Tony Bruno Underground 30

A solid winner of Guitar Player Magazine's February 1997 shootout between 23 of the worlds finest boutique amps.

"Bruno's Underground 30 ($1799) provided some of this shootout's best old Vox flavors with a stupidly simple control scheme of normal and bright volumes and treble, bass and presence knobs. The rear panel features a Marshall-type impedance selector, dual speaker outs, and reverb mix, tone and dwell pots.

The Underground 's heavy steel chassis features a point-to-point wired circuit on terminal strips. The clean, rugged-looking interior also had the highest parts density (for this construction style) of the group. So dense in fact, that the electrolytic caps were buried under other parts-a servicing problem. Other components include Mouser and CTS pots, carbon-comp resistors, U.S.-made caps and 11 phenolic tube sockets for the four Phillips EL84s, Mullard GZ34 rectifier, two RCA 7025s, Sylvania and Telefunken 12AX7s, and Tung-Sol 6BQ5 reverb driver. Heavy duty tube shields are provided for the EL84s.

The Underground 30's superb clean and distortion voices make it a fine choice for fans of Vox shimmer and Marshall munch. Its bright channel offers lots of gain and superb tonal range---from piercingly bright to extremely girthy---and its bodacious dynamics let you sweep through a range of colors using just your guitar's volume control. This spanky-sounding amp really nails the classic AC30 chime while delivering deep, spacious clean tones at one end of the gain spectrum and wickedly furious grind at the other. The only problem we had was a non-functioning reverb, which was later traced to faulty (but easily reparable) tank cables. The three-knob reverb---a close copy of the Fender Vibro-King's---is much like having a stand-alone reverb in front of a Vox AC30. We certainly can't argue with that recipe, and the Bruno's lush sound is proof of the pudding. What a great-sounding amp!"

"Judgement Day. While you could hardly go wrong with any amp in this shootout, a few managed to steal our hearts. Bruno's Underground 30 gets high marks for it's superior AC30-meets-Fender-Reverb tone. Its crispness, balance and Godzilla grind easily make it one of the best-sounding amps in this shootout ...."

This article appears with the permission from Guitar Player February 1997 issue. Copyright 1997 Miller Freeman, Inc. All rights reserved.