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My love/hate relationship with Bogner

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Ernie's Bogner Love/Hate Relationship

This is a long read, but I hope you enjoy it. It's been a fun ride and a nice read with pictures.

There is just something about Bogner amps that rock my world. Reinhold Bogner is one crazy, brilliant mofo if you’ve ever met or seen him. Some consider him an amp genius. I certainly do, just like Dave Friedman and many amp designers. He just builds amps that speak to me in both features and of course tone!


I’ve now owned about 10 Bogners and I think I’ve finally found THE ONE. More in a minute in my little diatribe.

Everyone has different needs and uses. And one person, the idea of great tone, might totally differ from another. Like a cranked, distorted Tweed Deluxe, might be your ideal tone. Or, a Boogie Triple Rectifier might be another. I am a classic rock guy. Grew up on 70's rock, so that is what formed my classic tone. Sure, I love a nice Fender blackface tone for cleaner, blues stuff, but a cranked hot-rodded Plexi just makes me smile all day. (That's why I also love Friedmans, he does that so well)

Now, the start of the Bogner story...

I bought my first Bogner about 20 years ago. A Shiva and it just had a sound like no other amp at the time. Classic Fenderly cleans and Marshally crunch. Reinhold has a great ear for tone and builds amazing pre-amp circuits that sound all his own. It’s very unique. Not quite classic Fender on the cleans and not exactly Marshall on the crunch, but definitely has the DNA of both, just better. I loved the Shiva. Had it for quite a while and like most of us, sold it to chase other idealistic tonal dreams.


Then, I picked up a Bogner Mojado which was a small, 1 channel, simple amp. Totally rockin' little beast and had the ‘tone’ and a 'Schizo' knob that was damn cool to change the overall gain/tone in an instant. First time I've seen something like that. It was about 15 watts, which clean, didn’t cut it in a band. Still sounded great and perfect for recording. I miss that amp.


Then, I got a Goldfinger 45. OMG, I thought this is it. This was the holy-grail. Hands-down, the greatest amp I have ever heard. The Clean channel is still the Best cleans ever. And the OD channel was huge sounding. My only nit-pick is, it could have used a little more gain in the ‘69 setting. I just dimed the gain and ran it there. I didn’t like the ’80 setting as much as the ’69 switch. The '80 setting had way more gain but, was a bit thinner sounding. The ’69 had the sound I craved in my head. A fat, huge, crunchy rhythm tone of the gods. I've owned a few Friedmans (Runt, Smallbox, Dirty Shirley, Pink Taco), and as great as they are, the '69 Crunch tone was still better in every way. Very much a hot-rodded Marshall thing, but uniquely voiced. Every guitar I had sounded glorious through it. And, talk about cool features! The amp had 4 different power settings 4 6V6s, 2 6V6s, either of those in both full or half power. Boost, 2 EFX loops, both footswitchable (Pre-input jack and post Pre-amp). Loaded to the max. But, a big box and insanely heavy, more on that in a minute.


So, I used that, it was the 1st of 3 I’ve owned for quite a while. Then, sold it again, chasing the illusive tone of some other marketing review. Didn’t pan out, so I bought another Goldfinger. This time I found a used 90 watt version. But, didn’t like it as much as my first cranked GF45, which was still the pinnacle of tone so far. So, sold the 90 version and bought another 45. Happy camper again. Gigged with that for a while and everyone in the band and friends raved at the tone. (Side Note: It did sound best running through the very large, oversized Bogner Matching Goldfinger 2x12 cab with Greenback and G12H30 speakers)


Kept the Goldfinger 45 for a couple of years. Sold it again, not for chasing tone, but it was just too fucking heavy! They do make a Goldfinger "SuperLead" version with more gain, but still in the HUGE, heavy head cab. I’m getting old and these things start to matter. My band plays at a club with horrible logistics. Long schlep in, Lots of stairs. The GF 2x12 was pretty damn heavy too, almost as heavy as some 4x12s. But, my poor back couldn't deal with it. Here’s where I should have stopped and just bit-the-bullet and asked for bandmates to help and kept it. So… what to do now? I tried a couple other ‘boutiquey’ amps, Two Rock, Victory, Landry, Friedmans (My other favs) Lots of great sounds, but I missed that Bogner voicing.


Next, I tried a new design Bogner 3534 Esctasy 3-channel head. Hated it. It didn’t have the sound. It had too much gain and the channels didn’t match very well. Some guys might like all that gain. But, the 3 channels sounded all different, which seemed weird. Bye bye.


I also tried a Bogner Duende which I read and heard good things about. It was nice, had a killer Tremolo that was very seductive, but sounded a bit bloated when driven hard, didn’t do a good classic rock like the Goldie. Oh well, worth a try.

Also, bought the lunchbox sized ATMA head. Not bad, but the controls were really goofy and had 3 channels, but not very intuitive and kinda' hard to actually use all three channels that went together. They get great reviews on their tone and have a big following for lunchbox amps.


Then, I read about an illusive, mysterious amp that Reinhold only made about 50 or so. The Ecstasy 25! Very rare. Based on the acclaimed big-boy Ecstasy 100 watt head. This smaller version did the Ecstasy thing, but had even more features. 3 Channels with 2 different voicings, Plexi and the original Ecstasy high-gain. It had me at Plexi. Plus, another other Dynamic voicing switch for a classic or modern feel. Add to that, a Boost for all channels, an EFX Loop, an XLR cab simulated out with different cab tones and a power soak when no cab is plugged-in. Best part, it’s in a small, lighter size head… I had to find one. The search was on!


Luck came one day and an Ecstasy 25 popped up on Reverb. Sold, done, it was mine. I’ve had it now about two months and it’s got it. It’s awesome. In the Plexi mode, has that Goldfinger ’69 tone with more gain... yea! And even the original Ecstasy setting is killer for high-gain fun and sounds sweet. Having 3 great sounding channels covers anything. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why he stopped making these. Unless it won’t hold up for the road. There's a LOT of shit going on inside this little beast. Not a biggie as I’m very easy on my gear, so no slamming it around, so, It should be fine. They originally came in that small Atma style metal box, but, the one I found was a custom shop, one-off offered by Wildwood Guitars, CO in a wooden Head box which looks cool.

I admit it, I am definitely a Bogner fanboy. Once you get a sound in your head, it sticks with you. I remember like it was yesterday, the time I bought a ’72 Marshall 50watt in the 70's, OMG, That amp rocked my world and my old High School bandmate still has that amp.

As a side note, I also have a Synergy SYN2 rack preamp and love the Bogner modules in it. I actually used the Synergy/Bogner Ecstasy module combo a lot on my last album. I also have a few Bogner pedals, the Wessex and Blue pedal which is great too to getting the 'Bogner' sound. (Soon to be available in the next Pedal-palooza sale - stay tuned!)


Thanks for reading my little Bogner story!


Edited by santellavision
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My Shiva’s been my main rig for a long time now.  A couple years ago, I tried the XTC 3534 with an eye towards replacing the big/heavy rig with something more back-friendly portable, but like you, for me, the 3534 just didn’t have “the sound.”

Thanks for the great, detailed post & photo essay!

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I had an EL34 Shiva for a while (in fact, I'm pretty sure I bought it from you, Ernie). On paper it was the perfect amp for me. In practice I just couldn't get all the way to a sound I liked. Odd how that happens. Even with the top-shelf stuff, you just never know until you plug in and let rip. 


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