A perennial favorite among the high-gain crowd, Bogner Amplification further broadened its appeal seven years ago with the original Goldfinger 45. The amp offered succulent vintage-voiced high-gain tones, along with expletive-inspiring cleans and an off-the-charts versatility that fully warranted Reinhold Bogner’s declaration that this was “not just an amplifier but a vintage valve guitar system.” As popular as that GP Editors’ Pick Award winner quickly became, it wasn’t long before Bogner and colleague Jorg Dorschner saw ways to improve the GF45’s lead channel — labeled Ω (Omega) — and the Goldfinger Super Lead is the result.
Although a few control and switch functions have changed, the Goldfinger SL’s plethora of routing, switching and power-output options fully enable the retention of that “valve guitar system” tag, although to call it vintage would imply some limitations, from which this big head does not suffer. The bevy of functions is listed in the spec box, but note that the Alpha (clean) channel’s post-bright switch has been replaced with a fat switch, and the pre-FX loop’s stealth boost capabilities have been fully repurposed to an intentional boost function on each channel, along with independent level controls.
Otherwise, the bulk of the redesign comes in the Omega channel, where the three-way 68/77/81 gain switch that replaces the GF45’s two-way gain switch hints at some considerable changes inside. As good as its predecessor sounded, some players opined that they’d have liked a voice between the vintage Plexi-like setting and the 2204-like early ’80s setting, and it’s here in the 77 mode. Meanwhile, Bogner has reworked the channel’s gain and loudness controls for a more even and balanced onset of gain, as well as more equitable output levels from each mode. My only admittedly minor gripes are that the three gain settings still present somewhat different output levels as you switch them, so you have to rebalance gain and loudness accordingly, and they’re not footswitchable. That might be a lot to ask, but it would sure be handy.
That said, between its two channels, each with footswitchable boost, and the lead channel’s three gain modes, the Goldfinger Super Lead delivers eight distinct tone and/or gain presets, not counting what you might kick in via the footswitchable effects loop. In practical terms, it’s more like four on the fly (plus reverb and effects) when you’re up there under the spotlight.
Power-wise, the Goldfinger SL still derives its full 45 watts from a quartet of 6V6s, which Bogner feels are easily bent toward classic EL34-style tones, while offering more versatility in the low-power and half-power modes. To that end, the combination of a front-panel hi/low switch and a rear-panel full/half switch deliver the options of 45, 30, 23 and 15 watts.
I tested the Goldfinger SL into a Port City 2x12 cab with Celestion G12M Creamback speakers, playing a Paul Reed Smith DGT and a Fender Telecaster. Bogner says it hasn’t changed the Alpha channel, and that sounds right. It offers a bold and pristine clean tone in the general realm of big blackface Fender, which is also an excellent pedal platform. Try as I might, I couldn’t elicit much breakup from it without cranking it to ear-blistering volume levels, but that’s what your OD pedals are for. It ate up a Tube Screamer and a Tumnus Deluxe, which makes this a channel even jazzers or country twangers could love.
Otherwise, as we’d expect from Bogner, the Omega channel is where the juicy stuff is going on, and the company has definitely added some gusto and versatility to this Super Lead rendition. The 77 and 81 settings presented some of the most succulent medium-high-gain crunch-rhythm and lead tones I’ve experienced in a long while, and the 68 excelled at delectably meaty, girthsome, edge-of-breakup Plexi voicings. Bogner has dialed in an extremely sweet, dynamic and harmonically rich selection of tones that just makes you want to play the crap out of this thing, and I truly found it difficult to unplug and get back to writing.
Add this to the admirable clean voice that was already many players’ favorite thing about the Goldfinger 45, the myriad power settings, effects loops and overall switching capabilities, and the Goldfinger Super Lead earns an Editors’ Pick Award.
Goldfinger Super Lead
PRICE $2,519 street
CONTROLS Alpha (clean) channel: gain, loudness, treble, mid, bass, deep switch, pre bright switch. Omega (lead) channel: 68/77/81 switch (gain character), gain, loudness, gain EQ, treble, middle, bass. Shared boost switch with independent boost level controls, post FX level control, reverb, presence, channel switch
POWER 45 watts max, switchable for 30, 23 and 15 watts
TUBES Four 12AX7s, one 12AT7, four 6V6 output tubes
EXTRAS Hi/low power selector (on standby switch). Full and 1/2 switch (4 tubes/2 tubes). Dual speaker outs with 4/8Ω switch. Dedicated 16Ω speaker out. Pre FX loop send/return, post FX send/return with gain control and series/parallel, +4/–20 dB, and on/off switches. Five-button footswitch included
WEIGHT 42 lbs
KUDOS An outstandingly versatile amp with a pristine clean channel and a delectably reimagined lead channel
CONCERNS Lead channel’s three gain levels require some rebalancing of output levels