Budda Superdrive 45

With its pair of KT66 output tubes, the Superdrive 45 ($2,495 retail/$1,999 street; cabinet $1,100 retail/$879 street) harks back to the Marshalls of the mid 1960s, but with a feature set that’s a notch or two above vintage minimalism. The Drive and Rhythm channels share a common set of tone controls, and a single Master knob sets the overall loudness for both channels. There’s a pull function on the Mid control—which reshapes the midrange contour for more aggressive tones—and the Rhythm knob doubles a Bright switch when pulled. Channels are selected via footswitch or by toggling the Master in or out, and a switch on the back panel lets you choose between tube and solid-state rectifiers.
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The Superdrive 45 delivers bright, cutting clean tones until the Rhythm knob is turned up past the halfway mark and the grind starts coming on. From here it just gets thicker and meaner sounding as you turn up. Perhaps due to the muscular KT66s, these tones pack a formidable edge, even with humbuckers, and the headroom is unreal—you can pound the snot out of your guitar without incurring any mushiness or note smearing. This amp is fiercely loud too and the Master is essential for keeping the levels from becoming downright painful.

The Drive channel offers the same tough response, but with lots more distortion. With the Drive knob set to maximum you get heavy-duty sustain and saturation, and the cut, definition, and transient attack is almost scary. Even on speedy hammered runs, notes sound ultra crisp and articulate, yet the thick harmonics readily pour out as you dig into the strings. I didn’t notice any dynamic or tonal differences when switching between rectifiers—the Superdrive 45 sounded just as loud and tight either way. However, compared to our Heritage-equipped Marshall cab, the Budda 4x12 sounded more bottom-heavy and less juicy in the mids and highs. The Celestion speakers really revealed how great this amp can sound and feel—particularly on high-gain tones—and they would be a worthy upgrade if you plan on doing a lot of lead playing with your Superdrive 45.

Kudos Great sounding distortion. Excellent clean headroom. Aggressive, cutting, and loud.

Concerns Ultra tight response can challenge your chops.

Contact Budda, (877) 866-3439;www.budda.com