Ever get that thing where you wish an amp was built with cheeks so you could squeeze ‘em? That’s how I felt when I first set eyes on the Sherlock Angry Ant, a five-watt little beastie which, like its namesake insect, is capable of lifting way more than its body weight.
The Angry Ant has a single ended 6L6 self-biasing power pentode output stage for pure Class A tone, with a single 12AX7 preamp tube. There’s one guitar input which feeds a two-stage cascaded preamp section featuring Gain and Tone controls feeding the master volume. And that’s it for the front panel, apart from a Power/Standby/ On switch and a beautifully illuminated Sherlock logo that glows blue on the perspex front panel. Around the back, you’ll find an 8 ohm speaker output as well as a line out socket which takes its signal from the speaker out via the
level control. There’s also a speaker mute switch which switches the Angry Ant’s output to an internal dummy load for line output use only for use without a speaker. Dale Sherlock has used only the fi nest components in this amp: Orange drop caps, carbon resistors and ceramic tube sockets, Carling switches, Cliff sockets and Alpha pots fitted with chicken head knobs. The Chassis is 1.6mm aluminium extrusion with machined sides, and the transformers are high-quality hand-wound models using vintage transformer winding techniques, with grain-oriented steel for sound quality and reliability. And did I mention it’s tiny? It weighs only 2.5 Kg and is 18cm high including the clear handle on top!
ANTS IN YOUR PANTS
Despite its limited control set, there are plenty of tones lurking inside this little biter. The preamp gain/overdrive is achieved by cascading both of the 12AX7 tubes, triodes and is controlled by the Ant’s gain control. You can easily dial in a Vox-like clean tone with full, fat mids by winding the Gain control back and turning up the Master, then finding the ideal Tone setting to bring out as much or as little treble sparkle as you want. The only real downside to this amp is that it doesn’t include reverb or an effects loop, so you’re basically tied to the natural reverb of the room you’re performing or recording in, or whatever external affects you can apply at the mixing desk. Sure, you can run effects pedals into the front end - and it’ll reproduce them beautifully if you’re sticking with a clean tone or using a drive pedal in front of a delay - but it’s a shame to not be able to run a nice analogue delay or a lush reverb across the amp’s natural overdriven sound.
If you’re looking for a small amp that can do a lot of things, but do them very simply, the Angry Ant is the amp for you. It doesn’t get much simpler than this, and yet it’s flexible, reliable and surprisingly loud for such a small unit. Check it out in person the very first chance you get.
Hits and Misses
Very responsive and adaptable
Affordable boutique tone
No reverb or effects loop