The new Cabaret 13 is Balthazar Audio Systems’ latest all tube guitar amp. The amp is hand-built in Chicago and is the company’s smallest combo to date. But don’t let the size fool you, this amp will give you all those classic vintage tones from Fender style Brown/Blonde clean tones, all the way through to cranked British-style dirt. Read on if you’ve been looking for a low watt boutique amp.
Balthazar Cabaret 13
Before we dive into the new Balthazar Cabaret 13 combo, I would like to state, for the record, that I am a huge fan of small wattage, compact amps. Boutique brands such as Cornell Amps and Friedman Amps are two that I really admire. Both companies make fantastic low wattage amps that deliver sweet tones at low volumes, making them perfect for the studio, home, and, when mic’d up, playing live as well.
All Tube tone
Now with that out of the way, let’s take a closer look at this new compact little combo from Balthazar. The amp is rated at 13 Watts and has three 12AX7 tubes and a single 12AT7 driving the preamp section, two EL84s in the power amp section, and an EZ81 high-current rectifier.
The combo comes with a single 10″ Celestion G10 Gold speaker, which is a great little speaker. It has plenty of good midrange response with a smooth bass, and isn’t shrill at all.
The combo can be run at either 120V or 240V, which should be very appealing to players that travel with their gear.
Reverb & Tremolo
The combo comes with three controls for TREBLE, BASS, and LEVEL, which is really all one needs to sculpt some tasty tones from a good quality valve circuit.
There’s also a reverb LEVEL which controls the Accutronics reverb tank to add some nice tube-driven spring reverb, as well as a bias TREMOLO with INTENSITY and SPEED controls. These two classic effects have always been a favourite of mine, and I really enjoy having them on a good tube amp.
This lovely looking little combo certainly falls in the boutique category, and we can expect a well-built, good sounding unit. The company has also stated that there will be a 12-inch speaker version of this model, and a 30 Watts version by the end of the year. So if you thought 13 Watts were just a bit too meagre for your requirements, hold on a bit longer and there should be more options available pretty soon.
The Cabaret 13 may be the best part of two grand, but I would take it over a higher wattage amp any day. The official demo videos show how this little box is able to get some pretty stunning tones at low volumes, which can be tough to do on a larger amp without some kind of attenuation. I would happily add it to my collection, especially given those built-in effects.
You can hear the amp in action yourself in the official demo videos below.
RRP – USD 1999