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Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Indigo Amplification McD 20 1x12 Combo,... (Review)

Reviewed By: Jac Harrison
Purchased from: Manufacturer
Street Price: $2,995.00 USD + Shipping 

Indigo Amplifiers is the manufacturer of boutique, hand-crafted, all-tube guitar amplifiers based out of New Jersey.

The McD 20 watt 1x12 combo is a (2) channel all hand-wired tube amp that is based around a pair of matched 6V6GT power tubes with a cascaded preamp section that is driven by (2) 12AX7's, (1) 12AX7 phase inverter, and a solid state rectifier with custom wound transformers, fixed bias and features a buffered (1) 12AX7 based FX loop that is pushing a custom made 12" speaker that was made just for Indigo Amplification, with switchable output impedance and external speaker cab hook up that is all wrapped up in a flamed maple cab. 

Amp Weight: 
Combo Amp 22.4 lbs

Front Panel Controls:
Volume with push-pull channel switch, treble, middle, bass, drive, level, master volume with push-pull switch for buffered effects loop and presence front panel control knobs with (1) gain and (1) mid boost switch. The foot-switch controls channel, effects loop bypass, and mid boost. 


Chili Custom Guitars JacCaster


Dark Horse 10-46

Guitar Pick:

Gravity 1.5


Reliability & Durability:
Indigo Amplifiers have a great reputation for making a well built product. On their website they state that all of their amps feature eyelet board construction on military grade glass epoxy boards (Garolite G10/FR-4) and that they use the highest quality teflon coated wire, metal film resistors, and custom speced caps. Their cabinetry it's all handmade; dovetail jointed and out of Basswood, Poplar and/or Pine.  I have used and abused my Indigo McD 20 for over a month in studio and at gigs (39 hours), and she has held up 100 %.

My Chili JacCaster and Indigo McD 20 1x12
Over the last 5 years I have been very active in attending most of the NYC tri-state area's regional guitar and equipment shows. I have had the chance to not only play some of the world's most outrageous amplifiers, but I also was afforded the opportunity to meet the builders. Being a self proclaimed lunatic and a recreational guitarist, I truly believe that part of the builder's mojo winds up in their finished product. While on my quest for my perfect amp, it was important to me to find one that blew my socks of tonally, but was also built by a craftsman that I thought had good mojo and work ethic. In my search I have made friends with almost all of the guys that put their hart-and-soul into their product, and for the most part they build an amazing amp and are wonderful people. With that said; Indigo was the one that spoke to me on a personal level for my style of play. After speaking with Eric from Indigo Amps for a few months after the 2013 NY amp show, I decided to make the switch and only use Indigo Amps as an endorsed artist. So before I go any further into this review, yes this is my personal amp that I use three times a week in studio and on stage, and I effing love it! So to the review ...  

To start; I have dubbed this amp the "portable monster". This is a Fender Champ sized, 22.4 lbs, 20 watt 1x12 combo that I have never had to turned the master volume up past 11 'oclock while on stage or in studio. Even at my last show the sound engineer did not need to mic the amp -- yea it is that loud, but in a good way. One of the many usable features that this amp offers is the way the volume rolls off. Eric and Matt (the brains behind Indigo Amplification) some how fixed the tone-vs-volume problem that we all suffer from at lower volumes. For example; I dial in my tone for the room I'm in, and then ether use the master volume control or engage the (1) 12ax7 buffered effects loop (with or without any pedals) and adjust the input and output tube section volume without changing the tonal characteristics from the back panel until I get the most appropriate stage volume. Now I know what you're probably thinking "this is a 1x12 that is the size of a Fender champ and this guy is nuts". I had a difficult time understanding it myself. I learned that because the amp is tuned correctly utilizing all of correct frequencies, (not just pushing mush through a horn) it achieves tonal perfection -- making the notes cut through the mix at a lower volume. Now what that means for you and me is ... no more chiropractor visits the day after a show. I am able to get the same stage volume with this amp as I was with my 82 lbs Bogner 2x12, and I get a much better tone with the Indigo.

When it come to tonal perfection, the Indigo McD 20 just hits the spot. When using channel 1 (clean) I am able to dial in everything from a Fender silver/blackface to a Vox TD35c1 and topping out with the tube saturation of a Marshall 1974X. On Channel 2 (dirty), It picks up where channel one left off and goes through your bluesbreaker sounds up to a modern Mesa/Boogie Express, when dimmed out. Having the versatility of a (2) channel amp with a drive, level, presence and master volume control knob on the front panel with separate gain and mid boost, this compact amp delivers a tonal spectrum is much greater than your typical amplifier. For my style of play (blues/rock), I find that I enjoy using channel 2 (dirty) with the volume on 5, treble on 5, middle on 6, bass on 6, gain on 6, level on 4, master volume set to room volume and presence on 8 with the gain boost off and mid boost on. 

Another great thing about this amp is that it takes FX pedals very well. Now to me FX pedals are like makeup on a woman -- the ugly ones need a lot. This Indigo has natural beauty and does not need anything else in my opinion, but if you have a coffin filled with all the goodies... she is equipped with a buffered FX loop. I use one pedal when I use this amp, my Boss Tu2.

So to sum it up: This is an amazing example of true American Ingenuity, and the only way that I can explain this amp is if Leo Fender and Jim Marshall worked on a project together in the mid 60's and called it Indigo. To top it all of you can get your Indigo amp in a selection of different exotic hardwoods or in tolex. This one is in a beautiful natural flamed maple cab.

My advice:
I like this amp more than the 23 year old sorority sister that is at a college bar at last call trying to understand "why he cheated" and has "daddy issues" that is looking for a shoulder to cry on and a new "friend" to "hug" -- yea it's that great. So my advices is buy one. 

Indigo Amplification 
PO Box 554 
Pittstown, NJ 08867 
(P) 908 315-9592

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Posted 4/2014
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