The design philosophy behind the 2040VA is to create an amp that embodies the best qualities of classic American and British tube amps, while keeping the control layout simple and making the circuit construction rugged and easy to service. This U.S.-made single-channel amp incorporates multiple voicing switches to reduce the knob count. When you plug into the 2040VA, your guitar’s signal is conditioned with a 3-position Bright switch (optimizes the high frequency response for humbuckers or single-coils), a 3-postion Grind switch (sets the input sensitivity), and a Gain control. Next comes a 3-position Clean switch (provides two levels of attenuation to the signal that feeds the phase inverter), a 5-position rotary Voicing switch (selects three midrange points, bypasses the Voicing circuit, or bypasses the entire tone stack), and a Tone control, which is engaged in positions 1-4 of the Voicing switch.
Other details include Frequency and Intensity controls for the tremolo, a reverb Mix control with Hi/Lo switch (sets reverb sensitivity), and a Master Volume control. On the rear panel are the bias test points, a Power Step switch (40 watts, 20 watts, or 10 watts), a trio of speaker jacks (main, parallel, and series), and three RCA jacks for foot- switch control of reverb, tremolo, and Grind (footswitch is $160).
Getting good tones from the 2040VA is easy, but it requires some experimentation with the voicing switches for optimal results. This is not a particularly high-gain amp (the VB and HG versions have more gain) and I obtained the best distortion sounds with our test guitars by using the most boosted Grind setting with the Gain knob all the way up, no attenuation on the Clean switch, and the Voicing selector on positions 1 or 2 with the Tone control around two o’ clock. This configuration yielded tones that were in the sonic camp of a vintage Marshall, and I could sweep between lead and rhythm tones very easily by varying my guitar’s volume. Setting the Voicing switch to position #5 coaxes more gain by cutting out the tone-control circuitry, summoning a bit more aggression in the process.
Adding the lush sounding tremolo (which has excellent ranges of depth and speed) brings a lot of vibe to these textures, and the reverb also sounds excellent when using the Lo setting on the sensitivity switch (the High setting was too slamming for my tastes).
Because of its cleaner overall response, the 2040VA is great candidate for stompboxes, and by using a “no boost” setting on the Grind switch and rolling back the Gain control, the tones assumed a more Fender-like demeanor, with crisp highs, well presented mids (especially with the Voice control on position #2) and full-bodied lows. (Installing 6L6s pushes tone even more in a Fender direction.)With the Power Step switch set to 20 watts, the 2040VA felt similar to playing a Deluxe Reverb, and even with the power reduced to 5 watts the amp still had surprisingly good headroom and enough volume to play a small room. Quite an accomplishment in terms of flexibility!
The Dynamic 2040VA meets its design objectives and can deliver sounds that have the characteristics we associate with classic American and British tube amps. If you mainly use a pedal for your distortion tones, and are seeking a boutique amp with a great sounding tremolo and reverb, the 2040VA is well worth an audition.
CONTACT Dynamic Music Technologies, (269) 321-9330; dynamicamps.com
PRICE $2,250 street
CONTROLS Bright switch, Grind switch, Clean switch, Voicing switch; Gain, Tone, Frequency, Intensity, Reverb, Master controls.
TUBES Three JJ 12AX7s, one Electro-Harmonix 12AX7EH, two JJ EL34L power tubes, JJ GZ34S rectifier
POWER Selectable: 40 watts, 20 watts, 5 watts
EXTRAS Bias test points, Tube type switch (6L6/EL34/6V6), High/Low Voltage switch, 3-position Power Step switch, three speaker jacks (main, parallel, series) with 4Ω/8Ω selector, three RCA jacks for footswitching reverb, tremolo, and Grind.
WEIGHT 31 lbs
KUDOS Well made. Good choice for fans of oldschool Fender and Marshall tones. Can digest three types of output tubes with the flick of a switch.
CONCERNS Not enough gain for some styles.
More from this Roundup.....