If you’re a serious guitar player, or even music fan, you’re probably familiar with the name Reinhold Bogner, the German amplifier genius based in Los Angeles, California. Generally, amps being his name are very expensive, but the Alchemist is the first relatively low-cost amp produced by his company. While it is actually built in China, the product quality is very high so this should not be a deterrent.
What Does The Alchemist Offer?
The Bogner Alchemist has a ton of options and is very versatile, but remains easy to use, as well. It’s built to be able to be used intuitively, so after a few minutes of playing with it, you’ll be up and running.
The amp is 6L6-loaded, ClassAB-powered and 40-watts. It’s available as 1×12 and 2×12 open-back combos and a 100 watt head with an open-back 2×12 cabinet that matches. The amp has several channels, each controlling different options.
What Are The Different Control Options?
Gold channel is the first one and has controls for gain, treble, middle, bass, and volume. There are also slider switches for clean and crunch, treble boost and low boost, which are also known as bright and deep, respectively. Additionally, there are a couple of switches so that you can change the channel or go to a solo boost.
Mercury is the second channel and has the same controls for gain, treble, middle, bass, and volume, as well as options for punch, bright, and mid shift. There’s a section with delay and reverb, each with three options: ducking, analog, tape and plate, spring, hall, respectively. Additionally there are power and standby switches. As for standby, you have two options, either a 20 watt or 40 watt operation depending on your needs.
Lastly, the footswitch that comes with the amp allows you to select the channel, boost, delay, and revery. The effects loop on channel two is parallel, which means that it runs alongside the unadorned sound. Each loop has its own control, so travels independently of the main signal. This improves clarity and is designed for things like stompboxes and other instrument-level effects.
What Are The Differences Between Channels?
The gold channel (1) has a lot of variety. It can be anywhere from super clean to grindy and crunchy like you’d hear with the Foo Fighters. It can even be backed off for more of a classic rock type sound. You can also get everything in between with sounds that are dynamic and controllable.
If you’ve used the Bogner Ectasy, you may already be familiar with the sounds of the Mercury (2) channel. The Alchemist responds well to playing dynamics up until the saturation point when the sound compresses and smoothes out.
What Are People Saying?
Peter refers to the Alchemist as, “one of the most versatile amps I’ve ever played, yet it feels very simple despite its complexity. The cleans can be polite enough for jazz, edgy enough for blues, jangly enough for indie, punchy enough for rock, grindy enough for more traditional variants of metal, and hyper enough for shred.”
And Tim says, “I bought my Alchemist mid-2009, and nearly 3 years later have had zero issues with it…dollar for dollar would still be a very hard amp to top, especially if you cover a wide range of tonal territory.”
The amp has also been described as “spinning your tune into gold” and guitarists feel privileged to get to use one.
What About Value For Money?
While the alchemist is not inexpensive, it’s a great value for the price. It’s also very reliable and durable, causing even the most cautious musicians to trust it as their only amp, forgoing the normal back up options since they know this one will work. It also has wheels on the base that help make it mobile. This is especially helpful as the amp itself weighs about 80 pounds, so you’ll appreciate not having to pick it up every time you want to move it.
How Does It Compare To Other Amps?
It’s been compared to a multitude of other amps but none hold a candle to the sound quality, features, or reliability. One of the main features is how versatile it is. It can be used for a variety of genres, which is important to consider if you’re a versatile musician.
While there are plenty of amp options on the market, many less expensive than the Bogner Alchemist, none actually compare to this 40 watt combo with two channels. The clean (gold) channel and dirty (mercury) channel both have gain, volume, bass, middle, and treble controls so that you can alter, tweak, and tune every aspect of your music.