Yes that’s right STRAUSS AMPS – THEY’RE BACK!
The iconic Strauss Amps us ‘oldies’ knew from the 60’s and 70’s have been resurrected. Jade Australia (based in Melbourne) have taken up the mantle and they’re back in production, and just as loud as ever.
Those of us who can remember the originals may not know ( I didn’t) two men – John Woodhead & Gary Nessel – began their production in early 1962, and by late 1962 they were also producing PA amps and boxes. The amp names synonymous with the 60’s though were the two guitar amps : the ‘Warrior’ and the ‘Hurricane’; and the bass amp : the ‘Bandit’. Less well known was another ‘biggie’, the ‘Polka 200’.Spectrum used ‘Minuet’ PA column speakers which each had 4 X 12” speakers.
Artists such as Lobby Lloyd, Rob McKenzie and Billy Thorpe used the early ‘Warrior’ valve amps, though they were not necessarily very reliable with over-heating being a problem. But, they were very, very loud! In fact Strauss amps could be seen on stage at major music festivals across the country, such as the Sunbury Rock Festival.
There were other amps too, mostly solid state such as the ‘Mouse’, and later the ‘Lancer’ which came after the company changed it’s name to Nova Sound in 1969. Production ceased in 1973.
With the new century, Joe Bonich, the general manager of Jade Australia asked his good mate John Woodhead if they could start manufacturing Strauss Amps again. Agreement was reached and the first batch arrived in about 2010.Unfortunately there was a manufacturing issue and many of the amps suffered ‘burn out’ – an awful smell coming from them. Even though the amps were recalled and fixed at Jade’s expense, their reputation suffered and Jade were force to find alternate manufacturing facilities. This thankfully was sorted and for quite some time now Strauss Amps have been working just fine.
We are reviewing three Vintage Strauss Valve Amps: SRT-15; SVT-20R; SSB-30.
The SRT-15 has 2 X EL84 for power and 3 X 12AX7 for the preamp. This combo has a single channel with dual input, volume and tone control and runs through a 12” Eminence “GT” speaker. It has tremolo with speed and intensity control and a short spring reverb tank with control. It has genuine Class A circuitry, an 8ohm extension speaker output and has an optional padded cover at $39.95. There are a number of colour options – black, cream, chesterfield green, orange, navy blue, tweed and burgundy.
So – how does it sound? In a word GREAT. But, don’t take our word for it – come in and play one yourself. For a 15w amp it is very loud. When we tried a Mooer distortion pedal through it the ‘growl’ was truly significant. At only 11 kg’s this little amp is light enough to cart around with you wherever you go, and loud enough to hold it’s own in any practise situation.
The SVT-20R has the same valve configuration as the SRT-15. This combo is a single channel with master volume, bass, middle and treble control. This runs through a 12” Celestion “Seventy 80” speaker which handles the extra grunt really well. Cranking the gain control up and adding the boost gives this amp the option of a really loud growl. This boost is also foot switchable. It has an 8 ohm extension speaker output option, Class A circuitry and a medium spring reverb tank with control.
Even though this amp is only 5w more than it’s smaller brother the SRT-15, the additional features do give more options especially with the gain control with boost, and more definition within the EQ. When we played this amp in store the change between ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ really was distinctive. It is very bloody loud for a 20w amp and had to turn the hearing aids off! Again we would invite people to come in and try this amp. It is good enough to hold it’s own in small performance situations. Whilst at 16 kg’s this amp is a bit heavier, it is still very portable. It comes with only five colour options – black, blue, cream, green and tweed.
The SSB-30 “Super Blues” Combo. This amp is driven by 2 X 6L6 valves on the power side and 3 X AX7’s on the preamp. The sound is delivered through a 12” Eminence “GT” speaker. Before starting on the specs, we ran this amp against a 50w solid state amp and the solid state amp was just crushed by this SSB.
The SSB-30 is a single channel amp with master volume, basic EQ consisting of treble, middle and bass and an 8 ohm extension speaker output if needed. The gain here is foot switchable with a ‘FAT’ boost. Like the SVT-20R it also has a medium spring reverb tank with control. Additional to the previous two amps is the effects loop; power amp in, preamp out. When we played two different guitar types (single coil and humbucker) they both shone. This amp is really, seriously loud, but when played clean does the job in spades. If you can come in and just plug in and listen to this you’ll be very happy.There are six colour options for this amp; black, cream. navy blue, tweed, orange and violet. Obviously this is the heaviest of the three weighing in at 19kg’s
As we haven’t had the smaller 5w SM-C5 in stock yet we haven’t reviewed it – yet.