Legendary amp makers Soldano has just announced the launch of the ASTRO-20, a new 20-watt tube amplifier that promises to deliver the coveted Soldano lead tone in a flexible, compact and affordable format.
At just 20 watts, the ASTRO-20 is significantly lower powered than Soldano’s flagship Super Lead heads, making it easier to push the power amp tubes into overdrive at reasonable volumes. This makes it an ideal amp for home use or smaller gigs where ear-splitting volume is not required. The compact 1×12 combo design also improves portability compared to a full-sized multi-channel head and stack.
Despite its diminutive size, the ASTRO-20 still packs the lush, dynamic tube tone that Mike Soldano’s amplifiers are revered for. It uses a quartet of 12AX7 preamp tubes to shape the sound, plus a pair of 6V6 power amp tubes to provide the coveted warmth and organic compression that only tubes can offer.
What sets the ASTRO-20 apart is its three-channel design with four distinct “Galaxies” of gain – offering incredible flexibility to craft your ideal sound. The clean channel nails classic Fender blackface cleans with a single Tone knob and 3-way Bright switch, while the two overdrive channels give you access to the Blue, Purple and Red gain circuits. You can mix and match these Galaxies to have the bluesy Blue Galaxy on one overdrive channel and the high-gain Red Galaxy on the other, for example.
The four Galaxies span a wide range of rock and metal tones. The Blue Galaxy excels at fat, sparkly cleans and crunch tones, making it ideal for classic rock and blues. The Purple Galaxy ratchets up the gain for ’80s hard rock soloing, while the legendary Red Galaxy provides Singing Lead tones at more extreme saturation levels.
An easy-to-read circular display shows you which Galaxy is active, while the bundled 4-button footswitch lets you change channels and presets on the fly. Up to 128 presets can be stored when connecting the ASTRO-20 to an external MIDI controller or switching system. This makes the amp gig-ready for complex multi-channel setups.
The ASTRO-20 also incorporates cabinet simulation technology, allowing it to be used without a guitar speaker cabinet as a silent recording or practice tool. It has 16 factory cabinet IRs, plus the ability to load additional third-party IRs using the bundled software editor. So you can get cranked amp tones at a whisper-quiet bedroom levels.
All this flexibility and technology comes at an impressive price point below $1000 – quite reasonable for a versatile Made-in-USA tube amp built with quality components. Comparable lunchbox tube amps from other manufacturers easily cost 50-100% more.
So if you’ve always lusted after an iconic Soldano Super Lead but couldn’t justify the sticker price or sheer volume, the ASTRO-20 could be the perfect option to get those coveted tones at a more reasonable price and volume level. This compact powerhouse puts plexi-flavored crunch and Singing Lead tones within reach of ordinary guitarists without breaking the bank – a tempting proposition indeed.
The ASTRO-20 manages to distill Soldano’s legacy amps into a compact, flexible and affordable package for the modern guitarist. If you play anything from blues to metal and need a gig-ready tube tone machine that won’t deafen your bandmates, this 20-watt tone monster is well worth checking out.