Customer Reviews: Kustom The Defender 5H Class A Guitar Amp Head
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on November 5, 2010
I'm an old guy getting back into electric guitars after 30 years of acoustics. Once belonging to the school of "If you can't play it right, play it loud", at 60 I wanted something to give my second hand American Strat a warm, creamy voice without breaking the bank. I bought an Epiphone Valve Jr. to use as a practice amp long enough to decide on a larger unit. What a piece of #@X$&! junk; lot's of noise and poor quality overall. After returning it, I stumbled on the Kustom Defender 5H. Praise the ghost of John Lee Hooker! What a sweet little amp! One knob to keep things simple (ain't nothing complicated bout' the blues). You can keep the volue low for sweet and creamy or crank the little dude up for some muddy distortion. Played at 8 ohms thru a pair of Carvin 12's, the shoe box sized Defender is plenty loud. As a matter of personal taste, I'll probably change out the Chinese 12AX7 and EL84 tubes with Gold Lion equivalents for reliability and noise control. The affordable Kustom Defender 5H is so good it'll "make you want to slap your Mama!"
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on January 27, 2012
I was planning to purchase a Fender Deulxe Reverb II for home use the day I bought this little amp. For some reason I decided to plug into this little head alongside the Fender Reverb II for comparison... What a shock. I actually liked the tones from the little amp better! It made my Jazzmaster really chime in on the highs and broke up beautifully with a little pick attack--just incredible tone. Then I looked at the price!!! I WAS FLOORED! I bought this amp on sound quality, the price was just icing on the cake. I truly would have paid double the price without thinking twice about it.
Granted the Kustom breaks up sooner and the has less headroom on the clean tones than the Deluxe Reverb had, but it's only a 5 watt amp and for home use I can barely crank it to 3o'clock without making the neighbors crazy! I know it is blasphemy, but I think the Kustom had better, chimier, cleans with the stock 12AX7 than the Rivera Deluxe Reverb! It is plenty loud, in fact I ended up putting a 12AU7 preamp tube in almost immediately when I got it home beacuse it was so dang loud. With the 12AU7 I lost a little brightness, a good bit of volume, but got a lot more clean headroom. I ended up dropping $200 ( plus $20 more new preamp and power tubes--I'm picky about tubes) for the head and cab. It has been two months now since I bought it and I absolutley wouldn't do without this little amp. Go try one out if you can. These little amps really have beautiful tone and are simple to work on if you are wanting to make your KUSTOM customized. If your guitar has good tone then this little amp will let it sing out and AMPLIFY your sound without any extra crud. Skeptics need only plug into one.
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on June 28, 2012
Bought this when Amazon had a 15% off special. They already sold this little gem for $15 cheaper than anyone else. Dirt cheap for a cool tube amp.

5 Watts? It might be at 5 watts when it begins to break up, but it's way louder. I have a fender champ 5W, and this is twice as loud. I replaced the tubes with grove tubes. And I don't know if it was worth it to tell the truth. The stock tubes didn't sound any worse. I might try it with some JJs I have.

A humbucker will absolutely overdrive this amp way too early. I can't even get above 10 o'clock with my LP Jr. before it's shredding. My strat with stock single coils makes it to about 1 o'clock before the shred starts. But still at 1 o'clock it's as loud as the champ almost wide open.

Good little amp. Glad I bought it.
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on March 25, 2011
This little Kustom amp is very impressive the clean tone at a low volume is great and Kustom added some distortion at higher volume, this amp is well worth the $100. I would pay more after owning this amp...
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on January 22, 2011
I wanted a small tube head to run pre's and pedals into, with the hopes of still being able to get some power tube saturation at moderate volume levels. The Kustom is way louder than I expected!

I'm running it into an Avatar G112 Vintage with an 8 ohm V30 speaker. The gain stages on the volume knob are funky, there are 3 or 4 noticable jumps in loudness and overdrive that my ears hear. The jumps are not divided evenly across the pot as you turn it, which is why I say it's "funky". Cranked up direct, you can get great over driven rock sounds. Back off your pickup's or pull the heads volume down and you can get a variety of bluesy/gritty in between tones. Very versatile if you spend some time with it. Definitely not enough gain for metal on it's own, but front end it with a pre or pedal and you're all set (and you'll probably need a gate / Decimator / etc. to tame it).

Regardless, it's a very cool little head and for $99 it's a no brainer!
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on November 9, 2011
This amp is LOUD. But, it has all the nice tubey goodness you would expecti from a tube amp. The 4, 8 and 16 ohm output is very nice. If your looking for a lot of clean headroom, look elsewhere, but there are Mods out there for that. There is only the one combined vol/gain knob (again there are mods). But, it is very easy to go from clean, to a little growl, to serious growl, to all out crunch. It is too loud for home/bedroom/apartment use, except for clean, or a little growl (depending on your pickup). With an overdrive or distortion oedal you can overcome that. It takes pedals extremely well. I'd also recommend an EQ pedal. You can do a lot with the guitar knobs, though. I am also getting an attenuator, because the amps normal gain sounds are very good. I just want them at lower volumes. But, for this price, this is amazing.
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on August 24, 2013
I'm happy with this amp so far. The sound with the installed 12AX7 preamp tube is all shades of tube overdrive, good for blues and rock. I swapped in a JJ 12AT7 for a little less gain and more headroom - the amp is still loud enough to easily exceed comfortable bedroom volumes. This amp is sensitive to noise in my home's AC power, which is normal. Just don't plug it in the same power circuit as your fridge, laptop, CFL lamp, etc. I was picking up a radio station once in a while, but cleaning out the dirty, scratchy pots on my guitar got rid of that noise.
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on February 8, 2012
Its my first tube amp and its pretty loud. Happy to have purchased it. I will definitely recommend it to all my friends.
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on December 5, 2014
For $110, this thing is awesome. I play it through a 2x12 with Fender/Eminence speakers and it is plenty loud for home playing. Not a ton of headroom if you only tinker with the volume knob. Adjust your guitar's volume and it cleans up when cranked. Fairly easy to install standby switch and tone knob if wanted. I've played single-coil and humbuckers through it. Single-coils stay cleaner longer, humbuckers crunch-out pretty quick and actually get fairly dirty when the amp is cranked up (not metal worthy, more classic).

It's $110 for a tube amp that sounds pretty decent.
Do it.
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on October 21, 2015
I'm tempted to rave about this amplifier because I'm having so much fun with it. But I'll attempt to be as honest and objective as possible.

This amp sounds nearly identical to the old, late-60s vintage Harmony amplifier my dad had when I was growing up. When you crank it all the way up, you do get a good amount of gain. Obviously we're talking about plenty of *classic rock* gain on tap - it should go without saying that this isn't a metal amp. It works for hard rock if you're a good player. If not, the amp is transparent and low-gain enough to expose all your weaknesses.

That latter quality is exactly why I bought the amp. I knew it would be transparent and I needed a practice amp that would leave my playing naked so that I could get it into shape. This serves my purpose beautifully.

I will happily gig with this amp as long as I'm using a power attenuator to keep things under control. Sounds great for what it is, just don't expect all the bells and whistles they cram into most amps these days. If you want a nice, transparent, single-channel amp that puts the tone in your hands, this is it. If you want something else, buy something else! :)
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