Review: Traynor YBA-1 Bass Master Tribute Guitar Amplifier

The following content is related to the July 2013 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now, or in our online store.

Known to many as the Canadian Plexi, the original Traynor YBA-1 from the late Sixties and early Seventies has developed a cult following in recent years among budget-minded guitarists who seek outstanding tube tone. The original YBA-1 flew under the radar because it was marketed as a bass amp, but its circuit closely resembles the late-Fifties Fender tweed Bassman 5F6A circuit, a perennial guitarist favorite that was the inspiration for the Marshall JTM45.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of its parent company, Yorkville, Traynor is producing the YBA-1 Bass Master Tribute amp in limited numbers. The YBA-1 accurately reproduces the sounds and features of the amp’s original design and adds a few modern upgrades as well.


The YBA-1 is a 40-watt head featuring two EL34B tubes, three 12AX7WA tubes and a solid-state rectifier. The amp has a two-channel design with individual volume controls for channels I and II. The channels share treble, bass and low- and high-range expander controls, and the amp has no master volume or channel switching, although you can get around the latter with an A/B switch.

Whereas the original YBA-1 had individual Hi and Lo inputs for channels I and II, the Tribute replaces the Hi II input with a Hi input that blends channels I and II together, similar to using a jumper cable. Another new addition is an attenuator with a five-position switch that provides 40-, 20-, 10-, 5- and 2.5-watt settings. The only other features are a pair of 1/4-inch parallel speaker outputs, a four-/eight-ohm impedance switch, and a front-mounted operate/standby switch coupled to a pilot light that changes color from yellow (standby) to red (on).


The YBA-1’s extremely simple circuit delivers fat, bold and ballsy tone that preserves a guitar’s character and provides exceptionally responsive dynamics. Even at the 2.5-watt setting, the YBA-1 sounds like a big amp, and played side by side with a modern 15- or 30-watt micro amp, it reveals the deficiencies of those designs, even though it’s not much bigger than many micro heads. The amp sounds great with a wide variety of cabinets, but the YBX212, with two Celestion Vintage 30 speakers, is designed for the YBA-1 and makes a particularly good match.

The four inputs generate a wide variety of tones. Low I produces the most clean headroom, along with brilliant treble sparkle, while Low II provides dark, warm clean tones that are best for bass. Hi I delivers crisp overdrive grind, and Hi I/II offers aggressive overdrive and distortion tones with assertive bass. The range expander controls interact with the volume and EQ controls, and when turned up they operate like midrange and presence controls and boost gain.

Cheat Sheet

List Price $899

Manufacturer Traynor Amps,

A 40-watt two-channel amp with a simple design based on Traynor’s original YBA-1 amps of the Sixties and Seventies, but with upgrades such as a five-position attenuator switch.

The low- and high-range expander controls operate like midrange and presence controls, but they’re more interactive with the EQ settings and boost gain as well.

The Bottom Line

The Traynor YBA-1 Bass Master Tribute is perfect for guitarists who love classic non-master volume tube amp grind, and it makes a great platform for a pedal-based setup.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month**

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Chris Gill, Video by Paul Riario

Chris is the co-author of Eruption - Conversations with Eddie Van Halen. He is a 40-year music industry veteran who started at Boardwalk Entertainment (Joan Jett, Night Ranger) and Roland US before becoming a guitar journalist in 1991. He has interviewed more than 600 artists, written more than 1,400 product reviews and contributed to Jeff Beck’s Beck 01: Hot Rods and Rock & Roll and Eric Clapton’s Six String Stories.