Hands-On Review:Phat Farm
Budda Superdrive Series II 80-watt head and 2 x 12 cabinet
by Eric Kirkland
Budda is known for building great boutique combos and trick wah pedals, but the company's Superdrive Series II amps may earn it a reputation for making high-power rock heads as well. Available in 18-, 30- and (as tested here) 80-watt versions, this two-channel tone motor produces massive clean dynamics and wild modified-Marshall sounds, with the high-end zing and harmonic separation Budda is famous for.
The Superdrive 80 head generates its high-torque horsepower via a solidstate rectifier (other amps in the Superdrive Series use a 5U4 rectifier tube) and four fan-cooled 6L6 tubes; three 12AX7s ignite the preamp. The front panel has wedge-shaped knobs for master, bass, mid, treble, drive and rhythm volume.
The push/pull master control sets the amp's overall output and allows channel selection in the "out" position. (I preferred to use the supplied footswitch for channel switching.) The drive and rhythm volume controls allow independent gain settings for each channel. Pulling the midrange knob expands the highs and lows, like a sonic maximizer. Pulling the bright feature on the rhythm volume knob adds spank and presence to the rhythm channel.
The backside features a slave out with level control, two speaker outs, impedance selection and a post-EQ series effect loop. The thunderous 2x12 extension cab contains a pair of Budda Phat 12 speakers who tone, a hybrid of Celestion Greenback 25 and G12-80 voicings, contributed heavily to the sonic bounty.
The rhythm channel was a flatout shocker. Notes were extremely touch sensitive, like a marriage of vintage Fenders and Hiwatt ideals. Pushing the rhythm gain higher, the Superdrive 80 became the ultimate Seventies rock amp, with crunch dynamics that encouraged a lot of finesse. The highgain channel easily conjured Beck, SRv and Van Halen tones, and projected Dumble and Trainwreck complexity. There was more than enough gain for metal, and aggressively scooped and compressed tones were achieved by engaging the "Pull-Modern" function on the midrange control.
The Bottom Line
The Budda Superdrive 80 delivers each blistering note with enlightening range and depth, making it well worth the asking price.
PRO: Dimensionality, headroom, thick and responsive overdrive
CON: High cost; midrange shift not on footswitch.