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Gear Review: Laney LionHeart Amplifier PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 14 February 2008 16:49
l5t-112.jpgBy Ken Volpe - Guitar Jam Daily
I recently came across the Laney LionHeart Amplifier at the 2008 NAMM show. This 5-watt combo sports a single 12-inch speaker, 2 foot switchable channels and reverb. This Class A hand wired little beast is powered by a single EL84 power tube and three 12ax7 pre amp tubes. It also features an FX loop and a built-in tilt back stability system to further project your sound.

Right off the bat you wonder why a 5-watt amp comes in such a large package? Typically, 5-watt amps are housed in a combo shell that is about a foot tall and a foot wide. The LionHeart is about the size of a Fender Deluxe Reverb. I believe the folks at Laney had a very specific goal in mind with this amp. At 5-watts you can run an amp full out without damaging your ears and you get the tonal benefits of power tube distortion very easily. Many other 5-watt amps I've played that are housed in smaller combo shells with small speakers sound very thin and small, what else would you expect? Not to belabor the point, but that is what Laney was trying to avoid. Hence, they designed a bigger cabinet for a low wattage amp. If desired, this amp really does give you that full-on sound without breaking your windows.

Okay, let's get specific and talk about the clean channel. With any of my guitars the clean channel was a treat. The EQ section was very flexible and usable. I was able to play funk, blues, or jazz with convincing timbres. The Celestion Greenback speaker is a perfect match for this amp. It is never too harsh on the top end and there is just enough give on the low end so that the amp feels right. The reverb was also fairly useful and did not muddy up the tone in the clean channel.

My only complaint about the clean channel was that I wanted more headroom. But, I quickly reminded myself that the LionHeart is a 5-watt amp and that 5-watt amps are never going to have a lot of clean headroom. I'd say that is a pretty good testimony to the sound quality of this amp. Since I expected the amp to have more clean headroom, to me that means that his amp has the sound and feel of a bigger amp.


Now, let's talk about the LionHeart's lead channel. As with most hand wired amps, it shares the EQ controls with the clean channel. The cool thing is the way the gain and the master volume work for this channel. By utilizing different gain and master settings, I was able to achieve many great rock tones. I'd say pretty convincing pre amp and power amp distortion tones. My one gripe was when I pushed the volume on the lead channel the reverb became a bit too "springy" for my taste.

Esthetically, the LionHeart amp with its fancy blue covering, chrome control panel and wheat grill is definitely a looker. A lot of guitar players are hung up on things like how many watts does an amp have. Some guys will love the idea of a 5-watt amp and some guys will hate it. I think if you put all of that out of your mind and just play the LionHeart you will really enjoy it. I also put this amp through its paces in the recording studio and was really pleased with the results. Both clean and lead tracks sounded full and rich. There are not a lot of companies that make an amp of this nature; and that's all the more reason to go check it out.

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