The VA-167 is a mash-up of two old-school
amps, specifically a 1940’s Valco Supreme
510-1 and its Gretsch G-6155/56 variation.
The juxtapositions continue as the art decoinspired
cab—based on a 1942 Oahu
cabinet—sports hand-painted pinstripes,
aged tweed, and brown ostrich skin covering
instead of the original mother of toilet
seat, yielding a fanciful yet funky blues aesthetic.
Plus, the cabinet’s five “shelves” light
up bright red like a Christmas tree. The
leather handle looks great, but it’s stiff and
painful on your hands in transport. Tonally,
the VA-167 is as old school as advertised.
With a Telecaster, its sounds are smooth and
milkshake thick. Even with the Tone control
cranked, the tones exhibit a burnished
warmth that you rarely hear in modern
amplifiers. As you crank the Volume, notes
begin to pop out of the speaker with a hint
of refined grind. Even with its darker character,
the bottom end stays wonderfully
coherent while the treble response is as warm
as can be with absolutely zero spiky transients.
That being said, if you want to cart
the VA-167 to a top 40 gig, you may want
to think twice, as there really isn’t enough
shimmer to slice through a bandstand for a
funk jam or Beatles tune. However, with the
L5, the tones were spot-on period-correct
for a Louis Jordan jump blues or a driving
swing rhythm à la Freddie Green. Not many
amps can do that.
CONTACT Vintage47 Amps, (707) 480-6511; vintage47amps.com
MODEL VA-167 Chicago Blues
PRICE $1,495 direct
CONTROLS Volume, Tone
TUBES Four JJ 6V6 power tubes, two
NOS GE 5Y3 rectifiers, Sovtek
6SL7 and NOS GE 6SQ7 preamp
POWER 24 watts
SPEAKER A Brown Soun 12" hemp cone
EXTRAS Removable rear speaker baffle
KUDOS Old-world art-deco aesthetics
with old-school tone to match.
CONCERNS Subdued treble response.
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