.

In the short term, I removed the chassis from my old Cream board BJ and dropped in the BB. Took me about 10 minutes much of which was spent fumbling inside to insert the kettle lead plug having foolishly screwed the rear panel back on! I am no DIY expert, believe me this is a real cinch! Re-fix 10 screws, attach speaker, reverb pan and back panel and its all done.

The existing speaker is an old Celestion 12S - 20 watt so perhaps I am pushing my luck and will have to find a replacement unless I go all the way with a new larger cab etc.

Sounds? Impressive, especially with the blackface mod. Can't wait to test the reaction on some tube noobs. Early days, but this is close to the amp I have always wanted. Stewart, you have cracked it for me, with the rare SS ability to go from clean to tubey crunch using only your guitar volume control. Plenty loud and not boxy. Wish I had waited for the future line out option, no doubt based upon the JD10 and, therefore very useable, but otherwise very content. Let's hope this gets the sales it deserves!

Yes, better than the stock BJ's (I am a happy customer with no connection to Mr Ward.)" - Taken from TDPRI forum posted by Ted Witton, Suffolk, UK

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Customer's BluesBaby Amp

BluesBaby image from customer Cammy Angus, Hertfordshire
along with the comments below. Wow Cammy, what a looker!

"I hooked up the blues baby in a blues jr cab with an EVM12L speaker and was blown away with the sound. I simply couldn't get a bad noise from it, clean or dirty it has that quality that makes you want to just play and play. It's become a clichéd saying, but it is the sound in my head. It is a tremendous amp, well done!

Maybe the EVM12L is contributing a little, but it doesn't sound the least bit boxy in the slightest, just punchy, loud and alive. I have wasted thousands over the years trying to get this sound and all for the price of a boutique pedal! Amazing!"

Cammy Angus, Hertfordshire, UK

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Customer's BluesBaby Amp

Customer's BluesBaby

December 2013 - The first piccies of customers' BluesBaby amps are beginning to arrive. This one is from David Gray, Derbyshire, UK and very nice it looks too - covered in Kayhide 'Black Western' (ASC22) vinyl! Cabinet by Zilla Cabs and fitted with a Celestion 'Cream Back' 12in speaker

 

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Since 1979

 

Food for Thought?

Just because BB™ is solid state, should not really be a reason to hold back. As a lot of players now know, that debate is pretty worn out. Further, it's based on outdated bias and comparisons with cheap budget transistor amplifiers or those designed over twenty years ago.

Where disdain stems from, is due mainly to some of the big manufacturers releasing poorly designed amplifiers onto the market. Those same makers can be rightly accused of 'playing' with guitarist's emotions by presenting potential customers with familiar images of 'classic style' amplifiers that simply do not sound anything like how they look!

We ask, who would approach a Twin Reverb, plug in and not be offended if a 'buzz chain saw' tone came from the speakers!

And what kid into metal would choose an amplifier that looks like his dads warm 'n' cuddly 'radio cobweb' looking machine?

Who would plug into a VOX AC30 and expect Marshall tones? Those amplifier's aesthetics shout what sound they'll make from the highest mountain! Right?

So, not surprisingly, disappointment can only be expected from anyone seeking a new lighter weight modern amp... as the unexpected brash tone leaves them with the impression it's because its made using transistors! When that is not the reason at all!

A valve amplifier can be designed to sound classic or for modern heavy rock. And so can a transistor amplifier. Their designers make them sound that way... not the technology! But there are very few classic sounding transistor amplifiers on the market. This is where SESSION amplifiers differ. They are made for classic tones specifically. So are nothing like the transistor amplifiers made by other leading brands.

All the comments made on this page are 100% genuine reviews from customers looking for classic tones!

Bigger Tone and More Choices!

BluesBaby™ sounds more like a valve amp than the valve Blues Junior® does.

Players buy the Blues Junior® because it's valve, easily transportable, made by Fender® and, because of that, it might hold a good re-sale value. Which is fair reasoning?

However, if better tonal choices and more volume from that format is your quest... then you might need to face breaking away from those limiting ideals and consider buying an amp you'll want to keep.

No Running Costs!

With BluesBaby™, you will never have the repeating running costs of a valve amplifier, so already you're saving money... if cost is that important.

The sound it makes today will be the same as in forty years time. Yes, BB is not cheap, but anyone can see where the savings will start to take affect!

BluesBaby™ is no ordinary transistor amplifier. And it's tone is indistinguishable from a valve equivalent.

Lighter Weight!

BluesBaby™ chassis weighs only 1.75kg...

The Fender Blues Junior® is equipped with a chipboard/particle board cabinet, low cost speaker, vulnerable 'floating' controls not secured to the control panel with nuts and a low cost and noisy 'hum radiating' power transformer.

All registered trademarks acknowledged

 

Customers say BB™ sounds much nicer than the Fender valve amp that inspired it!

Here's a few remarks collected:

"It sounds fantastic, loads of clean headroom, and easy to get just on edge breakup controlled with vol on guitar. Very loud too." - BB Customer

"BB™ sounds much more grown up than the BJr!"

"BluesBaby is far superior... I can't believe it's a transistor amp"

"I want one now!"

"At last... a properly decent 50s/60s toned transistor amp. I love it!"

"22 watts of slide players heaven, even the power amp breaks up nicely!"

"The BlackFace & Presence switches are the icing on the cake"

 

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