Gibson Falcon 20 1x12 Combo | Review

Published 1 month ago on June 14, 2024

By Guitar Interactive Magazine

Gibson Falcon 20 1x12 Combo | Review

MSRP: (UK) £1999  / (US) $TBC

Billed as a perfect blend of vintage charm and modern reliability, the Gibson Falcon 20 1x12 Combo amplifier features a 20-watt all-tube design, delivering warm, rich tones with plenty of headroom. The single 12-inch custom speaker ensures a full, balanced sound, ideal for various playing styles. Equipped with a three-band EQ, reverb, and tremolo controls, the Falcon 20 offers a wide range of tonal shaping options. Its compact, durable construction makes it a great choice for both stage and studio use. Here's Nick Jennison with the full review.

When Gibson’s acquisition of Mesa/Boogie was announced in 2021, I was more than a little excited. Not only am I a huge Mesa/Boogie fan, but I also have a soft spot for Gibson amps, and I quietly hoped that we’d see some reissues, perhaps with the benefit of Mesa’s legendary build quality—and that’s exactly what we got! Well, almost.

The Gibson Falcon 20 is one of a trio of new combos that mark the return of Gibson Amps, designed by legendary designer Randall Smith and handmade in Petaluma, California. It’s an all-new design, but heavily inspired by the Falcon amps of the 1960s, both visually and tonally. It’s a single-channel 1x12 combo with a Jensen Blackbird 40 AlNiCo speaker and runs on either a pair of 6V6es or a pair of 6L6es—valve types that are not usually interchangeable, but combining power valve types is one of Randall Smith’s trademarks (like the older Simul-Class Mark amps). It’s a multi-watt design, switchable between 12W, 5W, and 1W with 6V6es (15W/6W/2W with 6L6es).

This might seem on the low side, but that’s the point. This amp is geared towards early-onset power amp clipping, which makes for a very harmonically rich tone and a beautiful touch-sensitive compression without deafening everyone within a mile radius like older 100W amps when you crank them up. This ability to easily push the power valves, combined with a very pure signal path (with only volume and tone controls), makes for a very inspiring playing experience. It feels very “real” in a way that only a great single-channel amp can, and can go from gorgeous vintage cleans to swampy grind with just a turn of the volume knob—either the one on the amp or the one on your guitar. Plugging into the “Low” input will clean things up significantly and is useful if you have a very high-output instrument that’s a little too much for the “Normal” input.

The Falcon 20 also sports foot-switchable spring reverb and tremolo, both of which are valve-driven and beautifully tuned. The spring reverb is long and rich without being super “splashy,” and it overdrives beautifully when you push the amp’s volume up. Sometimes, overdriven spring reverbs can be a little obnoxious, but that’s absolutely not the case here. The tremolo features both “depth” and “frequency” controls, the latter of which allows you to control the speed of the tremolo effect from super slow to… still pretty slow. If you’re looking for choppy, “spy trem” effects, this Falcon 20 won’t go there, but it’ll do smooth and elegant undulation that can be an almost imperceptible “movement” or a deep old-school throb.

Elegantly packaged in a mid-century inspired cream and oxblood cabinet, the Gibson Falcon 20 is an amp that looks as beautiful as it sounds. It offers some of the most inspiring vintage cleans and crunch sounds I’ve heard in a long time, but unlike the 1960s models it’s inspired by, it’s built like a tank. If vintage tones are your thing, you need to check one out!

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