Silkyn Tube Amp Review

I bought this Silkyn Super 50 tube amp off of ebay for $250 shipped to my house! Below are a bunch of pics of the teardown of this unit. My current amp stable includes only this amp, a reissue Fender Deluxe Reverb, and a Nashville 400. For perspective I've included some shots of the Silkyn next to these other well known amps. Some initial observations from the pics below now follow as I've yet to even power this amp on. Future updates to this review will include sound samples with different types of guitars, electric fiddle, pedal steel guitar and the amp's reverb and distortion capabilities.
  • The unique two handle system that comes with this amp is great for lifting it up and moving it onto a stand or for short distance repositioning. It's not so great for moving it more that a few feet however as both hands are tied up and you can't carry anything else at the same time.
  • The provided reverb tank is driven by a typical tube circuit but the tank is extremely short so it seems a good candidate for an upgrade. The tank is well wrapped and secured by both velcro and a retainer strap with two screws. I'm not a big fan of amp spring reverbs so I'll provide some sound samples below of the amp's built in reverb and likely use a stomp box reverb for all other sound samples.
  • Cabinet construction is very solid. The front grill is velcroed on and easy to remove. It's a semi-closed back design as seen in the pics below. The reverb and speaker cables are decent quality and plug into the chassis. There are none of those cheap Molex connectors! All internal leads are well dressed and lead routing is not left to chance as ample lead retainers are use to secure most wires.
  • I've seen on other reviews of this amp where there are lots of what appear to be cold solder joints but this particular amp seems to have good soldered connections. The pots are directly mounted to the circuit board which is of average quality.
  • No user manual was provided. The amp comes with a foot switch to switch channels and one channel does provide the capability to overload the input for tube distortion effects.
  • The screws that hold the two handles to the top do not also secure the chassis ala the Fender tube amp design. The chassis is secured by 4 other screws which are accessed by removing cover caps from the top of the amp.
  • The speaker is rear mounted to the speaker baffle. Two of the screws were different than the rest and two speaker mounting holes were not used.
  • The amp weighs 52.20 pounds. The speaker weighs 7.46 pounds, the chassis 23.78 pounds and the cabinet with reverb tank, rear baffle and front grill weighs 20.96 pounds
  • An Eminence legend 16 ohm speaker is provided. All but one of the tubes are Sov-Tek. See tube pics below for more detail. The 6L6 power tubes are well secured by spring mounted retainer caps
  • The amp comes adequately packed with a heavy duty box, amp corner supports, added cardboard strips along all box joints and wrapped in plastic with additional removable plastic adhered to the metal corners.
  • There are two externally accessed fuses: a main fuse and an "H.T." fuse.
  • 8,8, and 16 ohm labeled speaker outputs are provided. It's not clear how they are wired internally becuase I forgot to check!
  • The power supply uses a solid state rectifier so there's not as much compression or power supply sag as one would obtain with a tube rectifier. IMHO any good stomp box compressor pedal restores this great feature.

Some other useful links:

Hear Honky Tonk on the lower E9th extended strings!

In case your're interested, here's some links to other reviews and amp sound samples I've produced:

Well, finally, I powered on the beast and it lights up! Unfortunately the reverb does not work. Shaking the tank produces an output and you can hear the extremely short springs in the tank and they are well amplified by the tube triodes on the output side of tank. Eventually I'll fix that but for now I'll skip the reverb review because the reverb provided by the amp can't be too great with the lackluster short reverb tank that's provided. All the reverb in the sound samples provided below used a Hall of Fame reverb stomp box set on "Church" mode. The amp was mic'd with a Shure SM-57 placed about 6 inches from the speaker grill and a few inches off center of the speaker center cone. The mic then feeds a Studio Projects pre-amp and then into a Zoom R24 recorder. The samples were ported to Reaper where and edited with no compression or additional effects. The MP3's you hear were rendered at a fixed 320kbs.

A few observations from actually using the amp:

  • The power switch does light up when the amp is on. No magic smoke was lost in the power on process!
  • Reverb is provided in both the main and secondary channels. The footswitch has LED's to show the input channel and reverb states.
  • The amp switches smoothly between both channels. Distortion is easily produced by overdriving the channel 2 input using the provided controls. Everything from clean, to dirty, to hard in your face distortion is easily obtained form a stock average output guitar pickup or stomp box level.
  • White noise in this amp is extremely low and 60 Hz hum is almost zero! The only hum you will hear is from the input sources.
  • For most of the guitar sounds the settings were: Channel 1, Volume 2, Treble 7, Mid 4, Bass 6. For the fiddle the Treble control was almost zero.
  • The tele sounds used a stock Fender Nashville tele, the hollow body electric used an Epiphone Joe Pass, the nylon guitar used a Godin multiac. Electric fiddle was an NS 5 string.
  • The amp's tone is very close to a Fender Deluxe Reverb black face with perhaps a slightly more scooped mid. Almost all tonal adjustment is in the treble control with the bass having some effect and the mid range control having a very subtle effect.
  • This amp sounds excellent! Ignoring the price, it just sounds great. Very warm tube sound with rich harmonics, tons of output power and tons of gain in the premap stages. It is missing some of the compression that a tube rectifier based power supply provides. I'll keep this amp in my studio to use the my hollow body electric and nylon stringed guitars. By a very slight margin, I prefer the Fender Deluxe Reverb for the tele and it's a wash between those amps for the electric fiddle.

Sound Samples

Tele sample 1
Tele sample 2
Tele sample 3
Tele sample 4
Tele sample 5
Tele sample 6
Tele sample 7
Tele sample 8
Tele distortion sample 1
Tele distortion sample 2
Archtop electric sample 1
Archtop electric sample 2
Archtop electric sample 3
Archtop electric sample 4
Archtop electric sample 5
Archtop electric sample 6
Nylon electric sample 1
Nylon electric sample 2
Nylon electric sample 3
Nylon electric sample 4
Nylon electric sample 5
Electric Fiddle sample 1
Electric Fiddle sample 2
Electric Fiddle sample 3
Electric Fiddle sample 4
Electric Fiddle sample 5

Silkyn Tube Amp Samples with Williams 12 string pedal steel guitar!

Sound sample 1
Sound sample 2
Sound sample 3
Sound sample 4
Sound sample 5
Sound sample 6
Sound sample 7
Sound sample 8
Sound sample 9
Sound sample 10
Sound sample 11

There are quite a few pictures below. Click on them to see them full size or at least sized to a browser window. Click on the picture again if needed to zoom in even more!

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