Mad Professor CS-40

March 15, 2006

Our CS-40 came with EL34s, but just about any standard tube (i.e. 6L6, 5881, KT66, 6550, KT88, etc.) can be used in this amp. Even 6V6s are an option, so long as they can handle 500 plate volts (MP recommends the JJ brand). A handy biasing system that includes external test points, a bias range switch, and a fine-tune bias pot makes it easy to adjust the CS-40 for any tubes you choose. As stated earlier, no particular speaker cabinet is recommended for the CS-40, but the five speaker jacks allow you to connect to one or more cabinets of your choice while maintaining proper operational impedances.

The CS-40 is extremely versatile and what you get out of it depends greatly on how you set its controls. It would take a lot to describe all the sly interactions between the Volume and tone knobs and the Tube/FET, Focus, Tonal Balance, and Boost functions. Suffice to say they combine to deliver very happening—and unusually meaty—tones with either humbuckers or single-coils. The CS-40 definitely likes to grind, and even its cleanest sounds (obtained with the Volume control at around nine o’ clock and the Focus control in the first position) employ a subtle touch of distortion that gives them nice body and shimmer. The Tube setting provides the sweetest overdrive tones, and clicking the Focus switch to the third or fourth position greatly enhances the thickness and harmonic complexity. Cranking the Volume knob produces copious amounts of girthy distortion, but the FET setting is where the action is for the sinister hyper-gain stuff. Here the Focus and Tone Balance controls can be used to elicit raging metal tones with massive low end and chainsaw-like attack. Even in these ridiculously overdriven realms, however, the CS-40 maintains excellent articulation and dynamic feel. The Boost function is intentionally subtle, and works primarily as a distortion thickener or intensifier. It’s nice for textural shading, but it won’t make a solo jump over the band.

The Powersuck is a hip feature that allows you to get big-sounding overdrive tones at progressively lower volumes—low enough to talk over in the Bedroom setting. Like many of this amp’s functions, Powersuck doesn’t Mad Professor CS-40

The brainchild of Swedish amp designer Björn Juhl, the Finnish-made CS-40 ($5,895 retail/street price N/A) is a single-channel head with novel features that provide a level of flexibility rarely seen in a non-channel-switching design. These include a Normal input (intended for cleaner tones) and an Abnormal input, which routes your guitar signal to a 2-position Tube/FET switch for different kinds of high-gain response. The tone-control complement also includes a 4-position Focus switch (alters the density of the midrange content—with or without treble emphasis) and a Tone Balance knob that lets you easily tweak the midrange emphasis and the bass/treble balance once you’ve gotten your basic tone down using the standard controls. There’s also Boost knob that adds up to 3dB of gain at the output stage.

Our CS-40 came with EL34s, but just about any standard tube (i.e. 6L6, 5881, KT66, 6550, KT88, etc.) can be used in this amp. Even 6V6s are an option, so long as they can handle 500 plate volts (MP recommends the JJ brand). A handy biasing system that includes external test points, a bias range switch, and a fine-tune bias pot makes it easy to adjust the CS-40 for any tubes you choose. As stated earlier, no particular speaker cabinet is recommended for the CS-40, but the five speaker jacks allow you to connect to one or more cabinets of your choice while maintaining proper operational impedances.

The CS-40 is extremely versatile and what you get out of it depends greatly on how you set its controls. It would take a lot to describe all the sly interactions between the Volume and tone knobs and the Tube/FET, Focus, Tonal Balance, and Boost functions. Suffice to say they combine to deliver very happening—and unusually meaty—tones with either humbuckers or single-coils. The CS-40 definitely likes to grind, and even its cleanest sounds (obtained with the Volume control at around nine o’ clock and the Focus control in the first position) employ a subtle touch of distortion that gives them nice body and shimmer. The Tube setting provides the sweetest overdrive tones, and clicking the Focus switch to the third or fourth position greatly enhances the thickness and harmonic complexity. Cranking the Volume knob produces copious amounts of girthy distortion, but the FET setting is where the action is for the sinister hyper-gain stuff. Here the Focus and Tone Balance controls can be used to elicit raging metal tones with massive low end and chainsaw-like attack. Even in these ridiculously overdriven realms, however, the CS-40 maintains excellent articulation and dynamic feel. The Boost function is intentionally subtle, and works primarily as a distortion thickener or intensifier. It’s nice for textural shading, but it won’t make a solo jump over the band.

The Powersuck is a hip feature that allows you to get big-sounding overdrive tones at progressively lower volumes—low enough to talk over in the Bedroom setting. Like many of this amp’s functions, Powersuck doesn’t work exactly as you’d expect, and it wasn’t designed to replicate the amp’s full-tilt sound at reduced volumes. Its effect is more organic—kind of like literally changing to a lower-powered amp—and going from, say, Arena to Pub can involve further EQ tweakage to get precisely the tones and dynamic feel you want. There’s even a “hidden” amp sound that can be accessed by plugging your guitar straight into the effects loop Return jack. This bypasses all of the controls except Boost and Master Volume, yielding a grungy, low-fi tone that’s reminiscent of a small Supro.

The CS-40 is highly capable amplifier that’s full of great tones, but it’s awfully expensive for a one-channel deal. If you’re the kind of player who has tried every multi-channel exotic on the planet, and still aren’t satisfied, the CS-40 is definitely worth a go. Who knows, maybe one channel is all you ever needed anyway.

Kudos Uncanny versatility for a single channel design. Super meaty distortion. Highly effective controls.

Concerns Boost function doesn’t provide the volume kick some players may want.

Contact Mad Professor, (914) 316-2414; www.mpamp.com

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