Armed with two channels and independent controls, the Alchemist stays within the territory of other all-tube Bogner models, until you move to the right of Channel 2 (Mercury) and encounter the knobs and toggles for the delay and reverb sections. This digital part of the Alchemist’s DNA includes a 3-position Delay Type switch (Analog, Ducking, Tape) and a 3- position Reverb Type switch (Plate, Spring, Hall). The Line 6-derived effects processing is cleverly integrated into the Alchemist’s control scheme, and with no glowing LCD screen to tip you off, one might not immediately think that anything but analog circuitry lies under the hood. Even the included four-button footswitch—which handles channel selection and on/off for the boost, delay, and reverb— looks pretty much like any other switcher for a multi-channel tube amp.
Since most guitarists use at least some digital effects processing with their tube amps, the Alchemist should find a receptive audience among players who see the value of having built-in DSP. Firing up the Alchemist with a variety of single-coil and humbucker guitars, it was a quick process to dial in sounds thanks to the well-voiced EQ sections and wide-ranging Gain controls. I found it easy to get anything from pristine clean sounds to gritty rhythm textures to stinging lead tones from channel 1 (a.k.a Gold), which responds well to changes in guitar volume and doesn’t lose its girth or presence when you turn down. The Clean/Crunch switch alters the gain structure for clean or very distorted tones, while the Bright and Deep switches emphasize those respective frequency ranges to add sheen and/or bolster the lows.
The Mercury channel is just as easily configured for heavier rhythm and lead tones. The versatile EQ makes it easy to get scooped metal tones or more punchy and upfront distortion sounds, and the Boost function adds a slight volume increase while buffing up the low mids. Here too the voicing switches make a lot of difference. The Punch switch toggles between Fender- and British-style response curves—the latter being very useful for high-gain tones— while the Mid Shift switch is handy for when you want to eviscerate the mids. The Bright switch sharpens the edge for more aggressive sounds and/or to bring out more crispness and detail with humbuckers.
Volume-wise the Alchemist 212 is more than sufficient for stage use and would be fine in a small club environment even without any help from a P.A. The open-back cabinet broadens the sound, enabling you to run the amp harder without killing the room, and the dissimilar 12s provide nice sonic complexity at all levels.
Bogner. The delay’s three modes are Analog (based on an Electro-Harmonix Memory Man), Ducking (a digital delay with a mix level that automatically adjusts to your playing volume), and Tape (which replicates the increasingly darker repeats of a classic tape echo). These selections are very useful for everything from rockabilly-style slapback to soaring delays with tons of repeats. The reverb’s spring setting is warm and Fender-like, but it doesn’t nail those drippy, crashy tones that some players might want. The plate and hall settings sounded best to me for overdriven tones, which when combined with delay, provides a cavernous sound that Eric Johnson disciples will appreciate.
All in all, the Alchemist is quite an amp. As possibly the most flexible combo in Bogner’s history, it’s something you’ll want to try if you’ve ever yearned to experience some Bogner mojo in a format that’s well suited to lots of different styles.
Bogner, (818) 765-8929; bogneramplification.com
MODEL Alchemist 212
PRICE $2,239 retail/$1,599 street
CONTROLS (Channel 1) Gain, Treble, Middle, Bass, Volume; Clean/ Crunch, Bright, and Deep switches. (Channel 2) Gain, Treble, Middle, Bass, Volume; Punch, Bright, Mid Shift switches. Global Boost switch, channel select switch, Delay level and repeats controls, Delay type switch (analog, ducking, tape), tap tempo button, Reverb level control with plate/spring/hall switch. Variablewattage power switch. Rear panel: Dual 4Ω and one 8Ω speaker jacks, send and return jacks with level control
TUBES Two 6L6GC power tubes, five 12AX7s
POWER Selectable, 40 watts/20 watts
SPEAKER 12" Celestion G12H and G12M
EXTRAS Four-button footswitch included
WEIGHT 72 lbs
KUDOS Strong clean and overdriven tones. Excellent flexibility. Well implemented DSP effects.
CONCERNS Tap-tempo is not foot controllable.