The worst thing about Laney is that they’re sorely under-represented and under-rated in the United States.
Founded in Birmingham in the West Midlands of England in 1967, Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi was an early user and has multiple signature models and endorsements with them throughout the years. Other users have included Randy Rhoads, Ace Frehley and John 5.
With Iommi as their most prominent user, they tend to get lumped as a metal brand. People might actually be surprised that they have a good range of other amps for more traditional styles, as well as a well-regarded series of bass amps available.
From the outset, the specifications of this amp reek of nothing but pure class.
|What’s its output?||20 watts|
|Valve, solid state or hybrid?||If this price tag wasn’t all valve, I’d be very upset|
|What speaker configuration does it have?||Two twelve inch speaker|
|How many effects does it have?||None|
|How many channels does it have?||Two|
Of course, there are plenty of other amps on the market with similar specifications, but Laney aren’t a brand well-associated with such specs, which is why I’m keen to delve in further, to if it delivers to the same extent as competitors, or should they stick with black amps into which players plug black guitars?
There are quite a few highlights in terms of parts, so let’s start with the obvious.
It’s not that groundbreaking, but in an industry where 99% of amps are black, so when one appears in any other color just feels like such a massive relief!
Aesthetics aside, the pretty blue tolex covers an enclosure built with marine-grade plywood. For those not familiar with such a specification, it means the glue holding the sheets of wood together are water and boil proof.
This might seem odd: what on earth are you doing to your amp that requires it to be water and boil proof? But actually, it’s because it’s much stronger than regular plywood, and is more commonly used on exterior things. This of course also means it’s much more expensive
Another interesting – and I think a little unusual – feature, is that the L20T comes with mismatched speakers. I don’t recall ever seeing that out of the factory before. Both 12 inches, they’re a Celestion G12H 70th Anniversary and a Celestion Vintage 30. Both very good speakers in their own right.
It’s valves come courtesy of four EL84s. Standard as anything, but only because they sound great.
It comes with two inputs on its panel, one for low and one for high. I’ll discuss this later when we’re considering tones.
As one of their flagship, boutique models, construction of Lionheart amps takes place in England
One of the key elements of its construction is the aforementioned marine-grade plywood. Using that as the base material says from the outset “we mean business.”
That feels like quite a strong basis for the amp, and it’s an unassuming aspect of it given the brightly colored tolex that surrounds that.
Peering my way around the amp in greater detail, and you can tell the amount of attentions that’s gone into getting the presentation of this amp just right. Everything feels completely solid. If it wasn’t for the damage it would do to the inside, I’d be confident dropping it from a building and the enclosure being completely fine.
In saying that, it does, unfortunately, mean that it weighs a ton. This could be off-putting for some guitarists. Once you put it onstage for a gig, moving it to make room for other guitarists’ gear won’t be a pleasant request.
It comes with your classic chicken knobs on its top panel, spread out for your EQ settings, with a volume for each channel, and one for reverb. Alas, the reverb is a digital one, but seriously, it weighs plenty as it is, without putting a nice spring reverb on it. If you’re that precious about reverb, you’ll have a pedal for it anyway.
The moment we’ve been waiting for – what does this thing sound like? Will it hold up to similarly specced amps in this price range?
Let’s be realistic: you’ll only have read this far in the review if you haven’t been put off by the price tag. Make no mistake: this amp is intended for the pros.
As always, I have both a single coil and a humbucker-equipped guitar to try the amp, just to get the fullest idea for as many players. If you’re playing a superstrat with both single coils and humbuckers on it, apologise.
Anyway, starting with the single coil through the low input, because any experience of putting a Strat through a high input was awful, I set the EQ to my usual favorite: bass at four, and middle and treble each at six. I went for the clean channel, and there was no mistaking the gorgeous, lush, shimmering sound of the EL84s.
I played through the various pickup settings on the guitar and definitely favored the middle pickup for my blues notes. The middle/bridge combination was fine for some funky chops, but I felt like it could be any amp in the world.
Switching to my humbuckers, and the drive channel, with the gain dialed up to six, and it was everything I want from a guitar tone. You could get some good blues sounds, but you couldn’t help but crank out some classic rock riffs!
The mismatched speakers are a surprising, but subtly cool feature of the amp, and I think there’s a lot of fun to be had with them. Every speaker will have a distinct voicing, so if you’re recording or playing a gig, where only one speaker gets miced up anyway, with the L20T-212, you’ve got a choice of how you want to sound that night. It’s a nice touch.
I was surprised to find that it comes with a footswitch for changing channels included. I guess at this price, it really should be. It’s not with most cheaper amps.
The output of this amp is 20 watts. That might seem restrictive in terms of volume if you’re used to a solid state or hybrid amp, but it’s important to remember that valve amps are generally louder. 20 watts will work comfortably for a small gig. For larger venues and recording, you’ll be miced up anyway. Nothing to worry about!
This Lionheart packs a combination of classic valve amp build and tones but manages to make room for it to do its own thing. That makes it difficult to fault.
Despite not flying the flag for UK amps quite as highly as Marshall, or even Vox or Orange, with the L20T-212, Laney has shown that they can absolutely hold their own with the best of them.
Between its rugged construction, mismatched speakers, and bright exterior, there’s a lot of love to be had for this amp. If you’re a pro musician, looking for something a little bit different, I couldn’t recommend this Laney any more highly.
Obviously, the cost is prohibitive, but you can say that about any piece of high-end guitar gear aimed at pros.