Bad Cat Black Cat 1x12 combo review

An old favorite returns as Bad Cat reboots its trailblazing tube combo with an updated circuit, while preserving the exclusive voices and character of the original

Bad Cat Black Cat 1x12 combo
(Image: © Future / Olly Curtis)

Guitar World Verdict

The new improved Black Cat is currently one of the best tube amps on the market, no matter the price.


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    Exceptional tone to fit a wide range of musical genres. Reasonable price for top-drawer USA-made amp.

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    Using just five tubes keeps maintenance costs down.


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    A heavy lift.

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Founded at the turn of the millennium, Bad Cat’s original mission was to fill a hole left in the market for high-end guitar amplification following the temporary demise of Matchless in 1999. 

It’s well known that Matchless co-founder and designer Mark Sampson helped out with some initial design and fabrication, hence in the very early days there was a close similarity between Matchless and Bad Cat products. But Bad Cat’s range quickly diverged with innovative features and new models, including the K-Master circuit and the well-received Hot Cat and USA Player amplifiers. 

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Nick Guppy

Nick Guppy has been a regular contributor to Guitarist magazine for over 20 years, mostly writing reviews on guitar amps and related products. He built his first valve amplifier at the age of 12 and has since bought, sold and restored many more, with a particular interest in Vox, Selmer, Orange and tweed-era Fenders, alongside Riveras and Mark Series Boogies. When wielding a guitar instead of soldering iron, he’s enjoyed a diverse musical career playing all over the UK, including occasional stints with theatre groups, orchestras and big bands as well as power trios and tributes. His favourite musical genres are ‘anything that’s good’.