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Rating and Reviews: Kustom Defender 5H Amp

Get yourself authentic tube tone at a manageable, low wattage. It features just one knob, which increases the volume and output distortion as you turn it.

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"Great Intro to Tube Tone For CHEAP!" submitted July 3, 2013

By Je A
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Musical Background: Almost 40 years, in every capacity and venue type...
Music Style: Rock, Metal, Country, Folk-Rock, BlueGrass performance for very little dough, haha; -Ahh even Psyhco-metalAmbience(hard to expla
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Sound: Sound quality 4 stars with stock tubes... 5 stars easy with EH replacement tubes, less than $30.00 thru zzounds. It responds AGGRESSIVELY to pick attack, just like any tube amp; BE READY!I imagine the included tubes are fairly generic although they sound fairly detailed and seem to do "tube breakup" fairly well. Feature: Love the 4-8-16 Ohm ouput jacks for different impedance speaker cabs. Other than that, the volume knob works perfect, lol. There are no useless features... Everything serves it's purpose eminently! Ease of Use: I imagine the tubes are fairly generic altough they sound fairly detailed and seem to do "tube breakup" well. See my comment on the tubes: spend another $30.00 and this thing goes from "this costs how muuch"?, to: "Less than $200.00 all-in"? "You've got to be kidding"! Quality: Are you kidding? this amp is very, very solid- in fact, a relative of mine owns Kustom PA and Bass amps from the '70's, and they are still humpin' along with no troubles- in fact, I bought this instead of another Epi ValveJr (which I had, enjoyed and subsequently sold)! I'm not dissing the ValveJr in any way, because I loved it~ , but I think this amp is AT LEAST as good a value as that one! The Quality is the same or better. Value: I believe the price that I paid for this is exactly what it should be... I understand that certain 1 watt or 5 watt tube heads use super-high-end transformers, tubes and other parts such as capacitors, etc. In all areas of life however, be it hi-fi, guitar, PA gear, etc one will ALWAYS reach a point of diminishing returns. The beauty of THIS product is that you get all the basics, and can tube roll endlessly. About $30.00 spent on 2 tubes puts this amp in a whole 'nother league. The Big Leagues, to be sure ;-) Manufacturer Support: No need to contact; product worked flawlessly out of the box! Emailed the company with a generic question, just as a test and got a super-fast response. So, 5 stars out of 5 for that... some companies never even respond! The Wow Factor: Old-school factor on this one is very high... love the single 70's-type volume knob! Overall: Best Inexpensive Tube Head Extant!
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"Kustom Defender 5H Guitar Amp Head" submitted August 1, 2012

By Kevin J in North Las Vegas, NV
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Overall: Kustom Defender 5H Guitar head is a great product for the price when used as a stand alone item without special effects pedals etc. Really good clean tones and distortion as advertised when used by itself. Plug in special effects and it loses it in a hurry. So much so I was going to return it because I always play with effects pedals. The great news is their is a quick easy fix well worth the gig. The problem is the cheap Chinese tubes. Before I decided to send it back a gave it one more college try and replaced the Chinese tubes with Soviet (Sovtek) tubes and the distortion cleaned up with my pedal and I got the tube burn I was looking for. This all tested from quality Gibson and celestion speakers. I have the Defender 15H with J&J tubes replacing the Chinese ones and the Sovteks may sound even better and you can get them for less. The 15H played better out of the box that I recall but much better burn with the J&J electronics tubes. Thinking of getting a Tung Sol 12AX7 tube however for both. They are the best you can get. After being used to the tone controls on the 15H I can say the 5H works fine without them. Would prefer the ohm switch of the 15H but I found ways around it. The XLR out is great on the 15H also but for $100.00 less the 5H is awesome for practice and with good tubes recording quality tone. Here again if you do not use effects pedals the product is fine out of the box. My issue with the star rating is complicated because I give it 5 stars with new tubes and only 3 stars without. But again as a stand alone i'll give it 4.5 stars! Great bang for the buck! Well recommended. Kustom please replace the tubes! Cheap fix, otherwise people will be returning this thing and not giving it's due!
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"Louder than anticipated, tone as advertised" submitted March 5, 2012

By J S
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Overall: Ordered this head for the purpose of having a low-volume tube tone for small venues. To be honest, I was frustrated by how loud this thing truly is. I unfortunately cannot turn the volume up enough to push the tubes to where they start to sound saturated and warm. This isn't a knock on the amp, but more a problem with the size of the venues I play, which are small and require low volumes. There are so many good things about this amp. Exceptionally small and portable, but built solidly. All metal housing is nice, and it doesn't get super hot. It is cathode biased, so if you wanted to change the tubes (which I recommend, since the stock are not great), all you have to do is drop in a new set. It is frustrating to get to the tubes though, as Kustom has literally put 15-20 screws in the housing holding this thing together. It would have only taken about 5, the thing is only the size of a shoebox! Minor issue, but still an irritant. 3 different outputs give you flexibility to go to any cab, 4 8 or 16ohm. Tonally, this thing takes a little work. Changing the tubes helps warm it up (I went with JJ's in both the pre and power section), but that's about all the adjustment you can make without actually modding it. It is what it is, and so your guitar, cab, and pedalboard need to create your tone. Fortunately, this thing takes pedals pretty well, dirties up nicely with a Jekell/Hyde and delays are fairly smooth. The cab you play out of makes a world of difference. Terrible cab will not be made better by this amp.Overall, this is what it says it is: cheap, tube tone with little adjustable features. Be sure you have the gear to make it sound good.
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"kustom defender 5h amp head" submitted November 11, 2012

By james p in arvada, CO
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Musical Background: 50 years, many guitars,at times,that too
Music Style: 1001 ways to play 'hideaway'
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Overall: great little amp. have been for years attempting to find replacement for early 50's fender champ that went away. the 5h into an 8" open back cabinet is very close. i am very pleased with this purchase. it works exceptionally well in the bi-amp applications i historically prefer.
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"Simple and Sonic" submitted October 27, 2012

By Danny Lindley in Santa Rosa, CA
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Musical Background: slowing down one live shows. Gotta retool for ageing rocker. been playing rock/ blues since 1985, and played trumpet for 7 years
Music Style: Rock, Rock and Roll
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Overall: Well, after waiting two years for my amp to get 'repaired' from Mr. THD himself, Andy Marshall, I just had to get my hands on some tubes. The torture was over, sweet bliss from the 5 watt Kustom Defender head (still haven't recieved my amp from THD). With only one knob, volume, and nothing else. No inputs, but the one guitar in, and no outputs, save the speaker out, of course, and loving it. simplke good looks to. Jet black with white writing. All this at a sonicaly low price. It screams, it sings, it cries. I beg for more. this amplifier is just right. Record, practice with a quiet drummer, or practice by yourself. All works well with the Defender. I haven't played out yet, but the thing will reach a small club, or bar with ears ringy. Get it.
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"Pure TONE- Totally" submitted September 25, 2014

By Mark M in Madison, WI
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Musical Background: Artist (Guitar)
Music Style: Blues/Rock
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Overall: The Amp has a clear gutsy defined sound. Similar to a 1968 original Kustom amp head. Overall the amp reminds one of an original Roland 120 Chorus Amp.The perfect canvas to layer tones until the desired killer one is achieved.The amp is super nice for portability- With 5W it's obviously efficient, loud, Tube warmth leaning towards the Fender and Vox tone articulation. Fender 1962 early 90s reissue with the recommended Kustom 1x12 cabinet were used to test amp. All you dudes rock on.
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"Great Amp for the Price!" submitted January 19, 2014

By Rick D in Baldwinsville, NY
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Musical Background: I played guitar as a teen a little but really got into it in my 40's.
Music Style: Rock, Hard Rock, Jazz, Jazz Fusion, Blues and some Metal.
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Overall: I wanted an inexpensive tube amp I could experiment with different sounds by swapping out a variety of tubes without having to bias the amp each time. This is perfect. The original tubes sound great but I put a 5157 tube in the preamp section for a cleaner sound and an old EL84 from my aunts old German shortwave radio. Sounds great especially with my Fender Strat. I have since ordered a second Kustom Defender that I plan to use dirtier sounding tubes. I cant wait!
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Kustom Defender 5H Amp Customer Review submitted March 30, 2011

By a customer from verizon.net
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Sound: Sound stays clean until quite loud (10 o'clock on the volume control). At that point a clean overdrive sound takes over. Good for rock and blues. Try a Behringer 12AX7 model 999 vacuum tube overdrive (75$) for EQ and humongous tone and a Behringer 12AX7 Time Machine (75$) for delay,chorus,vibrato. Each of these is almost as big as the amp itself with rugged sheet metal construction. Secure the three units to a 1' by 3' board and you'll have a complete portable killer rig to blow the daylights out of the silly Blackhearts or Marshall 5-watters. Get a Jet City 12" Eminence-loaded cabinet and voila! - a life-time rig for cheap. Feature: Absolutely no encumbrances to pollute the tone. Ease of Use: Turn it on. Turn it up. Quality: Simple one-board construction. If I made one for myself, I'd use a fiberglass turret board, American-made sockets mounted properly and American wire. At the factory this would increase costs 5-6$. Value: It currently is the best value. Manufacturer Support: Don't know. The Wow Factor: Good for technicians and no-nonsense gearheads.
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"Kustom Defender 5H Head, 12" Cab using a Squier 50s Vibe Stratocaster" submitted August 4, 2011

By a customer from lampuka.com
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Musical Background: Hobby
Music Style: Blues, Rock and possibly Jazzish
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Sound: The original tubes sounded very harsh when pushed, so I changed the original Chinese tubes (12AX7 and EL84) to JJ tubes and it helped quite a bit. Feature: The Volume Knob !!! Ease of Use: I love the one volume knob, you will however start making use of the tone and volume knobs on your guitar... which in turn makes you appreciate the raw guitar sound, or as raw as it gets anyway. Quality: Very well built, I think that the head is a bit over-screwed... 18 of them. The main board looks ok, I know this of course because I changed the tubes. You do have to be careful with the tube socket, had no problem but be gentle taking the tubes out, this only applies if you decide to change the tubes. The Wow Factor: Yes, simple is sexy. Overall: Hear what I talked about... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AlSCsDTbi60
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"lil screamer" submitted September 18, 2012

By Bob K in Kalaheo, HI
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Musical Background: Former touring musician.
Music Style: blues rock, traditional mountain folk
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Overall: I wanted something that would give me the warmth of tubes without the volume of a stack. I found it. Turn it up the whole way to heat the tube then turn down the volume from the guitar and it is plenty loud (depending on your guitar of course).
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"dual Kustom Defender 5H units = STEREO" submitted May 9, 2012

By Forced Chores in Portland, OR
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Overall: I modded an old Kustom 2x10 cab to wire each speaker independently to the two inputs, and put a couple of Jensen MOD 10" speakers in there. Then I purchased two of these little heads, one for each speaker.My setup is a BOSS GT-6, with a HOSA dual instrument cable (search zzounds for HOSCPP20) to go from the stereo output of the pedal into the two heads.This is really an ideal setup for me -- I'm a fan of the pedal but playing through a regular single-channel guitar amp really limited the sounds, so I needed to go stereo -- hence the two heads. Also, these BOSS digital modelers, rich as they are, really sound best warmed up with tubes. Plus, I didn't want two regular guitar heads, or even a fancy stereo head, because they always have so many controls and EQ settings, etc. These amps are simple -- POWER, INPUT, VOLUME, OUTPUT. That's it, nothing more. It always felt extraneous to have all these EQ settings and shaping ability on the effects pedal, only to go through a whole extra stage of EQ and shaping on the amplifier's preamp which in my mind decreases what I call "the sweet spot margin". That's got a bit to do with the way I work I suppose.I haven't played live with it yet, but it seems REALLY LOUD to my ears in the basement here. I figure the undulation of stereo speakers will help it cut through, but if not, I'll probably try swapping out the tubes for some more clean headroom.I don't look forward to explaining to grumpy sound guys that they need to mic my cab twice and pan, but my band's setup isn't too over-the-top so I'm confident it will be worth it.
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"Good PRACTICE amp." submitted January 8, 2012

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Musical Background: 40+
Music Style: rock and blues
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Sound: It is what it is.A 5watt practice amp. Feature: Nice to choose between 4,8,and 16ohms Ease of Use: It takes a little time as with most new things. Quality: seems to be. Value: For what it is, a good price. The Wow Factor: Not a lot of appeal.Just a small amp and really a good practice amp in a small place Overall: Probably wouldn't replace it as I seem to be looking for the unattainable all the time.
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"For what it cost you can't go wrong.I've had tube changes in other amps that cost more than this amp.Great tube sound ,very simp" submitted January 24, 2011

By a customer from bellsouth.net
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Musical Background: Hobbyist
Music Style: rock
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Sound: This is an excellent amp for the money.Just a volume knob but don't let that fool you.At low volume,clean,bell like tone but crank it & it's a whole different amp with that tube overdrive goodness.One 12ax7 preamp tube & one EL84 power tube.Great sound,it really surprised me.5 watts tube is loud so this amp can crank.Very satisfied with this head.Comes with china tubes which sound good but haven't tried a tube change yet. Feature: Hey, it has a volume knob,power switch & comes with a power cord.It also has 3 jacks for cab hookup...4 ohm,8 ohm & 16 ohm that's why I give it a 6 but that's all you need in my opinion. Ease of Use: Either turn it up or turn it down.Just play your guitar & no worries about your settings.Just great old school tube tone. Quality: Looks sturdy to me. Metal casing,even has cover over preamp tube.For what I paid it looks like a winner. Value: Great amp for what it is.Can't go wrong with this one because of the price & sound. Manufacturer Support: never needed any support The Wow Factor: It's metal,made like a tank.Black finish with a blue power light.Small,compact,very light but packs a punch. Overall: Great head & would buy another if needed.
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