Review of Hayden HGT A20 Head and 2x12 Cab
Hayden may be a relatively new name to the guitar amp scene but it
comes from the long established Ashdown bass amp company. So how
does it stack up, we asked? Michael Casswell ignored the pun and
got on with his review.
Have you have heard of Ashdown bass gear? Good, because Hayden
is the guitar amp brand from the same stable, based in the county
of Essex in the UK. Here we have the HGT A20 head, boasting three
channels and delivering 20 Watts, which is switchable down to three
Watts via the back panel, making it versatile enough for studio
use, sensible gig volume and home practice. By yourself in a room,
20 Watts is always deafening but the big test for amp power is
putting it in a band situation next to a drummer, and if that's
where you plan to use your amp, you might want to consider the 40
Watt version of this head, not surprisingly called the HGT A40!
It's not that this amp is quiet - just that drummers are loud and
any 20 Watt amp would struggle!
Plugging into the tasteful looking head, we find three channels:
Clean, Crunch, and Full Gain, all switchable via the supplied
footswitch, and powered courtesy of three ECC83 pre-amp valves, and
two EL84 output valves - the classic arrangement. The clean channel
has its own independent bass, mid and treble EQ, and can go from
super clean to a nice bluesy break up, which would benefit even
more with the right compressor and overdrive pedal in front to help
things along. Channels two and three both share the same EQ and are
where you will find some nice crunch and hi gain tones, great for
full bodied Rock sounds as well as high gain solos. Again, you
could easily expand these channels with the right choice of stomp
box in front of the input and this is a very attractive proposition
as this amp takes pedals well, as a good valve amp should.
You also get a contour control pot, that works on channels two
and three, which you can treat as an extra flavour to dial in to
your EQ settings. I guess they are wanting the contour control to
give what we consider a more 'British' sound or a more 'American'
type voicing, which it sort of does, but in my book, you just find
where it sounds fattest and warmest and then leave it! But it is a
nice little feature to fine tune your sound.
The Hayden also benefits from a nicely voiced onboard digital
reverb, which sounds somewhere between a spring and plate in its
character. It's very usable, and dialling it in to feel it, rather
than hear it, adds some nice air around the sound. Around the back
we have a series effects loop, two speaker emulated outs (one that
mutes the amp and cab once employed) and comprehensive speaker out
Our Hayden head was supplied with the matching 2x12 Hayden cab,
which seemed to get the job done. It's nicely made, features a pair
of 'Hayden Custom' speakers (we've no idea what these are, but they
seemed OK) and the only comment I'd make is that I, personally,
thought the logo on the front seems a bit large. But that's just my
In use, the HGT A20 seems to be nicely voiced on the dirtier
tones, which give a sort of bark in the mid-range, where the best
guitar tones lurk. Channel three was a little hissy, I felt, but it
is the hi gain channel, and a certain amount of noise is to be
Hayden is still a relatively new name on the amp scene and has to
compete against some of the longer established brands for
customers, so, as you can see in our Tech Spec file, it has been
priced to tempt. The company behind the brand, Ashdown, is a major
force in the bass amplification market, and has the resources to
design and support the Hayden offshoot, so we will watch with real
interest to see how it develops.
In all, this is a versatile and very
nice sounding 20 Watt head, which also comes in a 1x12 combo form,
or as a more powerful 40 Watt head with a 1x12 combo version.
Before spending your money on the more obvious brands, I would
suggest you hunt down a Hayden amp to try as a comparison. It
certainly deserves to be on your audition list.
Check out the full review inc. video of the Hayden HGT A20 Head
and 2x12 Cab by Michael Casswell in Issue 12 of
Guitar Interactive Magazine (