New from a company that is best known for making amplifiers with ’50s-approved tweed and two-tone covered cabinets, the VIC105 sets itself way apart by using an army surplus ammunition can for its housing. The steel box with its hinged and removable lid has been reworked to include vents and a top-mounted fan to keep the tubes cool. Green is indeed the theme with the VIC105, which sports olive drab paint with yellow markings on the exterior and an array of LEDs inside that cast a green glow on the tubes that you can see very clearly through the Lexan front panel. The cream pointer-style knobs and black panel complete the appearance group, making the VIC105 look more like a World War II field radio than a guitar amp.
Armed with Volume and Tone controls, a Boost switch with Boost Level control, and a Full/Half Power switch, the VIC105 is well equipped for such a compact affair (6" tall x 7" deep x 12" wide). Inside the separate sub chassis we find a neat hand-wired circuit with all of the attributes that you expect in a boutique amp, including carbon-comp resistors, high-grade Sprague caps, and chassis-mounted ceramic tube sockets.
I paired the VIC105 with a 1x12 Bogner open-back cab with a Celestion Vintage 30 and a 2x12 Randall Lynch Box cabinet loaded with Eminence Lynch Super V speakers. Even in half-power mode, in which only one EL84 is operating, this amp has lots of dynamic range, and with a PRS 22 guitar and the Boost switch off, it delivered a wide spectrum of tones—from sparkling clean at lower Volume settings to moderately distorted when turned up. In the latter mode, the VIC105 growls with a thick overdrive voice that gets ballsier and noticeably louder in the Full Power mode, which switches both tubes on in a dual single-ended configuration. This is a good setting for blues playing if you like to kick in a distortion pedal for leads, and the VIC105 is loud enough for gigs if your band has some dynamic awareness. The 105’s minimal-partscount circuit (which Victoria’s Mark Baier says is based on a type used in an early ‘60s table radio) is a bit fussy about output tubes, however, as certain tubes (including the Electro- Harmonix EL84s it arrived with) elicited a bit of low frequency oscillation at some settings, while a set of Sovtek-branded EL84s worked perfectly across the board.
The real overdrive fun with the VIC105 occurs when you click on the Boost switch and start messing with the Boost Level control, which takes things in a more saturated direction as this knob is turned past the halfway mark. From here on the VIC105 turns into a rage machine, and with the Volume dimed and the Boost Level control at around two ’o clock, the distortion is intense and the bass is knocking enough for AC/DC-style hard rock and probably even metal. Even a single-coil equipped PRS 305 that we were reviewing for this issue had no trouble eliciting wicked tones with gobs of sustain. The boost function is so useful on a low-power amp like this that it would be very nice if you could toggle it on and off via a footswitch for rhythm and lead playing.
The VIC105 is a sweet deal if you’re looking for a super-small amp that can cut it for lots of different styles. Its Mil-Spec aesthetics give it a look that’s quite unique among guitar amps, and its tough tones and abundant volume are very likely to surprise those who think that a 10-watt amp is only good for practice and studio work. All in all, this is a unique and enjoyable amplifier that brings a real bare-knuckles element to Victoria’s impressive line of tube amps.
CONTACT Victoria Amplifiers, (630) 820-6400; victoriaamp.com
PRICE $1,495 retail/Street price N/A
CONTROLS Volume, Tone, Boost Level controls, Boost switch, Full Power/Half Power switch
TUBES One 12AX7LPS and one 6CA4/EZ81 preamp tubes, two EL84 output tubes
POWER 5 watts/10 watts
EXTRAS Fan cooling. Green backlighting. 8Ω and 4Ω speaker outs
WEIGHT 12 lbs
KUDOS Wicked distortion tones. Rugged handwired construction. Great look.
CONCERNS Can’t footswitch the boost function.
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