JEFF ANDREWS HAS BEEN REPAIRING and restoring amps in Atlanta, Georgia, for several years, and he launched Andrews Amp Lab out of his adventures building original designs to suit his own playing needs. The Para-Dyne 20 is the culmination of the multiple goals of bold American cleans plus juicy British overdrive, available via footswitch in a club-sized combo, and this sturdy, handsome 1x12 combo looks primed to deliver.
The Para-Dyne 20’s clean channel includes a Volume control with neighboring Bright switch, and a 6-way rotary Depth switch that voices the preamp. Lead has both Gain and Master controls, and both channels share a three-knob EQ stage placed after all the gain stages in sort of a modified blackface-Fender configuration. The dual speaker outs are impedance switchable, and the optional loop ($150) performs well with a variety of effects. There’s also a Pentode/Triode switch that cuts output power by half in the latter position, and bias points allow for easy rebiasing when you swap output tubes. Opening the chassis reveals confident workmanship and quality components on a heavy-duty G10 turret board, with neat wire runs to chassis- mounted parts. The open-back cabinet is made from finger-jointed Baltic birch, and houses a Warehouse Guitar Speakers ET65, a take on the Celestion G12-65.
The Para-Dyne 20 presented an overtly American clean channel, with a bold attack and crisp note definition with whatever guitar I threw at it. The Depth switch can make the sound as bottomy as you’re likely to want, and the Bright switch adds a familiar Fender-like sparkle to it all. I occasionally found myself missing the ability to soften up this channel a little, via a “clean master” perhaps, but I appreciated Andrews’ aim of avoiding any unnecessary clutter. Triode mode is handy for dropping the volume in smaller rooms, and also proved effective for grunging up the sound a bit in the process. The Gain channel has a broad range of drive levels, and can be bent toward Marshall-style crunch or cascading-gain sizzle as desired. It still retains an American character, however— think pushed Deluxe Reverb—with a distinctive midrange clank and a high-end bite, even when pushing a considerable amount of distortion. The upshot of this is excellent note clarity even amid serious distortion, and a tone that applies itself well to both vintage and modern rock styles. Ultimately, the versatile Para-Dyne 20 should win fans among plenty of players who seek more tonal flexibility from a low-watt combo.
PRICE $2,400 street (as tested w/optional buffered effects loop)
CONTROLS Volume, Bright switch, Depth, Gain, Treble, Midrange, Bass, Master
POWER 20 watts
TUBES Three 12AX7 preamp tubes, two 6V6 output tubes
EXTRAS Footswitchable channels. Dual speaker outs with 4/8/16Ω switch. Optional buffered effects loop with bypass and level switches. Pentode/triode switch. Bias test points
SPEAKERS One 12" Warehouse Guitar Speakers ET65
WEIGHT 53 lbs
KUDOS Excellent build quality. Good range of tones from both the clean and lead channels, leaning toward punchy, tight, and clear at all settings.