The Tramp began as a low-powered, practice-bedroom amp concept that turned into a full blown practice-home-studio-gigging amp. Why would we bother? There are lots of 2-tube amps out there, from the famous Fender Champ to the Epiphone Valve Jr, and many more. These amps have a sweet vibe but are challenged in what they can do; whether the amount of break-up they can provide in the case of some amps, or their tonal versatility in the case of others. The Tramp was designed to address this shortcoming and provide extreme versatility while still keeping to the format of a two-stage preamp and only two tubes. The Tramp also features a Master Volume control that doesn’t make the tone suck as you turn it down, as well as a variable power level control, allowing you to have almost any tone right down to bedroom volume levels you can comfortably talk over.
Sure am enjoying it. It's coming to it's first rehearsal today. It's the perfect size/power combo for me - I've never had an amp that I could run in the upper range all the time, nor one that sounds this sweet! It's a real treat. Thanks man
The Tramp design incorporates extreme, useful flexibility with distinct amp voices and plenty of features. With a simple pull of a switch, you can go from Tweed to ‘Tude; another pull switch and you can play Fat or Thin. Using the Volume, Master Volume and Power Level controls along with Bass and Treble, achieves tonal nirvana! The design supports 6V6 and most other octal power tubes so you can swap the single power tube for added gigging volume and headroom. Power output is approximately 6W with a 6V6, or 12W with the bigger tubes.
The Tramp is effectively two amps in one, which you can alternate between with the simple pull of a switch. It was intended to cover all the bases from Fender Clean to Marshall Dirty, and all the possible shades in-between – and it delivers an amazing tonal range in doing so.
In Tweed mode, it’s heritage is 3Fx series Tweed Princeton or Champ, with the additional benefit of Treble-Bass tone controls. Tweed is smooth and creamy with a welcome warmth, vintage voice but with a little more solidity and clarity. It is full of soul and you can really hear the Fender heritage. In Tweed mode, the Volume control is usable through it’s entire travel – gorgeous cleans around 5/6 on the dial, slight break-up around 7/8, and an amazing humming drive at 9/10. Everything you want in the classic Tweed amp spectrum, from clean to dirty, is right here.
In ‘Tude mode, the Tramp exceeds what you could traditionally achieve with the simple two-tube amp format. The sound opens up with an astonishing clarity, and extended range of clean and distorted sounds. ‘Tude glows with all of its harmonic content, and some Marshall crunch when the guitar gets wound up.
‘Harmonic haze’ is what it’s all about in the clean parts of ‘Tude – gorgeous! Just a little hair on the tone for presence with all these overtones swirling around it and a nice solid foundation. Cranked up, it’s complex, raw and edgy but still under control, and smooth but in an aggressive way – there’s tone right to the top. Using Fat or Thin settings doesn’t matter – it holds together but in a really primal raw “teeth gritting” way… with a P-90 Les Paul – it rocks in a Neil Young kind of way… Bass dimed, Bass at zero, it doesn’t matter. With big humbuckers driving it, and the Volume cranked right up, you get modern rock distortion tones. At the same time the natural tone of the guitar really comes through, and you get a completely different vibe from this amp between a Strat or an ESP.
With the Volume all the way up Power Level acts like a “presence” control – not in a “top end” sort of way, but more in a “brings the tone out of the speaker” wider, more comprehensive way. Because the tone is fairly compressed with Volume cranked, moving power from 10 to 5 on the power level doesn’t really make it much quieter, just darker and warmer, but still with all the beef.
As you increase the Tramp’s Power Level, the tone comes forward with highs and high mids becoming more prominent. At full power and bass down, you can get a real edgy, ringy, “transitory” kind of tone, and as you roll the bass up, Neil Young and his very large “tone” show up. With power level below 5 the tone gets quieter, but it still has all the rage. As an added bonus, players can switch back and forth from Tweed to ‘Tude without having to adjust the Treble or Bass – the tones just work without having to move a knob… so good news for those that dream of switching between Tweed/’Tude on a gig – you can just ‘Set it and forget it!’
The single-ended, unique design has many features but despite the nouveau circuitry; it is not housed in a trendy, all-metal lunchbox. The low-power addition to the Trinity line-up, is housed in a hand-crafted, finger jointed, pine cabinet, finished in a variety of coverings.
The single-ended design features a variable-level DC power supply and swappable output octal tubes for power stage distortion at a variety of volume levels. Utilizing one 12AX7 preamp tube, the design also supports one 6V6, 6L6, KT66, EL34, 6CA7 or KT77 power tube. Controls include Power On-Power Level, Volume/Tweed-‘Tude, Bass/Fat-Thin, Treble, Master Volume. The Tramp lives in a hand-crafted, finger jointed, pine cabinet, finished in a variety of coverings.
The Power On switch is incorporated in the Power Level control which adjusts the Trinity Amps Voltage Regulation Module (VRM). The VRM allows raging tones at volumes that guys who played in loud bands in the 70’s won’t be able to hear! The Volume control double as a gain control when in ‘Tude mode, and incorporates the Tweed / ‘Tude pull switch. There’s also the extremely effective Master Volume control.
Bass and Treble are subtle yet effective and sound great through their entire travel. The Bass control incorporates the Fat/Thin pull switch. Thin/Fat is especially useful. Thin is lean, clean and tight, Fat really thickenss things up and pushes a little more gain into the circuit. Both Thin/Fat work with any guitar – not only when you have to use Thin with a Les Paul because Fat is too fat, or you have to use Fat with a Tele because Thin is too strident. You get two different and useful options with every guitar.
All the controls do what you’d expect them to. But they also act as interactive tone controls. For example, use the Bass control in tandem with the Master Volume, or the Treble in tandem with the VRM. Increasing the Master Volume can bring up the bottom end of the tone, and increasing the VRM can add top end to the tone. This is one of the coolest parts of the amp because as you work these tandem controls in opposite directions, the treble/middle/bass relationships in the tone don’t change, but the tonal quality itself changes! And in the absence of a mid control, by changing the relationships between the tandem controls you can effectively control the midrange!
Trinity Tramp Review – Craig Worgan
Trinity Amps of Brighton Ontario offers several models of hand-built, point to point wired, guitar amplifiers and has a reputation for selling very high quality products and caring about every customer. The majority of their amplifiers are based on the classics by Marshall, Ampeg, Fender, Vox, Matchless and Hiwatt. The Tramp, however, is a beast of its own. While it is inspired by low wattage practice amps like the Fender Champ and Epiphone Valve Jr., there is much more to it.
While tone is the main focus when reviewing an amp, there are other things to consider. Is it best suited to home practice, or is it able to handle rehearsals and gigs? If you will be dragging it around to rehearsals and gigs, how portable is it? No one wants to drag a Marshall stack to the local bar. Even a 50 pound combo gets tiresome after a while. How versatile is it in terms of tone? If you play in a band that does cover tunes, this is even more important, but if you don’t it’s still really nice to be able to dial in a convincing American or British tone when you need it.
Before getting into the tones you can dial in with the Tramp, let’s talk a little about the Tramp itself and what makes it so versatile. The Tramp is a 2 tube, low wattage amplifier. It supports 6V6, 6L6, KT66, EL34, 6CA7 and KT88 power tubes, and produces 6 watts with 6V6 and 12 watts with the bigger tubes. This allows you to choose the power level for your needs. The preamp section uses the familiar 12AX7 valve.
The Tramp comes in 3 flavours; a head version, a combo version in a custom tolex or tweed cabinet with a Jensen® Jet Blackbird Alnico or 10″ Tone Tubby Ceramic (Green) speaker, or a kit with all the components needed to assemble the amp (no cabinet or speakers) and detailed instructions for building your own amp! A quick internet search yields glowing reviews on the quality of the documentation that comes with the kit. If you are able to wield a soldering iron and want to save some cash, this is a great option. I should note that Trinity offers kits for several of its amps, so check out the website for details.
Where the Champ and Valve Jr provide only a single volume control, the Tramp boasts a complete and thoughtful array of controls. Instead of a traditional power switch, the Tramp has a Power Level pot, that acts like an attenuator, allowing you to control the power level of the amp, so you can crank the Volume and Master volume to get great tube tone at lower volumes. There is a traditional Master Volume that works as expected, and a Volume that when pulled puts you in ‘Tude mode. ‘Tude mode adds volume and a little more hair to the tone, reminiscent of a Marshall. With the volume put pushed in you are in Tweed mode, where you get clean tones that are very Fendery. The tone stack consists of a treble and bass pot. The bass pot pulls to give you a Fat bass tone, which also boosts the volume. The tone controls, on their own, are fairly subtle, but yield very useful tones throughout their range. Combined with using the Fat mode, you can easily get great tonal control from deep and thumpy to clear and chimey.
In the back, there are two extension speaker jacks and a switch to select the extension speaker impedance (4, 8, and 16 ohms). There is also bias switch with low and high values (use low for the 6V6 power tube and high for the bigger tubes) and a transformer setting for when you are using an EL34 power tube which is designed to better emulate a Marshall.
Okay, now let’s talk tone!
The majority of my testing was in Tweed mode (with the Volume pot pushed in). I started off without Fat bass, and was able to get super clean chimey Fenderlike tones with the Treble pinned to 11 and the Bass between 7 and 11. My cleanest tones came with the Master Volume pinned to 11, the Power Level also maxed out, and the Volume used to adjust the level. I should note that the Power Level, besides acting as an attenuator, also works like a kind of Presence. So, with the Power Level maxed I get a really good clean bright tone with which to build on with my pedal board.
Using the aforementioned settings, I played a 3 hour gig at a local bar. Normally, I would use my 40 watt Fender Hot Rod Deluxe, but the 12 watts of the Tramp with the 6L6 power tube were more than enough to do the job. I play in a pretty loud 4 piece rock band, and I had the Volume on the Tramp at around 7 or 8 out of 11. With the Fender I would be at 3 out of 12 and have to attenuate with a volume box I plug into the effects loop. If I ever did need more out of the Tramp I could get an added volume boost with either the Fat bass or ‘Tude mode settings.
On top of being able to easily handle the night at the bar, the tone from the Tramp is much tighter than the tone from my Fender. Also, the head version of the Tramp and my 112 cabinet are much more portable than the Fender, which weighs in at near 50 lbs.
If you want a bit thicker tone than you get with the settings I used at the bar, all you need to do is pull the Bass pot to engage the Fat bass feature. It also gives you a boost of a few decibels. When I used the Fat bass feature, I found a good tone with the Bass at around 4 and the Treble at 11. I didn’t use this setting for the bar gig, but could have easily and I would have been just as happy. I would have also had a little more headroom with this setting.
As I mentioned earlier, pulling the Volume pot engages what Trinity calls ‘Tude mode. It completely changes the tone as well as adding more gain. In this mode I favoured a few different settings.
For a clean tone that was a little dirty I had the Power Level and the Treble maxed, the bass at around 7 or 8, and the Volume at around 6 or 7. To adjust the volume I used the Master volume. This setting gives a decidedly more British feel. I got a really nice saturated tone with this setting by stepping on either my distortion or overdrive pedals with the gain set fairly low. Without the pedals I am able to get some breakup by just playing harder. Very cool.
With similar settings as above, I got a more Neil Young feel by taking the Volume to 11 and turning down the Master (or not). For the real deal Neil Young dirt I engaged Fat mode and played with the bass level until it felt right…for me this was about 3 or 4.
A variation on the dirty Neil tone is a British chimey tone…kind of Pete Townsendlike. To get this, I disengaged the Fat bass and kept the Treble pinned. Then I hit the hell out of some Firstposition chords. It’s amazing how different the tone can be with just a few changes to the settings!
I look forward to trying out some ‘Tude mode settings at my next bar gig!
Trinity designed the Tramp with versatility in mind. Their goal was to build a low wattage amp that delivered great tones and could shine in a variety of different situations.
In terms of power it is uniquely versatile the Tramp gives you the ability to use different power tubes to go from 6 to 12 watts. Together with the Power Level, you can easily find a power setting that sounds good even at home practice volume. When you do take it out of your home, you won’t need roadies to carry it for you, and there’s more than enough power, with the bigger tube options, for rehearsals and bar gigs.
In terms of tone it’s unbelievably versatile as well. Unlike other amps that boast different voicings but you have to close your eyes and focus to hear the difference, the difference between Tweed and ‘Tude modes is pronounced and obvious. The thoughtful control array lets you to dial in many different tones in either mode. Every tone I dialed in was tight, impressive, and very usable.
Trinity really came through with the Tramp. If you need a versatile amp that’s easy to carry from rehearsals to gigs, and delivers really great tone, you really need to try a Trinity Tramp.
- Channels: 1
- Controls: Volume/’tude; Bass / Fat; Treble; Master Volume; Power/Power level
- Power output: 6 Watts with a 6V6 up to 12 Watts with the larger Octal tubes
- Preamp Tubes: 1-12AX7
- Power Tubes: 2 – 6V6 Supports (6V6, 6L6, KT66, EL34, 6CA7, KT88 and KT77)
- Rectifier: solid State Diode
- Bias: Cathode
- Choke: no
- Speaker: 10” Jensen Blackbird or per customer choice
- Outputs: 2
- Speaker Output: 4, 8, 16 ohms switched
- Voltage Support: 115 V 60Hz – 240 V 50Hz
- Weight: Head: 20 lbs.; 112 Combo 30 lbs.
- Switches: Bias (High / Low); Output Impedance (5K / 2.5K)
- Transformers custom built by Heyboer with ‘Fat Stack’ Output Transformer
- Dimensions: Head: 8” H x 18” W x 6” D
- Piping: white, silver or gold piping
- Covering: Tweed; black Mesa wrinkle, black, green, red, purple levant or black elephant
- Grill Cloth: grey weave, Marshall black or salt & pepper, Fender silver, Ampeg black; Oxblood
- Handle: strap style or comfortable leather “dog-bone” style
- Knobs: choice of black or white “chicken head” style
- Other Tolex, grill cloths and hardware are available and priced upon request.
- Matt Smith
- Lawrence Bethune Clean strat
- David Neale
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All prices are listed in US dollars. Orders ship from Brighton, Ontario, Canada, applicable taxes not included. Specifications and prices subject to change without notice.
Trinity Amps Inc.
+1-613-438-5854 Canada EST
14656 County Rd. 21