The Contender is the Standel sound with “mass” appeal, as it offers the traditional Standel cleans and a glorious overdrive that will give a Marshall 18-watt a run for its money. A lightweight, 18-watt, 1×12”, American voiced combo with gig-able headroom for small to medium rooms, with Treble and Bass EQ controls.
The Contender is based on the most versatile Standels in my collection – the rare ‘61-‘62 20J12 – a Jensen equipped amp designed to contend against the Fender Deluxe. I’ve given the amp more headroom by using the 7591 “turbo” tube (which Standel used in some of their hybrids), tweaked the EQ, and dialed in two independent channels, one voiced for single coils, the other for humbuckers.
The Contender excels at clear, biting cleans until turned up halfway, where it squishes between clean and edge of break-up depending on pick attack, and then further up the dial melts into tube saturation with impressive snarl. While it’s hard to find comparison – it pairs Fender tweed warmth with the overdrive grit of a Valco/Marshall, but with an upper mid twang that is all Standel, due to the EQ filter that is unique to their designs. Plug in your favorite pedals or guitars and it’s a sound you’ll wish you’d heard sooner.
The Contender runs at lower voltages, and features Class-A cathode biased power, no negative feedback, gain adding Treble and Bass controls, a “hotter” pre-amp input stage, and no typical second pre-amp gain stage as seen in most Fender/Vox/Marshall, which adds a woofy quality to the sound. The result of a design that gets its gain from the power tubes as opposed to the pre-amp is better clarity and a softer attack that helps it slip more smoothly into overdrive. The Contender is complimented very well by guitars like Tele’s and Gretsch’s and, like them, is suited to styles FAR beyond their 50s country western origins – country, jazz, surf, rock, pop, blues and indie.
The Contender is all tube and hand made here in house with all custom designed and USA made components, dovetailed ply cab and true point to point terminal strip wiring, all as original. Made for rugged use, with a swoon worthy edge-lighted dial and trimmed in your choice of materials to go to the Drive-In – it will be sure to turn heads at your next show.
Available as a 1×12” combo featuring a single Jensen C12Q (or Mojotone Anthem 12” for more volume), both of which offer a vintage correct tone and great versatility. Also available as a head, for use with your favorite speaker (please inquire for pricing on 1×15” versions or unloaded combo). An original cone JBL D130 paired with a Contender is magic (unfortunately, Murphy’s law has dictated I can’t sell old used speakers, even when freshly reconed).
Combo Dimensions: 23.75”W x 9.5”D x 17.5”H / Weight: 30 lbs.
Head Dimensions: 23.75”W x 8.5”D x 8.5”H / Weight: 23 lbs.
Tube compliment: 5U4GB, 7591 power tubes, 2x12ax7 pre-amp
1×12” Combo: $2299.00
Head: $ 2199.00
Standard Colors: Cream, Red, or Black
Oxblood grill cloth with silver stripe
Custom color: $75
(please inquire for pricing on 1×15” version, extension cabs, or unloaded combo).
Cab: 3/4” pine ply cab, dovetailed joinery, 1/2” birch baffle. Made “in house”.
Chassis: USA-made, brushed 16-gauge steel, zinc plating, with wood block end pieces for some period correct fun.
Parts: Vishay or Sprague Polyester and Polypropylene caps, Xicon Carbon Film resistors, Vishay and Mojotone filter caps. Solid core wire. Hammond or Heyboer North American-made transformers. Switchcraft jacks and switches, Alpha pots. Anodized aluminum trim. Metal photo Military style back emblems, clear plexi front panel, with luminous letters.
*** I use the highest grade components for the best tone, performance, and longevity, however, I can accommodate nearly any request for preferred brands of components at customer cost.
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Phil Sylvester –
There is a magic about the Contender. I don’t understand it, I can’t explain it or give it a name, but it’s definitely there. I have played guitar for nearly 60 years and have owned loads of boutique amps and nearly every iconic vintage design. These days, whenever I play through one of my other favorite amps, it just sounds like there is something missing, something I love in the sound of the Contender that the old favorite lacks. I find I go back to the Contender again and again as my number one. And not just for one guitar. Because the two channels are voiced somewhat differently, the Contender has become my favorite amp for whatever guitar I pick up. I’ve never experience that before in a single amp. Finally, though the Contender’s clean voice is gorgeous, its breakup is also exceptionally musical. One amp that sounds better than all of my others, with every guitar, clean or dirty. I wouldn’t have believed it had I not experienced it first hand. I love this amp.
Phil Sylvester – Pheo Guitars