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Traynor YGL-2

When the discussion turns to North American-made tube combos under $1,000, Traynor’s YGL2 deserves to be on the short list of top contenders. Its look is classic Traynor, and it isn’t laden with functions, but this combo packs everything needed for a wide range of gig-worthy tones at a price that’s quite impressive.

As with many two-channel amps, the YGL2 is configured with footswitchable Clean and Overdrive channels that feature independent Gain controls, an Overdrive Volume control, shared three-knob EQ, and global Master and Reverb controls. Pushbutton switches for USA/Brit and Vintage/ Modern modes expand the palette considerably, though both are panel-only options and not selectable with the included 2-button footswitch. Put it all in a compact cabinet, and the YGL2 is startlingly loud for its size, with 30 watts of EL84-generated class-A power (cathode biased, with no negative feedback) driving an efficient Celestion Vintage 30 speaker.

When an amp with four EL84s enters the room it’s virtually impossible to not think of Vox. True to form, the YGL2 presents that spanky, chimey, British-style tone throughout all settings, and despite its impressive versatility, that element defines the YGL2‘s character to a great extent. The Clean channel likes to be wound up with its Volume at least to 10 o’cLock, the Master about halfway, and the Brit voice engaged to begin showing what it’s made of–and pushed to anywhere past this point, you can readily hear that Vox-like bloom and shimmer in raked chords or arpeggiated runs.

Engaging the USA mode with the Overdrive channel’s Gain knob turned down and the Master up, I tapped convincing Fender-style pushed cleans that were perfect for scorching Texas blues or punchy rock rhythm playing. The reverb isn’t the lushest on the planet, but it does its job and sounds good on these cleaner tones. At higher Gain settings, the Overdrive channel’s juicy, harmonically rich tones lean more toward retro rock, snarly india and alternative riffing, and gnarly all-country. But I had no trouble getting wailing lead tones and singing feedback with my humbucker and single-coil guitars, and the YGL2 seems able to cover just about anything you throw at it depending on how you set the controls, and whether you use a distortion or best fuzz pedal with it.

The Modern mode proved more virile throughout most settings, retaining the amp’s full measure of clarity and note attack, although Vintage mode could be useful for a spongier blues voice on the Overdrive channel, or maybe a mellower jazz tone when using the Clean channel.

The rear-panel features are a little basic–only a series loop, and no level control for it or the direct out–but that aside, anyone seeking an all-tube 30-watter that has the ability to nail some classic British and American tones, and lands at well under a grand, should try out the YGL2. As has always been the case with this Canadian company,Traynor gives you a lot of amp for your money.

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