I’m not sure I’ve properly communicated before how much of a fan of Reinhold Bogner’s pedals I am - another essential part really of the Boutique Amps Distribution Family. I have acquired 6 or these to date - the Burnley Bubinga Distortion, Ecstasy Blue Mini Overdrive, Ecstasy Red Distortion, Harlow Bubinga Boost & Bloom, Oxford Bubinga Fuzz and Wessex Bubinga Overdrive. While the La Grange is down for a definite acquisition on the wishlist, and the Lyndhurst Bubinga Compressor is a maybe / nice-to-have. If you are considering the Ecstasy versions then the Blue variety is great in both original and Mini editions, while the Red Mini is somehow less good sounding and you really need the original variety of that in the same way that I have them.
In fact That Pedal Show and Brett Kingman kind of jointly introduced me to and persuaded me to get my first Bogner - the Burnley Distortion - I believe I acquired that at a very similar time to my original variety of Suhr Riot. I decided to go for the Bubinga enclosure edition as I felt it was such a fantastic visual representation of its organic harmonic and resonant tonal profile (which somehow called to mind the natural resonance of wood!) - no doubt helped in some significant part by the onboard Rupert Neve Transformer.
Rupert Neve was responsible for some of the best-loved mixing desks and outboard analog equipment at the peak of the Rock and Roll Era. Much of that had to do with his signature design of Bobbin-Wound Audio Transformers which are present for sure in the original and Bubinga versions of the Burnley, Harlow, Lynhurst, Oxford and Wessex.
For 2020 Bogner seems to have somewhat altered the alliance/collaboration with Rupert Neve - and possibly swapped out that celebrated transformer type for an unspecified alternative - as the formerly visible Rupert Neve branding has disappeared from the new enclosures. I can’t say whether this was due to some sort of political fallout, or Bogner no longer wanting to pay possibly excessive royalties / licensing fees to Rupert Neve Designs, or some other circuit-design reasons. Interestingly most of the sites which feature the new V2 pedals make no mention of Rupert Neve, while some still do- including Andertons. I have not seen the underside of the pedals to see whether there is any visible branding on that side per the original - but it certainly seems to indicate some key changes that the Rupert Neve branding no longer appears on the visible surfaces of the pedal.
What we can also quite evidently see is that the new V2 variety sports a significantly changed enclosure - which appears to be approximately 15% smaller than the V1. Here we don’t know if the Smaller enclosure came first and then possibly the former Rupert Neve Transformer no longer fitted, or whether a newer Transformer type used allowed Bogner to make the pedal smaller. What is for certain sure is that these are no longer exactly the same pedals - and Bogner describes them as significantly re-voiced - with more dynamics and gain on-tap, and a more modern and more punchy/aggressive signature tonal profile.
There are no demo videos out yet - so for now I will simply share the signature Brett Kingman demos of the original pedals - and which are properly the key references that most encouraged me to acquire those pedals. The Burnley came first for me, then the Wessex, and I only actually completed that Trifecta back in January this year - when I came across a Bubinga Harlow edition at a very reasonable price.
I actually really like the tone, timbre and character of the V1 officially Rupert Neve infused line - which is why I have 4 of those in Bubinga variety including the Oxford Fuzz. I am alway open minded about these sorts of things - but I’m not sure I’m going to be rushing out to buy up all the V2’s in duplicate all over again. It is quite evident they are different sounding based on the accompanying descriptions, and no doubt many will prefer the newer variety - while others will likely still try to seek out the specifically Rupert Neve branded originals. Much like with the science of Pickup Winding - the transformers too cover similar Bobbin Winding territory - and the type of wire, components and methods of construction will of course all be significant to the variety of tone generated. This does not necessarily mean that the possibly new transformers deployed are inferior - there are a number of top-notch Transformer manufacturers out there - even though Rupert Neve’s and Lars and Gunnel Lundahl’s varieties are considered to be the cream of the crop by most.
For me it’s a case of wait and see really, but don’t necessarily hold your breath. I already love what I have, and all those Bogners of mine are keepers as far as I am concerned - and my priority will more likely be on getting the La Grange added to the collection finally.
For other players as I mentioned - the newer more compact pedals may well be preferable - their size makes them more practical, and many will find them prettier and possibly more usable too - with more range on tap. The new enclosure to me is a little along the lines of the recent Carl Martin ones - albeit no chamfered edges - but a slightly smoother style with a very similar side-profile for those sloping top and bottom edges.
Here are a few more details on each of the 3 pedal types, accompanied by the latest pricing :
This is described as a re-voiced sweeter Boost with significant changes made to the dynamics of the Bloom component - which I personally also refer to as a ramping boost on occasion. This gives you straight up that gorgeous harmonic warm analog flavour - and I would use this as I do - as more of a tone-sweetener - in rotation with my ThorpyFX Heavy Water and Spaceman Mercury IV for instance. There's really not much more to say about the Harlow - while the Bloom component is somewhat rare for boosts, but funnily enough I have it on my near always on Jackson Audio Bloom Compressor + EQ + Blooming Boost!
The Bogner Wessex sits in another one of my pedal Trifecta groupings - this time called 'Harmonic Overdrives' which duties it shares in my lineup with the Spaceman Aphelion and Greer Amps Southland. The E/N toggle switches between Enhanced and Normal modes - whereby Enhanced sort of adds Resonance and Presence to the circuit for accentuated High and Low frequencies - sort of like a full-range boost being applied. The descriptions on Andertons still allude to the presence of a Rupert Neve transformer, while the lack of Neve co-signature / branding seems to indicate otherwise - and is in fact not mentioned by the majority of vendors now. There are no further descriptions concerning changes between versions - but it would seem likely that the tonal profile has been updated here in a similar way to that described for the Burnley and Harlow - sweeter, more open dynamics with greater range on the dials.
This is essentially a Marshall JCM800 style Distortion sort of EVH Brown Sound pedal along similar lines to the Suhr Riot, JHS Angry Charlie and the MI Effects Super Crunch Box pedals to mention a few. The newer version has a more compact enclosure possibly because a potentially new onboard Transformer is smaller than the Rupert Neve variety used in the V1. The Tone of the V2 is described as More Modern, Open and Aggressive than the V1 - how much that has to do with the possibly new Transformer is thus far unclear - but it does seem to be a significantly different pedal. You can see similar parallels in the Suhr Riot and Suhr Riot Reloaded varieties - where I personally prefer the original version, and the newer Reloaded edition has similar descriptives to those employed for the V2 Burnley - more Gain and more Aggression. The F/T toggle switch alternatively yields Fatter Mellower Tones or Tighter More Aggressive ones.
So there remains something of a mystery as to whether these pedals still have Rupert Neve Transformers - and if so why was the branding removed - and are they the same ones that were used for the original pedals? Like I said, there are no underside photos of the pedal yet which may or may not yield further clues (the originals have a very visible Rupert Neve Transformer base-plate underneath), and the Bogner website has still not been updated with the references for the new pedals.
I actually really like the new enclosure designs - in particular the fact that they're more compact. That design cannot however accommodate a Bubinga Faceplate in the same way the previous model did - so surely that options has passed - but on balance - the ergonomics of the new series are a definite improvement all-round - I feel they look more modern and more sleek overall..
Whenever a brand introduced a new iteration - there are always customers who prefer the previous variety for various reasons - and I dare say the same will likely happen here. I look forward to checking the new ones out in more detail when they are more widely in circulation - would be cool if someone could share some gut-shots and underside for sake of comparison.
My next Bogner acquisition is still most likely the La Grange, while I may decide I myself prefer one or two of these newer varieties - you never can tell. I'm not in any particular hurry in case to add more - I have plenty of other priorities still on my plate. What say you?