Bad Cat Amplifier Models Simplified

As a dealer who specializes in Bad Cat Amplifiers I often find myself helping customers understand the similarities between their different models. Understandably, It can be a little confusing at first since many of their amps which are actually very similar have very different names. So here’s a little explanation to make the decision process easier.

Note: Bad Cat rates their amplifiers conservatively at watts before breakup. So for example, an amp that is rated at 30 watts clean is capable of closer to 45 watts (50% more) when pushed.

 All premium Bad Cat amps come standard with a true half power switch, 4/8/16 ohm selector, post phase inverter master volume, a passive effects loop, and footswitchable channels on dual channel models.

 British Series

 Black Cat (dual channel -12AX7/EF86 – refined AC30 top boost circuit)

Available wattage:

2xEL34 @ 40 watts

4xEL84 @ 30 watts

2xEL84 @ 15 watts

The Black Cat is essentially Bad Cat’s version of the C30 circuit that Mark Sampson brought over from Matchless. It combines the exact same transformer set and with slightly higher quality components. Mark made a few improvements based on artist and customer recommendations and some improvements continued to be added after he left. Features that were added included quieter grounding, better signal path wire, 4/8/16 ohm selector, individual K master power controls for each channel, separate reverbs for each channel, a passive effects loop, and best of all made the channels footswitchable.

Specs: http://www.tonesmiths.com/collections/amp-lounge/products/black-cat

Wild Cat (dual channel -12AX7/EF86 – refined AC30 top boost circuit)  *Renamed the Black Cat 40

Available wattage:

2xEL34 @ 40 watts

The Wild Cat is a Black Cat through a pair of EL34s at 40 watts

Specs: http://www.tonesmiths.com/collections/amp-lounge/products/wild-cat-r

Judah (dual channel -12AX7/EF86 – refined AC30 top boost circuit)

Available wattage:

2x6V6 @ 20 watts

The Judah is a Black Cat through a pair of 6V6s in class AB at 20 watts. It was designed for guitarists wanting Black Cat tones at lower stage volumes. It features a solid state rectifier to give it the faster attack of a class A amp.

Specs: http://www.tonesmiths.com/collections/amp-lounge/products/judah

Lil 15 (dual channel -12AX7/EF86 – refined AC30 top boost circuit)

Available wattage:

2xEL84 @ 15 watts

The Lil 15 is a miniaturized PTP Black Cat. It has a limited EQ because of space restrictions. It uses the same huge transformer set as the Cub II and features a solid state rectifier and a 1/4” line out.

Specs: http://www.tonesmiths.com/collections/amp-lounge/products/lil-15

Trem Cat (single channel – EF86 – refined AC30 top boost circuit)

Available wattage:

4xEL84 @ 30 watts

Based on the Matchless JJ30 originally built for John Jorgensen, the Trem Cat is the EF86 channel of the Black Cat with the addition of multiple tone stack options, tube driven tremolo, and spring reverb.

Specs: http://www.tonesmiths.com/collections/amp-lounge/products/trem-cat

Cub III (single channel – selectable 12AX7 or EF86 – refined AC30 top boost circuit)

Available wattage:

2xEL34 @ 40 watts

4xEL84 @ 30 watts

2xEL84 @ 15 watts

The Cub III is a single channel from  the Black Cat with the addition of the selectable 5 position tonewheel that is only found on the EF86 channel of the Black Cat. Though it is truly a single channel amp with one set of controls, it comes equipped with a selectable 12AX7 and EF86 in the V1 position. These different preamp modes may be selected via the included two button footswitch or manually with the onboard mini toggle. The other button on the footswitch engages a lead boost. This model also features the K master power control.

Specs: http://www.tonesmiths.com/collections/amp-lounge/products/cub-ii

Luca/ Stella (single channel – 12AX7 or EF86 – refined AC30 top boost circuit) *Replaced by Cub III 40/ Special order only

Available wattage:

2xEL34 @ 40 watts

The Luca is a Cub II through a pair of EL34s at 40 watts

The Stella is the same amp as the Luca with an EF86 in place of the 12AX7 preamp tube. It trades about 20% less clean headroom for 20% more gain.

Luca Specs: http://www.tonesmiths.com/collections/amp-lounge/products/luca

Stella Specs: http://www.tonesmiths.com/collections/amp-lounge/products/stella

Hot Cat Series (dual channel -12AX7/EF86 – original circuit)

Available wattage:

2xEL84 @ 15 watts

2xEL34 @ 30 watts

2xEL34 @ 50 watts

The Hot Cat is an original creation that Mark Sampson and James Heinrich developed over a period of time at Bad Cat. It doesn’t sound like a Vox, Marshall, or Fender, so it’s hard to put a finger on. It just sounds good and that’s the reason it’s won the hearts of so many artists, recording engineers, and reviewers.

Like the Black Cat it’s a footswitchable dual channel amp, but the EF86 channel on this one has an extra gain stage making it capable of high gain.

Hot Cat 30 Specs: http://www.tonesmiths.com/collections/amp-lounge/products/hot-cat-30

Hot Cat 15 Specs: http://www.tonesmiths.com/collections/amp-lounge/products/hot-cat-15

Kool Cat (single channel -12AX7 – original circuit)

Available wattage:

2xEL84 @ 15 watts

2xEL34 @ 30 watts

The Kool Cat is the 12AX7 clean channel of the Hot Cat. It has four knobs on the front panel (Volume, Tone, Cut, Master).

Specs: http://www.tonesmiths.com/collections/amp-lounge/products/kool-cat

Lynx (dual channel -12AX7/EF86 – original circuit)

2xEL34 @ 50 watts

The Lynx is essentially a 50w Hot Cat circuit with a more advanced EQ, especially in the mids.

Specs: http://www.tonesmiths.com/collections/amp-lounge/products/lynx

American Series

Fat Cat 50R (dual channel -12AX7 – Tweed B*ssman style circuit)

Available wattage:

2x6L6 @ 50 watts (Class AB)

This amp started out as a ’59 Tweed B*ssman circuit. But after Bad Cat assembled it with studio grade components and ran it through their 10x overspec transformers it ended up sounding like a huge Bl*ckface amp.

Specs: http://www.tonesmiths.com/collections/amp-lounge/products/fat-cat-50r

Classic Deluxe (single channel -12AX7 – Bl*ckface D*luxe Reverb style circuit)

Available wattage:

2x6V6 @ 20 watts (Class AB)

2x6L6 @ 45 watts (Class AB)

Imagine a handwired D*luxe or Pr* Reverb made with overspec transformers and studio grade components. That’s the Classic Deluxe.

Specs: http://www.tonesmiths.com/collections/amp-lounge/products/classic-deluxe-20r

Classic Cat (single channel -12AX7 – ’57 Tweed D*luxe style circuit)

Available wattage:

2x6V6 @ 20 watts (Class AB)

Now imagine a handwired Deluxe made with overspec transformers and studio grade components. That’s the Classic Cat. Blues players love this one.

Specs: http://www.tonesmiths.com/collections/amp-lounge/products/classic-cat

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12 Responses to Bad Cat Amplifier Models Simplified

  1. Rick says:

    I am seeing Bad Cat Cougar 15W Class A Tube Guitar Combo Amps listed at affordable prices, but didn’t see anything in the list above on this model; any feedback on it as complared with some of these others?

    • tonesmiths says:

      The Cougar series was created under a soon to expire licensing deal issued to Chines company Hanser by the former owner of Bad Cat. Though they do not have Bad Cat circuits or quality, the Cougars hold their own against the PCB offerings of Fender, Vox, and Marshall.

  2. Clem Vasallo says:

    What is a bad cat tone cat? is that like the hot cat?

  3. Justin Roberts says:

    Hi mate,
    I have an opportunity to buy a Lil Cat 40 head – is it basically a Lil Cat 15 with EL-34’s for 40 watts?

  4. Andy says:

    Am comparing Black Cat 30R with Hot Cat 30R. Have Carr Rambler for clean tone. Don’t understand EL34 or EL84 tubes. looking for some distort at 7 or 8.

    • tonesmiths says:

      The big glass EL34s provide about the same amount of headroom as a 6L6. The EL3; equipped Black Cat 40 would be a closer comparison to the Hot Cat. Though capable of harmonic saturation, both channels of the Black Cat are classified as clean channels. Whereas channel 2 on the Hot Cat 30 is high gain. Based on your description of needs I would recommend the Black Cat 40 or the Cub III 40 that offers the same channels with a shared control panel.

  5. Jonathan says:

    Is there any information on the Bobcat? What can it be compared against tone-wise?

    • tonesmiths says:

      The Bobcat is definitely tweed flavored. The 5w is very close to a 50’s tweed Champ circuit with an octal 6SL7 preamp tube instead of a 12AX7. The 100w version runs this single-ended 5w amplifier into their Unleash output circuit. The 20w Bobcat is a similar preamp running into a cathode biased pair of 6V6 power tubes running in class AB.

  6. hubert wandjo says:

    what is the difference in sound between the clean channels of the black cat 15 r an the clean channel of the hot cat 15 r

    • tonesmiths says:

      The Black Cat’s 12AX7 channel is based on Mark Sampson’s refinement of the original JMI Vox top boost preamp. The Hot Cat is a Sampson’s creation. It produces a thickened up Marshall’esque clean that pushes into smooth breakup. Bad Cat also makes a model with just the clean channel of the Hot Cat called the Kool Cat

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