Amp Review: Kustom The Defender 5H

I've just uploaded a demonstration of my Kustom The Defender 5H guitar amplifier. In the video below, you can hear what it sounds like:

I'm going to elaborate a bit in the rest of the post, and give you my overall impression of this amplifier.

I purchased this for $99 on Amazon.com. It was a bit of an impulse purchase for me. I already had a nice guitar amplifier - my Egnater Rebel 20, which you've surely heard on many of my YouTube videos, mp3s, etc. It is a nice amplifier, but I got tired of carrying it back-and-forth between my home studio and my rehearsal space. So, I decided I needed a practice amp. I considered all sorts of possible contenders, from large solid state and modeling amplifiers to mini-amps, and so forth.

The reason I decided to get the Defender 5H is because I thought a small-wattage tube amp with a single volume knob would "keep me honest" during my home practice sessions. I thought it would be unforgiving enough to force me to improve my chops. At 5 watts, I figured it was quiet enough for home use.

The amplifier is quite interesting! It stays somewhat clean from about 0 to 1 on the volume scale. By about 3 or so, the amplifier acquires a hefty dose of British tube crunch and a ton of volume - more than enough to keep up with any drummer or band situation. From there, the volume knob really just becomes a gain knob. The volume is already maxed-out by about 3 or 4, and once you get to 6 or 8, you have some really delicious tone. I mean, really delicious tone. This is the best-sounding amplifier I've ever owned.

The beauty of the amp is that it is touch-sensitive. Even at maximum gain/volume, you can achieve perfectly clean tones just by picking softly. It completely cleans up. Of course, incorporating your guitar's volume knob, coil-tapping, and various pedals, I can achieve all the distortion and clean that I get from my Egnater, but it's all in my fingertips.

So last week I brought my Egnater home to use as a practice amp, since its volume can be fully attenuated. After playing the Kustom, the Egnater was actually disappointing. It still sounds as good as ever, but it doesn't respond to my hands like the Kustom does.

I'm blown away. I love this amp.