Outside of their competitively priced audio/video cables and adapters, excellent headphones and myriad electronics, I had no idea that Monoprice, the massive online discount retailer, sold musical equipment.
Monoprice is a popular online enclave for tech-savvy consumers, so it goes without saying I wondered if their Stage Right by Monoprice 30-Watt Tube Guitar Amp Head and 1x12 Cab would live up to the quality of some of their other well-received products. And at less than $600 for this complete bundle, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t impressed at its surprisingly outstanding sound and above-average construction.
The Stage Right by Monoprice 30-Watt Tube Guitar Amp Head looks overtly nondescript with all-black tolex, save for the triangular-perforated metal faceplate bearing the “SR/Stage Right” branding.
It’s very much a straightforward, selectable two-channel amp design with Hi and Low inputs, single Volume and Bright switch on the clean channel, Gain and Overdrive Volume on the overdrive channel, Channel Select switch, Bass, Middle and Treble EQ controls, Reverb and Tone controls and Power and Standby switches.
The head is rated at 30 watts of power and features a quartet of EL-84 power tubes and three 12AX7 preamp tubes, with a built-in tube-driven reverb powered by one of the preamp tubes and an effects loop on the rear. The cabinet is equipped with a single 12-inch Celestion Vintage 30 speaker. The package includes a two-button footswitch to select channel and reverb, and a 1/4-inch TRS speaker cable.
Before any brand snobs totally dismiss this as some generic overseas amp, let me inform you that the Stage Right head (despite its banal name) is an unbelievably fantastic amp. It’s a finely tuned amplifier that really cuts, and I found great tone and touch-sensitivity at every volume level (and it can get loud!).
Channel one has full-sounding cleans with plenty of chime and can work fittingly as a pedal platform. Switching to channel two presents plenty of warmth and a bit of high-end zing that can be tamed and smoothed via the tone control.
Even with the overdrive knob dimed, it''s not a saturated or flabby crunch, but rather a tight, musical drive that begs for an external overdrive pedal to fully compliment the overall tone when you push it. It seems almost every amp value (like EQ and reverb) is calibrated in moderation for ease in sculpting a powerful sound.
For example, the built-in reverb is somewhat weak, but it doesn’t get in the way of your tone, so surf guitarists will need to add their own reverb here, but again, what stands out is the overly stellar, no-frills tone the amp possesses.
The 1x12 cab with the Celestion V30 sounds great, but I plugged the SR head into other cabs with even more dramatic and better results. But as a compact rig that just slays? I’m heading over to Stage Right.
- STREET PRICE: $599.99
- TYPE: Tube amp head and matching cabinet
- CHANNELS: 2
- POWER: 30-watts
- TUBES: 3x 12AX7 in preamp, 4x EL84 power tubes.
- CONTROLS: Clean Gain with Bright Switch, Overdrive Level, Bass, Middle, Treble, Reverb, Tone
- SPEAKER: 1x12 Celestion V30
- CONTACT: Stage Right by Monoprice