Hand-built in Cologne, Germany, the Hot Tuna ($429 retail/street price N/A) is designed to deliver heavy grind tones that range from “plexi” to “Rectifier.” The unit features top-quality components and a rugged interior layout that includes a neat PC board circuit with chassis-mounted pots and footswitch, and hand-wired connections to the board. The Hot Tuna’s controls consist of Blow (volume), Voice (tone), and Burn (gain). There are also two mini-toggle switches labeled Chili and Dip. The true-bypass circuit features a mechanical footswitch, and there’s a 2.1mm adapter jack on the front side of the die-cast enclosure.
The Hot Tuna can unleash massive output—even at low gain settings—and jacking up the Burn and Blow controls produces a combination of distortion and output that will turn even the cleanest amp into a fierce grind machine. It has a thick, fuzzy tonality that metal players will appreciate, but the Voice control is key to getting what you want for your particular style. Settings of two o’clock and higher really bring on the fuzz rage, while turning it to ten o’clock or lower mellows the bite for a more tube-sounding presentation. The Chili switch toggles between a bold, presence-y response and a skinnier tone with less midrange, the latter of which could be perfect for sitting a part in a dense track. The Dipswitch noticeably enhances the low-end mass when activated, and is useful for getting maximum grunt from low-tuned guitars.
KUDOS Kickass rock/metal tones. Excellent build quality.
CONCERNS Very expensive.
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