Sep 10 2010

Little Walter would of loved the Epiphone Valve Junior

During this last summer tour with The Bill Lupkin Band, there were some big changes in the transportation department. The band van passed on to a better place – the scrap yard in Fort Wayne, Indiana. We replaced it with a much smaller vehicle, which saves us some fuel expense but also created space issues for us and our gear.

I usually travel with my Marshall 1974X, housed in it’s road case but with the smaller vehicle, comfort and space is at a premium so I started looking at possible alternatives to the 1974X. I picked up an unmodified  Epiphone Valve Junior head, and paired it with a Mojotone 1 x 12 cabinet loaded with a single 16 ohm 20- watt 12-inch Celestion G12M-20 “Greenback” reissue T1221 speaker, connected with a Monster Cable #SP1000S3. I was using my 1962 Gibson ES-335 on the gig.

I tried this rig on our last tour, with the first date at The Fat Fish Blue in Cleveland, OH. We started the set with Little Walter’s “Aw, Baby” and man, I was blown away with the tone. It was exactly the tone I’ve been hearing on those Little Walter recordings from the ’50s with Dave and Louis Meyers on guitar. I can get a more refined version of that tone with my 1974X, which I dig,  but this rig dished out that raw, spongy tone that comes from those small wattage amps that were prevalent in the ’50s. The Valve Junior head has  4, 8 and 16 ohm outputs so just about any speaker cabinet will play nicely with it.

One caveat: At times, the Valve Junior can get a little “farty” with a guitar with humbucker pickups;  I solved this by changing my attack or lowering my guitar volume – Problem solved.

I highly recommend checking out the Valve Junior if you play blues, rockabilly, early swing, or any other music that requires some subtle to not-so-subtle gritty overdriven tones.  It’s a great little amp that for me was a perfect addition to my amp collection.