Roland BluesCube Review: Tweed Tones In A Solid State Amp

Responsive, rich and raw - but is it gigworthy?   05-Jan-15


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Roland and BOSS seem to be having something of a reawakening in 2014; and with Roland famous for producing the best solid state amplifier of all time - the Jazz Chorus - the new BluesCube is an exciting prospect.

Here we have an amp which uses solid state technology in an attempt to model the behaviour of the famous Fender amplifiers of the late 1950s and early '60s.

It uses the famous 'Cube' moniker, but this is something altogether new from Roland.

Where so many modelling amps attempt to offer a plethora of amp models, often resulting in switches, dials, memory banks on the front panel, the BluesCube is much more intuitive for guitarists who haven't grown up using digital or solid state amps.

It has two channels, a three-band EQ, tremolo, reverb, presence and master volume. There are plenty of bolt-ons to go with this classic set of controls, but the BluesCube's foundations are very much based on the classic control panels of blues combos.

Speaking of bolt-ons, there are two additional controls which turn the BluesCube into an incredibly versatile piece of kit; the power switcher and the blend mode.

There are four separate power units in the BluesCube, giving you the option of running the amp at 0.5 watts, 25 watts, 45 watts, or 80 watts. This means tonal options galore.

The blend mode allows you engage the clean channel and the crunch channel at the same time, something that many gigging guitarists have to take two amps to a show in order to achieve.

Value for money?

For around £550 in the UK, the BluesCube is a significant purchase - not something you'll buy on a whim. There are gigworthy valve amp heads and combos in the same price bracket.

But the clean tone on the BluesCube is beautiful, it responds well to the player and is useful for everything from BB King style twiddling to southern rock strumming.

The crunch channel is when things started to get a bit murky, the lead tones are great - responsive, rich, raw, but when you try to play rhythm the amp begins to struggle with the signal and churns out a confused and scrambled freqency spectrum.

Now we should make it clear that the model we were sent by Roland is a prototype, and there will be changes made when the product comes to market.

We asked Roland what those changes would be, and they confirmed there will be changes to frequency response on the low end of the crunch channel - so it sounds like they are aware of the problem and that it should be eradicated when the BluesCube is released.

Verdict

By its own merit, the BluesCube is a good amplifier for the price, it's easy to dial in great lead tones on both channels.

But it does feel like more a lead player's amplifier, and it feels like the amp is aimed at gigging blues guitarists who want a reliable, affordable amplifier.

The BluesCube is both affordable and reliable... but it could be more affordable, you can't help but feel it could be slightly better value for money.

Overall, I'm impressed by the responsiveness of it, if the low end response on the crunch channel is sorted out, this is certainly a gigworthy amp.

Review by Richard Beech

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