Rotten Johnny

Rotten Johnny Specs
Power Output 12 watts
Output Tubes 2 - 6V6 Cathode Bias
Preamp Tubes 2 - 12AX7
Rectifier Solid State Plugin (Octal socket wired to support 5Y3/GZ34/etc)
Controls Pre and Post Gain, Boost, Bass, Mid, Top, Master Volume

Available Configurations

Head Small TV Front
1x12 Combo Small TV Front Pine
Dimensions See our cabinets page for more info

Click here for Pricing

Design Description

Rotten Johnny

Meet "Rotten Johnny", a little amp with BIG attitude. The Rotten Johnny represents one of the finest grab and go amps on the market. Premier Guitar Magazine certain thinks so giving it a Premier Gear award and selecting it as the top 12 gear picks of 2011!

Rotten Johnny Transformer Upgrade

UPDATE, Feb 2015: An new transformer upgrade is available for the Rotten Johnny. These use more iron, produce a higher plate voltage to juice things up adding more tonal girth, headroom, and overall output volume. More muscle for Johnny increasing output wattage from 12 to about 17 watts!

Click here to read the Premier Guitar Review

Along the way some Rotten Johnny users have stressed the desire for added clean headroom. For some of these folks I've tweaked the Rotten Johnny circuit to reduce preamp gain along with using a lower gain input tube as well. The result is enhanced headroom and with a slightly smoother top. So now there are two configurations to choose from:

Rotten Johnny Classic

If you want classic Rotten Johnny with all his attitude, say the word, we'll leave it in its award winning form so you can rawk the house!

Rotten Johnny Headroom

If cleaner is your thing, just specify the Headroom configurationat time of order and your Rotten Johnny will have the gain reduction mods. Even with the mods, if you crank up the Rotten Johnny, it still screams a plenty.

Headroom/Clean Switch Option

If you are want the ultimate versatility, choose the "Headroom/Clean Switch" option for $50. This adds an (unlabeled) switch to the front panel to allow you to switch between Headroom and Classic configurations.

Note: As of August 2014, the Rotten Johnny control layout has changed slightly. The "Mid Lift" switch on earlier models has been omitted and it in its place is the three position "Fat" switch. Originally an upgrade, it is now standard.

If gain and grind is your thing and you want more compression out of your grab and go Johnny amp, check out the Wicked Johnny which offers more preamp gain than the Rotten Johnny and a more compressed feel.

Both Rotten Johnny and Wicked Johnny offer a range of tones from clean to mean, but if you want a wider range of cleaner tones to work from in a grab and go amp that takes pedels nicely, the Rotten Johnny is the way to go. If you tend work more in the crunchy/gain territory, choose the Wicked Johnny.

As with the Wicked Johnny, the pre and post gain controls offer great flexibiity in how the amp gains up. The Pre Gain control determines how hard the second stage is driven, and the Post Gain control determines how hard the phase inverter is driven. Manipulate these controls in conjunction with your overdrive/distortion pedal controls to dial up what you want to hear in great detail.

Tone Controls

The Rotten Johnny and Wicked Johnny use the same three tone controls and you'll sense there's something very different about them.

  • The bass control (RJ calls it "Bottom") is a 6 position clicker that sets the bass rolloff. This control is a no load control, keeping the signal pure and maximizing dynamics while allowing control over low frequencies.

  • The Mid control is completely stand alone and not part of a typical "tone stack", which tends to also limit their functionality. This mid control, when dialed down, allows the bottom and top to seem extended and really transforms the sound into something much more "Fendery". Add a serial effects loop standard so you can plug in your favorite reverb pedal.

  • The Top control is a Vox style cut control wired backwards so when you turn it down, it gets less bright, or turn it up it gets more bright, more intuitive to those who are more accustomed to a traditional treble control. This control is a no load control, keeping the signal pure and maximizing dynamics while allowing control over high frequencies.

We use this approach to tone shaping on this amp because it delivers more harmonically rich and complex tones, while at the same time offering much better flexibility for dialing up different tones.

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