Bogner ATMA 18 Watt Head

Head/Combo: 
Head
Price Paid: 
$1600
Condition: 
New
Country of origin: 
USA
Tube Type: 
EL84
Features: 
 
 
 
ATMA FEATURES:
  • Foot switchable 3 channel all tube amplifier with effects loop.
  • EL84 class-A cathode biased power amp with EZ81 tube rectifier delivers 18 watts.
  • Built in power attenuator lets you scale down the power and headroom from 18, 5 to 1 watt. Allows fantastic low volume bedroom amp tone, gain and feel.
  • Clean channel with volume and tone controls plus a bright switch lets you dial in a variety of sounds from blackface mid-scooped to thick tweed tone.
  • Overdrive channels share the usual bass, mid, treble controls as well as a 3 position voicing/gain switch covering 60's, 70's and 80's gain and tonal characteristics. A single gain control sets the overall gain for the crunch and solo channel while the crunch preset gain control on the back panel lets you dial in the gain difference between the two overdrives.
  • Thin aluminum outer-shell and chassis allows for reduces the size and weight for traveling light
  • 16, 8 and 4 ohm speaker outputs allows use with most speaker cabinets. Multiple cabinets use requires a splitter box.
Pros: 

Classic Bogner tone in a 14lb, 6.25" H x 12.63" W x 6.50" D lunchbox!

VERSATILITY! The ATMA is like a mini Bogner Ecstasy -- with three channels (clean, crunch, and solo) AND three gain stage modes (60s, 70s, 80s), AND three wattage modes (1w, 5w, 18w). I have five other low-wattage tube amps, and the ATMA is the most ambitious, feature-rich, and fully-realized lunchbox sized amp I have encountered to date. This makes the ATMA a wonderful amp for the studio OR for club-level gigging.

Tone. If you're familiar with Bogner's signature tones, they are in here.

Cons: 

I wish it had a standby switch. I realize there is no need for a standby switch on low-wattage amps with slow-warm-up tube rectifiers, but when it's not there, I miss it. Similarly, I wish the power switch was on the front panel. 

Nitpicking -- The Jem light reacts to your playing as you play (on purpose). I find this a little distracting. And until you're really familiar with the amp, the microswitches and their labels are tough to read in low stage light.

 

Sound Quality: 
5 (excellent)
Reliability: 

So far, so good.

Customer Support: 

Not needed yet, but I have dealt with Bogner before, and it still has a small shop feel to its support. You call, and you get a tech on the phone. It probably won't be mad Reinhold himself, but you never know.

Summary: 

In addition to using this amp in my own guitar rig as one half of a stereo rig, I recently had the opportunity to produce one of my drummer's songs where he played all of the rhythm guitar tracks using this amp (and I used it for the lead work). This was a pop song and pretty different from the kind of heavy rock I usually play, and the rhythms were recorded with very a different kind of guitar than I use -- a Guild semi-hollow body electric with a Bigsby-like trem. We used the ATMA, and we were all quite impressed by the variety of excellent sounds we were able to get out of the amp very quickly. Everything from warm, shimmery cleans to really thick 70s style crunch with the characteristic Bogner midrange. When it finally came time for the lead work, I just plugged in a Les Paul and rather than selecting the Lead channel or the 80s mode, I just upped the gain a little harder in the 70s mode and got a very British sound for the lead work. Having the 3 wattage modes let us record at reasonable levels while getting full power amp saturation when we wanted it.

This is a hell of a little amp. Extremely well done. Some people will balk at the $1600 price tag, but that price isn't even at the high-end of boutique low-wattage amps. And (again) look  at the features you're getting for that money. It's got everything people complained the Orange Tiny Terror didn't have, and more

Overall Rating: 
5

Sail Away - Whitesnake's Fantastic Voyage

Author: 
Martin Popoff
Subject: 
Whitesnake
Summary: 
 
 

A thorough (though occasionally repetitive) undertaking by Martin Popoff, this book takes you through the history of David Coverdale, pre-Deep Purple, through the many incarnations of Whitesnake up through the Doug Aldrich/Reb Beach era. There are brief stop overs on Coverdale Page, Coverdale's solo albums, some decent coverage of Blue Murder, and other ex-members' projects, both together, and solo.  There are nifty interviews from Adrian Vandenberg, Viv Campbell, Steve Vai, Rudy Sarzo. Conspicuously -- and predictably absent was anything recent or of substance from John Sykes. 

That said, the book leans heaviest on the pre-John Sykes era lineups.  There are extensive interviews with Coverdale, Marsden, Neil Murray and a bit less from others by other players who passed through the band's early incarnation.  

For me, the most interesting interviews in the book are with former superstar A&R man John Kalodner of Geffen, the man who guided the band (and Aerosmith) into the 80s metal era.  His thoughts alone made this a worthwhile read for me.   

Most frustrating -- and again, predictable, is the book's failure to shed any new or additional light on the fallout between David Coverdale and John Sykes -- the guitarist who took the band through the stratosphere by co-writing the songs on the 1987 album that sold -- according to this book, somewhere between 14 to 18 million copies -- and was unquestionably the band's financial and popularity zenith.  We are simply told anecdotally through various interviews that the fallout happened, along the lines of "by that time, David and John were not speaking" etc.  

The impression presented here -- by eveyrone asked -- from his immediate Whitesnake bandmates to Kalodner -- is that John Sykes -- as they put it (very politely), was difficult to work with, and this book implies he is a bit of a Diva.  Sadly, it goes no deeper than that. Popoff does resurrect and reproduce one interview with Sykes circa the first Blue Murder album, to attempt to provide Sykes' side of the story, but the interview reads as vague now as it did at the time (I remember it, because it's one of only a few interviews Sykes has ever given).  

As many of us have watched the Sykes' career moves post-Whitesnake, the idea that he is "difficult" has gathered steam over the years as John recently left abruptly -- or was ousted from Thin Lizzy -- albiet, after single-handedly resurrecting the band post-Lynott, and touring with them for over 10 years. More recent was a project with Mike Portnoy that failed to achieve liftoff, where Portnoy has laid the blame at Syke's feet.

That said, there are two sides to every story. The hearsay is that difficult or not, John Sykes just refuses to be financially raped by anyone. I can't fault him for that! One presumes Popoff would have done his due diligence and asked Sykes to comment for this book, but as Mr. Sykes almost never does interviews, and doesn't air his dirty laundry when he does, we will likely never know. Sykes has never gone on record with any details or his side of the Whitesnake story. As it's almost 30 years later, one can assume he will take his side of that story to his grave.

Again, the most interesting commentator on the Sykes era was from Kalodner -- who BEGGED Coverdale to work with John repeatedly for the follow-up to 87, and beyond. Story was, John Sykes was willing on a few occasions, but Coverdale was not. 

All in all, a good read for the hardcore Whitesnake fan. In summary, excellent coverage on the classic Marsden/Moody/Galley lineups; the questions still remain on the Sykes lineup; good coverage of the Vandenberg, Campbell, Vai era.  The Aldrich-era is under-covered by comparrison. 
 
 
Overall Rating: 
3

ROCKS - My Life In and Out of Aerosmith

Author: 
Joe Perry with David Ritz
Subject: 
Joe Perry
Summary: 

So after Walk this Way, and Steven Tyler's book, and Joey Kramer's book, we get a book from Joe Perry.

This book is chronology of Joe's life from childhood to present day.  As such, you read about his childhood upbringing and interests, his early musical pursuits, and as the title suggests, his long, storied history in and out of Aerosmith.

The book covers the details of Joe's many, often rocky relationships with managers, girlfriends, wives, and the very complex, love-hate relationship he has with Steven Tyler -- from Joe's perspective, obviously.  

Joe doesn't shy away from talking about his notorious drug use, but he doesn't do a deep dive on it either (in the way, say Glenn Hughes' bio did).  Joe's approach to this topic was closer to Keith Richards' approach in his bio, Life, in that Joe acknowledges that it took place, but never gives you the sense of how bad it really got.  If you want that, if you want all the dirt, read Walk this Way.  

Not surprisingly, Joe mostly paints himself in a favorable light. As the reasonable one in his dealings with Tyler and the rest of the band; as the one with the greater work ethic; as the one who was first untrusting of the band's first dubious managers.  This could all be true, but like anything, there are usually two sides to such stories, and if you haven't read the other books, know that bandmates and other sources have painted Joe differently.  To be fair, Joe also discusses his many mistakes, such as waiting way too long to fire the band's Machiavellian manager in the 90s. 

All in all, it's a very good, enjoyable read. You come away with a good sense of who Joe is, his motivations, and what is important to him. Neutral topics are covered in more detail, while touchy subjects feel a bit glossed over. 

 

 

Overall Rating: 
4

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