5/29/2018

1995 Tube Works B.K. Butler RT-2100 1x12" Hybrid Amplifier



This is what happens when I try to be friendly and buy funky gear from people who're trying to unload for travel money. Seeing the rust at the edges of the grill and hardware, I knew that this thing wouldn't work right away despite protestations to the contrary. For the record -- I was right. Being US-made, however, and with two 12AX7 tubes in the preamp section, I figured it was worth a shot. These amps incorporate Mosvalve tech and were designed by Mr. B.K. Butler of tube-pedal fame. I'm pretty sure output is rated between 100-150w each channel.

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised after sprucing it up, though: it's a two-channel (flip-switch) amp and the clean side of it sounds like something between an early '70s Fender clean tone and a '70s or '80s Peavey. It has a nice-sized Accutronics spring reverb tank, too, which means that you can get a good, drippy, surf tone when you have the clean channel dialed-in just-so. It'll also do up to medium-thick crunch and gristle for a dirtier "clean" sound.

The drive channel is a bit too gainy for my playing styles, though it'd totally suit an '80s metal-player or someone looking for heavier indie vibes. Reviews and buy-me listings on the net boast about these amps being used by Mr. Josh Homme of Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age.

My own work on it included fixing things that'd been fudged before: it needed a new 3-prong cord installed as someone had clipped the ground prong, all the pots needed spraying-out and the jacks needed tightening, the two preamp tubes needed replacing (I just stuck some spare Chinese 12AX7 ones in there but would put lower-gain tubes in if I were planning to get a more bluesy tone), it needed a serious amount of cleaning-up, the fiber-board holder for the speaker connector tabs needed to be fixed back onto the speaker's frame, and the speaker cable needed replacing as it'd been hacked-up.

It's now ready to roll, though it does show plenty of wear-and-tear to the tolex covering and metal hardware. The jacks are all those panel-style ones with the irritating plastic threads, too, so you have to be careful about not over-tightening them. The upper (non-padded) jack also does not hold plugs all that well compared to the lower. It seems that the tolex-covered (rather than felt-covered) versions of these are a little rarer and they sure look a lot better.

I'm not sure what to do with this fella, but I have a feeling it will stay in the shop as a guitar demo unit (I do like the cleans mixed with the spring reverb) until someone needs a beat-up rawk machine.



The discoloration on the front plate was from me spraying-out the pots and forgetting to wipe it down again -- it's temporary. It's nice to have 3-knob EQ and master volume for both channels.





Tell me about it, guys...


There's the US-made Accutronics tank and my new, stylishly-black (they used grey for the originals?!) 3-prong cable.

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