Hands-On Review:British tone to make your life more complete

Click here for all products by Gibson.

Gibson Goldtone Amplifiers

Like most sonic perfectionists, I can find something wrong with EVERYTHING. But the Goldtone amp series from Gibson has got me questioning my identity. Rather than more gimmicky whistles-and-bells electronics, Gibson has put their energy into pure, perfect TONE, generated by 100% valve signal paths and finely crafted circuitry.

Utilizing the old-school British expertise of their daughter company Trace Elliot, Gibson has created the hottest new amp series in years. I first saw them on TV, watching Joe Perry of Aerosmith really crank it out with these cool-looking, fabulous-sounding amps.

Distortion without destruction

All of these amps impressed me with their even distortion. Somehow Gibson got the gain stage perfectly balanced to distort just enough but not too much. And each note always came through without being drowned in a harmonic wash.

Click to Enlarge

Tubular tone

The whole series delivers sweet, full, clean tones with a lot of presence and a real nice yackety sound when crunched. The GA30RV gets its bite from genuine EL84s, as do the head version, the GA15RV, and the GA30RVS. The GA60RV sports classic EL34 British valves. Gibson's use of quality tubes, capacitors, and resistors made a difference I could really hear. The amps are incredibly quiet and transparent in tone, and I never had to fight to get them to produce the tones I was after. All of the Goldtone amps get really fat and PUMP when you crank them, bringing out the full-throated glory of tubes.

The GA15RV, GA30RV, GA30RVH head, and GA30RVS are all Class A amps. Thirty Class A watts generate roughly the same volume as 50 watts of Class AB sound. The edgy, warm, and quick tones of the Class A amps are owed in part to their tubes burning at full power all the time. Those tubes are just WAITING to give it up. And they deliver RIGHT NOW with super-punchy, hot tone. The SGT/CAB is the first to offer 2 x 12" closed and 2 x 10" open drivers for punchy highs and tight lows, generating both classic combo sounds and 4 x 12" sounds all in one unit.

Click to Enlarge

A full range of top-end options

The GA15RV combo is a straight-ahead, single-channel, three-knob tube amp which really delivers the goods, whether you're looking for sparkling clean tones or classic overdrive. Switch from pentode to triode to get a smokin' distortion at a lower volume.


Word is, Eric Johnson has this thing in the studio working on his new album. The GA30RVS is essentially two GA15RVs side by side in one 2 x 12" enclosure and offers full stereo capability and extension speaker out.


The GA30RV combo and GA30RVH head offer two channels with independent EQ. The boost is a real enhancement for lead tone. But the coolest thing is the optional five-way footswitch that lets you run both channels simultaneously, using the boost from either channel.

The GA60RV offers 60 screaming AB watts for playing larger venues.

Mikey likes it

As much as I love to rain on music company hype, these amps make it hard to play the cynic. If you're seeking true tube excellence in a modern amp, seek no more; the Goldtone series is the genuine article.