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Tube amps are still the golden standard in the music industry. Solid state technology threatened to change that when it first appeared, but it was quickly obvious it just couldn’t compete with the good old tubes.
These days there is a whole variety of brands manufacturing awesome amps that rely on tubes to give you the quality of sound you need. Some of them you know about, others are a bit more obscure. Morgan is one brand that falls somewhere in between. If you haven’t heard about this company, you are in for a treat. On the other hand, if you have, you probably know where this article is going.
Today we are going to introduce you to this brand by reviewing one of their more popular amps, the Morgan AC20. Through this model we can showcase everything Morgan amps represent, and give you a good insight into the nature of this brand. With that said, let’s begin.
The whole story starts with one Joe Morgan. This was an amp builder and repair man who had a vision. He wanted to create simple tube amps which didn’t focus on a whole bunch of superficial features, but rather on the core sound, which is what matters the most in the end.
Being an experience engineer who has worked in aerospace industry, Morgan didn’t have a lot of problems with designing great quality tube amps.
After all, this technology is pretty old by now. His dedication to quality, and the fact that he had a clear mission, is exactly what made Morgan Amps the company they are today.
The Morgan AC20 amp head we are looking at today is a great example of their amps in general. The exterior design it features can be found on most other Morgan models. From that alone you can understand that appearances are not what this brand is about.
This specific amp was designed to offer an improved performance based on the legendary Vox AC30. Morgan didn’t like some attributes of that iconic amp, and has decided to change that by creating the AC20.
This is a 20 Watt head that comes with two 12AX7s, one EF86 and two EL84s under the hood. There is only one channel available, and the controls are limited to a volume knob, cut and power level knobs followed by bright/normal and 12AX7/EF86 switches.
As you can see, this amp allows you to change the tubes you want to use, and tweak the sound that way. That is definitely not something you see every day.
In terms of performance, we have a very delicate amp that is simple in design, but complex in its abilities. What Morgan wanted was a warmer sounding AC30 with a bit more range and much less weight. That is exactly what he ended up creating with the AC20. The tone is pure old school class when it comes to quality.
If you ever wanted to hear a perfect example of tubes done right, just turn this thing on. The difference between the 12AX7 and EF86 is pretty significant. Former is something you are probably familiar with, but the later adds more gain to the signal. Overall the sound is something that can be tweaked to oblivion, which is what makes this amp one cool cat.
What we like
The pure quality of build and the way Morgan’s ideology regarding amps is mirrored in this particular model is worthy of praise. This amp, and most of Morgan amps are just on a whole different level.
What we don’t like
There is really nothing we found to be negative about this amp. It’s a very specific design that delivers exactly what Morgan advertises.
Morgan amps are not the type everyone would be content with using. They require a bit more thorough understanding of guitar tone engineering, but that is exactly what puts them on a different level compared to the other tube amps on the market.
Morgan is one of those brands that have chosen a path they want to follow, and are sticking to it no matter what. A lot of people respect them for this kind of attitude.