Italian maker Gurus might be better known on these shores for pedals like the Sexydrive, Optivalve, and Echosex, but amps have long been a part of their game, and that game has just been upped with the powerful Brivido, a tube head that generates its scorching 100-watt output differently than we’ve seen before in the guitar amp world.
Where most amps would generate 50 to 60 watts from a pair of EL34s, the Brivido takes a trick from old European jukebox amps of the ’60s, ramping up voltages much higher than usual to wrench 100 watts from this output stage. And when they say high, they mean it. Gurus’ CEO Chicco Bellini tells us they run these tubes at a walloping 800 volts DC on the plates, compared to, say, something like 450 to 500 volts DC for your average 50-watt Marshall head (depending on model and era). While so many makers are trying to get big-amp tones at smaller decibel levels, however, Bellini insists that swimming against the tide in this way is not as counter-productive as it might sound. “The badass thing in the Brivido technology is that you are able to reach 100 watts with only two tubes, but it sounds exactly the same even at its lowest volume,” Bellini says, “and you know that’s the ‘Holy Grail’ of amplifiers!” This head is the first of the new line, but Gurus plans to take the Brivido concept to other destinations: a more vintage-looking single-channel combo is in the works, as are other designs.
Its triplicate of channels and MIDI connectivity notwithstanding, the Brivido is a straightforward amp in operation. You’ve got the channel controls detailed in the spec box, and that’s it other than the shared Presence control, and a Solo control that provides a selectable volume boost to any channel you’re currently using. Solo can be activated via any individual channel footswitch with “momentary mode,” a MIDI switching system, or the front-panel mini-toggles. I dig the alternative housing that this amp was conceived with, a Ferrari-red lacquered-steel shell, and Gurus has included utilitarian design touches such as rear-panel legends that are printed both below and above each switch or connection point (the latter upside-down) so you can read them whether you’re looking from behind or bending over from the front. Inside, there’s a dense yet thoughtfully laid-out printed circuit board (PCB), with the tube sockets all soldered directly to the board.
I tested the Brivido with a Les Paul and a Strat into a 1x12 cab with an EVM 12L Classic, and a 2x12 with Avatar Fane M65 and H75 speakers. First off, this amp is loud if you want it to be, but true to Bellini’s claim, each channel does sound remarkably similar at just about any Volume setting. My only gripe being that Channel 1’s über-clean tone is rather characterless, and could use its own Gain/Volume dichotomy to let you push the preamp a little. That said, this amp is clearly about rockin’, and Channels 2 and 3 deliver impressive and utterly enjoyable crunch and lead tones, respectively, with a great dynamic feel under the fingers. The latter was particularly toothsome with the Les Paul injected, as it dripped with chewy saturation and an extremely musical harmonic content. Though these channels reveal no obvious inspiration, I found them a useful blend of vintage and modern, voicing-wise, and therefore pretty broadly loveable.
All in all, the Brivido is an exciting and versatile new head, as well as an interesting exercise in ramming well-voiced preamp stages through a big, bold, clean output stage. It all points at a promising new line to come!
CONTROLS Bass, Middle, Treble (Ch⅔); Ch3 Gain, Volume; Ch2 Gain, Volume; Ch1 Volume, Tone; Presence, Solo; switches for Channel/Solo
POWER 100 watts
TUBES Five 12AX7 preamp tubes, two EL34 output tubes
EXTRAS FX loop with series/parallel switch; independent footswitch outs for each channel; MIDI In and Thru jacks; outputs for 4Ω, 8Ω, and 16Ω speaker loads
WEIGHT 35 lbs
KUDOS A clever piece of engineering. Appealingly original form factor. Good range of sounds
CONCERNS An overall Master Volume would be useful.