Tone Block 1×8 Combo Review

The 1×8, open back cabinet/housing I rather shoddily made is now playing the role of my rehearsal amp.

This is for obvious reasons, namely: It’s small and portable and due to the speaker being rated at only 10% of the power the Toneblock is capable of delivering, it’s not an amp that I would be happy to risk regularly on stage.

What I have found though is that the tone of this thing is extremely satisfying – enough so that I’ll probably not replace the speaker with a more powerful unit and instead buy a replacement speaker to put back in the Orange PPC108 before I sell it! Of course if I get a replacement speaker I’ll try it out in the open-back enclosure first in case it sounds better than the Orange speaker, but I’ll make sure it’s not an expensive replacement!

I’ll get a demo video done of this little amp as soon as I can, but for now, here’s a brief description of how it sounds.

In short, it sounds very vintage and classic and still with all the variety of tones I get from my pedals/toneblock combined. The variety of tones ranges from “tweed” Fender through blackface, Supro and early Marshall. Due to the size of the speaker and cabinet, the amp-types I’ve listed that it can sound like would be the small variants of those famous types of amp.

So… Tweed & Blackface Deluxe, Champ, Princeton for example. Because of the speaker having quite an early breakup, it’s very easy to get this thing sounding like a lot of classic tones, especially those Supro breakup tones (which are a new love of mine). It’s exceptionally good at doing a really nice vintage clean tone with my Strats with loads of character: Twangy, bright, clear and reminiscent of old Stax, old-school funk and soul recordings. It also delivers superbly when playing Reggae.

The best part is that I get a very similar vibe from the 2×8 combo enclosure built from my defunct Princeton Recording Amp – My main stage amp (yet to get a full gig). The main difference between the two formats is that the 2×8 sounds bigger (obviously), but not as loud at the same settings. The 1×8 sounds more forward, biting (but not harsh) and more vintage.

This little 20w speaker in the Orange PPC108 cabinet sounds nowhere near as nice as it does in the open-back cabinet. The difference between them mostly is that the closed-back is much more brittle and harsh sounding. I found the same difference when comparing my Celestion TN0820 8″ speakers in the closed back cabs vs in the open-back cab. So I conclude that I prefer open-back cabs.

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